Is a 4200rpm HDD really that bad?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by KyleKlink, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. macrumors regular

    KyleKlink

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Location:
    Santa Maria, Ca
    #1
    I'm leaning towards picking up a Macbook Air, but cannot justify the additional cost for the SSD model. This is going to be a second computer for me, as I use my desktop primarily. The MBA would be used for web browsing and email when my son is sleeping in my room (where my desktop is).

    For such light use, is the 4200rpm really that big of a deal? Sure, it's slower than the SSD. But it is slow to the point where I am going to regret purchasing it?

    Anyone who has this model, I'd appreciate your thoughts.
     
  2. macrumors 601

    ayeying

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Yay Area, CA
    #2
    For what you listed, no, you will NOT regret the HDD model over the SSD.
     
  3. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Enfield, NH
    #3
    Yep I think the HDD will be great. SSD is "nice to have" but if you're not doing anything too demanding, it's just right.
     
  4. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #4
    The HDD is absolutely MISERABLE in the MBA. Do NOT buy an HDD MBA... you're better off with ANYTHING ELSE. I would rather carry around twice the weight than to have an MBA with HDD.

    If you want to save money, buy an MBA with SSD refurbished for $1349 from Apple... that's with a 1.86 CPU and 128 GB SSD. You also can spend $50 more than the new HDD version for a 2.13 GHz 128 GB SSD for $1549 refurbished.

    Honestly, the SSD is what makes the MBA usable. It makes the MBA fast. It makes the MBA feel/run like a Mac. With HDD, the MBA is just a boring and slow ultraportable that is no fun!

    I have owned and tried them all. I highly recommend you rethink your position. Without the SSD, the MBA is NOT worth owning. With the SSD, it's fast and capable which makes it really fun to use.
     
  5. macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #5
    Are you ****ing kidding me? You clearly have no idea when you call it miserable.
    I have a Rev B HDD model and it's plenty fine. Yes, a SSD would be way better but the 4200 RPM is not as bad as these people are saying.

    Seriously get a grip.

    iPhoto bounces about 5 times before it opens. Safari bounces about 3. Photoshop Elements bounces 7 times before opening. Mail bounces twice.

    I'm not saying a HDD is 50% as fast as a SSD but it's fine, especially if it's a casual use machine. While I'd love to have an SSD, the HDD is plenty fine.

    It pisses me off Scottsdale when people like you get all high and mighty with your SSD or nothing BS. You and I both know your over dramatic determination of the HDD model being miserable is BS. And fwiw, it's not about money. I could have bought into the SSD model but for me the value was not there. The MB Air is a fine machine even without the SSD.
     
  6. macrumors member

    Angsty

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #6
    My MBA is my primary work computer so it gets used 8-10 hours per day without any problems or slow-downs. I use Bootcamp and Office 2007 (corporate workplace) and can have Word, Excel, Outlook, Visio, Project, Communicator, Firefox and other apps ALL open all day and do not experience any problems.

    For the uses you have described, I believe you will not notice any issues with the 4200rpm hdd.

    Ang
     
  7. macrumors 601

    ayeying

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Yay Area, CA
    #7
    I completely agree with your statement jessica.

    I've used the Rev. A 1.6GHz/80GB HDD model and the current Rev. C 2.13GHz/128GB SSD. On a normal use (open up Mail.app, Safari, iChat) I see virtually no real difference. The only part that I do notice is that the SSD opens the program about a second or two faster than the HDD model. Once it's opened, it runs the same, no different.

    The OP wants the Air to perform simple tasks like basic Web Surfing and E-Mail. The SSD is literally overkill for those simple tasks. Even the Rev. A HDD model will perform those tasks wonderfully without any problems.
     
  8. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    #8
    +1

    The great majority of Macs out there have an HDD (in different rpm's of course) and I'll bet their user experiences are far from miserable.
     
  9. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #9
    You obviously have never used an SSD MBA to make such an uninformed statement. The differences are more than night and day.

    The MBA only feels like a Mac with Nvidia GPU and SSD. When my rev B with 1.86 and SSD was stolen, I tried an HDD MBA, and it was terribly slow. I couldn't use it as it drove me crazy. I ended up using a uMB as I figured the MBA would be updated within a few months.

    As a primary computer, or frequently used computer, SSD is an absolute must. Without SSD the MBA is boring and awfully slow.

    The SSD makes it feel like a MBP only faster (than 7200rpm). You talk about seven bounces before common apps open; well that's terribly slow. My MBA has to feel like a fast computer. My six year old Dell runs circles around an HDD MBA. What makes the MBA so fun and amazing is the fact that while being so thin, lightweight, and beautiful it's still incredibly fast with SSD.

    My rev B 1.86/SSD MBA felt like a Mac Pro when connected to a 24" LED ACD. The rev C is even better but only with SSD. Take away the SSD and it becomes a slow ultraportable that feels worse than a netbook.

    Furthermore, I even explained to the OP how to pay less and get far better. The rev C MBA with HDD is $1499, while the rev B with SSD will fly compared to the C/HDD and only costs $1349.

    There is no reason to buy the rev C MBA with HDD. What makes the MBA incredible is that it's so much thinner and lightweight yet seems like a speedy Pro model!

    Everyone reading this, if you cannot afford a rev B/C with SSD DO NOT BUY an MBA!!! Seriously it's not worth it.

    Not high and mighty just being honest. Ask anyone who has owned both exactly the differences and the reply will be night and day!

    If you plan to use the MBA like a netbook with extremely light web browsing and to check email, sure the HDD might get you by. But if you plan to really use it like a Mac, you simply must get an SSD model. The slight extra is worth it or buy it refurbished if you need to pay less. $1349 is an absolute screaming deal refurbished rev B 1.86/SSD and is TEN TIMES the Mac as when using HDD.

    Seriously OP get the facts and consider ALL options before buying an MBA with HDD. I know from experience. If you get HDD you will be waiting on it and it will feel like a slow boring ultraportable! It will not feel like a speedy Mac unless you get the SSD.

    I feel nearly as strong about SSD as I do about Nvidia GPU. Those two components make the MBA incredible. Even though it weighs three pounds and a half inch thick, it has a Penryn CPU, Nvidia GPU, DDR3 RAM, SATA-II drive controller with fast Samsung SSD.

    If you're serious about computers/Macs, you must get the SSD.

    I am only saying this because I believe everyone should get their money's worth. The only way to truly enjoy the MBA is for it to feel like a fast Mac, and that only happens with SSD.

    Please others, chime in on how big the differences are. Night and day times TEN.
     
  10. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    #10
    Some people must really relish on their SSD's performance that they'd obsessively quit an app, only to open it again and make sure that it only bounces once to launch. This feature, apparently, makes his 3-lb laptop a performance heavy weight that may just be better than Pro.
     
  11. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #11
    The thing is the drive and drive controller are the number one constraint/bottleneck on a computer. So, by reducing the effects of the SLOW HDD, the SSD effectively makes the MBA feel like a much more powerful computer. On average, it's going to feel five times faster for "normal" tasks that people normally wait for when on their computer. People wait when they bootup, shutdown, open apps, open large files, and do CPU intensive tasks... The SSD makes four of the five go MUCH FASTER than the HDD.

    People used to pay a few hundred bucks just to upgrade their 5400 rpm HDD to a 7200 rpm HDD. That upgrade added a 30% speed gain. That was a minimal upgrade. People who buy an MBA get a 4200 rpm HDD which is 60% of the speed of the 7200 rpm HDD already. Now, take into account that the SSD is upwards of 10x faster than the 7200 rpm HDD.

    The SSD is critical for the MBA. It minimizes the bottleneck. Less than a year ago, I would have considered a MBP with 2.4 GHz CPU, 4 GB RAM, and 7200 rpm HDD really fast. But a MacBook Air rev B/C with 1.86 or 2.13, 2 GB 1033 MHz RAM, and an SSD is faster for normal use than that MBP. And that is why the SSD is critical for the MBA. It makes up for the other limitations of the MBA. The MBA requires smaller parts and has less cooling capabilities, so the SSD makes the MBA feel really fast with its slower other components.

    Want an MBA, you must get an SSD to get the "fun" out of the MBA. Otherwise, it will just be slow and what you would expect from a 4200 rpm HDD in an ultraportable Mac. You would expect that to be slow, and it would be. And that is what makes the SSD so amazing, one would expect the MBA that is smaller, with less powerful components to be slow, BUT IT IS FAST!

    Good luck.
     
  12. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2009
    #12
    Extreme Views not helpful

    Scottsdale,

    Whilst I applaud your enthusiasm for your SSD based MBA, I don't think it is helpful to be so extreme in your views and opinions. By all means voice opinions to but state so FORCEFULLY that anything other than your configuration is NOT WORTH BUYING, USELESS or POINTLESS is just narrow minded and bigoted.

    I have owned pretty much every Mac product out there (I run a tech company that specialise in Apple Mac support) and I can say that they mostly all have a place in the market. There are the odd products that you think "why did they make that?" but on the most part the configurations are there to fit a purpose for everyone.
    I personally use a MBA for my day to day work when on the road. I have a MBP at home but it might as well be an Acer notebook as it gets used once a week at most! I also have an office full of iMac, Mac Pro's and MBA/P's for the staff.
    As we don't do video editing we have never seen the need to go for top end performance products or components. I can't say that I have ever thought, "I wish this worked 10x faster as this is totally unworkable".

    As mentioned above, for normal useage (by which I mean, MS Office/Open Office, EMail, iPhoto, Boot Camp/Parallels etc) the HDD models work very well indeed. Yes, there is a difference in performance using the SSD version (we have one in the laptop pool) but to be honest, it doesn't get any more use by the staff than any other model. In fact, the new 15" MBP is the most popular model and always in demand. I think this is the best of all worlds. 13" if you want something a bit more portable and I am thinking of trading in for the 15" myself!

    So, I would say the OP should go to the Apple store and try out both versions. If you feel the performance of the HDD is too slow for normal use and you can't live with it, then go for the SSD version.

    What is right for one, is wrong for another.

    But this is just my opinion, of course!
     
  13. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    #13
    While I think Scottsdale is a little overzealous about the SSD, I agree with his advice. I had the Rev B HDD and now have a MBP. Having played with the SSD on numerous occasions I can vouch for the fact that the SSD, on basic tasks, seems faster than my MBP which means it is dramatically faster than the MBA with HDD.

    As well as Apple does refurbs this is a no-brainer for me. You always have to worry about the dreaded lines issue, but that will be the case regardless of refurb or new.

    Think about it: you can spend LESS money ($1349 vs. $1499) and get the same clock speed, but an SSD. There is absolutely NO OTHER DIFFERENCE!!!
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2008
    Location:
    Space: The Final Frontier
    #14
    for all your basic tasks, it works fine. but otherwise a 4200 drive is horrible!:p
     
  15. thread starter macrumors regular

    KyleKlink

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Location:
    Santa Maria, Ca
    #15
    Explain what you mean by "use it like a Mac."
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    Great Britain
    #16
    I've never had an SSD Macbook Air To Compare With, but I do have to say that owning a HHD 1.86 rev B Macbook Air can be VERY trying sometimes.

    If you have never used a pc running windows 2000, this statement may sound incredibly stupid, but part of the mac experience, at least for me, was a computer that started up relatively rapidly, and an overall usability that just flows - none of this "waiting for menu's to popup" crap or pausing whilst the computer reads from the hard drive - sadly BOTH present in My MacBook Air, so in some way this does detract it from "Using it like a Mac"

    To Be Honest , I Bought My MacBook Air as a secondary computer - one to just watch youtube videos, read facebook and eMail. For the last two it is great, but for video sites, especially ones employing Flash advertising on the same page, the video tends to alternate between choppy, then smooth, and then sometimes annoyingly choppy.


    I couldn't afford the SSD version then or now ( Unfortunately I got mine about a month before they refreshed to lineup...and dropped the prices :mad:) But I will say this in closing, I do not regret the fact I bought a MacBook Air. I love It, slowness and all :)
     
  17. macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #17
    I stopped reading at this point because it is hilarious that you would make such a statement.

    I have used an MB Air with an SSD and while you failed miserably to state anything good about the HDD model, I did not fail to state the merits of SSD. You say it's miserable and your statement simply shows that your extreme view is narrow minded and lacks compromise.

    As for your statement "use it like a Mac" wow! Just wow!

    I would buy an SSD Air in a heartbeat at this point having used the HDD model, which is not a miserable experience by any means. However, the Air certainly works, like a mac :rolleyes:, with a standard HDD in it. Regardless, I guess we all need to defend our purchases at some point. ;)
     
  18. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    #18
    My HDD based Rev A is the fastest and snappiest computer that I've ever owed. I'm not a gamer though.
     
  19. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    #19
    utterly despise my launch day MBA b/c of the 4200 rpm HDD. I'm getting a MBP this Friday.
     
  20. macrumors 601

    ayeying

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Yay Area, CA
    #20
    Look at the post above you.

    That's you. Not the majority of the computer users in the world.

    OP said she/he's going to use it as a secondary computer, not primary.

    Again, not everyone cares about how fast an application opens. Actually, furthermore, if you notice, SSDs slow down overtime as they degrade while Hard Drives stay relatively the same speed, only slow down as they "fill up"

    Again, OP doesn't care about connecting a LED ACD or wanting it to feel like a Mac Pro.

    Not everyone trusts a refurbished models or have the same beliefs as you on buying refurbished. This is the OP's choice, not yours. You may have made the point that at a price point, its cheaper, but the ultimate choice is the OP's. The OP asked a question, you gave an opinion, but you just made it as a ultimatum that "If you buy HDD, you'll regret it. You MUST get a SSD if you want to join the MBA cult"

    I've owned both HDD and SSD models. If you're not doing anything extensive, I see NO huge difference. Both systems are great and fun to work with.

    "Use it like a Mac"? Seriously? Can I use a netbook as a "PC?"

    No Scottsdale, I know from experience. I've owned 3x Rev. A MacBook Air's with a 1.6GHz/80GB. I only regretted the first two because of an overheating problem, the third one was a pleasure to use when that problem was fixed.

    I agree with the nVidia GPU and the Penryn CPU, but the SSD is not a high selling point for someone using it like a Netbook.

    So my Uncle who has my 2nd Rev. A MacBook Air is unhappy? Don't think so, he's pretty happy with it and haven't heard a complaint yet... and he's serious when it comes to computers. He likes to get the best money can buy but he settled with a Rev. A 1.6GHz/80GB

    While I value your opinions, you're just ranting. I do not believe the OP would be "happier" with a SSD vs the HDD, especially with the list of items that he/she listed.

    Web Surfing -> You can do that on a Pentium 3, Old crap Dell Notebook and still be able to "Surf" the net.
    E-Mail -> Loading a E-Mail 2 seconds faster don't make any difference for a light user.
     
  21. macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #21
    I deny any need/desire to change any word I wrote above.

    The differences between a 4200 rpm HDD and a SATA-II SSD are night and day and more. The drive in a computer is THE bottleneck. It's the one component that the system is waiting on most. It's the tightest constraint. Going from a much slower than normal HDD to a lightning fast SSD is a dramatic difference. I seriously recommend that if one cannot get BOTH an Nvidia GPU (rev B/C) AND an SSD that they NOT purchase an MBA to be their primary Mac. Anyone who knows about computers will agree the drive is the bottleneck, and the differences in normal use is night and day between 4200 rpm HDD and SSD.

    When I say use it like a Mac, I mean just what the other person replied. A "Mac" is fast and robust. It's easy to use and you never have to wait on it. You never expect freezes, slow starts, slow app openings, and etc. The components are used in syncronicity to reward the user with a wonderful experience. Anyone who has used a Mac knows what their first experience was like compared it to viruses, freezes, shut-downs, and blue screens they had experienced on Windows. Now, the ONLY Mac I have ever not thought WOW was the MBA with the original and newer HDD models. With those two models, one can expect waiting on beach balls, choppy video, super slow, which is unlike any other Mac I have experienced since the Intel transition. I say to everyone that I love Macs, and especially the MBA w/SSD, but if I had to use an MBA with HDD I would prefer ANY other Mac and probably a PC also! The MBA with HDD is not fun to use. Everything "Mac" is missing from the MBA with HDD. The bottleneck is too constraining and it affects the entire user experience so negatively, it doesn't feel like a "Mac" at all!

    I stand by that statement 100%, and I think anyone that disagrees is either not being honest with themselves or unexperienced with that model MBA.

    I truly think that ANYONE who wants to buy an MBA should find a way to get the rev B/C MBA with SSD. I already stated how it's only $50 more to get the rev C 2.13 GHz SSD refurbished over the new rev C 1.86 w/HDD. If someone is looking a rev B 1.86 w/SSD is only $1349. There is no reason not to spend $50 more for the rev C. But if someone had to get the rev B at the same 1.86 GHz with SSD for $150 less than C/HDD.

    If you are reading this and you bought the HDD version, I don't mean this to offend you. At the same time, if you experienced both, I highly doubt you would disagree with my statement. The HDD version is not fun and doesn't have the benefits I regard as "Mac-like." When the rev B was out it costs $700 more for SSD, and I could see how some couldn't find the extra money to get SSD. But right now if you want an MBA there is no good reason to sell yourself short and get the HDD version. Find a way to get the SSD or DO NOT buy the MBA.

    Find a way to get the SSD if you want a true Mac experience.

    Good luck.

    EDIT>>> Please do go to page two for my reply to Jessica's attack!
     
  22. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    #22
    I'm new with the world of Macs, with the MBA being my first Mac purchase shortly after it was released. I thought I would post my experiences since I have used them both.

    I have the original MBA with the HDD and my friend has the B revision with the SSD. I have used them both side by side and his is faster than mine when opening programs. It's not earth shattering, but is a little quicker. For what I do, email, internet, office, etc, I don't see any need to run out and upgrade.

    For someone just casually using their MBA, I think the HDD would be fine. I'm perfectly content with mine. If I need serious speed, I'll walk upstairs and jump on the quad core machine with two 10k Raptor drives in RAID 0.
     
  23. macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #23
    It's worth remember drive performance doesn't just relate to booting up, launching applications and loading files. With VM permanently on, it's going to have an effect on all performance.

    Whether or not it's worth the extra money for SSD - the best thing would be if you could try for yourself in a local store. Sorry I can't help (wouldn't buy any kind of Air but that's just me.. :p )
     
  24. macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #24
    You have to really enjoy how someone can suddenly say that you'll never really have the true Mac experience without owning a machine with an SSD. I guess my MacPro is useless piece of sh*t because it doesn't have an SSD in it. Oh crap! My Mini is a useless POS media center without an SSD as well!

    Damnit, all these years I've never experienced a true Mac. A mac is not a mac without SSD. Interesting.

    I'm off to the Marketplace to sell my PCs. :rolleyes: I sure hope to have a Mac one day. :(
     
  25. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    #25
    I can't comment on how an Air with the standard HDD performs since I've never used one. But my new Air 1.86 with SSD is wicked fast. I really couldn't believe the difference. Startup time is around 10 seconds or less. Shutdown is almost immediate. Apps launch very quickly. My Mac Pro with a 7200 rpm HDD feels like a slug compared to the Air with SSD. So if performance is important, the SSD makes a REAL difference.
     

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