Transcend 128GB SSD: Laptop Upgrade

After debating for a while on whether to go for a new Haswell laptop,  I dropped the idea completely and decided to upgrade my existing Core i3-2310M based Toshiba C655 laptop with the cheapest available SSD! This post details how to upgrade performance at a very less price of your existing laptop/desktop - especially if you already have a system with a decent processor under the hood (for example - the Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processor - 1st generation or later).

As part of this, I'll also show how to use your old hard disk as a portable one, instead of throwing it away.

Step 1: Rationale and acquisition

To start off, my laptop came with a standard 5400RPM Toshiba HDD, the CrystalDiskMark stats of which are:

HDD Performance

.. obviously pretty abysmal speeds.

Since my laptop is already pretty old (3+ years), I did not go for the highly rated Samsung 840 EVO SSD series. I instead opted for the (cheapest as of now) Transcend 128GB SSD340, at a pretty good deal of around INR 4000 - around $66 (including cashbacks from Snapdeal).  Here's the retail box it arrived in:

SSD box

The box also included a 3.5" hard disk bay should you want to install the SSD on a standard desktop instead of a laptop.

Step 2: Taking out the old hard disk

I was apprehensive about this part but it proved to be very easy. After removing the battery as a precautionary measure, all I had to do was unscrew the portion of the laptop back cover housing the HDD, and then unscrew the internal 2.5" enclosure that the HDD was mounted on. If you're a bit unsure, see this excellent video. All you need for this step is a Phillips screwdriver. (If you don't have one, I highly recommend the Chinese Jackly screwdriver set that you can find online for about 150 rupees - it has a magnetic handle, and almost all types of shanks that you'll ever need - and is of surprisingly good quality).

Here is the view of the laptop with the HDD removed:

HDD removed

And here is the 2.5" enclosure removed from the HDD:

Laptop enclosure

Step 3: Inserting the SSD

Again, as easy as screwing the enclosure on to the SSD (all screw positions are apparently standard - yay!), and mounting the laptop onto the hard drive bay:

Inserted SSD

 

Step 4: That's it!

And you're done! Start up your PC and install Windows or whichever OS you prefer. Note: personally I always recommend performing a fresh install - but should you have a lot of data / programs and are unwilling to reinstall everything from scratch, most SSD manufacturers include a utility to clone your existing HDD onto the SSD - but this step needs to be done before the swap.

Here are the stats post the setup, on a clean Windows 7 install:

SSD performance

The Windows 7 experience index shows a whopping 7.8 out of 7.9 in the disk data transfer rate index !

Win7 performance

Step 5: Bonus - use the old HDD as a portable HDD

For this, you need a 2.5" SATA to USB external hard disk enclosure. I bought an el-cheapo one from a brand named Ranz which works perfectly. This also comes with a small screwdriver, and a USB cable. You need to insert the HDD into the SATA connector, and the whole thing into the casing:

External HDD

  • and voila, you have a "free" portable hard disk that works perfectly as a regular USB drive!

That's all for now. SSD prices are at an all time low now - you can get a pretty decent upgrade for your laptop or desktop for about 4-5000 INR. My Windows 7 SP1 boot time reduced from around a minute to about 15-16 seconds (to desktop) :-)

Happy upgrading!

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