What is the difference between an SSD and the flash drive in the latest MacBook Pros? The only difference I've noted is the price, because MacBook Pro with retina display costs $2799 with a 512 GB flash drive. At the same time, MacBook Pro without the retina display costs $2199 plus $800 for a 512 GB SSD, for a total of $2999, and a difference of $200 from the MacBook Pro with retina display.

So what is the difference between the two types of drives?

  • Flash and SSD are the same thing. The difference in price is because the Retina is a completely new model & form factor (Retina display, no SuperDrive, etc). – Jason Jul 28 '12 at 21:57
  • The price variance between aftermarket SSDs and those sold by Apple can only be speculated upon. Truth is, no one but Apple truly knows why the price is set higher than the rest of the industry. – user10355 Jul 28 '12 at 22:35

Usually when Apple says "SSD" they refer to a removable/upgradeable solid-state (flash) storage device. The MBP with Retina Display (and the MacBook Airs) are also using solid-state storage, but they are non-removable.

See also: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2371288,00.asp

  • The Hard Drive in rMBPs is technically user serviceable, pretty much the only part that is. – Jason Salaz Jul 28 '12 at 22:22
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    Yes. It's what is typically called a "blade" SSD because it doesn't house the flash modules in a plastic enclosure. Aftermarket SSDs simply encase the flash modules inside a shell to fit the ubiquitous 2.5" form factor of modern computers. – user10355 Jul 28 '12 at 22:34
  • So, the question remains, is putting flash memory chips on a DIMM different from putting the DIMM in a drive enclosure? Does Apple use a different drive controller for the Air and Retina MBP or is it the same found in the Apple supplied SSD on the non-Retina MBP and other Macs? – Richard Jul 29 '12 at 12:33
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    I'm no expert on this, but I believe that the chips comprising the non-removable SSDs are soldered directly onto the logic board, which can make things more efficient than when using a drive enclosure (as there is less distance for the electricity to travel). – jtbandes Jul 30 '12 at 5:22

Up till now and including the current models, an SSD sold by Apple is a standard drive enclosure using the SATA interface and you could use that drive in pretty much any PC or Mac or with external drive enclosures and interfaces.

Flash storage like in all of the Air and the retina MacBook Pro use non-typical connectors that you can not just place in another computer. Except for the first Air, the flash storage is bonded to a bare circuit board with no case to protect the storage part.

The takeapart guides from http://ifixit.com show these differences well.

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