Part 2: How to Install an SSD Drive into an NC10 Netbook

August 26, 2009

in Samsung NC10

This SSD installation guide forms the second part of Rachael B’s three part Super Charge Your NC10 guest post. Here Rachael takes us through the upgrades she has made to her NC10 and explains what difference they make. Part 1 can be found here.

In this post Rachael takes us through her experience of installing a solid state drive in her NC10 netbook computer. SSD drives have many advantages, including faster access times, reduced power consumption and improved reliability. The full story is included below.

Note: Replacing the dive on the NC10 requires opening up your netbook. This will invalidate the warranty and is not a job for the inexperienced. All modifications carried out at your own risk!

Why Install a Solid State Drive?
The Hitachi 5k series HDD that comes as standard with the NC10 is a nightmare :(

It’s slow and uses 200mA when idle and 560mA for active read/write (source: www.tomshardware.co.uk). In comparison, the Crucial/Micron M225 SSD uses 20mA when idle and 220mA for read/write (source: Micron). The chance to save up to 340mA on an NC10 makes a huge difference to battery life. Then, there’s also the issue of far faster read/write times (250MB/s & 200MB/s) and no “power up” or “seek time” delays which help speed up the NC10 netbook to an almost usable level!

Buying an SSD Drive
I ordered the 256gb model from www.crucial.com which cost a whopping £408 including next day delivery. Admittedly this is half the price of other makes, but then Crucial are the only manufacturer to sell directly to the public. They are also using slightly older technology (6 months older?) than some of the others and are definitely trying to compete on price. The drive itself has an Indilinx “Barefoot” controller and provides 238.47gb of usable space. Ignore the review of the Crucial SSD at www.tomshardware.co.uk which is for an older version of the drive. The M225 only went on sale in June 09 and a proper review of this model and a set of benchmarks can be found at www.tweaktown.com.

To search for SSDs at Amazon, check here: US or UK

Benchmarks
To give some idea of speed differences though, my own ad-hoc benchmarks are:

  • Boot time for Kubuntu 9.10 Alpha 4 (“Karmic”) (with encrypted partitions):
    • Standard Hitachi HDD: 1 min 25 seconds
    • Crucial M225 SSD: 44 seconds
  • Shutdown time for Kubuntu 9.10 Alpha 4 (“Karmic”) (with encrypted partitions):
    • Standard Hitachi HDD: 34 seconds
    • Crucial M225 SSD: 22 seconds
  • Time taken to copy a 5gb .iso file from one folder to another (with encrypted partitions):
    • Standard Hitachi HDD: 10 minutes 36 seconds
    • Crucial M225 SSD: 10 minutes 44 seconds

The final test gives a strange result. I don’t know if this is a processor speed issue due to the decrypt/encrypt cycle that I put the machine through; whether it has something to do with Linux’s file copying software; or whether that’s just the way it goes sometimes… Hmmmm…

However, on the bright side, a clean install copy of Windows 7 will boot from pressing the NC10 power button (so including BIOS time) in just 39 seconds! Pretty cool :-) Generally though I have found that the SSD does make the NC10 noticeably far more responsive than it is with a HDD.

NC10 SSD Installation Guide
The packaging for the Crucial SSD is basic and there are no real installation instructions, although a brief PDF guide may be found on their website. Installing a SSD on the NC10 is very easy.

Remove the battery and all the back panel screws. The screws, thankfully, are all the same size – so there’s no need to worry about which one goes where!

The case has no plastic clips on it, so starting from the front it may be gently prised apart. The only things which get in they way are the USB and video/audio sockets. Once opened, locate the HDD (the big shiny thing!) and remove the one screw that attaches the HDD chassis to the mother board.

Before touching the inside it’s a good idea to earth yourself first to prevent any damage to the drives from static electricity! However, having done that, gently lift up the back of the HDD and pull it out from the connector socket.

The HDD is attached to the chassis by 2 screws on diagonally opposite corners. Remove these and reassemble with the new SDD. Finally, put the NC10 back together by reversing the above steps!

Conclusion
So the question is: Is it worth spending so much money on a SSD? I think the answer is a qualified “yes”. Much is made of SSD degradation caused by read/write cycles, but then I remember reading somewhere that 30% of domestic HDDs fail within the first 12 months anyway – and something like 80% fail within 3 years. Having bought this drive I can install it on my next fab state of the art netbook when it comes out. Crucial provide a limited 5 year warranty on the drive and if it lasts that long I will be very happy. In 5 years time SSD technology will have come on by leaps and bounds and prices will have fallen. The Crucial M225 has a “mean time before failure” of >1,000,000 hours (ie. >110 years). I don’t think any HDD manufacturer could claim the same!

If you’re going to install Windows then just boot up and go.

Watch out the final part of Rachael’s three part post, subscribe to our RSS Feed to keep in touch with tips and news from the Samsung Netbook world!

Leave a Comment

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

nickrich August 26, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Hmm, nice idea, but my £300 “economic computing” netbook has just cost me £700 if I do this. I’m not convinced.

<<If you’re going to install Windows then just boot up and go>>
Could you elaborate please? If I were to do this, I would be putting a new installation of Windows 7 on the new drive. Are you assuming the use of an external DVD drive?

Interesting postings. Thanks for the information.

Nick

RachaelB August 27, 2009 at 1:07 am

Hi… sorry if that part was a little vague – at the time I was writing it I was having serious problems installing Linux (more of that in part 3 PLUS I’ve just sent Jez an actual solution)

Obviously to load in a new o/s you have to use an external dvd drive. There’s no other way of doing it unless you initially install the SSD into another computer as a secondary drive and clone the primary drive across.

However, before you do anything you must look at load/partition balancing the SSD. More of that in my solution to the Linux problem….. :)

Rachael x

PS I know an SSD is not exactly a cheap upgrade

cuvtixo August 27, 2009 at 2:48 am

Great review! A minor correction: you can leave the screw in the memory panel in, while removing the base. One less screw to lose when taking the NC10 apart! I don’t know if you tried Ubuntu 9.10 with Gnome, but the Gnome Netbook Launcher is very unstable. I made the switch to Kubuntu 9.10 and its been a better experience.

jeffd150 August 29, 2009 at 11:08 pm

thanks for a great article….

was wondering if the N110 would allow the same type SSD upgrade….

also have you noticed any increased battery life so far? the savings of up to 340ma active would probably avg to around 170-200ma(?) im guessing for the avg user, and on 5 volts thats about 1 watt max….. on my N110 i really only get about 4.5 to 5 hours on a roughly 60 watt-hour battery while just browsing and thats with wi-fi turned off and screen brightness level at about 2 or 3 out of 8 – so i think im using roughly 12-14 watts/hour, then a savings of 1 watt per hour would only increase battery life about 7%…..not bad but not really a huge difference- might give an extra half-hour in my case…..what have been your results?

RachaelB August 30, 2009 at 2:37 pm

On a standard 6 cell 5200mAh battery with normal usage I think you can probably expect to get around 35 mins extra usage by installing a SSD.

For me the huge difference comes from video playback on long haul flights. My 9 cell 7800mAh battery will last comfortably from LHR->JFK. Carrying the original 6 cell with me as well means that I can watch videos from LHR->LAX and LHR->GRU. I’m just short of being able to complete LHR->EZE and LHR->SCL :-p Perhaps I ought to buy a second 9 cell battery??? Though my main long haul of LHR->GRU->ASU is a breeze with a quick battery recharge in Sao Paulo lol

Installing a SSD on a Samsung 110 (or indeed any other laptop or netbook) is no different to the procedure with the NC10.

RachaelB August 30, 2009 at 2:51 pm

I should also add that if youre using Linux with a SSD, then it’s possible to set the /etc/laptopmode/laptop-mode.conf file to send the SSD to sleep after 1 second. SInce there are no moving parts to degrade from regularly sleeping/waking the drive and no associated time delays, then its possible to save a bit more juice than with a HDD which needs to be kept active for longer (normally 20 seconds with Linux)

jeffd150 August 30, 2009 at 7:46 pm

thanks Rachael… i dont have to worry too much about flights to JFK or Sao Paolo – i am just on a generator and a small battery bank(~1200 w-h) for power which is why i bought the n110 and the reason for my interest in battery life…would be interested in a recommendation(or a further article would be great) on how to partition and set up a double or triple boot on the Samsung if its possible….i see by your other post that not all the various Linuxes are able to be installed on the Samsung for some reason…

RachaelB August 30, 2009 at 9:18 pm

The only problem with installing some *nixes is due to the issue lof load balancing and (possibly) issues with the Indilinx “barefoot” controller used in the Crucial M225 SSD.

Irrespective of which o/s is installed, all SSDs should have their partitions correctly balanced and I’ve sent Jez a step by step guide for achieving this using fdisk and the GParted live CD.

Double/triple booting is no different to a regular HDD

Would be happy to write a step by step guide to balance a new SSD and double boot Winodws 7/*nix if there’s a demand for it.

Possibly, though, most of your questions will be answered by my guide to SSD balancing – as, and when, Jez puts it on line.

ThisIs2009 November 26, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Why would you buy a drive that costs more than the computer itself? I wouldn’t mind buying that 256gb drive if it didnt cost £408!

jez November 29, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Yep, definitely an “enthusiast” product for now, but the prices are coming down fast!

Neurosine March 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I share your geekfrenetics. I used to think computers were something other people used and I built.
As I’ve started actually using computers within my own business I constantly have to supress the urge to take it to the edge.
A number of times I’ve overlcocked my quad core processor. (don’t have an i series yet.) and managed to get 3.4Ghz Stable from a 2.4Ghz processor. There was of course, little practical advantage, but I ran it for a month with no issues.
I recently got an ASUS SD900, which is completely useless. I voided my warranty to find out there’s not upgrade path whatsoever.
Which is now why I own an NC10.
I like the speaker hack, as the sound does get real tinny real fast.
I would also like to replace the HDD with an SSD, but it’s not yet a cost effective option.
I did buy a 2GB Corsair gaming module with high tolerance to timings, well beyond the native capacity of the NC10.
I was wondering if there were a way I could take advantage of this.

Whych March 18, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Multibooting is easy – I have winxp plus 3 linux distos on my pc.
Booting from usb stick is not a problem, since most linux distros have a usb live version. For general instructions on how to do this, go to:
http://www.pendrivelinux.com
The live versions let you try before installing as well as allowing you to have a persistent usb install that will save your data so that you can take all your data and operating system with you – you can then run this on any pc and leave nothing on the host pc, since it’s all saved to the usb drive.

To install winxp from usb, go to:
http://www.eeeguides.com/2007/11/installing-windows-xp-from-usb-thumb.html

For those of you wanting to multiboot with llinux, do a bit of reading first on how to set up partitions on your hard drive first. (Most distributions have a forum with extensive help on how to do this)
Once you decide to install linux, make sure you have a large /home partiton for you data and around 8GB for the linux os.

Max Li Pang May 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Dear Rachel,
Thank you very much for this info. It was very useful and it gave me the confidence to upgrade the original HDD on my NC10 with a SSD. Thank you again.
Max

HARIS April 9, 2013 at 9:41 am

does anyone know if an ssd can be installed in a samsung N130?

Michelle January 13, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Hi, I’ve just bought a Samsung Nc10 off eBay for less than £35, spent £7 to upgrade the memory and thanks to your handy article, installed an Ssd which cost £13. I’m about to install Linux Mint. I used to have a Samsung netbook a few years ago and lent it to a friend but never got it back. It’s a little gem and I can’t wait to use it again.

Alex June 5, 2019 at 12:14 pm

After replacing the SSD in the place of Hard disk, the SSD is not detected on starting the PC (Not booting) however after booting with normal Hard Disk, the SSD is detected when connecting via USB cable.

Help me with the steps to make this successful.

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