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Intel X25-M SSD Review and Giveaway: Vroom Vroom Fast

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Replacing your traditional hard drive with an SSD, or solid state drive, is one of the latest ways to bring speed to your system allowing you to get into Windows faster, and thus get to work quicker. Intel was kind enough to send over one of their Intel X 25-M SSDs for us to test out, and another for us to give away to a Notebooks.com reader.

Keep reading for our Intel X25-M review and to find out how to win one of your own.

Intel X25-M SSD Quick Specs: The Intel X25-M SSD we have on hand is an 80GB model, specifically the Intel X25-M with a rated sustained sequential read of up to 250MB/s and a sustained sequential write of up to 70 MB/s. You can find this drive from many online retailers for around $200. If you want to pick it up in store, Best Buy carries it for $199.

Installation and Setup:

Installing and setting up the Intel SSD was simple thanks to the free Intel SSD Cloning Utility which made an exact copy of our old hard drive and transferred it to the SSD in about an hour. The hardest part was cutting down on multimedia files so that our used space was below 80GB, but the free utility TreeSize made that a snap.

Once we had our hard drive cloned to the SSD installing the SSD in our notebook only took a few minutes and required a small Phillips screwdriver. You can the video below that shows you how to install an SSD.

Perhaps my favorite part about this upgrade, aside from the speed that we’ll touch on in a second, is that it is a very simple and easy process that most users can undertake in a Saturday afternoon.

SSD Benchmarks:

Since speed is the name of the game with SSDs we measured the speed of our old hard drive versus the new Intel X25-M solid state drive using CrystalDisk. This tool measures how fast the drive can read and write under several circumstances. Aside from the benchmarks, which show a big improvement, it is important to note that there was a significant speed boost that we could tell in using the computer so it’s not all theoretical benchmarks.

Benchmarks for our old hard disk drive, a 500GB Western Digital Scorpio Blue 5400RPM drive:

Benchmarks for our new 80GB Intel X25-M:

You’ll notice that all of the benchmarked categories showed an increase, with the sequential read and sequential write categories showing a dramatic jump, even above the rated specs for the X25-M. The last option, 4k QD32 is another important one to look at as it shows how fast the disk can read and write a lot of small files in 32 parallel threads. If you don’t understand that, just note the large difference, knowing that a higher number is better, and move on to the performance section below that deals specifically with what you will notice.

One final area we looked at in pure benchmarking was our Windows Experience Score, which remained at a 5.5 after the upgrade thanks to the Intel Core 2 Duo processor we are running but we did see the primary disk score jump from 5.8 to 7.6 after installing the Intel X25-M.

Performance:

When it comes to actual performance, I was surprised by how much I noticed the speed of the new SSD. Specifically we’ll touch on startup and shutdown, performance during intensive tasks and general use.

When it comes to startup and shutdown, the Intel X25-M cut both in half. On average it took 29 seconds to boot into Windows and start working with the SSD compared to 63 seconds with the hard disk. When it came to shutting down th SSD could turn off in 16.2 seconds on average, while the hard drive took 38.1 seconds. These improvements are ones that you will notice every time you turn your computer on and off.

One of our readers wanted to know how the solid state drive held up during intensive tasks like video editing, so while we edited the how to install an SSD video embedded above, we used the system to do other tasks such as web browsing. Since we were still limited by our CPU we didn’t notice a major difference between the solid state drive and the hard drive, but there were times where launching applications seemed snappier with the SSD.

In general use I am still amazed by the SSD. If you click a program, it’s ready to go almost instantly which means that you won’t be suffering from “Hourglass Syndrome” which accounts for up to 3 days of lost productivity a year. You literally click on a program and by the time you get your mouse to the file area it is launched. Of course more taxing programs like video editing software aren’t as instantaneous, but they are ready to go faster than on the hard drive. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just imagining the difference, so I went back to the old hard drive for an hour and it felt like molasses in wintertime compared to the SSD.

Size Does Matter:

The biggest drawback with switching to an SSD is size. The price per GB is still significantly higher than with a standard hard drive which means you may have to settle for a smaller drive. In our case we had to move a lot of media files over to an ExpressCard SSD, external USB hard drive and network attached storage. With our examples we are able to have all of our data with us at all times, but without our ExpressCard SSD (review coming) we would need to make sacrifices regarding what we could carry with us at all times.

Hopefully with the next generation of solid state drives we’ll see an increase in size and a break on the price.

SSD Maintenance:

One area where Intel continues the good job of support is in solid state drive maintenance, with the Intel SSD Toolbox which allows you to run diagnostic scans and checks your settings to ensure optimum SSD performance. First off you can run the Intel SSD Optimizer which uses TRIM functionality to optimize your SSD and can run this on a weekly basis. This is an important function, that not all SSDs have.

The toolkit can also check your system configuration to make sure that Windows settings are tweaked for use with an SSD and that disk defragmentation is turned off.

Conclusion:

There are definitely tangible benefits to switching to an SSD as your main drive that go beyond the benchmark bragging of geeks. While the price of an SSD is more expensive than a hard drive counterpart and the sizes may make you feel like it’s 1999 again, the switch is still an exciting one — so long as you have a second drive handy to store media files. We are eagerly awaiting cheap, large solid state drives, but if you can handle the disk size, there is a significant benefit to switching today.

Pros:

  • Noticeable Speed Improvements
  • TRIM Support
  • Ease of installation

Cons:

  • Size requires sacrifices for storage

How to Win an Intel SSD:

Intel was nice enough to send over an extra 80GB Intel X25 SSD for us to give away! You can enter the Intel SSD giveaway by commenting below, or tweeting about the contest as shown below. You earn one entry for a comment and another for a Tweet. You cannot gain more than two entries. The winner will be chosen using a random number on October 31st at midnight Pacific time.

  1. Comment below telling us how you would use an Intel SSD for one entry
  2. Tweet – “I just entered to win an #Intel SSD from @Notebookscom #SSDcontest – Notebooks.com/go/IntelSSD”

This contest is valid in the U.S. only. If you tweet to enter you must be following @Notebookscom so that we can DM you for shipping details.

Josh Smith is a longtime mobile tech user, currently using a Droid as his primary smartphone. Josh is also an editor at Notebooks.com where he reviews notebooks and other mobile tech. Follow Josh on Twitter @Josh_Smith or email him Josh@Notebooks.com.

77 Comments

  1. endcycle

    October 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Oooo. I totally want this – have you tested it in a Mac yet? Because… I have a white macbook that’s just begging for this drive. :)

  2. dino

    October 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I need to breathe life life back into my aging Lenovo R61. I dont need a lot of space but speed and battery are what Im after. This would make a nice replacement for the sluggish 120GB I have in there now.

  3. Anonymous

    October 13, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I know nothing of computers but my husband saw this over my shoulder and said yes,enter this for me!
    So,anything to make him happy.
    Please enter me.Thank you
    jacksoncrisman@yahoo.com

  4. Anonymous

    October 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

  5. stasdm

    October 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Not bad for Sysstem drive

  6. Anonymous

    October 13, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I could use my Eee PC 1000H in my car for Navigation without worrying about hurting the HDD>

    Thanks

  7. Anonymous

    October 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    could use this for my aging Mac mini boot drive. Thanks

  8. John Miley

    October 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I’m building a linux media center for use in an RV, and this would be great for the primary HD.

  9. John Miley

    October 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I’m building a linux media center for use in an RV, and this would be great for the primary HD.

  10. Cecilyen

    October 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    SSD is speedy for my notebook!

  11. Cecilyen

    October 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    SSD is speedy for my notebook!

  12. Dstrauss

    October 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    This drive would be the centerpiece of the upgrade to my Thinkpad notebook to make the Win 7 upgrade a truly “instant on” experience in sleep mode.

  13. Dstrauss

    October 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    This drive would be the centerpiece of the upgrade to my Thinkpad notebook to make the Win 7 upgrade a truly “instant on” experience in sleep mode.

  14. Mark

    October 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I would use it to eek a little more life out of my ThinkPad X61T!

  15. Parityodd

    October 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I would use it in my X200 tablet! making it the ultimate mobile system with 4GB of RAM!!!

  16. carnaman

    October 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Use it to speed up my crappy work computer!

  17. Anthony

    October 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    I have a 5400rpm hard drive sitting in my laptop, and I can really use a SSD drive to speed up the load time of everything! Thanks!

  18. ajs

    October 13, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I would replace my computers seagate hard drive which is the current bottleneck in my system.

  19. Mike Maring

    October 13, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    I’d totally use this to double the speed of my laptop! So awesome.

  20. SSDfan79

    October 13, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    This would be perfect to use as boot/basic application drive for my htpc. My old 5400rpm hdd takes about 5 minutes to boot up and launch windows media center, this could do it in less than 1.

  21. Andrew

    October 13, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I’d use this to speed up my laptop, though I’m not sure where I’d put everything.

    I also tweeted here: http://twitter.com/#!/alee67/status/27273161318

  22. Jinto765

    October 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I could use this to replace my ye olde 5400 fujitsu boot drive which is currently slower than a troll through mud :}

  23. HeyYo!

    October 13, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Count me in! I would use this in my dell inspiron netbook.

  24. Michael Perlman

    October 13, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    I’d use the SSD in my very new 13-inch MacBook Pro. I’d probably also buy an Optibay to place my current 5400 RPM HDD in so I don’t have to tote an external drive everywhere.

  25. Giuseppe Sardone

    October 14, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I have this old but very dear ThinkPad x41 Tablet, who albeit old is still my favorite computer (incredible IPS display, perfect keyboard and many other things). I’ve wanted to replace the hard disk with a SSD for ages… and if I’m lucky it’s the right time :)

  26. Ryan

    October 14, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I would love to add this to my MBP! I wonder how well it plays with mac hardware.

  27. Joe Meyer

    October 14, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Would definitely toss this in my desktop and have it used for gaming and my swap file. Then I would use it’s blazing fast speed to post as many facebook comments about how awesome notebooks.com is for providing me with such an awesome hard drive!

  28. Tom Mckee

    October 14, 2010 at 1:04 am

    I would put it in my Toshiba M700 tablet and never look back would love to have this. Thanks for the chance.

  29. JHawk

    October 14, 2010 at 1:25 am

    There are so many ways to use a good SSD. The trick comes down to, “Which one would I end up implementing?” In general, I think ‘speed up a slower computer’ is winning.

  30. Abhi

    October 14, 2010 at 1:59 am

    I would like to replace my PC’s hard drive with this SSD and put the image of my current hard drive into this. My current pc is quite old and its hard drive can crash any time. SSD will give me better boot time , performance and long hard drive life as there is no moving part.

  31. Archana

    October 14, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I want to use this new SSD drive to as my new boot drive in notebook to increase performance and reliability. I will use my old hard drive as storage drive.

  32. Rzayas28

    October 14, 2010 at 3:35 am

    I would use it for evil. I would keep very naughty pictures and trade secrets on it. If water logged, I would use it as a large paper weight. What am I trying to win again?

  33. Rzayas28

    October 14, 2010 at 3:35 am

    I would use it for evil. I would keep very naughty pictures and trade secrets on it. If water logged, I would use it as a large paper weight. What am I trying to win again?

  34. oasis789

    October 14, 2010 at 3:58 am

    I would use an SSD for my OS drive in my gaming rig and burn through Crysis 2!

  35. quillaja

    October 14, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I’d use it to replace my 80gb hard drive in my laptop.

  36. jeremiahsurd

    October 14, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    would love to use it as a boot disk..

  37. jeremiahsurd

    October 14, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    would love to use it as a boot disk..

  38. Jane Ullah

    October 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    the 80gb ssd would have my operating systems installed and my regular hard drive will be used for my files for the OS. Heck, I might give the 80gb ssd a whirl as the only drive for my notebook. :)

  39. Angel Moreno

    October 14, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    me like

  40. Angel Moreno

    October 14, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    me like

  41. Sid Liu

    October 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Fly fly!

  42. Sid Liu

    October 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Fly fly!

  43. Martin

    October 14, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    The SSD is great I would replace my notebook hard drive with it.

  44. David Song

    October 15, 2010 at 3:44 am

    I would do the unthinkable and switch out my 500GB hdd

  45. Tjpines

    October 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    I put a 160 GB Intel X25-M in my desktop system last December, and the difference in performance compared to a traditional hard drive was dramatic! Now, I’d like to put an SSD in my notebook computer too.

  46. Geo Webb

    October 15, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I would use the SSD as a backup drive for my desktop pc.

  47. JD Seattle

    October 15, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    I’d swap out the 120gb and start fresh with my old Gateway computer. Nothing motivates to start a project like shiny new tech.

  48. Aaron

    October 15, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    I’d swap out my 6 year old 150GB Raptor for this beast of a hard drive.

  49. tushark

    October 16, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    I’d <3 to win an Intel SSD! =)

  50. tushark

    October 16, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    I’d <3 to win an Intel SSD! =)

  51. Kndlewis

    October 16, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I bet the Intel X25-M SSD would speed up my netbook, too!

  52. Crandy2

    October 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I sure would like to give the Intel X25-M SSD a try on my netbook !!

  53. Msknutson

    October 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I’d replace the hard drive on my Lenovo x100e ThinkPad, so that maybe the fans will stop constantly blowing hot air on (and burning) my left hand. The ol;d hard drive will be come a backup drive.

  54. Scout

    October 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I’d use it in a CarPC project

  55. Prosto Saurus

    October 19, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Id use it to speed boot my PC for a book I’m writing-lots of images

  56. Anonymous

    October 19, 2010 at 8:44 am

    As a boot disc for a PC that is a Photoshop Graphix buster

  57. SlamWare

    October 20, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I would use the SSD drive to re-animate my wife’s laptop.

  58. CristinaV

    October 21, 2010 at 4:29 am

    TO MAKE MAH BOMB ASS COMPUTER SUPAH FAST

  59. duke

    October 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I was expecting instant on like the ipad.. the number of seconds saved doesn’t justify the high cost of SSD at this point.

  60. Matt

    October 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I would use it to imporve system performance on a Dell Latitude 13.

  61. Marcus

    October 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I would like to a see a report on the new generaton of SSD due out early next year.

  62. Mike

    October 26, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I would add it to my desk top to speed up access to PS CS5.

  63. Jean D.

    October 27, 2010 at 1:55 am

    I’d use the 80GB Intel X25 SSD so speed up my sloooooooooow computer. It’s aggravating!

    Thanks for a great giveaway!

  64. JNB

    October 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I would use the SSD to reduce the bottleneck on my Crossfire, PhenomX6 setup! Thanks.

  65. feraz

    October 27, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    i would work up the courage to ask my computer to boot-up quicker :)

  66. feraz

    October 27, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    i would work up the courage to ask my computer to boot-up quicker :)

  67. Robertlamppert

    October 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I would use it to make my pc rip!

  68. Leon Durham

    October 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    I would install Windows 7, games, and programs like Firefox, etc on the SSD and another hard drive for everything else.

  69. MacBook Air 2010

    November 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    So sad that I do not use Twitter. I’d love to have a new Intel SSD and hope that whoever wins it enjoys it!

  70. Daniel Moyer

    November 9, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Oh snap, I want one of this so bad!

  71. Brian

    December 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I’d use it to boot the notebook I use for software development… which already has a fast processor and Win7 installed, so this would provide that bit of extra kick that would make the difference!

  72. Danchez

    January 22, 2011 at 3:42 am

    I want use it for system maintenance

  73. Deb Baer

    January 30, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I would use this to make the computer really zoom!

  74. Eric Kim

    February 24, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    i need this ssd to show off all my friend and co workers.

    most of all my friends r crazy about does pc hardware.

    if they see this hardware!!

    they will buy it no lie~

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