To SSD or not ? How Intel X25-M Solid State Drive performs in a HTPC

I use my HTPC every day to watch movies, but I don’t like to wait until it boots. To be honest, it was never that slow to boot, I have a AMD Phenom II X4 Deneb at 3.0Ghz on a Asus M4A785-M motherboard, and the system is pretty nimble as it is. However, there is always room to grow, so after a long wait I got myself the Intel X25-M SSD.

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At 80GB, the size is perfect for a HTPC, a Windows 7 installation plus various 7MC  plug-ins only takes about 25GB with enough to spare for additional media-related applications.

Installation:

1. I purchased the ICY DOCK MB882SP-1S-1B and inserted the SSD into it. Everything went very smooth, no tools required. You won’t need this if you purchase the retail version of the SSD drive.

2. The current firmware as of today (03-10-2010) doesn’t support TRIM, a vital feature if you  don’t want your newly bought SSD to slow to a crawl in several months, so I went to Intel’s website and got the new firmware. I burned it on a bootable CD, and installed it onto the SSD. Everything finished in a minute or so and I was good to go.

3. I didn’t want to install everything from the beginning, so I cloned the existing partition onto the SSD. After I set it as the main drive, Windows 7 started to boot without any issues. The boot time now is about 22 seconds measured up to the point 7MC is up and running and the remote control is responsive – compared with the previous boot time of about 40 seconds. Not bad. The shut-down time is much faster, about 2-3 seconds. Everything is much quieter as well.

4. Don’t forget to run the provided Intel SSD Management Tool every week or so to keep up the drive in good shape.

Conclusion:

– booting time ~22 seconds…I remember the early  HD-DVD and Blu-ray players with booting times toward 2 minutes…

– everything inside WWindows Media Center is almost instant, including Media Browser. I also turned on SQLLite support and I can access my library in seconds. Effectively an order of magnitude faster than before.

– Windows 7 Primary hard disk score – 7.4

All in all, a good investment for all Media Center aficionados.

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