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I replaced my MacBook Pro optical drive with an Agility 3 SSD from OCZ, currently operating at SATA I speed only (it should run at SATA II speed, but that's another story). After a clean install of Mac OS X Mountain Lion, I noticed a few problems that made the whole user experience nearly unbearable: constant beach ball cursors and unexpected freezes and pauses (up to one minute) when editting basic system preferences, copying files, using Safari, etc. Agility 3 SSDs have their own Trim manager, so I applied no hacks whatsoever. Here's what I've done so far:

  • Made several clean installs of Mac OS X Lion on the SSD: all problems persisted;
  • Enabled Mac OS X native Trim support, using Trim Enabler: didn't notice any changes;
  • Didn't install any software and didn't use the HD: all problems persisted; Ran a "Verify disk" scan using Disk Utility: no issues returned.

I assume the problem is related to the SSD, because these beach balls and pauses started happening right after I installed the SSD. I do notice my Mac Book Pro is much faster though, whenever these issues don't freeze it. These are my relevant specs:

MacBook Pro 5.1 (late 2008):

  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo;
  • 8 GB 1067 MHz DDR3;
  • SMC version: 1.33f8;
  • Sudden Motion Sensor: Enabled.

Agility 3 SSD:

  • Model: OCZ-AGILITY3;
  • Revision: 2.220000;
  • Serial Number: OCZ-F2YXP9LB8741651B;
  • Native Command Queuing: Yes;
  • Queue Depth: 32;
  • Medium Type: Solid State;
  • TRIM Support: No;
  • Partition Map Type: GPT (GUID Partition Table);
  • S.M.A.R.T. status: Verified.

Here are some similar issues I found when browsing through Apple discussion forums, all with the very same Agility 3 SSDs:

I guess I should be more specific and run some sort of diagnostics, but I honestly don't know how to do it. Is there anything I should do to provide more information on this issue? Any suggestions would be much appreciated, as I totally depend on this MacBook Pro to work and procrastinate.

Quick update: I just checked my System Report and my SSD is running (only) at SATA I speed, while it should only have backwards compatibility with SATA II. Maybe that's the problem. I just don't understand why it's not running at SATA II speed, as is the other HD I have on my Mac Book Pro (which, by the way, only supports up to SATA II).

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3 Answers 3

I just solved the issue by updating the SSD firmware and applying a link speed fix (1.5Gb/s to 3Gb/s). Everything runs smoothly and fast now: no beach balls, no freezes. The SSD is only backwards compatible with SATA II (3Gb/s) and it was running at SATA I speed (1.5Gb/s), so maybe that's what was causing the freezes and beach balls.

There are two ways of updating your EFI; via a usb or by downloading a file from Apple, running it and rebooting. if you cannot boot because of freezes (it freezes during intensive operations like encryption for example - if that's enabled) then your only option is to create a bootable EFI upgrade (or downgrade) pen drive and update that way. Or can also try booting into safe mode with the shift key, that can help sometimes.

It is being said that the graphics chip used in mid 2009 MacBook Pros is the culprit.

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You fixed my issue on a Mac Pro by updating the SSD firmware. Thank you !! –  user50965 Jun 10 '13 at 22:15
    
I experience the same issues with my new SSD Samsung 840 in my MacBook Pro mid-2009. I can't even start the system anymore from the SSD(freeze before reaching the finder). And even starting from the old HD plugged from an external box doesn't do either. Could you be more specific about your solution : firmware update? Applying link speed fix? –  user52244 Jun 28 '13 at 6:55

This may also be an issue with the ICH8-M AHCI SATA interface chip. I have a late 2008 MBP that came with a 250 GB HD. I upgraded to a 640 GB and had endless beach balls. Turns out the models with a ICH8-M AHCI and a PATA superdrive interface cannot be upgraded higher than a 320 GB 7200rpm HD. Anything faster or larger will stall out as the FW for the ICH8-M AHCI cannot be upgraded beyond SATA I speed without killing the PATA interface. Some models with a ICH8-M AHCI and a SATA superdrive interface can be upgraded with a FW update released by Apple. Check for updates.

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If you are restoring from a time machine backup you could try creating another user and see if that user has similar problems.

If the problems persist, since you updated the hardware yourself, you may not have the cable seated properly. I know it is a pain, but you should open up the MacBook remove and reconnect the cable. I had similar problems when I installed a hard drive and that was the cause.

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Thanks, Mark. I don't use Time Machine, but I already double checked the cable that connects the SSD to the board: it seems to be pretty well seated (it properly snaps when I re-connect it). Any more suggestions, about this cable connection? Is there anything I could do to make sure the cable is properly seated? –  João Ramos Dec 16 '12 at 16:38
    
You may want to check the connection to the motherboard. Other than that you may have a bad drive. If you put the original drive back in do the problems go away. That will tell you if it's e drive or something else. –  Mark Dec 16 '12 at 16:56
    
The original HD is still there, I didn't do anything with it - that's why I'm pretty sure this is related to the SSD: it's the only piece of hardware that was added to my MacBook Pro. –  João Ramos Dec 16 '12 at 17:02
    
If the old one works fine, then the new one is bad. –  Mark Dec 16 '12 at 21:48

protected by Community Jun 28 '13 at 11:27

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