G. Skill 256GB Titan SSD in my MacBook Pro... Thoughts, Benchmarks, Pics, & Ramblings

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by spaceballl, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #1
    My apologies if this post turns out to be a bit long winded. I've always wanted an SSD in my Macbook Pro. I bought my machine with a 200GB 7200rpm drive and it is rapidly filling up. So I told myself I wouldn't buy an SSD until I could go UP in capacity and UP in speed and fill that need for under $500. A week ago, I read the reviews here, here, and here, saw the price here, and decided that it was time to take the plunge.

    This is the newest G. Skill Titan drive. It actually links two SSDs internally into a RAID 0 configuration. That’s how it gets the major speed increase over the previous generation product. Most negativity I read about the drive is actually intended for the old device, not this one, I believe.
    [​IMG]
    I was at work when the package arrived and I couldn't replace the drive at that point. I was curious, though, about the temperature and noise of an SSD, since this was my first SSD experience. So I left the bare drive on my desk, hooked up power / sata, formatted the drive, and started copying files around. After about 30 minutes of large file copies, the drive felt slightly warm. But by slightly, I really do mean just slightly. I put my ear on it to see if I could hear something. It seemed silent at first, but once I pressed my ear on it, I could hear some sort of noise in there. I dunno... hard to describe... sounded 'electrical' I guess? Definitely not like the spinning of a hard drive. Nearly silent.
    [​IMG]
    I have the second most recent MacBook Pro. It’s the machine that came out in February 2008. It has the Penryn 2.4ghz (3mb cache) chip in it and 4GB of RAM. Pretty shell aside, the main difference between this machine and the newer one is that I don’t have the nvidia chipset, DDR3 memory, and faster frontside bus. The newer nvidia chipset obviously also has a different sata controller. And of course... this Macbook Pro doesn’t offer “easy” access to he drive bay. I'll write up a blog post in the near future and link to it with more pics of the surgery, but I didn't find the swap too difficult. Last time I had to really dig into an Apple laptop was when I put a 7200rpm drive in my iBook G3 700mhz years ago. If you’re comfortable with digging around inside a desktop PC, you can do this. If you’re not, I don’t think I’d recommend it. My plan was to swap the drives and then use the OS X disk utility on the Leopard Install disk to restore from my original drive.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The drive replacement was a success! I was bit nervous pushing that power button... was worried the machine wouldn't turn back on properly! :p

    I wanted to capture a before / after XBENCH disk comparison so last night, I shut down my MBP. I booted it up and ran xbench. Then I shut it down, rebooted, and ran it again, and then i repeated. I wanted to run it 3x to see how the machine scored. I had heard that doing SSD tests could provide a lot of vastly different results for each test so when I ran the SSD tests, I did the same process as above, and ran it 3 times. So the scores you see are an average of 3 runs. And I did not see huge jumps in scores between the same tests. All of the numbers were within 10% of each other.
    Old drive:
    Disk Test 41.51
    Sequential 66.29
    Uncached Write 105.08 64.52 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 104.63 59.20 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 30.49 8.92 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 118.06 59.33 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 30.22
    Uncached Write 10.08 1.07 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 85.15 27.26 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 77.70 0.55 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 116.55 21.63 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    New SSD:
    Disk Test 66.40
    Sequential 73.22
    Uncached Write 152.42 93.59 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 118.80 67.22 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 28.81 8.43 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 202.35 101.70 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 60.74
    Uncached Write 17.99 1.90 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 143.18 45.84 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1029.45 7.30 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 431.54 80.07 MB/sec [256K blocks]

    So it's definitely not as fast as the Intel drive. Now that being said, it can definitely be debated as to how useful an xbench test really is anyways. Its like those PCMark / SiSoft Sandra tests on PCs. They don't mean that much. Actually, not to get off topic, but man could we really use something like 3DMark on the Mac. I was on the Xbench site and it looks like the last update was in.... 2006!! That was three years ago! Hopefully they can update it. Moving on....

    The startup time on this thing is fabulous as well. I timed it 3 times using my iPhone stopwatch application. I started timing it right after the tone ended. I consistently got less than 20 seconds for it to reach a fully booted instance of OS X. I don’t have an Apples to Apples comparison here of my previous drive, unfortunately. But two key things that I’ve noticed...
    1. The boot time to get to the main screen in OS X seems to be less than half, if I remember correctly (maybe someone with a similar model can chime in)
    2. Before I put the SSD in, with my old drive, once OS X would boot up, it would still take a while before everything was loaded. Quicksilver had to load, the gmail checker had to load, Mozy had to load, etc. So even though I could click apps, the desktop wasn’t fully “there” if that makes sense. Quicksilver and all those apps are instantly there upon startup now. I mean it’s really fascinating to see the difference between the two.

    As for Application start times, they are greatly reduced as well. I have over 4000 photos in iPhoto and it would take between 3 and 5 seconds usually to start. The app opens up in less than a second now and within a second, my photos are displayed. I tried to time it but by the time i hit the button on my phone it was loaded. Safari is instant. Firefox is close to instant. Even slow-dog programs like Word and Entourage load faster.

    Anyhow, this post wasn't meant to say that this SSD is the best or the worst, just sharing my results. It's not as fast as the Intel, but I can appreciate the gigabytes per dollar. And capacity is important to me - I refused to go down in disk space.

    And let's not forget the fringe benefit... Now that I pulled out that 200GB drive from my laptop, now my PS3 has a 200GB drive in it :D

    Enjoy! Happy SSDing!
     
  2. thread starter macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #2
    Oh - and an update on free space...
    I had 25.27GB left.
    Now I have 73.51GB left.
    ;)
     
  3. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #3
    Sweet! Thanks for being the guinea pig.

    I have a MBA, but want something snappier. Thinking of getting one of these SSD and putting it into a 2.4GHz unibody MacBook since I still want the smaller size (compared to a 15" MBP).
     
  4. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    #4
    What's the formatted capacity of the drive? Based on your review and the reviews you linked, I may have to pick one of these up. I was holding out for the Samsung hoping it would hit the $500 mark, but it sounds like it will be more like $800-$1000. The MacBook Pro you have has a 1.5Gbps SATA interface. I wonder if it would bench even higher on the unibodys which have a 3.0Gbps SATA interface.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #5
    My pleasure!
    234.4GB
    I don't doubt that it might bench higher. Considering that I'm not really hitting the 1.5Gbps ceiling, I don't think the fact that the newer has a 3gbps theoretical max will make a difference. But the newer MB/MBPs do have a faster FSB, newer chipset, and DDR3 memory. That faster subsystem might be able to challenge and load up the drive even more. I'd be curious to see as well!
     
  6. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #6
    Do you run any VM's? Curious about Windows performance in a VM with this drive.
     
  7. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2008
    Location:
    California
    #7
    Spaceballl nice review of the G Skill.

    My take of the G Skill is boot/load times are noticeably faster and overall the system is much more responsive.

    Up til now I have not noticed any stuttering on OSX or Vista64 (bootcamp).

    Overall the G Skill is definitely a nice addition to the laptop. The hurting point of course is the price point, and with time that will drop as SSDs become more and more common and hopefully even better.

    @g808:
    I have XP32 on VMWare, its pretty fast too, fast of course being subjective. Anything in particular you wanted to know?
     
  8. macrumors 65816

    Patriks7

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    Location:
    Batcave
    #8
    Ignore my post, I just reread the whole post (I only noticed the XP part at the bottom)
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Location:
    is everything!
    #9
    Now that's funny!
     
  10. macrumors 65816

    dgdosen

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #10
    Thanks for running these - even though XBench ratings might not mean much, the transfer rates are still legit and they are an improvement. I think you're not hitting the top end with the SATA 1.5 because their "theoretical limit" is 1.5 Gb/s - doesn't mean that the actual limit on hardware is less. That further makes be think that buying an Intel disk on this type of machine really isn't worth it from a dollar/perf ratio.

    So, how long do I wait? I don't think I'll upgrade my laptop until the next chip revision, which doesn't sound like that will happen until Q3/Q4, or next January, so really I should order one now...
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    dgdosen

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #11
    Looking at the warranty... If these things to have high failure rates, or perf issues over time, I'd want to make sure I can harp on G.Skill for a year or so.

    I see on NewEgg, there's the 30 day replacement policy and I see a two year warranty on the G.Skill site, so it looks like after 30 days, you need to work with the manufacturer...

    Seems safe enough...
     
  12. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #12
    @Lyshen I specifically wanted to see if anyone with this drive was experiencing the stuttering issue running Windows on a VM or via Bootcamp. Sounds like it works fine for you. Thanks.
     
  13. macrumors 65816

    dgdosen

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #13
    Ordered!

    Free 3 day shipping on NewEgg... Should get it next Tuesday...
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Location:
    is everything!
    #14
    I'm getting ready to post a comparison of the stock 5400rpm 200gb, stock 7200RPM 200GB, Western Digital 320GB 7200 RPM Scorpio and this GSkill 256GB SSD with lots of benchmarks in both the MBP in my sig and a Santa Rosa 2.2..

    You're all going to be quite surprised with the results.. I should have it up within the next couple of hours...

    Oh and a dell mini 9 hackintosh with a 32GB SSD just for giggles.
     
  15. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    #15
    That's correct. Anyone have experience with G.Skill warranties? I've only used them for memory (RAM).
     
  16. macrumors 68040

    MBHockey

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Location:
    New York
    #16
    I agree that xbench isn't the best arbiter of disk speed, but it is somewhat interesting that the 320GB 7200 RPM WD drive I installed in my MBP matches up very well against the SSD:

    Code:
    	
    	Disk Test	63.99	
    		Sequential	91.40	
    			Uncached Write	131.76	80.90 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Write	129.37	73.20 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	46.79	13.69 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	141.39	71.06 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    		Random	49.23	
    			Uncached Write	17.53	1.86 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Write	156.89	50.23 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	90.79	0.64 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	146.88	27.25 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    
     
  17. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    #17
    What's most surprising to me on the G.Skill is the random numbers. Here are the numbers from my Apple (Samsung) 128GB SSD:

    Disk Test 79.48
    Sequential 65.53
    Uncached Write 90.69 55.68 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 48.49 27.44 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 41.63 12.18 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 186.09 93.53 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 100.99
    Uncached Write 50.89 5.39 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 58.76 18.81 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1207.71 8.56 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 474.45 88.04 MB/sec [256K blocks]

    I would also agree that xbench isn't the best test. I'm sure that either drive would be more than acceptable in real life. I'm looking for more capacity, but the numbers don't really sway me. I wish there were numbers available on the new Samsung 256GB SSD. It's supposed to be much faster than the previous generations.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #18
    I do - I run Windows 7 Beta, and I run a lot of linux distros for work. I've noticed that they are speedier, like the rest of my system, but I haven't done any formal tests.
    Enjoy, sir!
    Nope... Hopefully I never have to find out! :D
    Not in the uncached random read - it gets decimated there, and the read performance is what most effects the overall system speed. Accessing random portions of the disk (booting up, booting apps, etc).
     
  19. macrumors 68040

    MBHockey

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Location:
    New York
    #19
    Ah I see, I never really knew what the difference was. Thanks for posting the results.
     
  20. macrumors 6502a

    winninganthem

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    #20
    20 seconds? Amazing..

    I have a Penryn model and with 2GB RAM it took about 45 seconds to start, with 4GB it takes about a minute.

    Damn.. I want an SSD :p
     
  21. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2008
    Location:
    California
    #21
    Yeah the boot time is amazing, although most people with Macs seem to put it to sleep mode so that may be moot. I usually shut mine off when I go to sleep, my wife tends to leave her MB on all the time.

    Regarding G Skill and RMA, I haven't had any experience in regards to RMAing SSDs *knock on wood*. But I did RMA a set of ram sticks last month and it was a smooth experience. Emailed the RMA form in, next day got a reply email saying where to send the RAM and the RMA number. Got my 'new' ram back in roughly a week from me sending mine in. It was rather easy and hopefully SSDs have the process and smoothness. (One thing though, I live pretty close to their office so shipping times will vary. Their office is in Walnut, CA and I live about an hour away.)
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    #22
    Do you have any sense for your system running temperature with the old drive vs. this one? I have an early 2008 MBP and it can get pretty hot at times, so I'd not want to do anything that increased its running temp. I had bought a 320G 7200rpm drive to swap for my 250G 5400rpm drive that it came with, but this now has me thinking... looks like a big performance boost.
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Location:
    is everything!
    #23
    ok.. took longer then expected..

    I didn't think it was worthy of a new thread since we're talking about the same SSD here..

    My main machine is a Early 08 17" 2.5 Penryn Macbook Pro with 4GB Ram and the stock 200GB 7200 RPM Drive

    I have a spare machine here that's a Santa Rosa 2.2 with 4GB and the stock 200GB 5400 RPM Drive that's been waiting for a Western Digital 320GB 7200 rpm Scorpio to be put in it and sold on ebay.

    The way I tested is I first ran each test (Xbench and quick bench) 3 times after a reboot and took the middle number. The timings were done with my iphone stop watch.

    17" 2.5 with stock 200GB 7200 RPM HD (all times in seconds)
    Bong to full desktop - 48
    safari - google.com home - 3.4
    Firefox 3.0.0.6 - google home - 8.6
    word 08 - 5.6

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Same Machine with the WD Scorpio 320/7200
    Bong to full desktop - 37 seconds
    safari - google.com home - 2.1 seconds

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Same Machine with the G.Skill 256GB Titan SSD
    Bong to full desktop - 24 seconds
    safari - google.com home - instant

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Next post will be with the Santa Rosa 2.2
     
  24. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    #24
    So thankful for all this data.

    Wondering if anyone can do a true multitasking write challenge - run the benchmarks as you're doing and also do a large directory copy (several gigabytes) and maybe export some files from iphoto or something - anything to get multiple write jobs going over an extended time.

    When doing so, do you get any system pauses or unresponsiveness? I know the benchmark numbers will not be accurate in that situation, but I oftentimes have multiple exports going on as described and this is where the jmicron based devices are reported to puke all over themselves whereas the intel keeps going.
     
  25. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
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    is everything!
    #25
    I was copying over a 30gb virtual machine from and external FW800 drive (Took 4.5 minutes) while installing office 08 and there were no slowdowns.

    Before i was running XP in VMware off the bootcamp partition and there was noticeable slowness/slugishness in all the apps inside the VM.

    Now its as if I booted directly from bootcamp. It's literally night and day vm responsiveness. Pretty much everything is instant.
     

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