Upgrade MB with SSD or buy MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by badlydrawnboy, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    I have a MacBook 2.26 Ghz I bought in March, with the stock drive and 2 GB of RAM. It's our second computer at home, and I use it when I travel. Now, however, I'm going to be using it as my main computer at work.

    Although I don't do any graphics intensive stuff, I'm not satisfied with the performance of what I've got right now. I'm used to the responsiveness and peppiness of my Mac Pro, and while I don't expect the same from an entry-level MB, I'd like to boost things a bit.

    I'm considering two options: the first is to get an SSD (probably the highly-rated OWC Mercury Extreme) and then upgrade the RAM to 4 GB.

    The second is to sell the MB and get a new MBP (2.53 i5 or 2.66 i7).

    My question is, which would give me the most bang for my buck? I've never used an SSD, so it's hard for me to know how much it would improve day-to-day performance.

    Also, I'm not familiar with the i5 and i7 benchmarks, so I don't know how much of a performance increase I'd see over my current MB 2.26.

    My storage requirements are minimal (I use Dropbox, iDisk, etc.) so a 120 GB SSD for around $300 would be fine.
  2. Krevnik macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2003
    What I'd do is make the upgrades in steps. RAM first, then the SSD, taking note of the performance. The RAM might be enough for your needs, maybe not.

    As long as you aren't expecting 3D game perf to improve much (bottlenecked by hardware you can't change), these two will offer the biggest boost without buying a new machine.
  3. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    Thanks. I guess the more specific question is this:

    Would a MB 2.26 w/ SSD + 4 GB of RAM perform better than an MBP 2.53 with the stock drive and 4 GB of RAM?

    Maybe you already answered that, but I wasn't clear.
  4. CaoCao macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    It depends on what you do with it
  5. iLog.Genius macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    Day to day performance will favor the MacBook w/ SSD and 4GB RAM in areas such as loading and where the disk needs to be accessed. But if you're just doing basic things like word processing, e-mail, internet, you're not going to notice a big difference other than applications loading quicker.
  6. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003

    Day to day performance increase is exactly what I'm looking for. I use iWork, iLife, Photoshop (occasionally) and of course Safari, Mail, etc.

    Maybe I should consider the Samsung Hybrid SSD drive? Some of the SSD benefits, at a lower price?
  7. Krevnik macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2003
    Depends on exactly what you are doing. The i5 does beat the C2D clock for clock, but that is rarely a bottleneck in light use.

    RAM is almost always a bottleneck until you hit 4GB. Disk is always a bottleneck, but an expensive one to fix in a laptop.

    There's also the GPU involved. This does affect every day performance a bit, but not terribly. The discrete GPU is a big gain if you mess around with any games at all.

    The SSD-equipped MB will definitely feel a lot faster than a MBP with a stock 5400 RPM drive in average use, but if you game, then the MBP will beat the pants off the MB every day of the week, even without the SSD.

    If you want SSD benefits, go for an SSD. See here for a sample of the difference between an HDD, Seagate's hybrid, and a couple older SSDs: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3734/seagates-momentus-xt-review-finally-a-good-hybrid-hdd/3. OWCs drives will be about as fast as the OCZ drive shown.
  8. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    I'm not a gamer and don't do video processing, so it's seeming like the SSD (or hybrid SSD) upgrade is the better choice. Thanks for your help.
  9. Krevnik macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2003
    I edited my post, but see above for my comment about hybrids.

    Really, the biggest gain for SSDs is that your random read/write is so much better than an HDD. It is literally night and day. Random read/writes will cause the drive to hiccup, slow, and generally make the system feel unresponsive. A platter drive that has become fragmented will do more random read/writes than a clean one. Hybrids don't get around the issue of fragmentation that plague platter drives, and so they will eventually slow down just like a normal platter drive.

    Really, what you get from a hybrid HDD is desktop HDD performance in a laptop package. What it won't get you is SSD performance which is head and shoulders above an HDD (although a RAID0 might be able to keep up).

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