12 Aug

The SSD, Slipstreaming Windows 7 and installing from USB

Ok so the SSD is now installed. It’s a Samsung MZ-7PC128B/WW, that is, a Samsung 830-series 128 GB drive and the final B stands for “bulk”, i.e. does not come with any mounting brackets, cables or doohickeys. On second thought, the mounting brackets would have been cool, but since the drive weighs 61 grams and doesn’t contain any moving parts, i think you can essentially put it anywhere. I have it tied down with some velcro at the moment. Though, my case needs replacing anyway, so I’ll just do properly when i get the new case in September or October. The case I’m getting is a Fractal Design’Define’ R4, in the black pearl color. Retails for about 100 euromoneys.

The SSD then. It had the latest firmware (that came out sometime in January), so an upgrade was unnecessary. The software used to update the drive is called ‘Samsung SSD Magician’, and can be downloaded from here. It’s also on the CD that came with even the bulk drive. The latest firmware is CXM03B1Q, and you can get it from that same page. Click “See All Downloads” and then either the software or firmware page. But if you buy your drive now, chances are it’ll already come with the latest firmware. The Magician software does other things too, such as suggests performance enhancing options and you can benchmark the drive, so i figure it’s pretty much a good thing to have around.

I did a complete re-install of Windows 7 since I wanted a completely clean start. Before starting, I made sure i had AHCI turned on in the BIOS, which I did, by default. AHCI is something you really want when you have an SSD since it offers some optimizations (hotplug capability, and Native Command Queueing for instance) with newer SATA-drives versus the standard PATA emulation and other modes. Changing it while having Windows installed is not something I’d try, but maybe it can be done. It’s a small registry change, which involves changing the dword value of “start” in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\msahci to 0 (zero). This means AHCI is enabled. If you have AHCI enabled in BIOS and do a clean install, AHCI should be installed (It was in my Win 7 SP 1 x64 at least). I had also integrated the AHCI drivers for my motherboard into the Windows 7 install media using RT Seven Lite.  That’s also how i integrated SP1 into my non-SP1 media. Finally I used these instructions to get the installer on a USB stick since I tend to avoid optical media if I can these days. You could also use RT Seven Lite to make the .iso and use this tool to get the job done.

Ok so Windows 7 installed, time for some other settings. I used the recommendations in SSD Magician to do these, but you could do them by hand too. For SSD drives, it is recommended to disable scheduled defrag, since it puts unnecessary strain on an already fast drive. Also, you should disable disk indexing, since searches are fast anyway, and again you don’t want unnecessary reads on the drive. Make sure you have TRIM enabled, using the command  fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify  in an administrative command prompt. If the value returned is 0 (zero), you have trim enabled. If it returns 1 (one), then you don’t have trim enabled. In that case you can use fsutil behavior set DisableNotify 0 to enable it. Reboot required.

A note on Windows 7. The slipstreamed SP1 install worked fine, and changing the drive from mechanical to SSD did not require a re-activation by phone. The online activation worked just fine.

Samsung also recommends that you disabled “Super Fetch”, which can be done using the Magician tool or manually.

Boots are not as blazingly fast as I’ve heard, but there is a difference in how snappy things feel. The Windows Experience Score, whatever that stands for, is now 7.5 determined by the lowest sub-score, which is no-longer the Hard Drive, but the CPU (amazingly enough!), the i5 2500.

I’ve partitioned the drive so that i have 90 gigs for Windows, and the rest for my Linux operating system partitions. I haven’t yet installed linux, so I’ll tell you more if there was anything special about that. All the relevant SSD features should be supported as of kernel 2.6.19+ and OS X (should you be stuck on that..). So any modern Linux will basically have all the features you want.

Sources: SSD stuff primarily adapted from this, http://muropaketti.com/artikkelit/ssd-asemat/opas-nain-otat-ssd-aseman-kayttoon (on 10.08.2012) and from Samsung’s sites as well as some comments and forum posts.

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