Solid State Drives are the hottest thing in PC storage right now. Even the cheapest of SSD drives are at least twice as fast as some of the most expensive magnetic hard drives, and their access times are practically instant. Many PC enthusiasts are utilizing these fast drives as their primary boot device for a dramatic speed increase. These drives also stripe very well, as a simple RAID 0 stripe can yield 450 megabyte-per-second transfer rates, and even more.
There are several great uses for solid state drives in a modern rig or server, but the main problem is that the drives are so darn small. Because of their tiny form factor, they don’t plug-and-play into computer cases that have integrated hot-swap drive designs. There are a few adapters that allow installation of SSDs into an external 3.5-inch bay (like the iStar unit reviewed here), but they are generally not hot-swappable, and are only mountable inside floppy bays (hard drive bays have completely different mounting points).
PC case manufacturers are starting to integrate internal 2.5″ bays into their case designs, but the majority of users need some sort of adapter to mount these drives. Many Home Theater PC (HTPCs) can definitely benefit from the silence of a laptop hard drive or SSD, but many of these cases do not offer 2.5″ drive cages. One of my favorite cases, the Lian Li PC-A7110, has hot-swappable circuitry integrated into its drive bays, so an adapter has to be used to utilize SSDs inside them.
To ensure complete compatibility between a 2.5″ device like a laptop hard drive or SSD with a hot-swap bay, you need a completely compatible adapter. Some adapters that come with SSDs do not have the SATA ports in exactly the right place, which is fine for a “free floating” SSD cable lead. An adapter such as the Silverstone SDP09 uses industry standard measurements, so you can be sure that the internal drive will mount, and the adapter can use any mounting method for any standard 3.5″ device, including a hot-swap bay.
On the next page we look at the build quality and install some drives…