"WHICH DRIVE SHOULD I ORDER FOR MY NEW MACBOOK PRO?"
That's a hot topic on the forums. And I get that a lot in my email from readers. So let's talk.
The second generation of Solid State Drives (SSDs) are an exciting option for laptops. They are faster with no moving parts. They run cooler and quieter.
Apple is now offering CTO SSDs up to 512GB in capacity for the 2010 MacBook Pros. If you order the MacBook Pro Core i7 with the top SSD choice, it will cost you a $1300 premium over the standard 500GB 5400rpm drive. So what do you get for your pain? Let's look at some numbers.
LEGEND of GRAPHS (Numbers are in Megabytes per Second; RED bar means faster)
Crucial C300 SSD = Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (CTFDDAC256MAG-1G1)
OWC MerExt SSD = OWC Mercury Extreme Enterprise Class SSD 200GB (OWCSSDMXE200)
OCZ Vertex LE SSD = OCZ Vertex Limited Edition SSD 200GB (OCZSSD2-1VTXLE200G)
OCZ Vertex SSD = OCZ Vertex SSD 120GB (OCZSSD2-1VTX120G)
Crucial M225 SSD = Crucial M225 SSD 256GB (CT256M225)
Intel X25-M SSD = Intel X25-M Gen 2 SSD 160GB (SSDSA2MH160G2R5)
Apple 512G SSD = Apple CTO SSD 512GB (Guessing it's the Toshiba THNS512GG8BB)
Apple 7K HDD = Apple CTO HDD 500GB 7200rpm (Seagate ST9500420ASG)
Apple 5K HDD = Apple Standard HDD 500GB 5400rpm (Seagate ST9500325ASG)
OBSERVATIONS and FURTHER INFO
1. The Apple 512GB SSD isn't the fastest dog in the hunt, but it's certainly a leap forward from the fastest notebook HDD we've tested. If you are queasy about installing your own drive upgrade, the Apple SSD 256GB CTO should provide a good balance of speed vs space vs price.
2. Though the Crucial RealSSD C300 has been timed at 350MB/s read speed using a 6Gbps host adapter in a Mac Pro, it won't achieve that inside the MacBook Pro -- since its internal SATA interface is rated at 3Gbps. On the other hand, write speeds remain in the 220MB/s range no matter what interface is used.
3. One concern of consumers is the tendency for SSDs to slow down after a period of usage. Lloyd Chambers has done extensive testing on three of the SSDs listed above. One of them had no long term performance issues. Two of them had major issues. His report is recommended reading.
If you can take the financial heat, an SSD will turbo charge your MacBook Pro's drive operations. For large block transfers, an SSD can be as much as 2.7x faster than the fastest notebook HDD. For small random transfers, it can be as much as 8.5x faster. We have posted our operations per second data (because it is incomplete), but an SSD will process as much as 100x more per second than the fastest HDD.
The OWC Mercury Extreme is our recommendation for a third party upgrade of your MacBook Pro's internal storage. It's not only fast with advanced enterprise class features, but it passed Lloyd Chambers' "Seasoning" test with flying colors.
SSDs (and HDDs) are rated for millions of hours between failures, but bad things can still happen. You must have a backup plan. My favorite solution is a bus powered FireWire 800 notebook enclosure with the drive of your choice.
MORE TO COME ON 2010 MACBOOK PROs
Tomorrow we will post some test results using real world apps like Photoshop, Compressor, After Effects, Motion, etc., to compare the 2010 MacBook Pro Core i5 and i7 to other Macs.