When using a desktop or notebook that is getting a bit long in the tooth, upgrade paths traditionally look at the usual suspects; processors, memory, and graphics cards. Depending on how the device is used, one or all of those items could be upgraded to provide a boost.

Hard drives were typically looked at for storage alone. Things started to change with increases in storage coupled with increases in speed. Reduced seek times, increased RPM's, larger buffer sizes, these advances and more reduced the time to access data. In essence, speed. And while all were brilliant technical innovations, it wasn't till flash memory became available to consumers in commercially viable quantities and prices that we moved past incremental improvements.

Traditional hard drives tended to be heavy, loud, fragile on portable devices, hot, and adversely affected notebook battery life. Solid State Drives (SSDs) changed the equation by providing a smaller package, no moving parts, reduced power draw, reduced heat, and improved durability amongst other things. All tangible improvements, but the biggest was in terms of raw speed.

And it is the manner of the speed that is most apparent. There is an immediacy experienced from the moment the system is powered on. Boot times are significantly improved, applications open faster, the system tends to runs smoother as it no longer waits for a spinning disk to be read. SSDs are not governed by RPM's and seek times in the way drives from previous generations were.

The pictures and videos below demonstrate the size differences between traditional hard-drives, regular SATA notebook drives, and SSDs in both SATA and mSATA configurations

They cover installation in some of the most popular Dell Latitude notebooks and real-world usage with Office 2013 and Adobe applications. Samsung EVO 840 drives were featured in the demonstrations, with actual work systems, while the 850 Pro will be featured in a future video, alongside a Precision M4800. Some of the specifications for the Samsung 840 EVO are listed below, with a link to the product in the Dell Store.

Samsung 840 EVO: 500 GB Internal Upgrade Kit

Solid state drive - internal
500 GB
NAND Flash Memory Type
Triple-level cell (TLC)
Form Factor
SATA 6Gb/s

Internal Data Rate
540 MBps (read) / 520 MBps (write)
4KB Random Read
98000 IOPS
4KB Random Write
90000 IOPS


This first video compares regular, full-sized hard-drives to solid state drives, providing a visual indicator of overall size for users looking to replace drives in their desktops. The SATA drive shown is an older 320 GB version. Newer models can be purchased with terabytes of storage: