Iâ€™ve just installed the new Runcore Pro IV SATA-2 SSD drive into my Gigabyte Touchnote. I think weâ€™re looking at one of the fastest disks ever to be seen in a netbook and one of the best CrystalMark scores weâ€™ve ever seen here. (*1)
22864 is about 4x what we normally see on a netbook or UMPC with an HDD.
127MB/s read speed is twice as fast as the original 160GB SATA disk.
Theoretical figures donâ€™t translate one-to-one to changes in user experience though and as the SATA drive in the Touchnote was already fast at 60MB/s read, real-world differences wonâ€™t be as extreme. Booting up was quicker (at about 30 seconds, 40 seconds including POST for this heavily loaded, 1 month-old installation is 20-seconds quicker than normal) and applications are starting almost instantaneously.Â IE7, Movie Maker, Adobe Reader, Windows Live Gallery, Chrome, Paint Shop Pro all start (first run after boot) in 1 second or less. Hibernation wasnâ€™t noticeably quicker and standby is, understandably, the same. As far as battery life and heat are concerned, I’ll have to do some more testing.
There were a few issues with duplicating the disk but none of these can be attributed to Runcore. I have a pre-release prototype drive without the USB port so I had to use True Image to copy the original 160GB and squash the partitions into 64GB. The second problem is that the Gigabyte install uses a Grub (or Lilo, I’m not sure which) boot loader which allows access to the restore partition. On copying the disk, the boot loader didn’t work so as a fix, I tried an XP and Linux CD image in order to re-write the MBR. Unfortunately FixMBR on XP didnt work and my CDROM isn’t playing well as a boot drive with the BIOS on the Touchnote so after messing around for a few hours I had to download Ubuntu Netbook for USB installation and install Ubuntu just to fix the boot loader. It fixed the boot loader but the recovery partition is now inaccessible. Iâ€™ll have a play around with Ubuntu 9.04 for a while and then clean it up next week. Iâ€™m sure other netbooks are going to much simpler than this one!
The question now is, is it worth it? Iâ€™ve lost about 80GB of drive space that I was using to carry around some media and as the SATA drive was already fast, the end-user difference isnâ€™t that great. The 64GB drive costs around 50% of the cost of this, already high-end netbook, and with such a low-powered platform, there are obviously other bottlenecks that will come into play so at the end of the day, its a tough call. Iâ€™ll run with it for a week and report back then but with the Gigabyte Touchnote performing so well with itâ€™s 3G, Draft-N, multi-touch pad, BT2.1, ExpressCard/34 slot and touchscreen, itâ€™s tempting to keep it installed just to highlight how far the netbook platform can be pushed.
In the meantime, I can definitely say that if you if you have a year-old laptop that needs a refresh (this drive is going to work well with HDD-happy Vista) or if you simply want one of the fastest drives available, the RunCore Pro IV is fantastic value.
Stay tuned for a video over the next few days. Check out the Runcore press Release and if you want to be early in line, pre-order form here. The Pro IV will be shipping in just a few weeks.
(*1) A fast 1.8â€ SSD in the Everun Note UMPC beats this by a big margin due to the relatively powerful CPU. and GPU [See an example here.]