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Looking for a new desktop with an SSD

Posted on 2012-08-22
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I'm in Ottawa, Canada and would like to configure a new desktop machine with a 3'rd gen I7, lots of RAM and an SSD to hold Windows and my programs. I imagine I'd want to upgrade the system to Windows 8 when it becomes available.

I've checked the Dell.ca and HP.ca websites to see if they have such a beast and came up empty handed (except for a $3000 Dell / Alienware box). I've also checked out other online retailers (BestBuy, FutureShop, Staples and TigerDirect.ca) but can't seem to find anything to my liking.

I've seen a couple of systems that boast a traditional high capacity hard-drive with an embedded SSD but I can't seem to find a system with Win 7 pre-installed (plus a low-cost upgrade offer to Win 8) on a 256GB SSD as the main drive and a 1TB HD as the secondary drive.

I suppose I'd be willing to build a system but in a perfect world, I'd like to simply be able to drive down to a place like FutureShop / BestBuy / Staples or a local Ma & Pa computer shop (if any still exist), plop down $1500 - $2000 (box only. no peripherals required) and walk away with a pre-configured system.

Does anyone have a suggestion for me?

Thanks.
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Question by:ou81aswell
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 38322363
Why don't you just buy the SSD yourself and put it in the machine? You should be able to clone or use an image based backup tool move your OS over to it. Paragon has such tools:

http://www.paragon-software.com/downloads/home/

Personally I consider Windows 8 a useless piece of OS and wouldn't consider "downgrading" a Windows 7 PC to that OS. It only makes some sense for a smart phone or tablet, and on those I'd prefer Android or Linux as the OS.
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by:CSI-Windows_com
ID: 38322419
Some laptops ship with SSD.

SSD has a lot of challenges - most notably highly used parts of the drive can wear out.  This results in many "SSD conversion and tuning" guides telling you to move your often used temp files to a standard hard disk.  Of course it is these same files that benefit from being loaded from SSD.

You also have to keep a constant watch on your Windows partition.

I am running SSD as the primary drive on my 8GB machine and I can't say all the foibles and expense were worth the small speed increase over good 7200 RPM drives - or even a 10K RPM drive for that matter.

Windows 8 requires LESS hardware than Windows 7 because the "Aero" interface is basically being abandoned.
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by:ou81aswell
ID: 38322511
Thanks guys. As a developer, I will need a Win 8 machine with Office 2013 on it for testing and support purposes.

I was under the impression that an SSD would significantly outperform a conventional 7200rpm HD. I recall using RamDisks back in the DOS days and they were infinitely faster than hard disks at the time. I was also under the impression that the SSD issues of a few years back (Trim) had been addressed.

I was hoping the technology had come along to the point where I could buy an off-the-shelf solution. I'm not crazy about adding an SSD after the fact as it seems to me it would require an awful lot of work.
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CSI-Windows_com earned 2000 total points
ID: 38322575
Certainly they out perform 7200 RPM HDs on benchmarks!

However, you must consider how much time the average user machine spends in heavy reads or heavy writes - especially if it has adequate RAM where swapping is minimized.

As a developer compiles would be your most affected situation - but if you are only compiling a 10 MB program - it may be hard to see the difference or for the difference to be a significant difference to your daily productivity.

This is a bit of a sideline to your main question, but I would advise that you purchase your machine with Win7 64-bit and then use it's ability to boot from a virtual disk (VHD) to have Win8 on the same machine.  VMs still have the advantage over VHD boot in that they can be easily reset.

Here is the instructions for Win8 VHD boot: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/how-to-use-a-vhd-to-dual-boot-windows-8-on-a-windows-7-pc/4847
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by:rindi
ID: 38322703
If you really need win8, you could buy an extra license (not an upgrade), and install it in a VM rather than blowing away Windows 7.
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by:Callandor
ID: 38324683
>Certainly they out perform 7200 RPM HDs on benchmarks!

More than just benchmarks - SSDs outperform hard drives in real life applications all the time.

An SSD has random access rates more than 10x faster han a traditional hard drive, and boot times can be as quick as 30 sec for Win 7.  That's a real life Corsair Force GT SSD boot time for my machine.  For developing, the disk I/O is an inescapable occurrence, and an SSD will help there.

Adding an SSD after the fact is a no-brainer: you use disk cloning software to duplicate the entire drive (including boot sector) and then swap the new drive in.  Make sure AHCI mode is set in the BIOS and TRIM is enabled in the OS, and that's it.
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Author Comment

by:ou81aswell
ID: 38355258
I went down to my local big box computer store (FutureShop) and picked up an HP Pavilion Phoenix (h9-1183) . 3'rd Gen I7 with 12 GB RAM, 2 TB HD, 120 GB SSD and a Radeon HD 7770.

Windows is loaded on the SSD and it takes about 15 seconds from power-on to the login screen.

Visual Studio 2012 loads in 3 seconds. Visual Studio 2010 on my HP first generation I7 takes about 12 seconds to load.
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by:Callandor
ID: 38356244
I told you an SSD would make a difference in real life...
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by:ou81aswell
ID: 38356302
Yes. And thanks. My quest was to find something off the shelf.

I suppose I'd be willing to build a system but in a perfect world, I'd like to simply be able to drive down to a place like FutureShop / BestBuy / Staples or a local Ma & Pa computer shop (if any still exist), plop down $1500 - $2000 (box only. no peripherals required) and walk away with a pre-configured system.

It turns out that it is a perfect world. A couple of days after posting my question, I stumbled across the machine at the futureshop.ca website. It was $1399 and in-stock, so I drove down to FutureShop, plopped down $1600 (with taxes) and walked away with a pre-configured system.

:)
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by:Callandor
ID: 38356573
Enjoy!
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