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Corsair Force 3 240GB SSD Upgrade Kit

We are going to walk you through the installation of the drive into an aging Sony VPCF111FX. Hopefully this will allow us to keep the unit around a little longer. Or until the twins get old enough to pound away on the keys of it. And by that time I will have the money needed for a purchase of one of the new Ultrabooks. And to add to the likelihood of this we will max out the ram as well.

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We are going to walk you through the installation of the drive into an aging Sony VPCF111FX. Hopefully this will allow us to keep the unit around a little longer. Or until the twins get old enough to pound away on the keys of it. And by that time I will have the money needed for a purchase of one of the new Ultrabooks. And to add to the likelihood of this we will max out the ram as well.

Introduction to the Corsair Force 3 240GB SSD Upgrade Kit and Corsair DDR3 8GB 1333MHzSo-DIMM Kit

Laptops are not the cheapest form of computers to upgrade when we are feeling they are getting to slow. Only the lucky with deep pockets can afford the type of laptops where the GPU and CPU can be upgraded to faster components are a later time. So, the rest only have the benefits of being able to upgrade hard drive and ram. And to be honest this is enough to keep the laptop around for another few years.

These two components along give us the increase in performance and resource to keep the PC trucking along. But there are still questions that need to be asked. How ram do I add to the system? How big of a hard drive should I put in the system? Should I upgrade to a solid state drive? And I am sure you can think of some others. I can say this much when it comes to ram to make it simple max it out. When it comes to drives things are a little different.

We can take the route of getting the biggest you can afford, or you can elect to purchase the fastest drive for marginal performance increase. Or you can go the way we are going today and that would be throwing in a brand new solid state drive. Yes, you may have to sacrifice space but you get a huge surge in overall performance and this is best when it comes to laptops as a lot of times they don’t seem as fast as their desktop counterpart.

Many SSD manufacturers offer some form of upgrade kits for laptops. And Corsair is no different. Providing the user with not only the drive but cabling and software not only transfer your data but you whole Windows installation over to the new drive. This makes the entire installation process much shorter not having to go through the Windows install.

We are going to walk you through the installation of the drive into an aging Sony VPCF111FX. Hopefully this will allow be to keep the unit around a little longer. Or until the twins get old enough to pound away one the keys of it. And by that time I will have the money needed for a purchase of one of the new Ultrabooks. And to add to the likelihood of this we will max out the ram as well.

Corsair’s take on the SSD Upgrade kit

Corsair SSDs provide significant advantages over standard hard drives. The solid-state design enables SSDs to deliver faster data read and write speeds which can reduce software load and PC startup times. And because SSDs have no moving mechanical parts, they help laptops run cooler, run longer on batteries, and resist data loss from bumps.

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Force Series 3 SSD Notebook Upgrade Kits simplify the process of upgrading a notebook from a hard drive to an SSD drive. The kit includes a USB-to-SATA cable and easy-to-use migration software for transferring existing operating system, application, and data files from an old hard drive to the new SSD. The new SSDs come in a slim 7mm high case designed to fit in most space-constrained laptops.

Specifications

Warranty Three years
SSD Unformatted Capacity 240 GB
Max Sequential R/W (ATTO) 550 MB/s sequential read — 520 MB/s sequential write
Max Random 4k Write (IOMeter 08) 85k IOPS (4k aligned)
Interface SATA 6Gb/s
Technology Asynchronous NAND
Form Factor 7mm high, 2.5 inch
DRAM Cache Memory No
Weight 80g
Voltage 5V ±5%
Power Consumption (active) 2.0W Max
Power Consumption (idle/standby/sleep) 0.5W Max
S.M.A.R.T. Support Yes
Shock 1500 G
MTBF 2,000,000 hours

Closer look

The Corsair Force Series 3 Notebook Upgrade kits consist of just a few pieces. It begins with the drive itself which is obviously from the Force Series 3 lineup. We reviewed the standalone 120 GB drive back in June. So, we won’t spend too much time going over it.

The drive is based on the Marvell 88S-9174 controller which is not as popular as the SandForce SF-2281 controller but we have seen the performance between the two and they are very comparable. The kit is available in 120 GB and 240 GB kits. If you don’t need the kit the drive can be had in 60, 90, 120, 180, 240 and 480 GB.

An Apricorn data cable and software package is including to the bundle to give you a complete kit of everything you will need outside of your own PC.

Installation Setup

A little history on the laptop we are using for this section. It’s a Sony VPCF111FX that was purchase approximately two years ago as a floor demo. The unit has a first generation Intel Core i7 720QM. It came with 4 GB of DDR3 ram and a 500 GB hard drive. The laptop only support SATA II. And the unit has not had a re-install of Windows since its purchase.

I am not a big fan of all the bloatware that Sony packed the Windows partition with so for the purpose of this review, we will use the upgrade kit as it was intended and we will be using the software and USB cable to copy all data to the SSD. And then just having to plug it in and having the ability to continue using the PC as you always have.

The process begins with connecting the drive to the USB cable and then into any USB port on the PC. We suggest using USB 3.0 to make the cloning procedure go faster but it you only have USB 2.0 it will do.

Next, you insert the EZ Gig IV CD and let it autorun bring you to the initial screen. We selected ‘Start EZ Gig IV’ from the menu and then agree to the EULA. There is a brief introduction to the application.

Now, we get to the nitty gritty and have to start selecting the drives and which is going to copy which. The source drive is the drive with all your data and the destination drive is the one and only SSD itself.

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Because we are migrating data from a standard mechanical drive to a SSD we went into the Advance options to make sure that the 4K alignment is chosen. This procedure allows the SSD to run at optimal levels. Verify Copy and Smart Copy is chosen by default. Verify Copy is just that it verifies the data after the cloning procedure is done. Smart Copy is a simple function that always the software to perform a 1 to 1 clone.

Want to delete any of the Document folders, it can be done here.

Confirm our drive settings.

Process starts.

Two hours after we where done.

Next on to the installation of the drive and memory

Installation of a drive and additional memory is different from machine to machine. Nine times out of 10, the drive is located under a panel underneath the laptop while the memory can reside anywhere under the keyboard or once again under a panel on the bottom like the drive. Sony made the location of both pretty easy as they are both is underneath the unit under two plastic panels.

We will take a look at inserting the memory first. A simple screw holds the panel in place. And under it we find two 2 gig modules equaling four gigs. That is four gigs of DDR3 1333 MHz. We are not going to write this article as if you are a complete noob so we won’t go step by step by step. But simply pulling the two metal hooks outwards does allow the old ram to become unsecured and easy to remove.

The new ram is then inserted the way the old modules came out. And that is by sliding the module in at an angle and then pressing down to lock the modules in place. Common sense will tell us to do the bottom module first followed by the second.

Next, we will move on to the solid state drive. Located at the lower edge of the laptop is a single panel secured via two screws. We remove this panel and see the drive is protected by a thin aluminum cage. The cage has four secure points but only two screws. Hmmmmm. Once removed the drive and cage slides to the left to allow the installer to then lift it away from the rest of the PC.

The old drive is dethroned from the cage by removing the four screws that holds it in place. The SSD is then inserted the same way. It seems this is easier than I suspected. The last two steps are placing the drive into the unit and replacing the door.

Time to turn this sucker over and get busy.

Just to make sure we are going to venture into the BIOS to make sure both components were read correctly. OK, everything is detected correctly according to the BIOS.

Testing

Now that everything we is all said and done let us take a quick look at some applications to see just what we have done here today.

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To begin we are using HWMonitor and CPU-Z to display the memory and drive details. Everything seems to be fine here, so let us move on.

Results

Boot-up Time (M.S)
HDD
2.10
SSD
0.43

 

Windows Experience Index (HDD)
HD Tune

Conclusion

We can run all the benchmarks in the world and they all will tell us what we already know. And that is that moving from a mechanical drive to a solid state drives is one of or not the best upgrade you can make to a laptop or desktop, MAC or PC. Corsair makes the whole process easy…very easy with the Force 3 Upgrade kits.

The partnership that Corsair has with Apricorn to bring this kit to market is ideal. With the software and the included SATA-to-USB cable makes live to easy when it is time to move to a SSD. The software is straight forward and there is no need having to partition drives or any of that. A couple of clicks, some hardware know-how and a little time you are up and running.

I have been playing with this kit for about a week now and I can tell you with a straight face there is a night and day difference in the laptop I am using. I was totally amazed at the boot up time for one. Everybody knows that PC manufacturers fill their machines with useless bloatware causing the machine to have a ridiculously slow boot time. We could have easily taken the drive and installed an OEM or retail version of Windows without the garbage but that isn’t necessarily the reason behind the kit. Doing a one to one copy we left everything intact. Doing it this way we were able to drop the boot time from 2.1 minutes to 45 seconds with all the bloatware.

All the other aspects of computing followed that same trend. Applications open faster, loading of images in Photoshop and rendering times are decreased. I am sure others could receive even greater benefits especially if you do anything with 3D, animation or heavy graphic applications.

All our benefits came with us using a laptop would only take advantage of the SATA II protocol not SATA III which the Corsair Force III is native to. But even in an older machine you can take advantage of what a SSD has to offer.

With the prices of solid state drives dropping like crazy now is the best time to make the leap. We are seeing 128GB solid states under $100 when on sale at respectable retailers. Newegg has the 120GB upgrade kit for $125 and the 240GB kit for $230. These are currently two sizes available in a kit for now.

Adding memory to the whole process has its pluses as well. The addition allowed us to have more applications open without any lag. But the one thing that I am glad for is now when I am watching my web video from sites like ESPN, there isn’t that shutter I was experiencing before. This was notorious when it came to watching them in Internet Explorer. Now the problem is a thing of the past.

We highly recommend doing both upgrades together if the money is there.

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ProClockers was founded in 2004, and since then we have reviewed thousands of tech products, including motherboards, CPUs, graphics cards, PC cases, cooling solutions and more. Whilst many of the original products we reviewed back then have long bit the dust, we continue working hard to provide unbiased PC hardware and tech reviews.

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