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I was researching the newer MacBook Pros and options that are available with them. I wondered if there is some consensus on SSD drives (128 gig if that matters).

I'm aware of the price penalty for Apple SSD drives, and there are videos of SSD's as replaced by enthusiasts with latest and greatest drives for benchmarking, etc, but I was looking for information on drives purchased and installed through Apple. My questions: A) Is there truly a big speed difference compared to other Apple store options? B) Are the SSD drives more reliable overall? Glitches, performance issues encountered because of the SSD instead of the 5400 RPM drive? C) Does the SSD option give a boost when running a VM like VirtualBox?

Overall, if there are people who have the 13" unibody MacBook Pros with SSD drives, do you regret the purchase and if so why?

The notebook would be often used on the road, travel, recording some audio/light video editing, system administration work, virtualized machines (Linux and Windows in a VM, probably virtualbox), itunes, and standard work as well (email/web browsing). I was hoping the SSD drive would be an option to extend the laptop life, be more reliable when traveling around and taking light vibration while in it's travel bag, maybe being less sensitive to wear and temperature, etc. It will probably also use FileVault encryption.

EDIT: @Troggy: Thanks for taking time to explain your position (I mean it...often it seems this is overlooked). I was asking this in particular because I was making it very specific to the apple default orders; I didn't want to have to modify the drives themselves, I'm not shopping for top spec hardware to modify it. I wanted to know specifically about the Apple hardware and Apple options so it would be covered under AppleCare, and as such it is kind of a niche question in itself because I didn't want to shop for aftermarket parts. I'm looking at what experience people have with these specific items

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4 Answers 4

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AFAIK, Apple's SSD are manufactured by Toshiba, they're no match for high-end aftermarket products such as Intel X-25E, Kingston's E-Series or OCZ Vertex.

SSDs are more reliable and robust than platter hard disk drives as they don't have any moving parts.

The performance of a SSD (even a mediocre one) beats that of the best platter hard disk drives hands down.

And yes, they boost the performance of everything that involves disk operations, even with virtual machines.

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But even if it's a Toshiba that doesn't match the aftermarkets, they're still noticably better than the default drives that Apple can ship with, yes? (it's not a matter of "you might as well have the hard disk instead of that thing?") –  Bart Silverstrim Feb 8 '10 at 20:03
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at bart: They will sure be faster than a mechanical drive, especially faster than a 2.5" and 1.8" drive, especially on reading. They will use less power and will be a lot less fragile (in fact you'll not be able to damage them mechanically (well of course you can, but they will last longer in a mechanical attack than the rest of the laptop)) –  Cairo Feb 8 '10 at 20:09
    
@Bart Silverstrim - Yes, even Apple's SSD will boost the performance significantly, but best bang for your buck are currently the OCZ Vertex series SSDs (not the 'Turbo' version, they're quite expensive). –  Molly7244 Feb 8 '10 at 20:28
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One thing you currently have to take into consideration is TRIM support. It's a drive feature which is supposed to counter the fact that the drive speeds stall over time because the drive needs to keep up managing the blocks in it's storage.

Apple does not yet suppport TRIM in OS X (Win 7 already does) but it's only a matter of time until they need to support it in order to keep up with newest SSD development. However, if you buy a drive that does not support TRIM (or can't be BIOS upgraded) you'll find yourself not being able to maintain high SSD speeds while everybody with newer drives can.

It's a rather deep topic (google for "SSD TRIM") but the bottom line is that if you buy an SSD today that does not support TRIM, you will kick yourself in the butt tomorrow or the day after that.

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I've done the following :

I've bought a 13" Mac Book Pro (basic configuration) and I've changed the shipped in HDD with an Intel SSD X25 !

After 5 months running my Mac with this config, I can conclude on the following :

  • The speed performance is big but not as big I expected. The boot time is lightning fast and I can use file vault without seeing any slow down.
  • I've heard a lot of complains about SSD (not so reliable ...), mine works like a charm
  • The battery life is better (the power consumed by an SSD is negligible)
  • An aspect I didn't expected is the NOISE ! It's such a pleasure to not listen the plates rotating.

From my point of view, it's a good idea to have an SSD drive into its mobile computer if you don't need large disk space (mine is 160 GB)

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The intel X25 is a nice one as it's almost the only one to bridge the gap between 128GB and 256GB. And noise (or lack thereof) is a huge benefit, I outfitted to desktop machines (an iMac 24" and a PC) with SSD for that reason. –  Cairo Feb 8 '10 at 20:11
    
How difficult was it to switch out the hard disk with the x25? –  Bart Silverstrim Feb 8 '10 at 20:21
    
It was easier I expected ! I've followed this howto : youtube.com/watch?v=JoHNcjCyAvU . If you know how to replace batteries in a remote control, you can do this ! –  Kami Feb 8 '10 at 20:24
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I have this exact configuration and while this is a purely subjective opinion, I love it. It boots and shuts down amazingly fast. Boots in 12 seconds and shuts down in 4 seconds. It makes almost no noise and the write speeds seem fast. Although I didn't compare them to HDDs.

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