Published on November 11th, 2012 | by Greg0
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.