256gb Photofast SSD for MBA rev A installed!!!

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by diminiko, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. diminiko macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #1
    Firstly I would like to thank everyone who posts on this forum. The problems and solutions discussed here made this upgrade a breeze. Keep up the good work!

    I have a 2 year old 1.8 Rev A with 64Gb SSD that I love. I am very aware of all it's limitations but it suits all my needs except the storage capacity. Like many others on this site, I was hoping for an update on the MBA. Unfortunately nothing seems to be on the horizon, so I decided to take things into my own hands.

    After extensive research, I chose the 256Gb Photofast G-monster V4 40pin ZIF SSD. This is the largest capacity 1.8" format drive that will fit the MBA. It also includes hardware level garbage collection which should limit performance degredation.

    It was not cheap. In fact I could have bought a whole new computer for the price, but in the end I was willing to pay for this capacity for my MBA. My stock SSD is reasonably fast, and as you know, the Rev A ZIF interface is never going to be blindingly fast, so huge performance increases were not on the cards for me.

    I purchased through SSD Europe. Paid a slight premium as they could source it quickly. Photofast UK were cheaper but were unable to tell me when they would have stock. Good service, so far, with prompt replies to email queries.

    The drive came well packaged but with no instructions. No instructions could be found on the manufacturers website. I purchased a kingspec 1.8" external USB enclosure and some arctic silver matrix to complete the service.

    I installed the drive in the enclosure and plugged it into the USB. Unfortunately I could not format the drive into extended journaled despite trying all the tricks I could find. I formatted into NTFS with the drive then mounting via USB on OS X. This did not look good! I could see all that money flushing down the toilet...

    I took the plunge and installed the drive into the MBA using the i-fixit instructions- very straight forward (did have to buy a new set of screwdrivers as my old cheap set threatened to strip the screw heads!). The drive was detected after a boot from the OS X CD. I did a format into extended journaled and a clean install of Snow Leopard with no problems. All file transfers have gone without a hitch. I have been using the new drive for a week and have had no problems, including no hangs on sleep.

    For those interested in benchmarks here is my drive and a copy of posts from others with 1.8 MBA rev A with a stock SSD and a Runcore 128Gb for comparison. To my eye the photofast looks a bit faster than stock and a bit slower than the runcore.

    Results 84.72
    System Info
    Xbench Version 1.3
    System Version 10.6.4 (10F569)
    Physical RAM 2048 MB
    Model MacBookAir1,1
    Drive Type GMonster-18ZIF V4 256GB GMonster-18ZIF V4 256GB
    Disk Test 84.72
    Sequential 76.32
    Uncached Write 65.68 40.33 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 85.11 48.16 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 52.11 15.25 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 160.07 80.45 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 95.19
    Uncached Write 82.03 8.68 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 38.71 12.39 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 856.18 6.07 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 353.45 65.59 MB/sec [256K blocks]

    Stock SSD-

    Disk Test 56.74
    Sequential 48.89
    Uncached Write 36.88 22.65 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 57.43 32.49 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 35.95 10.52 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 105.62 53.08 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 67.59
    Uncached Write 24.35 2.58 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 71.98 23.04 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1555.53 11.02 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 280.10 51.97 MB/sec [256K blocks]

    Runcore 128Gb-

    Results 113.72
    System Info
    Xbench Version 1.3
    System Version 10.6.2 (10C540)
    Physical RAM 2048 MB
    Model MacBookAir1,1
    Drive Type RunCore 128G-C SSD RunCore 128G-C SSD
    Disk Test 113.72
    Sequential 88.70
    Uncached Write 84.20 51.69 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 90.75 51.35 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 65.72 19.23 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 143.13 71.94 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 158.42
    Uncached Write 61.99 6.56 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 166.44 53.28 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1779.14 12.61 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 392.44 72.82 MB/sec [256K blocks]

    Overall this was a very expensive but satisfying upgrade. It went smoothly and it has been running without issues. I now have the capacity I desperately wanted for all my files without the need to carry an external drive all the time.

    I can recommend this Photofast drive for anyone with a Rev A MBA willing to pay the premium.
     
  2. Airforcekid macrumors 65816

    Airforcekid

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Location:
    United States of America
    #2
    This is good news for MBA owners I didn't even know that size existed yet.
     
  3. sevimli macrumors 6502a

    sevimli

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    ChiTown
    #3
    Retail Price: 32GB-US$219 64GB-US$399
    128GB-US$599 256GB-US$999 :eek:
     
  4. name99 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2004
    #4
    "Unfortunately I could not format the drive into extended journaled despite trying all the tricks I could find."

    Are you aware that, frequently, you need to change the partition type to get these drives to format?
    In Disk Utility choose the drive (NOT the partition but the drive), choose Partition from the list of tabs, set the Volume Scheme to single partition, and then choose Options. From the three partition options available, choose GUID (right now you probably have MBR set, that's how they tend to ship these things).

    Once you have the partitioning set to GUID, the disk should play much nicer with Disk Utility, and you should be able to set it to HFS+ etc easily.

    Apple has done a truly crappy job of handling this very common situation. Rather than making it immediately obvious in Disk Utility that an operation cannot be performed because a disk has MBR partitioning, they simply leave you to assume the disk is broken. I reported the bug ages ago, but sadly the UI still has not been fixed.
     
  5. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #5
    Congrats. So your main goal wasn't a speed transformation but rather you needed the 256 GB of drive storage? Wondering what your career/usage is with this MBA? I believe the drive storage or limitation thereof in the current MBA is the second highest reason people state for not being willing to buy the MBA. I feel that money is not the problem for most of us wanting a "SUPER ULTRAPORTABLE." We all just want the technology available to be used by Apple at whatever price it wants to charge us so the MBA can meet our wants and needs.

    Congratulations. I hope it works great for you.
     
  6. diminiko thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #6
    Yep. Did all that. I suspect the issue is with the external enclosure and not the SSD. The drive behaved itself when installed in the computer and formatted exactly as expected using the Disk Utility sequence you listed.
     
  7. diminiko thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #7
    Thanks Scottsdale. Your previous posts were the most useful for nutting out the technical issues before I took the plunge.

    I am a surgeon and I carry many electronic journals in PDF format and clinical photos (encrypted) for use in publications, teaching and patient education. This drive frees me from carrying my encrypted external drive when I go to work.

    The cost is in the eye of the user. It is very steep, but in line with the price Apple charges for 256Gb drives in new MBPros. The price will undoubtedly drop as demand reaches a critical mass.
     
  8. Gaijin de Moscu macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Location:
    Geneva
    #8
    Well, I have the exact same machine, and my stock SSD 64 GB died this week. My baby daughter dropped the laptop. The authorized replacement by Apple, for the same 3-year old 64 GB Samsung drive, costs 888 CHF (roughly 850 USD) and takes 2 weeks here in Geneva.

    I think I'll try your route instead - cheaper yet better result.

    EDIT: I got a Rancore 128 GB for about 350 Euro. Should arrive within 2 biz days. Will see how that one works...
     
  9. DJY macrumors 6502a

    DJY

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra AUST
    #9
    Nice!

    I still love my MBA - but I also find the limitations of the size of the SSD starting to become an issue for me.
    I have the 1.86GHz C2D but with 128 SSD.

    Would love to have 246GB in it!
    I was even browsing the 13" MBP data sheets the other day - but don't think I want the extra weight!
     
  10. diminiko thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #10
    I am originaly from Aus. These guys sell the photofast:

    http://www.solidstatecentral.com.au...roduct_info&cPath=119_121_122&products_id=366

    May be worth giving them a call and seeing how much they sell it for.
     
  11. DJY macrumors 6502a

    DJY

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra AUST
    #11
    Thanks for the link mate!
    I'm trying to hang out - hoping they update the MBA still.
    I have considered moving to a 13" MBP with either the 256 or 512 SSD - but I've balked at the extra weight.

    I travel all the time for work...
    and have to carry so much other stuff with me each trip in my carry on.
    Occasionally it would be nice to have a Superdrive with me.

    My MBA has become my primary machine.
    with 45GB music, but up to 10 GB of video, another 10GB of photos... plus the usual array of work / pers other files... I find I often have less than 10% of my SSD free. I also carry a 320GB external HDD... and am torn.

    I currently synch my work iPhone, pers iPhone, iPad, and iPod with my MBA.

    Do I move all my music to my Mac mini attached to my TV?
    I like the ease of having everyone on my MBA!
    Don't ever use my MBP now even!
     
  12. diminiko thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #12
    I feel your pain!

    Forgive me if I am stating the obvious as you may have already done these:

    1) are you running snow leopard? I found it freed about 8Gb on my old 64gb SSD

    2) have you tried any of the OSX compression? I don't know how much of a performance hit you would get but it might be worth it to increase your storage capacity

    3) if you are like me and store your MP3s seperate to you I tunes (I don't like buying from itunes!) you may be able to keep the originals on your mac mini or external drive and import the files into itunes at a lower bitrate saving some space. The impact on audio quality is imperceptible on anything but the highest end audio equipment.
     
  13. still in school macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    #13
    Sweet. I hope to be one, one day.
     
  14. DJY macrumors 6502a

    DJY

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra AUST
    #14
    1) Yes already am - initially noticed the extra free space -but it has since been used.
    2) No. Haven't looked into that... don't want to kill performance too much - and lots of my stuff end up in and out of my MBA and onto Windoze systems so don't want to have to compress and unpack every time I need to move stuff.
    3) On my MBA iTunes has everything. I have another copy on an Ext HDD hanging off my Mac mini. This for me is the obvious first choice in freeing up extra space. In the past though I've had Ext HDD die on me - so am wary. When I upgraded my Mac mini though it came with a new 320GB HDD... so I'm considering moving my primary iTunes collection from my MBA to my mac mini. Afterall when I travel I have an iPod touch, couple of iPhones, and even often my iPad with me - so don't NEED my entire 45 GB of music with me! ;)
     
  15. diminiko thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #15
    Depending on how far you have to drive to work in Aus, you may need all the 45GB of music to keep you occupied!
     
  16. DJY macrumors 6502a

    DJY

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra AUST
    #16
    LOL
    Technically I live 5 mins drive from my local work... but I have a travelling job. Flying internationally once or twice a month, and then there are also the domestic trips to places far far away as well.

    iPad and iPod touch keep me going on flights... but laptop is for whilst I'm away - typing large files, watching movies / TV shows (I never seem to have the time to re-code from avi to iTunes compatible file types.. as I'm always away and travel mostly for 7-10 day trips)
     
  17. HowieR32 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    #17
    Congratulations!

    I also installed a Photofast into my 1.6 MBA. revA. I got the 128 GB version which I am very happy about.

    Your xbench scores run below that of the RunCore SSD. You need to make sure your computer is not doing anything in the background (use your activity monitor) and make sure that it's running at MAX SPEED.

    Max Speed is attained by knowing and setting your MBA at the fastest speed using the application Coolbook. It's $10 USD and it enables you to undervolt your CPU to save battery power and run cooler (and quieter).

    When I installed it, my photofast SSD wasn't getting good results. After I set it to max speed (turning off throttling) of 1600 MHz I got much better results.

    Here are my before & after xbench results after setting the MBA speed to 1600Mhz.
     

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