Is SSD worth it on my MacBook?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by JefferyShin, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. JefferyShin macrumors regular

    JefferyShin

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    #1
    Hello,

    I'm planning on taking out my optical drive and installing a 64GB SSD.

    I've seen crazy benchmarks and boot time videos and such, but they're all done on i7 or i5 MacBook Pros with 4 or 8 GBs of RAM...

    I have a Unibody MacBook, 2.0ghz, and 2GB of RAM.

    Would I notice that much of an improvement?

    Thanks.
     
  2. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040

    AlphaDogg

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    #2
    You will notice a HUGE improvement over a regular magnetic HDD. An HDD has a laser head that moves as the metal platters inside spin. The lasers read and write data. The reasons that HDD's are so slow is because of the time it takes for the laser to locate the data that you (the user) is requesting. SSD's, however, use flash storage which is suer fast, because there are no moving parts whatsoever.
     
  3. JefferyShin thread starter macrumors regular

    JefferyShin

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    #3
    Would I see that much of an improvement even if I'm on a pretty weak Mac?
     
  4. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040

    AlphaDogg

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    #4
    Yes you will see a huge improvement. Especially with that little amount of ram, a lot of data is put on the HDD, as a makeshift solution for a small amount of ram. When you put an SSD into that mix, the data is put on the SSD, instead of the HDD. Assuming that you use the SSD as the boot drive, there will be a huge performance increase.
     
  5. JefferyShin thread starter macrumors regular

    JefferyShin

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    #5
    Awesome, thanks ! :D

    Last question,

    How do I pick a good SSD? Some 64GB go for $100 while some go for $800...
     
  6. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040

    AlphaDogg

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    #6
    Look for an SSD with a Sandforce controller, if you want amazing speed. Something like an OCZ or OWC. I think that these are pretty expensive, so you might want to look into an Intel SSD, for a cheaper (but still much faster than an HDD) alternative. Somebody else might be able to better assist you, on which SSD you should get.

    Also, if you want a lot of storage, with nearly the speed of an SSD, with the price of an HDD, you should look into a Seagate Momentus XT drive. It is an HDD/SSD hybrid drive. It has the normal HDD parts, with an additional 4GB SSD. If you order the 500GB drive, the HDD platters will be a total of 496GB, with 4GB of SSD, for a total of 500GB, not 504GB.
     
  7. JefferyShin thread starter macrumors regular

    JefferyShin

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  8. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040

    AlphaDogg

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    #8
    You are welcome! But, I would like to know, are you looking into the Momentus XT? I am in dire need of one, and do not want to go the optibay route. I will be keeping it in the original HDD spot.

    Also, if you get this drive, you do not have to go the optibay route, either.
     
  9. Merkava_4 macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Why does the SSD have to go in the optical drive compartment? Why can't it go in place of the old HDD?
     
  10. wywern209 macrumors 65832

    wywern209

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    #10
    It can, it simply means that you would have to copy over all the data on the HDD to the new SSD. and it would have to be big enough to support all that data.This way, you can simply install applications and the OS onto the SSD and keep your media on the HDD.
     
  11. Baral macrumors member

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    Jun 26, 2010
    #11
    It doesn't have to. But the problem with SSDs are 1.) their price 2.) their nature. Most people want at least 250 gigs of storage, and SSDs of that capacity go for well over 600 dollars up to more than a grand. Even if you do have the money for it, SSD performance suffers from constant writing, so you don't want to use it as a scratch disk for your backups and media files and whatnot. Besides, the true advantages of an SSD lie in boot times and opening apps. Thus, the smarter option is to use an SSD purely for the OS and apps. This way, most people only need a 64 to 160gb drive.

    But then what happens to all your media files and random stuff? You will either need to carry an external with you at all times, or replace your optical drive with a secondary HDD with large capacity for all your files.
     
  12. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040

    AlphaDogg

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    #12
    It can go into the HDD compartment, but most people like having dual drives. One HDD for storage, and an SSD for the boot drive and some applications. The HDD should only go in the HDD space, not the optical drive space, because there is shock protection there. It will park the heads if the computer is jostled if it is in the HDD compartment, whereas in the optical drive compartment, it can't. This leaves the optical drive compartment open for the SSD.

    But, if you get the Momentus XT, you can have storage AND the speed of an SSD, in one spot, instead of putting a HDD in the HDD compartment and an SSD in the optical drive compartment.
     
  13. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040

    AlphaDogg

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    #13
    WOW that's great! 3 People responding within 2 minutes.
     
  14. Reapur macrumors regular

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    May 5, 2010
    #14
    HDDs DO NOT use lasers. They are not optically based storage. It is a magnetic head which reads and writes data on spinning platters. CD's, DVD's, BluRay, etc are all OPTICAL storage. A Hard Disk Drive is MAGNETIC. Please do some research before giving advise.

    http://computer.howstuffworks.com/hard-disk.htm

    That said, back to the OPs question. There are several factors to consider here:

    - Do you need SSD? i.e. Do your computing tasks on a day to day basis actually requiere the speed? To me boot up times and benchmark numbers seem like a pretty dumb reason to invest in SSD because of Price vs Storage space. The trivial boot up time numbers are a load of crap since a MBP can stay on and sleep when you close the lid and use next to no battery power, and then instantly be ready to use the moment you open the lid.

    - Is losing your ability to read / write DVDs really worth it? To me losing an optical drive to load an app 5 seconds faster is not needed. Then having to carry around an external optical drive in my bag is just a waste of space in my bag.

    Here are the only real acceptable reasons to need an SSD:

    - You're into / job is to edit and create video in software like Final Cut Pro.

    - You're into / job is to edit and create audio in software like Logic.

    - If you need to compile / render large files on a day to day basis.

    If you do any of these then an SSD could be beneficial to you. But if you are doing this to be cool and to make your friends jealous of your boot times then well you are wasting your money and effort. Reading your original post it does not really seem like you fall into the category of needing an SSD.
     
  15. Baral macrumors member

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    #15
    Eh, for the while I had a dual drive setup, I had the HDD in the optibay and the SSD in the stock position with absolutely no problems with shock protection. I did travel quite often with that setup too so it wasn't like the laptop wasn't being moved around.

    Also, keep in mind that certain hard drives have a built in sudden motion sensor.
     
  16. Baral macrumors member

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    #16
    I agree with much of this post. People love to brag about SSDs but honestly, for the average Joe, the differences between an SSD and a 7200 RPM (or even a 5400 RPM) drive are barely noticeable.

    Take it from me. This is being typed on a MBP with an SSD in it. Does it boot up faster than the stock 5400 RPM HDD? Yes, noticeably faster. Otherwise, is it faster than the stock 5400 RPM HDD for my everyday uses (I do no video/photo editing)? Barely.

    Unless you're doing some very specific things, an SSD is not going to be all that much faster than a good HDD. Don't buy into the hype. If all you do is web browse, edit documents, talk to friends, play some games, etc., you will notice very little improvement over a good HDD.
     
  17. Merkava_4 macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Wow, three different people answered my question. I feel privileged. :)
     
  18. wywern209 macrumors 65832

    wywern209

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    #18
    the momentus XT is only faster than some HDDs. true SSDs still heavily outclass it in terms of raw speed.
     
  19. Baral macrumors member

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    #19
    Oh, and another thing people loooove to say is "use an SSD for a while and then go back to HDD, and you'll immediately notice a difference."

    Again, take it from me. I use an SSD and HDD about equally every day. I can tell very little difference between the two on a regular basis.

    Keep in mind that this is for my needs, which includes NO video or photo editing. The most intensive stuff I do include medical software (electronic histograms and microscopies, etc.)
     
  20. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

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    Oct 24, 2007
    #21
    Man this list is about as exhaustive as an emergency kit that only contains a list of emergency supplies.

    What about battery life?
    What about durability (see operating shock in this document). Maximum shock for something like the momentus 5400.5 is 350 Gs during operation.
    Security?

    Anyway, as far as the momentus XT goes lol it's not an SSD, and will never be an SSD. It's a hard drive with a really, really large cache. Many drives nowadays have 16 or 32 MB of cache. The momentus xt? 4 GB. big woop. The data still has to make it from the platters (not with lasers :D) into the cache. The memory is SLC based which should make it last for a while (same stuff used in Intel's x25-E(nterprise) disks (read:$$$$))
     
  21. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040

    AlphaDogg

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    #22
    I am aware of this fact. However, most people are not aware of this. They do not know that there are HDD's with shock protection, so they do not look for them in the market.


    Yes I know, which is why I said "near-SSD speed."
     
  22. Alvesang macrumors regular

    Alvesang

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    #23
    If you've got the buck, I'd say go for it. My MacBook is equipped with a 256GB SSD and it runs extremely fast. It was expensive, yes, but the performance boost is plain awesome.

    I do a lot of photo and video editing and have to record some music every now and then. At first I wondered whether the smallest MacBook was the right choice, but I needed a highly portable solution. I keep all large files on an external Firewire 800 harddrive and in combination with the internal SSD the performance is more than smooth. It works perfectly.
     
  23. Reapur macrumors regular

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    May 5, 2010
    #24
    The OP is replacing his optical drive with an SSD, therefor not increasing battery life since he will be retaining his standard HDD. If anything this setup will reduce battery performance somewhat. The Momentus XT is crap, most likely due in part to it being a first generation attempt to marry the two technologies together. http://kotaku.com/5633779/budget-sub...drive-round+up

    Granted in real world testing it booted up a system faster than a normal HDD, but was left in the dust by standard HDD in multitasking, gaming and other tasks. Like I said earlier, in everyday use there should be little reason to actually power down your MBP given the battery performance once the machine is sleeping, The fact it is instantly available to be used the moment you open the lid really eliminates a need for SSD.

    In all honesty it sounds like I really hate SSD, which is not true. I like the technology, and will adopt it when prices come way down for the amount of storage you can get. At this point in time there is virtually no benefit for most users to warent giving up their optical drive in favor of an SSD boot/app drive.
     
  24. JefferyShin thread starter macrumors regular

    JefferyShin

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    Jun 20, 2009
    #25
    Yes, I do Final Cut / After Effects work. My MacBook cannot handle it properly, and since I can't afford $2000 to put in another Mac, I thought I'd do an SSD upgrade.

    Also, you forgot one more thing. I'm constantly uploading pictures from my D90 to Lightroom 3, and my RAWs take forever to render.


    Currently, I'm looking into OCZ Vertex 2 w/ Sandforce 60GB. It's about $160, but it looks like a good balance between size/price/speed.
     

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