How much will SSD Improve Performance?

Benjer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 30, 2006
87
7
Utah
I have a Mid-2012 15" MacBook Pro. Processor is 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and a traditional HDD (a Hitachi 5400RPM Apple put in there after the original drive failed).

For a couple of months, I've noticed that it is sluggish, specifically pausing (or showing the beachball) for 3-5 seconds between simple tasks, such as selecting a link in Apple Mail, switching applications using command-tab, switching windows in MS Excel, etc. This occurs with only a few apps open. (Just now the beachball came up for a few seconds when I selected the Apple menu to double check the specs on my machine.) I've checked Activity Monitor, and CPU usage is low with no unexpected processes, and RAM usage rarely gets up to 12GB, and that's only when I have lots of Safari tabs open. I used Disk Speed Test from Black Magic, and the results are 79.5MB/s write and 83.8MB/s read. Disk Utility and the Apple diagnostic tools both detect no problems.

Since I'd like this old friend to stay with me at least another year or two, I'm thinking of getting an SSD. My question is this: is the SSD a reasonable next step to speed things up, or should I do something else first? From what I read, an SSD would be a worthwhile investment in speeding my MBP up, but I'd be really bummed to spend the money and see little or no improvement.
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
9,587
3,484
The difference in disk speed is very noticeable. You'll see disk speeds in the several hundred MB/second range, but random disk access is effectively instantaneous so the difference in how the computer feels is very dramatic. An SSD is really the only thing you can do to speed up that computer. Old 5400 rpm drives make for a pretty terrible computing experience.
 

CoastalOR

macrumors 68030
Jan 19, 2015
2,695
989
Oregon, USA
My experience from adding a SSD to a late 2011 MBP:
Measurements using Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
OEM 5400 RPM HDD: Write 68 MB/s, Read 67 MB/s
New SSD: Write 230 MB/s, Read 253 MB/s

Another problem that could effect performance would be a degraded internal disk SATA cable. If you install a new SSD and you do not see the speed improvements then take a look at replacing the SATA cable.
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
6,051
8,565
Florida, USA
It's like getting a brand new computer. I'm not exaggerating. An SSD is such a massive performance boost that anyone who is able to upgrade their HDD to an SSD should do so immediately if they can afford to.

This applies to MacOS, Windows, Linux... there is absolutely no downside. Get your SSD. :)
 

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
2,329
691
I agree with @zorinlynx - your system will perform better than new. The last several revs of Mac OS have been designed with solid state drives in mind, and there are many read-writes happening, even just sitting there. A spinning HD can't keep up. I've put them in all of our systems that didn't have them, and several for friends. Everyone happy with the performance boost. Plus, since SSDs are more resistant to shock and vibration, increased reliability.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,957
509
On a Mac of that vintage, you are limited to a SATA drive. You can expect to get 300-400 mb/sec with a good SATA II (SATA III can be used, but will be in SATA II mode) drive.

On the current lineup, with built-in flash, you should expect 2000-4000 mb/sec.

But it sounds like something is wrong with your computer or your OS is damaged. Sure, a flash drive will speed things up, but unlikely to solve your problem.

I do recommend the upgrade. I did my late 2012 Mac Mini i7 some time ago and was well worth it. It's a good way to extend the life of a Mac of "a certain age". I use an iMac Pro for work now, but still run the Mini for email/personal use/extra screen for browsing.
 

Lunder89

macrumors 6502
Oct 16, 2014
393
128
Denmark
You don't have to be worried about no improvement. The Mac might have a few years in it already. But putting a SSD drive in the computer, will truly make it brand new.

As others here write, the SATA II controller in the Mac will give the SSD speeds around 300 MB/S. But that is not the even the best part. What really kills HDDs today, is the constant multitasking the Mac does. Consider all the hand-off and continuity stuff going on, Spotlight indexes every new file when it is created, iCloud refreshing and syncing data and tons more. A tired HDD, actually even a fresh one, makes for slow Mac. But the SSD is a lot less vulnerable to the multitasking.

To answer your question short, will is the SSD a reasonable next step: No, it is a brilliant next step :)
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,453
6,750
OP:
Put the SSD into it.
It's easy.
ANYONE can do this change-out.

You'll need a Phillips #00 driver and a TORX T-6 (latter to loosen the "bosses" on the sides of the drive itself).

Follow the guide at ifixit.com.

Do this, and you'll be back here saying "I never believed something like that could make such a difference..."

TIP:

When you get the SSD, also get a small USB3/SATA adapter dongle like this:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B011M8YACM/ref=nosim/macintouchcom-20?&tag=macintouchcom-20
You can use it to "prep and test" the new SSD BEFORE you do the drive swap.
I recommend that you do it this way.
When the old drive is "out", use the adapter/dongle with it, and it can then become a backup, etc.
 

mic j

macrumors 68030
Mar 15, 2012
2,656
150
I switched out the HDD on my very old 2009 17" MBP and it was like I got a new computer. I would still be using it if I were able to update the OS. I will say though, that after switching to a 2016 MBP last year, when I go to work on the old MBP (I use it as a server) I really notice how much slower it is in comparison to the new MBP. Lots of things enter into that though, OS, processor speed, etc.
 

Toutou

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2015
673
957
Prague, Czech Republic
but I'd be really bummed to spend the money and see little or no improvement.
HDD: Click. Wait. A second more. Open.
SSD: Cli-BOOM-open.

The difference is that huge. Your machine's specs are totally fine, especially those 16 gigs of RAM, and it's basically begging for an SSD.

Don't forget to let us know about the "little or no improvement" part when you fire it up with the new SSD :D
 

JohnnieBBadde

macrumors member
Dec 11, 2014
52
46
On a Mac of that vintage, you are limited to a SATA drive. You can expect to get 300-400 mb/sec with a good SATA II (SATA III can be used, but will be in SATA II mode) drive.

[...]

I do recommend the upgrade. I did my late 2012 Mac Mini i7 some time ago and was well worth it. It's a good way to extend the life of a Mac of "a certain age". I use an iMac Pro for work now, but still run the Mini for email/personal use/extra screen for browsing.
This part is incorrect. The mid 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro uses Intel's Ivy Bridge platform that uses SATA 3 (and USB 3.0). Due to overhead maximum SATA 2 speed is around 270 MB/s.

I'm typing this post on such a model with an aftermarket Crucial M550 1 TB SSD (less than 10 % free space so performance is a little degraded) that peaks at around 500 MB/s:

@Benjer

I'd recommend a Samsung EVO 860 (not QVO) with at least 500 GB since current Samsung SSDs rank among the most reliable and fastest ones on the entire market (mostly limited by their interfaces like SATA 3 or PCIe for NVMe SSDs).
 

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jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
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The mid 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro uses Intel's Ivy Bridge platform that uses SATA 3
I stand corrected! I was assuming it had the same interface as my late-2012 Mac Mini.

In any case, there are few SATA-II flash drives any more, and any for sale would probably be "new old stock". So, on this model, you will likely get better results still.

My Mac Mini has an OCZ Vector180 960GB. (No longer made.)
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
9,587
3,484
I stand corrected! I was assuming it had the same interface as my late-2012 Mac Mini.

In any case, there are few SATA-II flash drives any more, and any for sale would probably be "new old stock". So, on this model, you will likely get better results still.

My Mac Mini has an OCZ Vector180 960GB. (No longer made.)
The 2012 Mac Mini and MacBook Pro do have the same SATA interface: SATA 3, at 6Gbps. Your old SSD is probably not SATA 3 compatible, or perhaps it needs a firmware update to make it work on that particular chipset.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,957
509
The 2012 Mac Mini and MacBook Pro do have the same SATA interface: SATA 3, at 6Gbps. Your old SSD is probably not SATA 3 compatible, or perhaps it needs a firmware update to make it work on that particular chipset.
OK, I guess I misremembered both the SATA spec and the performance results.

I just tested it, and got 425 read/480 write. Pretty close to the Crucial above. Probably better with a newer drive.
 

Benjer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 30, 2006
87
7
Utah
Update: Ordered a Crucial MX500 (500GB). Swapped it out last night, restored from a Time Machine Backup. I cannot overstate the difference! I know there was some discussion above about what the max speeds would be, Disk Speed Test just came back with 460 MB/s write, 503MB/s read. Thanks for the advice!
 

glenthompson

macrumors 68020
Apr 27, 2011
2,121
223
Florida
Can I update my old 2012 iMac to ssd and get similar improvements??
Yes but it’s a bit more difficult. Check out the process on iFixit. I decided to have an Apple authorized repair shop do my swap on a 2011 21.5. They charged me $140 for the work and I supplied the drive.

On the 2012, iFixit lists the 21.5 as moderate difficulty and the 27 as difficult.
 
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Chiromac81

macrumors regular
Nov 18, 2018
113
18
Ontario Canada
Yes but it’s a bit more difficult. Check out the process on iFixit. I decided to have an Apple authorized repair shop do my swap on a 2011 21.5. They charged me $140 for the work and I supplied the drive.

On the 2012, iFixit lists the 21.5 as moderate difficulty and the 27 as difficult.
Thanks for the response-would you guess it would cost more or less then $140 for 2012 iMac? Also I’m in Canada-would ifixit work with that? Also are there lots of service centres that do this on 2012? Would I have to get an internal or external SSD on my own?
 

ahmede

macrumors regular
May 14, 2011
132
52
I have a late 2011 which is bootcamped with Win 10. Would i be able to clone the HDD to the SSD?

What problems can i expect. I usually hibernate Win 10
 

glenthompson

macrumors 68020
Apr 27, 2011
2,121
223
Florida
Thanks for the response-would you guess it would cost more or less then $140 for 2012 iMac? Also I’m in Canada-would ifixit work with that? Also are there lots of service centres that do this on 2012? Would I have to get an internal or external SSD on my own?
More due to the redesign. Is yours a 21.5” or 27”? I would expect the 27” to be more.

Try this to find a service center near you and give them a call. https://locate.apple.com/ca/en
 

kschendel

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2014
1,060
333
I have a late 2011 which is bootcamped with Win 10. Would i be able to clone the HDD to the SSD?

What problems can i expect. I usually hibernate Win 10
You can, but it's not quite trivial. I did it with a 2009 iMac a couple years ago. As I recall, I ended up buying some sort of utility to clone the Windows partition, and I used SuperDuper! for the Mac partition. The Windows utility was $10 or some such trivial amount; unfortunately I don't recall its name. If you're careful, you could probably use dd on the raw partitions, but I suspect that if you knew how to do that you wouldn't be asking ... :)
 
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glenthompson

macrumors 68020
Apr 27, 2011
2,121
223
Florida
I have the 21.5 if that matters

Also, would just adding an external SSD be the same? Could one just assign that the main hard drive to run OS off?
Since you have usb 3 you can get better performance booting off an external SSD than the slow internal drive.
 

Toutou

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2015
673
957
Prague, Czech Republic
Also, would just adding an external SSD be the same? Could one just assign that the main hard drive to run OS off
Yes, that's perfectly doable. I did exactly that to my dad's 2014 Mini and even with a dirt cheap old Intel SSD the difference is night and day.
So that's the easiest way to go, as long as you don't mind losing one USB port.
 
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