I'm considering giving my 2010 Macbook Pro an upgrade. Whether upgrading its 500 GB hard drive to SSD drive is a priority depends on how much it bottlenecks the computer's performance. Is there a reliable and quantitative way to measure this?


Current system configuration:

  • Mac OS X 10.10.2

  • Macbook Pro 17" (,id 2010)

  • Memory: 8GB

  • CPU: 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7

  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M 512 MB

  • Hard drive: 500GB SATA disk

  • About this Mac > System Report > Hardware > SATA/SATA Express > ... Rotational Rate: 7200 ...

  • Please add some hard facts like processor speed, ram size & speed. On the other hand what's the purpose of your Mac? General use or video, audio or graphics editing, coding?
    – klanomath
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 19:55

2 Answers 2


"I would like to know if hard drive access speed is a bottleneck to my system currently."

Of course! There are two aspects to a disk storage system:

  1. Bus speed
  2. Storage medium speed

On ANY given bus, e.g., SATA, SATA2, SATA3, a mechanical HDD will be an order of magnitude slower than an SSD for a given link speed. The secret is to always use an SSD that features at minimum the same link speed as the disk controller. It can be of benefit, however, to use an SSD (or HDD if you're financially challenged) that features a faster link speed than its host.

For example, I'm using a Crucial M500 960 GB SSD in my MacBook4,1. The SSD is a SATA 3, 6 Gb/s drive, whereas the MacBook has a SATA 1.5 Gb/sec controller. The drive performance is marginally (!) better due to its higher internal processing speeds than would be a 1.5 Gb/sec SATA SSD on the same system.

Mechanical hard disks are painfully slow compared to their SSD counterparts. In ANY computer system, the HDD and its attendant controller will be the biggest bottleneck. As such, to ensure best performance, you should use the fastest storage medium possible.


With Yosemite, we're noticing an somewhat, but not totally, subjective slowdown to all aspects of the OS, despite the minimum 4 GB RAM.

At our school we are actively replacing any faculty member's MBP's internal HDD with a SSD if they complain of 'slowness' and they can demonstrate it concretely. This can be in the form of a slow startup; slow-loading apps; frequent SPODs; anything which gets in the way of teaching. Stock MBPs use slower 5400 RPM drives, which is where some of the problems originate. Even updating to a 7200 RPM drive can help alleviate the perceived slowness.

Granted, some of the slowness can be attributed to never restarting the MBP, ever; having the ENTIRE Office '11 suite of apps open at startup; few free GB on the HDD; and similar user issues, but we've found the complaints go away when the HDD is replaced with something faster.

The only complaint we get after the swap is that the SSD we offer is usually 1/2 the size (or less) of the stock HDD, forcing users to move their iTunes libraries onto external disks or actually cleaning out the cruft from the HDDs. To alleviate this, we put the removed HDD in an inexpensive USB external enclosure as part of the deal.

Go for the SSD upgrade. You won't look back.

  • I'm pretty sure "Go for the SSD upgrade. You won't look back." will be a true statement. But that's not the focal point of this question. I've got plenty education about the benefit of SSD etc. I would like to know if hard drive access speed is a bottleneck to my system currently.
    – qazwsx
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 0:29
  • Well, the MBP has capacious RAM, and a relatively fast disk. You don't mention if you do disk-intensive tasks, such as video editing. You can try the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test to get some hard numbers of the HDD performance: itunes.apple.com/us/app/blackmagic-disk-speed-test/…
    – IconDaemon
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 2:06
  • "if you do disk-intensive tasks" -- No, I don't, not typically.
    – qazwsx
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 7:59

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