Apart from the battery and 2GB of RAM, the Samsung N120 I’m testing has the equivalent performance hardware as the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v. The main difference in this review is that the Samsung N120 is running a 2-year old Windows XP installation, which has slowed down significantly since it was new, even despite having upgraded to a Seagate Momentus XT hybrid 250GB HDD about a year ago. At that time, I mirrored over the content using dd_rescue.
Like with the Dell mini, I mirrored the HDD to the SSD using dd_rescue before running the tests on each drive. Interestingly, unlike many OEM Windows XP installations from that time, the partition was found to be 4K aligned, so no alignment was necessary for the Windows partition.
The main reasons I upgraded this from HDD to SSD were to improve the time it takes to resume from and go into hibernation, speed up application launches and to eliminate the annoying hum this Netbook while placed on hard surfaces.
Boot up timings:
Due to the lengthy amount of time this Netbook spent finishing off its boot process after the desktop appears with no clear sign of it finishing just by looking at the HDD, I used Soluto, which points out the moment the boot process finishes. Despite using Soluto to show when the boot finished, the timings were conducted by stopwatch, as Soluto’s own timing was several sounds off.
Like with the Windows 7 Home Premium timings on the Dell Netbook, there is not the drastic boot up performance improvement like there is with an SSD in a full size laptop or desktop PC. Then again, the only time I fully boot the laptop is after I install Windows updates and it’s worth noting that this laptop had a hybrid HDD, which would already have cut some time off the original HDD.
Everyday application and hibernation timings:
The two most common things I use my Netbook include web browsing and editing documents. While I could potentially replace my Netbook with a tablet for web browsing, tablets are not ideal for editing documents, especially when it comes to Publisher work which I need to occasionally while on the move. I also regularly need USB access and occasionally do troubleshooting using the LAN part, both features which most tables lack.
As I mentioned above, I rarely shutdown the Netbook; instead I put it into hibernation before putting it away. So let’s see how it performs launching Firefox 8, Word 2007 as well as going into and out of hibernation. The final timing is the total time it takes between pushing the power button to having Firefox 8 launched with the homepage displayed. Note that Firefox was closed before going into hibernation and these hibernation tests were carried out after a fresh boot.
Interestingly, while the SSD does little for improving Windows start-up or software installations on a Netbook, it certainly helps with getting the Netbook into and out of standby, cutting a third off the time as well as launching Word in under half the time. The coming out of hibernation is a welcome improvement as this is about as quick as my desktop PC’s POST time before it starts booting the OS.
Other noticeable changes:
Although I haven’t timed how long it takes to resume from standby, I do notice a difference here also, as there is no longer the delay waiting for the HDD to spin up, i.e. it’s ready just a few seconds of pushing the power button. Even while working on a document or after reading an article on a webpage, there is also no lag each time the HDD spins down and has to spin up again. This spin up delay applied to both the hybrid HDD and the original HDD.
The annoying hum the Netbook made while placed on hard surfaces has completely gone. The only sound it makes now is the occasional whirr when its fan spins up, but even that is a lot quieter than the hum each HDD made.
Although I have not timed its battery runtime, going by the battery meter, it now reports about 8 hours, up from about 7 hours with the hybrid HDD. This is pretty impressive considering the battery is over two years old.
Besides Word and Firefox, other applications launch noticeably quicker. However, with the limited Atom CPU performance, it does not feel anywhere near as snappy as full size laptop or desktop with an SSD.