or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › MacBook Pro with custom 128GB SSD upgrade benchmarked
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

MacBook Pro with custom 128GB SSD upgrade benchmarked

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
While Apple offers solid state drives (SSDs) in its MacBook Air sub-notebook, it has yet to extend that courtesy to its professional notebook line. A recent in-depth analysis of a MacBook Pro custom fitted with a 128GB SSD offers evidence as to why, while holding promise for the coming year.

Following its performance and battery tests of an SSD-equipped MacBook Air, the highly technical hardware analysis publication AnandTech was propositioned to evaluate a stock 2.5GHz Penryn-based MacBook Pro upgraded with a 128GB Memoright MR25.1-128S SSD.

If you thought Apple's $999 upgrade price for the Air's 64GB SSD was steep, hold on to your seat. The Memoright drive was priced out at a whopping $3,819, which in itself provides one reason why the professional notebooks, which presently ship with a minimum of 200GB of hard disk space, have thus far been left out of the party.

With the combined price of the SSD-eqiupped MacBook Pro bordering on $6000, AnandTech was looking for real world improvements in battery performance, application performance, and overall system usage. To summarize, the drive failed to deliver in all but the final category, serving as yet another compelling argument against offering such an upgrade path in the MacBook Pro at current pricing.

Battery tests showed the SSD to slightly underperform when compared to the standard Hitachi 5400RPM hard disk drive (HDD) Apple ships with the MacBook Pro, while application performance saw marginal improvements (iPhoto Import, Adobe Photoshop CS3 retouch) in some cases but posed as a slight disadvantage in others (iPhoto Export, MS Office).

The advantage of the SSD over the HDD was most apparent in its ability to read random blocks of memory between 3 and 20 times faster than the SSD. But as the analysis notes, most single-application desktop usage models are heaviest on sequential disk access, not random, and hence won't see the biggest performance benefits of the SSD.

Where the flash-based SSD really shined was in overall feel and "snappiness" of the system, which takes into account application launch times, Finder interaction, and system boot time. Launch times were essentially cut in half and the MacBook Pro booted in 22 seconds with the SSD as compared to nearly 40 seconds with the HDD.



AnandTech notes that several of the larger capacity SSDs on the market like the Memoright are not native Serial ATA devices, and instead use an internal PATA interface to an external SATA interface, which presents several inefficiencies. It adds however, that Intel has been talking about its upcoming SSDs and how their own controllers will offer a significant performance.

Those Intel drives are due out sometime in the second half of the year, and with prices for flash memory falling approximately 40 percent year-over-year, it's believed that 2009 will end up being the year for widespread adoption of SSDs in mainstream notebook designs, while 2008 will go down as the year that it all started happening.
post #2 of 18
>the MacBook Pro booted in 22 seconds with the SSD as compared to nearly 40 seconds with the HDD

But since we MBP owners rarely power the units down, choosing to sleep instead, this becomes a moot advantage as well. Good thing too, considering few of us will be forking over $3800 for a solid state drive.
post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

...Good thing too, considering few of us will be forking over $3800 for a solid state drive.


...But wasn't there someone here last year saying that these would be widely available and price competitive by now? I seem to remember an interminable battle over this between somebody and Mel. Maybe next year...
Progress is a comfortable disease
--e.e.c.
Reply
Progress is a comfortable disease
--e.e.c.
Reply
post #4 of 18
It just seems like SSD isn't as beneficial as I once thought it would be. In fact, I think most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference in a blind test. What is holding it back? There has to be something they are missing. Or have they just perfected the spinning platter so well that it is as fast as an electron? I'm off to find some benchmarks on a 15k rpm HDD. It seems like that should be the fastest alternative given the disappointing performance of SSD.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

>the MacBook Pro booted in 22 seconds with the SSD as compared to nearly 40 seconds with the HDD

But since we MBP owners rarely power the units down, choosing to sleep instead, this becomes a moot advantage as well. Good thing too, considering few of us will be forking over $3800 for a solid state drive.

so very true. i have a 2.5 ghz penryn mbp with 7200 rpm drive and if I ever restart it, it's for software updates and even still 40 seconds to boot is killer quick compared my dinosaur 1.6 ghz G5 at the office.. 3 minutes to the login menu, 1 minute 30 seconds to load the dock, mail and ical. yuk.
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


The advantage of the SSD over the HDD was most apparent in its ability to read random blocks of memory between 3 and 20 times faster than the SSD.

Assuming "its" refers back to SSD (which I think it does), did you mean to have "HDD" at the end there? I'm a bit confused if not.

Overall a good article. I'm the kind of user who likes flashy things for the sake of flashy things (hey at least I can admit it), but it seems an SSD would just be inane until prices come down in a big way.
20" iMac Core Duo
15" MacBook Pro
Reply
20" iMac Core Duo
15" MacBook Pro
Reply
post #7 of 18
[QUOTE=JohnnyKrz;1246246]It just seems like SSD isn't as beneficial as I once thought it would be. In fact, I think most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference in a blind test.
[quote]
Well if you can't tell the difference between boot times that are almost half the traditional HHD rates then maybe you are qualified for the blind testing. Look at it this way if you had the ability to buy said drive at a competitive price would you find the performance as offensive? It is only pricing right now that makes such drives a bad deal.
Quote:
What is holding it back? There has to be something they are missing.

What is missing? Simple an actual test program that takes into account the various drives currently on the market. You simply can not make generalizations from one test run on one hardware example. Especially in the case of SSD as their performance is all over the map.

To check out the spread look at STEC's site and the various drives they offer up. Some are slow relative to a Compact Flash card others are impressively speedy.
Quote:
Or have they just perfected the spinning platter so well that it is as fast as an electron? I'm off to find some benchmarks on a 15k rpm HDD.

Many HDD's come with very large caches which dramatically impact performance measurements. It is not like you are comparing apples to apples here.
Quote:
It seems like that should be the fastest alternative given the disappointing performance of SSD.

No your first alternative is to not to jump to conclusions. Rather you need to take into account all the various "drives" available now. In any event don't sit back and think the traditional drive manufactures will sit back and let SSD drives take over the market.

You also have to think hard about how your personal usage jives with the drive you select. If you are always reading a lot of data off the "drive" then a SSD may make sense right now.

Dave
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyKrz View Post

...given the disappointing performance of SSD.

I would be able to tell the difference in a blind test, since system snappiness and boot time
are involved. And I'm not sure SSD displayed "disappointing perfomance". Its improvements aren't as extreme as some had predicted, but it's still an improvement as
far as I'm concerned.

"Disappointing" would be if it did poorly in all or most of the areas benchmarked.

My MBA is very snappy when it opens apps, boots up, etc. And I feel that the
data is more secure than it would be on a spinning disk.

The price is disappointing, but memory prices are dropping quickly, and it
will not be long before we see these drives everywhere.

The spinning HDD is on the way out . . .
Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
-Horacio Verbitsky (el perro), journalist (b. 1942)
Reply
Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
-Horacio Verbitsky (el perro), journalist (b. 1942)
Reply
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

In any event don't sit back and think the traditional drive manufactures will sit back and let SSD drives take over the market.

Dave

Seagate, for one, has announced that it will join the party and produce hybrid drives
as well as pure SSDs in 2008. They believe that all 3 alternatives will have applications
for the foreseeable future.
post #10 of 18
Hi All,

I finally registered.

I remember talk of Intel's Robinson technology, where a small amount of flash memory would be placed on the mobo (i think) to help with boot times.

HDD manufacturers was also supposed to add flash memory to their drives too. Maybe this will be a next progression in drives... HDD drives -->hybrid drives -->SSD
post #11 of 18
Maybe a test on a 120GB 1.8" drive would be in order. Supposedly they're available.

SSD is going to become mainstream in due time, but the module costs need to go down by an order of magnitude for me to get interested in using it as primary computer storage.

Given the costs, I'm plenty happy waiting. A 320GB 2.5" drive costs $160 or less at Newegg. A 1TB desktop drive is about $200 now.
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lafe View Post

I would be able to tell the difference in a blind test, since system snappiness and boot time
are involved. And I'm not sure SSD displayed "disappointing perfomance". Its improvements aren't as extreme as some had predicted, but it's still an improvement as
far as I'm concerned.

"Disappointing" would be if it did poorly in all or most of the areas benchmarked.

My MBA is very snappy when it opens apps, boots up, etc. And I feel that the
data is more secure than it would be on a spinning disk.

The price is disappointing, but memory prices are dropping quickly, and it
will not be long before we see these drives everywhere.

The spinning HDD is on the way out . . .

Boot time, as others have already pointed out, is an irrelevant test. That is an action I perform about once a month at most. That leaves "snappiness" as the only performance advantage. As the article states, most tasks are performing sequential reads, not random; and the HDD won out there. SSD wins the for shock resistance, but I think long-term durability and reliability are still unknown.

Large capacity SSD prices would have to drop by a factor of 15, I think, before they become competitive with HDD for mainstream usage. That would give you a price point where you'd have a choice between a shock-resistent SSD vs a HDD with twice the capacity. And given that capacity is king (I couldn't imagine my MBP having less than 200 GB), I think it'll be at least 3 more years before this choice becomes viable for the most users.
post #13 of 18
Is the OS linked with legacy code to an HDD? Couldn't the OS be rewritten to benefit from the advantages an SDD provides?

Since reads are a lot faster on an SDD, why not optimize the OS for random reads? No such thing as fragmentation on an SDD, is there?
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_test View Post

Hi All,

I finally registered.

I remember talk of Intel's Robinson technology, where a small amount of flash memory would be placed on the mobo (i think) to help with boot times.

HDD manufacturers was also supposed to add flash memory to their drives too. Maybe this will be a next progression in drives... HDD drives -->hybrid drives -->SSD

Hybrid hard drives were supposedly made last year. I can't find one for sale. I don't know if Robson or hybrid hard drives ever proved beneficial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post

Is the OS linked with legacy code to an HDD? Couldn't the OS be rewritten to benefit from the advantages an SDD provides?

Since reads are a lot faster on an SDD, why not optimize the OS for random reads? No such thing as fragmentation on an SDD, is there?

Fragmentation probably doesn't hurt SSDs much. Given that the OS rewrites a file to prevent fragmentation, eliminating that routine for SSDs might help. But it would mainly help because of a limitation of flash memory, it can only be written to so many times.

I really don't know how the OS can be rewritten.
post #15 of 18
A few months back, I upgraded my Mark I macbook with the shoddy 60GB 5700rpm 8MB cache Seagate drive to a 200GB 7200rpm 16MB drive.

The machine now feels far snappier and the boot times have reduced by around 20 seconds, which is an amazing difference.

This drive was only £90 from ebuyer, however it goes like hot cakes!

Would recommend this drive to anyone wanting to update their laptop, Mac mini system.
post #16 of 18
Kasper,
I think there's a typo. First sentence of the 5th paragraph:
"The advantage of the SSD over the HDD was most apparent in its ability to read random blocks of memory between 3 and 20 times faster than the SSD."

Do you mean "3-20x faster than the HDD"?
post #17 of 18
Best Buy is currently selling a 4GB flash drive for $27.99. Obviously there a better places to find it cheaper but I wanted a standard cost to prove a point. The 128GB SSD drive that they used is 32 times the capacity of 4GB. Going by these figures, the cost should be $895.68.

Another comparison which seems explain that the the larger circuit are connected to the cost of SSD. A 16GB flash drive from Best Buy costs $186.99 and a 128GB SSD is 8 times the capacity. Going with this set of figures, a 128GB SSD should cost $1,495.92.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Maybe a test on a 120GB 1.8" drive would be in order. Supposedly they're available.

SSD is going to become mainstream in due time, but the module costs need to go down by an order of magnitude for me to get interested in using it as primary computer storage.

Given the costs, I'm plenty happy waiting. A 320GB 2.5" drive costs $160 or less at Newegg. A 1TB desktop drive is about $200 now.

Better late than never...if anyone hasn't seen it: http://www.macworld.com/article/1451...sdupgrade.html

And the prices on these things are getting VERY reasonable. 32gb can be had for under $150 now at mydigitaldiscount.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Current Mac Hardware
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › MacBook Pro with custom 128GB SSD upgrade benchmarked