Computer Tips

PC Upgrades

There are a lot of computer options to choose from, since I mainly work with Windows systems, most of my advice will be centered on that OS. I run Windows 7 x64 both at home and professionally, so I have not spent much time with Windows 10. A lot of people simply like the user interface with Windows 7.

 

Windows 10 does have some advantages, like touch screen, but there is a learning curve. Will Windows 10 run all Windows 7 applications, mostly. A lot of drivers are compatible, but printers and graphics cards can be a different story. You will need the latest drivers which may not be available. That means purchasing a new printer or graphics card.

Some applications will realize the OS is not Windows 7 and you will need to down load or purchase updated software.  Some of the new features of Windows 10 are that it uses UEFI boot by default, which does decrease start up times. However, Windows 7 can also be configured to use UEFI for the same advantage. Both Windows 7 and 10 are fully compatible with SSD drives and use TRIM natively.

Tips:  If you want to install Windows 7 with a UEFI partition, there are a couple of requirements:

  • The boot device for the install must have a bootx64.efi driver under the efi\boot\   path, if it is an USB drive and not a DVD.
  • HDD disks often need an AHCI driver for the best performance, which should be loaded during the Windows 7 install under drivers.
  • SSD drives may prefer the more general Microsoft driver, and will give   you a warning during the install if you load the Intel f6flpy-x64 driver.
  • Companies like Paragon offer tools to migrate your HDD drive to SSD. Samsung also offers a free imaging tool, but it only works on Samsung SSD drives.

UEFI partitions include a 100 MB FAT 32 EFI system volume and a hidden 128 MB Microsoft Reserved Partition (MSR). A clone drive will need to copy these as well as the OS or the new SSD drive will not boot.Yes, SSD drives still wear out over time, due to a finite amount of writes, but that should be several years for home users, as long as you go with one of the leading drives.

The disadvantage for wide spread use is still cost, but if you paying over $1000 for a system, another $100 dollars for a SSD drives won’t break the bank and will definitely improve performance. It’s optimal to still use a large 1 – 2 TB HDD for storage and put the OS and page file on the SSD volume. If you do purchase a SSD drive make sure that it is at least 120 GB, because you need to keep about 25% free space on the volume for the best performance.

If a clone tool recognizes UEFI and moves the boot partition, your original source drive will no longer boot, only the SSD drive. The source drive can become a secondary data disk, but if that is not your intention, be aware! Regardless of the OS version you choose, I do recommend a SSD drive for new system with fast i7-4770 type processors, the performance limitation will most likely be your HDD, and not your video card or memory.

On my system the Windows experience index went up from 5.9 to 7.9 with the installation of a Samsung 840 EVO SSD drive for the boot OS. What does that mean in real terms, well boot times go down from 30 seconds to less than 20 seconds to the log on screen. In addition to much faster read times (5X), you will also get with the newer second generation drives better MTBF and a longer warranty over HDD drives.