Best SSD for OS/Apps Drive

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by NoManIsland, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. NoManIsland macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #1
    Just thought I'd put out this topic to garner the benefit of other member's experiences. I am looking to buy a pair of SSDs to form a RAID 0 boot array, and was looking at the Intel X25-V's, so that gives you an idea of my budget constraints, although I'd spend more for major performance gains. I have also considered using the X25-M's instead, or maybe one of the OWC SSDs. I'm assuming as the array would only be for OS and Apps, that the X25-V's poor write performance would be less of an issue. I've seen the various benchmarks, such as AnandTech's, so really I'm just looking for people to share the practical breakpoints in performance provided by various SSD's, e.g. how high need the speed be to show empirical improvement versus how fast is really unnecessary or bottlenecked. BTW, my usage is primarily Logic and Photoshop and I have a 2008 MP.
     
  2. grue macrumors 65816

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    #2
    When thinking you won't need write performance, don't forget the pagefile
     
  3. 300D macrumors 65816

    300D

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    #3
    Intel has pretty much written the book on SSDs. If you've got the budget you should use them.
     
  4. GMink macrumors regular

    GMink

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    Feb 10, 2010
    #4
    I agree, Intel should be your first choice for a boot/app drive.
     
  5. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    UK
    #5
    If you're not on a budget, you should also consider the new SandForce SSDs, like the new OCZ or OWC drive.
    They are the best performing drives for SATA II and totally max out the SATA II capacity in both read and write speeds.
    Random speeds are equal Intel though.
     
  6. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

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    Jan 5, 2008
    #6
    My suggestion is that you'll get the best speed by situating OS/apps on one SSD and using the other as your scratch disk. I think right now OWC's drives will probably perform best, but Intel's are cheaper. Whatever fits your budget best, I guess. In either case striping them into a RAID0 array will not give you optimal performance. The Sandforce drives practically saturate SATA 3 Gbps, as Transporteur said.
     
  7. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #7
    So it would be better to get a single OWC 50 GB, rather than get two Intel X25-V 40 GB drives to stripe together? The cost is about the same, but my OS/Apps is about 40 GBs, so would the performance be better on the striped set because I am using only half the capacity, rather than almost filling the 50 GB drive? I've heard that it's a bad idea to fill up a SSD near capacity, although I've also heard that some of the capacity on the OWC drives is pre set aside to counter this - anybody hear this?
     
  8. hubiedubie macrumors member

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    Jan 12, 2009
    #8
    I think the Crucial Real SSD S300 is currently the fastest SSD on the market right now. It's only just out and its transfer speeds actually exceed the bandwith of the SATA 3Gbps interface and no current Mac supports SATA 6Gps so you wouldn't be using it to its current potential but it's still likely to be your fastest option.
     
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #9
    Striping will give you ~2x the performance as well as 2x the capacity. The performance boost is a result of parallelism though, not the capacity used (1 SATA port per drive, and they're used simultaneously).

    What you've heard about not filling the drive is correct. You need the additional unused capacity available for wear leveling. 20% overall is ideal. I don't know if that specific drive has "hidden" capacity such as the Intel's do, but it would be worth finding out.
     
  10. disconap macrumors 68000

    disconap

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    #10
    I suggest OCZ, I have a pair striped in my G5 and they are fantastic! Though owning a G5, figuring out how to flash them to the latest firmware has been a chore...
     
  11. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

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    #11
    Personally I wasn't convinced that Intel's drives would actually be noticeably faster for the extra cost per GB so I went with a Crucial 256GB SSD instead.

    Although you're looking at getting two drives, I'd suggest you try to weigh up the benefits of having more storage. For example, in my case I had the option of going for an X25-M 160GB drive or a 256GB Crucial drive. The Crucial drive was a little slower in some of the benchmarks but still performed very well, however, the biggest benefit to me is that not only do I have enough space for OS X and a slim Windows install (no pagefile or hibernation files), I also have enough space left to use as a scratch disk. I use my scratch disk for simulation runs but I'd imagine that it could lead to some nice performance boosts in Photoshop work.

    The Intel drives are the clear pack leaders for database and server type stuff but for desktop use they're not the bread and butter. Have a look at these benchmarks weighted to give the best Desktop performance. There are newer drives out now obviously but that should give you a rough idea of performance.
     
  12. NoManIsland thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #12
    Well, I think that since I was planning on using one of the spare SATA II ports in the Pro, I could probably do just fine with a single fast SSD rather than a stripe of two inexpensive ones, as it looks like I'd only get the full benefit of the later if I was using SATA III. Also, it leaves me the option of another drive later on, and works out to around the same cost.

    As for the capacity issue, honestly I don't need much, since I don't use Windows (except in Fusion), and I no longer do so much Photoshop work that I'd want SSD speed for a scratch disk. My primary usage is Logic, and for that I only need little for the install (or A LOT for my sample libraries - VSL alone is 270 GB!).

    What I'm thinking is a lean drive like the OWC 50GB or the Intel X25-M 80GB for OS/Apps, then later, when prices have dropped and capacities have risen, a larger SSD for often used sample libraries, using the second spare SATA on the Pro.

    Thoughts on this?
     
  13. GMink macrumors regular

    GMink

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    Feb 10, 2010
    #13
    Going from a hard drive, even fast drives like raptors in raid, to a SSD drive is like night and day. All of the top SSD's are fast and the difference between them is not going to be noticeable in daily use. It's like comparing frog hairs under a microscope, yea they look different close up but in the end it's still just frog hair. lol

    Personally I like the fact that Intel is the "standard" and is driving the market. There are a lot of other drives out there that are faster, especially in read times, but I'd stick to a name brand for now just for support and compatibility.
    The Crucial M225 and Corsair P128 are also top picks and are very popular. But just like the Intel they are showing their age compared to the new Sandforce controllers. But that is the way it goes with technology moving along at the rate SSD's are. No matter what your buy today something better is right around the corner!

    My advice is to go to Newegg or your favorite online store and buy what everyone else seems to be buying that fits in your budget. ;)
     
  14. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #14
    Sounds like a good plan. I'd suggest that you go for the biggest drive you can afford which still offers good performance. OS and Apps can add up to a fair chunk. Check how much space you've got used on your main drive now and then check how much space the Users folder uses and subtract it. My current usage comes out at 64GB but I've got a few heavy duty apps in there that take up a fair bit of space. Having said that, with 64GB of current usage, I wouldn't feel entirely comfortable with even an 80GB drive - I'd want more spare space for future apps etc.

    I'd suggest you have a look at your current system drive usage and add about 20GB on to that to get a rough estimate of the minimum sized SSD to go for. I'm guessing you'd be doing a reinstall when you get the SSD so will probably free up a good chunk more space but give it six months and you'll likely be back up to your current usage again which is why I suggest using your current figures.

    I tell you one thing though, you'll probably end up getting frustrated with Finder's annoying habit of sometimes deciding that it has to spin up each of your other drives one by one when accessing data on a drive that's been asleep! It's obviously not due to having an SSD but I find it a lot more noticeable now that my main drive is so fast.
     
  15. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #15
    Agree with Spanky and Gmink... The SSD market has somewhat matured in that the playing field is fairly level and not tilted clearly for or against any given vendor's drives. Any performance differences won't be remotely perceivable in everyday use, except that SSD's will make your magnetic disks seem lethargic and you'll just want more and more SSD storage. :D Just get something that's a good deal at the time you're ready to purchase.
     

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