2. ENSURE DRIVERS ARE UP TO DATE – PERFORMANCE
Ensuring that your drivers are always up to date on your system is a given but most continuously overlook this. Where we wouldn’t have recommended it a few years ago, today all of our systems are set to update all software and hardware drives automatically, and even then, we still try to check our motherboard manufacturers to see if new drivers had been released.
This is a bit different in the case of Intel’s Storage Manager where different versions provide obvious different performance results, sometimes even with older files, and one needs to check for the newest updates automatically. As well, newer Intel drivers allow for TRIM to be passed with SSDs in RAID, whereas older versions did not. At the time of this report, our system was on the Series 7 chipset with AHCO Storage drivers ver. 11.5 as can be seen above, again through Device Manager.
3. CONNECT TO MOTHERBOARD INTEL PORTS – PERFORMANCE
Of all of the issues we tackle with respect to poor SSD performance, having the SSD data cable connected to the wrong motherboard port is one of the most common. An Intel motherboard will always contain two 6Gbps (SATA 3) ports designated to the chip itself (which in our case is the Z77) as well as at least 2/4 other 3Gbps (SATA 2) ports. In most systems these days, their are also 2/4 additional ports that ar 6Gbps (SATA 3) and either controlled by Marvell or LAMD controllers.
The difficulty arises when the user connects the SSD to the SATA 3 Marvell/LAMD port, rather than the Intel port, and then encounters sub-spec performance. The two Intel ports are the top performing and should be used first and foremost. In the case of our Asus P8Z77-V Premium motherboard, the light blue ports are SATA 2, grey are Z77 SATA 3 and the four navy blue ports connect to the SATA 3 Marvell controller and can be used as secondary SSD connections or caching as Asus has labelled.
The result on the left depicts the performance of our SSD connected to the Intel Z77 port while that on the right is connected to the Marvell port, both SATA 3 ports. Displaying this first hand seems to provide a better understanding we think.
4. SET PC POWER OPTIONS TO HIGH – PERFORMANCE
Once again, this is one of those very simple things that leaves people stumped for days, only to hit the Forums and have someone suggest checking their Power Options right away. Most PC’s are shipped with the Power Option’s set to ‘Balanced. A new installation sets itself to ‘Balanced’. To get to Power Options, simply type ‘Control Panel in at the Start Screen for Windows 8 users or click on the Orb in Windows 7.
While we are in Power Options, click on ‘Change Plan Settings’, go to ‘Change Advanced PowerSettings, click on ‘Hard Disk’ and change that setting to ‘0’ or ‘Never’.
5. TURN SYSTEM PROTECTION OFF – CAPACITY/ENDURANCE
Turning off System Protection has always been a controversial optimization but it is simpy best for your system. We first learned this a few years ago after receiving a number of complaints from people that their performance was dropping significantly over time. These even included our peers and there were several reports published that condemned SSDs for their deteriorating performance over time. We did not experience that and needed to know why. In examining specific instances, a common characteristic was always that complaints were being received from users who has System Protection turned on, whereas we did not.
We published an article and, in time, received several e-mails with positive response. In our opinion, System Restore creates allocation points of backup data that is meant for a hard drive where the storage location was static. This is opposite an SSD that continuously moves data around and re-indexes to ensure equal wearing of all memory blocks. Not only did we form the opinion that System protection slowed the PC, but also, the increase in SSD writes has to be significantly higher. Turning off System restore is a main contributor to available user capacity increase and our opinion is that your PC is all the better for it.
System Protection can once again be found in Control Panel by clicking on ‘System’ and ‘System Protection’. When shutting it down (as it may already be by default), ensure you dlete the restore points for added SSD capacity
6. TURN OFF PAGEFILE – CAPACITY/ENDURANCE
Pagefile was created in the early days of Windows to compensate for softwares increasing need for memory as well as the significant cost of that memory. In response, Microsoft introduced Pagefile which created a 4GB (typically) file on your hard drive that acted as virtual memory. The problem with this concept always was that the information stored and removed from the Pagefile could still only be transferred as fast as the hard drive could accomplish. And then came SSDs and cheaper memory.
Along with Windows 7 came a more effective way, within the OS, of managing active programs and memory became significantly cheaper with a typical system having 4GB of memory. Our recommendation to shut down Pagefile was originally made in 2010 when we were running MS Vista and had just upgraded to 4GB of RAM. We have since been through countless systems for business and bench use and have never experienced a problem after shutting down Pagefile. We realized some time ago that, even though the SSD that the Pagefile resided was fast, pure memory was ten times that of an SSD. Leaving Pagefile on just didn’t make sense.
Once again, simply click on the image for a much better resolution…
Given our opinion, we have heard some state that there are programs that require Pagefile but we haven’t discounted our theory with any yet. As with any other optimization, try it, form your own opinion and return it to its original state if you’re not happy with the end result. Very least, you gain about 4GB of user storage back.
To get to Pagefile, go to Control Panel/System/System Protection/Advanced/ Performance and then click on ‘Settings’. Click on ‘Advanced’ and ‘Change’, uncheck ‘Automatic…” and select ‘No Paging File and ‘Set’.