Is there a legit, good way to upgrade 2014 MBA SSD?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Michael CM1, May 13, 2016.

  1. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #1
    I got this MBA in 2014 not too long after a refresh I think. It's labeled as early 2014, 1.4GHz, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD. Back then it was perfect because I had used a $250 Gateway notebook in my classes at times, though never to take notes. It was a heavy SOB. As I started to use my computer more for class stuff, I decided that I needed a damn Mac to benefit from everything on my iMac, iPad and iPhone.

    So the 128GB seemed fine back then. But now I'm trying to install some Geographic Information Systems software because I'm helping on a project this summer -- may or may not need it -- and then taking a GIS class in the fall. I'm pretty sure GIS software is going to be big in the line of work I choose -- environmental geology -- so I'd love any chance I get to learn it.

    I have found a free version of of similar GIS software, but let me tell you that it seems in the science world that I'm going to run into a lot of PC stuff. So to get to the point, I installed Parallels on my MBA, which only took up 600MB. But then I got Windows 10, which I think is about 15GB. The only way I had at the time to install it was a 500GB external HDD, so I did that. Disk works fine as it always has, but it's another thing to carry, requires obviously plugging in when needed to use and isn't going to be as fast as onboard flash.

    I read elsewhere about the battery and heat issues with OWC's Aura drives, so that killed my fantasy of a 1TB MacBook Air. I'm also worried about any messing around in a computer after killing my iMac's display adapter after swapping out hard drives for about the sixth time thanks to "oh, so there's a different connector based on which brand drive you get? F@#%!" and then the new drive DYING A YEAR LATER. I bought an external monitor for a $150 solution. There is no such solution if I mess this computer up, and it's not 5 years old like the iMac.

    iFixit has instructions that make it look easier -- not dealing with a giant display or as many connectors inside -- but the hard drives they sell are $350 for a used 258GB SSD. GAH.

    So I'd just like to know if I'm uninformed of some awesome way to upgrade this thing. I've thought about finding a better external drive. I looked into using a USB flash drive or SD card, but the standard ones are hella slow and I don't think the better ones are even up to snuff compared to an external spinner. Also I have the external spinner so no cost for it vs. I think $80 for what was basically a USB 3.0 SSD.

    I know I wrote a lot, but that's what I do. Thanks for any help.
     
  2. cruisin macrumors 6502a

    cruisin

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2014
    Location:
    Canada
    #2
    The easiest is to move your music/movies/pictures to the SD card (where the speed doesn't matter much) and use the internal storage for the rest. The next way is to buy a SSD combined with an enclosure with UASP support, essentially a way to have fast external storage and 128 GB is easily under USD $100. You can also see what you really need installed and see if you can move some stuff to your iMac that you really don't need all the time.

    You can also sell this Air and get one more suited to your needs, as you are trying to run Windows and Mac on 4 GB of ram and both of them ask for 2 GB minimum. Depending on what your GIS software demands in terms of memory, you might not have good performance and might need more. So once you bump up the ram and storage, you are getting close to a MacBook Pro in terms of price. Do you want to run OSX, Windows on Parallels, and GIS software at the same time? Then you should investigate if you need more than 4 GB. Otherwise, you can use Bootcamp to run Windows and still have 4 GB to use.

    Or sell the Air and get a Windows based ultrabook. You will have Windows but it will be about the weight of the Air. HP currently has the thinnest laptop in the world.
     
  3. Rok73 macrumors 65816

    Rok73

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2015
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    #3
    Check out the Transcend JetDrive Lite for Mac Book Air.
     
  4. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #4
    That's definitely interesting. I did some mild research and think I found that a USB 2 HDD like mine has a write speed of 25-30 Mbps and read of 30-40 Mbps. I just played around in Windows a bit and it's really slow. Those JetDrives look to be about twice as fast, although nothing like the SSD in here. I'm adding one of those to my list on Amazon and may end up getting one. Thanks for the tip!
     
  5. Rok73 macrumors 65816

    Rok73

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2015
    Location:
    Planet Earth
  6. MRxROBOT, May 14, 2016
    Last edited: May 14, 2016

    MRxROBOT macrumors 6502

    MRxROBOT

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2016
    Location:
    1011100110
    #6
    If you are going for extra storage via the SD slot, here are some things to consider.

    The JetDrive Lite is fantastic product. It allows you to add up to 256GB in your SD Slot, but it sticks out about a mm (about as thick as a penny) and has mediocre read/write speeds (write speeds don't live up to manufacturers claims). If storage size is most important to you while maintaining a low profile, this is your product.

    [​IMG]

    The other option is to purchase a Nifty Mini Drive or BaseQi Micro SDXC adapter and stick a UHS I U3 card in there. Micro SDXC cards are available in capacities up to 200 GB (Sandisk Ultra & Lexar 633x). The big benefit to using these adapters is you have the option to connect a high performance card like the Samsung Pro+ in there and attain speeds up to 95 MB/s Read and 90 MB/s Write. It blows the JetDrive Lite out of the water in real world performance (not just manufacturers claimed speeds). The other area these adapters outshine the JetDrive Lite is that they are machined aluminum and more or less look built into the Macbook. If you want speed and a device that looks like it’s part of your MacBook than this is your product.

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #7
    Based on everything the OP has said, that would be my suggestion. I also use GIS software - primarily GlobalMapper. I started using it under Windows XP in Parallels on my 2008 MBP many years ago and found there were problems. It worked better under Bootcamp using my MBP as a Windows machine. But I was never really happy with this, and that old machine had the standard 160GB hard drive (not so different from your 128gb MBA in terms of size), and that was really tight with a Mac and Windows partition.

    So I got a dedicated Windows machine for the GIS software and have been much happier with it. Two years ago I was ready to upgrade my Windows machine and considered installing Windows on my MBA. After some consideration I decided to get another dedicated Windows machine because:

    1. Windows would still be a tight squeeze on my 512gb SSD, I really like to have 1TB free for GIS files. So I would have needed to buy an external drive. When you add this to the cost of Windows, you're on your way to the cost of a dedicated machine.

    2. Windows has a lot of problems running on hardware that was specifically designed for it. Putting it on the Mac just adds another layer of things that might go wrong. Maybe it's gotten better, but there were lots of problems with Windows XP on my 2008 MBP.

    3. In the end, I just didn't want to pollute my Mac with Windows. Separate but equal is a better solution for me.

    You need to make some decisions based on your own style and needs. You might be better to get a dedicated Windows machine and use it specifically for the GIS and other Windows-only software, keeping your current MBA for "personal" stuff. Otherwise, you could get another Mac laptop with more RAM and a bigger SSD so that Windows will coexist better.

    I have played around a bit with qGIS on the Mac and it is pretty impressive for open source software. Not willing to make the switch though, because I am so familiar with GLobalMapper and have so many files in their format. There's a Mac program called Cartographica that looks nice but I haven't used it. They have a free trial, so you might have a look. I am a beta tester of their iOS app, CartoMobile which is kind of cool. :)
     
  8. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #8
    Thanks a bunch for that info. Right now I really just wanted to have Windows on there because in the fall I had the need for Windows to run a few applications our professor made -- very simple stuff -- and I couldn't. I'm working with him this summer, so I wanted to have Windows to use any of that stuff.

    As far as actual GIS usage, I seriously haven't touched the stuff yet. I'm in a class to learn it in the fall. I'm imagining we might have some modules we can do at home that would require Windows. I just don't know yet. Argh at not knowing but wanting to be prepared ahead of time. I've already bought Windows and Parallels, so that cost is done.

    I think if I ended up needing a notebook to use for something like ArcGIS, I would get a Windows ultrabook. But I'm just worrying about this summer thing and one final darn semester so I can finally switch fields. I definitely want to keep everything on this MBA right now because who wants a second (OK, third) computer if they don't need it?

    So right now I see a couple of options on adding some storage to this puppy without having a hard disk that lops out with a cable (and is also slow and WOW a battery-drainer). I think I'll just have to wait and find out that getting one of them is a necessity (i.e. I'm gonna use Windows on here a good bit and I'm impatient with slow computers).

    On the subject of GIS, if I download any of these open source apps, is there any way to play around with them before I get to the GIS class and have a clue as to what I'm doing? I don't even know the specifics of what they're for, just that it's used a lot in various geology fields -- I'm leaning toward the environmental or hydrogeology neighborhood. I wish I could take all the classes offered to get a certificate, but I've been working full time an hour away from campus and so it's just been two classes per semester. If I could've done full time, I know I'd be done by now.
     
  9. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #9
    Have you looked at Wine and Winebottler? http://winebottler.kronenberg.org

    I wanted to run some old Windows software on my MBA a few weeks ago and this worked like a champ, very impressed. I had some issues trying to run the Windows installer for the software on my MBA, but when I copied all the files from a working version of the program on my Windows machine Winebottler worked perfectly on the first try. Probably not what you would want to use for big, complex programs, but it might be fine for what you describe.

    qGIS is here, it runs on the Mac and Windows. Of course you could play around with it, it's free. :) http://www.qgis.org/en/site/
     
  10. Michael CM1 thread starter macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #10
    So in case someone wants to know the results, I went with the fancy Samsung Pro SD card someone mentioned. Well, I'm just glad I only put $30 into it. Windows/Parallels was so awfully slow. However, I figured out how to offload my local Photos library (an 8GB file) to the SD card. It's obviously not as fast as it was on the SSD, but it still loads faster than on my or my dad's iMacs that use HDDs. I don't use Photos on here much, so yay.

    Not sure what I'll do if any GIS software takes up just tons of space. I just deleted Xcode again because I'm actually learning programming (not strictly C++) through these addictive Arduino units. Thankfully that hasn't run into any Windows-only stuff, but I know at some point I'll hit a wall doing something.

    What's sad is three of the next five largest applications on my disk are the three Office apps. Nearly 6GB. Microsoft needs to go to work on application size. Those people selling flash storage or something???
     
  11. gyrf macrumors newbie

    gyrf

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2015
  12. MRxROBOT macrumors 6502

    MRxROBOT

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2016
    Location:
    1011100110
    #12

    To be clear, ‘someone’ did not recommend you run an OS off the Samsung card. There’s a plethora of reasons why people don’t do this, as you surely can attest to. My suggestion to use said method was in lieu of using a standard sized card or the JetDrive Lite to offload music/movies/pictures and free up space on the internal drive as was recommended above my post.
     

Share This Page