How Much Faster is an SSD Drive?

 

SSD (Solid State Drives) are expensive! So the question that people usually have is “how much faster are they and will I see a difference?” In a nutshell the answer I have is FAST and YES! See my speed test above.

 

The SSD configuration is Apple’s CTO (configure to order) 512GB Drive. It’s in a 2011 MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and the 2.3GHz Quad Core i7 processor.

The 2010 MacBook that it’s being compared to has a 500GB 7200 RPM SATA drive. It also has 8GB of RAM and a 2.66GHz Dual Core i7 processor.

You don’t have to buy a new computer to get an SSD speed boost. OWC has several options for your existing computer.


  • http://Www.confessionsofaphotoshopnerd.com Matt Norris

    Thanks for the advice. I do a lot of work on large files so you just helped me make my decision for a SSD.

  • Lynn Rogers

    Hey, Terry – first, I noticed you have a new video intro which I really like. Nicely done! Second great demonstration of the two drives. I replaced both my laptop and desktop last fall and scratched my head over the drive choices. I went with the less expensive option and from your demo it was probably the better choice for me since I use my computers for a photography hobby rather than professionally. But it’s obvious from your demo that the SSD is considerably faster. If I remember correctly it’s also supposed to be more reliable, which would be nice. Great demonstration.

    • http://terrywhite.com terrywhite

      Hi Lynn, the opening is not new, but thank you :-) I just haven’t done a video review in a while on my tech blog. In theory SSD drives are more reliable as there are no moving parts to wear out.

      • Don

        Hi Terry. Great review and advice on the SSD’s. You did make one tiny error though. SSD’s do where out but not in the same way that an HDD will. SSD’s have a finite amount of read and writes. While most people will never reach these levels, they are there none the less. More info about SSD’s can be found at:http://www.anandtech.com/show/2738. They have more articles regarding recommended drives and usage but this article should answer most questions. Keep up the good work.

        BTW. I got the Solmeta GPS. Thanks for the tip. I am loving my GPS. I already sold 3 of the to my friends that saw mine.

        -Don-

        • Ian W

          Don —

          Technically that’s right, but a more recent article than the one you referenced, but also by Anand (http://www.anandtech.com/show/4159/ocz-vertex-3-pro-preview-the-first-sf2500-ssd/2), estimates the lifetime of a heavily used SSD at just under 1000 years, with the cells loosing their charge after about 10 years.

          So SSDs aren’t so good for long term archiving, but at their price/byte who’d be using that for that anyway?

          I’m not so worried.

          i

          • Don

            HI Ian,

            Agreed. I have no fears as well considering I took the standard HDD out of my new MBP and put in a 256gig SSD. The boot times are great as are the access times for applications. I was mainly correcting the part about SSD’s never wearing out. The moment one did, anyone that may have seen Terry’s words would have complained that he mislead them. For the average user, the life span of an SSD will outweigh any misgivings one might have about using one. Also of good news to SSD users is the fact that Lion supports TRIM, and I can say that it works. I am currently beta testing Lion on my MBA and the drive always seems fresh and snappy.

  • Ian W

    I put a small (80GB) SSD in my new Sandy Bridge/W7 build as a boot and temp file drive, keeping the main bulk of my files on a 2TB mechanical. Doing that avoids the need to overspend on excessive SSD capacity for files which don’t get accessed very often.

    I am *very* happy with my new system. Recommended.

    i

  • http://www.tropic4.com James Lee

    Terry:
    Great article! You might also want to investigate the new, and much less expensive hybrid drives that have a little Solid State, but are mostly actual disk. They are much faster, and not much more expensive that traditional drives. I know a tech here in Florida that is recommending them and using them to replace drives for most of his customers with excellent results.

    Cheers,
    James H. Lee, Jr.
    President
    Tropical Software, Inc.
    __________________________________________
    jim@tropic4.com

    Tropical Software, Inc.
    Home of TopXNotes, the ultimate personal note manager
    Now for Mac, iPhone and iPod touch
    http://www.tropic4.com

    Developing ? Apple Software since 1994

  • Geo

    Too bad the computers were not the same…we don’t know how this difference affected the results. And without a fresh OS install on both it’s hard to say the systems were the same.

    • Don

      I do not think it would make a difference one way or another actually. An SSD can not compare to a normal HDD in terms of speed and performance. The test and results are pretty much in order.

      • http://www.daftech.com Daf

        I’m afraid I agree with Geo. While I love that this test was performed, I really really wish it had been performed on two identical builds. It’s hard to tell from the video which moments were hard drive intensive and what would be CPU or RAM intensive. The best way to do it would be to have one computer, but two hard drives – SSD and not.

  • Dave Edwards

    One question I was asked that I still have not yet seen an answer to is what if one fails? Is there a way to recover data like with a disk drive, or is it just hope your backup is recent and will work on a new drive?

    • http://terrywhite.com terrywhite

      Dave, 1st off I would never depend on a crashed drive for recovery. A solid backup strategy is the best way to go.
      As far as the answer to your question it seems that the problem is more the opposite. Companies are finding it harder to actually wipe the data from these drives more so than getting the data back from a crashed one. Apparently the latest MacBooks now offer the ability to more cleanly wipe the data. I haven’t spent a lot of time investigating this yet as I wouldn’t be trying to wipe it until the day comes when I upgrade, which hopefully won’t be any time soon.

      • Dave Edwards

        I agree re backup, but there is the event caused failure, fire ,flood, rain, coffee, crash, lightning plus other user caused mishaps I was referring to. Such that might occur during field work or travel.

        • http://terrywhite.com terrywhite

          Don’t know what else to say. I don’t even entertain the thought of buying drives based on how recoverable they are. I look at disk recovery as a last resort when there was NO backup. I backup regularly, repeatedly, offsite and while traveling. If disaster strikes, I’ll be looking to one of my many backups, not recovery software.

      • Don

        Great point about wiping the drives Terry. I work for the govt. We don’t even bother anymore. We simply destroy the drives. Remove the platters or simply put them a disintegrator. The forensics to recover data is very good. It is practically impossible to remove all data.

  • Mick

    I confirm, that speed boost is huge! I changed my 5400 rpm Lenovo default drive to 128 GB Kingston SSD and Intel Core 2 Duo 2,33 Ghz, 4GB RAM, Windows 7 computer is now like new, without any lack of speed. Special cool is, that windows boots up in seconds.

    Plus, it does not make sound – after that you computer is totally silent..and this is very cool.

    About the price, I would also point two aspects:
    1. Kingston has got special packages, to replace regular drive with SSD, so you can use your old drive as normal USB HDD and win back money from there. (http://www.kingston.com/support/ssdnow/default.asp)
    2. It is much cheaper to buy SSD drive with 250 USD than new computer (what you have to do, when computer is lacking in speed).

    I would recommend strongly to use only SSD – in new or as upgrade for old computer.

  • Scott

    I am interested in getting one in my next MacBook Pro purchase. A couple of techies warned that the SSDs had a habit of dying untimely deaths, but that has been a year or two ago. Like a light switch, it either worked or it didn’t. Of course that can happen to standard drives also.

    They run quietly, but are they cooler as well, extending the life of other components?

    The speed appears to be worth the price of admission, especially with a good backup plan in place.

  • http://web.me.com/bub9461/Crozet_Mac_Computer_Tutor/Welcome.html Robert Elliott

    Nice review Terry. This is the next big thing in my opinion. It probably won’t become standard in all Macs until the prices come down. On reliability, I don’t think they’ve been out long enough to be able to say whether they are more durable than spinning drives. I do know that Other World Computing offers a 3 year warranty on their solid state hard drives. That’s a long warranty for hard drives.

    Cheers!

  • Patrick

    Thanks, this was very helpful. It seemed logical to me that the SSDs would be faster, but I haven’t seen many timed comparisons in the past six months or so. I’ve held off on the SSDs because I wasn’t sure they were enough faster to justify the downsides (smaller capacity). But your demo was convincing.

    On the intro to your video, cut it down to about 5 seconds – Digital (bam!) Adobe (bam!) Gadgets (bam!) Fun (bam!) Technology (and cut). It’s not a resume, it’s an intro.

  • Fran G

    Ihad a Dell Mini with a SSD drive that failed before a year old. The new Dell Mini running Snow Leopard, has an ordinary drive.two gigs of ram and fast as the proverbial bunny. Just my experience.

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  • Nish

    Hi,
    My Name is Nish and I am considering switching to a Mac book pro. I am looking into getting it with the SSd drive and am wondering if the extra expense would be worth it. The majority of time, I use Photoshop, Lightroom. I would also be installing windows + Parallels so that I can run programs like MS project, Visio etc. I would greatly appreciate any advice I can get on whether SSDs would be worth the extra expense. Are they just faster to boot? or would having one make the machine faster overall.

    Thanks.

    • http://terrywhite.com terrywhite

      I would say that it is worth it. You’ll be doing Parallels with potentially a large image file containing your Windows apps/os. It’s not just faster booting, I find it faster for day to day use period.

  • Marc

    I installed a 64gb ssd in my 2011 macbook pro just to run my OS and apps. I store everything else on a hard drive that I replaced the optical drive with.

    I think a post about using minimal space with an ssd would be nice. Especially with how expensive they are at the moment, people might be going for smaller drives. I would just like some tips on saving space with one.

    Great post btw!!

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  • http://www.sisa.samsung.com/ Brian Gilmore

    Samsung R&D (San Jose, CA) has great Firmware/SSD Development opportunities at this time. Contact us for immediate consideration.

  • jerm

    Broken youtube link. There’s a misplaced ‘v’ in the beginning of the link.

  • http://vitamind3info.blogspot.com/ Adrian

    Thinking of Ghosting my Hard drive image onto an SSD.