Karsten's Blog

February 20, 2010

First experience with SSD in MacBook Pro

Filed under: Mac — Tags: , , — kthoms @ 11:57 AM

The weakest link in the hardware chain of a notebook is always the harddisk. What do you really have from dual core processors and gigabytes of RAM when most of the time you have to wait for I/O? Over the time my notebook got steadily slower and the harddisk was running and running. I tried cleaning up the harddisk and followed several advises, all with just small success. It must be remembered that I’m primarily working on Java software development with Eclipse, where it is natural that you have thousands of small files to load and to write. These files cannot be read in one flow, and handling lots of small files is much slower than handling larger files. Now the notebook got so slow that I was really badly annoyed and finally decided to ask our admin whether I could get a SSD for my Mac. I hoped this will reduce the performance bottleneck and help me work more efficient again.

Today our supplier got this disc and I immediately went to them to exchange the disk. Just made a backup and some benchmarks before the change. Now I have all working again and getting my first impressions. What I just can say is: Go get an SSD! The difference is amazing!


Technical Details

  • MacBook Pro (2007 Series)
  • 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
  • Mac OS X 10.5.8

Old Disk:

  • Hitachi HTS5416116J9SA00, SATA
  • 5400 RPM
  • 160 GB
  • Apple HDD Firmware 2006
  • Manufactured JAN-07

New Disk:

  • Corsair CMFSSD-128GBG2D
  • 128 GB

Benchmark with AJA System Test

Write Performance: 32.6 -> 87.6 MB/s   ( x 2.68 )
Read Performance: 38.5 -> 126.4 MB/s   ( x 3.28 )

Benchmark with Xbench

Disk Test Hitachi SATA 5400 RPM 160GB Corsair SSD 128 GB Factor
Sequential Uncached Write 4K blocks 29.69 MB/sec 50.76 MB/sec 1.71
Uncached Write 256K blocks 37.20 MB/sec 88.88 MB/sec 2.39
Uncached Read 4K blocks 18.13 MB/sec 21.83 MB/sec 1.20
Uncached Read 256K blocks 38.30 MB/sec 99.32 MB/sec 2.59
Random Uncached Write 4K blocks 1.05 MB/sec 11.29 MB/sec 10.75
Uncached Write 256K blocks 20.48 MB/sec 30.76 MB/sec 1.50
Uncached Read 4K blocks 0.47 MB/sec 12.54 MB/sec 26.68
Uncached Read 256K blocks 17.24 MB/sec 66.08 MB/sec 3.83

The complete results can be downloaded and viewed with Xbench: Before After.


The benchmarks clearly show that I/O has boosted performance by factors. Really extraordinary is the comparison of writing (10x) and reading (26x) randomly small files, which comes close to the behavior that you have when working with Eclipse and larger projects. But even in other categories it is clear that the SSD beats the old HD clearly.

What the benchmarks already show I can share with my subjective feeling when working with the new hardware. It is now as if I would have a completely other system. Startup of the system and applications is now really fast. To give you an imagination: Open Office (yes, I use it from time to time, don’t sent me comments on that!) starts now up in 2 seconds! I did not measure it before, but guess it would be about 10-15 seconds before. iTunes takes less than 2 seconds to start. And Eclipse starts up I would say about 4 times faster.

When I think about how many time got lost for me just for waiting for I/O before… And finally it prolonged the time that I will use my MacBook, since now again I don’t have the feeling that I need to upgrade to a newer generation. Otherwise I think this year I would have asked itemis to buy a new one.

In a few years I think most notebooks will have SSDs. Besides they are much faster they also consume less energy and thus don’t heat up the notebook that much, are more robust, and are silent. It’s just that SSDs are rather expensive now and have a limited lifetime. Anyway, I believe that the SSD is its investment really worth!

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  1. Nice report and better experience improvement. :)

    Comment by Pedro J. — February 20, 2010 @ 1:27 PM

  2. it’s interesting but it would have been great if you would have compared how java builds (like maven) or execution differs between the two environment.

    Comment by Julien — March 17, 2010 @ 9:59 AM

  3. Hi!
    Thank you for the article. I am SO installing an SSD drive now… :)

    Comment by Satheesh.net — March 17, 2010 @ 2:09 PM

  4. Glad you shared your experience. Am shopping for new MBP… and wondering whether it’s worth the +$300 to upgrade to SSD. Would it matter much if I get 128 GB vs. 256 GB SSD

    Comment by Marie Casas — April 15, 2010 @ 8:25 AM

    • Depends on what you are doing with you MBP. If you just do office stuff with it then maybe not. Anyway, the experience is far better with an SSD, and since I use it for my daily developer work the high price is more than reasonable.

      Comment by kthoms — April 15, 2010 @ 1:38 PM

  5. Hi, Have you noticed any slowdown in performance of your Corsair SSD over time?

    I too have a MBP and have been looking at reviews trying to find a good SSD to replace the built in Hard drive.

    - Thanks,

    - Jack

    Comment by Jack Fruh — May 16, 2010 @ 4:19 AM

    • The disk becomes slow when it is nearly full. I recommend to leave always some gigs free.

      Comment by kthoms — May 16, 2010 @ 10:27 AM

  6. [...] the first solution is of course to upgrade your hard drive, and if you can afford to by an SSD one, this link seems to show what dramatic improvement you can [...]

    Pingback by Set up Eclipse workspace in RAM « Normation Blog — July 27, 2010 @ 1:49 PM

  7. Hey

    I’ve just taken delivery of my new MacBookPro with 8GB of RAM and the 500GB SSD! I opted for the 13″ so that I could spec it up a bit more, but to be honest I probably would have gone for the smaller size anyway for convenience. Since I wasn’t paying for it myself, I decided to see if I could get away with ordering the largest capacity SSD @ 500GB and it worked.

    What can I say except that I’m bowled over by this superb piece of kit. Not only does it look beautiful, but functionally it is the best portable computer I’ve ever had, and I’ve been through quite a few in my job since 1994 – starting off with a Compaq that came in a reinforced briefcase which weighed a tonne! Before I switched to Mac, my favourite had to be the IBM Thinkpad but it pales into insignificance compared to this beauty. I’m looking for extra work just to get using it!!!!!

    Comment by Eúnan Carr — September 23, 2010 @ 11:55 PM

  8. I’ve had my 17 inch Macbook Pro for about 3 months now. While I’ve had some minor issues with it, overall it’s been great. I love how the keyword lights up so I can see at night. I’d recommend it to anyone who does design work.

    Comment by Dan @ Macbook Pro Review — January 7, 2011 @ 9:59 PM

  9. So it’s been about close to a year since this post. I’m currently thinking about getting a SSD but stories of failures from 1 to 6 months of purchase is scaring me. I do backups but I can’t justify paying that much for a a drive that’s gonna die on me in less than a year. How’s your drive holding up?

    Comment by Biggamal — February 5, 2011 @ 12:38 PM

    • Fine. Now 1 year old and heavily under load.

      Comment by kthoms — March 4, 2011 @ 7:16 AM

  10. Congratulations for the test. I have a MBP 2008 Core2Duo 6 Gb ddr2 RAM. I changed my HDD last month. The model is Samsung 500 Gb 5400 RPM Sata II 3 Gb/s. Well, in same AJA System Test the results are: 128 Mb Arquive 69.6 Mb/s Write and 68,5 mb/s Read. Not bad for a US$ 70,00 HDD compared with the US$ 300,00 of Corsair SSD!
    I think that’s necessary more time and evolution to make the ssd’s affordable to popular use.

    Comment by Marcelo Ruiz — March 13, 2011 @ 2:12 AM

  11. And what about the hibrid SSD/Conventional HD’s? some one have tested it?

    Comment by Marcelo Ruiz — March 13, 2011 @ 2:14 AM

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    Pingback by Ssd For Macbook Pro>> macbook hard drive Tips | ssd in macbook Guide! | Macbook Reviews — October 29, 2011 @ 2:57 AM

  13. Hi, ich habe ein A1260; also MBP C2D 2,4 Ghz, 4 Gig Ram… Ich überlege gerade auch eine SSD einzubauen und noch mal den lesten Rest rauszuquetschen. Macht es einen Unterschied, ob man eine SATA I oder SATA II Platte einbaut? Wenn ich das richtig gelesen habe, haben die MacBook dieser Generation SATA I Controller, oder? Kannst du zu diesem Zeitpunkt eine SSD empfehlen? Grüße aus Köln :-)

    Comment by Marco — February 2, 2012 @ 8:28 PM

    • Hallo Marco!

      Ich habe mittlerweile ein MBP Early 2011 i7 2,2GHz mit APPLE SSD TS128C. Ich würde nie wieder ohne SSD leben wollen. Allerdings habe ich nur eine 128er und habe das optische Laufwerk ausgebaut und ein Optibay mit einer 750GB/7200RPM eingebaut. Die Kombination hat das optimale Preis/Leistungsverhältnis. Audio/Video und alles noch große ist dann auf der zweiten Platte, alles mit dem ich täglich arbeite auf der ersten.

      Mit einer SSD ist ein Unterschied wie Tag und Nacht.

      Ob SATA I oder II einen großen Unterschied macht kann ich nicht sagen. Ich hatte davor auch ein älteres MBP (2008), zu dem auch dieser Artikel geschrieben wurde. Ich hatte das damals gemacht, weil es sonst einfach zu langsam war. Auch hier machte es einen großen Unterschied aus. Ob ich jetzt mehr Performance habe kann ich gar nicht so genau sagen, es ist schon verdammt schnell.


      Comment by Karsten Thoms — February 3, 2012 @ 7:44 AM

  14. [...] the first solution is of course to upgrade your hard drive, and if you can afford to by an SSD one,this link seems to show what dramatic improvement you can [...]

    Pingback by Set up Eclipse workspace in RAM (repost from http://blog.normation.com/2010/05/24/optimizing-eclipse-performances/) | 宿命里,流浪到底 — January 14, 2013 @ 5:11 PM

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