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ThinkPad X300 solid-state drive shines

A review shows the ThinkPad X300's solid-state drive beating a standard 7200rpm hard-disk drive handily.

ThinkPad X300's solid-state drive beats fast hard drives. Lenovo

Solid-state drives continue to outperform hard-disk drives in tests, providing some consolation for the high price.

The X300 ThinkPad, which starts at $2,900, is one of the hottest--and most expensive--notebooks on the market now. The Apple MacBook Air is another. They both come with solid-state drives (SSDs) that perform better than standard magnetic hard-disk drives. And the X300's outpaces a 7200rpm hard drive by a long shot, according to review site Hot Hardware.

In a test, the X300's SSD "performed 2.75 times faster than the Dell XPS M1730 running dual 7200rpm drives," the review said. That's not all. "The X300's performance was nearly 4.9x faster than the Asus U6S" with a 5400rpm 160GB hard drive.

Lenovo puts it this way: "Faster boot and application load times, extra durability, and longer battery life." You can add stratospherically higher unit price, but the price impediment will diminish over the next 12 months.

SSDs are based on flash memory chip technology and have no moving parts. Hard drives, in contrast, use read-write heads that hover over spinning platters to access and record data. With no moving parts, SSDs avoid both the risk of mechanical failure and the mechanical delays of hard drives. Therefore, SSDs are generally faster and more reliable.