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I have to buy some new computers for my users. Some sellers told me that it is a good idea to have a small SSD (32GB) for the System (linux or WinXP) and a SATA II (more than 300GB) for other stuff.

  • Is there any one that have already experienced that configuration ?
  • What kind of SSD can do the job properly ?
  • What about programs : installed on SSD or not ?
  • What things do I have to be carefull when using SSD ?
  • Isn't it better to use 15k rpm (or 10k) HDD for the system ?

Thank you in advance.

Edit : Users need Firefox, a home-made java GUI, eclipse and development tool

PS : I love this site, because we can ask everything and be sure that we'll get the answer.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 1 down vote accepted

This is mostly an educated guess, as I have not tested such a configuration.

I would say using a small, fast hard drive for the OS and programs would be a good idea. This does not have to be an SSD by any means. It could help if you need to be stingy on power, but would cost much more, and have less capacity, than using a 100GB standard HD. As another answer says, Vista and developer tools would likely not fit in 32GB unless you were very careful which components from each are installed. Even then, maybe not.

My recommendation would be to save the money and get a 80-120GB main drive that is fast, then a larger, slower drive for data. If you decide to go cheap on the second, slower drive, be sure to run backups on the data periodically. A 10k or 15k spindle speed drive is generally not a great idea in a desktop workstation, as it adds heat, power draw, and vibration to the system for very little real-world performance gain, in most cases.

As for what to watch out for if you decide to go SSD, watch for manufacturer and read the warranty terms. Also, look at real-world benchmarks, as some SSDs have been found to be unbearably slow.

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32GB for a system drive is getting tight these days, especially for those who run dev tools that can easily eat 10+GB themselves. I've not done this exact setup (yet, a new system like this is on order), but my current Windows machine has a 30GB WD Raptor for OS and a 1TB Seagate for data and it's amazing how much faster even the Raptor is.

In Windows having most programs installed anywhere other then the default location (%PROGRAMFILES%) is a pain as some stuff does break. Also, if you're not going to use the SSD why bother buying it, you only boot once a day.

In terms of SSD's there's really only two MLC (ie, cheap-er) options that are any good. The best is the Intel X25-M, but it's expensive and the number two is the OCZ Vertex, the 30GB version actually being cheaper then the smallest Raptors here in Australia. These SSD's can be simply treated like small fast hard drives, and need no special treatment.

Almost every other SSD currently out there is either garbage, or really expensive.

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If you really need FAST!!! hard-drives, then SSD's are a good option. I'm not sure if 10k or 15k HDD are really necessary but you didn't give us many details about the user requirements in your network.

Joel Spolsky talked about introducing SSD in his company, maybe his article on that could help you

Edit: also consider the the OS you are going to install. Vista + DevTools will most certalnly not fit in 32GB

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I agree with the seller's recommendation, although the 32GB size is far too small. I typically build a fresh install of Windows with all software that I use, and that does not change frequently (ie: Office 2007). You can use Acronis to take an image of your fresh system, and store it on the larger SATA drive.

Then, once you run Windows for a few months and your system naturally slows down (Wintropy?), you can restore the fresh image back to the SSD, and your system will feel "new" again.

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The cream of the crop is unquestionably the Intel SSDs. A reasonable runner-up are drives based on the Indilinx controller; the most famous of which is the OCZ Vertex, also available is the Super Talent Ultradrive ME, and the Patriot Torqx.

I wouldn't bother with SSDs for the system drive personally, as they are still to much of a premium for decent sizes. Consider the cost per gig (I went the SuperTalent drives as they are the cheapest of the Torqx, Vertex, and UltraDrive)

  • $0.8/gb Velociraptor 300gb
  • $1.2/gb Velociraptor 150gb
  • $4.6/gb SuperTalent 64gb
  • $2.7/gb SuperTalent 128gb

I would go with a a 10k Velociraptor for the system drive and an SSD as a second drive only if you have a particular problem needing solving. My workplace just installed SSDs (SuperTalent UltraDrive 64gb ones) as a second drive in our workstations to solve painfully slow SVN syncs on NTFS filesystems (sync times were 10+ minutes and are not sub minute).

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