VERY disappointed with my SSD, what could be the problem?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Baral, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. Baral macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    So I bought an Intel X-25M G2 80gb SSD, has the latest firmware, installed in my 2010 MBP 15 inch i7.

    I was all excited for this supposedly HUGE upgrade to my system. I heard people raving about SSDs. I was hearing boot times of 5-8 seconds, applications loading in 1 second or in just one dock bounce, great stuff.

    I did all my research on SSDs before pulling the trigger on the Intel. As soon as I installed it, I put a fresh install of Snow Leopard and applied all the "tweaks" like enabling noatime, disabling indexing, etc.

    I honestly cannot tell the difference between this SSD and my HDD. Upon restarting my computer (so first time loading everything) Word takes 2-3 seconds to load, Opera takes about 4, Safari 3-4, etc. Basically everything takes 2 dock bounces, often 3, and sometimes even 4.

    The ONLY noticeable difference is that booting up takes about 11 seconds. Yes, it's much faster than an HDD, but still slower than most new SSDs.

    The drive was bought brand new so this shouldn't be a degradation problem. I ran XBench (I know it's not all that reliable, but is there a better free benchmarking tool?) and my numbers seem pretty good. But in practice, I really cannot tell much of a speed gain over a 5400 RPM HDD.

    Any ideas on what it could be? :(
  2. diablo2112 macrumors 6502

    Apr 16, 2010
    Need a few more details. What is the firmware version? Where did you install it and (critically) did you leave the HDD in your machine? How did you reinstall OS X? What version OS X are you running? A few more details, we can offer some help.

    I have the Intel X-25M G2 160GB. It screams. One-bounce open for most programs. 23 second boot from power on to desktop.
  3. Baral thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Firmware version 02HD (this is the firmware version on the drive's label, it is the latest one according to

    I installed it in the stock hard drive position, and put the stock HDD in an optibay.

    I reinstalled OSX with the discs that came with my 2010 MBP via superdrive. I swapped the stock HDD with the SSD, installed OSX, then swapped out the superdrive for the HDD in optibay.

    Running 10.6.3.

    I have OSX and Applications on my SSD, the Users folder on my HDD. NOTHING except the operating system and applications are on the SSD (only 12 gb filled, 68 gb remaining).
  4. revelated macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    Probably a good bet that the overall performance is being held back by the HDD. If my memory serves, there are files being accessed in your Users folder as you touch applications. It's possible this access is your choke point.

    If I were you I would put the entire non-media file set on the SSD. So basically, everything except movies, music, photos or documents. That way system files benefit from the SSD and nonessentials are accessed as needed from the HDD.

    Just a thought.
  5. Baral thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    This may be the case. Let me clarify myself a little better as to exactly what I did.

    I installed Snow Leopard onto the SSD, then put the HDD into the optibay and formatted it.

    I then moved my users folder to the HDD (via System Preferences, not dragging the folder in Finder).

    And that's it.

    Is there something wrong/inefficient in my process? I heard that was the best thing to do.
  6. revelated macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    Mine is just a theory. Fortunately it is very easy to test that theory. Try it the way I mentioned and see if there is any change.

    Another thing: when first set up Spotlight will run, and Snow Leopard has to relearn everything. It might be this that is temporarily dragging things down. Again, a theory.
  7. Baral thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    I'm in the process of testing your theory right now. It makes sense to me.

    I just moved my user folder back to the SSD. So now I should move my Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Movies, Music, and Pictures folders from the user folder on the SSD to the HDD, correct?
  8. Baral thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Okay so I did exactly what I wrote out in my previous post.

    Now here's the problem. All my programs want to save to the folders in the user folder (the one on the SSD). From now on will I have to remember to set all program's default directory to the folders on my HDD? For example, the default directory for Safari/Opera to download to is the Downloads folder under user on the SSD. I'm going to have to manually change it to the Downloads folder on the SSD.

    Testing out to see if the speed of opening applications improved.
  9. diablo2112 macrumors 6502

    Apr 16, 2010
    You've found your problem. With the user folder on the HDD, indeed it is accessing this folder constantly. There's some old posts (search my username for SSD stuff about 2 months ago) that explain how to setup the user folder. Basically, better to keep the user folder on the SSD, and then setup pointers to your media files on the HDD.

    As a first step, I'd remove the HDD entirely. Go entirely onto the SSD, and see how that works. Once that's running, install the HDD, and setup pointers to the media files. Keep the user folder on the SSD. This is a bit tricky, and like I said, there's some guides on how to do this, linked in my earlier posts.

    Good luck, once done right, the SSD will indeed be blazingly fast.
  10. Baral thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Well, it seems that speed has improved sliiiightly. Opera takes 2 bounces to open up instead of 3, Word is also taking 2 bounces. iTunes is taking 2 bounces.

    So yeah, speed still isn't to this lightning fast level an SSD is supposed to have, even with my entire user folder on the SSD.

    Plus, it is wildly inconvenient to have my user Downloads, Movies, etc. folders on the SSD because that is where apps save to/read from by default. Especially having the Desktop on the SSD is very inconvenient, because that is where I do most of my "scratch work" (saving and deleting files as I work on a project or something) and I don't want to keep saving and deleting things from my SSD so heavily.
  11. Baral thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Everything is on the SSD now and speed is slightly improved, if at all. That doesn't seem to have been the culprit here. :(

    I'll try searching your username now. Did you make posts or threads about the whole user folder thing?
  12. diablo2112 macrumors 6502

    Apr 16, 2010
    Just for a reference point, Word opens in one bounce on my MBP with Intel SSD. It's hard to time, but I'd put the opening at about 1 second total from click to blank document screen.

    Setting up dual SSD/HDD systems, with storage on the HDD, is actually pretty tricky. Once your machine has had an HDD involved, no telling what's getting cached and stored there. My best advice is a clean install onto the SSD with no HDD present. Get everything running, etc. Only then, put the HDD in, and then, only use it for off-board media storage and never specify the HDD for app installation or as a default storage folder. It really is better to spec default storage folders onto the SSD, and then setup pointers that move to the HDD for media files. As soon as you specify a folder on the HDD for storage from within a program, in many cases, you'll slow performance as application put scratch files, caches, and who-knows-what into those folders.
  13. Baral thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    There is not a single file on my HDD, and just to make sure, I even unmounted it. From click to blank document is about 3.5 seconds still. I'm assuming you don't even have time to comprehend that blue opening screen that pops up when you open Word, while I have plenty of time to read it.

    I found this post of yours:
    I don't even use Apple Mail so it doesn't matter to me, but the whole "look over there instead" thing I find interesting. Is there any way I can make the user Downloads, Music, etc. folders on the SSD automatically redirect to the corresponding folder on the HDD? That way all applications that try to save to the Downloads folder under user on the SSD automatically save to the Downloads folder on my HDD? And all applications that look to load something from the Music folder under user on the SSD automatically loads from the Music folder on the HDD? Are either, preferably both, of these options viable?
  14. Baral thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    These are my XBench results btw:

    Uncached Write 84.92 MB/sec [4k blocks]
    Uncached Write 76.24 MB/sec [256k blocks]
    Uncached Read 52.18 MB/sec [4k blocks]
    Uncached Read 204.52 MB/sec [256k blocks]

    Uncached Write 71.03 MB/sec [4k blocks]
    Uncached Write 79.15 MB/sec [256k blocks]
    Uncached Read 17.69 MB/sec [4k blocks]
    Uncached Read 171.21 MB/sec [256k blocks]

    Do those numbers seem right? It's not a problem with my drive is it?
  15. Gr80Likes2Boogi macrumors regular

    Oct 3, 2009
    NoHo, CA
    Turn off bouncing dock, that may "speed" things up!

    Seriously, time it withOUT the bounces. You may be surprised. You may not. Just throwing it in the pot =)
  16. mark28 macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2010
    The sequential speeds are slow? ( not sure if this is normal for Intel SSD, but it is slow compared to other SSD's )
  17. TZRaceR6 Guest


    Jun 8, 2010
    United Kingdom
    Compare that to my 13" using a Kingston V+ series 128GB SSD:

    Sequential 160.75
    Uncached Write 275.74 169.30 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 280.43 158.67 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 67.25 19.68 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 354.50 178.17 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 452.61
    Uncached Write 247.70 26.22 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 412.02 131.90 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1244.61 8.82 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 636.95 118.19 MB/sec [256K blocks]
  18. MacModMachine macrumors 68020


    Apr 3, 2009

    these are normal numbers,

    i would recommend swapping your ssd into the optibay and putting the hdd into the normal bay its made for, this way you get the SMS protection.

    there is no advantage to having the hdd into the optical bay unless you have a disk with a SMS sensor on it.

    i have done some serious testing on dual ssd and ssd/hdd combos and here is my conclusion.

    the problem why you miss(sometimes) almost %20 of performance with a SSD/HDD combo is the other slower hdd seems to poll or communicate on the sata bus and drops the overall speed of the ssd itself a prime example is this,

    Starcraft 2 installed

    Loading from SSD , Loaded in 8 seconds to main menu
    Loading from HDD , Loaded in 11 seconds to main menus

    Removed HDD

    Loading from SSD , Loaded in 5 seconds to main menu

    im not sure why, but the hdd seems to cause the system to wait for it in some instances, this is why i believe running anything off it that the SSD requires is bad such as using itunes with the library stored on a spinning disk or user library on a SSD.

    maybe im wrong and going crazy....thats a distinct possibility..

    i have not had a chance to compare this using disk tests, but i will do that this weekend and add it to the massive optibay thread.
  19. TZRaceR6 Guest


    Jun 8, 2010
    United Kingdom
    Bit of confusion here. You guys are talking 5-8 second boot times. Sounds more like time from when the Apple logo and circle appears to desktop being up, vice time from actually hitting the power button.

    I have a 16 second boot time from the point I hit the power button. I've never seen a Mac or windows-based PC cold boot in 5 seconds.
  20. MacModMachine macrumors 68020


    Apr 3, 2009
    i can do 7 seconds from power button, intel blows away that kingston you have :p
  21. TZRaceR6 Guest


    Jun 8, 2010
    United Kingdom
    Would def like to see that. 7 second cold boot load time is pretty quick. (Of course, it never happened without vid. :) )

    But I have no complaints regarding my Kingston. Works flawlessly and required no firmware updates. Supports TRIM and SMART, once those are available on 10.6.5. And less than 1 second load times for any app is what really concerned me, not boot times, but I still find 16 seconds extremely quick for cold boot.
  22. Tmacfan4321 macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2007
    University Park, PA
    I have a 20 second boot time from when I press the power button to when I see my wallpaper.

    Edit: The fact that I have the 50GB version of the Vertex 2 hurts its performance.

    Sequential 176.22
    Uncached Write 221.14 135.78 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 226.42 128.11 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 91.96 26.91 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 346.46 174.13 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 823.91
    Uncached Write 977.81 103.51 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 416.38 133.30 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 2974.56 21.08 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 913.75 169.55 MB/sec [256K blocks]
  23. revelated macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    I have to throw in a second vote for the Intel. To me the power button speed test is somewhat offset by the hardware POST. But if I include that check I'm about 8-10 seconds. This is with ONLY a SSD, mind.

    To wit, OP I would agree with diablo. You might see if a SSD alone improves performance, because the fact you got any boost at all from the moving of files I suggested seems to point to the HDD slowing you down as I theorized. It swallows, I know...but if that's the case then you'll have to decide what's really important: capacity (Which is why you kept the HDD, likely) or raw speed?

    To use an analogy: a Lamborghini towing a trailer can only go so fast.
  24. TZRaceR6 Guest


    Jun 8, 2010
    United Kingdom
    I put the smilie face on the back end of my comment, so as to not be taken seriously.
    I have a friend of mine that just got a new PC with an Intel SSD and his cold boot time is literally 5 seconds. Of course, this is the latest and greatest PC with top of the line hardware, and my 13" is utilizing the C2D processor. I'm still quite happy with a 16 second boot time.
    I'd hazard to guess that if my Kingston SSD was in a 15" i7, it would boot faster. :D Mr. MacModMachine is just jealous of my Kingston is all. ;)
  25. Baral thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Well, I moved the user folder back to my SSD and unmounted my internal HDD (which I believe is equivalent to removing it physically, as it cannot be accessed nor is it even recognized as present) and so it was no longer in the equation, yet my speeds did not seem to improve.

    I am truly baffled as to what could be the problem. Man, I'd love to see MS Word open up so fast that I miss the blue box thing that pops up. :(

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