Crucial, OCZ, and Intel now have 2.5″ MLC SSD flash drives with TRIM support, and prices have been rapidly falling… now down to the $2/GB range. SSD is now getting interesting. SSD is about 100x faster than hard drives for random accesses and can be 2-6x faster than the fastest laptop hard drives when transferring big files. This the sort of improvement that will change how you feel about using your computer.
For the average computer user that doesn’t download or store much (maybe a few thousand pictures and other documents, but not much video), a 20-80 GB SSD might be enough. My parents are one such example. All their data fits on a 40 GB HD. The 320 GB HD in their laptop is complete overkill. They just have to decide that they are willing to go from 320 GB to 80 GB for an extra $150 or so, but their computer will be much faster.
For my use, the equation is more complex. My laptop has a 500 GB HD installed, and there is about 140 GB free. The cheapest 512 MB SSD is about $1700 right now, so that is out completely. That means I need to get creative.
1. Ignore SSD.
2. Buy a laptop with SSD. Use USB/eSATA hard drives
3. Buy a laptop with both SSD and a hard drive
Option 1 is what I’ve been doing. But now that 40-80 GB SSDs are affordable, and my OS/apps/games will easily fit in that space, I’m getting tempted.
Option 2 is the obvious alternative. The problem with this is that I have to carry around at least one USB external HD… and I already frequently carry around a 1TB external HD where my videos/downloads are archived.
Option 3 is what I want. I’ve not found a laptop that offers this option, but I want to have both. However, laptops are getting thinner and thinner, and that goes against putting two 2.5″ drives in the system. So why not make one drive a 1.8″ drive and the other a 2.5″? Flash doesn’t have much of a premium price for the space (just more chips, not extra engineering, unlike 1.8″ hard drives), and it would be just as fast (also unlike 1.8″ hard drives).
If a laptop could have both, then I could have the 40 GB 1.8″ SSD ($100-150) and a 500+ GB 2.5″ ($100) hard drive setup that I want with a relatively small increase to the size, weight, power draw, and price of the system.
This would be perfect for Dell, since you could get exactly the two drive combination you want when ordering rather than letting the prebuilt system manufacturers try to get the combo right.