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Other Hardware and Peripherals Other Apple systems and peripherals discussion.

The SSD Thread


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cwa107

 
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So, I've seen a lot of threads about people looking for SSDs and I thought it would be handy if we had a thread where everyone can share which SSD they bought, why they chose it, and how they feel about it after using it for awhile.

After a few years of watching the market, reading reviews and waiting for them to reach a price that was palatable, I finally opted for a Crucial M4 256GB SSD. I chose this drive because it was SATA-3, had fairly solid reviews, and was right at the price point I wanted to be. It also didn't hurt that Crucial is one of just a few companies that offers full Mac support - this is important because SSDs frequently have firmware updates, and the last thing you want to have to do is install Windows just to do a firmware update.

I've had the m4 for a few days now and it's amazing. In fact, I've found myself intentionally rebooting my Mac just to watch how fast it boots up. One of the big side effects I've noticed as well is that the battery run-time has improved significantly. I'm getting about an hour more runtime than I did with my 7200rpm Hitachi 7k500 installed.

I did have to implement a hack to enable TRIM support (why Apple can't support trim on third party drives in 10.6/10.7, I just don't understand), but other than that, installation was no different than any other hard drive.

So, what about you? Which SSD did you choose and why? Do you like it?

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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RavingMac

 
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Good idea!
I'm thinking about doing an SSD upgrade, but haven't because my MBP won't support using the data doubler as my optical drive is IDE not SATA.

I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .
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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Razormac View Post
Good idea!
I'm thinking about doing an SSD upgrade, but haven't because my MBP won't support using the data doubler as my optical drive is IDE not SATA.
That's a drag. I do use my SuperDrive and I didn't want to have two mass storage devices drawing power from my laptop, so I decided to just get one drive that could hold all of my stuff. I did have to do some pruning to allow for plenty of "elbow room" on the drive (I'm actually up to 100GB free at this point), but I think it's manageable.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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BrianLachoreVPI

 
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I like this idea as well - as I've been talking about doing this ever since I got my MBP - and I'm still talking about it. I'd be interested in seeing people include the criteria that lead to their SSD choices and any installation tips. If you replaced the Optical drive - interested in how you partitioned items - i.e. OS on the SSD...certain applications running from the SSD ...certain files stored on the rotary HDD...and how that has impacted performance.

I think one of the things that slowed me down was the realization that I picked up one of the 2011 MBPs that only allowed for a SATA II connection to the Optical bay instead of the SATA III that showed up a month or so later. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be the early adopter. If/when I do finally get around to making this upgrade - I'll definitely replace the optical drive and put that in an external enclosure as I think I'll need the extra storage. I still haven't implemented any kind of NAS solution yet - although that will eventually come as well.
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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianLachoreVPI View Post

I think one of the things that slowed me down was the realization that I picked up one of the 2011 MBPs that only allowed for a SATA II connection to the Optical bay instead of the SATA III that showed up a month or so later.
Do you think that SATA 3 would really offer any advantage for a typical HDD though? From what I understand, the typical HDD can't saturate a SATA1 bus, let alone SATA2.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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BrianLachoreVPI

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
Do you think that SATA 3 would really offer any advantage for a typical HDD though? From what I understand, the typical HDD can't saturate a SATA1 bus, let alone SATA2.
Well - that's true - and I'd have to go do some legwork to answer your question with any real confidence - but since I have a screaming earache - that will have to wait a little. I do recall looking at some of the newer WD Scorpio drives and thinking they were were approaching the SATA II max bw. I believe they have some SATA III drives out - but whether or not those actually exceed the throughput capability of SATA II, I don't know. If they don't - then you're right - it's immaterial.
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OWC and Kingston SSD have worked extremely well and fast.

G.Skill Falcon crashed after four days with bad sectors.

Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!
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At the moment the general internet consensus is to put the ssd in the main drive and the hdd in the optical drive via a caddy. One issue this apparently raises is a lack of support for the hdd in a caddy (in the main bay it is mounted on rubber supports). Will this cause any major issues? Can you effectively 'pad' out the caddy to give the hdd a bit of shock absorption support and to dampen down any vibrations from the spinning disc?

Or can you put a 6Bb/s ssd (crucial 128 Gb) in the optical bay bay of a mid 2012 13" mbp without any problems?
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Your "general internet consensus" is filled with idiots then.

I've always recommended leaving the HDD in the factory location and putting the SSD in the optical bay for exactly that reason. The only reason this won't work, is with older, 2009 and earlier, Macbooks. They for some reason don't like the boot drive in the optical bay location.

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Since this is a sticky, let me ask a completely different question:

For those of us power users, (A/V pros, etc) who use many drives, spending big bucks for a large SSD boot drive is not an automatic thing. $$$ can always be spent elsewhere, like for A/V drives, more ram, etc.
One has to ask the obvious question, for which I can find no answer:

Does switching to an SSD boot drive offer any benefits besides just faster boot times? I mean, who really cares about faster boot times?

OK, there is an advantage in power usage, but few pros are going to care about that.
There's in advantage in heat generation, which I guess has some merit.

- But what about application speed? Do huge applications (Protools, Photoshop, etc) run any faster with an SSD boot drive? I don't mean the sessions themselves, which are always going to be on a separate drive anyway, I mean the applications themselves, which do reside on the boot drive.

I have search many times, and can't find a single piece of data on this. I thus assume the answer is "no," but it would be very good to know for sure.

So?
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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cableaddict View Post

Does switching to an SSD boot drive offer any benefits besides just faster boot times? I mean, who really cares about faster boot times?
Yes. It speeds up all disk I/O, which is by far the largest bottleneck for any modern computer. Simply put, you no longer need to wait for the drive to move the head to the appropriate portion of the disk and begin reading (or writing) data.

The difference is like going from floppy disks to hard drives.

Quote:
OK, there is an advantage in power usage, but few pros are going to care about that.
There's in advantage in heat generation, which I guess has some merit.

- But what about application speed? Do huge applications (Protools, Photoshop, etc) run any faster with an SSD boot drive? I don't mean the sessions themselves, which are always going to be on a separate drive anyway, I mean the applications themselves, which do reside on the boot drive.
Yes, any application that lives on an SSD (whether it's the boot drive or not) is going to load faster and as it interacts with the OS and/or loads more components, it's going to be faster. Also, virtual memory utilization doesn't have the same kind of drag that it would when the swap file is stored on a traditional HDD.

Quote:
I have search many times, and can't find a single piece of data on this. I thus assume the answer is "no," but it would be very good to know for sure.

So?
Well, I almost hate to say it, but the most likely reason you haven't found any specific commentary on it, is because it's elementary. Any time you increase throughput on mass storage, you're going to see an overall performance increase.

Now, if you're doing video editing or another task that requires vast amounts of disk space, you'll definitely want to keep a (cheaper) HDD around for data files - and you won't realize as much of a performance difference when working with those files (loading them and saving them), since you'll still be dealing with the same kind of latency. But, you'll still see an overall performance difference because the files that are accessed most frequently (OS and application elements) no longer take as long to traverse the gap from the "disk's" physical medium, through the bus and into the CPU.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
I did have to implement a hack to enable TRIM support (why Apple can't support trim on third party drives in 10.6/10.7, I just don't understand), but other than that, installation was no different than any other hard drive.
Is this really necessary? The M4's have Active Garbage Collection, which is built into the firmware and not OS dependent. AFAIK this is essentially completing the same task as TRIM. I have never activated TRIM on any of my M4's

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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnCL View Post
Is this really necessary? The M4's have Active Garbage Collection, which is built into the firmware and not OS dependent. AFAIK this is essentially completing the same task as TRIM. I have never activated TRIM on any of my M4's
According to Anandtech, the M4's built-in garbage collection isn't as efficient as TRIM. So, yes, I'd say it's still necessary.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
According to Anandtech, the M4's built-in garbage collection isn't as efficient as TRIM. So, yes, I'd say it's still necessary.
Interesting, thanks for the link. Which method did you use to enable TRIM on your M4?

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Super Talent 2.5 inch 128GB MasterDrive SX SATA2 Solid State Drive (MLC)
Purchased 06/28/2009 for $304.99 shipped.
It's been in multiple MacBooks, MacBook Pros and is now in a 2011 MacMini. It runs 24/7 on the Mini and has done so for a tick over a year now.
It has been used to run on 10.5, 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8.
Issues to date: zero
I bought it because at the time it had the best warranty/cost/reviews combination in my price range. I'm not sure if it's capable of supporting TRIM or not. It doesn't seem to have mattered thus far - then again, maybe it will die tomorrow? If I found another one, "new old stock" in box, I'd buy it again. Unfortunately, they no longer make this particular model/version and I have no idea what it's successor is called.

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