Upgrade SSD mid 2013 MacBook Air

pulsewidth947

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 25, 2005
1,106
2
Are there any SSD upgrade options for the 2013 MacBook Air? I've seen the Transcend JetDrive and one from OWC, but I can't see if they are compatible with a mid-2013 13" MacBook Air.
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,042
336
.. London ..
As far as I'm aware, no. And if they are, either now or in the future, likely to be very expensive for what you get. Probably would be cheaper to sell your Air and buy another 2013 model with the SSD space you want.

I have both the 128GB PNY storedge low profile SD card, and a 128GB mini USB3 sandisk low profile flash drive, both of which sell for a few dozen dollars. They're not perfect, but they do what I want for storing large files at the cost of a bit of battery life on my Air and a few mm of space. Also I can sell them on / use them on other computers.

The USB3 dongle is more versatile but my impression is it uses more battery, so I tend to leave it unplugged, and keep it in my bag. The SD card seems able to shut itself down when not being accessed, hence minimal battery impact, so I leave it plugged in. The OS complains about improper ejection if I go through a shutdown, so I am wary about leaving irreplaceable data or complex running programs on either of them.

Neither can be used for Bootcamp BTW, much to my disappointment. They are more than fast enough, but Windows won't install on them :(
 

pulsewidth947

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 25, 2005
1,106
2
Thanks for the reply. Shortly after I found that OWZ are releasing an upgrade option, but you're right its very expensive.

To be honest, 250 GB would be enough for me, so I think i'll just look for transplanted SSD modules on eBay and just swap it out myself.
 

flybius

macrumors newbie
Jan 5, 2012
27
38
Yes but there are some things you should know.

These drives are not 100% seamless replacements. They will act as an external drive and as such are not useable with Bootcamp. I believe you will have issues with FileVault also... I would confirm these points with OWC before shelling out the $$$....



Oh I see they do new ones. Shame they are so expensive. Being in the UK, means it gets very expensive.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Val-kyrie

pulsewidth947

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 25, 2005
1,106
2
I have read some bad things about the OWC over the past day. For now I'm just going to buy a 256GB module pulled from another Mac. Hopefully I'll get a couple of years out of it, and by then perhaps there'll be more options. Apple's walled garden is getting ridiculous - I'm not going to buy a new MBA just to upgrade the storage...
 

bingeciren

macrumors 6502a
Sep 6, 2011
876
743
I have read some bad things about the OWC over the past day. For now I'm just going to buy a 256GB module pulled from another Mac. Hopefully I'll get a couple of years out of it, and by then perhaps there'll be more options. Apple's walled garden is getting ridiculous - I'm not going to buy a new MBA just to upgrade the storage...
I've read some bad things about OWC drives in the past as well, but hopefully they don't exist any more. Also, I read somewhere in this forum that the OWC drives may not be as fast as the genuine Apple drives. However, I don't agree with @flybius saying that they are not 100% compatible and I find the statement "They will act as an external drive and as such are not useable with Bootcamp. I believe you will have issues with FileVault also..." as a total nonsense. The only "fact" that I know is that ANY non-Apple drive will not be automatically Trim enabled. You will have to enable Trim manually using the "sudo trimforce enable" command. However, this is a one time operation and trivial.

In any case, if you can find a genuine Apple drive from somewhere, it will be the most ideal solution to your problem.
 

flybius

macrumors newbie
Jan 5, 2012
27
38
Total nonsense?

I was told these things during a conversation with OWC.

The big problem with compatibility is that the drives to not appear to OS X as an internal drive, thus disabling Bootcamp usage. OWC was not clear on the file vault issue... only stating that, due to the external drive status, filevault would not function as it does on internal drives.

I have purchased close to 20 OWC SSD's for business and personal use over the years and I have been pleased. I am disappointed that they were not able to make these new drives as seamless of a replacement as their other SSD offerings.

Why don't you call OWC for yourself, or at least validate the facts before you question the integrity of a post?







I've read some bad things about OWC drives in the past as well, but hopefully they don't exist any more. Also, I read somewhere in this forum that the OWC drives may not be as fast as the genuine Apple drives. However, I don't agree with @flybius saying that they are not 100% compatible and I find the statement "They will act as an external drive and as such are not useable with Bootcamp. I believe you will have issues with FileVault also..." as a total nonsense. The only "fact" that I know is that ANY non-Apple drive will not be automatically Trim enabled. You will have to enable Trim manually using the "sudo trimforce enable" command. However, this is a one time operation and trivial.

In any case, if you can find a genuine Apple drive from somewhere, it will be the most ideal solution to your problem.
 
Last edited:

flybius

macrumors newbie
Jan 5, 2012
27
38
Oh, so they are packaging this SSD as a RAID 0... That explains why it will not show up as an internal drive. I'm not sure that FileVault is supported on a RAID either...

OWC didn't reveal the RAID thing to me... Now it all makes sense.


- Not so. Because of the weird SATA RAID 0 implementation and the controller the OWC drives use, TRIM isn't supported on them at all. You can't enable TRIM via the usual methods.
 

bingeciren

macrumors 6502a
Sep 6, 2011
876
743
Total nonsense?

I was told these things during a conversation with OWC.

The big problem with compatibility is that the drives to not appear to OS X as an internal drive, thus disabling Bootcamp usage. OWC was not clear on the file vault issue... only stating that, due to the external drive status, filevault would not function as it does on internal drives.

I have purchased close to 20 OWC SSD's for business and personal use over the years and I have been pleased. I am disappointed that they were not able to make these new drives as seamless of a replacement as their other SSD offerings.

Why don't you call OWC for yourself, or at least validate the facts before you question the integrity of a post?
Wow, this is news to me. :eek: What kind of a logic is this to make an internal drive not appear as one? A lot of OWC customers would be returning their drives as soon as they discover that kind of a handicap.

My 480Gb SSD blade will be arriving shortly. I'll report my first hand experience on all of these issues.

UPDATE: I had a chat with OWC tech support. They said that on 2012 and earlier Airs, the drives will appear as internal drives and they are 100% compatible. However, 2013 and later drives will appear as external drives and consequently they are not compatible with bootcamp, like you said.

I owe you an apology and I'm glad that you have brought this to our attention.
 
Last edited:

JTToft

macrumors 68040
Apr 27, 2010
3,447
792
Aarhus, Denmark
Oh, so they are packaging this SSD as a RAID 0... That explains why it will not show up as an internal drive. I'm not sure that FileVault is supported on a RAID either...

OWC didn't reveal the RAID thing to me... Now it all makes sense.
- Yeah, it's really strange. It's basically two SATA SSDs on a blade set up with a RAID controller and then a PCIe connector slapped on. As a result, no TRIM, no Bootcamp, probably no FileVault, and horrendous speeds compared to an Apple SSD.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Weaselboy

bingeciren

macrumors 6502a
Sep 6, 2011
876
743
- Yeah, it's really strange. It's basically two SATA SSDs on a blade set up with a RAID controller and then a PCIe port slapped on. As a result, no TRIM, no Bootcamp, probably no FileVault, and horrendous speeds compared to an Apple SSD.
Sounds terrible! Is this an OWC only problem? What about the Transcend drives. Do they also have the same problem I wonder?
 

JTToft

macrumors 68040
Apr 27, 2010
3,447
792
Aarhus, Denmark
Sounds terrible! Is this an OWC only problem? What about the Transcend drives. Do they also have the same problem I wonder?
- OWC is currently the only maker of post-2012 MacBook Air SSDs.
Both the Transcend and OWC drives for previous machines are perfectly fine, even faster than the original Apple ones in most cases, I believe.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bingeciren

bingeciren

macrumors 6502a
Sep 6, 2011
876
743
- OWC is currently the only maker of post-2012 MacBook Air SSDs.
Both the Transcend and OWC drives for previous machines are perfectly fine, even faster than the original Apple ones in most cases, I believe.
I'm glad that I have a 2012 Air. I would be extremely annoyed to discover this after buying and installing. This is nowhere to be found on the OWC website either. :mad:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Weaselboy

JTToft

macrumors 68040
Apr 27, 2010
3,447
792
Aarhus, Denmark
I'm glad that I have a 2012 Air. I would be extremely annoyed to discover this after buying and installing. This is nowhere to be found on the OWC website either. :mad:
- A bit of it is mentioned, but you have to know what you're looking for.

Here's the OWC page. It mentions the specific controllers used, the Silicon Motion of which is a SATA controller, and the Marvell of which is a RAID controller (which is also mentioned specifically). It also lists the performance, which is far below that of Apple's drives, as well as the fact that neither TRIM nor SMART is supported.

Some reading materials on it here: Anandtech description, MacRumors thread (juicy bits start on page 6).
 

flybius

macrumors newbie
Jan 5, 2012
27
38
No worries :)

I can see how the details around the new SSD's would seem fictitious, which is why i thought it worth posting.

I can't imagine OWC selling many of these when there is a plentiful supply of Apple SSD's removed from Macbook Airs on the market... Especially at the price they are asking.

I'll throw another nugget of info out to everyone. There is a difference between the Apple SSD's that have been pulled and are being resold. Some are Samsung and some are Marvell.

It is my understanding that the Samsung chips typically ship with the 13" MBA's and are 2x faster than the Marvell's that ship with the 11" MBA's. I am not sure if mixing the two matters...



Wow, this is news to me. :eek: What kind of a logic is this to make an internal drive not appear as one? A lot of OWC customers would be returning their drives as soon as they discover that kind of a handicap.

My 480Gb SSD blade will be arriving shortly. I'll report my first hand experience on all of these issues.

UPDATE: I had a chat with OWC tech support. They said that on 2012 and earlier Airs, the drives will appear as internal drives and they are 100% compatible. However, 2013 and later drives will appear as external drives and consequently they are not compatible with bootcamp, like you said.

I owe you an apology and I'm glad that you have brought this to our attention.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bingeciren

JTToft

macrumors 68040
Apr 27, 2010
3,447
792
Aarhus, Denmark
I'll throw another nugget of info out to everyone. There is a difference between the Apple SSD's that have been pulled and are being resold. Some are Samsung and some are Marvell.

It is my understanding that the Samsung chips typically ship with the 13" MBA's and are 2x faster than the Marvell's that ship with the 11" MBA's. I am not sure if mixing the two matters...
- I haven't heard that part. As far as I am aware, Marvell doesn't manufacture actual SSDs, only controllers.
I believe Apple alternates between Samsung, SanDisk, and possibly Toshiba for SSD manufacturers.

Do you have a link, especially to the part about performance differences?

By the way, it's true the 13" has a higher performing SSD than the 11", but that's due to a speed difference on the machine itself (PCIe x4 vs. x2), not any manufacturer differences as far as I am aware.
 

tentales

macrumors 6502a
Dec 6, 2010
771
1,184
Are there any SSD upgrade options for the 2013 MacBook Air? I've seen the Transcend JetDrive and one from OWC, but I can't see if they are compatible with a mid-2013 13" MacBook Air.
I bought a refurb Mac Mini with a 256GB SSD only. Bought the hard drive adapter kit from OWC. Swapped the 128 in my 2013 Macbook Air (also refurb) with the MacMini one and now I have a 2.1TB Fusion drive in the Mini and 256GB in my Air.
You could always resell the MacMini if you don't need a 2nd Mac.
 

flybius

macrumors newbie
Jan 5, 2012
27
38
My source was a post I found here on MacRumors...

https://www.macrumors.com/2015/03/11/13-inch-macbook-air-ssd-2x-faster/

The post does refer to the Marvell chip having SanDisk Storage. It also refers to the speed difference being due to the SSD and does not mention the extra PCIe Lanes in the 13" MBA

I have also noticed on several eBay auctions that the Samsung chips are hyped as being the fastest SSD's and seemed to be priced accordingly.





- I haven't heard that part. As far as I am aware, Marvell doesn't manufacture actual SSDs, only controllers.
I believe Apple alternates between Samsung, SanDisk, and possibly Toshiba for SSD manufacturers.

Do you have a link, especially to the part about performance differences?

By the way, it's true the 13" has a higher performing SSD than the 11", but that's due to a speed difference on the machine itself (PCIe x4 vs. x2), not any manufacturer differences as far as I am aware.
 

BigCanoe

macrumors 6502
Jan 13, 2003
394
79
I bought a refurb Mac Mini with a 256GB SSD only. Bought the hard drive adapter kit from OWC. Swapped the 128 in my 2013 Macbook Air (also refurb) with the MacMini one and now I have a 2.1TB Fusion drive in the Mini and 256GB in my Air.
You could always resell the MacMini if you don't need a 2nd Mac.
Will any 2013+ mac mini or imac with SSD have the correct drive?
 

robvas

macrumors 68040
Mar 29, 2009
3,212
618
USA
It is my understanding that the Samsung chips typically ship with the 13" MBA's and are 2x faster than the Marvell's that ship with the 11" MBA's. I am not sure if mixing the two matters...
I put an SSD from an 11" MBA into my 13" rMBP, they were both Samsung drives
[doublepost=1460122243][/doublepost]
- OWC is currently the only maker of post-2012 MacBook Air SSDs.
Both the Transcend and OWC drives for previous machines are perfectly fine, even faster than the original Apple ones in most cases, I believe.
The other OWC drives for the older Airs had a ton of problems - look at the threads on this forum.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.