Intel 520 SSD - MacPro 4,1 - 10.8.3

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by manamana, May 20, 2013.

  1. manamana macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013
    Good morning,

    My 3.5" > 2.5" Icy Dock just arrived so I installed the Intel 520 SSD into my Mac Pro 4,1 running 10.8.3.

    The SSD is not recognized, disk utility no help. Couldn't find anything online about incompatibility between Intel 520 and Mac Pro 4,1.

    Is the issue that it uses SATA 3?

    Of course the salesperson ensured that it would work fine and everything needed was in the box.

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks very much.
  2. Mac Hammer Fan macrumors 6502a

    Mac Hammer Fan

    Jul 13, 2004
  3. Studio K macrumors 6502

    Studio K

    Feb 17, 2013
    United States
    I am using an Intel 520 SSD in a Mac Pro 4,1 with no trouble. However, I am not using Icy Dock. I purchased an adapter sled from OWC so that I can directly attach the drive to the SATA connectors on the motherboard.

    The ICY DOCK is probably the problem in this case, though I have seen others on YouTube use it successfully in the Pro.

    You could test your SSD (without the Icy Dock) by installing it in the Optical Drive lower bay (there are spare SATA cables in there). You don't need an adapter for testing. Just hook it up and lay it in there.
  4. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    I'm running four Intel 330's in my 2009 4,1 which has been updated to 2010 5,1 status by virtue of the Netkas EFI hack. No issues for over 6 months. Optical bay is an easy solution, no special adaptors required. As noted, "just lay it in there." (I used a little double-sided foam tape to hold 'er in place.)
  5. manamana, May 22, 2013
    Last edited: May 22, 2013

    manamana thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013
    Thanks Mac Hammer Fan, Studio K and DPuser.

    Indeed the icy dock adapter was the weak link in the chain.

    I've got it hooked up in the optical drive. I used the tray that came with the intel 520, which was not an exact fit but more than enough support considering the drive is so light and already fastened into place with the SATA cable.

    Now I just need to figure out how to turn that SSD into my boot drive with OS and APPs.

  6. manamana thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013
    wow. I just entered a world of hurt...

    Just started reading about TRIM and GC and performance degradation of SSD over time, which begins when the SSD is filled to 70% capacity.

    Maybe you can dumb this down for me DPuser. What steps did you take to turn the SSD into your boot drive with OS and APPs? Although your running a intel 330 vs my 520, not sure if that makes a difference

  7. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    I actually just cloned my startup drive to an SSD and repaired permissions. Use Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper. Think about what data you need to keep on your boot drive... you might want to offload some data to sdecondary drives.

    I have since updated from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion, and things are working great. I keep several OS/Software versions on partitions, as I like to always have a smooth running Mac. This way, I can update without fear that I may introduce a nefarious element to my system. If something doesn;t work, just revert to a clone.

    I have searched long and hard for definitive information about TRIM and Sandforce SSDs (as are the Intel 520/330 series drives) and have yet to discover a clearly defined path to righteous SSD maintenance. I currently believe that most users can simply enjoy their new SSDs and just forget about it! Don't fill it to the brink. Leave some spare area (say 10%) to avoid write amplification and garbage collection woes. I don't think you need to leave 30% spare area, especially with SandForce drives, which have some built-in over-provisioning.

    Have fun with your new speed demon. But back up everything. Always.
  8. manamana thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013
    Thanks, DPuser.

    I followed a similar path with Carbon Copy Cloner but I also installed TRIM ENABLER.

    The SSD is my boot drive. Single partition, about half full. I read something about a safety boot partition but I opted out.

    OS is much snappier so far. Seems like a new comp. Haven't done any heavy lifting yet.

    Thanks for everyone's help.

    Here's a couple of useful links for the next SSD installer:


    TRIM vs NO TRIM BATTLE (mostly second page)
  9. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Only thing you need to worry about with the 520 is compressible vs non-compressible data and if that will be important to you. TRIM acts pretty flaky on sandforce. Not sure if Intel firmware fixed that or not but you don't need it really. I have been running a 520 without TRIM since they released (or 1st discount cycle anyway) as boot disk on 5,1 Mac Pro. Very fast and stable. But probably can't tell an iota of difference if it was another brand. As always non-compressible writes suck, meaning they are only moderately awesome, on the Sandforce controller. Roughly half as fast as Samsung and Marvell based drives.
  10. manamana thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013
    Thanks Derbothaus.

    couple of questions:

    1) Does TRIM harm the Sandforce controlled Intel 520 or just reduce the speed?

    2) by default, does the Intel 520 write compressible or non-compressible? how do I ensure it is writing in compressible form?

  11. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    1. It does not harm anything but I had lock ups and crashes on my computer. In general it freaks out Sandforce. It can successfully TRIM the disk but really should not be left on. In my experience anyway. Do some research if Intel fixed this. I don't care to have or not have TRIM running on my 520 so I don't know if anything has changed.

    2. You can't control whether compressible or non-compressible. It is the type of data that decides this. The SF controller will compress anything it can to get it's fast speeds. .jpegs, .mpeg, etc are all compressed and can't be compressed any more so they write fairly slow.

    Here is a nifty overview:

    I am happy with my 520. Very stable and quick as boot disk. I would not get them and RAID them for media streaming/ creation knowing what I know now. I would get Samsung 840 Pro or Vertex 4 or something similar for those tasks. Also if you every want to use FileVault 2 Whole Disk Encryption you should stay away from Sandforce as the same compression issues persist there as well and you can end up having an SSD that is only 10-25% faster than an HDD.
  12. peterson12 macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2012
    sandforce uses native encryption & hence if you try to encrypt the data twice it will not show up in the way you except. I am sure you can try disabling sandforce's native encryption feature if you want to use any another encryption tools.
  13. Wardenski macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2012
    I use two plastic Icydocks for two Intel 520 SSDs.

    For what its worth, the Icydock in my 2008 is a very tight fit, I actually thought it was in properly when it clicked once...not so, had to push it in a few mm more to get connection.

    Had no issues at all since installation. OSX 10.6.8 starts up faster than my monitor. Windows, less so to begin with, but the start-up programs appear immediately and games load much quicker.
  14. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    How would a general Mac user turn native encryption off? No tools for OS X that I am aware of and Apple even seems to kill ATA security commands at boot. Booting into Windows or Linux to flip features is not something you can tell everyone to do. You can tell people to avoid these drives. Problem solved.
  15. peterson12 macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2012
    Relying on OS driven filesystem encryption always meant the use of software encryption on top of your drive’s native encryption. This was particularly Challenge on SandForce based drives, where full disk encryption basically ruined any of the performance advantages of the controller’s native compression/de-dupe (you can’t further reduce encrypted data). Other drives suffered (just not as much) due to the added overhead from having to leverage the host CPU to encrypt all data before writing it to disk. There’s also the fact that if you encrypt your entire drive (free space included), the drive ends up looking like a completely full drive - which has performance implications of its own. This was the world that existed with BitLocker under Windows 7 and FileVault under OS X. I had not tried on Mac but I find a website link which tells about Mac FileVault 2's full disk encryption can be bypassed in less than 40 minutes please refer these link

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