New MBA disappointment

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
647
44
Belgium, Europe
I was in the market for an MBA so I went over to a retailer to try them out. Very nice machine, quality, etc.
I am, however, disappointed with the SSD. Now that may not be the problem of the MBA but rather SSD's in general.

My point : where's that phenomenal speed everyone's talking about ? SSD's get so hyped and so you build up expectations. I thought that clicking on an application in the dock would launch it instantly, instead of me having to wait 2 seconds. The applications in question were iTunes, iPhoto and Activity monitor and to be honest, launching these on my iMac with HDD is only slightly slower.
So, based on my first impressions, SSD's aren't worth the money (well, not now anyway, perhaps in a year or two when they become affordable).
 

robE89

macrumors regular
Oct 9, 2011
166
58
ssd prices are almost down to 1$/gb, i mean cmon...if you don`t see the difference between a ssd and hdd you are doing something wrong :)
 

ElderBrE

macrumors regular
Apr 14, 2004
242
12
I guess the culprit here is that you didn't have the same machine next to it with an HDD to test with...

The difference is huge from SSD to HDD.
 

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
647
44
Belgium, Europe
I guess it's very subjective. The thing is, I listen too much to hype so I was expecting something really phenomenal.
I've got the same with movies. I go see a movie that everybody's talking about, telling me I'm crazy NOT to go and see it, and I almost always am disappointed or I think it's complete crap.

@RobE89 : I still think $1 per Gb is expensive...
 

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
647
44
Belgium, Europe
If I had to buy a MBA, it'd have to be the 13" model with 8Gb and 256 SSD.
On the other hand, not being mightily impressed with the speed, I might just go for a 13" MB Pro. It's cheaper, the RAM can be upgraded and I can always replace the HDD with an SSD later on when prices drop some more...
 

G-Mo

macrumors 6502
Nov 6, 2010
466
2
Auckland, NZ
Side by side 2012 MBA (8GB, 256GB) and MBP (8GB, 500GB 5400). Identical clone of clean install 10.8.4 on both. Boot time to desktop on MBP is 43 seconds compared to 12 seconds on the MBA (2013 Air is faster!). I fail to see how you can't experience the difference... I work with both everyday (including my own 2012 MBA), and personally, couldn't go back to platter.

If I had to buy a MBA, it'd have to be the 13" model with 8Gb and 256 SSD.
On the other hand, not being mightily impressed with the speed, I might just go for a 13" MB Pro. It's cheaper, the RAM can be upgraded and I can always replace the HDD with an SSD later on when prices drop some more...
 

flight

macrumors regular
Mar 4, 2010
130
0
Really? I think ElderBrE is right in that you needed a computer with a HDD next to it to really compare. I can certainly tell the difference between my iMac and Air. SSD has other great benefits too, like less heat, better reliability, and less energy draw from the battery.
 

mattferg

macrumors 6502
May 27, 2013
378
16
The screen grab is based on the 500GB SSD in my rMBP...It gives a rough idea of what to expect from an MBA, although a slightly slower result would not be of concern.

Actually a slower speed than this would be of concern, as the 2013 MacBook Air has a significantly faster SSD than your rMBP. 700mb/s
 

Zauberer

macrumors regular
Oct 7, 2010
112
2
Almost any program opens in one dock bounce with a SSD. With many programs on a normal HDD, including a simple Word doc, you're talking about 5-6 bounces (plus a little extra) and that's on a powerful machine. In terms of "feel" that's like a 700% improvement...
 

TC25

macrumors 68020
Mar 28, 2011
2,201
0
I am, however, disappointed with the SSD. Now that may not be the problem of the MBA but rather SSD's in general.
I agree - As you've observed, most people in every day use of their computer, will not notice any performance difference from an SSD.

Yes, it's faster booting up, but how many times do people boot their computer.

The use of numbers from a performance monitoring program is a sure sign people are engaged in a self fulfilling prophecy, i.e., reads and writes are faster ergo my computer is faster.
 

darkcurse

macrumors 6502a
Nov 5, 2005
538
0
Sydney
I agree - As you've observed, most people in every day use of their computer, will not notice any performance difference from an SSD.

Yes, it's faster booting up, but how many times do people boot their computer.

The use of numbers from a performance monitoring program is a sure sign people are engaged in a self fulfilling prophecy, i.e., reads and writes are faster ergo my computer is faster.
I think you have to qualify "most people" and "every day use". From what I've observed, Apple's own applications are quite "optimised" when it comes to launch times. From a productivity stand point (and especially if you use any MS Office products) those extra seconds do make a difference especially when you're pressed for time and it doesn't even have to be a large document you're opening.

For my particular usage I find that having an SSD helps me out a lot. Maybe I'm not "most people" but my "every day use" (which includes running several VMs, database operations, Logic, MainStage, etc) benefits greatly from having an SSD.

In response to the OP then, where's that phenomenal speed? Well open up a large presentation, or work with a large iPhoto library and then you'll see the phenomenal speed. Launching applications; not a very good indication. Plus if your usage patterns do not warrant the speed and you're ok with carrying around a heavier machine (2.06kg for the 13" MBP vs 1.35kg for the 13" MBA) then by all means go with whichever you feel has more bang for your buck.
 

craig1410

macrumors 65816
Mar 22, 2007
1,121
838
Scotland
My experience is the same as most - SSD makes a HUGE difference.

I have an August 2007 Aluminium iMac which is a 2.4GHz core 2 duo and originally came with a 320GB HDD. Typical data transfer rates were in the 40MBps range at the time I think. Over the years I upgraded to a 1TB HDD and then a 2TB HDD and got marginally better data transfer rates and associated system performance.

In December 2011 I got a MacBook Pro 2.2GHz Core i7 with 8GB RAM and a 500GB HDD. It has a CPU which is something like 4 times as fast as the iMac with faster GPU and memory as well. When I first got that machine it blew the 4 year old (at the time) iMac out of the water.

Earlier this year I created a DIY Fusion Drive in my iMac, combining a 240GB SSD and a 1TB HDD to form a single logical drive. The performance transformed the iMac into a machine I prefer to use over the MacBook Pro even though the CPU is still almost 6 years old and it has half the memory and slower graphics etc. Overall, the machine feels faster than the 4 year newer MBP. Even XBench backs up my subjective assessment with iMac figures significantly faster than the MBP.

THe other point of reference I have is my wife's 2012 MacBook Air. It too has really snappy performance and feels even faster than the iMac which is no surprise given that it has a pure SSD which is running on SATA 3 interface compared to the SATA 2 interface of the iMac so transfer speeds are roughly twice as high.

I've been building PCs for many years and have messed with HDD's in RAID configs and have always tried to buy fast drives and I can tell you without doubt that the SSD makes more difference to overall system performance than any other upgrade I've ever made to a computer. Nothing comes close.
 

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
647
44
Belgium, Europe
As I said, it's not that an SSD is 'not fast' by definition, it's just that I more or less expected Warp 10 (as opposed to impuls power on a HDD), if you know what I mean...
But you're right, I shouldn't jump to conclusions so quickly.
After all, the MBA isn't that much more expensive and it has a better resolution than the MB Pro. I still use DVD's from time to time, but I've got my iMac for that.
And it kinda sucks that they don't fit the MBA (and the MB Pro) for that matter with 8Gb RAM as standard. These days it's no luxury...
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,627
342
App launching is just one small aspect of what makes SSDs so much better. And sure, if the app is relatively small and simple, then you're not going to see a huge difference between HD and SSD startups. Safari can start up pretty quickly. Big, bloated apps like Photoshop or even MS Office however, show huge differences in launch times.

Then there's boot time (HUGE difference there) and other read/write intensive operations. If you're doing video editing, work images or large files, or anything else that requires shoveling bits around, you'll see where SSD has an advantage.

Also note that larger SSDs are faster than smaller ones. If you're comparing a 128GB SSD to your hard drive, the difference will be a lot less stakr than say, a 512MB SSD.

I recently replaced my 2010 MBP's 5400 rpm hard drive with a 960GB Crucial SSD. The change in performance is like night and day. I'm looking for even zippier performance when my MBA shows up.
 

Chupa Chupa

macrumors G5
Jul 16, 2002
14,834
7,369
If I had to buy a MBA, it'd have to be the 13" model with 8Gb and 256 SSD.
On the other hand, not being mightily impressed with the speed, I might just go for a 13" MB Pro. It's cheaper, the RAM can be upgraded and I can always replace the HDD with an SSD later on when prices drop some more...
But the MBA has never ever been about performance, it's been about ultimate portability. I think you are judging it too harshly based on your own heightened needs or desires. I have a 15" rMBP myself, but the new 13" MBAs are no slouches. Anyone who buys one gets their $ worth.

As for SSD, they are not created equally just as V6 engines are not all the same. I find it odd you want to clump all SSDs into the same category of speed. But in any case I'll take the slowest SSD to a 5400RPM or even 7200 laptop drive any day of the week.
 

jadam

macrumors 6502a
Jan 23, 2002
699
1
I guess it's very subjective. The thing is, I listen too much to hype so I was expecting something really phenomenal.
I've got the same with movies. I go see a movie that everybody's talking about, telling me I'm crazy NOT to go and see it, and I almost always am disappointed or I think it's complete crap.

@RobE89 : I still think $1 per Gb is expensive...
You need to rethink your frame of references.
 

techn0lady

macrumors regular
Apr 10, 2010
105
0
I agree - As you've observed, most people in every day use of their computer, will not notice any performance difference from an SSD.

That's rubbish. I went from a much faster cpu macbook pro 15 to a 2012 MBA last year and the difference in speed was immediately obvious. Even though the MBA had a much slower CPU, common tasks like word processing and browsing and email went much faster because of the much faster disk access and immediately noticeable opening speed.

I'm not sure what's up with the O.P.s post but frankly it's nonsense
 

Dr. McKay

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
647
44
Belgium, Europe
I'm not sure what's up with the O.P.s post but frankly it's nonsense
I haven't got any personal experience with SSD's (well except the flash storage in my iphone but that doesn't count) so that MBA in the store was my first hands-on experience. Just my PERSONAL opinion and quite probably, I had based my expectations on nothing but hype.
That's not to say that MBA wasn't fast, it just wasn't as fast as I'd expected it to be, that's all. Maybe I'm just too demanding...
 

flynz4

macrumors 68040
Aug 9, 2009
3,125
35
Portland, OR
I was in the market for an MBA so I went over to a retailer to try them out. Very nice machine, quality, etc.
I am, however, disappointed with the SSD. Now that may not be the problem of the MBA but rather SSD's in general.

My point : where's that phenomenal speed everyone's talking about ? SSD's get so hyped and so you build up expectations. I thought that clicking on an application in the dock would launch it instantly, instead of me having to wait 2 seconds. The applications in question were iTunes, iPhoto and Activity monitor and to be honest, launching these on my iMac with HDD is only slightly slower.
So, based on my first impressions, SSD's aren't worth the money (well, not now anyway, perhaps in a year or two when they become affordable).
Use one for a week (or even a day)... and then try to go back to a HDD. You will change you mind immediately.

While you are at it... dump your broadband and go back to dialup. Similar experience. ;)

/Jim
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,161
14,089
I haven't got any personal experience with SSD's (well except the flash storage in my iphone but that doesn't count) so that MBA in the store was my first hands-on experience. Just my PERSONAL opinion and quite probably, I had based my expectations on nothing but hype.
That's not to say that MBA wasn't fast, it just wasn't as fast as I'd expected it to be, that's all. Maybe I'm just too demanding...
Keep in mind you also tested on a machine that gets used by hundreds of people a day. Demo machines should never be expected to be a true test of user experience...as every other user has screwed things up well before you got to use it. :p
 

Phan0121

macrumors newbie
Mar 26, 2013
29
0
Minnesota
Just a little background on me. I'd say I'm squarely in the middle when it comes to PC or Mac's. In fact, I haven't owned an apple computer in quite some time because my gaming computer that I built in college was enough to fill most of my needs. When I needed something a bit more powerful, I went to the computer labs.

Fast forward to now, I have more money and I still appreciate OSX much more than windows, even though I still can't completely cut the cord. I now have a i7/8g/256 MBA which I decided to pit up against my friend's 2012 2.3ghz MBP w/ a 500g HD. Basically, he and I started installing windows 7 at the same time and I was done updating before he was done installing windows 7.

I know you won't be installing an OS on a regular basis but I can guarantee that you'll save a lot of time between now and your next computer. Time saved from rebooting between OS and installing/loading apps will add up to quite a bit of more productive time.

These are the things that won't seem apparent when checking out computers with SSD's at a store.