If you follow my blog or read my previous posts you may recall around this time last year I ordered myself a new laptop (View post here). After a year of ownership I’ve been really happy with the laptop – the i5 CPU and 6GB of RAM make it fast enough for most of the work I carry out on it – including video editing. The 15.6″ 1080p screen is great for multitasking and video editing as well as working with large spreadsheets, if there is any downside it’s the battery life (About 3 hours) but I’ve been able to live with that.
I had some compatibility issues with Windows 8 when it arrived with a number of software packages, plus it also had power management issues that affected a large number of Windows 8 users, a big one was a fault using additional fonts that again affected a number of users but there wasn’t a fix for – despite the various criticism at the time I didn’t mind using Windows 8 but made a decision to install Windows 7 which I already had a license for.
The only other thing I think could be improved was the HDD loading times, the laptop was a little slow to boot and opening things like Photoshop, Office and even Chrome was a little slow – the hard drive was 5,400RPM and despite being a good size (750GB) I think the speed was a little low and contributed to the laptops slow loading times. I decided that as Solid State Disk (SSD) drives have come down on price I’d order one and use that as my primary drive.
I opted for a Crucial M500 120GB drive, however at the same time ordered a caddy for my optical drive bay that would allow me to continue using my existing 750GB drive for storage. This would sacrifice the optical drive bay, which is something I don’t use often.
When installing the SSD I thought I’d also make the switch again to Windows 8, though this time it’ll be 8.1 which seems to have fixed a number of different issues that I had with W8 this time last year. I’d also Microsoft Office 2013 Professional Plus.
So with the SSD fitted I done a clean install of Windows 8.1, fitted the original 750GB hard drive to the caddy, removed the BluRay drive and installed the caddy to the laptop in it’s place. If anyone is interested, I made a video showing how to prepare and install a hard drive caddy to a laptop optical bay.
I immediately noticed a difference with the SSD set as the primary drive, Windows 8.1 installed in less than 10 minutes and Office 2013 installed in about 3.
If you watched the video above you’ll see that on the caddy I purchased I was able to transfer over the optical drive bay door – this meant that when the work was complete the laptop looks identical and an activity light shows on the drive bay door so I can see when the second drive is active.
All in all the laptop is much faster, the slower loading applications open instantly – Chrome was slow due to the extensions that I have enabled, I wasn’t sure if perhaps the network speed was partially the problem here but that isn’t the case.
There is potential for the battery life to improve also, I’ve set the second drive to spin down after 5 minutes of inactivity, when doing most web and email tasks the battery power previously used to power the HDD motor will be saved.