Does the MacBook Air SSD Improve Performance Much?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Barbie, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. Barbie macrumors regular

    Barbie

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
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    ocean
    #1
    Will a 1.86Ghz 128GB SSD MacBook Air be almost equivalent in speed and performance to a MacBook with 2.4Ghz and 250GB HDD?

    I'm considering either a high-end Air or a high-end MB.

    Barbie.
     
  2. Mactagonist macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    NYC - Manhattan
    #2
    In my experience, for day to day tasks the Air will feel faster then the high end MB. Its larger cache on the CPU (6mb vs 3mb) and the tremendously faster SSD drive will make a big difference opening programs, using office apps, browsing etc.

    But applications that need raw CPU power more then anything else (encoding video/audio, games etc) will seem faster on the high end MB due to its faster CPU.

    The screen on the Air is also of a much higher quality then that of the MB.

    Look at what you will use it for and choose accordingly.
     
  3. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #3
    I have both computers you mentioned.

    The MBA with SSD is faster than the MB 2.4 GHz... The SSD really changes typical usage performance. Common tasks like startup, large file opening, and app opening is really fast on the SSD in the rev B MBA.

    The only thing you give up by choosing the MBA, is a little RAM, internal DVD, and several ports. In the wireless world we are in, plugging in Ethernet seems like an unnecessary requirement, but some like plugging their MB's into the network. Also, I have found with the AirPort Extreme Base Station that wireless connectivity to a drive and printer attached really makes the extra USB ports unnecessary. Also, the 2 GB of RAM in the MBA is running at 1066 MHz and is plenty for the common user. I often have four or five apps open and never use the full 2 GB of RAM.

    One last consideration would be the 24" ACD. I love it. It works like a docking station for the MBA. It has built in power supply, USB hub, speakers, and webcam. If you want your MBA to feel like a desktop, buy that display. I am amazed every time I connect my MBA.

    They are both nice computers. But, the MBA has a much nicer display. You give up a little in CPU clock speed and RAM capabilities, BUT the SSD makes up for the differences and then some.

    Good luck whichever route you go. Cheers.
     
  4. rhyx macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    #4
    The only thing that will hit you is the CPU difference. Unless you run something that maxes out the CPU you won't notice anything.
     
  5. dudeitsjay macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    #5
    bootup times change from being the slowest in the portable macs (around 88seconds) to being the quickest (<50sec). It'll open up apps faster, it will transfer data faster.

    The SSD is slightly faster than a 7200rpm, and I mean slightly since its only the burst speed that makes SSD so quick. After the 7200 spins up, it's relatively quick. In terms of battery life, I don't think the SSD makes much of a difference to the 4200rpm inside the air, because the SSD is always on and reduces the advantage of consuming less battery.


    I'd love to get the SSD if it weren't $500. $200 would've been a great pricing point, but that won't come around for another year. My suggestion is to get the HDD and swap it out later on. $500 has ridiculous premium written all over it.


    Also, I prefer getting the lower clock speed chip, the 1.6, because of the sense that a lower clocked chip would produce less heat and require less voltages. Now this may be an incorrect speculation if the 1.86 chip draws less. Your #1 enemy when getting the macbook air rev B is going to be heat. Heat will still pour out like a volcano underneath your f1-5 keys, where the cpu is located. Knowing this, I intentionally bought the 1.6. It still gets hot. Even after reapplying thermal paste with arctic silver 5 and undervolting with coolbooks. At least with the AS5 and Coolbooks I don't get stuttering HD.

    My suggestion: For macbook air rev B, unless you're going to keep your air on a coolpad all its life and have money to wipe ur ass with, then stick to 1.6/HDD.
     
  6. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #6
    I have a Western Digital 7200 rpm HDD in my 2.4 GHz Unibody MB. The 7200 cannot touch the SSD of the rev B MBA. The difference between an SSD (SATA as in rev B MBA) and the 7200 rpm HDD are unbelievable. It really really makes a BIG difference. The difference makes up for a slightly slower clock speed CPU and then some. Also, the MBA's CPU has 6 MB L2 cache vs the MB's 3 MB L2 cache. I will take the 1.86 GHz MBA cpu over the 2.4 GHz MB cpu...

    I highly recommend the 1.86 GHz with SSD rev B MBA. My rev B MBA boots in less than 30 seconds (I think around 25 sec). Applications open instantly. Large files open really fast. The CPU is an excellent chip even if it is slightly slower than the CPU in the MB.

    I personally do NOT understand how ANYBODY could possibly believe that the SSD in the rev B MBA is not leaps and bounds better than the 4200 rpm HDD. SERIOUSLY??? Maybe for you the $500 isn't worth it as a value... BUT, I think the xBench marks alone show the value of SSD. Set aside the 60 second faster boot, instant tasks versus waiting for a HDD, and etc.

    My rev B MBA doesn't get hot at all. It definitely doesn't overheat. It doesn't have problems. It is absolutely perfect in every way. Whether I want to do intensive tasks, watch video, or whatever it always does the job!

    I think SSD makes a HUGE difference, and if you don't believe me go check out the stats on xBench.com. HUGE performance and speed gains by the SSD. That is not subjective, it's fact.

    As a real world everyday user, the MBA with SSD makes the MBA feel like a real performer. I wouldn't want to sit and wait for the HDD to spin all of the time. I use my rev B MBA as a primary computer. It does everything I need it to do, quickly.
     
  7. dudeitsjay macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    #7
    SSD is bound to speedfame by its burst speed. True in terms of burst speed the SSD is bounds quicker, but try writing bigger files and it'll actually write slower than a 7200 16mb.

    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies-archive.cfm/1119307.html
    Pros and Cons there.

    Not saying SSD isn't great. It's great for everyday simple-tasking people. I'm saying its not worth it. $500. I say wait, and get a cheaper SSD a year retrofitted in. SSD technology is jumping and jumping. Prices are dropping and dropping. A 64Gig SSD was $400 6 months ago. Now you can get one for $80. Besides, the HDD is slow, but it isn't THAT slow. It's fine for me. And I come from a RAID 10,000RPM Raptor Array, which blows away most HD read/write speeds. If you can wipe your ass with Benjamins, go for it. For people who can't, you'll be just fine with the HDD.


    "While SSDs are very fast at reading data compared with platter-based hard drives, they can be a little slower when writing data. Thus, while Photoshop may launch lightning quick, applying a filter to a photo and saving it will even out much of that speed boost."
    http://www.everymac.com/systems/app...to-macbook-macbook-pro-unibody-late-2008.html
    now to look for retrofitting a ssd for cheaper :D
     
  8. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

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    Nov 26, 2003
  9. nph macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    #9
    My experience has been the opposite. In all stores (4+) where I have tried watching HD video on a 1.6 and 1.8 MBA the 1.6 always gets hotter so from that angle it was a factor to push me in the SSD direction. Will let you know how mine turned out after I have got mine from Amazon.
     
  10. fteoath64 macrumors regular

    fteoath64

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    #10
    Do remember that when running OSX, the power management Apple implemented is very aggressive. This means your CPU hardly ever do 100% on a sustained level unless you do heavy-lifting work like CS4 and encoding H.264 files. For normal web and Office use, you will be hard pressed to get 100% 5% of the time. Most of the "idle" times, the CPU runs at HALF that clock speed.

    Except in Windows especially Windows 7 which tends to max out CPU whenever it can. Then your MBA and MBP will run pretty hot!. OSX runs real cool for good reason of conserving battery whenever it can and does that very very well. So much so that Windows cannot match to date.

    Some people in knowing this will claim that "we are cheated" off the CPU Ghz becuase of it. I really think, it is not the case as the throttling works the way it should. Ask yourself, would you redline your car if it is just traveling at average speed on a busy highway without a long straight for you to go "all out" for top speed ?. You would be burning unnecessarily gas and wearing out parts which you will need to pay for!.:D:apple:
     
  11. dudeitsjay macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    #11
    hmm I see that logic working as well, and the flaw in my theory. Supposing a HD playback requires all 1.6ghz, it would be drawing more power than a 1.86 @ 1.6, which could equate to hotter heat output. I personally just went to one apple store (and bought it on the spot =]). Definitely trying not to bash on the SSD or 1.86. Deep down inside I'm just angry I couldn't pay up to get the 1.86/SSD, and I'm reasoning and rationalizing in its stead =[. Come onnn there's got to be something about the 1.6/HDD that does better!! :D
     
  12. Barbie thread starter macrumors regular

    Barbie

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Location:
    ocean
    #12
    A few minutes ago I viewed some YouTube videos comparing the MacBook Air SSD bootup times to various other Macs, and the Air came out top usually.

    I haven't seen a video of application starting on the Air yet though.

    Thanks you BryanHarig and Scottsdale for your mention of the display - a display is incredibly important to me :)

    A visit to an Apple Retail Store tomorrow will make it or break it for me !!!

    Barbie.
     
  13. stoconnell macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Location:
    Rockville (Despite REM's plea.)
    #13
    I think the increase performance depends highly on the type of workload being performed. The presence of the SSD certainly makes the machine really shine in synthetic bench marks ;)

    Really, the MacBook is a good value if your use patterns need gigabit ethernet, require a dvd (and aren't willing to spring for/carry around an external), need more than 2Gi of RAM, and you don't mind carrying an extra pound and half. The MacBook Air on the other hand is a very nuanced design which if your usage patterns are not significantly affected by the design and you want/need portability makes for a very nice machine. I think trying to make blanket statements of model X is faster, better, etc than model Y is a bit disingenuous as it is a multidimensional space and you have to find your own maxima for a given set of constraints. You can see what I chose, and it took a lot of going back and forth. I think the screen is a bit more vibrant than the regular MacBooks (esp. when you kick it to a 2.2 gamma from the stock 1.8).
     

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