Renice K3vlar K3E (native PATA) SSD review in Rev A

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by spriter, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. spriter, Mar 6, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011

    spriter macrumors 65816


    May 13, 2004
    After a 6-day test (screenshots and benchmarks attached below).

    So the time came for my refurbed Rev A to have a new hard drive. Deciding that, it made sense to opt for an SSD. After seriously looking at various brands and then almost buying a Runcore a few months ago but firmware problems cited by other buyers pushed me away.

    I finally went for a 120GB Renice K3vlar K3E (native PATA). Again, I could have gone for the K3 (Indilinx) but, according to the tech specs, it consumes more power and there were reports of sleep/wake issues. Going for the K3E was a shot in the dark - there were no MBA reviews for it that I could find.

    Sourcing the drive was not easy. Being in the UK I could only find K3 stockists, no K3E. I emailed MDD in the US who only gave a vague "keep checking the website" when I asked about them getting the drives in stock. Nowhere else had them either. I tried on Alibaba but returns might be a problem. So, it was time to go to Renice direct.

    I ended up leaving an online message on which was picked up by 'Vicky' (her English name, I'm guessing). After a few emails, it emerged they didn't really have a UK distributor so I purchased the SSD direct from her, paying $291 (£180/€210) by PayPal which included 3-day express shipping to the UK (edit: She can be reached by emailing: vicky at renice dot cn and is really helpful and quick to respond.

    The box includes the drive, a screwdriver that fits fine, a caddy for your old drive and a USB cable.

    Anyway to the drive. Going from a 4,200rpm HDD to the K3E is taking a massive leap. Technical benchmarks are below, but in real-world everyday use it's like load times for apps, response in the Finder, saving and quitting apps are all a thing of the past. The difference is remarkable. Spotlight is instant, as is data handling in apps such as Yep <--- massive improvement handling an index of thousands of Word docs/PDFs.

    The switch took just over half an hour.

    Rudimentary benchmarks from cold boot:
    Word 2011 - 3 secs (was something like 30 on the HDD)
    Photoshop CS5 - 7 secs (looooong time previously)
    Aperture 3 - 2 bounces (then it start's to open library)

    Loading from RAM the above are halved. Most other apps are 'one bounce'.

    Battery life: around 4 hours wifi surfing. I usually spend much of my time in Word/Excel with Wifi off which pushes this to 5 hours+.

    Sleep/wake issues: none (after 6-days heavy use).

    Summary: A really worthwhile investment that gives a Rev A with HDD more than a new lease of life.

    Xbench Benchmarks

    System Version 10.6.6 (10J567)
    Model MacBookAir1,1


    Stock 80GB HD (SAMSUNG HS082HB)
    Results 21.15
    System Info
    Xbench Version 1.3
    System Version 10.6.6 (10J567)
    Physical RAM 2048 MB
    Model MacBookAir1,1
    Disk Test 21.15
    Sequential 31.61
    Uncached Write 39.44 24.22 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 48.60 27.50 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 22.06 6.46 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 28.34 14.24 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 15.90
    Uncached Write 5.52 0.58 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 48.59 15.56 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 32.66 0.23 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 52.36 9.72 MB/sec [256K blocks]


    Renice K3vlar K3E (RENICE E2)
    Results 117.06
    System Info
    Xbench Version 1.3
    System Version 10.6.6 (10J567)
    Physical RAM 2048 MB
    Model MacBookAir1,1
    Drive Type RENICE E2 RENICE E2
    Disk Test 117.06
    Sequential 98.85
    Uncached Write 107.57 66.05 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 103.83 58.74 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 63.81 18.67 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 170.43 85.66 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 143.49
    Uncached Write 124.03 13.13 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 60.41 19.34 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1353.42 9.59 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 396.80 73.63 MB/sec [256K blocks]






    Attached Files:

  2. jdbrookes, Mar 7, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011

    jdbrookes macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2011
    Hi Spriter, new user here (just registered today - don't own a Mac myself).

    I'm repairing a RevA Macbook Air for my father in law; the 80GB HD basically **** itself over the weekend and I've spent much of Sunday researching a replacement drive that will work. He wants to go ahead and spend a little bit more on a SSD for the speed increase and also to minimise the risk of future disc errors. Trying to find anything compatible or good value on ebay or the like is proving tricky.

    Since I'm newly registered I can't send or receive PMs - I don't want to spam the forum with random comments either. I would love to get in touch with this Vicky person to order that 120GB SSD - performance looks wicked and most importantly it seems to be 100% compatible. Also incredible value! I'm based in Ireland BTW.

    If at all possible, could you email the contact details for Vicky to me? I won't add my email address to the thread unless you're happy to proceed, and can remove the address then shortly after :)

    EDIT: Actually I was able to order with them directly via another method, so I should be sorted. Thanks for the review, helped point me in the right direction. I am now pretty happy that I've ordered a 100% compatible drive for the Rev A Macbook Air. The "official" product code is as follows, if anyone needs it:

    Renice RN-K3E-Z1860 (64GB)
    Renice RN-K3E-Z1820 (128GB)

    Thanks a mill
  3. spriter, Mar 7, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011

    spriter thread starter macrumors 65816


    May 13, 2004
    Hi jd, sorry I haven't caught your post until now. But good news you've managed to source a drive so quickly.

    When I last emailed Vicky, she was happy for me to pass on her details so I'll post it here with a few spaces in to hopefully throw off any spiders. She can be reached by emailing: vicky at renice dot cn and is really helpful and quick to respond.

    She did say Renice were getting an Irish distributor quite soon too but it looks like that's not a problem for you!

    I forgot to mention Bootcamp in my initial review but it's sooo much better now using Windows 7 - much more responsive as you'd expect.
  4. amasia macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2010
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Thanks for posting this review and your details on the best way to purchase. For the past few months, I had my eye on the Renice K3E as a SSD replacement on my revA. Now, I feel confident enough to purchase and I can't wait to be free of my old HDD!
  5. jdbrookes macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2011
    Should hopefully have it delivered by next week; I've ordered via which I have actually heard of, so seems quite legit! They operate as a middleman between consumers and a large number of small Chinese manufacturers that wouldn't normally deal direct to consumers. Fingers crossed!

    Initially I'm going to install Windows 7 on the macbook for testing purposes (stability, speed, etc), as my father in law would rather have a German copy of Mac OS installed on his Air and German is not my strong suit. If he likes Windows 7 I'll certainly set it up with bootcamp. Will post my results here later on.
  6. jdbrookes macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2011
    Well the drive was delivered yesterday and it took me about an hour to remove the old HD and install the new SSD. I then took some interesting steps to install Mac OS on the Air, since I don't have access to another Mac or a USB DVD drive, and the original Mac OS X install disc was left in Germany:

    1. Source a DMG of the Mac OS X install disc
    2. Convert DMG to IMG in Windows 7
    3. Mount IMG as virtual disc using VirtualCloneDrive
    4. Install DVD / CD sharing software provided by Apple on the MacOS disc
    5. Reboot Air holding the Option key in order to connect to my Wifi and install Mac OS that way

    I'm surprised myself it worked, but it only took about 30 minutes or so to install over my Wireless N network.

    Everything is working great and pretty quick; it seems like Outlook and the like are loading quicker than they did before, but that might just be down to the clean install. Once I've restored the iPhoto library, we'll see if browsing between photos will be quicker. No problems with resuming from sleep or booting or anything, not that I was expecting these issues with this drive.

    For those interested, I ordered the drive from from Renice via I paid via paypal, and the payment was only released to Renice once I had confirmed delivery of the correct item. Total cost was €118 for the drive including delivery via DHL, and an additional €33 for VAT (Republic of Ireland) once it landed. Not bad at all.

    This forum was an invaluable resource when I was researching a replacement drive, thanks a million. And I've just now noticed that the Air's battery "needs replacement soon"? so I may be doing more research shortly!

  7. Brent Holland macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
    Nice item

    Thanks for your info. Spriter. Recently i also wanna change my HDD. and i got to contact the helpful person u mentioned. really nice service and i will get it next week. Expecting now...jejeje:D
  8. christof macrumors 6502

    May 8, 2002
    SFO, JFK
    Thanks for your review. It is really helpful.

    What's your opinion of TRIM support? It's my understanding that the K3VLAR-E doesn't support it, but on the other hand, there are no sleep/wake issues and there's lower power consumption. Could this be a worthwhile trade off?

    Also, I read about a speed difference between the 60 and 120 GB versions of K3VLAR-E. Did you consider the 60 GB drive, or was the speed difference too significant for you?

    Did you consider any other SSD's? (RunCore, SuperTalent DuraDrive, et al)?
  9. jamesryanbell macrumors 68020


    Mar 17, 2009
  10. spriter thread starter macrumors 65816


    May 13, 2004
    Great news! Glad it turned out well. At least that battery swap will be much simpler and quicker :D
  11. spriter thread starter macrumors 65816


    May 13, 2004
    Good to see the older Airs getting a new lease of life. I think performance/price ratio is much better now and will entice more people to make the jump for SSDs.
  12. Brent Holland macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011

    Ya. the SSDs is more and more konwn all over the world. will replace the HDD in the near future with its rapid read/write speed. just now the capacity cannot be over HDD.that is the point ,also the price should be more reasonable afterwards/:)
  13. mrchow macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2011
    Hi, Spriter,
    Thanks very much for your post, this really brings good information to me.
    I am Chow from China, I have heard much that many 1.8 ZIF SSD in the market have sleeping and waking issue after several minutes operation, so I have been hesitate for buying a SSD for my Air for a long time.
    After learning your post, I got this Renice K3E 1.8 zif ssd is good, so I bought one 120GB from the famous online shop here, their shop name is eleven8605, since now, I have been using it for more than one week, I really love it on my Air.
  14. SeanU macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Another SSD Option

    I posted a previous post :

    ThinkPad Parts is selling these 60gb Samsung SSD's. They are the same drives that came with the Rev A. Air, just repackaged in an X41 drive carrier. :

    There are 2 caveats with this option. One is that the drive is bare, meaning that you can see the chips after you remove it from the carrier. The second is that the warranty from the seller is voided if you remove it from the carrier. All that aside, I offered the seller $200 for 2 drives, and he accepted. The installation was easy, and the drive works fine. The performance is probably not as good as some of the more expensive options, but its still quicker than the iPod drive that came in the machine.

  15. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2008
    Tampa, Florida
    Hurrah for SSDs in older Airs! About two months ago, I replaced the HDD in my 2009 Air with an OWC SSD, and noticed the same blow-away difference as you did. Those little 1.8" 4200RPM drives really are miserable little things :p

    In Xbench, the SATA HDD scored around 33. This SSD clocks in at 215. 6.5x faster :D
  16. longbowman macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2011
    The K3E is going to be replaced with the K3S which is why there are very few suppliers that have any K3E left in stock. The new one will be faster and uses a sandforce controller. waiting for the new ones to fit in my MBA.
  17. Brent Holland macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
    I have got the drive and tested some days, it works perfect and really improve my laptop performance.

    By the way, i communicated with Vicky last week for the RENICE ZIF matter. she told until now they have 3 models together. K3 (indilinx) /K3 E (Eastwho) / K3 S Sandforce) series. and K3 series has been stopped production now and will be upgraded to be K3 S series. but now anyone is not sure when the K3 S series will be released, we can just wait and i believe RENICE will try their best to do it ASAP. now just K3 E series is Available. and that works great with good price and performance./
  18. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    That is an amazing deal you found! Let us know how they turn out!
  19. samsid macrumors newbie


    Mar 10, 2011
    Today I ordered the Renice K3VLAR128GB from Memory America for my dying MacBook Air Rev A which now requires weekly restores but probably doesn't have too many second chances left.
  20. B H macrumors newbie

    Apr 8, 2011
    Renice K3vlar K3E (native PATA) SSD review in Rev A

    I waited for weeks for stock in the 120GB K3VLAR K3E from MDD with no luck. I then discovered AsiaTechTrade and they sent the device promptly to the USA (via FedEx) from Hong Kong. Marc from AsiaTechTrade beat the MDD price and has been very helpful in follow up discussions. I will not hesitate to order again from this vendor.

    As to the operation of the K3E as my system disk in my MacBookAir Rev A under Snow Leopard 10.6.7, I originally experienced several sleep/wakeup hangs, easily reproduced by opening/closing the clamshell lid rapidly and repeatedly. My Eastwho Renice SSD is model "Renice E2", Revision VATE1703. I did the usual stuff - resetting SMC, PRAM. The instability remained.

    I then changed the system hibernation mode to 0 (it was 3) using the command line utility 'pmset'. Since the change, my Air has been rock solid for over a month - no sleep/wakeup problems whatsoever. As others have reported, the K3E performance over the original HDD has been stellar.
  21. SeanU macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Worked fine... Since the drive was bare and had no padding, I just used a little bit of padded tape to protect it. Even at the current price of $145, these are a good deal.
  22. Patchwork macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2008
    Near Preston, UK

    Thank you very much for your informative post. I've ordered the same drive from Renice and can confirm that Vicky was very helpful. Delivery from China to the UK was very quick and fitting it using iFixit as a guide was straightforward (it took me about 1.5 hours in total but I did replace the thermal paste for the processor and graphics chip at the same time).

    I have to say it is much faster than the old hard disk - mail opens in one bounce while Firefox 4 and Safari nevers seems to take more than two. Even iTunes which isn't the fastest thing in the world only takes about 4. Definitely a worthwhile upgrade.

  23. bwv9x6cq macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2010
    Thanks for the heads up. I just did the same and it works. Installed Snow Leopard, updates, Office without problems. Faster than the HDD.
  24. Brent Holland macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2011
  25. SeanU macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Excellent... it really does breathe new life into the machine. I recently sold my Rev A and picked up an 11" with the recent MacMall Ebay deal.... honestly if it wasn't for the size difference, I would have kept the Rev A.

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