Upgrade laptop to SATA 3-capable

Posted on 2013-10-22
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
Hello, Experts:

I just installed a new 750 GB SSD, (Samsung 840 EVO) on my Dell laptop, and the performance improvement is significant compared to the old 500 GB conventional 2.5" hard drive.  However, the "Samsung Magician" drive interface says: "SATA 6Gb/s (SATA 3) Not Available," so although the improvement in performance is very good,  the message says that the drive is not capable of its maximum performance because of the lack of the SATA 3 capability.

I was wondering if this is something that can be remedied on a laptop.  I have a Dell Studio 1737, running Windows 7 Ultimate, 64 bit.  It has 8 GB of RAM.  The processor is an Intel dual-core T6500 @ 2.10 GHz.  The Dell Bios is version A09.

The Studio 1737 has an additional hard drive bay with connections available.

I can furnish any other descriptions of the system as needed to help answer this question, even provide a complete print-out of the system configuration if needed.

Now that I've spent a small fortune on the SSD, I'd like to maximize its performance as much as possible.

As always, thanks in advance for your help.

Question by:ChristopherNls
LVL 101

Assisted Solution

John earned 200 total points
ID: 39591918
I do not think any laptop will saturate a 3Gb/sec drive let alone a 6Gb/sec drive. I have a 6Gb/sec 1 Terabyte Western Digital hard drive for my ThinkPad X230. I have the drive but no carrier yet and no recovery DVD's yet, so I have not installed it.

But during my research. I learned that the 6Gb/sec hard drive will work, but not even to 3Gb/sec.  

So your SSD is probably going as fast as it can go. I am not absolutely certain, but I think this is correct.

... Thinkpads_User
LVL 24

Assisted Solution

by:Alan Henderson
Alan Henderson earned 200 total points
ID: 39591922
There are a couple of ways it can be done but for a laptop it's a clunky external drive option.


Low down on this page:
LVL 58

Assisted Solution

by:Joe Winograd - EE Fellow & MVE
Joe Winograd - EE Fellow & MVE earned 200 total points
ID: 39591923
Hi Christopher,
I don't have that model laptop, but on one of my laptops, there's a SATA setting in the BIOS for 3Gbps or 6Gbps (and the default was 3). So look in your BIOS to see if there's such a setting. Regards, Joe
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LVL 17

Assisted Solution

pjam earned 200 total points
ID: 39591963
Not much info in the Users guide and Setup guide, but it looks like you have SATA II.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Gary Case
ID: 39593224
The Studio 1737 specifications show SATA-II ports.   There's no way to upgrade these to SATA-III, so you're limited to that speed.

The specs for your 750GB SSD show maximum performance of  540MB/s reads, 520MB/s writes => so the 300MB/s SATA-II interface is definitely a "bottleneck".

But there's nothing you can do about that.

The good news is that for most operations it's unlikely you'd notice the difference anyway :-)
Benchmarks would clearly show the difference; but a user is not generally going to be able to tell.    I've experimented a bit with this by using both SATA-II and SATA-III ports for a SATA-III SSD -- and noticed virtually no difference in boot times; program loads; etc.

Author Comment

ID: 39593659

I had a suspicion that there was no practical way to upgrade the laptop to SATA-III.  Even if there were, I only would have considered doing it if it were inexpensive, having already spent a small fortune on the SSD drive itself.  :-}

Samsung provides an app with the new drive called the “Samsung Magician” that allows you to optimize an SSD for the user's particular machine, and provide a performance benchmark.  (See attached screenshots.)  

After using the recommended settings- which included Over-Provisioning, I was able to improve the performance both numerically the benchmark page and noticeably to me as well.  The sequential read and write measurements displayed as close to the top possible with this particular drive.  The random read and write numbers are nowhere near the maximum, but seem to be much better than what a Wikipedia claimed were normal for mechanical hard drives, even with SATA-III.  http://goo.gl/C7WX4D  

I also use the "Performance Optimization" every couple of days, which seems to help.

I used the Magician app for Over Provisioning to set aside the recommended partition space for it, (see the 2nd screenshot.)  I normally use a 2nd partition for data I don’t want to lose should something drastic happen to the OS.  So now the chart shows 3 partitions- fine.  

But a note on the screen says “OP settings for drive D.”  Does that mean the Over Provisioning is active for D only, or do you think this is just a quirk in how the app interprets and labels what it sees- since the OP partition comes after D on the drive.  I looked on the Samsung website but didn’t find anything on the subject the first time through.

If the OP worked for only one out of two partitions, would I then have to combine C and D into one in order to gain its benefit for the operating system.  I could do this and no longer worry about losing my documents if I use the nonstop backup feature of Acronis 2014.  My guess is that with the SSD in use, I wouldn't notice any hit on performance from using it.

Please take a look at the screenshots and tell me what you think.


LVL 70

Accepted Solution

Gary Case earned 1200 total points
ID: 39593727
First, let me caveat that I'm basing the following on reading Samsung's tech notes on their Over Provisioning feature ... so this may or may not be accurate :-)

As near as I can tell, the "over provisioning" feature simply sets aside a dedicated part of the SSD for the garbage collection and TRIM features to use as swap space -- allowing the complete space allocated to partitions to be freed from these functions => which eliminates the degradation that these functions normally cause while executing in the background.

I don't think this is "by partition" -- i.e. I don't think it matters whether you have one or two partitions (C: & D:  or just C:) => it seems to be a "per drive" function.

The most interesting thing your charts show is the performance benchmark ... which shows the drive achieving a read speed of 466MB/s and a write speed of 455MB/s.    The specifications for your laptop indicate it has a SATA -II interface;  and I also looked up Intel's specifications for the PM45/GM45 Express chipset,  which confirms this is only SATA-II.   HOWEVER ... the charts show speeds well in excess of the 300MB/s limit of SATA-II !! :-)

I can only assume this is because there were significant cached pages during these tests ... since any writes to/from a local memory cache would be at memory speed and not disk interface speed.      I suspect if you changed the disk policies (in Device Manager) to disable write caching, you'd see speeds more in line with the SATA-II limits.

But the real bottom line is it's working GREAT ... so I'd probably just leave well enough alone :-)

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