Working Sandforce SSD Drive for Macbook Aluminum 2008 5,1

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by jbg232, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. jbg232, Jun 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012

    jbg232 macrumors 65816

    jbg232

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    #1
    Hello everyone,

    These forums are filled with people having issues with Sandforce based SSD drives and older macbooks, specifically the late 2008 macbook aluminum model number 5,1. It is thought that this compatibility is secondary to the nvidia MCP79 AHCI SATA drivers not playing well with the sandforce drivers. I'm here to report success.

    A few things to know about this particular laptop:
    1. It has a SATA II (3G) port
    2. There is extensive documentation that when using Sandforce based drives that are SATA III (6G) native, the connection only runs at SATA I (1.5G) speeds
    3. I'm running firmware version 5.0.2 (from the factory) and Lion 10.7.4

    Knowing these facts I purchased an OWC Mercury Electra 3G which is a Sandforce 2181 based chip (that has built-in garbage collection) that runs at native SATA II (3G) speeds. I thought that getting a 3G drive would solve the problems with speed negotiation across the port. As you can see from the screenshot below, I am running at full 3G speeds. I also want to note that this particular drive is actually a very new model and doesn't have ANY reviews from what I've been able to google. Thus, this drive is not well known but as you can see is working perfectly. I haven't done many extensive tests (you can suggest some if you want) but it seems to be getting ~180mb/s read and write which is an interesting number because it is higher than 1.5G speeds but less than 6G speeds. Thus, the drive itself won't benefit from having a 6G connection (which is fine because the computer can't support it anyways). Maybe I'll add benchmarks later. I installed the drive yesterday and have yet to have any issues. Obviously I'll report if something comes up.

    Basically in the end I want to put out a report that there does exist a Sandforce based drive that works well to counteract the sea of reports that claim they don't work. I have yet to find another forum member who has reported good or bad experiences with this specific drive.

    [​IMG]

    Edit: Just added the BlackMagic Disk Test Below:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. bozz2006 macrumors 68030

    bozz2006

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #2
    I have a vertex 3 running at SATAII speeds on my 2008 aluminum MacBook. OCZ has an update that allows their SSDs to work with SATAII.
     
  3. kmpoboy2, Jun 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012

    kmpoboy2 macrumors 6502

    kmpoboy2

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2010
    Location:
    Alabama
    #3
    Have you tried testing it with TRIM enable to see if there's any difference in performance?
     
  4. jbg232 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jbg232

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    #4
    No, and I don't think I will because I'm happy the way it's working. Maybe someone else will want to though...
     
  5. .mmon macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2012
    #5
    Great post - I have the same model Macbook as you and your post has been the most helpful so far during my research.

    Some issues I've stumbled upon and a couple of questions:

    • How reliable is this SSD. I've heard Sandforce drives are fast, but unreliable. If this only lasts me a year, does OWC have good customer service? Heard very bad things about "Crucial M4" replacement service.

    • Did you use the OWC data doubler?

    • I heard there are sleep issues with using the SSD in the superdrive bay. Did you put the HDD in the superdrive bay and the OWC SSD in the HDD's previous spot?

    • Are there any other concerns / comments on the reliability or alternatives of this SSD setup? I'm going to dental school for 4 years and I want my computer to last throughout school. I cant have it die on me (Like before a big test...)

    Thanks for all your help ;)
     
  6. jbg232 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jbg232

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    #6
    1. I've only had the drive for a few days so can't really comment on reliability, but so far, no issues.

    2. I didn't use the data doubler, I just replaced the standard HDD that came with the computer.

    3. So far I haven't had any sleep issues.

    4. I really don't know what to say about reliability for four years because I've only had it for a few days. Sorry...
     
  7. esben72 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #7
    Is it a "Late 2008"

    Because if it is before the one called late 2008 is is not relevant to this problem. It is not only a "negotiating to 1.5" problem, it has to do (I think) with the actual sata hardware chips.

    I ask because I am looking for information on OCZ 6Gb drives for this model (5,1)
     
  8. robvas macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #8
    5,1 owner here. I put a 120GB Agility 3 in, no issues. It sleeps, wakes up, and runs for days with no locking up or crashing. I did have to use the OCZ SSD Toolbox to 'lock' the drive at 3.0gbs - out of the box the MacBook only let it run at 1.5gbs. Known issue, documents on both Apple's community site and OCZ's forums.

    My only regret is that I didn't get the 240GB version.
     
  9. bozz2006 macrumors 68030

    bozz2006

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #9
    Yeah, mine is the late 2008 model.
     
  10. nothingissound macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2012
    #10
    Beach Balls, BeachBalls Everywhere

    I have a macbook 5,1 *2008 aluminum* and I installed the OCZ Agility 3 the other night. It has been fast but I can't get past the beach balls at random times. It is so annoying. I am going to return it. I changed the link speed, and the other suggestions on OCZ site.

    Is there any drive that works well with this macbook or am I just screwed?

    Thanks,
    Kris
     
  11. jbg232 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jbg232

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    #11
    As in my original post, I bought the OWC Mercury Electra 3G and just plugged it in with no problems.
     
  12. robvas macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #12
    Did you clone or do a fresh install? Are you getting any messages in the console around the times you get the beachballs?
     
  13. gmbdog macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #13
    I've got the same MBP5,1 and just installed the Electra 3g, but I'm still getting 1.5Gbps negotiated speeds. I've tried resetting SMC and PRAM per OWC's instructions. no go.

    Are you running latest EFI/SMC code? I'm still running Snow Leopard (10.6.8), and was beginning to wonder if that's part of the problem, but I did boot into Ubunto Live CD, and it negotiated at 1.5Gbps too, so I'm think it's hardware/FW issue.

    Will keep watching this thread, and reply if I can get it working (too much FUD out there on this).
     
  14. jbg232 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jbg232

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    #14
    When I installed it on my Macbook 5,1 I installed Lion directly using a USB drive (and now am running Mountain Lion). I never had to reset the SMC or PRAM, it worked straight out of the box at 3G speeds - just plugged it in and booted from the usb and installed the OS. Sorry you're having so many problems, I created this thread to let people know that it worked for me at 3G speeds WITHOUT problems.
     
  15. gmbdog macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #15
    Update: Tried an old Intel X25-M in the MBP, it negotiated at 3Gbps. Oddly, the Electra 3G negotiated at 3Gbps in an old PC I had laying around.

    So, OWC is exchanging the drive (they're thinking it's a 6G drive in a 3G enclosure). I'd bought this particular model since everyone said it was well behaved with this controller, so I'm hoping the one I have is a one-off issue. more to follow.
     
  16. jbg232 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jbg232

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
  17. gmbdog macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #17
    Update: installed replacement Electra 3G drive, came up in 3Gbps mode immediately. uninstalled, copied via USB->SATA converter, re-installed, shutdown, slept, awoke, all running ok so far.. Must have been bad drive or mislabeled 6G drive..

    Glad it works, but no warm fuzzies about the ordeal (other than OWC was great at handling the replacement!).

    blackmagic perf numbers: 200MB writes, 205MB reads. Not super fast (seen 3Gbps drives go 250 reads), but neither is this MBP, but it's 4x faster than the stock hitachi hdd, and much more responsive.

    I'll be glad when SSD's go from the enthusiast/neeto factor to mainstream. I do IT all day long, and it's no different in the enterprise world (special drivers, poor platform support, wierd behavior w/ raid controllers...

    For those curious, if this hadn't worked, my next choices were OCZ (they seem to have firmware hack for 3Gbps support as well), or Intel 320 (same controller family as X25), in that order..
     
  18. skinniezinho, Sep 5, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012

    skinniezinho macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2009
    Location:
    Portugal
    #18
    This is a very interesting post.I am looking for an SSD for my Macbook White Late 2009.
    From my searches the bullet proof ones are OWC and Samsung 830, both somehow expensive (at least for europe).
    OCZ Agility 3 and Vertex3 seem to have firmware updates that correct this bug,but I think they have a big failure rate.
    One thing that I found strange is that I have this with original apple hdd:

    [​IMG]

    Keep updated with SSDs that work, appart from OWC and Samsung 830.
    From what I've seen, intel 520 and 330 don't work, and intel said it won't update firmware.Corsair launched a firmware talking about this issue but didn't correct...
     
  19. gmbdog macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #19
    I had the same 1.5/3 split with the stock Hitachi HDD that came with my MBP. I don't think Apple puts the latest/fastest drives in their systems by default.

    FYI, unless you are trying to "future proof" your purchase, buying the 6Gbps/SATA-III drives will just waste your money. THe interface on your MBP is limited to 3Gbps/SATA-II.
     

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