Is SSD vs HD really that significant?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mmb32, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. mmb32 macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hi,

    I am looking to get a new or refurb MBA but as it will be my first experience with it am wondering if the HD is that poor a performer against the SSD (as it seems to be on a lot of the threads).

    I would rather get the cheaper HD model (Rev B) but will it still stream BBC iplayer ok? I have a 1st gen mbp and have no problems with that but dont want MBA HD if it can't stream properly (I have good 10mb broadband).

    Thanks,

    Mark
     
  2. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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  3. SeaneyC macrumors member

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    #3
    I wouldn't worry at all, i stream iPlayer all the time on my Rev A 1.8SSD with no problems, and even the 1.6 HD Rev B gets better stat scores than my machine.

    Not to mention that iPlayer doesn't touch your HD unless you're using the download player which isn't all that great anyway.
     
  4. byke macrumors 6502a

    byke

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    #4
    I have an ssd drive in my rev b ..... and like any hard drive it does the same job.

    However, where i really noticed the difference is when i open up a program like photoshop or illustrator and it loads within seconds. (very nice)

    I conceder the ssd a beautiful luxury.
    I could live without it, but i do appreciate greatly.
     
  5. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #5
    The HDD could work for an MBA used as a secondary Mac. There is no way in the world I would want to use a 4200rpm HDD as my primary Mac. I use the SSD because there is night/day difference.

    At $300, the SSD in the MBA is the best ROI that can be found in an Apple product.

    And for the SSD and CPU upgrade $300 is a no brainer!
     
  6. mmb32 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Thanks all,

    Well I am not bothered about waiting longer for apps to open or how fast it starts or shuts down but it should be usable for basic browsing, office work and playing music and streams without breaking up all the time. I read on another thread that itunes needs a 2ghz processor.

    Surely the point of the mba is to use it in a very portable environment, either wifi spot or 3g mobile broadband etc. As long as it does that, I will be satisfied :)
     
  7. byke macrumors 6502a

    byke

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    #7
    It should be fine, the only downside can be the heat or the flash issues.
     
  8. lowonthe456 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    personally, i'd like to know about the durability of a SSD vs platter drives....will it last longer? HD's have gotten huge and cheap, but the last few i bought last 1-2 years max...then die
     
  9. aleksandra. macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    You only think you aren't bothered ;). You have no idea how much more usable for everyday, basic tasks computer becomes with decent SSD. Back when it was a $999 upgrade it wasn't really worth it for most people, but it have become an affordable luxury now. Get a refurb rev B with SSD while they last... the only risk is that you'd never go back to hard disks willingly.

    SSDs aren't sensitive to shock like HDDs and are generally much less likely to fail you. They have a limited lifetime however, as in limited number of writes, but even pessimistic estimates say they'll last more than 5 years of intensive use.
     
  10. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #10
    If you want to spend less money or cannot afford a high end, buy the rev B 1.86 w/SSD refurbished for $1449. It's really double the value/performance to get an SSD.
     
  11. GeekGirl* macrumors 65816

    GeekGirl*

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    #11
    I had both really save your money and get a HHD drive.
     
  12. stoconnell macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I started with unit with the SSD, so I don't have a comparison per se. But in day-to-day use, there is very little spinning wheel of wait.

    If you look back through the forum from the time when the Rev B came out and started shipping (Nov 2008). There were several people who upgraded from RevA 1.6s with HDD to the Rev B 1.86 with SSD. It's not a true bananas to oranges comparison as the chipset changed (DDR3, SATA vs. PATA, 50% more CPU cache) in addition to the move to SSD.

    With the changes in pricing the jump to SSD is less steep than it was previously. If you can afford it, do it :) Otherwise, as Scottsdale points out, the refurbed RevBs with SSD are a good deal (esp. when you consider the price drop from new -- cough, ouch, cough).
     
  13. Airforcekid macrumors 65816

    Airforcekid

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    #13
    The HHD will only be noticeable on boot up opening apps and finding files I strongly recommend the SSD but HHD can still handle video about the same.
     
  14. Airforcekid macrumors 65816

    Airforcekid

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    #14
    Also anytime you spend over $1,000 no longer let $100 make a difference when upgrading.
     
  15. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #15
    Unfortunately, startup and app opening are not the only differences. Big files like HD video can be choppy with a 4200rpm HDD. Large files of all types are faster to work on. Multiple apps requesting drive access at the same time doesn't get the spinning beach ball on SSD. The list really goes on and on. I think SSD makes a computer feel faster than any other component upgrade. The price for the performance is a no brainer.

    Anyone/everyone should pay the $300 for SSD. Or should just get refurbished 1.86/SSD for $1449. I actually am contemplating taking back my new 2.13/SSD and buying refurbished 1.86/SSD. I had a rev B 1.86/SSD which I paid $2499 for with a beautiful 9C9A display - unfortunately it was stolen. I just wish I could have that display for my new 2.13/SSD!
     
  16. mmb32 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #16
    I appreciate all the replies and advice, thanks.

    I only considered the cheaper HD because this will be my first experience with the MBA and I don't want to pay the premium in the unlikely event that I am not happy with it. I tried the HD in a local store (1.6 Rev B) and it seemed very responsive to me, and I also read somewhere about write speeds being much better on the HD. Although the apps I run will not be heavy photoshop, more likely unix and perl scripting with database back end.

    The only way to know is to play with both, I'll see if I can get a straight comparison at an apple store.
     
  17. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #17
    That write speed issue is bogus. Write speeds are just as fast on an MBA with SSD as with HDD. Go look at an xBench test for it at xBench.com. Originally, SSDs offered double or triple read speeds, yet offered 75% of the write speed of HDDs. However, SSDs have improved dramatically since the beginning. The SSD in the MBA may not write 8x faster than the HDD, but it's faster. At the same time, the READ speed is over 8x faster (if I remember right). SSDs are going to end up reading 100x faster than HDDs within a few years. The tech is growing so fast. Take this opportunity to capitalize on a machine that really needs SSDs to make it fun and fast yet ultra mobile which is incredible.

    So while the SSD in the MBA will not write as fast as it reads, it will write faster than the 4200 rpm HDD. Additionally, the SSD in the MBA is a Samsung, and it's a really nice drive actually for the price. It's also a 1.8" 5mm tall drive, so it's not upgradeable in the future from a HDD (not without serious work or modification anyways). So, considering you may use it for a year or more, you should pay a little more for the SSD now. If you get a HDD, you will be stuck with it!

    Assuming you were going to buy the 1.86 HDD for $1499, don't do it but rather buy the SSD 1.86 refurbished for $50 less. ASK ANYONE HERE ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE WITH REFURBISHED MACS... about 95% state like brand new, a couple of battery cycles, and loved it!

    That's my advice, but it's your money... good luck. Cheers.
     
  18. dehory macrumors regular

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    #18
    I moved from an HD-based Windows laptop to the MBA rev B, so it's not exactly an apples to apples (or should that be Apple? :D) comparison, but based on that performance difference (and also the performance difference between a 2008 white MacBook and my MBA), I'd definitely recommend the SSD. Makes a bigger difference to everyday tasks than CPU (1.86 vs 2.13) and RAM (2 GB vs 4 GB) IMO.
     
  19. iAmLegend macrumors regular

    iAmLegend

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    #19
    For normal use, you won't notice or care about the difference. Buy the HD version and put the extra $300 toward the "Macbook Air Pro" that Apple will release in 2 years.
     
  20. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #20
    So, screw the real world results on how much faster SSD is. Screw the fact that most who have owned both SSD and HDD versions of the MBA would never go back to an HDD in any Mac ever again!

    The SSD is by far the best upgrade and makes the MBA a real performer and a lot of fun. You want to watch spinning beach balls on the beach, on your MBA, go ahead and buy the HDD version.

    Want to save $350? Buy the refurbished 1.86 with SSD for $1449 with one year warranty and like new! Probably swapped from new box to brown box for shipping!
     
  21. justit macrumors 6502a

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    #21
  22. aleksandra. macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    No, it isn't - but it may be, if there are faster SSDs available in the right form factor, with SATA-LIF connection. I hope LIF as a part of SATA 6 Gb/s standard means some upgrade option for MacBook Air coming (not soon though).
     
  23. justit macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    You do realize they set SATA to just 1.5Gbit/sec on the new macbook pro 13 and 15", the MBA is still 3 Gbit/sec right?
     
  24. iAmLegend macrumors regular

    iAmLegend

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    #24
    I have yet to see even one "spinning beach ball" on my 1.86 HDD...it is a wonderful machine and I am so glad I didn't spend the extra $300 when I have not needed whatever additional speed the SSD provides. I apologize if this goes against your benchmark tests and real world results. Maybe I live in Wonderland.
     
  25. aleksandra. macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    I even argued SATA 1.5 Gb/s limits real-world performance of fast SSDs (like Vertex or X25-M) in the monstrous thread about it, which turned out to be less than 5 seconds of boot time difference. But SSD in Air achieves "only" ~80 MB/s in most favorable test, which is less than SATA 1.5 Gb/s capabilities. And because of SATA-LIF connector it uses you can't upgrade to a faster drive yet.
     

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