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I have a mid 2007 white MacBook. I don't currently have the money to get a new computer (even though I'd love to). I was thinking with all the good reports coming out with the SSD performance in MacBook airs, perhaps I could get a speed boost of my own by replacing the hard drive in my computer with an SSD. I don't need a very big one so I'm thinking of spending no more than $250, but hopefully less.

The first question I have is has anyone performed the upgrade on that model of MacBook and do you have recommendations for SSD drives and tips for doing the actual upgrade?

The second question is do you think that it's worth plunking a hundred fifty bucks into a machine thats getting to its end of life cycle. Perhaps the upgrade will give the computer some new life and I can feel happy with it for another year if I can't get the money together for a new computer right away. On the other hand, is it better to just put that $200 into a piggy bank to start saving for the new airs coming out?

If it will help answer this question this is how I use my computer:

Apps that are always running:

Transmission Dictionary Preview Safari (only a few tabs at a time) Mail Skype iChat Things Notational Velocity iCal iTunes

Apps that I will run on top of that when I'm doing some specific task (ordered from least intensive to most): Twitter MarsEdit Kindle Reeder Pages Numbers Keynote Word Excel Powerpoint iPhoto GarageBand iMovie Miro

I usually run one or both of the office productivity suites at full blast, with multiple documents open in each, when I'm working as a math professor. Sometimes I run Photoshop, XCode, Coda, but not that often.

So, hopefully that helps clarify my MacBook usage.

Also, if you recommend waiting, not upgrading to SSD, but just waiting to get a new computer, do you think I could do this kind of usage on a 13" Macbook Air, or should I really think about getting the 15" Macbook Pro?

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Here's how to see what an SSD will do for you. Turn off wifi, reboot your mac and launch only Xcode and quit it. Then launch marsedit and quit it. Then mail + things and quit. Then launch things a second time with most of the files cached in ram. Running lots of apps concurrently is the perfect case for SSD. You won't believe how much better programs with many files open behave. (Mail, iCal, Xcode, etc...) –  bmike Jun 21 '11 at 20:20
    
I'd say buy an SSD. The speed gain is quite a lot. In computing, I believe that delaying what to buy is the best strategy. If you'd want to buy a Macbook Air now, you'll be drooling over a new Macbook Air in 2012, 2013, and so on... –  Enrico Susatyo Jun 22 '11 at 11:48
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3 Answers

Here is a good article about the experience a user had with SSDs: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/05/the-hot-crazy-solid-state-drive-scale.html

Basically

SSDs are so scorching hot that I'm willing to put up with their craziness.

but...

Just make sure you have a good backup plan if you're running on a SSD.

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I don't have much experience with SSDs, but I just looked into making some upgrades myself. I asked an Apple rep if an AIR would suit my needs, which are similar to yours. (Xcode, Photoshop, iMovie, etc)

An Apple salesperson at the Apple Store told me that the MacBook Airs are at this point not able to handle Photoshop properly. (And those have the SSD already in them!) The performance boost of the Air is somewhat exaggeratedly explained as being the result of the SSD. It's a combination of SSD and the graphics/CPU being tightly integrated.

I recommend waiting until the end of July 2011 when the refreshes are announced. Although the current Airs aren't what you'd want, an update might really change that.

If you can afford it, or save for it, I'd go for the MacBook Pro. Those are more expensive but are powerful.

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A lot of judgement goes into making a recommendation - I've had bad and good even at the Apple stores. Some photoshop users feel the CPU on the air is inadequate, but I know many people that are bowled over how capable the air is. If he's happy with Photoshop on his 2007 MacBook, then no need for a larger mac. It will be interesting to see how fast a ThunderBolt bump happens on the air line. They are still listed as NEW on the product page. –  bmike Jun 21 '11 at 21:12
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The cheapest 11" air will run circles around your current mac and have great resale value where your mac is going to lose value very rapidly - better to sell it now and upgrade if you can swing that much money now.

If everything else is great and you love your mac - an SSD will be the perfect upgrade - it will feel like a new mac.

I'm in a situation with my 15" MacBook Pro. (last rev before unibody)

I'll be going with a ramjet drive for in a month or so to speed it up / increase eventual resale value. I'm waiting for the Air's to get thunderbolt and will evaluate a new portable at that point since I'll want display mirroring to an iMac with thunderbolt.

I'm leaning to an air or a 13" MacBook Pro with apple SSD and I will remove the optical and put in a larger spinning drive using a mounting kit. I'm guessing the iCloud will make it easier for me to be without so much media and the air will be fine for my needs.

Good luck!

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Thanks! It gives me some more to think about :) –  drury Jun 21 '11 at 20:06
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An SSD in my old MBPro was a a great move. But here's a caution: SSDs are not conventional hard drives and they aren't nearly as reliable. They can fail unexpectedly and when they do failure is pretty spectacularly bad. Make 100% certain you're running Time Machine at regular intervals. The speed boost is worth the risk and the new life it'll breath in to old hardware IMO. But understand that it comes with some risk. –  Ian C. Jun 21 '11 at 20:58
    
Ian C - well said - SSD are like experimental race cars and motorcycles and when they crash it is spectacular. I speculate the cost of apple SSD is buying reliability past what the open market is selling as they often are on the hook for 3 years of service. –  bmike Jun 21 '11 at 21:09
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