The Week In Storage: Is There An SSD In That Shiny New Desktop PC? No, There Is Not

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epobirs

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The lack of industry support for SSDs in new desktops and lower priced laptops is one of the most short-sighted failings I've seen by a category of businesses in my adult life. At a time when the PC business should be embracing anything that can make a new purchase attractive, they've cower in the face of how to advertise a product that cost more and holds less. Despite the multi-TB drives in so many new systems being wasted by typical users, the marketing departments long ago became fatally lazy, accustomed to just advertising bigger number each year with lower prices along the way.

500GB rang SATA SSDs are now widely available for around $100. I'm hard put to imagine a scenario where cost and/or capacity is so paramount that I'd build a new system that didn't boot from an SSD. The difference in the user experience is so great. The one desktop I still have on hand that boots from a platter drive is so painful to use now, despite it being my main system less than five years ago and a significant upgrade when I first built it. I recently migrated the few remaining items that occasionally required me to boot it up and kept its place on my KVM. With every passing quarter its value as a fallback system diminishes and I'd had to consider putting in at least a 250-ish GB SSD before I'd give it somebody else without feeling like I wasn't doing them all that much of a favor.
 

USAFRet

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Exactly. My wife's PC is a single 250GB SSD. For her use, which is VERY typical, there is no need for a 2-3TB HDD.
My main PC, is 1.5TB of SSD space (4 drives), and a single 3TB HDD, only there for backups.

The house server/HTPC, OTOH, is 13TB of almost all HDD space. But that is not a usual use case.

Except for shaving off $3 on an ad, there is no reason why more PC's don't come from the store with an SSD.
 

alextheblue

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Intel could and should have been working with manufacturers on a marketing campaign. Call systems equipped with an SSD as the sole or primary drive "TurboSpeed" or something crazy like that. Market the *BLEEP* out of that, and only allow systems that meet the requirements (120+GB? X IOPS?) to use the badging and name. Use fancy stickers on the desktops/laptops and bullet points in the specs, that make it blatantly obvious what systems have "the thing" and what don't. Even if they aren't using Intel SSDs in all cases, it would only benefit them in the long run as they move more systems. Plus consumers using them would notice the speed boost and would associate that with the Intel marketing.

But that's just my opinion.
 

tiagoluz8

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Apple is the big genius of marketing, look at one of their spec sheets, Retina Display, Fusion Drive, Magic this and that, Lightning Connector, bla bla bla. Marketing is what makes people buy stuff, and what you said was on point.
 

ingtar33

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I work in the industry, and this has been a major bone we have to pick in the office with the hardware manufacturers. Our company mostly works with Dell and HP, and a couple of years ago it was embaressing how there wasn't a single mainstream product from either company which sported an SSD by default. I remember the conversation we had in the office in the middle of a very slow summer in 2014, about how the whole industry is killing itself with these unatractive desktop pcs. We had the same comments as the author did. I mean when you replace someone's 7yo core2duo dell optiplex with a brand new optiplex and there is ZERO quantifiable difference in user experience, it's hard to sell a client that pc equipment has progressed.

As a result, as a tech firm, we've been pushing our client's into the SSD market despite the lack of viable desktop options, (sure, both dell and HP are now offering more SSD options, though they're ridiculously overpriced), when our clients see how much better the desktop experience is on the SSDs, they are much more eager to replace the other pc's in the company with SSD desktops and laptops.

The product sells itself, but for some reason it looks like from my seat, neither Dell nor any of the other large vendors actually want to sell desktop pcs.
 

PaulAlcorn

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Excellent insight. I think that incentivizing vendors to include SSDs would work, but it makes one wonder if perhaps the HDD guys aren't incentivizing the vendors to keep the HDDs spinning. It is certainly a possibility.

I agree, they are overpricing SSDs. Pulling ridiculous profits off of the few SSDs is (in my opinion) yet another serious problem. The PC vendors seem to be soaking up excessive margin on SSD sales.
 

InvalidError

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I haven't bothered with an SSD for my PC. I simply put my PC to sleep instead of completely shutting it down to eliminate boot time and with 32GB of RAM, all of the software I use stays in the OS file system cache to eliminate application relaunch time until I have to reboot my PC, which I do less than once per month. Having an SSD would only save me somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 minutes per month.

If I see a doorcrasher sale on a 240GB 850 EVO/Pro, I might get tempted. Until then, it will remain very low on my priority list.
 

Artakra

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These statistics have to be inaccurate however for whats "Default" in sold machines. I work in a large repair store in my local town that also sells new machine (custom build desktops) and laptops (brand-ed). We probably sell 95/100 computers with an SSD or SSD upgrade in the case of laptops. So i think that this statistic could be low given how we see the market trending.

Having said that, a valid point stands on why arent companies putting ssd's in as a solution. 250 ssd's are as cheap as $70 in my currency here. Why arent the big brands putting them in to make machines that are just so much more reliable, and perform 5x better than there regular systems. Even if 1 did it, it would be an instant highlight point and set them above all the competition.

It just doesnt make sense that SSD's arent main stream yet.
 

InvalidError

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Put yourself in the shoes of buyers who either do not know or do not care about the differences between HDDs and SSDs. You see two nearly identical machines, one with 240GB of storage, the other with 1500GB. Which one would you pick? I'd bet on the HDD.
 

gangrel

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I would still say that the laptop SSD rate is MORE surprising. Generally slower processor...helped by SSD. Battery life...helped (some, anyway) by SSD. Lower heat production. Less price sensitivity in the laptop sector...gut feeling is they're NOT using SSDs in desktops because they're trying to shave the price as much as possible.

Secondary point about slower turnover. For non-gamer types, a 2nd or 3rd gen higher-level i5 or mid-level i7 with a mid-level graphics card (for that time) is probably *still* plenty fast enough. Maybe swap the graphics card if you want to support a pair of 1920x1200 monitors, and an SSD...but that might be it.
 

Larry Litmanen

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I had a complete POS laptop with Core i5 in it. I actually wanted to throw it out. One day my wife asked if she can use it so i said yes and by accident i saw an SSD on deep sale. I put that baby into the laptop and the laptop is amazing now.
 

InvalidError

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If an SSD brings a computer from absolutely unbearable to "great", it is usually because the computer had too little RAM to run what you want to run comfortably and performance gets dragged to hell by swapping. Keep an eye on bytes written if that's the case, they could be going up quite quickly.

I was running about 12GB worth of software on my 8GB Core 2 and had to split the swapfile across three HDDs to keep performance bearable. I would probably have burned through SSDs within weeks back then.
 

Ryan_255

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The issue is in marketing SSDs to end users and selling them on the performance vs capacity of a HDD. I work computer retail and repair and generally customers don't have a good concept of how much space a GB is, let alone the difference between a 240GB SSD and 2 TB HDD. From a sales standpoint the value seems to be in capacity despite the customers that never use more than 100GB and don't realize that difference in performance is huge.

Marketing for performance also scares off a great deal of end users as they typically believe their computing requirements are so light that they shouldn't look for system marketed for speed. Ironically these are also the people complaining the most about their computer's speed asking me to service system that cost less than $350. At that point even a HDD replacement or RAM upgrade is costing a large portion of the original price, and a lot of people just buy a new system.

The issue is that a lot of the average consumers are looking for the cheapest hardware they can find. A great deal of end consumers never get their computer serviced and assume their terribly infected and malware ridden machines are slow due to age, fundamentally broken, or not worth the effort when replacement is a few hundred dollars. What this does is drive manufactures to compete to make cheaper and cheaper systems sacrificing SSDs for the more cost effective HDDs.

So that leaves tablets and mobile devices in a position to provide a faster experience, better security, and just about all of the major features your entry level customer is looking for at a lower price. Will it E-Mail? Facebook? Skype? Take Pictures? then why pay 2x more for a slower and less reliable machine? PC manufactures may need to abandon the entry level market eventually a focus more on enthusiast and enterprise markets.
 
EVERYBODY I talk to (friends and family, extended family etc) who is buying a desktop PC gets about the cheapest one possible. They spend no time researching it, in fact I'm always asked to fix some issue AFTER they bought it despite them knowing I'm good with computers.

They rarely know ANYTHING about computer specs and that includes whether it has an SSD or not.

They often don't even know what version of WINDOWS it has even after having it a year or more.
 

USAFRet

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Right.
Which looks better in the basic description:
200 megabazillion mp3s! (2TB hard drive)
or
25 megabazillion mp3s (500GB SSD)

Never mind that they will never ever fill up that 2TB (unless it is with virused up whatevers)
But 200 is better than 25, amiright?
That is, if they even get to that level of investigation.
 

josejones

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Anybody else remember Intel's pathetic countdown clock for the new NVMe 750 series and all the adverts counting down to April 4th when they weren't ready and nobody could buy the SSD until months later at an absurd price?

This serious lack of the new NVMe SSD's in desktops is a very valid complaint and I'd like to see more formal complaints about it by the industry to force change on that front.

I was hoping to make the jump to NVMe and "Optane Ready" (whatever that means) to future proof. My rig is old and from 2009 - I'm *STILL WAITING* for something actually WORTH upgrading to but, I've been very disappointed with the meager performance increases for years. I may have to wait for Cannonlake with a Samsung SSD but, I was also hoping that the price premium would be under control by now, however, with the lack of mass NVMe SSD's in desktops the price premium goes on.

I'm also still waiting for an NVMe SSD that will actually hit the promised performance of 32Gbps. Perhaps they need NVMe. 2.0 for that instead of 1.2 or 1.4?

It's just an epic disappointment that very few NVMe SSD's are available at such outrageous prices. And what is Intel hiding with the Optane tech that they never really show it to us? What are the limitations caps of NVMe and Optane SSD's and their interfaces?
 

John McGaw

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AFAIK, all of the new Drobo storage units have either come with an SSD cache (their term is 'accelerator') or have an empty spot in the bottom where one can be added by the user who bought a bar unit. No 'cheating' involved. My old 5N had that feature a long time ago.
 

jacklongley

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There's two factors at play that no one seems to acknowledge:

1. Desktop PC OEMs are offering what they feel that users are demanding. There's certainly a vocal minority that want an SSD as standard issue, but that doesn't seem to match the general demand of most users. If you think otherwise, start buying only the PCs with an SSD so that the OEMs get the correct demand signal.

2. OEMs are struggling because new desktop PCs are really fast enough, with an SSD, that they can easily outlast the typical 3 year purchase cycle. The same is really true of recent laptops as well, so there's an internal pressure on OEMs to try to reinforce that 3 year buying cycle and SSDs don't match that strategy. It's insane to me, since the most important thing is meeting consumer demand, but this change in the purchase cycle is definitely a factor.
 

demoth

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Seems to me there is room for SSD and future 3D NAND mass producers to skip the middlemen with certain storage options (RAM and HD) and could partner with motherboard manufactures to integrate a minimum 250 GB boot drive 16 GB RAM into reasonably priced mid and higher range options. In many case, SSD maker's costs would be half while the connection and interface in a design like this would offer optimal speeds for end users. Screw the vendors, they operate only on short term demand.
 

lodders

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Most of my friends in the office are apple fanboys. They kept on telling me how wonderful an apple was to use.
So a few years ago I decided to build a PC to similar specifications to my friends apple desktop - fast i5, 8GB RAM, SSD, 27" IPS monitor. It was a lot more money than I would normally have spent on a PC, but still only half the price of the equivalent apple product.
I found that a high spec PC was a joy to use. My friends with low spec PCs complain about windows updates, but on my PC they are sufficiently fast that it is not a problem.

I think a lot of people are switching from PC to Apple mainly because their PCs were cheap and slow....
 

3ogdy

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"The slim mobile-centric device proves that HDDs may just yet have a spot in the mobile world"
HDDs shouldn't even exist in the mobile world. Their only advantage is capacity for dollar, but that's just for now. SSDs are faster, MUCH more reliable, shock-resistant (something HDDs can't mate with) and improve battery life. Also, capacity increases are more complicated in the HDD space, whereas flash doesn't seem to be hit so hard in that way.

"Q: May I Have That Shiny New Desktop PC With An SSD?
A: No, Sir, You May Not. "
GOOD. We, who build, fix and configure computers do that. If people buy new PCs with SSDs at low prices, things are only getting worse for us. SSDs provide great performance improvements, so leave that to us, not to companies such as Dell, HP and the rest.
Oh, and keeping PCIe SSDs out of the reach of such computer systems can only be great.

"The desktop PC market has been in the throes of a continued decline for several years, and it is easy to see why, with the apparent unwillingness to integrate SSDs into the newest desktop PCs. "
The fact that pre-built desktops don't feature SSD's by default is NOT the cause for a decline in desktop shipments. You've said it yourself: "the...market has been in...decline for several years" - SSDs have started to become somewhat affordable only recently. And yes, offering 512GB of flash for any cent over $100 is asking for too much for a lot of people. Back to what you were saying - you seem to confuse cause with effect here.
The fact that pre-built desktops don't come with SSDs is the effect of a lackluster interest in such computers, given what smartphones, phablets (increasingly popular), tablets (not so exciting anymore) and laptops (include hybrids here) are capable of.

Putting an SSD in a pre-built desktop is a synonym for "offering 2013's fashion in more colors" to many. Oh, and quite a ton of people react to new product generations (from iShit to Alienware-grade desktops) like this: "Oh, yeah, they improve every year, that's a given - I'll stick to my product until I really won't be able to do what I initially bought it for." Just like your mother's case: reading emails, using Skype & Office, watching movies & YouTube videos, listening to music, transferring photos, uploading them to NSA, cough, I mean Facebook and all that...guess what: it can be done with a Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, an iGPU and a 250GB - 500GB HDD just fine. Hell, I know people who do that on Pentium D systems. Even $200 netbooks can do that with some issues in the video playback department here and there.
 

Alathorne

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I also cannot imagine getting a new PC without a SSD. I have an old netbook with an Atom chip. It came with XP but when the OS lost support, I upgraded to Win7. Not a good idea. I changed the OS to Lubuntu, which improved things a good deal. About 2 years ago I added a small SSD of 110GB to it when I upgraded the SSD boot drive in my desktop. Did that make a difference in load times! It has never been more usable, even with XP. Now that such a small SSD can be had for $30-40, even such old feeble machines can be resurrected to usability for cheap.
 
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