A few questions..

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by anirudh, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. anirudh macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2008
    I was wondering how much difference in performance are users experiencing in real world applications between the SSD and the HDD in the REV B and REV C MB Airs. I just browse the net, watch movies and youtube videos. Would the HDD suffice or do i NEED to go for the SSD variant?
  2. ayeying macrumors 601


    Dec 5, 2007
    Yay Area, CA
    Do you need it for those tasks, no. The difference only applies to booting and opening up safari or firefox. After its opened, there's nearly no difference between the two.
  3. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    The SSD is absolutely critical for performance. You will be waiting on the slow 4200rpm HDD all the time... and the Spinning beach balls of death happens. The SSD improves everything.

    Consider for a second even the RAM difference... people complain there's only 2 GB of RAM, but caching files is faster for an SSD also... so the SSD is really even helping with the limited RAM to make the issue far less likely to affect performance.

    The speed difference is there nearly all the time. I have refined my MBA with SSD and it boots in 23 seconds on average. An HDD will take three times that to boot or more. Large files are much faster on an SSD. Multiple requests to the drive are MUCH MUCH faster on an SSD - like running two apps or moving large files around a couple at a time. Opening apps faster on SSD. Shutting down, faster on SSD.

    It's really a no brainer. Before anyone spends $1499 on a new HDD model, they should just buy a $1349 1.86/128GB SSD refurbished MBA.

    It used to be a massive cost to get the SSD over the HDD, and then it wasn't as obvious as a decision as it is right now. An MBA has inferior components all around the the MBP, yet it can feel like one with an SSD. With an HDD, it's simply SLOW.

    Lastly, the drive is the bottleneck in computers. The fastest way to speed one up is by putting an SSD that reads up to 10x the HDD and writes a little faster.

    For me this is an absolute must right behind the Nvidia 9400m in the rev B/C MBAs.

    Good luck...
  4. Gadgetman99 macrumors regular

    Sep 1, 2009
    We all know Scottsdale is passionate about the SSD, but I compare it to modem vs DSL/cable internet access:

    SSD is nice, but not critical. Those of us who used dial up modems in the past but now use DSL/cable, understand that modems (hard drive comparison) got the job done, but we adapted to the slower nature of them and really did not know how painfully slow they were. . Once you use a DSL/cable modem (SSD comparison), it is really hard to change back to dialup.

    Now, if you have never had any laptop with an SSD, you will most likely be very pleased with an MBA with hard drive. I came from a Dell XT with PATA 1.8" hard drive and was BLOWN away by how fast the MBA with hard drive is compared to the Dell. Most of the difference is with Mac OS and the fact that Mac does not hibernate like a PCs (just sleeps), so it starts up very quickly when you open the screen. So for me, not having the SSD is really not an issue. I almost never shut my MBA down (just close the lid), so it start up in 2 seconds anyway. Only opening a program that has not been opened yet will see a SSD speed increase. I am sure Scottsdale is correct in regards to cache speed being better with SSD, but realistically if you are like me and use your MBA for email, web, Skype, IM, word/spreadsheet/streaming music/watching a movie, you will not be disappointed with a hard drive MBA. At some point I might get a Runcore SSD (when I sell a few things on ebay to cover the cost), but until then, I would rather have a hard drive MBA, then wait to afford the additional cost of the SSD model. But if you have money laying around itching to be spent, jump on the SSD model! It is just icing on the cake.
  5. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    I would call TIME critical. We all have a FINITE amount of time in life. Of that we allocate so much to work, sleep, and etc. I would prefer to use the time I save for family, entertainment, or writing... sometimes to people on MacRumors. Life is short, and time adds up quickly. We are not just talking a little time here. Say 15 minutes or more daily if you work on it.

    One thing most people don't consider to I mentioned earlier. Pageouts due to RAM limitations can be a huge factor. I read a study once about pageouts on SSDs as being a huge factor that most people don't consider but they should. So it's not just that the MBA boots 3x faster. It's not just that apps open instantly versus bouncing icons of terror. It's not just that large files or multiple file transfors are much much faster. It's not just spinning beach balls of death... it's a combination of things that adds up and shortens our time to do other things... at $300 or less, the MBA gets an SSD that's up to 10x faster than HDD, and a faster CPU that also saves time. Also factor in the fact that the CPU is impossible to upgrade later and the drive is a hassle and costly with one alternative.

    Finally consider how well an SSD and 2.13 GHz will be relevant and hold up over time vs a slower CPU and 4200rpm HDD.

    I say go with the SSD, it's about time.
  6. aleksandra. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 13, 2008
    Warsaw, Poland
    It's hard to answer directly, because "performance" isn't defined well. It depends on what you need your computer to perform well. For a light user, SSD makes a bigger difference than a bit faster CPU and/or more RAM (within reasonable limits obviously). In short, it'll make your computer more "snappy", which is what defines "speed" for most users (it feels fast in everyday use). It may not be a huge difference, but it's one you'll keep noticing in every simple tasks, whereas a bit faster CPU will only be noticeable under heavy load.

    C/SSD > B/SSD > C/HDD > B/HDD >> A/SSD > A/HDD

    You don't absolutely NEED it. You don't NEED a MacBook Air either, a netbook would be enough for the tasks you listed. But if you want it anyway, do yourself a favor and get an SSD.

    That's a double-edged sword you're wielding, Scottsdale. Swapping involves writing as well as reading. This means three things. First, it's nowhere near 10x faster. Second, slowdown is inevitable anyway; if you're going to use more than 2GB often enough to concern yourself with it, you're much, much better off getting more RAM (in a MBP perhaps?). Third, swapping wears down SSD faster - SSD's minimum lifespan estimates are based on writing ~50GB a day, so it shouldn't kill it too early, but it'll still be earlier than usual. This is no argument for getting an MBA with SSD - if you're likely to encounter swapping often you shouldn't be getting an MBA in the first place.
  7. bowlerman625 macrumors 68020


    Jun 17, 2009
    Chicago, IL area

    Would you say it is still better (if the budget allows) to pay the extra $200 to get the refurb 2.13/128SSD MBA?

  8. adamjackson macrumors 65816

    Jul 9, 2008
    Yes its worth it.
  9. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    No, not if the money is tight. Remember, you will get an extra half hour from battery, max. The CPU is better for the life of the MBA, but the 1.86 will handle things similarly.

    My order of priority for the MBA is the following.
    1. Must have Nvidia 9400m.
    2. Would seriously benefit from the speed of an SSD. Will make MBA feel like a much faster Mac like MBP,
    3. CPU is a nice feature, 1.86 necessary, 2.13 not critical but the longer you plan to keep your MBA the more likely you will benefit from it. AND, the more HD or video/entertainment uses you have the more likely you would benefit from 2.13.

    I think everyone should pay the extra to get a 1.86/128 GB SSD minimum. It's only $1349 now, and it was a lot more just four and half months ago. It's a steal at this price. Now, the $1549 should be strongly considered depending on how long you plan to use it.

    Consider this, you just plan to keep MBA until the next revision is released then will sell this one and update... buy the rev B. If you're really struggling on money, buy the rev B. If you are spending money you shouldn't be spending, keep your current Mac and wait for a rev D to see if your finances have changed.

    The MBA is a luxury item that performs well similar to a MacBook while in a lighter and beautifully thin shell. Remember this and ensure that the MBA is really the way to go for you. I do NOT deny that the 13" MBP is a more powerful Mac and holds 8 GB of RAM, 2.53 CPU, and 7-hour battery. The MBP would be a great Mac for far more years as the RAM and Drive are both upgradeable. If you can only afford $1099, I would recommend you buy a 13" MBP over the MBA with HDD. I believe the 4200rpm HDD is a poor choice for the money compared to the SSD models. I feel $250 more for SSD is a bargain or $300 new for CPU upgrade and SSD. The MBA is fun and makes using a Mac even more enjoyable if you travel anywhere whether on a 10-hour airline flight (airplane adapter needed) or as close as your couch.

    I think anyone would enjoy the MBA more than an MBP if the MBA is right for them. I feel the SSD makes the MBA right for a lot more people than with just an HDD.

    Best wishes whichever way you go.

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