How to install an SSD on your PC

When installed on an SSD, Windows not only starts and shuts down faster, but applications load faster and the computer generally feels more responsive. Here’s how to install an SSD on your PC

SSDs have benefits for both desktop and laptop computers. Since they have dropped considerably in price in recent years, an SSD is a great upgrade for your PC. We will show you how to install an SSD on a typical desktop computer, with your previous hard drive as a second drive.

Is it worth upgrading an SSD? What increase in performance can I get?

A good question, so we thought that we would respond with some good reference tests. We took a well-used and old Alienware X51, and did several tests before and after installing an Integral V Series SSD.

As you can see in the table below, you can expect your PC to start significantly faster, in our case more than twice as fast. Also the programs and games load quickly (notice the difference when starting Overwatch), the files move faster and, generally, the performance is more receptive.

So is it worth it? If your PC feels slow, then an SSD is worth it.

Before SSD After SSD
PCMark 8 Home 3575 3693
AJA read / write (MBps) 58, 51 208, 242
Start time (seconds) 41 16
Load Overwatch (seconds) 65 10

Almost all PC cases have internal compartments for adding extra hard drives, which are 3.5 inches wide. SSDs tend to be 2.5 inches wide, so you’ll probably need a mounting bracket to fit one on your computer.

How to install an SSD on your PC

SSDs have Serial ATA (SATA) data connectors, of which there are three versions (1, 2 or 3) that can transfer data at 1.5Gbps, 3Gbps or 6Gbps, respectively. The Kingston Hyper X 3K is capable of reading and writing data at 500Mbps through a SATA 3 port.

It does not matter too much if your computer is not compatible with SATA 3. SSDs are backward compatible, and the raw transfer speed is not the only reason for the improved performance of SSDs. More important is its very low latency compared to conventional hard drives, since it takes much less time to access data from the NAND flash memory of an SSD than for the mechanical arm of a hard drive to move to its position .

However, there are some disadvantages to consider. SSDs cost more, per GB of storage, than conventional hard drives. In addition, its capacities exceed 512 GB, which is much lower than the current maximum of 4TB for hard drives.

It makes sense to keep Windows and its applications on the SSD, which will benefit from the best load times, and large collections of media on a separate hard drive. We will explain how to configure the BIOS and Windows accordingly.

For this guide, we are using a desktop PC with an Asus P8P67 Pro motherboard and a Fractal Design Define R3, which has internal space for SSD, but our advice applies to any desktop computer.

You can install a new copy of Windows (we will do this here) or transfer your current operating system. There are many programs to do this work, such as Acronis True Image HD, which is included with Kingston HyperX 3K .

How to install an SSD on your PC

Step 1. Unscrew and remove the sides of the casing of your computer. Some have latches that hold the sides in place, which must be opened. Make sure you have clear access to the SATA ports on the motherboard and the hard drive bays.

How to install an SSD on your PC

Step 2. Place the SSD in its mounting bracket or in a removable compartment, align it with the lower holes and then screw it down. Place the mounting bracket in an additional 3.5-inch hard drive bay and secure it with the side holes.

How to install an SSD on your PC

Step 3. Connect the L-shaped end of one SATA cable to the SSD, and the other end to a spare SATA port (the 6 Gbps SATA ports are blue). Connect a SATA power cable to the SSD. For a new Windows installation, disconnect any other hard drive from your PC.

How to install an SSD on your PC

Step 4. Insert a USB or DVD drive list with Windows 10 and turn on the PC. Press F12 or the corresponding key to see the start menu and select USB or DVD. Now follow the instructions to install Windows 10 on the SSD. Once the installation is complete, you can replace other hard drives.

Obviously, all your old files and the Windows installation are still on your previous disk. You can copy your documents, videos, music and images in their respective folders on the SSD, but it is better to leave most of your files on your hard drive to avoid using limited space on your SSD.

There are numerous ways to tell your new Windows installation that your documents and other files are on a different hard drive, but with Windows, the most elegant method is to use its library function.

Create a folder on your hard drive (for example, e: / docs). Right-click on the folder in the Explorer, scroll down to the Include in library option, then choose the Documents library from the list. Then copy any document from the My Documents folder to the new one. You can do the same for movies, music and images, keeping your files at hand without residing in the SSD.

When it comes to programs, it makes sense to install those you use most in the SSD to benefit from its speed. When the space becomes too tight or you do not need the extra speed, install new programs on your previous hard drive specifying where to store the files during the installation process. If you leave the configuration at its default values, the programs will always be installed on the same drive as Windows.

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