Advantages of SSD on MacBook Pro

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My daughter is buying a refurbished MacBook pro and is debating SSD vs. conventional HDD. She wants to know the pros and cons.

I have never had an SSD, so I can only go by what I read. I told her that the computer will boot faster and most programs will load faster. She expects to get into photo and video editing, and I told her that after the programs load, there would be little difference in performance, especially if the actual files reside on an external drive.

The only "con" I see is the smaller capacity for reasonable price. Is 256GB enough?

I (and she) will appreciate your comments.
 
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My daughter is buying a refurbished MacBook pro and is debating SSD vs. conventional HDD. She wants to know the pros and cons.

I have never had an SSD, so I can only go by what I read. I told her that the computer will boot faster and most programs will load faster. She expects to get into photo and video editing, and I told her that after the programs load, there would be little difference in performance, especially if the actual files reside on an external drive.

The only "con" I see is the smaller capacity for reasonable price. Is 256GB enough?

I (and she) will appreciate your comments.

Figuring out your personal rationale for an SSD upgrade (or any computer upgrade for that matter) is tricky and very personal.

I added a 240GB SSD to my Mac Mini and it is more than large enough. I keep photos, music, etc on a separate drive. The SSD has about 164GB free.

As you note, the system boots and programs load very fast. Responsiveness of programs after they have loaded is largely unaffected.

I have a 750GB hybrid drive installed in my MB Pro. It is not quite as speedy as a pure SSD but I find it convenient to be able to tote it along on photo field trips without carrying and using an external drive.
 
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Thanks, Doug. Sounds like my thoughts were about right.

I've also told her not to worry about springing for extra RAM, as we can install that later for less. But on the refurbs I see that extra RAM isn't all that expensive. Is it straightforward to add memory? Does more than 8GB help much? On my 2009 iMac 27, going from 8GB to 16 made very little difference that I can tell.
 
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RAM installation varies on the Mac, but it is generally easy. I recommend reading about upgrades at macsales.com. They have good instructional videos fro all types of upgrades specific to each model. I also buy from them. Very good company in my experience.
 
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Yet another recommendation for macsales.com


Just installed a 240Gb SSD in my wife's 4.5 year old macbook. It's impressive.
 
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My daughter is buying a refurbished MacBook pro and is debating SSD vs. conventional HDD. She wants to know the pros and cons.

I have never had an SSD, so I can only go by what I read. I told her that the computer will boot faster and most programs will load faster. She expects to get into photo and video editing, and I told her that after the programs load, there would be little difference in performance, especially if the actual files reside on an external drive.

The only "con" I see is the smaller capacity for reasonable price. Is 256GB enough?

In terms of performance, it really depends upon the drive you select. If your daughter is looking at the current class of refurbs directly from Apple, all of the Macbook Pro systems should be SATA III, and should allow her to realize the full speed of the drives. However, some of the SSDs out there have slower write times than read times. Still, I would (and do) work on my local SSD and then offload the images to a series of external drives. As a result, I get the benefit of the speed of the SSD for both reads and writes, and not just limited to program files. If I were putting together a system to process video, I would take advantage of the speed of the SSD, and would buy the largest SSD I could afford.

The reduced cost of traditional drives is not the only issue to consider. From what I understand, you can write to and write over sectors on a traditional hard drive far more than you can write to the same memory space on a SSD. What this means is that over time, the SSD may lose its capacity to store data. When I was researching the move to SSDs, I also noticed a number of incidences where the SSDs had essentially burned themselves out through the overclocking of the chips. If your daughter maintains good backups, then neither of these should be significant issues; if a drive fails, then you replace it and restore, but in the meantime, you get one incredibly fast storage system.

It was the concern about overclocking that contributed to my decision to go with Crucial's 512gb SSD. The drive has read times of 500+ mb/s and write times anywhere from 200-250 mb/s (some of the overclocked chip drives were showing both read and write times comparable to Crucial's read times). I can load an entire shoot--several gigs of images--and quickly sort through them and identify the images to edit and transmit.

The other thing to consider is that Apple has effectively crippled trim support for non-Apple SSDs. While it is easy enough to download the software to enable trim support on non-Apple SSDs, she will need to run the software after each OS update to ensure that the update did not wipe out the settings necessary to support trim. This is really a minor annoyance, but it is not an issue that exists with traditional drives.

One piece of advice I'd give you and your daughter is to stretch now and install at least a 500 gig drive. I originally installed the 512 on my 17" system and a 256 on my 13" system (the 13" inch is only used when traveling and when I need to transmit from event sites). About three months after installing the 256, I found a sale on the Crucial 512 that was too tempting to resist, and ended up putting a 512 drive into the 13" system. In retrospect, I should have installed 512 in both systems from the beginning. I wouldn't go with the smaller drive with the plan that all data be written to an external drive; it just won't take advantage of the tremendous speed increase available through the use of the SSD.

I purchased Crucial's M4 drives, and see that their current offerings all have faster write times. I also see that they are offering drives up to 960gb, and if I were purchasing drives today, the only question would be whether to get the 480gb or 960gb.

Hope this helps.

P.S. -- You can also order the memory upgrade from Crucial at the same time. I've used their memory products for ten years without a problem (knock on wood).
 
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Sorry, I have never heard of "trim support". Can you explain?

Thanks for the detailed reply. :smile:

Not really an issue anymore. Early SSD's needed some (system) firmware help to do necessary housekeeping. Modern drives take care of business all by themselves. Similarly, fears of SSD's "wearing out" are an overblown (and largely outdated) concern. While they do have shorter lifetimes (in mttf terms) than spinners, as a practical matter she is far more likely to need to replace the system (due to obsolescence or other component failure) before the SSD dies.

To your earlier question about memory, on all modern Mac laptops (certainly all that are available in the refurb store) memory replacement involves removing a small access plate on the bottom, popping out the old RAM and popping in the new. Very simple. Memory is perhaps the most important performance upgrade you can make. If she is going to be doing photo editing and perhaps some video eventually, go ahead and spring for the max that the laptop supports. I bumped mine to 16GB and did notice an improvement but I sometimes work on large, multilayer images in Photoshop even on the laptop. She may do well with 8GB but memory is so cheap I tend to max things out just because I can. YMMV of course.

FWIW, I bought an SSD from OWC (mostly because I have had good experiences with them and I was buying the kit to add the SSD while keeping the old hard drive from them so....). Crucial is another vendor that has treated me well over the years.
 
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Regarding trim, from Crucial..... (emphasis added by me...).

"The first thing users should do to see if TRIM will help them is check to see if their SSD actually supports the technology. While this may sound like a simple matter of going to the system profile and seeing what it says, the report explained the TRIM field will only tell users if the technology is enabled, not if the SSD is capable of using the system. Therefore, users need to Google the model number of their SSD and research to see if it is capable of working with TRIM technology.

Users should also research their SSD's capabilities and identify if the drive already has a garbage collection or similar program. Because TRIM has been around for a relatively long time, many manufacturers build its essential capabilities into their SSDs as a garbage collecting or disk cleanup program that performs the same task as TRIM. Therefore, users with such SSD capabilities should refrain from using TRIM Enabler, simply because they do not need it."
 
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N

To your earlier question about memory, on all modern Mac laptops (certainly all that are available in the refurb store) memory replacement involves removing a small access plate on the bottom, popping out the old RAM and popping in the new. Very simple.

Thanks, Doug. Sounds very much like my iMac. My previous memory purchases have been from Crucial and I have been happy.
 
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And some info from OWC. Note the following extracted from the article at the link:

"If you have an OWC SSD, though, you don’t need TRIM. The SandForce controller in our SSDs takes care of this “garbage collection” as well as performs various other tasks that keep your drive running at optimal speed, without the drop-off that you see with other brands. Especially note page two of this performance testing expert’s report where he feels so strongly about TRIM’s inefficiency that he calls call it “half-baked”…and that’s the kid friendly version of the phrase.

In fact, enabling TRIM could actually hurt the performance and reliability of your OWC SSD, rather than help it."


http://blog.macsales.com/11051-to-trim-or-not-to-trim-owc-has-the-answer
 
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Thanks, Samuel. I think I understand it now. Sounds like it would be much better to buy the computer with the Apple SSD already installed rather than planning to convert it later with a non-Apple SSd.

Given the difference in cost, I would still buy the system without the SSD and add it later. The last time I checked, Apple was still charging too much for the SSD.
 
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Given the difference in cost, I would still buy the system without the SSD and add it later. The last time I checked, Apple was still charging too much for the SSD.

That's what I did with my Mini. Bought it with the 1TB spinner. Bought the SSD and data-doubler bracket from OWC to add the SSD while keeping the spinner. Works great and much less expensive.
 
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That's what I did with my Mini. Bought it with the 1TB spinner. Bought the SSD and data-doubler bracket from OWC to add the SSD while keeping the spinner. Works great and much less expensive.

I removed the spinner, partly because I wanted to maximize battery life, and partly because I wanted access to the DVD burner to archive images when away for extended periods.
 
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Pa, I have also used the following brands in my MacBook Pros with great success; SanDisk and Samsung SSD models have worked great. You will need to enable TRIM, and that will further speed up these drives.
 

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