Apple Compatible SSD Reviews and News

Mac SSD Drives How-To Upgrade Site Additions

For those wanting a few insights on what might be involved replacing your Apple computers factory installed hard drive with a solid-state disk alternative - please visit these new pages for Model-Specific DIY Apple SSD Upgrade & Replacement Info:
MacBook SSD Upgrades
SSD Drives For G4 and Intel Mac mini
3.5" SSD for iMac and Mac Pro Tower Upgrades

Apple SSD Upgrades - The Only Drives To Buy In Mid 2009

This chart - Lifted from BenchmarkReviews.com - pretty much says it all: As of Mid 2009 the truly decent SATA interface SSD's worth buying -- and that give the best bang for the buck can be simplified down to a handful:

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.

Best SATA SSD Drives For Apple Computers

MotherBoards.org SuperTalent SSD vs Velociraptor

The Mobo-Bear: Elric Phares over at www.motherboards.org did a nice real-word and straight-forward video of a Super Talent FTM28GX25H 2.5-Inch 128GB UltraDrive ME SATA2 Solid State Drive vs one of the absolute fastest traditional spinning platter drives: the WD Velociraptor 150 - on Apple Mac's running OSX. This clip should tell you all you need to know: This Super Talent solid-state drive beats the pants off the best 'old fashioned' disk drive made. So what are you waiting for?

MacBook Pro SATA Bottleneck Firmware Fix

Oh it was all a brief TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT as hardcore SSD 'enthusiasts' found some speed limits in the only-just-shipping 2009 MacBookPro's SATA controller. Well, to stop all the WHINING - Apple released a Firmware update to shut them up. So there. We now have a fix, those of you who just had to have the barely a week old MacBook Pro, and just had to gut it and slap in a high-end SATA II class bleeding edge SSD - and just had to whine about reduced performance: Here ya go. Download it, run it, and resume measuring your weenies:

"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."

Big Honkin SSD For Mac Pro + A Value Drive From OCZ

500GB - 1TB OCZ Colossus SSD
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.

Apple Mac mini (Early 2009) SATA II SSD Support

Which SSD to buy for Apple mini Mac
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.

Slim Pickings: Where's Hardcore SSD Benchmarks For Mac OSX?

It seems only the Windows - and occasionally Linux folk have the equipment, time, patience and funding to really deep-bench the assault of SSD's hitting the marketplace. (Having good PR and industry connections sending you freebie SSD's to test doesn't hurt either...) Over on the Mac side, MacWorld is likely the only Mac-specific resource to have the lab to benchmark things on that level - but I've yet to see them tackle SSD benchmarking on Mac OSX like they should. In the meantime, Rob over at Bare Feats puts tons of Mac hard drive options thru their paces in more detail than any one else on the Apple side of things.

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.

http://www.mac-ssd-drives.com/

Super-Talent Indilinx-Based SSDs

Though not-quite-shipping as of this writing: check out the broad range of next-generation SATAII solid-state drive offerings listed at Amazon in the SuperTalent UltraDrive Series. These Super Talent SSDs in the pipeline will be available in a wide range of drive sizes and in both more affordable MLC and highest performing SLC memory versions. These SSDs are based on Samsung flash memory chips -- and the high-performance Indilinx controller that OCZ uses in their Vertex Series Mac Edition
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.

SSD's Tested @ Benchmark Reviews

www.benchmarkreviews.com continues to provide some of the most exhaustive and extensive testing, benchmarking, and analysis of Solid-State drive performance. Deep Geek numbers type folk may wish to explore some of the following linked articles to SSD's tested and reviewed so far:

Apple Mac Pro Tower PCI SSD Upgrade Options

Replacing or adding a hard drive to a Mac Pro tower has always been ridiculously easy: First with the dual G5 model's open extra drive bay with mounting screws at the ready -- It really is just plug and play. Then in subsequent Mac Pros Apple provided 4 drive upgradability -- as easy as just pushing a standard form factor 3.5" SATA drive into the slot. With an affordable ICY DOCK 2.5" to 3.5" case installing a laptop size SSD in a Pro Macintosh takes about 1 minute.

OCZ's Z-Series PCI Express Slot SSD For Mac Pro
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.

OCZ Vertex - Apex - Solid SSD Performance Chart

Here's a CLEAR-CUT chart direct from OCZ's website breaking down performance, controller chipset, and sizes of their 3 main SSD products. The only thing missing on this graph might be to note the value end Solid Series SSD includes a Mini USB 2.0 port which can come in very handy for cloning your Mac System or externally installing OS X and restoring data before installing in your MacBook, iMac, Pro Tower or Mac mini.

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.

ocz-performance-scale

iMac G5 - A Low Cost EZ SSD Upgrade

A 1st-generation Apple G5 1.6ghz iMac makes a good candidate for a Solid-State computer disk drive upgrade. As the original model - the lowliest and slowest of the iMac G5 family, mine was beginning to show it's age. An upgrade from it's original 80gig SATA drive to a 250gig 7200rpm 8mb cache drive helped, but now with smaller capacity 30-64GB SSD disk prices hitting new bargain lows it deserves one last breath of new life.
imac-ssd-drive-upgrade
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
icy-dock-ssd-3.5-converter
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.
low-cost-ocz-solid-series-iMac
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.


SSD's For Macs : ATA vs SATA I vs SATA II Support

Still digging for a clear-cut answer to this: Exactly which Apple computers-10480544" width="1" height="1" border="0"/> support built-in SATA II speeds vs SATA I ? This issue is starting to matter as solid-state flash SSD's maximum peak read speeds and to a lesser degree - the slightly slower write speeds are beginning to encroach on the maximum bandwidth of the current SATA II spec. Fortunately, the backward compatibility of the Serial ATA specs insures your SSD will simply run at the fastest clip your motherboard chipset allows regardless.

Find which Macs support SATA II SSD's
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
Bits/clock
1
1
8b/10b encoding80%
80%
bits/Byte
8
8
Real speed
150 MB/s
300 MB/s

SSD Build-To-Order Options At The Apple Store

Although limited to three models: The MacBook Air, the Unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro line - the Apple Store Online now offers 128GB and 256GB SATA SSD drives as a build-to-order option. Prices are rather steep to say the least.

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

Benchmarks of OCZ Vertex on Mac OSX

For SSD benchmark freaks: Here's an absolutely great post at the OCZ Technology Forums: Macintosh based SSD tests run on a Vertex Series SSD in a Unibody MacBook.

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

Finding The Best SSD Disk Drive Prices And Deals

Whether you want the fastest, best-performing SSD available - or the lowest cost cheap SSD drive you can get your mitts on -- it's a buyer's market. NewEgg.com has frequent rebates on SSD Hard Drives, or find the most competitive best prices on top performing SSD flash drives at Amazon.com. As solid-state drives become mainstream consumer products and economies of scale ramp up in mid-2009, SSD drives are both increasing in capacity and flash memory drive prices are coming down. By year's end, expect 32GB SSD laptop drives now hovering just below $100 to be largely phased out. 128GB SSD's are dropping in price - and are proving to be the sweet-spot in capacity at prices still within reason.

Solid-State Flash Drive Upgrades for Mac Computers

Depending on the model of Mac you may already own - a replacement upgrade to SSD for your disk drive may be a simple DIY drive swap done in a few minutes, or a grueling Leave-It-To-A-Qualifed-Tech to properly disassemble and upgrade your Mac desktop or laptop to a solid-state drive.

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.