- Jun 30, 2010
Decided that in order to maximize my 17" I would do 6 GB of RAM and a SSD. (would have done 8, but I used one 4GB stick as a sales incentive on my 15" which is fine. 4 is good enough as it is). Primary reason 1: VMWare. Primary reason 2: Adobe Creative Suite.
I want to go on record by saying that I'm probably a step above power user in terms of much I rely on my machines and what I subject them to. I'm an MCSA, MCTS, A+, Net+, work in IT, so my usage is likely way above the normal Joe. That said, if you're considering SSD, I want to point out a few bullets from my experience.
- Prior to the SSD I had a Hitachi 7200RPM 500GB drive that has served me well across three different MacBook Pros. It started getting more and more audible; not dealbreaker audible, but just enough to be annoying. The SSD is is literally so quiet that unless it's against your ear you probably won't hear a thing. That's how it should be (IMO).
- On the Hitachi, the fastest boot was about 15-20 seconds from the gray apple. With the SSD (get this), a staggering 5 seconds from the gray apple. May not seem like much, but it's a noticeable improvement in speed. (Caveat: I don't have much loading at startup. iTunesHelper is the only auto-loading deal on mine)
- The majority of Apple apps (with the exception of GarageBand, of course) open near instantly or 1 second later. FireFox is about 3-4 seconds compared to the 4-10 seconds it took before.
- Web pages render a lot faster than they had been, even ones heavy with Flash or HTML5.
- The MBP does not operate much cooler. This is likely due to the GPU and the CPU under load, which generate the most heat.
- Windows inside the VM is even faster than it normally is, even with low RAM allocated. I'd go on a limb and say that it's as fast as Boot Camp which is significant if you've ever used Boot Camp. Set it to 1GB of RAM (Windows 7, or Server 2008, as an example) and let it page. It'll fly.
- If you're not using VMWare or some other intensive app and just using it casually (browsing, email, eBook reading, iWork, etc), expect about an extra half hour or so of battery life. It's not much, but every little bit and all.
I bought the 80GB, and decided I would simply buy a Firewire portable that was 7200 for the VMs that I need to run besides my primary VM. I don't access those VMs but once every blue moon, and I figured I would just go with the smaller drive and store infrequent files elsewhere, which seems to be working fine for me.
Overall, the SSDs are still overpriced. But the performance gain is substantial if you're a moderate-to-power user, or if you're just plain impatient. IMO, the 80GB is right at the border of affordability, and if you can live with the lower space, it'll pay off.