One of the things a thin and light laptop needs to qualify as an ultrabook is a solid state disk. These SSDs are faster than traditional hard drives, and they use less power and generate less heat. That leads to longer battery life and faster performance.

Most higher-priced ultrabooks have 128GB or larger SSDs, but solid state storage is expensive. So some cheaper ultrabooks use a hybrid solution by pairing a large hard disk with a smaller SSD, usually between 20GB and 32GB.

This gives you plenty of room for storage while allowing Windows to use the SSD as a cache drive to speed up performance in many tasks.

Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD

One Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD owner noticed that Windows 7 is actually installed on his ultrabook’s 500GB hard drive rather than the 32GB solid state disk. But he decided to see if he could install Windows on the SSD instead.

The short answer is yes — and he’s posted step-by-step instructions for installing Windows on the UX32VD’s SSD at the Notebook review forum.

The process actually seems pretty straightfoward — for the most part you just need a Windows 7 installation disk and a valid license, plus a USB flash drive that you can use to load all the appropriate drivers from the Asus website.

But you do need to follow the guide for instructions on changing the SSD from a GPT to a MBR disk, otherwise you’ll run into problems.

32GB isn’t a lot of space for Windows 7. There’s only about 15GB left over after you’ve installed the operating system, and that can quickly fill up with apps and data. But you can still use the 500GB hard drive for extra storage.

The writer of the guide notes that there are still a few quirks. The hard disk tends to go to sleep too quickly, and the fan turns on at odd times. Clearly Asus never intended for anyone to use the SSD this way.

But running Windows from the SSD instead of the hard drive does appear to make the computer faster.

via Ultrabook News

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4 replies on “You can install Windows on the SSD cache drive on some ultrabooks”

  1. Wow… cheaper ultrabooks use hybrids? Have you seen an ultrabook with more than 256 gb using a ssd? Only us cheap people need more than 256 gb? And what exactly is the point of storing movies on your ssd? So you can watch them faster so you see a two hour movie in 2 seconds? The hybrid is a much better solution than an ssd. Not a cheaper one, snob.

  2. How is the “allowing Windows to use the SSD as a cache drive” scheme different from ReadyBoost?

  3. Also – with OS that is not able to customize for SSD use, where you can put cache, Browser stuff (small files that change often) INTO RAM vs SSD… the problem also might show up sometime due to a lot of writes all over the SSD that will slow it down, and depending on the SSD, or how you set up the OS, you end up wearing out parts of the SSD (even with wear-leveling, you ramp up wear factor). You can build Linux to run better on SSD than you can run Windows (as windows is not that friendly to customize).

    1. I wouldn’t say Windows is not friendly to customize. It’s just like with Linux you need to know what you’re doing first. Though the Open Source nature of Linux does mean you can change more things but those don’t necessarily benefit optimizing for a SSD.

      Windows 7 though does make some automatic adjustments if you install it on a SSD, which it will detect during installation and will then disable several unnecessary features, including Superfetch, Prefetch, and ReadyBoot. Along with enabling TRIM, Alignment, switching defrag off, etc. are usually all handled by the installer.

      While wear leveling isn’t really a concern anymore with drives now that will last for years before showing any wear problems at all. So a lot of the old SSD tweaks are really only needed for older SSDs (1st gen mainly).

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