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The SSD Thread

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?
 

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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. :(
 

cwa107

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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. :(
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.
 

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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.
 

cwa107

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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.
 

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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.
 
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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?
 

cwa107

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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.

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.

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.
 
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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
 

cwa107

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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.
 
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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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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.
No, it is NOT elementary. In fact, regarding application speed, several SSD techs have written that there should be no difference at all. If there WERE a difference, then you would expect to see many online tests showing how much of this difference exists between the various brands & models of SSD, yet there are none.

CWA, I'm not sure you read my question carefully, or perhaps simply don't understand what I'm asking ABOUT.

Any pro user running apps that require heavy data reads & write (Photoshop, Protools, Final Cut Pro, etc) will have the data on a separate drive, so the boot drive's throughput has nothing to do with accessing that data. Your comment makes no sense.

Even if we were talking about running an app that accesses data, and is (stupidly) storing that data on the same drive (which no pro would ever do) it is not AUTOMATIC that there would be an increase in app performance. Probably yes (in that bizarre scenario) but there can be other bottlenecks, such as ram limitations of the memory controller. - but this is not much of a real-world scenario, so it's moot, anyway.

- And as far as apps that do NOT access data, throughput may not matter at all.

Please don't post unless you are sure.
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The only reason I even brought it up is that I feel there might be a performance boost in some applications, simply because the Mac has to write-read a lot of invisible files as an app runs. However, the standard tech response to this idea is that those write-reads typically happen in the heap file, which is in ram and thus just as fast as an SSD. (faster, actually.)

So, I'm still curious if there are any specific benchmarks that might show additional benefit.

It seems that a lot of people are spending big money on SSD boot drives, for almost no reason. If saving 30 seconds on your system boot speed, or maybe 15 seconds on an application boot, is important to you, then fine, but that money could be better spent elsewhere.

Now, if you are a pro A/V use that typically opens many large sessions in a day, and time is big money, then the application-boot difference could be more like 2 minutes per session, and that could perhaps add up to enough time to warrant the cost. But if you're idea of a large program is some video game, then I dunno ....
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Still hoping for some real data, if it exists.
 
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cwa107

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No, it is NOT elementary.
Sure it is, you're just too stubborn-headed to see it. You've already got your mind made up, so I'm not sure why you bothered to ask the question. Perhaps you're more interested in making a subjective rant.

In fact, regarding application speed, several SSD techs have written that there should be NO difference. If there WERE a difference, then you would expect to see many online tests showing how much of this difference exists between the various brands & models of SSD, yet there are none.

CWA, I'm not sure you read my question carefully, or perhaps simply don't understand what I'm asking ABOUT.

Any pro user running apps that require heavy data reads & write (Photoshop, Protools, Final Cut Pro, etc) will have the data on a separate drive, so the boot drive's throughput has nothing to do with accessing that data. Your comment makes no sense.
I understand exactly what you're talking about and your area of concern. You're referring specifically to a situation where data is stored on a separate volume from the boot drive. Data is on traditional rotating media, and the OS and apps are on an SSD. In the event that were true, you are correct that there would be little difference in accessing data on the mass storage volume (i.e. in/out operations to the data files). However, your applications, being stored on the SSD and OS are going to be inherently more efficient, running from an SSD.

Even if we were talking about running an app that accesses data, and is (stupidly) storing that data on the same drive (which no pro would ever do) it is not AUTOMATIC that there would be an increase in app performance. Probably yes (in that bizarre scenario) but there can be other bottlenecks, such as ram limitations of the memory controller. - but this is not much of a real-world scenario, so it's moot, anyway.

- And as far as apps that do NOT access data, throughput may not matter at all.

Please don't post unless you are sure.
I'm not sure why you're being so combative here. This is a discussion forum. You have your opinion, which you are welcome to share in a respectful manner. I'm going to let this one slide, but perhaps you should revisit our Community Guidelines, which you agreed to abide by when you joined here - and particularly rule number one.


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The only reason I even brought it up is that I feel there might be a performance boost in some applications, simply because the Mac has to write-read a lot of invisible files as an app runs.
That would be correct. Also in use of virtual memory and interacting with the OS.

However, the standard tech response to this idea is that those write-reads typically happen in the heap file, which is in ram and thus just as fast as an SSD. (faster, actually.)
It depends on the app. Yes, some apps will load all of their dependencies into memory at once, given adequate system memory. Even still many apps cache and interact with the OS and they stand to gain from the OS and application being installed on an SSD in that case.

So, I'm still curious if there are any specific benchmarks that might show additional benefit.

It seems that a lot of people are spending big money on SSD boot drives, for almost no reason. If saving 30 seconds on your system boot speed, or maybe 15 seconds on an application boot, is important to you, then fine, but that money could be better spent elsewhere.

Now, if you are a pro A/V use that typically opens many large sessions in a day, and time is big money, then the application-boot difference could be more like 2 minutes per session, and that could perhaps add up to enough time to warrant the cost. But if you're idea of a large program is some video game, then I dunno ....
---------------------------------------------------
Still hoping for some real data, if it exists.
I would venture to say that the benchmark you're looking for is probably too specific of a scenario. However, I still think that anyone, even those running traditional HDDs for mass storage of project data, will still stand to gain significant performance by upgrading the OS/Application drive to an SSD.

I'd say if you want proof, pick up an SSD and if you're not satisfied with it, return it. OWC has something like a 30 day unconditional satisfaction guarantee.
 
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I would venture to say that the benchmark you're looking for is probably too specific of a scenario. .
No, it isn't. The various online tech sites test things like this constantly. Every single area of performance is looked into with careful benchmarks, yet application speed on a SSD boot drive has never even been mentioned.

I'm not being stubborn, I'm being careful. You have an opinion, backed up by zero evidence, and I'd very much like to know the correct answer.
Once again, every tech that has ever commented on this issue has said there should be NO increase in application speed or efficiency. So, if you have specific evidence to back up your position, I'd very much like to know about it. If you don't, then I think you should stop claiming what you are claiming, because a lot of folks are probably wasting hard-earned money for almost no gain.

This is a great forum, it has helped me a lot, but you know, it's OK to be wrong once in a while.
 
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No, it isn't. The various online tech sites test things like this constantly. Every single area of performance is looked into with careful benchmarks, yet application speed on a SSD boot drive has never even been mentioned.
Links please. That's a pretty broad statement composed of absolutes to just toss out there. Just because you say it is so, does not make it so.

I'm not being stubborn, I'm being careful. You have an opinion, backed up by zero evidence...
As do you at this point.

...and I'd very much like to know the correct answer.
Once again, every tech that has ever commented on this issue has said there should be NO increase in application speed or efficiency...
Again with the absolutes. Oh, and "should be"... not quite as definitive as your earlier statements. At least be consistent. Leaving open a back door only magnifies the holes in an already baseless argument.

So, if you have specific evidence to back up your position, I'd very much like to know about it. If you don't, then I think you should stop claiming what you are claiming, because a lot of folks are probably wasting hard-earned money for almost no gain.
Back at ya bud. Put up or shut up as some might say. Even if you were 100% correct, your presentation sucks and your position thus far lacks the very things you belittle another member for omitting. Your anecdotal feces is worth no more than anyone else's IMHO. Congrats on derailing an interesting thread by adding very little.
 
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