My MBA rev A - SSD upgrade: Kingspec & Photofast

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by HowieR32, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. HowieR32 macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2010
    Hi all,

    I, like many here, was slowly being increasingly frustrated by the poor performance of my MacBook Air once the HDD started filling up past 80%.

    My machine is a 2008 model MBA rev. A with 2GB at 1.6 GHz.

    I ordered a Kingspec KSD-ZF18.1-128MS, 128GB solid state drive.

    I chose this because of its low price from eBay. The install was extremely simple and by the time I had completed this HDD upgrade saga I am now able to swap out a MBA HDD in less than 10 minutes!

    So out went the 80GB Samsung HS082HB and in went the Kingspec. Everything worked great for a day until it started showing IO errors in Disk Utility. After rebooting to see if the problem would go away, the boot stalled with the grey screen of death. I retried the install and backup but now my IO errors were locking certain files, namely the keychain, from the system. The system would not authenticate any of my actions and a reboot returned it to the dreaded GSOD and shut-off by itself. A definite SSD failure.

    The seller on eBay was great, and accepted the return at my expense ($40 in international shipping from Australia to China) but I was partly compensated with a free 1.8" form factor external USB disk enclosure. By now the AUD was in great shape against the greenback I also took the opportunity to upgrade my return for the Photofast 128GB version!

    The Photofast is actually slightly smaller in physical size than both the Kingspec and Samsung; so small in fact that the rubber shroud and HDD frame sat loosely around the Photofast! It went in and off she went, restoring my backup from my LaCie rugged disk containing a copy of OS X 10.6 & time machine backup via the USB ethernet adaptor.

    Wary of the IO errors I immediately checked the integrity of the Photofast right after install of OS X and Restore. No problems.

    Now, after a few days of use, I am getting extremely fast application speeds and strangely enough, it doesn't boot up as fast as it did with the Kingspec. Perhaps this is in my perceptions as I didn't time either of them.

    I did plenty of research with various SSD technical information and discovered that the raw speeds of SSDs are not the be-all of SSD performance. Maintaining that performance after many read/write cycles is often overlooked and the SSD controller is the main factor in keeping the SSD performing at its best.

    For the Kingspec the controller is manufactured by SMI: Silicon Motion (I think).

    The Photofast is being commanded by an Eastwho EWS720 controller.

    Unfortunately, being a PATA interface, the MBA rev. A is eternally crippled and limited to expensive and obsolete-interfaced drives. But at least now I have a couple of more years out of this machine!

    Of course, how could I forget? The obligatory Xbench results :)

    Disk Test 16.07
    Sequential 22.51
    Uncached Write 10.41 6.39 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 45.01 25.47 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 25.57 7.48 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 49.25 24.75 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 12.49
    Uncached Write 4.08 0.43 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 44.72 14.32 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 30.77 0.22 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 49.42 9.17 MB/sec [256K blocks]

    Disk Test 58.27
    Sequential 56.66
    Uncached Write 47.08 28.90 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 44.86 25.38 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 50.51 14.78 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 137.61 69.16 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 59.96
    Uncached Write 24.64 2.61 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 44.19 14.15 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1443.47 10.23 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 357.34 66.31 MB/sec [256K blocks]

    Disk Test 115.01
    Sequential 99.39
    Uncached Write 107.72 66.14 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 103.54 58.58 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 64.81 18.97 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 170.32 85.60 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 136.45
    Uncached Write 71.64 7.58 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 83.43 26.71 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1423.78 10.09 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 374.78 69.54 MB/sec [256K blocks]
  2. HowieR32 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2010
    Photofast update...

    I forgot to reset the PRAM after I installed everything. So I did the Xbench again and here are the results.

    The random uncached read isn't anywhere as fast as the RunCore SSD for rev. A, but the writes are quicker.

    Scored 121.13.

    Attached Files:

  3. joelypolly macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2003
    Melbourne & Shanghai
    I would stay very far away from anything Kingspec. It is like the "generic" brand of SSDs that everyones sells in China. Problem is you don't know if you are getting a real Kingspec or just something labeled as Kingspec.

    Have to be wary of buying USB drives in China too as 8GB may mean 256MB labeled as 8GB.
  4. nando4 macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2009
    I've compiled a list: 1.8" ZIF PATA SSDs available. The Kingspec is middle-of-the-pack performance with quite high power consumption for a native pata drive. Unless got it cheap I'd be heading for a EWS720, like the Photofast V4, or Indilinx+sata-to-pata solution instead. There is now a cheaper alternative MX-Nano alternative to the Photofast V4.

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