32GB SSD coupled with the HHD Dell Inspiron 14 7000 Series
July 21, 2014 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Is there a clear recognizable benefit to having the 32 GB SSD coupled with the 500 GB HHD in the Dell Inspiron 14 7000 series? What I mean is, will I clearly be able to see the benefit, the difference in performance having the SSD compared to not? Is the start-up time clearly better? What other areas will I see a difference in performance?
posted by franklen to Technology (14 answers total)
If your OS and programs are running off of the SSD then yes, you will see an amazing performance boost over a spinning-disk HDD. 32 GB is pretty tiny though, your windows installation will take up a good portion of that; I'd recommend 128 GB at a minimum (if that's an option).
posted by bizwank at 12:44 PM on July 21, 2014

Response by poster: It's not an option for the 128 GB. The 32 GB in this case only exists for the proprietary Dell technology that is "supposed" to increase speed, though I'm having a hard time figuring out just exactly what and when. It must help with coming out of sleep, and perhaps opening and starting apps, perhaps by mainly acting as a cache? Sound like a possibility? My computer is 6 years old, and so slow right now, which is why I am shopping, but it is taking me forever to find answers such as these on the Dell website.
posted by franklen at 12:48 PM on July 21, 2014

Ah I see, yeah it's only a cache to help make up for the sluggishness of the 500GB drive compared to an SSD. So, it will be a little more responsive than a spinning-disk HDD alone, but nowhere near close to the speed of a true SSD. The reviews I found of that laptop mention a sluggish start-up even with the hybrid drive, so I'm not sure it will seem faster to you even though there may be a measurable difference.

Have you thought about upgrading your old computer with an SSD? It's fairly simple to do and really can make an old computer seem like new.
posted by bizwank at 12:59 PM on July 21, 2014

Response by poster: I haven't because I have tons of HHD space available now, over half of a 500 GB drive. Though I'm sure the SSD might help anyway. Also, I would be comparing spending the money for a 250 GB SSD or higher with that of the new computer, and the difference would be in question as to why i wouldn't just get the new computer for a couple hundred more?
posted by franklen at 1:24 PM on July 21, 2014

Frankly I'd either get a real SSD or a fast mechanical drive but not bother with a hybrid. Just more points of failure for a questionable benefit.
posted by Justinian at 1:32 PM on July 21, 2014

The Samsung Electronics 840 250 GB is $140 on Amazon, and you could add it alongside your existing 500 GB drive (provided this is a desktop computer we're talking about). Move your OS and programs to the SSD, leave your media and other files on the HDD. As to why you wouldn't just buy a new computer instead, unless there's something wrong with the computer you have that isn't fixed with an SSD, why wouldn't you just keep your old one?

Either way, I agree with Justinian; don't bother with the hybrid drive. Heck, you could always buy the new laptop then swap the HDD out for an SSD; sounds like the HDD is user-serviceable so that shouldn't void your warranty. You'll see a world of difference over the slow HDD that it comes with.
posted by bizwank at 1:44 PM on July 21, 2014

Response by poster: laptop, not desktop.

I don't know that I can swap out the HDD. Is it as simple as that compatibility wise?

The old computer is just not responding to anything I do such as disk cleanup, lowering the visual effects, etc. Running 4 GB RAM. One thing I have a question about is that when I had the operating system upgraded 6 months back (to Windows 7) they installed a 64-bit version I just see now. Is the 4 GB RAM not enough for that I am now wondering?
posted by franklen at 2:05 PM on July 21, 2014

I don't know that I can swap out the HDD. Is it as simple as that compatibility wise?

Standard SATA hard disks are about as transparent as hardware comes; you shouldn't have to worry too much about compatibility. Since solid state disks generally come in the 2.5" format that most laptops use for their storage, it's simply a matter of picking the best one for your needs (I second the choice of a Samsung 840 Pro or 840 Evo) and installing it in the existing hard drive bay.

The key caveat here would be of course that if you don't have a second bay to install the hard drive into, you'll have to go to some extra lengths to transfer your files over, and you may have more limited storage than before. (Unless you spend more money on a larger solid state disk, that is.)

A 64 bit operating system is an appropriate choice for 4GB of RAM; non-PAE 32 bit operating systems, such as most variants of Windows XP, can only utilize about 3.2GB of RAM.
posted by fifthrider at 2:13 PM on July 21, 2014

I would consider removing the HHD (or maybe it's just a regular 500GB 2.5" (= laptop-size) hard disk plus a naked SSD, which is really just a little circuit board if it's sold outside the box that's designed to get it into the same form-factor as the 2.5" drive). This laptop has USB 3.0, which is nicely fast with the right external enclosure, and USB 3 also delivers good power-- you won't need external power for the enclosure. Throw the 500GB drive in there, and get in the habit of carrying it or living without the storage, as needed.

Even with 128GB, you'll have to aggressively manage what's using space if you happen to be a hoarder or generator of video files, giant logfiles, uncompressed sound or RAW images. I use a program called WinDirStat which is fantastic for identifying what files are taking up space on your SSD -- it'll help you clean your SSD when the time comes. If you are uncomfortable with only 128GB of drivespace at all times, there are 256GB SSDs that are approaching affordability-- wait for a sale.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:18 PM on July 21, 2014

The old computer is just not responding to anything I do such as disk cleanup, lowering the visual effects, etc. Running 4 GB RAM.

One thing I have a question about is that when I had the operating system upgraded 6 months back (to Windows 7) they installed a 64-bit version I just see now. Is the 4 GB RAM not enough for that I am now wondering?

A six year old laptop certainly won't be a speed demon compared to a more modern machine, because processors and graphics cards have improved markedly in the last six years, but with 4GB RAM it should be by no means unpleasant. Windows 7 isn't any more hardware-hungry than XP was, and with 1GB RAM or more, the 64 bit edition should actually run a few percent faster than the 32 bit edition.

If your computer is slow enough that you're seriously considering spending of the order of a thousand dollars to make it faster, there's a specific fault there, and fixing that will cost you much much less than a new computer would.

In my experience, the most likely causes of annoying sloth in a Windows 7 computer are:

• poor choice of security suite: the 2014 versions of Norton, McAfee, Trend and AVG are all horrible performance sappers

• presence of multiple security suites, or partially failed removals of old suite before installation of its replacement

• presence of Conduit, MyWebSearch or similar adware, and/or PC Optimizer Pro, RegClean or other "system optimizer" "tools"; these most often arrive as foistware bundled into "download managers" for other software

• unreadable sectors on hard drive that have not yet been re-mapped

• dust clog, causing processor to overheat and throttle itself to prevent damage (fans will continuously run hard if this is your issue)

Only after positively eliminating all of those possibilities would I even consider spending money on hardware upgrades.
posted by flabdablet at 5:45 PM on July 21, 2014

I bought a laptop that also came with a HDD and a 32GB SSD cache. I was able to open the laptop and replace the 32GB SSD cache with a 240GB SSD drive, giving me both an SSD that I use for the OS and some programs, and the HDD for storing media.

You'll need to determine, whether this is an option for the model you're considering. If it's possible you should be able to find owner discussion threads with details and instructions. It can be a bit of work, but worth the cost and effort if it works (in my opinion). Just make sure you buy the right SSD drive (likely mSATA).
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 5:51 PM on July 21, 2014

Response by poster: Hmmm, I'll have to try the security suite issue. It had Avira on it, but then I installed AVG. So maybe I need another option altogether.
posted by franklen at 8:47 AM on July 24, 2014

I've been recommending Panda Cloud Antivirus Free to all and sundry for a while. It's still good, though the current version's Windows 8 wannabe UI is visually jarring.

There are more gotchas with it than there used to be, though.

First thing is that Panda Security no longer hosts its own downloads; in the world's stupidest shoot-our-own-reputation-in-the-foot move they've handballed them to download.com, which means that you need to be very very wary that what you're getting is actually what you're supposed to be getting. Download.com is completely choked with banner advertising for all kinds of horrible foistware that you do not want, the advertising graphics feature big green Download buttons that look almost identical to download.com's own, and it's very easy to get conned into clicking something you just don't need to.

The installer for Cloud Antivirus is a 1.3MB file called PandaCloudAntivirus.exe and you should not run anything else that download.com confuses you into collecting.

Having been personally bitten by this issue myself at a customer's house to my embarrassment and shame, I now make a firm practice of never using download.com unless Adblock Plus is installed and confirmed working.

The other thing you want to do while installing Cloud Antivirus is turn off all three of the checkboxes that the installer will show you on one of the customary dialogs you're obviously supposed to click Next on without reading. You do not want changes made to your home page nor your default search provider, and you do not need the Panda Security Toolbar.

None of the above inspires much confidence, I know. But the fact remains that once you have managed to sidestep all the bullshit baked into the installation process, Cloud Antivirus Free does good work, requires less attention paid to it than any other security suite I've ever seen even taking into account the recently increased agressiveness of its upsell nags, and saps performance less than any other security suite I've ever used.
posted by flabdablet at 5:19 PM on July 24, 2014

Also, cleaning up per Deezil would be a good precautionary move.
posted by flabdablet at 5:26 PM on July 24, 2014

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