Solid state drives (SSDs) have been “next year’s great technology” for about six years now. Each year it seems that all it would take would be some economies of scale, and we could cast off the shackles of mechanical “spinning disk” technology for good. Unfortunately, another year has come and gone, and still SSDs are too little for too much…
I seem to attract hardware failures like rotten meat attracts flies. Maybe it is because I sometimes run slightly “bleeding edge” gear, or perhaps it is something environmental (* /em looks accusingly at seven cats shedding hair into computer intakes*) Whatever the cause is, I take steps to make sure I have reasonably current backups of my systems. Unfortunately, that rarely seems to save me from frustration…
Everyone is talking about SSDs replacing hard drives, if not today than Real Soon Now. On the surface, solid state drives have a lot going for them: no moving parts, potentially very dense storage, and the possibility for low power consumption. The main things stopping me, at least, from seriously considering an SSD in my machines until recently were price and capacity. The cheapest SSDs cost something like $600 for 64 gigabytes: a normal hard drive might costs $200 for 500 gigabytes of storage, making SSDs easily ten times the price of mechanical hard drives on a per gigabyte basis.
But solid state drives obviously have an advantage in terms of reliability and power consumption, right? So all I have to do is wait for the inevitable drop in price/increase in capacity that Moore’s law suggests and I’ll be set. Maybe… or maybe not.
I’m pretty happy with my Macbook Pro. But on the day I bought it, I started planning upgrades: I’m a geek, after all.
The first thing on my list- upgrade from the default 2 GB to 4 GB of RAM. That was done about a week after I bought the machine. Second on my list: a larger and faster hard drive. 120 GB of storage on a 5400 RPM drive is nice, but 240 GB at 7200 RPM… that would be just the ticket.
If there is one thing that can make me giddy when I’m working on a computer upgrade project, it is a well-designed case or chassis. Well-designed means:
- the pieces slot together with minimal effort
- I can open the box without special tools or fiddly screws
- the edges and corners are nicely turned with no sharp edges
- the paint/finish is clean, smooth, and elegant
- there is more than adequate room for all the necessary cables
- all marks/writing/labels are clear and easily read during assembly and future disassembly
- the chassis as a whole feels massively solid and robust: no wobbles, no crappy plastic-y bits
- lots of spare parts and cables included
- good cooling/heat management design, with space for additional/optional fans where appropriate
My favorite case manufacturer to date has been Antec. Their cases generally meet or exceed all the items on my list of requirements. My most recent full computer chassis from them was the P180: it’s a fantastic case, and I’m very happy with it.
Choosing a hard drive enclosure early this year seemed like a no brainer since I like Antec cases so much. I bought Antec’s MX-1 “actively cooled” enclosure. It looked like typical Antec: well made, easy to open, all screws easily accessible and nicely sized, with excellent cooling. Unfortunately, after just a bit over six months of use it died…rather completely. And finding a replacement wasn’t a picnic…