I installed an Intel X25-V in an HP Mini 110 and found it to be an inexpensive way to hotrod an aging netbook. Any drive in my current SSD Roundup will work even better today. It’s an inexpensive way to hotrod an aging netbook. Any drive available today will be considerably larger than the stock 16 GB SSD, and also considerably faster.The X25-V is, as the name suggests, a low-end, “value” drive. Windows XP boots off it in seconds, and most apps load in a second. Firefox takes longer, but no more than about six. It’s a middle-of-the-road drive from a big name.

Intel provides a data migration tool, which is just a cut-down version of Acronis True Image that checks to make sure there’s an Intel drive in your system. I was irritated that it was a 93-meg download and that Intel’s servers could only muster 33K per second, so it took 45 minutes-plus to download. Once it did download, the program kept crashing before it could get moving. It worked on the third attempt. It’s nice that Intel provides such a program, and it’s nice that it seems to align the partition when it copies, but it wasn’t so nice that it worked so inconsistently. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, but it’s what’s required to get the Intel-sanctioned software to work. At least it did eventually work for me.

The drive is faster than an OCZ Vertex and other hot competitors from last year, but not as fast as today’s top-of-the-line models from Crucial, or even OCZ and similar makers. But Intel throws in extras that the others don’t necessarily include. Every $100 SSD comes with trade-offs. Once you get the X25-V working, there’s nothing wrong with it.

Installation itself isn’t too bad. Plug the Intel drive into a $20 temporary SATA-USB adapter, run the software to clone the drive, then get ready to take the Mini 110 apart. Shut the system down, and remove the battery. Three screws in the back hold the keyboard in place. Remove those screws, then push the keyboard up from the recessed hole gently until it pops, then lift it out. Remove three screws holding the factory drive in place, then remove the drive, bolt in the Intel, and reverse the process. This Youtube video helps. It’s not terribly hard, but if you’ve never disassembled a laptop before, it should be a little intimidating. But it’s nothing like working on a Toshiba. With some care you can get it done without removing the keyboard cable, and you should do that if you can. The keyboard is a bit fiddly to plug back in.

The Intel drive doesn’t fit the bracket for SSD-equipped Mini 110s perfectly, but it works. The protruding threads for the factory A-Data SSD get in the way a little. I suggest shimming the screws opposite the SATA connector with a #6 washer if you can. It bolts in perfectly when replacing a 2.5-inch HDD. Depending on your experience level, the swap itself is anywhere from a 5-minute to 30-minute job.

All in all, it’s a worthwhile upgrade. The Mini 110 runs very nicely with a good SSD in it. Not that I’m surprised. It’s still not a good gaming machine, but for the things people buy netbooks to do, it makes everything quicker. If I could only afford to upgrade to 2 GB of RAM or upgrade the SSD, it would be a tough call. The improvement over the factory SSD is dramatic enough to challenge the conventional always-take-the-memory wisdom. Having used a Mini 110 with the factory SSD and 2 GB of RAM, and one with an X25-V and 1 GB of RAM, I’d rather have the SSD.