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Published on November 11th, 2012 | by Greg


Off To The Races: Mon­ster’s Speedy Day­tona SSD

One of the great­est things about smart­phones and tablets is their speed. They restart quick­ly and boot up fast, and are re­spon­sive. If you’ve pur­chase an ul­tra­book, you’ve like­ly no­ticed the same thing. And some high­er-end lap­tops and desk­tops have start­ed high­light­ing the fea­ture as well. The im­prove­ment is thanks to a re­cent trend in stor­age and a shift in hard drive tech­nolo­gies to SS­Ds, or sol­id state disks.

But you don’t have to buy an en­tire­ly new ma­chine to get the ad­van­tages of an SSD. And if you al­ready have a Mac­book for ex­am­ple, prices have got­ten much bet­ter, and there’s no need for you to pay quite the prices that Ap­ple charges for their hard drives. There are down­sides to these disks, we should be clear, but the main one is sim­ply price: you’ll pay much more for the same amount of stor­age, about 10x as much. The ben­e­fits are clear though, and in­clude low­er pow­er con­sump­tion, less noise, less heat, and one im­por­tant one es­pe­cial­ly for mo­bile de­vices: no mov­ing parts means that you don’t have to wor­ry much about a drop caus­ing any se­ri­ous da­ta loss.

We’ve been try­ing out the Mon­ster Dig­i­tal Day­tona Se­ries Sol­id State Drive in 240GB (oth­er op­tions, in­clud­ing 90, 120, and 480 are avail­able). And, like most SS­Ds, we saw a wide range of ben­e­fits once in­stalled. Novices may be wor­ried about chang­ing their com­put­er hard­ware, but it’s got­ten much eas­i­er, and re­al­ly doesn’t take an ex­pert. In our case, we opened the case, found the two ca­bles that fit for pow­er and da­ta, and were quick­ly speed­ing through our file trans­fers. If you have a lap­top, it’s pret­ty triv­ial to up­grade for the most part, though you might need a spe­cial screw­driv­er (SS­Ds can come in var­i­ous thick­ness­es which can be an is­sue, but this is a 7mm mod­el, the thinnest on the mar­ket). And, of course, you’ll need an op­er­at­ing sys­tem disk, and a way to save your old files or trans­fer them to your new drive. We re-in­stalled most of our soft­ware as well- for re­al per­for­mance gains, you’ll want to have the sol­id state drive serv­ing as both your op­er­at­ing sys­tem host and your ap­pli­ca­tion drive.

In­stalling Win­dows 8 fresh on this Mon­ster SSD was pret­ty amaz­ing- the fastest op­er­at­ing sys­tem in­stall we’ve en­coun­tered. And boot­up times were around six sec­onds, with shut­downs be­ing even faster. Adobe Pho­to­shop and oth­er CS6 pro­grams launched with­in sec­onds in­stead of the in­ter­minable waits we would some­times see when deal­ing with RAW im­ages above 5MB or larg­er pho­to li­braries in Light­room. Even iTunes saw mas­sive im­prove­ments, though mileage will vary wide­ly de­pend­ing on where you store your mu­sic li­brary and it’s size. The TB of mu­sic and me­dia we store won’t fit on an SSD, but with a few tweaks to set­tings, you can shift your iTunes ‘li­brary’ file to the SSD, vast­ly in­creas­ing the speed at which the pro­gram loads.

You might not hear the name Mon­ster and think ‘val­ue’, but the Day­tona se­ries of­fers a pret­ty com­pelling pack­age. It’s not the cheap­est drive on the mar­ket, nor is it the cheap­est- but it’s an ex­cel­lent con­tender with a great price/per­for­mance ra­tio and a good war­ran­ty as well. At a price of a about $1/gi­ga­byte, and sup­port for both SA­TA 2 and 3, we cer­tain­ly rec­om­mend see­ing the dif­fer­ence a sol­id state drive can make. Most peo­ple will be able to work fine with 90 GB or so, enough for key ap­pli­ca­tions and the op­er­at­ing sys­tem; those who ed­it a lot of pho­tos or want rock-sol­id per­for­mance across a wide ar­ray of ap­pli­ca­tions or me­dia should aim for more space. In terms of raw speed, the­o­ret­i­cal­ly the drive can get up to 550 MBps, but we saw re­al-world speeds of 200 Mbps con­sis­tent­ly on larg­er files and sus­tained trans­fers. Those with an eye to­wards high­er per­for­mance should look at the Mon­ster Le­Mans se­ries. And, like you might ex­pect from a Mon­ster prod­uct, these drives are pret­ty sleek and sexy- un­for­tu­nate­ly, it’ll be most­ly lost on on­look­ers since they’re hid­den away in­side of your com­put­er.

But you’ll know it’s there, and ap­pre­ci­ate the ben­e­fits. Avail­able now, on­line and in stores, the 240GB mod­el as test­ed runs about $220. We’re thrilled at the speed boost our com­put­er got. And it’s nice to know that the drive is war­rantied for three years. We wish it came with a bit more in the box- ca­bles or a mount­ing brack­et- but it’s still a love­ly pack­age and per­fect to fit in­to a stock­ing. San­ta couldn’t do bet­ter.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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