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Putting solid state drives (SSD) into MacBook Pros

:: Monday, January 11th, 2010 @ 5:41:18 pm

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MacBook Pro with Intel X25-M SSD and second 500GB SATA drive

Photographer Tony Wu is excited by the new 15″ MacBook Pro I’ve put together for him. It features a 2.8Ghz Core 2 Duo processor w/6MB shared L2 cache, 8GB RAM and dual internal hard disks: a 160GB Intel X25-M SSD G2 and the stock 500GB drive it shipped with. I purchased a third-party SSD because the SSD Apple ships is embarrassingly slow.


Unboxing — first view of Tony’s new machine

Tony will use the 160GB SSD as a boot / applications / cache drive and will probably keep his Aperture library package on it (even though his library is failing — poor Aperture users). The 500GB will be used to store images and video. His old MacBook Pro has a terrible display — everything is dim and fuzzy. I’m not sure if they were all that bad, or if Tony’s has just deteriorated over a few years of constant use (I don’t remember my old MBP’s display being as bad).

The new machine boots really quickly:

Even after being fully configured my MacBook Pro with Intel X25-M still boots in just over 20 seconds. Most computers lock up when a user starts up and logs in because all the startup apps hit the hard disk simultaneously (and this is really slow when you have a spinning drive).

What did you use to replace the SuperDrive with a hard disk?

I used the MaxConnect Optical Bay kit for MacBook and MacBook Pro Unibody Laptops. Previously, I used another product, but I really like the MaxConnect optical; everything fits perfectly. My only gripe is that the adapter is 100% metal, which means that it is heavier than it should be. I think it should be made of strong plastic. In general, I like MaxConnect products; I also use their SAS/SATA BackPlane Attachment for Mac Pro, which I find to be an excellent solution for putting an SSD or two into a Mac Pro desktop machine.

Why the Intel X25-M SSD?

I know that there are finally faster SSDs coming to market, but the Intel X25-M is still a really strong choice and outperforms almost every other consumer SSD currently available. In real-world use it is ridiculously fast due to its best-of-class random read and write speeds. More importantly, Tony could order an X25-M and have it shipped to me overnight. The new SSDs are clearly fast and are getting great reviews, but they’re not quite available yet. It is great to see OCZ innovating in the SSD space after their initial products, which used crappy controllers and were easily coaxed into multi-second write delays. OCZ also seems to put out a new SSD line every few weeks — really confusing for non-computer people. They should clean up their product line!

Personally, I use RAID striped Intel X25-M SSDs (generation 1, vs Tony’s G2 drive). I love this machine and never have to wait for anything other than Mac OS X network timeouts (improved over old versions of OS X but still annoying).

| San Francisco, CA | link | trackback | Jan 11, 2010 17:41:18
  • http://www.below-surface.com Tobias

    Hi Eric,

    Did you had a chance to test the OCZ Vertex SSDs yet? On the paper it should be much faster than the Intel one.
    I'm currently thinking about to install a SSD into my MacBook and I don't know which one I should select.

    Thanks & Regards from Germany
    Tobias

  • maxim

    not much, new MacBook Pro, fully configured with HD of 5400 rpm will boot in about the same time (about 20 sec).

  • Anonymous

    does your battery seem to be shorter as compared to use the old hd? i upgraded my mbp pre-unibody with the intel x25m. And my battery life seem to be alot shorter.

  • Oliversm2

    I have the same issue and am not sure why

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been searching the net in regard to battery life. All in all it is very basic mention that battery life should improve. But all review I come upon only mention the speed and how much faster things are. To me, if battery life is worse than using the oem hd, then I would rather stick with the old hd, since I go out with my mbp without charger throughout my day. Was looking for something to do to optimize my battery that maybe be effected due to the change in hardware. but nope, nothing as of yet.

  • Paul

    SSD consumes more power as compare with magnetic disk. I even had problems failing to read disk after using for a couple of weeks. I guess the main suspect is the tiny flex cable in the MacBookPro doesnt supply enough power. (Tested Kingston and Cosair)

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