With SSD’s becoming more popular I decided to take the plunge and replace my 150GB Western Digital Raptor X (WD1500AHFD) with a G.Skill Falcon II SSD (FM-25S2I-128GBF2). The Raptor was doing fine and performance was OK but with 70GB dedicated to Windows\Swap File\Programs\Games there was not much free space. The aim of this upgrade is not to get the best synthetic benchmarks but to speed up my system drive and measure the benefits Specifications: From: http://www.gskill.com/products.php?index=240 Packaging. Box: Drive: Rear: Test System This system is running stock. CPU: Intel Q6600 G0 @ Stock MB: Gigabyte 965P DS4 v3.3 (Bios F11b) MEM: 4GB Corsair DDR2 800Mhz XMS2 (TWIN2X4096-6400C5) VGA: XFX 8800GTX SSD: G.Skill Falcon 2 128GB (Firmware: 1819) HDD: Western Digital Raptor X150GB (WD1500AHFD, Firmware: 12.07QR5) SATA Chipset: Intel ICH8 (not J-Micron Ports) DVD: Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-212 Setup and Installation I previously had my Raptor Drive as the main system drive and a games drive (separate partitions) with two other smaller HDD’s. Before installing Windows I removed all of my other drives and Installed plugged in the SSD with my SATA DVD Rom Drive and booted from the Windows Installation Disc. I was running my Intel ICH8 SATA in IDE mode before but decided to switch to AHCI to try and gain an extra 3% performance boost (http://www.gskill.us/forum/showthread.php?t=2753 ). Switching to AHCI added 10 seconds to my BIOS load times and also caused Windows to report strange behaviour after a few boots? I am not sure if this is my old board but I did have issues with AHCI a few years back when I played around with over clocking a few years back. Swap File and Temp File Redirection (To save SSD writes): Swap File Config: Because the Swap file is now on my RaptorX drive with the clear window I can see if swap/temp files are being accessed (not very often). Temp File Redirection: I think Windows 7 is smart enough not to write temp (flagged) files to disk and instead leave them in cache? Windows 7 Installation times Complete install in under 14.5 Minutes. Windows 7 Changes and Software Installation Windows 7 = C:\ [Win7_SSD], Raptor = G:\ Games [Games and Swap] To prevent excess writes to the SSD I configured my Windows temp and Swap file to reside on the Raptor (G:\). I installed he latest Nvidia Drivers v195.62 for Windows 7 64bit and all recommended Patches. To make things comparable I Installed the same following programs to match the previous installation with no SSD. • Office 2007 Professional (Complete Install) • Expression Web 2 • Internet Explorer • Mozilla Firefox • Symantec Endpoint Protection • iTunes • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 + Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Documentation • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 + MSDN Library - July 2001 • VLC media player • PowerISO • FileZilla Client • Adobe Master Collection CS4 (Adobe After Effects CS4, Adobe Bridge CS4, Adobe Contribute CS4, Adobe Device Central CS4, Adobe Dreamweaver CS4, Adobe Drive CS4, Adobe Encore CS4, Adobe ExtendScript Toolkit CS4, Adobe Extension Manager CS4, Adobe Fireworks CS4, Adobe Flash CS4 Professional, Adobe Illustrator CS4, Adobe InDesign CS4, Adobe Media Encoder CS4, Adobe OnLocation CS4, Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64 Bit), Adobe Photoshop CS4, Adobe Pixel Bender Toolkit, Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, Adobe Soundbooth CS4, Mocha for After Effects CS4) • HD Tach, HD Tune • Procmon • Microsoft DirectX SDK (August 2009) • Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.1 • Windows Live Messenger • Steam + (Backed Up games) to G:\ • etc Performance I benchmarked many applications on my Raptor before installing the SSD. Here are the results. All results are from a normal Windows 7 installation with all apps and services in their default state (unless noted below). The Swap file is on the Raptor and the %Temp% folder is on the SSD. Symantec Endpoint Protection is Disabled (Tray Icon), It is quite possible that the Windows is still settling down and indexing the drive and PreFetching/Superfetching in the background. No Disk/NT Cache registry tweaks have been added to the registry. Windows 7 Boot time: Windows 7 Shutdown Time: HD Tune Read Speeds: Application Load Times (Part 1): Application Load Times (Part 2): HD Tach Average Read (MB/sec) HD Tach Results: Raptor X G.Skill Falcon II SSD 128GB HD Tune: G.Skill Falcon II SSD 128GB - HD Tune Benchmark : G.Skill Falcon II SSD 128GB - HD Tune Info: That’s strange, the SSD says it is running in UDMA Mode 5 (not 6)? Windows Rating: AS SSD Benchmark: Benchmark: Info: Benchmarks as non bootable drive against a generic SATA Drive and a 15K rpm SAS RAID 0 Array Below are the first benchmarks I took of the G Skill Falcon II 128GB on my work PC as a non OS drive. Work PC Specifications: • Windows 7 Enterprise 64bit • Brand: Dell T300 (bios 1.3.0) • Processor: Intel X3363 Quad Core 2.8Ghz 12MB cache • Memory: 4GB • SAS Controller: LSI Logic SAS1068E-IR (rev 0.25.47, MPT BIOS, 6.22.03.00) HD Tune 2.55 - Seek Time HD Tune 2.55 - Minimum Read HD Tune 2.55 - Average Read HD Tune 2.55 - Maximum Read Conclusion Given that my system is sub optimal and is quite a few years old I am very happy with the SSD’s performance and it is by far the best performance upgrade I have ever made (better than a 36GB raptor and 150Gb raptor back in the in the day). Pros: • Fast. • Quiet. • Low Power. • Cool (not Hot). • Moderately priced (I paid $3.38 per GB, An Intel X25M Generation 2 would be $5.03 per GB). • Operating temp 5c higher than the raptor. Cons: • Warranty could be longer than 2 years (3 to 5 would be nice) • No noise from the SSD (I like the HDD clicking sound) • Reliability issues (I purchased two and one failed after a few days, in the process of RMA). • G.Skill Forums are not fully open. I signed up for an account but am waiting for a second level “human” approval before I can post in the forums. • No activity or power on light (would be nice in the case of a dead/faulty drive, Normally you can feel a normal HDD spinning even when dead).• SATA connector seems unstable (with some cables).