So, about a week ago I ordered an 80GB Intel X25-M G2 SSD, and as of a few days ago, it's running as my main system disk. It's a lot smaller than my old main disk (which was 320GB), but I just kept all my sound and pictures on the old main disk and moved the operating system over to the new disk, and that handled the size difference.
Now, having used it for a few days, I think that we are right at the beginning of the "SSD revolution"--that the curve where SSDs will start to replace hard drives for most common use is very close. Here's why:
- My SSD was 80GB and about $350 (and that's only because demand is so high that they increased the price from $270, right now). Although that's way more expensive than a hard drive of the same size, it's not unreasonably expensive, or beyond the purchasing power of a normal consumer.
- For normal dekstop use, the drive is about 5-10x faster than my old hard drive:
- One part of the boot process on my machine that used to take 30 seconds now takes 5 seconds or less.
- After I log in, it takes only about 2-3 seconds to present me with a fully-functional desktop with all startup programs running.
- Most programs (including Thunderbird) start under 2 seconds.
- Opening a new window or tab (including loading and fully rendering my iGoogle home page) in Firefox is instantaneous--under 1 second.
- The drive generates almost no heat--I've had it on for hours and it's cooler than my hand.
- The drive consumes almost no power compared to a hard drive.
- Physical dimensions don't matter--a solid state drive can be any physical size, and it's still the same speed (unlike hard drives, where small laptop drives are almost always slower than big desktop drives).
- Solid state drives produce no vibration and make no sound. For all intents and purposes (because I designed the rest of my machine to be very quiet) my machine is now totally silent during operation.
- The drive's physical orientation doesn't matter, and it can withstand being dropped or thrown around even when operating (obviously to a limited degree--if you hit it with a hammer, it will stop functioning). Because there are no moving parts, you can pick the drive up and turn it sideways, upside down, jiggle it--whatever--while it's running, and it will make no difference in performance or safety.
- All of the old problems that SSDs used to have (that they were slow, that they were unreasonably expensive, that they became slower over time, that they "stuttered" and locked up systems briefly) have now been resolved, and SSDs "just work".
Overall, it's the most significant performance upgrade I've ever made to a computer (other than giving enough RAM to a machine that was woefully low on RAM), and I'd strongly recommend it to anybody who can afford it, knows how to install it and copy over their OS, and who uses a computer regularly.
Now, if you're going to buy an SSD, it's important that you buy the right one, so read the latest AnandTech SSD Overview to understand how SSDs work and which ones are the best to buy.