netbook hard drive replacement

Adcadet

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What are you guys recommended these days for replacement hard drives for netbooks? My wife's Aspire One, now 2.5 years old, just makes a sickening click noise during POST and the BIOS reports no media found. I haven't done any further diagnostics but I'm guessing the hard drive is toast. She's debating if a solid state drive would be a worthwhile investment - right now I doubt it. She needs enough space for an install some version of Windows (she needs to edit Word and Excel natively, uses Firefox, and that's it), but not much more. Battery life is a minor issue at most. Reliability is a factor, as this is a portable device, so I guess a SSD gets points for that.
 

Tannin

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How much space do you want?

I just replaced the Seagate 160GB drive in my ASUS netbook with a Samsung 640GB unit. But for me, space is everything, performance (on this machine) not particularly an issue. YMMV.
 

time

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I'll second the SSD, and the 40GB should suffice, especially if you stick with XP.

However, it's certainly better value to consider a non-Intel solution such as the Samsung 64GB. Faster too, although I doubt that you'd notice or care.
 

Santilli

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I was underwhelmed by David's X-25 equipped netbook. If that was a huge improvement, then I would dump the netbook, and buy something else.
 

Chewy509

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I remember reading a while ago, a review on an Asus netbook, that compared performance between having the default 160GB 7200rpm drive vs a 80GB Intel SSD. Unfortunately, I can't find the review. (It was with one of the then-new 10" models and at launch of the Intel X25-Ms).

But from memory, it came down to, yes the SSD will provide power saving, but the increase in performance is not that you would get if you did the same on a mid-range laptop or desktop. You do get a speed up with the SSD, but as the Intel Atom is simple too slow to take real advantage you don't get that much of a speed up. And I do remember 1 test (multi-threaded mp3 encode), the SSD ended up being slower overall. Why? The Atom was being hit so heavily with IRQs from the drive controller it spent more time context switching between the mp3 encode and handling the drive requests, that it slowed down the encode. (The IRQs stole what limited CPU resources from the encode, resulting in a overall slower result).

Overall, the conclusion was, yes the SSD improves overall system performance, but not as much as one would expect or even see if they did the same in a C2D laptop or desktop. And for the cost of the SSD, it doesn't make it look that attractive when the SSD is worth more than the netbook. (But remember, the article was a few years ago so SSD pricing has improved).

Would I go with an SSD in a Netbook? Yes, for the following reasons:
1. Use less power overall, extending battery time by up to 10%. (I love my 7-8hrs on battery, getting another 10% would be very nice).
2. Quite, and cooler. (But that's not much of an issue in my Asus netbook, don't know about the Acer setup).
3. Good performance increase in regards to system responsiveness when opening applications and working with documents. Quicker boot times.
4. Cheap enough, that a smaller SSD would offer a good performance return for the $.
5. Should be more reliable in the event of accidentally dropping the netbook.
 

time

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Bozo, that was my initial preference, but netbooks don't support SATA III (6Gb/s), and the Crucial product loses some of its appeal without it.

Chewy, there are so many things wrong with using an MP3 encode to test storage performance on an Atom netbook, that I don't think it's worth trying to find the review. :)

Adcadet, as I'm sure you're aware, the original Aspire One came with Linux and a small (8GB) and slow SSD. I still have one; it boots to the desktop in 20 seconds. This is only partly due to the optimized Linux variant.

Shock resistance and higher reliability are the icing on the cake.
 

Chewy509

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Chewy, there are so many things wrong with using an MP3 encode to test storage performance on an Atom netbook, that I don't think it's worth trying to find the review. :)
I agree 100%, it's a very poor test of storage performance. But it does highlight that total overall performance may affected in some scenarios. (But the example they used admittedly wasn't the best).
 

ddrueding

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I think the most significant performance test for a netbook is the power-on to Firefox/Word loaded test. The SSD makes a very significant performance increase there. What else are you doing on a netbook, anyway?
 

sechs

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I replaced the drive in my Lenovo S10-2 with a spare Samsung SSD, and found that it started spending more time maxing out its CPU. Also, performance became "bearable" for me; before, it was too slow for all but the most basic tasks.

I haven't the foggiest idea if battery life is changed, as I manage to spend a good amount of time plugged-in.
 

ddrueding

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I remember when the first power consumption tests for SSDs were run. The SSD laptop died much earlier because it was able to max the CPU (and therefore do more work).
 

LunarMist

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Then it should spend more time idle after a given task is completed, unless you are making the netbook do more work overall.
 

Chewy509

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I replaced the drive in my Lenovo S10-2 with a spare Samsung SSD, and found that it started spending more time maxing out its CPU. Also, performance became "bearable" for me; before, it was too slow for all but the most basic tasks.

What OS?

I'm running Arch Linux on mine, and performance is acceptable for what I use it for. (I normally use it for web-browsing and using LibreOffice or Lyx). I even run Windows 2003 Server in a VM on it, running Visual Studio 2010, and performance is ok, but not great - but I think that's more to do with VS2010 and not with Win2K3 being in a VM.
 

Adcadet

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I think the most significant performance test for a netbook is the power-on to Firefox/Word loaded test. The SSD makes a very significant performance increase there. What else are you doing on a netbook, anyway?
My wife says nothing.

I just have a hard time justifying spending $100-150 on a netbook. I'm asking the wife if we should just put that towards a real, albeit low-end, laptop.
 

Chewy509

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My wife says nothing.

I just have a hard time justifying spending $100-150 on a netbook. I'm asking the wife if we should just put that towards a real, albeit low-end, laptop.

A quick check on Newegg shows quite a few SSDs (including the 40GB Intel 320) for less than $100.

Alternatively, they also have a 320GB 7200rpm Seagate for $49.99, or several options at 160GB@7200rpm for less than $50.

If going a full laptop, what would you consider and what type of budget?
 

Adcadet

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My wife says that size is such an issue for her, she would prefer her Netbook to even a 1" thick midrange notebook. We're leaning towards an SSD. Any reason a standard 2.5" SSD such as those recommended wouldn't fit in a netbook? I have never opened one.
 

ddrueding

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They've fit fine in the ones I've swapped. I've put in both Vertex and X-25M. And of course, the X25-E in the hotrod that Santilli got to play with. ;)
 

time

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I believe that you can access the HDD through a panel in the back, so you could have a look to reassure yourself (mine is older and doesn't have that).
 

Stereodude

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Vista and 7 can be installed from a Thumb drive. Microsoft even has a tool to set up the drive for you if you're one of those people who think diskpart is scary.
Yeah, but he's talking about a 2.5 year old netbook that didn't come with Vista or 7.
 

CougTek

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I will deny that I wrote what you'll read next but...

Just hack the BIOS and install a SLP Win 7 on it. Search Ulead on Google.

...I never told you that.
 

Chewy509

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I have an extra copy of Windows 7 I can use, although on this device I wonder if Windows XP would run better. This is the ZG5: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acer_Aspire_One
I've used Win7 and WinXP on a HP 2140 netbook (Atom N270 w/1GB RAM), and performance was about the same with either OS (the naked eye couldn't tell the difference). The one area Win7 did better was power management, Win7 always got more runtime on battery.
 

sechs

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XP

I have no doubt that a proper Linux install would run faster, but wouldn't operate all of the hardware.

Also, I was too lazy to do anything other than clone the comcastic western digital drive that came with it to the SSD.
 
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