In December I purchased a new MacBook Pro. I am using it at the office 9 hours a day and then for any travel I do or as on a casual basis at home. I wanted it to be mobile so I ordered the 13 inch model. I wanted it to be powerful enough to run the applications I needed it to run. I purchased the 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo model with 4 gigs of ram. But I wanted more. So instead of purchasing a 7200 RPM hard Drive to speed it up, I took the leap of faith and purchased the 256 gig Apple SSD (Solid State Drive).
It was not cheap, if I recall it added $800 to the price of the laptop and to be honest, if the company I work for didn’t pay for a percent of the purchase, I would have probably not made that decision.
After four months of using the MacBook Pro day in and day out, the one thing about the Mac that surfaces in every conversation is the speed and silence of my SSD drive. It is the one option I could have purchased with my Mac that made the biggest impact on my Mac, period. I am now in the process of deciding the best path to take to upgrade my Mac Pro to SSD. I believe that with that one upgrade, I can prolong the effective life of my Mac Pro at least two more years.
I hear you screaming over your Mac right now, “That type of money doesn’t just grow on trees Tim, wake up already!”
I understand your concern and let me explain. First of all, let’s look at why I believe that the answer to my Holy Grail of computing speed is the Solid State Drive. All of you with a laptop, especially a MacBook or older MacBook Pro, will understand when I say that booting up a laptop is a slow and sometimes painful process. Plus, launching apps can be slow and the noise from your hard drive is noticeable to say the least. My MBP with the SSD boots up in 19 seconds flat. That includes all the apps that are loaded at start up, my Remote Desktop app, Textexpander, Dropbox, SecondBar, Quiet Read, WeatherVane, Carbonite and iStat Menu. That was 19 seconds.
Next is the speed of the drive itself. Here is a screen grab from a free benchmarking application called Xbench. Download it and run it on your Mac for comparison. You’ll see the speed in my drive.
Keep in mind that these numbers are from an older, slower SSD then what is now available by companies such as OCZ, and Intel. Plus, the prices have fallen a bit, especially for the smaller sizes. You can buy a 60 gig OCZ at the link above for $169.00. That’s on sale, but it shows that SSD prices will be falling and if the price is not in your range now, it soon will be.
So the next question I get asked is how can I live with such a small hard drive. If you can afford a 256 gig SSD, you’ll find it’s more room then you may actually need. As I write this article, I have 66 items in my applications folder and I am using 23.45 GB of storage with 210 GB free. What about those of us that need more storage for our iTunes library, iPhoto library, iMovie library or any other storage monster you have hiding on your Mac?
You have several options, one was fully explained by my friend Don McAllister on his members only screencast number SCO0224: Solid State Drives and Optibay. Rather then rehash it, just check out the links above and you’ll get the step by step instructions you’ll need to increase your laptop storage. The Optibay is a great solution for turning your DVD drive bay into another storage option, and it comes with an external USB drive enclosure for your DVD drive.
For my Mac Pro, it has 4 drive bays in it already. I have 3 TB of storage in it and if I replaced the 500 gig HDD that’s in it with a 60 gig SSD, I really would not miss the storage space and I have to believe that the increased speed would make the Mac Pro seem like a new machine. I would just use one of the drives in my Mac Pro for keeping my iTunes, photos, movies and documents stored. The SSD would be for the operating system and applications.
I have pretty much talked myself into upgrading my Mac Pro to SSD, the logistical part of this still needs to be tweaked. As always, I will keep you informed and I’d love to hear your feedback too.