non power user, SSD worth it?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by brendu, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. brendu macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #1
    So im an average computer user, Lots of web browsing, music, video, and office use. I have the 13" entry MBP with 160GB HDD. Im considering adding a SSD to the holiday wishlist. But since they arent exactly cheap, im wondering. Is it worth it? I take my laptop around with me alot, to grad school, friends houses, etc. and if it would actually speed things up that would make me very happy. I also constantly transfer video files to and from flash drives and over the my home network.

    Size is not a major factor because I have an iMac as a base station and an external HDD for extra storage if needed, so im thinking a 120GB SSD would be more than adequate.

    so, again, is it worth it to switch to SSD for my usage, and if so, what drives are the better ones to look into? I have heard vertex makes good drives, is this true?
     
  2. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    If you can afford one, or the people buying you a christmas present can, then it is by far the best upgrade you can do to your mac. I have a 64Gb OCZ agility and its lightning fast, an Intel would be even faster.
     
  3. brendu thread starter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #3
    so it actually increases the speed of everything your using, ex: safari page loading, M$ word loading? Im sure it will increase the speed of sending files to a usb stick, also is it reccomended that i up my RAM to 4GB with a SSD upgrade? ive heard others mention this as being necessary to get the full potential out of it? Not sure why RAM effects SSD speeds? thanks for the responses.
     
  4. mrwizardno2 macrumors 6502a

    mrwizardno2

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    #4
    If the performance of your laptop is already acceptable, I wouldn't see that as a justification for spending 200+ on a fancy SSD... but it definitely does increase the speed you can read stuff off the disk.

    However... from reading what you've mentioned about taking your laptop with you - SSDs are much more rugged than a spinning mechanical disk, and well suited for usage in portable computers. Seems like a good reason to me. :D

    I've been doing a lot of reading about SSDs lately, and was looking at one of the Vertex models, but was swayed by a coworker after seeing real world usage benchmarks on the x25-m's. I just bought an 80 gig Intel x25-m G2 (yesterday haha) but it hasn't shipped yet. I can't wait to see how it performs!
     
  5. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    Basically anytime your mac needs to use the hard drive to find a file, page in/ outs, application it does so, so much faster. Its like night and day! When I go on a brand new Windows pc with a standard HDD its so unbelievably slow.

    There is no harm in maxing out the ram too, can be picked up cheap from many online stores. In relation to the RAM & SSD working together it must have some speed increase.
     
  6. brendu thread starter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #6
    yeah i just looked that drive up on newegg and its gotten great reviews, im considering it...


    thanks again for the speedy responses guys
     
  7. mrwizardno2 macrumors 6502a

    mrwizardno2

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    #7
    Yeah, the reason they say to max your RAM too is so you don't swap out to disk. That would be the best upgrade first, I think - especially if you do end up swapping. You wouldn't want a lot of unnecessary writes to the SSD.
     
  8. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    Good point, SSD seem to 'struggle' with loads of small files on them, and require some further maintenance to keep them running at top speed. Without having maxed RAM then writing 'page in's' would hamper the performance.
     
  9. Niiro13 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Location:
    Illinois
    #9
    Actually, it will benefit you because you're not a power user (if what you mean by power user is the same thing I'm thinking [like video editing and whatnot]) because SSDs are very good for random read/writes which are the little things like browsing the web, documents, etc. as opposed to 10GB video files (which it's better to use a HDD then because it's more reliable).

    SSD will pretty much decrease the loading time of anything (loading of OS X [start up], loading a level in a game, opening an application, etc.). Any time it requires to access a stored file will it be faster than a normal HDD.

    Things like video editing, audio editing, etc. rely on the CPU/GPU/RAM because the majority of the rendering time is where it's doing calculations (don't need any stored personal data for calculations...course it reads the files on the disk and saves them before and after calculations, but that's fast).

    I'm not entirely sure on the RAM, but I don't think it actually affects the SSD in terms of "full potential." More RAM generally means the OS accesses the HDD less (because when you close an application (say Safari), parts of it is still in RAM, just set to inactive...if you open Safari again, then it will take even less time for it to load than it did when you first opened it after turning on your computer. If you open a bunch of applications after you open Safari, and somewhere along the way you start using up all your RAM, then it will take the inactive Safari memory and use it as its own...[note this is the exact same concept as to why SSDs "slow down" over time as SSDs are pretty much just a big chunk of RAM]). So more RAM means more space for inactive application memory. So less amount it has to access of the SSD. At least that's how I understand it.
     
  10. HellDiverUK macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2009
    Location:
    Belfast, UK
    #10
    A 64GB drive would likely do you fine - I've only 37GB in use on the 128GB SSD on my Mini, and there's the full Adobe CS4 suite, plus Office 2008 on there. All my data is on an external drive.
     
  11. brendu thread starter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #11
    yeah it probabally would... DO SSD's tend to slow down over time, requiring you to reformat them or do some other maintance to keep the speed at max performance? if so, what is the required maintance, im sure i could do it, i just have no idea what it is... would it be similar to defragging a HDD?
     
  12. Niiro13 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Location:
    Illinois
    #12
    Yes, like I said. Basically, SSDs are made up of cells that can either hold one or two bits (SLC or MLC respectively). These cells are grouped into pages (depends on the manufacturer how large but now a days its 4KB) and these pages are grouped into blocks (about 128 pages again standard but really up to the manufacturers).

    When you write data, it's split up into pages because the smallest thing you can write to is a page. Unfortunately, the smallest thing you can erase is a block.

    So what happens when you delete and you don't have enough for a block? The SSD simply just marks it as inactive.

    Then you write more data and delete more until your SSD has no more empty space and all the pages are either filled with data or inactive.

    So what happens when you want to write data but it's full of inactive pages? Now is when it deletes a block. in order to do that it reads the block(s) into a temp place (in case it's using a block that only has half of its pages as inactive), erases the inactive pages in the temp copy, writes whatever you wanted to write, erases the original blocks, then writes the copy back over to the original blocks

    Now as you can tell, that's a lot of work to just write a file. That's why performance "degrades".

    TRIM is supposed to move this process to the place that makes sense: when you delete a file. Unfortunately, all TRIM does is move the longer process to another place. The only way to truly solve this is if there was a way to erase a page.

    The "maintenance" is to go to Disk Utility and "Zero Out" the free space (note that some drives like Intel have a secure erase feature that you can use). This is bad because cells only have 10,000 erases (100,000 for SLC). So if you zero out regularly it will die soon. The standard procedure/TRIM lasts a lot longer.

    So it gets slower but not in that it's dying, rather it's just full of inactive pages.
     
  13. kasakka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #13
    Basically a SSD is kinda transparent. When it works right you don't notice it. A traditional hard drive is noticeable because it takes a while for programs to open, the system to boot and the HDD makes noise when reading and writing.

    If you're like me and don't boot your computer much and keep the same set of programs open all the time then you might not benefit from a SSD all that much.

    I have the 160 GB Intel X25-M G2 in my MBP 13" and it's great, certainly much faster than the stock 5400 rpm HDD. I will definitely get one for my Windows machine as soon as the sizes are over 300 GB and the prices about the same as the 160 GB Intel now.
     
  14. Davidkoh macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    #14
    NONONONONO!

    Don't "zero out", that will write data into every block on the drive. So you will make it worse. It isn't "maintenance", its rubbish.

    On topic, im no power user. I surf the web, watch movies and such, and since I got the Intel X25-M 160 GB drive im never going back to a standard drive :)
     
  15. brendu thread starter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #15
    thanks for all the replies guys, im gonna be doing some research over the next month, but it looks like the main thing im hoping for this xmas is a nice fast SSD...
     
  16. gotzero macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Location:
    Mid-Atlantic, US
    #16
    You are some pretty affordable SSDs out there now, especially if you are willing to go smaller. I would definitely upgrade your RAM regardless of whether you get an SSD!
     
  17. Davidkoh macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    #17
    2 GB is really enough, I never needed more :)
     
  18. brendu thread starter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #18
    thats how ive felt... but i think im gonna go to 4 in the next couple months just to future proof it until its cheap enough to throw in 8
     
  19. gotzero macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Location:
    Mid-Atlantic, US
    #19
    If you use a HDD, you want more RAM so you can avoid using the HDD when not necessary. With an SSD, you have the added benefit of avoiding some write cycles. It is win/win. This post is essentially about a performance upgrade, and going from 2GB to 4GB RAM is the biggest performance per dollar increase you can get right now.
     
  20. Niiro13 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Location:
    Illinois
    #20
    Hmm, weird, someone told me zero out was the same as secure erase.
     
  21. HellDiverUK macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2009
    Location:
    Belfast, UK
    #21
    So if someone told you walking out an airplane door at 10,000 feet was the same as landing and then getting out, would you believe them? :D

    To keep an SSD in good health, the OS needs to use the TRIM command, and the firmware of the drive needs to support it. Currently Windows 7 is the only mainstream OS to support TRIM.
     
  22. Niiro13 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Location:
    Illinois
    #22
    Ahhh, sorry for that, then...hopefully he doesn't go erasing everyhthing now. I think the explanation on the ssd is about right, tho.
     
  23. Davidkoh macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    #23
    You won't even notice the extra 2 GB of ram if you never use up the existing 2 GB to start with, the biggest performance per dollar increase is the SSD.

    Yeah, and secure erase = write data 1 or many times into all the "storage space" on the drive, so it is harder for anyone to recreate what you saved there. So basically u format away your data and fill up the drive with garbage data. So you would accomplish the cells you yet haven't written to being written to.
     
  24. andothfc macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    #24
    I know it's an attempt at a rubbish joke but you're still putting that forward as a viable analogy but it doesn't work. The explanation about about the airplane offends common sense and in contrary to a basic understanding of gravity etc that we all have; the line about the SSD isn't. It could very easily be correct if you know no better.

    If you know nothing about football and someone tells you Maldini was a better centre back than Baresi you are perfectly entitled to accept that opinion. It is not analogous to believing you can jump out of planes unharmed.

    If you're going to be sarcastic and patronising, at least try not to sound like an idiot while doing it.
     
  25. turugara macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    #25
    I have the intel x25-m G2 + 500gb WDCaviarBlue in my uMBP and it's by far the best purchase i've made. The storage + speed results in almost zero tradeoffs.
    I never use the dvd drive anyways. . .:p
     

Share This Page