In the continuing saga about optimising my Macs to get the maximum speed possible….
Checkout my previous blog post Need for Speed… for some background.
Thinking about SSD (Solid State Drives)
I blame Leo Laporte!
Well, he was the one that put me on to SSD drives in the first place. I knew Leo had replaced his supplied SATA drive in his MacBook Pro with a 128GB Corsair SSD (Solid State Drive) a couple of months ago, and was extolling its virtues on the MacMania trip.
I’d sort of considered it, but the limitations of 128GB and the rather high price had dissuaded me.
No, I thought I’d wait until Snow Leopard appeared and see what speed improvements that would bring. I was still searching for the Holy Grail, for computing nirvana, a place where my computer would boot in the flash of an eye, where applications would spring into life virtually instantaneously, a place where the damn thing would keep up with me and not waste precious seconds, hesitantly opening windows a few seconds after I’d instructed them to open.
Now the new release of Snow Leopard took me closer to that place, but by not much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still faster, but not an order of magnitude faster.
Then by coincidence, I listened to MacBreak Weekly earlier in the week and Leo mentioned his SSD drive again, this time being used in conjunction with a bracket to install a second drive to replace the SuperDrive. I was intrigued and thought it time to do some more research.
There were SSD drives on Amazon but they were either from companies I’d never heard of, were too small (64GB – please!) or much too expensive. However, a quick Google turned up a rather surprising result….
SSD drives, available in the UK, from Crucial – the memory people. I never knew Crucial did SSDs? I have to admit, that did give me a huge amount of confidence.
Now to see if a drive was available for my model of MacBookPro, what capacity and what price?
I have a 15″ MacBook Pro with 2.66 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo and 4GB RAM. As usual, Crucial have some great guides to zero right into your make and model of laptop. Lo and behold, they do three SSDs:
64GB for £116
128GB for £221
256GB for £399
All plus VAT by the way!
My current SATA drive is a 320GB drive and I was running with about 150GB used including the full Final Cut Studio application and the usual assortment of applications. You can see where this is going can’t you!
Now the 256GB SSD is quite a stretch and pretty expensive but it’s a legitimate business expense and besides, I need to stay at the cutting edge don’t I. So after talking myself into it, I stumped up the credit card and ordered the little beastie.
Its a 256GB Crucial M225 2.5″ Solid-State Drive (Part Number CT1018301) and arrived today. Click on the image for more info.
My plan was to remove the existing drive from the MacBook Pro, replace it with the SSD, format the SSD and install a fresh install of Snow Leopard on to it. Then, use migration assistant to copy my applications and user account across from the original drive.
This all went according to plan, except for the fact I forgot to install the QuickTime 7 the first time round. However, it wasn’t too much of a chore as it installed a complete Snow Leopard installation in 9 minute and 44 seconds from a Snow Leopard image via a Firewire connected drive.
Let me just say that again, it installed a full Snow Leopard build in 9 minutes and 44 seconds!
This thing is fast, blisteringly fast!
Now in my haste to install the SSD and try it out, I didn’t take any benchmarks of the Apple supplied SATA disk. However, the removal of the disk is so trivial, I’ll replace the supplied drive over the weekend and post some real life comparisons between the standard configuration with Snow Leopard, and the SSD with Snow Leopard.
So have I reached computing nirvana?
You’d better believe it….OK, so it doesn’t instantaneously boot, but it flies!
Applications open in the blink of an eye, it’s breathtaking. Just one example, open Safari and the application window is drawn before the icon has a chance to do a single bounce!
I’ll spend a bit more time over the weekend and report back with those comparisons, I think you’ll be impressed.
For now, it’s time for bed. That’s quite enough excitement for one day.
To get the next update in the continuing saga about optimising my Macs to get the maximum speed possible…. Need for Speed (Part 3)…