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So I managed to snag a 32gb flash solid state drive. (Here’s a picture.) I personally think SSDs are the future and a computer sold with a regular hard disk in five years will seem as quaint as selling one with a tape drive is today. However the technology is still really early, as evidenced by the difficulty I had obtaining one, the cost, and the relatively small storage size (larger sizes are promised or announced, but only 32GB is commercially available). 32gb is more than enough for my primary HD, as anything heavy I can store on a cheap and slow SATA drive or on the network.
I spend a lot of time on my desktop, so I’m fairly sensitive to the speed of things there. I year or so ago I upgraded to a Western Digital 10k Raptor SATA drive and I was pleasantly surprised by the speed boost, more than I normally get from upgrading the CPU. So I thought the SSD would be a nice chance to refresh my desktop and also do a clean install of Windows Vista, which I’ve had laying around. I decided not to touch the CPU, memory, or graphics card, which are a FX-55, 4gb, and Radeon X800 respectively. Installing the SSD was easy, I just needed an IDE converter because it is laptop size.
First off, I like Vista better than Windows XP. There are just a lot of little things, like when you press Windows + M it minimizes windows on both monitors, that are a lot more polished. Also, thanks to the SSD, install and boot times are incredibly fast. Launching programs also feels snappier. The visual effects seem fine on my slightly-old video card, and in general everything feels great. There is also a benefit to wiping the OS and starting with a fresh, I probably had some cruft accumulated before which may have contributed to a slowdown. I don’t know if Vista is worth an upgrade, but if you’re going to start fresh I would go for it.
I have run into two problem, one large and one small. First, about 24 hours after I had set things up,Â I came back to the computer and it said it had rebooted to recover from a “blue screen” error. I have no idea what caused this, but it hasn’t happened since.
More importantly though, something is seriously wrong with the sound. System sounds, and playing music through iTunes or Windows Media sounds great… for about 5 minutes. At some seemingly random point all the sound switches to this really awful distortion which is painful to the ear. When this happens I have to close the application that was playing sound, be it a Youtube video in Firefox or an MP3 in Windows Media, and restart the application for any sound on the computer to return to normal. This sucks. I’m just using the standard nForce sound card built into my motherboard, nothing fancy, and according to Vista it can’t find a better driver for it. I’ve googled around a lot but can’t find anyone with a similar problem, but if I figure out a fix I’ll update this entry to help future net searchers.