MacBook SSD Upgrades
SSD Drives For G4 and Intel Mac mini
3.5" SSD for iMac and Mac Pro Tower Upgrades
The best value lies in these few drives: An OCZ Agility, A Super Talent UltraDrive ME or GX, The Patriot Torqx or Warp V3 Series, and an OCZ Vertex Family -- or perhaps a RAID 0 Apex. The rest of the chart was cropped out - It just wasn't worth bothering with - although Intel's X-25M and E drives probably should have been in the original list. Intel's drives are consistent top performers in nearly and SSD benchmark.
Other OCZ Vertex drive variants and Firmware Revs shown below matter only to the incremental Tweaky-Geeks who live by a stop-watch or have bleeding-edge wallets. The designs, controller chips, the flash memory chips used - are all leveling out to a basic commodity used in most of the drives these days. Any of the handful of SSD's above will deliver GREAT performance far, far exceeding your Macs original SATA hard drive.
"MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.7 addresses an issue reported by a small number of customers using drives based on the SATA 3Gbps specification with the June 2009 MacBook Pro. While this update allows drives to use transfer rates greater than 1.5Gbps, Apple has not qualified or offered these drives for Mac notebooks and their use is unsupported."
OCZ pre-announced its 500GB and 1 TERABYTE COLOSSUS SSD line expected in the Fall of 2009 - This SSD will feature dual Indilinx controllers and a JMicron RAID chipset to deliver huge storage capacity, stunning performance, and the drop-in ease of a standard 3.5" form factor for desktop systems such as Intel iMacs and Mac Pro towers.
60GB SATA Agility SSD
OCZ's Midrange SSD
Bringing up the rear - for those of us with more meager budgets and smaller needs - it looks like OCZ will also revamp it's mid to 'low-end' lineup with an affordable MLC based OCZ Technology OCZSSD2-1AGT120G Agility Series SATA II 2.5-Inch SolidState Drive Is now in-stock - we'd expect this 'value' drive to deliver great performance just below the Vertex series - and make a possible phase-out of the Core and Solid series lines seem highly likely as technology marches on.
Here we see with the Mac mini Early 2009 model introduced at MacWorld Expo - The Intel Core 2 Duo mini finally gets an upgrade to it's Serial ATA interface to 3Gbps SATA II. With data transfer rates above SATA I's 1.5Gbps (150Mbps) limits, you should definitely be looking at the top performing Indilinx and Samsung controller-based SSD's now available who's peak read and writes speeds are more towards the 200Mbps and up range - which older Mac mini's just couldn't take advantage of. As an alternate choice, more towards the value end, OCZ's 2nd generation JMicron RAID 0 cofiguration Apex SSD series comes in at a lower-price - but with still very respectable performance numbers.
Over on ZDnet, Jason D. O'Grady gives his take on benchmarks of OSX 10.5.6 on a Runcore brand SSD in a high-end 2.4Ghz MacBook Pro over the MacBook's stock 5400 RPM Western Digital Blue series drive:
"As you can see from the results table the Runcore Pro IV almost doubled the HDD’s performance in sequential reads and writes... But that’s only the beginning. The Pro IV slaughtered the standard SATA HDD in random reads where it’s six times faster and in random writes where its over three times faster. When tested moving larger files (2-10MB and 20-100MB) the SSD more than doubles the performance of the HDD.
So there you have it, the Runcore Pro IV delivers up to 6x more performance over a standard HDD. If you’re a professional that uses your notebook for 8+ hours a day to earn a living you really can’t afford not to have a Runcore SSD."
Numbers freaks should check out Jason's post above, but the words in bold here tell most what you need to know: The current crop of SSD drives are running circles around the average hard drive - and can and will dramatically increase your productivity.
drives - and Patriot will be using in their newly announced Fusion SSD series as well. These 3 mentioned drive lines will be the ones to watch - and will be delivering the best bang for the buck in summer of 2009.
- ACARD ANS-9010 DDR2 SATA RAM-Drive
- Crucial / Lexar 32GB 2.5" SATA-2 SSD CT32GBFAB0
- G.Skill 64GB MLC 2.5" SATA-2 SSD FM-25S2S-64GB
- G.Skill Titan 128GB SATA SSD FM-25S2S-128GBT1
- Hitachi Travelstar 5K160 2.5" 40GB SATA 5,400 RPM HDD HTS541640J9SA00 (8MB Cache Buffer)
- Hitachi Travelstar 7K100 2.5" 60GB SATA 7,200 RPM HDD HTS721060G9SA00 (8MB Cache Buffer)
- Intel 80GB X25-M SATA SSD SSDSA2MH080G15E
- Kingston 80GB SATA SSD SSDSA2MH080G1GC
- MemoRight GT 64GB 2.5" SATA SSD MR25.2-064S
- Mtron Pro 7500 32GB SATA-II SSD MSP-SATA7525
- Mtron Pro 7000 16GB 2.5-Inch 16GB SSD SATA7025
- Mtron MOBI 3000 16GB 2.5" SATA SSD MSD-SATA3025
- Mtron MOBI 3500 64GB 3.5" SATA SSD MSD-SATA3535-064
- OCZ 64GB 2.5" SATA SSD OCZSSD64GB
- OCZ SATA-II 32GB 2.5" SSD OCZSSD2-1S32G
- OCZ Core Series SATA-II SSD OCZSSD2-1C64G
- OCZ SATA-II 64GB 2.5" SSD OCZSSD2-1S64G
- OCZ Apex 120GB SATA SSD OCZSSD2-1APX120G
- OCZ Vertex 120GB SATA SSD OCZSSD2-1VTX120G
- OCZ Vertex EX 120GB SATA SLC SSD OCZSSD2-1VTX120G
- Patriot Warp 128GB SATA-II SSD PE128GS25SSDR
- Samsung 64GB 2.5" SATA-2 SSD MCCOE64G5MPP-0VA
- Seagate 7200.11 500GB 3.5" ST3500320AS 7,200 RPM SATA-II Hard Disk Drive (32MB Cache Buffer)
- Super Talent MasterDrive MX 60GB 2.5" SATA-II SSD FTM60GK25H
- Silicon Power 64GB 2.5" SATA SSD SP064GBSSD25SV10
- Silicon Power 32GB SLC SATA-II SSD SP032GBSSD750S25
- Western Digital Raptor 74GB 3.5" WD740ADFD 10,000 RPM SATA Hard Disk Drive (16MB Cache Buffer)
- Western Digital VelociRaptor 150GB WD1500HLFS 10,000 RPM SATA Hard Disk Drive (16MB Cache Buffer)
Well, speaking of slots, OCZ threw down the gauntlet this past week by introducing the Z-SERIES PCI-E CARD SSD supporting multi SSD RAID in capacities of 250GB, 500GB and 1TB offering utterly insane data transfer rates peaking at 450Mb/s to 510Mb/s depending on the model. For Apple Mac Pro users, the announced PCI Express solid-state drives OS Compatibility support includes: Windows XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64, and Mac OS X 10 and above. So it's nice to have OCZ officialy state this monster is qualified for Apple computers.
Also note the Vertex is the only one with (sadly, Windows PC required) firmware upgrade jumper - and that there's no 30GB Apex model because of it'sdual JMicron controller design for an INTERNAL RAID 0 config - meaning it's basically 2 30GB banks of MLC NAND flash teamed up to provide the 60GB of capacity.
Early generation white G5 iMacs are a breeze to upgrade. 3 screws and pop off the back lid. A few more to remove and swap the SATA drive takes mere minutes. Finding an ICY DOCK MB882SP-1S 2.5" to 3.5" SSD & SATA Hard Drive Converter to fit the 3.5" drive bay was easy enough, and barely cost $25 shipped using competitive priced 3rd-party sellers at Amazon
Taking advantage of OCZ's current SSD rebates - I found a dirt-cheap low-cost OCZ 30gig Solid Series SATA 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive that cost $75 after rebate.
Granted, 30GB isn't much drive space these days, and the "Value priced" Solid Series from OCZ is only a respectable middle-of-the-road performer for an MLC SSD in 2009: 150Mbps peak Reads, 90Mbps Writes. For this backup Mac I keep on-hand, truly bleeding edge SSD speed doesn't matter. And is well matched to the 150Mbps SATA I controller chip of those iMacs anyways.
A clean OS X 10.4 Tiger install on an SSD takes much less disk space than 10.5 Leopard, and all I really need from this system is occasional access to web, email and Microsoft Office. It's also used a test-bench Mac for starting up other G3-G5 Macs in an emergency using FireWire target mode, remotely running disk diagnostics and system updates. An SSD and it's high read speeds is PERFECT for quickly running installers and applying updates.
Long story short, this cheap little bargain SSD drive UTTERLY REVITALIZED an aging Mac: Startup speed, app launching, and switching programs feels nothing short of amazing. It's still easy to push the old single G5 processor to 100% CPU utilization on some tasks, but at least now the drive is no longer the sluggish bottleneck it once was. Total project cost: About $100 - and well worth it.
Download MACTRACKER - A great reference of Apple system specs to get specific SATA bus speed info for specific models. Apple started using SATA II in Late 2007 only on very select Macs. As of this writing, only the recently revised 2009 'Classic' white MacBook still uses SATA I - and only the newest 5-USB-Port Mac Mini of 2009 finally added SATA II support. MacTracker will also point out the fine distinctions of when and exactly which models made the switch from ATA drive interfaces to SATA I.
It's important to note that the quoted transfer rates of SSD's in Press Releases, Product Listings, or even on this site are PEAK numbers only on SEQUENTIAL types of read/writes - often more theoretical than real world throughput the average user will experience. The RANDOM read/write numbers are markedly lower - especially random writes. Oh but what do you care? Unless you absolutely went out of your way to research and upgrade your existing mechanical hard drive to top of the line models - ANY current-generation SSD is going to feel faster than what your Mac came with.
Be aware, often benchmarking articles and SSD reviews are deceiving: the Tweak Geeks often pit the latest top of the line SSD they're testing against the absolutely fastest platter drives known to man such as Samsung's F1, WD's Velociraptor, or Seagate's Barracuda ultra-high RPM drives that the majority of us do NOT have installed in our computers. That doesn't really show the difference an SSD can make over the stock, often Middle-Of-The-Road performing drive Apple included in your Macintosh.
|SATA 1.5 Gbit/s||SATA 3 Gbit/s|
|Frequency||1.5 GHz||3 GHz|
|Real speed||150 MB/s||300 MB/s|
And these prices are inconsistent: Depending on exactly which Mac and which model - Build-To-Order at the Apple Store charges as little as $300 to choose a 128GB SSD to as much as $825 to add a 256GB flash drive. On higher-end Macs, Apple has more leeway in margins to alter prices on a per-Mac basis. On lower-end models, the cost of the SSD is higher. On higher end models the same size SSD option is priced lower. Go figure.
For some, the peace of mind, and value right out of the box may make that included SSD option worth it. It's easy to say Apple's solid-state storage upgrade prices are anywhere from high to outright outrageous. But when time is money - and given how dramatically faster SSD drives can make your Mac - a flash drive option may pay for itself... in no time flat
Benchmarked are Apple's Mac OS X Version 10.5.6 Leopard as well as Windows 7 running via Apple's BootCamp - and also compares the OCX Vertex Series SSD laptop drives to an excellent alternative to an SSD, one of the fastest conventional platter SATA drives: the WD Scorpio Series Hard Drive 2.5" spinning disk drives.
Impressive SSD read-write numbers, app launch timings, and SSD speed improvements are detailed. If you weren't sure if you were ready for a solid-state drive on your Macintosh - this should convince you. Here's a tidbit on launch times of Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 - which has become quite big and bloated:
|1st run (WD Scorpio HDD)||1st run (OCZ Vertex SSD)|
|Entourage||18.6 sec||5 sec|
|Mac Excel||5.1 sec||2.2 sec|
|MS Word||8.5 sec||2.1 sec|
|Powerpoint||4.9 sec||3.5 sec|
For Model-Specific DIY Upgrade Info - See:
MacBook SSD DIY | Intel Mini SSD DIY | 3.5" Pro and iMac SSD DIY
Apple tends to have little middle ground: Sometimes they opt for end-user serviceable parts and easy access designs - and at other times (Such as in the Aluminum iMacs or Mac mini) require painstaking procedures. Recently -- as with the Uni-Body Apple MacBook + MacBook Pro family - and Pro Towers -- even Apple is finding their support and service infrastructure benefits from easy to access hard drives. And such designs make their customers slightly happier about long-term ownership.