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View Full Version : MacBook Air on HDD: This is it's performance (Surprisingly better than expected)




Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 07:07 AM
I booted off on my 2012 i7 MacBook Air with an HDD (5400 RPM) and it's not that bad, honestly.

The Bad
Booting time (Mountain Lion): 1 Minute, 35 Seconds (EEK!) :eek:
Opening Final Cut Pro X: 40 Seconds
Opening Safari: 12 Seconds

The Good
Geekbench 64 bit performance: 7657 (Surprisingly as fast as the one with SSD. Nice.) I was expecting 2000-5000.

The Bottom Line
So basically, everything else is nearly the same in performance except for the parts where it needs to access the disk (booting, copying, loading, importing, etc.)

So, would you consider a MacBook Air with HDD, cheaper price and more storage?



ImperialX
Sep 1, 2012, 07:09 AM
So, would you consider a MacBook Air with HDD, cheaper price and more storage?

Nope.

Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 07:13 AM
Note: The MacBook Air once had an HDD as standard. From what I heard, it's slow.

ImperialX
Sep 1, 2012, 07:18 AM
Note: The MacBook Air once had an HDD. From what I heard, it's slow.

That's precisely what I meant. I've tried the first generation MacBook Air. It's not something one would want.

m00min
Sep 1, 2012, 07:29 AM
So, would you consider a MacBook Air with HDD, cheaper price and more storage?

Nope. If I wanted an ultrabook in that configuration I'd buy a 500 Samsung.

rockyroad55
Sep 1, 2012, 07:32 AM
Wait. I thought the memory is soldered in the 2012.

Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 07:33 AM
Wait. I thought the memory is soldered in the 2012.

The RAM is soldered, but not the SSD (A.K.A. flash storage).

elppa
Sep 1, 2012, 07:37 AM
The original MacBook Air had an iPod hard disk (4200rpm).

Not really a fair comparison with a decent HDD.

The reason why Apple only offer SSDs isn't just boot speeds/app launch.

There are advantages in terms of battery life and not having mechanical, moving parts.

NutsNGum
Sep 1, 2012, 07:39 AM
Did you do it via Thunderbolt? Because I'm confused as to how you managed to replace this:

http://9to5mac.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/ssd-670x483.png%3Fw%3D670%26h%3D483

With this:

http://hexus.net/media/uploaded/2012/7/0dd91d09-2259-4381-81a6-da6f64dfd9e6.jpg

Inside this:

http://www.thecoolist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/New-Macbook-Air-5.jpg

iamsen47
Sep 1, 2012, 07:40 AM
Are there even HDDs that'll fit in an Air?

Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 07:41 AM
not having mechanical, moving parts.

Honestly, who would say that the good old HDD is noisy? Back in the old days, when Steve Jobs was introducing the Power Mac G4 Cube, he called it "Virtual Silence".

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Did you use it via Thunderbolt? Because I'm confused as to how you managed to replace this:

http://9to5mac.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/ssd-670x483.png%3Fw%3D670%26h%3D483

With this:

http://hexus.net/media/uploaded/2012/7/0dd91d09-2259-4381-81a6-da6f64dfd9e6.jpg

I didn't replace it. I booted it off externally. It was quite hard making it work, though. The standard installer won't boot. Apple must have made sure that their OS won't boot externally.

And by "replaced", I mean "replaced" the booting device, so it's not literally "replaced".

iamsen47
Sep 1, 2012, 07:42 AM
We're not back in the old days anymore.

rockyroad55
Sep 1, 2012, 07:42 AM
OHHH. You didn't say you booted off it.

Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 07:45 AM
OHHH. You didn't say you booted off it.

You can't boot off the RAM. But, if you could, it would take literally 0.005 seconds. From what I heard, the RAM could access data in 1 second that a Hard Drive could in 1 and a half months.

rockyroad55
Sep 1, 2012, 08:37 AM
You can't boot off the RAM. But, if you could, it would take literally 0.005 seconds. From what I heard, the RAM could access data in 1 second that a Hard Drive could in 1 and a half months.

Wait what? I'm referring to the hard drive not the RAM. I'm not that dumb haha.

I meant you didn't tell us you booted externally.

0dev
Sep 1, 2012, 08:42 AM
Hard drives are far superior for storing data because of the better value per GB but SSDs are better for booting from.

I'd rather have a normal sized laptop with the OS and apps on an SSD and all my data on a 1TB HD. That'd be ideal for me, but sadly Apple don't sell anything like that. I could use external storage, but on a laptop that just kind of defeats the object if I need it plugged in all the time.

m.demian
Sep 1, 2012, 09:53 AM
If it means the MBA will be cheaper and the prices of the proprietary SSDs in the Air are similar to current 2.5'' SSDs (less than $1 / GB), then yes, I would.

Unfortunately, that's not the case, so no.

jmoore5196
Sep 1, 2012, 10:09 AM
I'm not sure you could shoehorn a 2.5" HDD into an MBA case no matter how the other components were engineered. Any compromise with respect to size would seriously denigrate the market for the MBA, in my view.

I had an original MBA with HDD, and it's still going strong ... I cascaded it down to a friend. It was slow, but it got the job done. The portability was unmatched for the time, but the HDD let the machine down.

As another poster said, we've moved on. Perhaps a MBP with a 2.5" SSD and no optical drive would be worthwhile ... appropriately slimmed down, it would still be a capable machine. But it would be heavier than the MBA, and - in any case - that's a path down which Apple has decided not to walk.

Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 10:18 AM
I'm not sure you could shoehorn a 2.5" HDD into an MBA case no matter how the other components were engineered. Any compromise with respect to size would seriously denigrate the market for the MBA, in my view.

I had an original MBA with HDD, and it's still going strong ... I cascaded it down to a friend. It was slow, but it got the job done. The portability was unmatched for the time, but the HDD let the machine down.

As another poster said, we've moved on. Perhaps a MBP with a 2.5" SSD and no optical drive would be worthwhile ... appropriately slimmed down, it would still be a capable machine. But it would be heavier than the MBA, and - in any case - that's a path down which Apple has decided not to walk.

I didn't put an HDD inside the Air, it's booted off externally.

Unhyper
Sep 1, 2012, 10:38 AM
Your original post is misleading. You said you replaced it. I can boot my iMac from a USB thumbdrive instead of the HDD; that's not "replacing" it.

Mike in Kansas
Sep 1, 2012, 11:32 AM
Geekbench measures processor, RAM, bus and cache speed. None of their tests include any sort of measure of I/O; as a matter of fact, the benchmarks are designed to be I/O independent and just measure processor, memory and OS performance. I wouldn't expect to see any difference in Geekbench scores between an SSD and an externally-booted HDD.

WesCole
Sep 1, 2012, 12:26 PM
I didn't replace it. I booted it off externally. It was quite hard making it work, though. The standard installer won't boot. Apple must have made sure that their OS won't boot externally.

And by "replaced", I mean "replaced" the booting device, so it's not literally "replaced".

How was it difficult to make it work? I just installed a Thunderbolt SSD for my iMac to boot from...the process was plug in, format, clone, and select as boot disk. Everything worked perfectly the first time.

Screwball
Sep 1, 2012, 12:56 PM
I replaced the SSD of my 2012 i7 MacBook Air with an HDD (5400 RPM) and it's not that bad, honestly.

The Bottom Line
So basically, everything else is nearly the same in performance except for the parts where it needs to access the disk (booting, copying, loading, importing, etc.)


So basically every part of the whole performance that can affect user experience...nah thanks...:rolleyes:

Ricanlegend
Sep 1, 2012, 04:42 PM
Very misleading OP , alot of people already does or can do that

Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 05:39 PM
Your original post is misleading. You said you replaced it. I can boot my iMac from a USB thumbdrive instead of the HDD; that's not "replacing" it.

By "replacing", I meant "replacing" to default boot drive. I consider that replacing.

But since you really want everything literally, I changed the title and my post. So we can all be happy. :D

I didn't really think anyone would actually worry about the replacing part, this thread was meant to focus on the performance.

WesCole
Sep 1, 2012, 05:40 PM
By "replacing", I meant "replacing" to default boot drive. I consider that replacing.

But since you really want everything literally, I changed the title and my post. So we can all be happy. :D

I didn't really think anyone would actually worry about the replacing part, this thread was meant to focus on the performance.

On that note, you never even mentioned which interface you used to "replace" your boot drive. I am assuming Thunderbolt, but you could've just as easily used a USB 2.0 enclosure which would skew the results.

Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 05:44 PM
On that note, you never even mentioned which interface you used to "replace" your boot drive. I am assuming Thunderbolt, but you could've just as easily used a USB 2.0 enclosure which would skew the results.

How can USB 2 skew the results?

WesCole
Sep 1, 2012, 05:45 PM
How can USB 2 skew the results?

Because it is MUCH slower than Thunderbolt/USB3...and even noticeably slower than FW800.

Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 05:49 PM
Because it is MUCH slower than Thunderbolt/USB3...and even noticeably slower than FW800.

Yes, but it is dependent on the processor. Studies have shown that USB 2 can be faster than FW800 or 400.

WesCole
Sep 1, 2012, 05:53 PM
Yes, but it is dependent on the processor. Studies have shown that USB 2 can be faster than FW800 or 400.

So, you are saying if you have the best processor available that Thunderbolt and USB2 should be about on par with each other? If you actually booted from a USB2 drive, then all of your data is pretty much worthless since USB2 will be incredibly slow when used as a boot drive. Try it again with a Thunderbolt connection (which will basically be native SATA III speed) and let us know how that goes. It will still be slow with a 5400rpm HDD vs. an SSD, but it will at least be a fair comparison.

simsaladimbamba
Sep 1, 2012, 05:55 PM
Yes, but it is dependent on the processor. Studies have shown that USB 2 can be faster than FW800 or 400.

Please point to those studies, I have never seen transfer speeds faster than 38 MB/s via USB 2.0 on iMacs, MacBooks, MacBook Pros, Mac minis or Mac Pros.
Firewire 400 is around the same speed as USB 2.0, though it transfers data as a stream and not in burst as USB 2.0 does.
If the Firewire 800 chips (Mac and HDD enclosure) and the drivers are good, then I can have speeds of about 65 to 75 MB/s, but often I see them crawling at 55 MB/s.

Blackberryroid
Sep 1, 2012, 07:40 PM
Please point to those studies, I have never seen transfer speeds faster than 38 MB/s via USB 2.0 on iMacs, MacBooks, MacBook Pros, Mac minis or Mac Pros.
Firewire 400 is around the same speed as USB 2.0, though it transfers data as a stream and not in burst as USB 2.0 does.
If the Firewire 800 chips (Mac and HDD enclosure) and the drivers are good, then I can have speeds of about 65 to 75 MB/s, but often I see them crawling at 55 MB/s.

Okay, I can't find the part where processor is related to USBs (I found that before, probably deep inside the internet). But I did find this:

USB 2.0, with 480Mbps High speed, launched in April 2000

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Very misleading OP , alot of people already does or can do that

Really? I tried running the installer, it won't boot. I had to carbon copy every byte to make it bootable.

Timshan0876
Sep 1, 2012, 09:38 PM
Booting up Safari goes from about 1 second to 12 seconds...
Im not some sort of computer wiz, but that just seems so sloooowww.
It IS that bad haha

Stetrain
Sep 1, 2012, 10:20 PM
The sort of hard drive that was used in the original Macbook Air was a 1.8" model, the same used in the iPods. There isn't really room for a full sized laptop 2.5" drive. Those 1.8" drives were incredibly slow, slower than a standard laptop hard drive.

I'd much rather have the 128GB standard SSD in the 13" Air and use my own external for extra storage than buy a machine with a tiny slow hard drive.

Besides, the Air is already about as cheap as Apple laptops ever get.

Blackberryroid
Sep 2, 2012, 01:04 AM
The sort of hard drive that was used in the original Macbook Air was a 1.8" model, the same used in the iPods. There isn't really room for a full sized laptop 2.5" drive. Those 1.8" drives were incredibly slow, slower than a standard laptop hard drive.

Still, any size of hard drive wouldn't fit on the Air because the internals are redesigned.

Unhyper
Sep 2, 2012, 03:12 AM
USB 2.0, with 480Mbps High speed, launched in April 2000 Right, 480 Mbps, which equals 60 MB/s, which is what the speed is capped at. We're talking about megabytes per second, not megabits.

Wokis
Sep 2, 2012, 03:52 AM
Right, 480 Mbps, which equals 60 MB/s, which is what the speed is capped at. We're talking about megabytes per second, not megabits.

Transfer speed in one way from USB 2.0 is usually 30MB/s, even.

So if this was done on a 2.0 disk, well.. It's not at all representing what a harddrive in an MBA would be like.

Bilalo
Sep 2, 2012, 04:32 AM
Hell no... SSD <3 for gaming as well, HDD sucks, just get external HD for movies :)

Blackberryroid
Sep 2, 2012, 05:25 AM
Hell no... SSD <3 for gaming as well, HDD sucks, just get external HD for movies :)

SSD does not affect the Gaming at all, except for loading.

elppa
Sep 2, 2012, 05:26 AM
Honestly, who would say that the good old HDD is noisy? Back in the old days, when Steve Jobs was introducing the Power Mac G4 Cube, he called it "Virtual Silence".

I don't think it is about the noise either. HDD are very quiet. The benefits are having no moving parts in a mobile device and battery life.

Blackberryroid
Sep 6, 2012, 06:20 AM
Booting up Safari goes from about 1 second to 12 seconds...
Im not some sort of computer wiz, but that just seems so sloooowww.
It IS that bad haha

If you're patient, it's good enough. You can work with that speed because the processor is fast enough.