Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I use Mac book pro 15", and it's time to buy a new one. For HDD, now I see a new option of SSD, which is pretty expensive.

I can expect shorter boot-up time and faster access of files, but I'm not sure if it's worth the money.

  • Does the use of SSD give one a dramatic performance boost?
  • Is buying SSD from Apple a good idea? It seems the price difference between HDD and SSD is more than the price of SSD in retail.
share|improve this question
    
see also: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/3063/… –  Robert S Ciaccio Jan 30 '11 at 20:24
    
2  
Another option to consider that is not as expensive as a full SSD drive is the "hybrid" Seagate Momentus XT series, which couples a big SSD cache (4GB) with conventional hard disk storage. See anandtech.com/show/3734/… –  Chris W. Rea Feb 3 '11 at 23:44
add comment

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I disagree with Randolph's Answer. If anything, the article says exactly the opposite of the "good performance for a while" part.

What we found was the exact opposite: an OS that doesn't appear to be affected by SSD performance degradation

And I don't have Apple's SSD. I have an OWC on a Mac Pro and haven't had any performance degradation since I brought it, about six month ago. Before that, I had an Intel drive and also never had degradation problems under OSX. I changed the drive because my 1st drive was too small. That Intel-M drive is running on a laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium.

So far, it has been proven that OS X doesn't suffer from the lack of TRIM support; what we don't know if that's because the OS/FileSystem is doing something different or because there's TRIM support hidden and not reported.

In any case, getting a SSD is really a performance increase. I only use it for the OS and some minor things, the rest sits on a mirrored SATA RAID, but this is a Mac Pro, so things are different.

On small Macbooks, the usage of SSD is like day and night and I haven't seen performance degradation over the course of a Year.

Maybe there is one, but if that's the case, it's so slow that by the time is significant, you'll be either changing the drive or the whole computer.

I've been using SSD since late 2009.

I recommend you don't get one from Apple, as they tend to overcharge. Get one of the many SSD's alternatives like Corsairs, Intels or the OWC I have, which I heavily recommend.

But the SSD market is in a constant evolution, so read before you buy.

share|improve this answer
    
I must respectfully point out that "for a while" is a subjective period of time, and in my case as a heavy user, I've found noticeable degradation in speed. In some cases, a while could define a year, or six months. –  user479 Jan 30 '11 at 23:00
add comment

TRIM is a slightly outdated concern with the latest SSDs, it was a big problem with first or second generation drives. If you choose the right drive - one that has been recommended by many is the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro - then you should have no noticeable speed degradation. If you must have SSD now the Sandforce controller is probably your best option, not what Apple offer as BTO.

If I was buying a new Mac today I'd still take the traditional drive just because price/performance is not quite there yet on SSD, even though performance increase is huge. If you can live with your snappy new MacBook Pro for even six months without a SSD (and I bet you can), and then buy a SSD and upgrade yourself you will pay less for more capacity. Additionally you may see drives based on 25nm flash technology become available using even less power with even more speed and capacity.

share|improve this answer
    
I agree with your sentiment on price / performance. I've also updated my answer to take into account garbage collection on SSDs. –  user479 Jan 30 '11 at 23:19
add comment

SSDs on MacOS X will be significantly faster, for a while. However, the OS does not support the TRIM command, so it will slow down significantly, to the point where a full wipe (zeroing out the drive) will be necessary.

More reading here: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/apple/2010/07/01/mac-ssd-performance-trim-in-osx/1

As you'll see from the review, it's not a good idea to buy from Apple because their SSDs are slow to start with. If you do go with a third party drive, make sure that you're aware of the need to zero it out periodically, at least until OS X supports TRIM.


EDIT: As pointed out in the comments, SSDs that don't have TRIM support can still have an efficient Garbage Collection algorithm that mitigates the problems of not having TRIM, so your net effect is still a superior performance over mechanical drives.

That said, I'm sticking to the mechanical drives for now, for personal reasons, in that I find them more reliable over the long term than SSDs. This opinion may well change in the next few months or years.

share|improve this answer
2  
Haha was just writing an answer with a link to the same page. You were quicker on the draw +1 ;) –  conorgriffin Jan 30 '11 at 19:47
    
I see you're quite a big contributor to this site, so I had to get in first :-) –  user479 Jan 30 '11 at 19:48
    
Yeah I've had a quiet weekend just answering questions on this site. Don't think I'll be keeping up this kind of pace for long though –  conorgriffin Jan 30 '11 at 19:56
2  
Even with degradation, it's a ridiculously powerful upgrade. It improved the performance of my machine to such a degree that boxes without SSDs feel like 486s to me now. Unless you fill the SSD quickly, degradation isn't even much of an issue. And if you do, you can always do a backup, wipe (fill the drive with zeroes), and restore to bring performance back to the way the drive was when it was brand new. –  Robert S Ciaccio Jan 30 '11 at 20:23
    
@calavera - sure, as I said in the beginning, "[it] will be significantly faster". My usage of drive capacity is on the high end, so I wouldn't see the benefits for very long, and (again, personally) I would find the backup / wipe / restore process tedious. –  user479 Jan 30 '11 at 20:41
show 5 more comments

Great performance boost, apps cold startup is 1-5 sec, depending on the app

I have a 2,5" 120GB Intel 520 SATAIII SSD and HDD setup in 2011 MBP http://imgur.com/0J2dV6L

Executed some instructions from http://blog.alutam.com/2012/04/01/optimizing-macos-x-lion-for-ssd/

If you have lots of RAM and not using Photoshop or virtualization (VirtualBox, Parallels,etc) than section "Use RAM disk or HDD for temporary files" could a performance boost

share|improve this answer
add comment

It gives a huge boost. My MacBook now boots in just 8 seconds, down from a minute and a half.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.