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I have a MacBook Pro (6,2; mid 2010; 4GB DDR3, 2,66 i7) And for a while now, I've been thinking about building in a SSD in my Mac.

My first plan was to switch my 512GB drive with a 512GB SSD, but the prices of those things made me think again.
Then I learned about OptiBay, a company which allows you to switch your optical drive with a secondary hard drive.
So I came up with the plan to switch my drive with a 128GB SSD where I'll install Mountain Lion on and by so keeping my 512GB drive for all the data.

But the world of SSD is fairly new to me. So I've got some questions for those who are more familiar with this topic.

  1. Which method would you use to switch the drive with the SSD? (OptiBay,...)
  2. I heard some rumors about the performance of the SSD, something about limited times you could read/write the drive. Are those rumors true?
  3. Is there a way to recover my optical drive and use it as an external drive (I think OptiBay offers such a way)
  4. When will I gain the most performance gain? Installing only my OS on my SSD or when I install all my extra software on the SSD as well? Or which combination will give me the most performance gain?
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Hi! Welcome to Ask Different. Questions regarding shopping recommendations are generally off topic on the site because they're localized, go stale quickly and less fact, more opinion. Please see our FAQ for details: apple.stackexchange.com/faq#questions -- I've edited your question accordingly. –  Ian C. Aug 6 '12 at 13:10
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I've only used OWC's and Apple's own SSD drives, just wanted to say that moving your OS to SSD while keeping main data (~ etc) on the HDD is absolutely the way to go for now. I've got a OWC Mercury Extreme SATA-III 120GB as boot in my 2008 Mac Pro (2x2.8 quad-core Xeon, 12GB RAM, 10.8) and my ~ on the original Apple 320GB drive, and it still screams. –  da4 Aug 6 '12 at 13:10
    
Thanks @IanC. for pointing this out! –  Michiel Aug 7 '12 at 7:16
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2 Answers 2

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  1. The OptiDrive and similar products work very well. I have the similar Date Doubler (OWC) installed in my 2009 Mac Mini and am very pleased. The combination of the fast but small SSD and still having the larger but slower HDD is the best you can do until prices come down. Optical media is passé, as you can see by Apple now systematically dropping it from its product line, and you can easily get by with only an external drive for occasional use.
  2. Yes there's a limit on the number of write cycles on an SSD but it is mitigated by the firmware on newer drives which have complex "wear levelling" algorithms (basically evenly distributing writes across the disk to reduce wear) and most (though not all, check the drive specs) manufacturers ship drives with about 10% "hidden" reserve space that gets put into operation as bad blocks fail (so called over-provisioning.) Further more there are some measures you can take yourself to limit writes to disk, such as the mounting your drive with the noatime option (see"Optimizing MacOS X Lion for SSD") which will tell the OS not to update (write) the accessed time every time you read a file.
  3. Yes OWS sells an enclosure that will take a mac Superdrive. I'm sure others can be found also.
  4. You will get the most performance gain putting everything on SSD, obviously. However, this is not always practical. You may have large files (e.g. VMWare images) or large collection of files (e.g. iTunes folder) that take up an inordinate amount of space on the SSD. Personally I put everything on the SSD and then create links for those directories (Movies, Pictures, Music) to the internal HDD. Applications I recommend keeping on the SSD no matter how large because of the performance boost.

One more recommendation: when choosing an SSD do a thorough search on the internet regarding OSX compatibility. Some SSD drives do not support SATA-III speeds on OSX and yet others require a firmware update to do so. I've seen even hardcore tech nerds get bitten by that one.

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Thanks for your answer! Especially the "optimizing for Lion SSD" is very interesting. I assume it's the same for Mountain Lion? About the OSX compatibility, if I find an SSD supporting SATA-III, it should work just fine? –  Michiel Aug 7 '12 at 7:18
    
Yeah nothing's changed for Mountain Lion. Regarding SATAIII, there are incompatibilities between certain SSD chips and Nvidia-based macs. See this discussion on Macrumors. I think your MBP is a later revision but all the same I recommend checking with the vendor before purchasing or asking on support forums. –  Tyr Aug 7 '12 at 13:12
    
See also my answer to this question Slow SSD performance on iMac –  Tyr Aug 7 '12 at 13:18
    
Thanks Tyr, will this (goo.gl/8FteB) drive fit my internal drive? –  Michiel Aug 10 '12 at 7:40
    
Great! It works absolutely fabulous! Thanks for the optimizing tips! –  Michiel Sep 3 '12 at 6:03
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  1. Crucial. They've got a 4.5-star average review out of 810 reviews on Amazon. Further, their 128GB model only sets you back $104.97.
  2. OptiBay is the only option I've heard of for this type of modification, and I have yet to read anything negative about it.
  3. I've never heard any such rumor, and I've actually gone and installed the 256GB variant of that same Crucial drive I linked in my own 2011 17" MacBook Pro with nothing but outstanding results.
  4. This post at MacRumors would go along with your idea to use an enclosure from OptiBay:

First, I ordered a kit from Optibay, you can google their site. The base kit comes with the "frame" for the SSD to fit into your Macbook Pro, as well as a USB enclosure for a slot load SuperDrive. The cost of the kit is $99, a bit pricey, but it was well worth it and came with the enclosure.

5.As far as performance is concerned, you're gonna find the most bang for your buck by installing the operating system on the SSD for sure, as well as any apps that you find yourself using most often.

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Thanks for your answers. But if I install my OS on the SSD, what about thinks like "My Desktop", "My Documents", "Movies",... They are all located on my SSD I presume since the OS is on it? –  Michiel Aug 7 '12 at 7:17
    
This is true, those particular paths are located on your SSD, but for things like Music, I believe those paths are controlled from within iTunes. –  Terrance Shaw Aug 7 '12 at 9:35
    
Can I redirect the paths to Movies, Desktop, Documents to my not-SSD hard drive? –  Michiel Aug 7 '12 at 9:39
    
Though I can't verify the success of it, it looks like that exact question was posed (and answered) here: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/25932/… –  Terrance Shaw Aug 7 '12 at 9:44
    
Great! I'll take a look at the topic! Thanks –  Michiel Aug 7 '12 at 9:52
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