A few months ago I posted about the Seagate Hybrid drive upgrade I’d fitted to my MacBook. This gave me an increase in storage space over the original drive, whilst also giving me a speed boost due to its on board 4GB SSD chip.
This week though I’ve performed a similar upgrade in a completely different but much faster way. The customer was quite happy with the laptops original 250GB capacity, but wanted more oomph. The machine in question was a 2.4 Unibody MacBook, so this features a SATA hard drive & SATA optical drive. Well it did. It now has a 64GB SSD drive in the original drive bay, and the original 250GB drive now resides in a Optibay adapter in the optical drive bay. It’s been setup so the 64GB is purely for the OS & applications and the original 250GB drive is purely for user data. Advanced options in Mac OS allow us to tell OS X to use the 2nd drive as the default for all user data, so this dual drive setup is invisible to the end user & the OS. To all intents & purposes the user doesn’t see that they are using two separate hard drives.
The performance however… bloody hell it’s quick now. It boots in 10 seconds to the login window, applications aren’t just snappier as I reported with my Hybrid drive upgrade, they just load in a way you’re just not used to. Quicker, and a lot less beach balling whilst it thinks about it (not even sure I’ve seen the beach ball to be honest). And this is still with the actual data stored on good old mechanical discs.
I tested it back to back with a similar 2.13GHz MacBook with the original mechnical hard drive and it just absolutely thrashed it. The difference between the two is night & day. I also tested it back to back with a brand new £1000 13″ Core i5 MacBook Pro, that was a lot closer in performance, but you’d still say the SSD equipped mac was quicker. And being SSD it shouldn’t lose that performance over time either.
And the price for this new found performance? Well the 64GB SSD, Optibay conversion & data clone costs £160 plus P&P*. A bargain for a much fresher quicker mac.
Downsides, well this does mean you no longer have an internal optical drive in your Mac (rumours are the next gen won’t anyway), but if you’ve got a second mac these can be shared across the network. Alternatively for £30 you can buy a USB powered DVD-r drive so you can still use a DVD when you need one.
How convinced am I? Well I may have only performed the hybrid upgrade 6 months ago, but my own MacBooks going to get an SSD upgrade very soon…
NB if you wanted to go for a high capacity SSD to avoid dual drives, or just because you fancy the speed & reliability of a full SSD setup, then a 240GB SSD drive & clone would be £300 plus P&P, 500GB takes it up to £570 + P&P*, so the dual drive setup is a much cheaper way to get SSD performance upgrade in your Mac.
*subject to drive price fluctuations
Pricing Update – June 2012
Since the above was written SSD prices are sliding downwards somewhat, the biggest being the 512GB which are down from the above £570 to sub £400 fitted and 256GB down to £220.
For the dual drive setups the 64GB is a little cheaper now at £145, but we can now supply a 128GB dual drive setup for £170!
(all plus collect & return shipping of course)
Still unsure, here’s a MacBook Pro with SSD booting…