I'm looking to buy a MacBook Pro w/ SSD.

I was wondering if anyone out there has noticed any significant performance drop with FileVault2 enabled for the following tasks:

  1. Small (under 2 GB) PostgreSQL and MySQL databases
  2. Ruby development
  3. Lots of grepping and text parsing

As you will buy one of the latest Macs, you should be fine.

The used Intel processors support Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) which is also used in Filevault 2.

Ars Technica, published an extended review on Filvault 2 in Lion. They say:

Apple also leverages the special-purpose AES instructions and hardware on Intel's newest CPUs, further reducing the CPU overhead. The end result is that regular users will be hard-pressed to notice any reduction in performance with encryption enabled.


These are real world numbers from my MBP with an Intel 2635QM processor which supports AES encryption. My hard drive is a Crucial M4 128GB.

  • Filevault 2 disabled: max. read 510MB/s, write: I forgot to write this down :(
  • Filevault 2 enabled: max. read 490MB/s, write: 190MB/s

I mention only the max. numbers as these figures depend on different factors for file operations. The difference for maximum read here is 20MB/s abosolutely which is 4% relatively.

  • When the disk is encrypted, the CPU becomes the bottleneck. Using Intel AES standards should compensate most of the deficits. Still, I admit that it would be nice to have real world numbers to point to. – gentmatt Jan 20 '12 at 10:33
  • I have real word numbers! I have real world numbers! See the edited answer :) – gentmatt Feb 4 '12 at 19:14

I'm pretty sure your usage pattern is going to determine your perception of whether performance is a big hit.

I'm doing Rails development on a 2012 rMBP-13" with 512SSD, 8GB RAM and FileVault 2 enabled. My co-worker has a 2012 rMBP-13" with 768SSD, 8GB RAM and FileVault 2 disabled.

Running the same suite of unit tests (which are db heavy), mine complete in 70s, while hers complete in 55s, about a 22% difference.

In regular use (opening browser, files, email, etc.) the machines seem to perform about the same.

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