Going full SSD (Mid 2008 Macbook)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by r0k, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. r0k, Sep 8, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012

    r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #1
    I've been running a Momentus XT in my 2008 Penryn Macbook. It's been nice but recently I've noticed a few beachballs. So I wondered... What if I went full SSD? Today I stopped in at Microcenter. I've watched SSD prices fall recently but lately it's been insane!

    Today, I spotted a 480GB Agility 3 for under $300. It was marked $679.99 but a yellow sign said it was $294 with $385 "instant savings". I checked Amazon when I got home and sure enough, nobody else was matching that price, even online!

    You can get 100 GB for around a dollar a gigabyte but MC was charging 75 cents a gigabyte for a large drive. So I bit. CCC is about 3/4 of the way through cloning to the new drive, Lion recovery partition and all. It's done 106 GB in 2:39 and the progress bar makes it look like it is 3/4 to 80 percent done. I'll boot from the SSD over usb SATA before I physically swap the drive. I also looked into the whole TRIM discussion and apparently a Sandforce controller (like the one in the Agility 3 doesn't benefit from TRIM anyway).

    I guess the Momentus XT will get willed to another of our Macs then. I've enjoyed sub 30-second boot times since getting the XT. Today I went on youtube to browse Lion boot videos using the full SSD and some of them are only 11 seconds. Nice. There was one that was 30 seconds but 20 seconds of it was advertising for the guy's youtube channel. I don't click "dislike" very often but I clicked it today for that guy's video. :rolleyes:

    I'll update this thread on how well it works in the next day or so...

    ========================================================

    Wow that's fast. Everything is faster. Three hundred bucks for a new Mac. Nice. I suppose I could have gotten away with a $200 120 GB model but for only half again as much I got 4 times the space. If I want to tinker with a few virtual machines or something, I don't have to think about managing disk space.

    The clone took over 4 hours. CCC help page says you get 23 MB/s going from SATA to USB in block copy mode which would have been 3 hours so I guess file copy mode is 1/3 slower than block copy mode. Frankly that's no big deal.

    The boot time isn't that much faster. I'm not sure why but since I hardly ever boot, I guess I don't care. I bet battery life will be better now that I'm not hauling around something that's spinning. But wait. My Macbook never leaves my desk. I have an iPad for travel. Oh well, it's nice to have a measurably faster machine for not a huge amount of money.

    Little Snitch and Dropbox got all lost and confused but Crashplan just woke up and kept on keeping on. Chrome still got a few aw snaps before all 50 of my tabs opened back up but it's a lot better than before.

    My fans are running but I think it's Spotlight and Time Machine trying to cope with the new HDD. By tomorrow I think all should be calm. No, wait. The fans slowed down while I was typing this. Cool.


    ========================================================

    Day two I notice freezes in Chrome but the machine is still a LOT faster than before. All the fans are quiet now and the Time Machine thingy finally stopped spinning. This is nice. If I do get a new Mac, I must get an SSD lest it seem slower than my humble old 2008 white Macbook. :cool:
     
  2. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #2
    Trouble on the horizon... behind me I hope!

    So I went merrily along, hoping for all speed and no problems. It was not to be. I got the beachball. I got it often and I got it big. I would be working and it was mucking up my workflow. I'd open chrome, type a ur..... 20 minutes later...l. I'd open libre office and try to work on a spr......................eadshe......et. I was thinking I might have to pull the SSD out and put the rotating media back in. It even got to the point I had to hold the power switch to reboot. After the reboot my keyboard wasn't working so I rebooted again. Then it was my bluetooth mouse. New batteries and I was at least able to type and click consistently, but I was still seeing long freezes more than once every 10 minutes. Then I thought to myself, "Self. Why don't I try Safari instead of Chrome (with its 108 tabs)?"

    And that was all she wrote. I just had one brief freeze when I started typing in this text box to create this post. But it wasn't one of the loooooooong freezes I was getting with Chrome running. So I dusted off xmarks for Safari and now Safari is my main OSX browser and Chrome is relegated to "I'll deal with it another time."

    Perhaps the culprit was "paging" memory to SSD and by closing down those 108 tabs, and sitting here in chrome with a mere 5 tabs going, I'm no longer standing on the razor's edge in terms of memory management. After all, this is an old 2008 box that can only (officially) handle 4 Gig of RAM.

    As for the SSD life, I'm loving it. I can't ever go back. I've had smaller SSDs in the other family machines. I could get away with it because the other users need less space so it was comparably affordable. I remember sitting down at their machines and seeing stuff open instantly, then coming back to mine and if it wasn't one of the half dozen or so "most used apps", I was dealing with slow load times.

    For instance, LibreOffice opens in 30 seconds on rotating media, 15 seconds on my old hybrid ssd and under 1 second on my new ssd. The same is true for Pages and just about any other app I want to run.

    I've done some searching for "Chrome" and "freezing" and there are a lot of threads out there but frankly there seem to be just about as many about Safari and Firefox freezing so perhaps my Chrome profile was munged. Whatever. I can get work done now. Quickly.
     
  3. Pearl Wisdom macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    #3
    max out to 6GB RAM

    I recommend upgrading your RAM to 6 GB if you are in circumstances that start creating swap space (like long running browsers with 108 tabs). I have the same model Macbook (or nearly the same, early 2008) and my upgrade to 6 GB is working fine and a substantial improvement since I was still running out of 4 GB of RAM after running Safari with lots of tabs for a long time.

    More recently I upgraded to an SSD from OWC and that was another nice bump. Running very smoothly and quick now, rarely getting any spinning beachballs.

    Even if you have an SSD, I think it is still worth it to max out the RAM and avoid virtual memory swapping.
     
  4. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #4
    Does it matter which slot you put the 4GB in? The one closest to the HDD (left) or the other slot (right) or either one works as well? This strikes me as really odd. I'd rather pop in 2 4GB sticks but I hear that wouldn't work.
     
  5. Bauer24 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
  6. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #6
    Well the SSD is out of my Macbook. :(. I was seeing so many beachballs, I couldn't stand it. I would walk up and sure enough, the screen saver would exit quickly and let me log in. I would launch apps and they would be done loading before I could hear the mouse click. Then it started. About every 4 minutes, I would get ever longer freezes where NOTHING responded except maybe the cursor. There were times I could click a window and it wouldn't become the foreground window. All my clicks were being drained by the last app I had been using. What weird ****. I know it's possible the OCZ Agility 3 I picked up was defective but I'd still like this thread to serve as a warning. Approach SSD with caution. Some of them just plain do not work.

    What convinced me to switch back? I went to the Apple store and things were so bad my wifi wouldn't even work. When the tech tried to do something about it, he got the beachball of death. Rather than stare at it, he plugged in ethernet, booted from one of their store test images, ran diagnostics, farted around, looked at stuff and there were NO BEACHBALLS.

    Never go full SSD? Why is that? I'm not really interested in pulling my optical drive to use that bay for rotating media. I see SSD as a way to get better performance but also longer battery life and "drop proofing." But I'd say after tonight's experience, I'm losing interest in SSD and I'm far more interested in simply replacing this machine with something more modern that has a newer trackpad. Rather than pour nickels and dimes into this fine old machine, I think it's time to pass it on to another user and get myself something better.

    I saw a 15 in MBP, late 2011 discounted $600 off retail in Microcenter. I'm drooling. Sure I'd like retina. Sure I'd like USB3. But what I need is simply a newer machine and $1399 for what used to cost two grand is pretty tempting.

    And when I do finally get around to SSD one day, I'll bet that Sandforce chipset is more compatible with the SATA3 in the newer MBP anyway.
     
  7. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Location:
    Cimmerian End
    #7
    I like this thread!

    I enjoy the idea of upgrading computers when it is actually somewhat necessary as opposed to buying a new unit and slapping some new components in there. Nothing against that of course, just that "breathing new life" into an older computer so to speak is great. I have a 2010 Penryn MBP and I plan to eventually throw down a couple hundred dollars to get 8GB RAM, a SSD, and new battery if necessary down the road.

    I like how you intend on keeping some of the original components like the optical drive as well. I have mine in here and I use it all of the time. It seems like we are on the same page with a lot of stuff - I still use USB 2.0, SATA II, and the like and don't really have a need for fancy display ports and what have you. I even use the Ethernet Port. :eek:

    That's a shame that you couldn't get the Agility to work for you. It would have been nice but I am assuming you are back to your XT? I always wanted to try the XT, although if I am going to lay down that price for a drive I would probably just go for a small SSD instead. Also a shame that you are giving up on the your 2008 - although it sounds like it gave you a good run, probably time to upgrade like you want to at this point.

    In any case I hope your situation gets worked out. Update us if you will.

    Good luck. :)
     
  8. Pearl Wisdom macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    #8
    It doesn't matter (was not mentioned in the instructions). From my understanding of electronics, I can't imagine a reason why it would matter. I have done the upgrade to 6 GB (4+2) on two of these early 2008 Macbooks, and I don't know if I put the 4 GB in the same slot or not.

    I got an OWC 240GB Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD a few weeks ago for $315 and it is working very well for me. That SSD will work well when I eventually upgrade to a newer computer - currently the old Macbook uses a 1.5 Gigabit speed for the SSD, but the SSD should run at 6 Gigabits in a newer computer.
     
  9. r0k, Sep 15, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012

    r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #9
    The package from OWC showed up today. It took me all of 3 minutes to put it in. I chose the first slot next to the HDD. It booted up just fine and I now have 6 GB of RAM. Now to decide whether to do further upgrades or replace this machine.

    Yesterday, I wanted to create a photo collage using iPhoto or iMovie. I was in the middle of gathering the desired photos using faces when I decided to give it a try and found my keyboard did not work. I opened a terminal. No keyboard. I did a fast user switch and couldn't enter the password for the other user. Bummer. I couldn't think of anything but rebooting. If this happens again, I'll have to consider selling off this machine with an "it's old and has some glitches" disclaimer and I'll move on to a newer MBP.

    Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the 6 GB. I would imagine it will take a few weeks of use for me to decide whether the keyboard glitch was a one time deal or something I will have to think about again. It's a huge workflow disruption. Even worse than the pinwheels when I had the SSD. Imagine creating a new file, doing a lot of work dragging stuff around, then realizing the keyboard is now dead and there's no way to name the file to save the thing. Bummer. If the problem happens again, I guess one more thing I'd try before bailing on this trusty machine is a "refresh" install from my Lion Recovery partition.

    Update: I think I found my keyboard "bug". I had "press option key 5 times to turn modifier keys on or off" set in system preferences. I've been beating down my option key in faces using option click to de-select large numbers of bad guesses. I've been hearing those tones and not knowing what they meant until I saw a post here on MR about the hit option 5x thing. Darn. I guess I'm stuck with my trusty white Macbook for another year. Don't you hate the way Apple stuff lasts so long you have to really work at it to justify replacement? This was a close one, too. I've been drooling over a 15.4 in MBP (late 2011 model) discounted $600 at Microcenter. Oh well. Maybe next year.
     
  10. zhunter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2012
    #10
    I have an early 2007 MBP, a couple of years ago upgraded the hard drive to 500GB. It has become so slow that opening iPhoto of a Microsoft Office program was painful. So, I added 2GB of RAM yesterday as well as upgrading to the 2011 Microsoft Office software. Both Office and iPhoto open nearly instantly now.

    I also ordered a Samsung 256GB SSD to boost my newfound speed even more.

    I was at the Apple store yesterday talking to my Genius guy and he said it was a good way to go, and that now the only "bottleneck" will be my processor (2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo). I can live with that I guess.

    I just like the older machines that are easily upgradable as opposed to the newer non upgradable machines (wife just bought a new Air last week to replace her dropped MBP)
     
  11. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #11
    Just to clarify, the latest MBP is upgradable. The only models that are not easily upgradable are the iPad, Macbook Air and Retina MBP. The 13in and 15in Macbook Pro, the latest Mac Mini and the latest iMac are all upgradable with the caveat that I heard there is some sort of special HDD cable thing going on in the iMac.

    I've been "shopping" alongside my recent successful RAM upgrade and my ill-fated SSD upgrade. I've pretty much settled on the late 2011 MBP which are available brand new in box at MicroCenter for 25 to 30% off as the machine I would get if I could convince myself to part with the money right now. Happily (or sadly depending on your point of view) my 2008 Macbook is purring along quite nicely right now so it's difficult for me to "talk myself into" parting with $1500.
     
  12. yoak macrumors 65816

    yoak

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    #12
    Funny I should come across this thread on the front page when I was looking to post some questions about upgrading my Mbp 2008 with a momentus XT hybrid drive to an SSD. Exact same setup as OP.

    I get the beach all a lot as well. My boot time is at least a couple of minutes, used to be 30 sec.

    I wanted to buy a rMBP as I use my Mac for video editing and the screen would be a great upgrade. Then I needed a second car to commute to my new place of work, and picked up an old Mazda Miata(MX-5) for the exact same amount of money as a rMBP. so I thought to wait a bit before getting the rMBP and just upgrade to an ssd. I already put 8gb of ram in this Mac, so the only thing left is the ssd.
    I do however need a 480gb disk as I have a to handle a lot of 4K and HD footage on the go.

    But you are saying a SSD won't work well in this Mac or is it just that brand of SSD you think? It's not worth throwing more money at this machine?
     
  13. zhunter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2012
    #13
    Yoak

    My guy at the Apple Store Genius Bar told me that what I was doing (adding RAM and a 256 Samsung SSD) was the right thing to do and would make a huge difference in my MBP

    I have not been on this site long, but the common line if thinking is: Buy a new Computer.

    My take is, people like "spending" other people's money :)

    My older MBP is already up to my needs with the added RAM, and the SSD will just make it better and get me another few years from the same computer.

    I also drive my cars for at least 10 years though :)
     
  14. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #14
    I have mixed feelings about throwing money at my late 2008 Macbook. Why? Because it can't run Mountain Lion and as of this morning that means I can't manage my shared photostreams from my main computer.

    I don't believe there is anything wrong with putting an SSD in my MB. I think the problem was more related to picking a cheap one. I've heard Samsung, OCZ Vertex series and Crucial M4 have worked well. I do have good experience with the Vertex models in my even older Mac minis.

    I agree. Only spend money that makes sense. Now that there is something I want/need that isn't properly accessible from my Mac desktop, I am slightly more tempted to replace it rather than keep looking for an SSD that "just works".

    I think the reasoning behind the recommendations to "buy new" is Apple making older Intel models obsolete with Mountain Lion. Just like there's nothing wrong with my iPad 1 but now I suddenly can't run the latest version of iOS. I wasn't even mildly tempted by iPad 2 or 3 and now the thought has crossed my mind more than once. What is more likely is that I will do nothing and live with iOS 5 until things break so badly the device is unusable to me.
     
  15. yoak macrumors 65816

    yoak

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    #15
    Well, at least my MBP runs ML nicely, but it will be handed down to a family member in the not too distant future I think as it´s pretty beat up after traveling around the world on location for 3 years.

    I´m editing some RED 5K and 4K footage right now that has to be down converted to SD 4:3 (don´t ask:rolleyes:) and render times are killing me. My tower is on another job so I have to deal with it. I know an SSD won´t help my render times though
     
  16. Silencio macrumors 68020

    Silencio

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #16
    Last fall, before embarking on a lot of travel that still required me to be productive at work, I upgraded my own early 2008 MacBook to 6GB of RAM and a OWC 3G 240GB SSD. The combination definitely worked a treat for me and got me through an extended period of time while my workhorse Mac Pro was in storage.

    Unfortunately, around the one year mark, my OWC SSD started dying on me. I got a replacement drive under warranty, but took the opportunity to upgrade to a 256GB Samsung 830 SSD while I was waiting. The rationale for this move was all the reports I'd seen about the current Samsung drives performing much better with encrypted data, and I found my usage of FileVault 2 negated a significant amount of the performance boost the OWC SSD initially provided me. The Samsung 830 definitely feels at least a bit faster, even though it's constrained by my MacBook's 1.5Gbps SATA interface.

    Not all is perfect yet in Samsung SSD land, though: I get an occasional random spinning beach ball that freezes up the entire system for a few moments before it goes away again. Very strange. Could be an artifact of my restoring my system from a Time Machine backup to the new drive, haven't had much time to really work to isolate the issue.

    While I'm glad I got an extra year + out of my beloved black MacBook, I'm still running up against the limits of what it can realistically do. That, and I carry my laptop to work with me every day, and I'm really getting tired of carrying the weight around. I initially planned on running out and buying a Core i7 2012 MacBook Air when they first came out, but the rumors of a 13" Retina MacBook Pro have given me pause. I really need to see what Apple's going to come out with in that product space before committing.
     
  17. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Location:
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    #17
    My crucial M2 128Gb SSD in my 5,2 whitebook rarely ever gives me any beachballs and I've had it in my machine for ~2.5 years now...I only use crucial or Intel SSD's (with the exception of one WD "Blue" 64Gb SSD I have from about 3 years ago since it was listed at a HDD price mistake and the company let me complete the order at the time so it was a smoking deal)!
     

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