The Effects of Audio on Performance

One of the more interesting aspects of running with the Kingston SSDNow M Series drive I have is the perception of speed.  Actually when using the drive, it isn’t perception but reality.  It’s fast.  But it’s also silent and that adds, or more accurately, takes away a whole dimension.

I really noticed this the other day.  I was trying to decide what operating systems I wanted to continue to maintain for my Dell D820.  I’ve maintained a Windows XP Media Center 2005 image for it for a long time now.  Time to kill that.  So I decided to whack it and install our new internal build of Windows 7.

Now keep in mind I’ve already been using Windows 7 on that machine with the SSDNow drive.  But this time around I’m installing on a traditional disk.  When I started the install, I immediately noticed how much nosier the machine was.  Then I started watching the disk light and listened to those awful disk access sounds.  It immediately made me think everything was slower.  Of course it was, but the added noise just intensified the perception. 

Then I got to thinking.  What perception do I have of my MacBook Pro and the fact it’s nearly silent as well?  That always annoyed me about the Mac.  How dare they make such a quiet machine and show all of the other OEMs it can be done.  Now to be fair, the MacBook Pro I have can get a little noisy when it heats up and kicks the fan into high gear.  You really know when that happens.  Sounds like a jet turbine spinning up.

The reduction in noise by a SSD drive is impressive.  I can just imagine walking into a data center in the not too distant future filled with racks of SSD drives or memory and the room is near silent as compared to current data center standards. Lights out and silent.  “Sounds” impressive.

So the upside to having the SSDNow drive is the silence and not having to listen to the search indexer or whatever is happening on the disk as the day goes by.  The down side is not have ten 500GB SSD drives for all of my machines.  Heck, I’d settle for a 160GB drive at the moment but like I always say, dreams are free.  Interesting stuff noise is.

Comments (9)

  1. Dave says:


    How do you find the performance of your SSDs in Windows?

    I’m consdering getting a couple for my desktop but  I am wondering if they’re worth the price.



  2. Brandon says:

    I noticed this as well, with quieter traditional hard drives. If the drive is silent, the machine just feels faster. If there is an awful crunching and churning sound, it makes it seem as if the machine is dragging on forever.

    I think the biggest performance problem on most Windows PCs is disk churning. I am not sure what is going on at times. Right after boot especially (even given a sufficient period of time for sidebar and services to start), for about 5 minutes it is just churning on some machines I work on.

    I think SSDs will make a big difference in how people perceive their computer, it will seem less annoying. I firmly believe a computer should do everything as fast as possible, which I think many would agree with.

    Now I only wish I could play with a SSD, I must go find a contest to win one, or find a 70% off coupon 😉

  3. Brandon says:

    I would like to also add, that the quietest drive I’ve used in a desktop to date is the Samsung Spinpoint F1.

  4. Brant says:

    Usually I got this sense during work, the quieter a computer sounds, the better you feel working with it.

    Sound is truly a very important factor for user experience, and that’s why I always purchase DELL’s highend XPS machines. They really sounds mute.

    BTW, there is this feeling in me when I read about you are going to install "the latest internal build of Windows 7" on your traditional disk…that must be the build of RC…I see you grin there:-) LOL.

  5. Keith Combs says:

    I wish.  No, the internal build I am referring to is our corporate desktop standard build of the Windows 7 Beta. It’s two DVD’s but it’s the Enterprise x64 build with all of the tools and apps pre-installed.  Nice.

    We have not hit the RC milestone.  I’m sure the product group will declare that when they are ready.

  6. midas79 says:

    A small suggestion…the title to this post could be taken a completely different way (as I did when I first saw it in FeedDemon).  Could you perhaps re-title it to "The effects of acoustics on performance" or similar?  I thought you were talking about some sort of performance issue with listening to audio tracks stored on your SSD.

    That said, I think until someone deals with those fan acoustics you mention as noticeable on the MacBook, data centers won’t get much quieter.

  7. Keith Combs says:

    Thanks Midas, but catchy titles are a way to get you to read it in the first place.  I did not intentionally mean to mislead you.

    Regarding the comment about the data centers, I beg to differ.  If you replace a 1000 hard drives that are spinning at 7200, 10000 or 15000 rpm with SSD drives, you can bet they will be a noticeable drop of noise.  Di we really care about the data center?  Folks that work there full time do, but everyone else could care less.

    Noise from your PC or Mac is a different story.

  8. Robin Brandl says:


    I got the same drive and it’s a love hate relationship. I Love the speed and quiet, but hate having to manage my files/free space as well as working on any other laptop. It’s funny how when you move to the next big speed jump your perception of "Fast" changes. Now I find after using it and going back to other "Fast" laptops is painful.

    I put it in my Shuttle Server for a few days to test it with some VDI Demos and My desk still has burn marks. Wow what I’d give for the Enterprise version of these Drives in my servers back in the day. So for all you server guys out there get a couple for your servers they are more than worth it.

    I am in the process of building a new Hyper-V Shuttle for MMS with 16GB of RAM. 16GB RAM on a Shuttle box who’d of thought?  I’ll let you guys know how it works out.

    Robin J. Brandl

    Global Microsoft Evangelist

    Citr!x Systems, Inc.

  9. Keith Combs says:

    The Spoiled By SSD Club.

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