Renice 128GB SSD for rev A MBA reviewed. Double the storage and speed of your MBA!

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Scottsdale, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #1
    A new Renice K3VLAR SSD to both speed up and provide 128GB storage for Original MBAs. Extremely fast, simple installation, and dependable.

    I got an original MacBook Air for free from work. I thought I would see how capable this machine really is, as I have picked on it while others have said it’s great since it OS X updates improved original performance issues.

    This MBA had a stock 64GB SSD in it, and I was surfing the web looking for the latest and greatest SSDs available for it. I have been reading that some of the Runcore SSDs are having problems, so I wanted something that I could be certain would be dependable.

    I went to MyDigitalDiscount.com where I bought my Runcore Rev C SSD and saw that they had a different drive than the Runcore, called the Renice K3VLAR. I called Matt (the same guy that posts under the Runcore name here on MacRumors) and asked about the drive and why he switched from the Runcore to the Renice.

    Matt said that Runcore has been slow to react to some of the problems with the Runcore SSDs for the original MBAs. Matt said he searched everywhere trying to find the absolute best solution for original MBA owners, and he ended up choosing the Renice K3VLAR. He said that this SSD exceeds all expectations for a PATA ZIF SSD upgrade. He worked with Renice to develop an SSD for the original MBA with a kit of everything needed for upgrade.

    I read all about the K3VLAR, and it seems that they’re using a conformal coating, that protects the drive from moisture and dust (which could be the problem over time that the Runcore has in rare occasions). In addition, it uses a Marvell SATA to PATA Bridge chip to get rid of any wake from sleep issues that the JMicron Bridge was causing with the MBA. These features combined really made me believe it would last longer without problems and perform much better than the Runcore SSD has for some with original MBAs.

    Anyways, I decided to go with the Renice K3VLAR 128 GB SSD after Matt convinced me that it was a better solution for the original MBAs. I was really happy with the Runcore SSD in my v 2,1 MBA personally, but I trusted he was sending me down the right path.

    I got the kit a few days ago. Check it out here - LINK

    I also bought an Airport Extreme Base Station from them as they were $70 less than what Apple charges for them!

    The Renice SSD comes in a nice retail box that includes the 1.8” PATA ZIF Renice K3VLAR SSD, screwdriver (that’s the perfect size for the MBA), USB enclosure with screws, ZIF cable & PCB board inside, and a USB cable. This allows the buyer to use their original SSD or HDD in the USB enclosure, and benefit from a much faster SSD in their MBA. It actually is a nice little “extra” that encourages people to save their old drive for mobile USB backups or file transfers.

    I followed the instructions at iFixIt.com. I used the screwdriver that was included and it worked perfectly with no stripping of the screws (remember the Runcore SSD kit had the wrong size screwdriver initially). This screwdriver is definitely the right size for the MBA’s screws. I installed the SSD bare without copying the files from the original, but one could easily just make a copy from their original drive to the Renice SSD. The whole process might have taken ten minutes to just swap the drives.

    I then did a clean install via Apple’s Remote Disk software. I had always used a SuperDrive to install software before, but I wanted to see how well the Remote Disk worked. I pressed the Option key while starting the first time with the new Renice SSD installed. It asked me to select a wireless network and to enter a password. Simple enough. I had already put a retail Snow Leopard disk in an MBP and selected “remote install Mac OS X.” So the MBA connected to the MBP over WiFi and it all worked pretty easily. It took about two hours for the install via the Remote Disk option, but it was simple.

    Now to the BEST part. I was hopeful that the Renice SSD would prove a worthy upgrade to the stock SSD, and it didn’t disappoint. It was fast, and more than DOUBLED the MBA’s stock 64GB SSD with storage of 128GB.

    The results - 128GB Renice K3VLAR xBench Score vs. Original 64 GB SSD xBench.

    128GB Renice SSD = 110.69
    vs.
    64GB Stock SSD = 41.88

    How would you like a drive that outscores your original 64GB SSD by over 2.5X? Or, over the stock 4200rpm HDD by well a ridiculous amount of extra speed and give you more storage! I also noticed that the Renice PATA SSD is outscoring some SATA SSDs on xBench’s comparison site. Please notice I am using OS X 10.6.4 for both xBench reports below.

    Details…

    128GB Renice K3VLAR

    Results 110.69
    System Info
    Xbench Version 1.3
    System Version 10.6.4 (10F569)
    Physical RAM 2048 MB
    Model MacBookAir1,1
    Drive Type RENICE Z2 RENICE Z2
    Disk Test 110.69
    Sequential 80.83
    Uncached Write 89.22 54.78 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 84.38 47.74 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 50.03 14.64 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 155.24 78.02 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 175.53
    Uncached Write 75.35 7.98 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 154.57 49.48 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1645.01 11.66 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 410.01 76.08 MB/sec [256K blocks]


    64GB Stock SSD

    Results 41.88
    System Info
    Xbench Version 1.3
    System Version 10.6.4 (10F569)
    Physical RAM 2048 MB
    Model MacBookAir1,1
    Drive Type MCCOE64GEMPP MCCOE64GEMPP
    Disk Test 41.88
    Sequential 33.84
    Uncached Write 25.57 15.70 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 34.20 19.35 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 26.60 7.79 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 81.60 41.01 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 54.92
    Uncached Write 20.32 2.15 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 53.33 17.07 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 921.36 6.53 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 264.20 49.02 MB/sec [256K blocks]


    If you’re using an original MBA with a 4200rpm HDD, you absolutely MUST do this upgrade right now for speed and drive space. The benefits vs. the original SSD or HDD are amazing. Apple has been improving the SSD drivers, but it’s still a dog compared to this new SSD.

    This is a great way to prolong the use of your original MBA/put off upgrading to a different Mac. I have been hard on the original MBA for a long time, but with this new Renice SSD and Cool Book, it’s a rather worthy and fast little Mac. I am actually impressed! It’s too bad Apple didn’t come up with a drive like this, but it’s great that there’s an aftermarket solution helping original MBA users get the maximum value out of their original investment.

    Many people were upset that Apple eliminated the backlit keyboard and ambient light sensors with the new MBA update. So an original MBA actually has some advantages over the new one. It’s hard for me to think like this, but with a faster 128GB SSD the original MBA will probably be usable for several more years for average users. Many are better off updating their drive in their original MBA until Apple brings back the features users want.

    So there is an MBA for each type of user. Those who bought MBAs on clearance for $999 can now give their MBA a substantial upgrade for a low cost. The 64GB Renice is only $199. The speed difference is unbelievable for the average user over a 4200rpm HDD. I have used an MBA with the original 4200rpm HDD, and this upgrade will make those MBAs seem like a completely new Mac. The speed differences over the original 64GB SSD is incredible too at over 2.5X the speed.

    For all of the users that have an original MBA, and don’t need the features in the new MBAs, but need more drive space or a much faster MBA, the Renice SSD is a great solution.
     

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  2. liquid85 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2010
    #2
    I just ordered one of these for my wifes rev a. Her disk had smart errors so I was kind of forced to buy a new drive but the speed benefits should be worth it. How hard was it to replace? I've replaced laptop hard drives before but I'm a little worried because everything is so tight in the air. Are there any components I need to be particularly careful with during installation? Thanks for your in-depth review.
     
  3. musicpenguy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
  4. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
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    U.S.A.
    #4
    Ok. I replied to this a few days ago, and I don't understand why it's gone? Some weird stuff has been happening here over the last few weeks since the MBA was updated. There is definitely more traffic in the MBA forums than ever before, that's for sure.

    To liquid85:

    I think it's incredibly simple to replace the drive. There are about ten screws on the bottom of the MBA, three screws in the bracket that holds the drive, and one cable to move out of the way. It's so easy because just by removing the bottom cover one easily gains access to the drive. All that needs unattached to access the drive itself is the port combination cable, but it's an LIF cable and pops right off simply.

    The whole thing takes less than ten minutes. I would recommend drawing an outline of the MBA and placing the screws on the exact spots on the outline to assure you get the right screws back in the same spots.

    If you have done drive swaps before, you will think it's simple. Especially because many notebooks have so much stuff in the way to access the drive. When the bottom cover comes off, the drive is right there and has three screws holding it in place.

    Other than that, one could even make a disk copy from the original in the MBA to the Renice SSD using the USB enclosure. I went ahead and did a clean install though, and I recommend that if it hasn't been done in the last year or so. It does ensure old apps no longer in use don't waste drive space too.

    All in all, I was pretty amazed by the new Renice drives. They're not just a lot faster, they hold twice the storage space and are priced well. Definitely a great value and an easy way to upgrade an older MBA that you want to use a few more years until the MBA gets a backlit keyboard and real component upgrades.
     
  5. agaskew macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    #5
    I am hoping someone other than Runcore will start making these for RevB/C MBAs as well.
     
  6. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
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    #6
    Hopefully Renice does these for the v 2,1 MBAs also. I am very confident that the Renice is the way to go over Runcore... I am sold on them anyways. I didn't think these speeds were possible for the original MBA, and I have been impressed. I think a lot of this comes down to the SSD controller, and Renice seems to have conquered it.
     
  7. riveting macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    #7
    Any other people have tried these? Seems to be very nice alternative to Runcore. Also, any word on the performance of the 32G and 64G version compared to the tested 128G?
     
  8. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    Sep 19, 2008
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    #8
    I don't know that there are going to be many others having tried this yet. I think it is pretty new. I hope to spread the news here, as I feel it makes the original MBAs a lot more like the v 2,1 MBAs in terms of speed.

    I would imagine that the smaller versions are going to be exactly the same in terms of speed as they have the same controller. You could send Matt at MyDigitalDiscount.com an email and see what the speed differences are between the three different sizes.
     
  9. agaskew macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    #9
    We can expect Renice to also supply Replacement SSDs for Rev B/C Macbook Airs "soon", as they are currently under development.
     
  10. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #10
    That's great to know, as it's definitely got something going on that Runcore didn't. If it has the same speed improvements over the stock on v 2,1 MBAs as the Renice did on v 1,1 MBAs, it will be a great solution. What they NEED to do though is offer 256GB SSD for the rev 2,1 MBAs.

    I think a lot of people will be happy with their original MBA for some more time with a faster Renice SSD that speeds it up and offers double the storage at 128GB. The v 2,1 MBA users could have the same performance and storage boosts if the Renice is made for them.

    With the lack of backlit keyboards, and a few other losses, I think a lot of people will be better off with their v 1,1 and 2,1 MBAs until the v 4,1/4,2 are released with the features restored and Core i-series CPUs and discrete GPUs.

    In addition, people are dumping their v 1,1 and 2,1 MBAs for so little due to the price drops on the new MBAs; the thing I don't get is the new MBA pricing really doesn't offer much until the ultimate version is selected and that's basically the same $1799 in the 13" model. These people can buy the original version so cheap, put a Renice SSD in it, and have a great computer with speed and a backlit keyboard.

    In reality, for the average user just running OS X, the v 1,1 and 2,1 MBAs offer plenty of performance capabilities especially when been upgraded with Renice SSDs. A new SSD and their MBA will feel like new.
     
  11. ahdfox macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Location:
    Here
    #11
    Renice 128GB SSD Serious Problems in MBA rev A

    Got my Renice 128GB SSD from MDD last week-- got it installed, seemed OK. Really, really, fast and the extra space over the stock 80GB HDD was desperately needed. It's a 1.6GHz Rev A, running a fresh install of 10.6.5 on a brand-new Renice.

    After using it a few hours it started to have intermittent wake-from-sleep problems, freezing after waking up for no apparent reason. This machine was rock-solid (if slow) for two years, but changed completely as soon as I put in the Renice.

    Trying to fix the problem, I turned off Drive Spin Down, the SMS, Secure VM, and even used Terminal to set Hibernate mode to "0" instead of the default mode "3". Zapped the PRAM, reset the SMC. I even checked to make sure the SSD was formatted as "GUID", which it would have to be to start up, but I checked anyway.

    The sleep issues seemed to go away, except one false wake. After another day of using the machine, however, it simply refused to startup at all, showing a flashing folder icon. After a week of booting fine but with strange sleep issues, it stopped booting. I didn't do anything to it, either. And nothing fixed the problem: I tried restarting, zapping PRAM, resetting SMC: no go.

    I pulled the SSD and put the stock HDD back in, and the machine works fine with the HDD in 10.6.5. Then I put the SSD in it's external enclosure and booted the machine that way, and it seemed to work, starting up, running Safari, sleeping, etc. Hopeful, I swapped the SSD back into the MBA, but no dice: it still wouldn't start up.

    Pulling out all the stops, I put the SSD into the USB enclosure, used Disk Utility to format the SSD as a GUID disk, and installed 10.5.2 from the MBA's recovery disks onto the SSD. That done, I put the SSD with a fresh 10.5.2 back into the Air... but no luck, still the flashing folder icon.

    So:
    1. The MBA works.
    2. The SSD doesn't work properly inside the MBA with a fresh install of 10.6.5
    3. The SSD doesn't work properly inside the MBA with a fresh install of 10.5.2
    4. Intermittent sleep issues with the SSD installed until setting hibernate to "0"
    5. after a week of intermittent sleep issues but no problem booting, it stopped booting
    6. The HDD works when inside the MBA and when in the Renice USB enclosure
    7. The SSD works (runs and boots the MBA) when in the Renice USB enclosure- can sleep and wake but I didn't test "deep sleep"


    Long story short, I'm back the stock HDD, and miss my Renice SSD, but can't use a computer that won't start up.

    Any ideas, anyone? I'm calling MyDigitalDiscount tomorrow to see if they'll swap the SSD for a new one, but I'm doubtful it's a bad drive because it works in the USB enclosure!

    It's driving me nuts, hopefully someone has some idea how to fix it...
     
  12. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #12
    Hate to read this, as the one I had has been rock solid without a single problem. Did you use the Renice supplied cable with it inside your MBA? I was reading about cable problems with the Runcore SSD, and I had a cable problem with my Runcore also.

    Get Matt to give you a new drive and give it a try. I really don't get this, as mine has been solid. I gave mine to my daughter, and she never shuts the thing down, as it's always put to sleep and brought awake instead of restarting it.

    The only thing is I don't believe we upgraded it from 10.6.4. I specifically checked the sleep issue to ensure that it wouldn't have the problem the Runcore SSD had in the original MBA.

    Let us know how it turns out. I hope you get it figured out, as it really changed the original MBA completely and made it a speedy fast Mac reminiscent of the v 2,1 MBA in fact. Good luck.
     
  13. Astinus macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    #13
    I just ordered a K3vlar ssd from MDD and the drive was used, the screwdriver was stripped, the screws are missing to the external case and the ssd came with out the anti static packaging. I am very upset with MDD, I am in contact with renice-tech.com to handle this issue and they are very helpful.

    The thing that I am most upset about is I fraking ordered this thing overnight shipping.

    Anyways after I ascertained that the drive was in fact used I ran gparted and recovered the partition table and then ran recovermyfiles and backed up the disk to an .img file. I am going to go through the files after I get some free time and see if I can find something about the owner this in not fair to me or him.

    I think I have the drive ahdfox returned and they sent it to me..... I wanted to know did you strip the screwdriver? did you not return the 4 screws to the external case? did you not return the disk in the antistatic packaging?

    I will never be ordering from MDD ever again. I am head of IT for my company and have made hundreds of orders from Newegg and tigerdirect and nothing like this has ever happened! I will say this is my fault for ordering from this no class website! If I could do it over again I would order from www.renice-tech.com not MDD.

    Justin
     
  14. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    Sep 19, 2008
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    U.S.A.
    #14
    That's too bad. I wonder how that happened? It was obviously a mistake that shouldn't have happened, and I understand why you're so upset. The drive is definitely worthwhile, so I hope you give it another shot.

    Happy Holidays to everyone.
     
  15. Astinus macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    #15
    Well I am one of those people that can't wait for anything lol. I installed the SSD because my 64 ssd that came with my mac is junk.

    I love the Renice 128GB it made my mac feel like a new laptop :) Yes the drive was used but nothing at all is wrong with it I ran every test that I know on it and not a single error.

    I just wish I would have had more time to send the drive back but I do not, I use this laptop everyday for work.

    As far as Renice what a great company fast emails and they are going to take care of this. All I am looking for is a new external case because this one is missing screws and is scratched and dented, and some extra warranty. I know its easy to replace the hdd in a Air. I just feel the more times you take the Air apart the more you run the risk of damaging those little connectors on the logic board.

    All in all I give this drive a 9/10 its really fast for using a zif connection.

    I'm just mad at MDD for spoiling a upgrade that I was really looking forward to doing.
     
  16. jamesryanbell macrumors 68020

    jamesryanbell

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2009
    #16
    The only things that stick out to me in this thread are the horror stories. Ouch.

    Think I'll wait for a while before pulling the trigger on something like this for my aunt's Rev A Air.
     
  17. nando4 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #17
    Since this review was written there's been quite a few EWS720 native PATA ZIF SSDs released. They offer slightly slower performance but run cool and use less power - better for battery life. Renice have their own K3VLAR-E EWS720 unit. Can see others available at: 1.8" ZIF PATA SSDs available
     
  18. riveting, Dec 20, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010

    riveting macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    #18
    Thanks for the link to that thread. Has anybody used the Super Talent 1.8" PATA MLC MasterDrive GF Series ZIF SSD on MDD, is it reliable with decent speed? I am guessing it won't be as fast as the Renice one but it is quite a bit cheaper for the 64G and 128G model.

     
  19. liquid85 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2010
    #19
    I put the Renice 64 gig in my wife's air and I have no complaints. I did benchmark tests and was very impressed. I did them a month ago though and so I have forgotten the exact stats. The one I remember though was startup. With the old hdd it took a minute and a half to start up. With the ssd it takes 45 seconds. Apps load faster and the air is cooler in general. Sorry for anyone having trouble with theres but I love mine. It was also very easy to install.
     
  20. tele macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2010
    #20
    Hi Mate I too had the exactly the same problem with my 128 gb Renice drive that I installed about 5 weeks ago.
    I would have to do a hard boot to unfreeze it.
    funny enough it only ever happens main at home. I have an airport extreme and express extending the network.
    At work I don't see this problem as much.
    Any way it was getting annoying having to hard boot after putting the book to sleep almost every time at home. so i decided to double check the connection ribbon on the drive to ensure that it was properly in place.
    At that point i noticed that the Gold female connector to the ribbon in the SDD drive was missing most of if gold coating!!!
    I took several photos and have sent it away to Renice to see what they think. I am still awaiting their technical department to revert to me ( the initial inquiry has been replied to and informed me that it has been sent to the technical dept)

    But as for now reinserting the ribbon looks to have fixed my freezing issues for now ( been almost a week and no freezes)
    here are some pics of the pins....
    See your other post for the pics
     
  21. ahdfox, Dec 28, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010

    ahdfox macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Location:
    Here
    #21
    Hey, Justin,

    Sounds like it might be the defective drive I sent back to them... The drive didn't work for me (see my previous posts), the screwdriver came stripped. I sent the drive back to MDD. Not a good experience overall, either for me or for MDD, I imagine.

    Seems like MDD short-changed you, even if only by accident, though I suspect they just wanted to move the open-box stock that I returned (and paid 20% restocking + return shipping on). I wonder if I got the drive used as well following someone else's return to MDD, as the screwdriver was already messed up when I got it.

    As for copying data from the drive, Justin, probably not a good idea. That's copyright infringement if it is in fact someone else's files, and kind of an unpleasant thing to do, even if well-intentioned at the time. I recommend you trash the .img file and leave well enough alone. I got a used laptop once from a local computer shop, full of someone's data- all sorts of things. I couldn't believe it was all there, but a real delete (well, one pass of zeroes) and a reformat made me feel a lot better about using the machine.
     
  22. dragonq macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    #22
    What do you do if you are replacing a HDD that has died?

    I have a Macbook Air A that has a dead drive in it. I did replace it with a new machine, as it was urgently needed for work, but it would be useful if I could put a new drive into the old machine as then I would have a spare.

    Only thing is, all the stuff I have read is aimed at folk who are just upgrading to an SSD, ie those whose computer is working, not dead in the water like mine. So I can't carbon copy from the old drive before installing the new one.

    I do have the Leopard system discs, but how do I get the system software onto an empty drive? I also have another desktop computer running Leopard; should I hook the SSD drive up to that to get the thing jump started? I just need the system software on it, not my data, as I am giving the computer to another family member.
     
  23. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #23
    Note that I just did a fresh install myself too. It's no different than what you need to do. First, install new Renice SSD. Second, insert an OS X disk. It came with Leopard, so the original disk will install that. I would recommend you buy a new Snow Leopard retail disk for $29. Put any OS X retail or the original disk in your external drive or remote computer and install OS X. That is it. There is nothing special you need since the SSD itself holds no special anything. There are plenty of threads here that show how to install OS X on a new HDD or SSD. Enjoy and good luck.
     
  24. dragonq macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    #24
    I don't have a plug in SuperDrive, just load my software remotely from my desk top machine. Can I really connect to a brand new drive using remote disk for loading system software?

    Never done this before, so I want to make sure it is within my technical capabilities before ordering the new drive.
     
  25. Scottsdale thread starter macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #25
    Yes, I mentioned I did just that to try it out. Took an extra 20 minutes or so, but it did work fine.

    Just follow Apple's tutorial on it. It works perfect, and it's absolutely simple to set up.

    Good luck.
     

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