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Most sensible SSD choice?
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Clinically Insane
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Jan 18, 2014, 07:04 PM
 
I'm looking at a new internal SSD for an early-2011 13" MacBook Pro to replace the main HD.

I'll need at least 500 GB, preferably 750 GB.

It would seem that the Samsung 840 EVO series is currently the most price-effective quality option, yes?

The Pro is apparently somewhat faster, but the difference appears negligible and is hardly relevant to my usage — this is a production system, but the 800 Mb/s of Firewire 800 have been perfectly sufficient for anything I've managed to throw at it so far.
Two years' extra warranty is nice, too.

There is the difference between MLC vs TLC, but according to at least one source I'm inclined to respect, it won't matter, as the timeframe I'm looking at probably won't exceed five years from now even if this machine eventually gets replaced and downgraded to purely backup-machine status, and a 500 GB drive is projected to last at least three or four times that even with heavy studio usage.
AnandTech | Samsung SSD 840: Testing the Endurance of TLC NAND

The way I'm looking at it, the price of the 500 GB Pro will buy me the 750 GB EVO, and all other things being equal (or irrelevant) I'd be happier with more space.

Any other thoughts or options I ought to consider?


Edit: This test here seems to indicate that the drive will probably last about ten times longer than I need it to.
http://us.hardware.info/reviews/4178...date-20-6-2013
( Last edited by Spheric Harlot; Jan 18, 2014 at 07:15 PM. )
     
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Jan 18, 2014, 08:49 PM
 
I don't follow SSDs as closely now as I did when there was more happening in the field, but the most commonly recommended option seems to be Crucial M500, either in 480 or 960 GB versions. The Samsung comes second from what I've seen. Have not followed the reliability of either, however.

TLC longevity is still untested, but the math is good. The extra speed from a Pro version is unlikely to be noticed except in a heavily loaded server.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 18, 2014, 10:44 PM
 
There's no intermediate size of the M500, and the 960 GB version is almost 350€ Plus taxes. That's...a little ouch.

What's the deal with TRIM these days?
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 04:22 AM
 
I get the feeling demand for high capacity SSDs is far outstripping the ability to manufacture them. I did some low level testing of a few Kingstons recently, and the error rates were all over the place. This implies there are big sucky parts of the drive.

In theory, you should do what they did in the early days of hard drives. Order way more than you need, test the error rates on them all, return all but the best ones.

Don't know about you, but I'm not doing that.
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 04:28 AM
 
Here's a particularly bad example I tested:



I forget what this is error rate per. I can find out if you want. Whatever it is, the spread shouldn't be almost 17,000. In the future, this would get dumped as a bad fab.
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 05:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
There's no intermediate size of the M500, and the 960 GB version is almost 350€ Plus taxes. That's...a little ouch.

What's the deal with TRIM these days?
480 gigs is not enough?

TRIM...OS X will only send TRIM commands to a drive shipped by Apple. You can enable it for any drive with the small TRIMEnabler hack. Whether TRIM has a positive effect is a very complex debate full of people who don't understand the issue, and if I bring that up we'll derail the thread.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 06:00 AM
 
I'd have to rethink my storage distribution if I had to make do with less than 500 GiB.

I'm inclined to Just Not Bother with TRIM...?
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 09:32 AM
 
Have you considered the WD Black2?

The point about TRIM (I have a feeling I might regret this)... If you use the drive as most of us do, that is, fill them up to some decent number (far from full) at the start, and then slowly accumulate stuff until close to full, TRIM is a net negative. The reason for this is that file system drivers are designed to reuse logical blocks from the beginning. Spinning drives count sectors from the outer rim and inwards, filesystems follow sectors when assigning logical allocation block numbers, and the outer rim is the fastest to use, so it's best to look from the beginning of the drive and place the new file in the first slot big enough to fit it. This means that if you use it in the normal manner, any deletion you do will be communicated to the drive soon enough anyway, as that logical block is reused.

The net negative bit comes from the fact that it takes one operation to communicate that a block has been cleared, so you are sending more total IOPs. In the common situation where you delete one file and write a new one of the same size or smaller right after, you have just doubled the number of IOPS - or, put another way, cut the performance of your drive in half - with absolutely zero gain, because the cleaning routines of the drive firmware have not had a chance to make use of that extra information.

The situation where TRIM makes sense is if you fill up the drive to say 95% and then delete data back down to 50% again. The drive will then have the same performance as it had when it was 95% full, which may be noticeably less than what you get with a drive that is 50% full. Different drives have different performance characteristics when close to full, but you'll have to read some reviews to see that.

The sanest way to do TRIM would be to do it lazily - that is, once a day when idle, log which allocation blocks are in use and TRIM any that were in use yesterday but are not in use anymore. Alternatively, just TRIM all allocation blocks not in use whenever idle. To be clear, I don't know how Apple does this. Apple has some very clever engineers - they might very well be doing something like what I describe already - but my fear is that they send TRIM as soon as a block is cleared.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 02:16 PM
 
I recall hearing (second hand) about two Intel SSD guys arguing about TRIM. This was when Intel SSDs were top in class.

One said you absolutely need TRIM, the other said it was bullshit.

HTH.
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 03:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Have you considered the WD Black2?
No, because (I could have mentioned this) the primary reason I am considering an SSD at this point is because my job is entirely based around vibration, and my needs are shifting such that I need to get away from spinny disks.

I.e., I'll be using the laptop on stage, in addition to all the other uses it's currently being put to.


Thanks for the info about TRIM.

It sounds like something I won't be bothering with until I actually get to a point where I suddenly offload 200 GB of data. At which point, it can presumably be activated for a while, and then deactivated again without ill effects?

Don't some drive controllers do something similar on their own?
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 04:36 PM
 
Okay, apparently, the M500 comes with extra capacitors to safely shut down the drive in event of a power loss.

I rather like that.
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 04:58 PM
 
Does that matter all that much in a laptop?
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 05:16 PM
 
It does possibly in a series with a track record of failed SATA cables…

But no, not really.

The M500 is an MLC drive that apparently does higher overprovisioning than the 840.
As I said, it's probably not going to be all that relevant, but these factors give me the feeling that these drives are built with more data-intensive professional usage in mind.
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 06:11 PM
 
Just ordered up a 960 and a 480.

I'll thrash them and report back how they do.
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 07:39 PM
 
Uh, wow. Okay!
     
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Jan 19, 2014, 08:25 PM
 
I'm very unhappy with my Kingstons.
     
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Jan 20, 2014, 05:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Thanks for the info about TRIM.

It sounds like something I won't be bothering with until I actually get to a point where I suddenly offload 200 GB of data. At which point, it can presumably be activated for a while, and then deactivated again without ill effects?
You can enable it (with TRIM Enabler) before you delete, yes, but I don't think that there is a command to lazily TRIM the drive after the fact.

Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Don't some drive controllers do something similar on their own?
Not really. What happens is that because flash must be cleared before being written to, clearing happens in larger chunks than writing, and you only have a limited number of clearing cycles, the drive works hard to minimize the clearing. It does this by redirecting the reported sectors so it can minimize the number of times it has to copy and clear data.

An example, perhaps: You have files written to (official) sector 1-10. The drive maps these sectors to (internal) block A-J. Now you change the file in sector 4, but the drive cannot just change block D. Doing so would require it to copy all of A-J to new block, clear A-J, copy back the content to A-C and E-J, and finally write the new D. Instead, it will just redirect so sector 4 now points to block K. Then when sector 7 is changed, it will be redirected to block L. Eventually, only two of the blocks A-J are in use, and that block will be reused by copying those two blocks to somewhere empty and clearing the block A-J. The more full the drive is, the more urgent it is to do this cleaning. If the drive is mostly empty, it can be deferred to avoid wearing on the drive - if it is almost full, the drive might be forced to do that cleanup urgently when in use, which will decrease performance. Writing the algorithms that control this behavior is a big part of SSD performance.

Here's the problem: When you delete the file in sector 5, the drive is usually not informed of this. It will never receive any new information about sector 5, and will keep copying that sector around in its cleaning routines when it might just have forgotten about it. This increases the so-called write amplification (wear on the drive) and decreases the flexibility of the drive to defer optimization. TRIM is nothing more than the OS sending a command to the drive when it deletes the file in a sector.

The argument against TRIM is that the drive will hear about the deletion of the file in sector 5 soon enough, because the OS will write something new to sector 5. The OS is programmed to reuse the low-numbered sectors, because those are the fastest on a spinning disk, so the theoretical worst-case situation of every single block being in use but the drive being mostly empty to the OS will simply not happen in the real world.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 20, 2014, 05:18 AM
 
Intel. I only buy Intel now, after having most other major brands s*** the bed on me. Perhaps they aren't the fastest on benchmarks, but in the real world that doesn't mean anything, and yes, they are more expensive, but it's your data and how much is it worth to you?
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Jan 20, 2014, 10:47 AM
 
Intel does make great SSDs (my brother has treated our father's Mac mini to a 330-series SSD), but AFAIK they top out at 480 GB (I'm not counting the 800 GB of their professional S3700-series which retails for 1900 € in Germany). Samsung's SSDs also have a very good reputation, and the 840 EVO series tops out at 1 TB for 500 €. Expensive, but if you need the capacity, you need the capacity.
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Jan 20, 2014, 01:47 PM
 
Yep, cheapest I could find was 470€ including taxes for the 1TB Samsung 840 EVO, while the 750GB goes for about 370€.

The M500 960GB retails for 420€, incl. VAT.
     
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Jan 20, 2014, 06:55 PM
 
Re: TRIM

Is there a simple answer of which option (TRIM/noTRIM) will cause the least drive wear?

I think it's option TRIM, but I'm not sure.
     
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Jan 21, 2014, 03:00 AM
 
My OCZ Vertex 2 240GB just died for the second time in 3.2 years, so, not OCZ.
     
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Jan 21, 2014, 03:07 AM
 
Aren't OCZ broke? I'd already ruled them out for business reasons, and I'd read of nasty firmware issues, as well.
     
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Jan 21, 2014, 04:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Re: TRIM

Is there a simple answer of which option (TRIM/noTRIM) will cause the least drive wear?

I think it's option TRIM, but I'm not sure.
Yes, everything else being equal, TRIM causes lower write amplification and therefore less wear. That said, Sandforce controllers work well without TRIM and generally have excellent write amplification, so controller design matters more.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 21, 2014, 04:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Aren't OCZ broke? I'd already ruled them out for business reasons, and I'd read of nasty firmware issues, as well.
OCZ has declared bankruptcy, but its assets will be acquired by Toshiba. Not sure if the deal is done, but Toshiba plans to take over the business whole, and there is no opposition to that.

OCZ was flying high on the strength of the first Sandforce controllers, which at the time was an order of magnitude better than anything else on the market, and OCZ was the first to use them. When Sandforce updated to generation 2, OCZ made two strategic mistakes. One was that they paid big $ to Sandforce for exclusive access to the new controllers for a period of time. The problem with this was that Sandforce launched the controllers before the firmware was quite ready, and it shipped with several nasty bugs. With OCZ being the only manufacturer using them, OCZ got a bad reputation.

The second was that at the same time, OCZ planned to use its older Sandforce drives as a new low-priced option, and moved to a newer flash generation with newer, bigger chips. The problem was that because of a quirk in the firmware, the minimum reserve space was doubled. In effect, this meant that 120 gig drives now had 14% reserved instead of the usual 7%, so the already tiny drives got even smaller. One of the flash suppliers also had significantly worse performance. Since OCZ had not changed the name of the drives, this was borderline false advertising, since the drives had been tested with completely different flash a year earlier. Dell can get away with that - does frequently, in fact, when they replace their display panels with cheaper models after a while - but OCZ couldn't. They blinked and offered to replace drives with the newer flash with older models.

The combination of these things was that OCZs return number went through the roof. This was partially Sandforce issues, partially goodwill replacements, but that was too much information for buyers who just looked at return numbers. OCZ went into a tailspin from which it never recovered. It had planned to buy Sandforce and reportedly had a deal in progress with Seagate to be bought out in turn - both of these deals collapsed. Sandforce was bought by LSI, and OCZ had to settle for Indilinx. By the end, they were cutting corners everywhere to get some cash.

In addition to this, there is some trouble between Sandforce and Intel. Intel now uses Sandforce 2 drives, but never used the first generation. Apparently the first Sandforce drives do not implement the entire SATA specification. This worked with older chipsets, but from Haswell chipsets on, Intel chipsets refuse to recognize Sandforce drives. Since Sandforce stopped updating the firmware about a year ago, they won't fix the issue, and Intel doesn't care. Asus has a workaround that works on their own motherboards, but others are SOL.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 21, 2014, 06:31 AM
 
Is there a reason Apple doesn't support TRIM on third-party drives?
     
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Jan 21, 2014, 09:30 AM
 
Probably, but we don't know.

The implementation of TRIM came when the Sandforce controllers were the most common on the market - including in Macs, as OWC used them - and those controllers shipped without TRIM support initially. It was eventually added, but it didn't do much one way or the other, and was even potentially harmful to performance. Other implementations were also flaky at first. It might be that Apple simply didn't want to spend time testing its TRIM implementation with all possible drives on the market - especially given the poor state of drive firmware in this era. My policy has been to enable TRIM when using drives that Apple has used (which is Samsung and Toshiba drives) and not otherwise.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 21, 2014, 10:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Yes, everything else being equal, TRIM causes lower write amplification and therefore less wear. That said, Sandforce controllers work well without TRIM and generally have excellent write amplification, so controller design matters more.
That's the thing. My understanding is SSD controllers have good wear-leveling routines. At least, they're good enough to make a secure erase a PITA.

Makes me think noTRIM.
     
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Jan 21, 2014, 08:11 PM
 
I'm about to pull the trigger on the Crucial M500 960GB.

The price just dropped to 410€ incl. 19% VAT.

I've read in a review that this particular drive's performance deteriorates dramatically if TRIM isn't enabled...
     
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Jan 21, 2014, 11:23 PM
 
I had a Crucial C300 and it was a great drive (still is, actually, other than that I upgraded to a Retinabook that I can't put it in). Extremely reliable, no problems, great support. It did slow down after I'd had it for a while until I enabled TRIM, though.

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Jan 22, 2014, 05:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Intel does make great SSDs (my brother has treated our father's Mac mini to a 330-series SSD), but AFAIK they top out at 480 GB (I'm not counting the 800 GB of their professional S3700-series which retails for 1900 € in Germany). Samsung's SSDs also have a very good reputation, and the 840 EVO series tops out at 1 TB for 500 €. Expensive, but if you need the capacity, you need the capacity.
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Jan 22, 2014, 09:35 AM
 
Crucial m500 960 GB orderinated.

Thanks very much to all of you who weighed in! You rock!
     
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Jan 22, 2014, 04:22 PM
 
Finished testing the Crucial 960GB M500.

The drive I got had zero errors. I'm almost a little suspicious.

Assuming that's legit, Kingston is bad, and should feel bad.
     
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Jan 22, 2014, 04:48 PM
 
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Putin on crack.
     
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Jan 22, 2014, 07:37 PM
 
The 480 GB Crucial M500 was also perfectly clean. Zero errors.

Impressive, but also suspicious. I want to dig a bit more. Will report back.
     
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Jan 22, 2014, 08:10 PM
 
Retested a Kingston. It's still shit (1.2MM errors) , so I'm doing the test right. I'll format the Crucial, benchmark it, and then run the error test again.
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 08:20 AM
 
Millions of errors on the Kingston sounds like the controller is on the fritz. I doubt that the flash has millions of errors.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 09:00 AM
 
Arrived this morning. Will update firmware to latest version and migrate tonight.

Yay!
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 04:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Millions of errors on the Kingston sounds like the controller is on the fritz. I doubt that the flash has millions of errors.
That's the good Kingston. The bad one has over 6.6MM.
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 06:00 PM
 
Latest firmware?
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 06:46 PM
 
No idea.
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 07:43 PM
 
My m500 has its firmware revision printed on the sticker.

Had to burn an updater .iso onto bootable CD (USB stick wouldn't work), and that would only update the disk when it was installed and hooked up via SATA, not via USB.

But then, it worked fine.
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 08:13 PM
 
I'm looking into it.

Having a lack of cables issue.

All my Tbolt cables are at work, so I can't benchmark the M500.

The Kingston doesn't want to let me diddle with the firmware unless it's on the SATA bus either. I only have one SATA cable on me, and it's what's connecting the boot drive to the computer.

I can connect the boot drive to usb, but then I have to pry it out of the case, so I'll have to spend the proper amount of time being irritated about it before I actually do it.
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 08:43 PM
 
Aaaaaand it BSODs when I try to boot off of USB.
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 08:47 PM
 
Do I get geek cred for going to the Radio Shack to buy a SATA cable when the windchill is -11°F?
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 08:47 PM
 
No. You get geek cred for having had it in the first place.

Dumbass.
     
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Jan 23, 2014, 09:40 PM
 
Firmware on the Kingston was already up to date.

My vote is Kingston is pushing garbage and hopes you won't notice.

These particular drives are the KC300 model.
     
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Jan 24, 2014, 12:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
My m500 has its firmware revision printed on the sticker.

Had to burn an updater .iso onto bootable CD (USB stick wouldn't work), and that would only update the disk when it was installed and hooked up via SATA, not via USB.

But then, it worked fine.
IIRC, there's actually a way to get that working on a USB stick, although it's been too long for me to remember specifics. I think it involved the use of rEFIt. Of course, it doesn't matter now, since you've got the firmware updated already.

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Jan 24, 2014, 04:33 AM
 
There are a few applications that can convert an ISO to a USB drive using a Linux boot manager similar to rEFIt (or rEFInd), but it seems that that is not relevant anymore.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Jan 24, 2014, 02:00 PM
 
@P

Do you really think I have two bad controllers, and not two bad disks?


Of course, neither reflects very well on Kingston.
     
 
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