YouR thoughts on an SSD drive for my Macbook Pro

Iconindustries

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Ok guys I'm doing a bit of upgrading on my 13 inch macbook pro and I have a few questions. Just yesterday I installed 8GB's of ram i picked up for $199. And now I'm thinking of fitting an SSD drive. I can afford the 128 and 160 GB SSD's and I was wondering if anyone here has upgraded their conventional spinny drive.

Or has anyone got a Mac Laptop that is factory fitted with an SSD drive and how do you describe the performance compared to the conventional one.

The two SSD's I have my eye on are

Toshiba 128GB SATA II
Intel 160GB X25-M

Any feedback would be great.

Thanks,
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Kosta

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i've got the factory installed ssd (128gb) in my mbp (late 09) 15" and it flies.

i'm not too sure about the other hard drives you have listed (no experience with them) but the apple one is very fast.
i am consider upgrading the memory as you have for my music hardware/software.

there is a web page worth checking out - OWC (otherworldcomputers?) which sells high grade gear at reasonable prices. they develop them themselves and make high performance macs.
 

Krang

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I would not upgrade just for performance, especially with photography purposes. For me they are just too small. Not enough gigabytes for all my programs and storage, and still have the free space needed for HD video and large scale panorama work.

Just skip being an early adopter and wait a year for the prices to drop and the capacity to rise …
 

Kosta

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prices have dropped a fair bit over the past year...a lot actually. as for capacity - that will take a few more years to get cheap (i'm guessing somewhat equivalent capacity to conventional hard drives in about two years..)
if you have two ssds, stick one inside, and one onto your firewire 800 port. i don't know if you are just going to use it for photography or not, but not having to wait for a disk to spin up from idle and having fantastic read speeds across the capacity is great :)
 

akulya

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If you can afford one, go for it.

I use one for my boot/OS sector and I have never seen such a speed boost from one single component.

They excel at read/re-rewite to small files (which your OS does lots of), I guess you would see some benifit working with pics, but for what they cost, I'd just go with a 32 or 64 gig and keep bulk data on something cheap.

I heard that they have a shortish lifetime compared to platters, so I periodically archive my boot drive (with acronis) to a regular hdd; but I've not had a personal failure yet.
(of any hdd, I might add, maybe i'm lucky that way :-D)

EDIT-
I'm using a desktop pc btw, but sme principles apply.
 

julienrl

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I would not upgrade just for performance, especially with photography purposes. For me they are just too small. Not enough gigabytes for all my programs and storage, and still have the free space needed for HD video and large scale panorama work.

Just skip being an early adopter and wait a year for the prices to drop and the capacity to rise …
I have been looking into the hybrid dives for that very reason...

500gb normal = about 80-90$
500gb hybrid = 130$ (on sale at 115 on newegg + an extrao 10$ off with the code BTEZZYZ26), at about double speed and less than 1\4 power consumption (about the same on standby, only a bit less)
500gb ssd = forget about it :p, but speeds can easily go up to 4x and power consumption up to 1\8th (But the high speed SSDs can use as much power as the hybrid hard drives, while some are only about 2 times faster as the hybrids and use half the power)

The principle behind the hybrids is that they have a few GB of very high speed flash and special algorithms store the files that you and your OS use most on it to increase overall speeds and reduce read\write of small files to your disc.
 

squeegee

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With all the ya - sayers around I figured I'd voice my nay say.

It depends on what you're doing. I recently went through a slew of benchmarks for what I use my laptop for and found almost 0 performance increase. This of course depends on what you're doing with your machine. In my case, it turned out the linux disk cache was so effective it completely negated the performance of an ssd, making it pretty much irrelevent. If you do cpu bound stuff or if your disk cache is good, you might not get your moneys worth.

Oh and btw, if I recall correctly, intel just announced a drastic price cut on their new 128g ssd's 2 days ago, it'll take a month or so for the stock and priced to reach everywhere.
 

Iconindustries

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Thanks heaps guys.

Kosta thumbs up for suggesting OWC. I'm very impressed at their own SSD which has very interesting specks. Regarding the memory I bought. It is Nu-ram I bought from Macfixit in Melbourne. They had a big price reduction on Ram and I thought to give it ago and the Nu-ram seems to work fine. For $199 i thought it was a good deal- so good it thought it might of only been 667mhz but it's the full 1067mhz.

elshaneo, that is a great SSD. I looked them up and G. Skill have got very good reviews on their SSD's. Their SSD's seem to be a copy of the OWC ones with the Sandforce controller and similar read and write speeds. I think I will be getting one of these ones. Probably the 120GB one which I can get on Ebay for $295

Krang, I thought about what I have and really all i do with my computer is Aperture and itunes. I like to use aperture to show photos to others but it takes about 5 seconds to fully load each image and I'm guessing with an SSD it will be faster. My music collection of 5500 songs really only amounts to about 30GB and my photos would be about 40. The rest is just in movies ripped from DVD's and really when I think about it, It's something thats not really needed. So I'm thinking that 120Gb will suffice and If I need any other room I'll just use my existing 500GB HDD as storage. I already have a 500GB used as Time Machine.

Akula, thanks also for your feedback. When you say they have a shortish life- is that in hours of use or just time (as in degradation each day regardless if it's being used) If it's just when it's being used It would probably be fine for me, as I only use the computer a couple of hours each day.

Julienrl, I looked into the Hybrid HDD's and they are an interesting idea but for me I'm thinking that SSD will be the one.

Squeegee mate. Your run with a SSD didn't sound that good. What machine are you on? My work isn't that CPU intensive probably the most being Aperture which I think is more the time in loading each image rather than CPU speed.

qball, do you find the A Data reliable? I'll look into that as well.


Thank again! I've moved my sights, and I'm pretty sure I'll purchase the the G. Skill 120GB fella. All I need to know now is when I've put it in my macbook what do I do from there.

cheerio,
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akulya

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Here's an article on "SSD myths and legends" the gist of it is, that SSD drives do have a theoretical maximum limit to the number of times they can be written to; but in practice this shouldn't concern you.

Most servers worldwide still use regular HDDs, because historically this "maximum write" count was significant, although as technology progresses it is becoming less significant, and SDD is clearly the future.

It is worth remembering that the future is not here yet.

SDD is still new(ish) and teething; but for a home machine, i'd go for it.
Buy new though.
 

squeegee

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Probably the 120GB one which I can get on Ebay for $295
that doesn't sound like a good price, especially if you're picking it off eCave.

Try pcdiy.com.au, they seem to have 120gb ssd's for cheaper than that, as a matter of fact right now there's a vertex 2 going for $268 - that's actually a tempting price... I should stop looking.

msy.com.au is also a good place to find cheap stuff, but their web site kind of sucks, they make you download a pdf with daily updated prices - but they are usually cheaper. A Kingston 128gb is $249 and a Patriot 120gb is $259.

There's also megabuy.com.au they seem to have a better selection but the prices are usually worst than the above two.


Akula, thanks also for your feedback. When you say they have a shortish life- is that in hours of use or just time (as in degradation each day regardless if it's being used) If it's just when it's being used It would probably be fine for me, as I only use the computer a couple of hours each day.
I believe he's referring to actual usage time as in amount of data written to the HD, specifically written to disk, not read, nor hours turned on etc. This was true about 2 to 3 years ago and it wasn't too hard to burn out a SSD. Like akulya mentioned, that's no longer the case - at least if you buy a decent reputable brand one (no gurantees on others). Their life span is in "theory" longer than magnetic drives now I believe. I believe the motor is set to burn out before the SSD's flip count wears out. It's at least very very long now. I believe Intel showed that under "typical" usage, their SSD's will last about 100 years or so now. Of course that's vendor propaganda but still...

Squeegee mate. Your run with a SSD didn't sound that good. What machine are you on?
Actually it wasn't that my ssd trials were bad, I just didn't realise how good my disk cache was. If you have enough memory on linux, it will pretty much cache all the reads (until it's updated again). As a result, most of my "disk access" turns out to be pure memory access... I'm been mulling a 8gb ram upgrade because of that, I'm trolling along with just 3gb right now but it's running fine... so hard to justify the cash.

qball, do you find the A Data reliable? I'll look into that as well.
Personally I won't buy a-data again. I haven't seen them in australia although I have a sneaky suspicion that they are affiliated with A-Ram here which is conspicuously absent in north america (last I checked) although they claim no affiliation...

I had previous bought a class 10, 32gb sdhc card from them. I put it in my computer and used it as an off-hard drive backup media. It failed with in 1 week. It had a life time warranty - but it costed me about $10 to ship it back to their factory, they did how ever send me a brand new one. A web search shows a lot of people had failing sdhc cards from them. I sold the one I got back on evilBay for pretty much what I bought it for. I've since switched to a panasonic class 10 sdhc for off media back up and it's been running sweet for over 6 months now. (even though the panasonic was a "refurbished" card and only has 1 year warranty).
 

Vivalo

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I can also recommend using SSD-drive. My configuration is Windows 7 and all software installed on Intel X25-M G2 80GB SSD and everything else including pictures stored on 500gb HDD. SSD gives you lower running temperature and power consumption and less noise which is ideal for laptop computers. I suppose it's also more resistant for G-forces because it has no moving parts inside. Many have mentioned fast seeking times which means super fast OS and program start-up times. I haven't yet heard any real life cases about SSD meeting the end of its writing lifecycle. Personally I am not worried about that at all.

-Ville
 

Iconindustries

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Try pcdiy.com.au, they seem to have 120gb ssd's for cheaper than that, as a matter of fact right now there's a vertex 2 going for $268 - that's actually a tempting price... I should stop looking.
I checked them out Squeegee, selected the item signed up with them and went to the checkout and they added on $26 GST and $15 freight!! I hate shops that list the price without GST included. Any way that brought up the price similar to what they were selling on Ebay. So i went with the 120GB G. Skill one from Ebay which I picked up for $264. The seller guaranteed they have 3 years warranty and I feel more comfortable using Paypal over the net.

I haven't yet heard any real life cases about SSD meeting the end of its writing lifecycle. Personally I'm not worried about this at all.
Thanks Vivalo. Yeah in the scenario of it wearing out in 2 years that's fine with me because I'll pick up that 'Gear Acquisition Syndrome' virus again and get a new MBP.
 

DuClare

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If you have specific performance problems, you might want to identify the bottleneck and upgrade the machine accordingly. I get slowdowns with the hard drive rattling hard, but this is because of swapping. The right component to upgrade would be the RAM. The next thing that makes me wait is the CPU, specifically when I'm running some fancier photo processing on full size images. Browsing is primarily limited by connetion latency (which I have no control over) & bandwidth. And buggy software.

Some of the SSDs are amazingly fast (I've heard good things about certain Intel products), but I can't find a case where my daily needs involve heavy disk access.
 

icase81

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I had an Intel 80gb Gen2 SSD drive in my MacMini (latest gen with nVidia graphics) and I didn't notice much difference. However I recently installed a 40gb Intel drive into my work laptop, Dell Latitude e5400 C2D 2.66ghz, 4gb ram, and it is like a whole new machine.

I keep going back and forth on getting an adapter to put a mechanical drive in the DVD drive slot of my Unibody 15" MBP and putting a 128gb SSD into the primary drive slot, but am worried that I just won't see a difference. I've upgraded it already to a 500gb Seagate Momentus XT (7200RPM drive with a 4GB adaptive SSD on the controller board) and it just seems sluggish sometimes, and the power saving features of the Mac don't seem compatible with it. It doesn't actually shut the drive off, but it powers down, then back up, then down, then back up instead of just powering it down and leaving it down.

If I do I'll probably go for one of the older drives since the better ones of the older gen drives will max out SATA II which is all but the absolute latest MacBook Pros have anyways. And with Lion supporting TRIM, there won't be a better time to upgrade as the newer gen drives are starting to trickle out, lowering the prices of the last gen drives considerably.

The SandForce based drives are hitting ~$199 for a 128gb drive after rebate.
 

lenshoarder

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I kind of agree with you. I replaced the HDD in my desktop with a SSD and I haven't noticed any difference at all.

I run a RAID x2 SSD in my laptop. Boot up times are amazing. I don't boot up that often though. I just put my machine to sleep. For most day to day things you don't notice it since most day to day things aren't really bound by the disk. Photoshop does start up far faster and my compiles are out of this world fast. I did replace my DVD with a HDD since I only have 128GB of SSD. It's a great solution for files you don't access very often yet you can still have them with you. I keep all the pictures I've ever taken on that HDD.
 

stratokaster

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My wife's 11-inch MacBook Air came with a 64 GB SSD and it's super fast compared to my 13" aluminum unibody MacBook, even if it has only 2 GB of RAM and its processor is puny 1.4 GHz. (My MacBook has 6 GB of RAM and its processor is 2.13 GHz.)
 

Alanroseman

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OS X Lion will add a TRIM Command for SSD

This is some recent reading from Cult of Mac.

"OS X Lion Adds Essential Function To Help Preserve SSD


This is welcome: OS X 10.7 Lion adds support for the TRIM command. The addition of this deep little function will mostly be of interest to new MacBook Air owners, as it’s essential to the long-term performance of an SSD drive.


In essence, here’s what TRIM does. At a fundamental level, SSDs, being solid state, handle data differently than spinning hard drives, but because operating systems like Snow Leopard treat SSDs like HDDs when it comes to how the operating system handles operations like deletes and formats, performance can progressively degrade overtime.

TRIM fixes that, allowing Lion to inform the SSD which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally. It’s welcome news to MacBook Air owners, as even the latest versions of Snow Leopard don’t support TRIM, and therefore tax the SSD more than is necessary.

If Apple intends on making SSDs more ubiquitous across the future Mac line-up, adding TRIM to Lion is necessary. I only wish Apple would roll it out to Snow Leopard owners too."
 
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