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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > SSD compatibility for the original unibody MacBook(Late 2008)

SSD compatibility for the original unibody MacBook(Late 2008)
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Hawkeye_a
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Jan 19, 2012, 01:15 PM
 
Well, this Macbook has been awesome, and it's hard to believe it's been three whole years since I purchased it.

I'm thinking of upgrading the HDD to an SSD drive, but i don't know where to start and what the compatibility/reliability/stability/performance issues could be.

Can you guys recommend and particular SSD drive for a late 2008 Macbook unibody(the first unibody macbook). It's a 13" 2.4 Ghz Core2Duo with 4GB RAM.

Cheers
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jan 19, 2012, 02:07 PM
 
I'd like to do the same with mine. I tested an OCZ 2.5" 128GB Vertex 2 and it was buggy as hell. The 256GB was fine but sadly I was testing it for someone else so I still need one.

I've got my eye on the Samsung 830 Series 128GB which looks fast, seems to play nice with OS X and will transfer to a newer MBP as and when I can stretch to one. Its also not a bad price right now. Good discount on Amazon.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Jan 19, 2012, 06:31 PM
 
The Samsung is very similar to one of the SSDs that Apple uses. It has been getting good reviews for stability, and performance is quite good on the 240 gig model, if not quite top notch. The 120 gig model is unfortunately quite a bit slower, and I don't think they have a Mac firmware update tool.

The Vertex 2 is an example of the first generation Sandforce drives, the drives that really kicked off the SSD revolution. Reliability has not been perfect, but most of the problems came when they went ahead with a transition to 25nm flash without really testing it enough. I got one of those, but they offered free replacements to the (more expensive) 34nm flash they launched with. The replacement drive has been rock solid. This can be considered the bargain deal right now, as they're frequently quite cheap. They are also well known for working well without TRIM support - most other drives rely on TRIM, which you will have to hack in. Check for a Mac firmware update tool if you consider these - e.g. OCZ support only Win 7 and Linux. OWC have a Mac updater.

The second generation Sandforce drives are the fastest out there, but their reliability has frankly been terrible, with one rare bug still not isolated. They also do not rely on TRIM, and firmware updates are a must.

Intel has the best reliability with a longer record than Samsung paired with good performance at higher prices, but even they have had one big bug. They also make a Mac firmware updater.

It really comes down to what you value. If it is reliability over all else, it's Intel first and Samsung if you think Intel is too expensive. If you want a cheap drive, find any 1st gen Sandforce drive - the 25nm issues are supposed to be fixed, and you can find 120 gig drives at quite good prices. If performance is the name of the game, go for a second generation Sandforce (like the Vertex 3), but keep backups.
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.
     
Eug
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Jan 19, 2012, 06:44 PM
 
Dunno about the Samsung 830, but the Samsung 470 has the same Samsung controller that's used in MacBooks.

I have a 128 GB Kingston V+100 (NOT the V100), which has the same Toshiba controller that Apple also uses, although performance is slower than than the Samsung 470. (Not that it really matters. It's still lightning fast for OS stuff.) The V+100 doesn't need TRIM, but I enabled TRIM support in OS X anyway, cuz that's what Apple does with their SSDs using the same controller.

The V+100 has been great, but if money were no object, I'd go Intel as they have the best reliability record. I won't buy any Sandforce drive. Sandforce drives, esp. from OCZ, have garnered a terrible reputation. As for OWC, they've also had a number of problems with their drives in Macs, despite the fact OWC specifically supports Macs.
( Last edited by Eug; Jan 19, 2012 at 06:50 PM. )
     
Nergol
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Jan 19, 2012, 09:37 PM
 
I have the Kingston SSDNow V (the SNV425), and it's been rock-solid during just under a year of use in two machines: my 2006 first-gen Intel Core Duo white MacBook, and the early 2011 13" MBP that replaced it. If it worked in one machine two years older than yours, then another one three years newer, my guess is that it'll work fine in your machine.
     
Eug
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Jan 19, 2012, 09:50 PM
 
The SSDNow V - SNV425 isn't available anymore. I will point out though that while it seems there haven't been many reliability complaints for that model, it does have much, much higher power requirements than average. It will work, but it's not really recommended for a laptop. Better for a desktop.

Kingston SSDNow V Review (SNV425-S2) | StorageReview.com - Storage Reviews

There are still several drives out there that have comparably high power draw, so you have to be careful which model you buy.
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Jan 20, 2012, 12:59 AM
 
So Samsung, Intel, Kensington....

I was eyeing the OCW Velocity 3 drives, but seeing as how Waragainstsleep has mentioned problems with them, I might steer clear.

I would like to get the Samsung SSD, but unfortunately Amazon only ships it within the U.S.

I'm looking for a 120-128GB drive, cause those are roughly within my budget.....

Any links to Amazon pages would be much appretiated....

What do you guys think of this Intel one, seems well priced, but I would rather fork out a few extra $$$ than deal with the hassle afterwards....
Intel 320 Series 120 GB SATA 3.0 Gb-s 2.5-Inch Solid-State Drive

Cheers
     
Eug
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Jan 20, 2012, 01:08 AM
 
Actually I lied. While Intel does have the best reliability record, there was one other reason besides price I didn't get one (although price was the #1 reason). The other reason was that I don' t think has used them in Macs before.

The reason I pointed toward the Kingston V+100 and the Samsung 470 is because I know Apple uses SSDs with their controllers. It's Toshiba in the case of the Kingston and Samsung (of course) in the case of the Samsung.

That said, I'd still strongly consider Intel if the prices were more in line with other brands.
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Jan 20, 2012, 01:30 AM
 
I googled it and there seem to be people with the same model Macbook as mine who have gotten the Intel320's to work.

I'll research it a bit more obviously, the last thing i need is to end up with a drive that requires a cradle and to be plugged into a windows box to update firmware etc....

Alright, what else might one need to accomplish this quest? I havent worked on hardware for a very long time, so what are the tools (screwdrivers, etc) that I might need to do this? And any tool sets availible on Amazon that would have everything I need?


Also, Eug, i know you do video encoding.... do you think that level of read/write access to these things when encoding could be a problem? Could they overheat, etc?

Cheers

EDIT>>FRICK...it seems like all these SSDs can only be shipped within the U.S.
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Jan 20, 2012, 01:36 AM
 
I found a local retailer... here's the LINK. What do you guys think ?
     
Eug
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Jan 20, 2012, 01:54 AM
 
I encode video on my iMac. That said, my MacBook Pro runs cooler than it did before with the platter drive.
     
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Jan 20, 2012, 03:47 AM
 
The Intel 320 is the safe choice: The most reliable, Mac support for firmware updates (although reboot to an optical drive is required) but a bit pricey and not the fastest. If you can stand the price, that's the one you should pick.

Samsung 830 is the successor to the Samsung 470 - it seems they mostly added SATA 3.0 support. Performance on a 240 gig drive or up is good, but the smaller are significantly slower. Bigger is always faster when it comes to SSDs, but the difference is larger for the Samsung models for some reason.

Intel is supposedly working on a Sandforce drive with their own flash. Should be interesting to see one of those with Intel's reliability testing done.

I should note that there is an even safer route that gives most of the benefits of an SSD except the speedy boot: Max the RAM and short-sleeve the HDD. I put 16 gigs in mine, and that's enough to have a generous RAM cache, which neatly hides the HD latency. Shortsleeving means using only part of a (cheap) HDD, which means that the arm doesn't have to move, thereby decreasing latency.
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.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jan 20, 2012, 05:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
So Samsung, Intel, Kensington....

I was eyeing the OCW Velocity 3 drives, but seeing as how Waragainstsleep has mentioned problems with them, I might steer clear.

I believe the issue was restricted to one particular version of one specific model. The smaller and larger capacities of the same one worked fine worked fine, I think 3.5" version worked well too. The problem unit was a Vertex 2 and as far as I know knew until P mentioned it, the Vertex 3s were fine.

Unless you can find a Sata 3Gbps SSD for sale very cheaply, I'd go for a 6GBs model personally. You won't get the full benefit in the late 08 MBP, but you will when you transfer it to a newer machine down the line. The slower model probably won't be worth transferring.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Jan 20, 2012, 10:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I believe the issue was restricted to one particular version of one specific model. The smaller and larger capacities of the same one worked fine worked fine, I think 3.5" version worked well too. The problem unit was a Vertex 2 and as far as I know knew until P mentioned it, the Vertex 3s were fine.

Unless you can find a Sata 3Gbps SSD for sale very cheaply, I'd go for a 6GBs model personally. You won't get the full benefit in the late 08 MBP, but you will when you transfer it to a newer machine down the line. The slower model probably won't be worth transferring.
Surprisingly the Intel320 seems to be cheaper than the OCZ Vertex3.

I'm not too fussed about future proofing at this point. I'm still very satisfied with my MacBook, so I expect the SSD to add at least 2 years to the life span, after which i'm sure there will be even better hardware options. I think my requirements at the moment are to maximize the capability and throughput of the current machine.

Does anyone know the type/specifications of the screwdrivers I will need for this operation? (late 2008 unibody(original) Macbook)

Cheers
     
Eug
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Jan 20, 2012, 10:50 AM
 
Hmmm... Curious. The Intel 320 is going for under $200 locally for a 120 GB model now, and it's $280 for a 160 GB. That's a LOT cheaper than it was just a few months ago, and it's actually cheaper than what the Kingston V+100 drives are going for these days.

That's a huge improvement in pricing for Intel drives. At those prices they go to/near the top of the list IMO.

I'm not interested in 3 Gbps vs 6 Gbps so much. Everything beyond 3 Gbps speeds is just gravy for my type of laptop use, will remain so for a number of years. The big benefit of SSD is the insanely low random access time. The higher sustained transfer speeds are nice too, but 350 MB/s vs 250 MB/s sustained doesn't make much difference for most people for daily tasks.
( Last edited by Eug; Jan 20, 2012 at 10:56 AM. )
     
badidea
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Jan 24, 2012, 12:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I'd like to do the same with mine. I tested an OCZ 2.5" 128GB Vertex 2 and it was buggy as hell.
I have the 160GB (or is it 180GB??) Vertex 2 in my 2011 MBP but also had it already installed in my 2008 MBP before - what do you mean with buggy?
I don't have any comparison but since I have this SSD, working on a computer has become a lot more fun - similar to the change from modem speed to DSL!
Unfortunately I'm still on a quite old firmware with this SSD and haven't found any easy way yet to update the firmware (and I'm not really sure if I should, since I don't notice any problems).
***
     
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Jan 25, 2012, 07:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by badidea View Post
I have the 160GB (or is it 180GB??) Vertex 2 in my 2011 MBP but also had it already installed in my 2008 MBP before - what do you mean with buggy?
There was a batch just when they switched from 34nm flash to 25nm flash that was buggy. If yours was before this time, it was most likely fine.

Originally Posted by badidea View Post
I don't have any comparison but since I have this SSD, working on a computer has become a lot more fun - similar to the change from modem speed to DSL!
Unfortunately I'm still on a quite old firmware with this SSD and haven't found any easy way yet to update the firmware (and I'm not really sure if I should, since I don't notice any problems).
That's one of the problems with OCZ on a Mac. There are only two ways to do it:

1) A Bootcamp partition with Win 7. XP does NOT work anymore.
2) Roll your own bootable Linux disc using e.g. Ubuntu. This is also harder than it should be, because the OCZ updater requires network access to get the actual firmware file instead of just including that file in the updater package.

My conclusion after trying for a while was that the drive was working fine, really, and I shouldn't bother.
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.
     
new1macuser
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Jan 28, 2012, 12:14 PM
 
Hi MacNN experts,

I have a 15" late 2008 MBP with 2.53 GHz core 2 duo processor and 4 GB of RAM with a HDD at 5400 RPM speed. It has become pretty slow and I do not have budget to buy a new one MBP. I went through several posts on this wonderful forum about having a SSD to boost up the MBP performance. I am not able to zero out on a particular brand for the SSD. I need around 128 GB of size.
One special requirement I have is that I need to close the MBP often during the day. So the SSD should not have problem of freezing when waking up from sleep.
Please recommend the best choice among: Samsung 830, Samsung 470, Intel and Crucial M4
Thanks.
     
Eug
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Jan 28, 2012, 01:17 PM
 
From the reports I've seen:

Samsung 830: No idea, because it's a new model and I hadn't been keeping up.
Samsung 470: Works, and uses the same controller Apple uses.
Intel: The models I've seen are reported work in Macs, but if it's a 320 then you need to upgrade the firmware for reliability reasons. I believe they have a Mac updater.
Crucial M4: Works if you have the latest firmware. I don't know if they have a Mac updater.
     
new1macuser
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Jan 28, 2012, 06:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
From the reports I've seen:

Samsung 830: No idea, because it's a new model and I hadn't been keeping up.
Samsung 470: Works, and uses the same controller Apple uses.
Intel: The models I've seen are reported work in Macs, but if it's a 320 then you need to upgrade the firmware for reliability reasons. I believe they have a Mac updater.
Crucial M4: Works if you have the latest firmware. I don't know if they have a Mac updater.
Thanks a lot for your prompt response on my query. Samsung 830 is newer model and is 6G, so may not even be compatible with my late 2008 MBP anyways. Between the rest 3, which is the most reliable please?

Also is there an online facility to check the compatibility of these 3 models for a given laptop? I searched a lot but could not find any..
( Last edited by new1macuser; Jan 28, 2012 at 06:22 PM. )
     
P
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Jan 28, 2012, 06:11 PM
 
The Samsung 830 is almost identical to the 470 - the only real difference is that the 830 supports 6 Gbps SATA. It's a good drive, but not so fast at smaller sizes. It has also just had a bit of a reliability hiccup the required a firmware upgrade.

Intel is the reliable option. Their updaters require burning a CD and booting form that, but it's no big hassle.

Crucial has had good reviews on their smaller drives. I have no personal experience, but it's an interesting choice.
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.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jan 28, 2012, 08:05 PM
 
6G will scale down to 3G or 1.5G on older SATA connections.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
P
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Jan 29, 2012, 06:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
6G will scale down to 3G or 1.5G on older SATA connections.
Correct, but since the 470 is the same thing except cheaper and without 6G support, he might as well save some money.

Intel is the most reliable brand in SSDs right now, with Samsung and Toshiba rounding out the top three.
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.
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Jan 31, 2012, 11:19 AM
 
Well.... i picked up a 120GB Intel320 SSD. Picked up a screwdriver set, and a 2.5" SATA case for the old HDD.

The screwdriver set sucks, i tried to get the first screw of the HDD housing off and i ended up stripping the screw a bit, picked up another set of screwdrivers and the same thing. I went in to the local Apple store and they turned me away, kinda shocked at that. So i called a mac retailer, and asked them how much to just swap the HDDs and they quoted me $65... insane, but i might just have to bite the bullet and get them to do it.

I put the SSD into the enclosure and managed to install OSX onto it and actually booted onto the drive VIA USB.... and i transferred most of my settings over. I had no idea you could boot over USB....very cool.

Cheers
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jan 31, 2012, 11:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Correct, but since the 470 is the same thing except cheaper and without 6G support, he might as well save some money.
Maybe. If I had any spare cash I'd be in the market for an SSD for mine but I'd want to get a 6G unit in the hope it would transfer to a newer laptop in the not too distant future.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Jan 31, 2012, 12:42 PM
 
6 Gb/s SATA doesn't make a lot of difference in any case on current drives. The big gain in SSDs is random read and write, and the improvements recently have been huge. There is a good chance that whatever SSDs are available three years from now are so much faster (in terms of IOPS), bigger and cheaper that it doesn't make sense to move the old one over.

It's also worth pointing out one interesting fact (and yes I probably mentioned this before): If you move from an HDD to a slow SSD, you reduce time spent waiting for the drive by 85%. If you move from an HDD to the fastest SSD on the market, you reduce that time by 88%.
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.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jan 31, 2012, 01:22 PM
 
My MBP is 3 years old already. If I had even more spare cash I'd upgrade it too.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Eug
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Jan 31, 2012, 04:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
It's also worth pointing out one interesting fact (and yes I probably mentioned this before): If you move from an HDD to a slow SSD, you reduce time spent waiting for the drive by 85%. If you move from an HDD to the fastest SSD on the market, you reduce that time by 88%.
Indeed.

On an older machine, adding even a "slow" SSD means that other things start to become the bottleneck. For example, my Pentium SU4100 (1.3 GHz dual-core) Windows 7 laptop was quite slow, but with the SSD it feels somewhat OK. OTOH, my Core 2 Duo 2.26 GHz MacBook Pro with Lion feels very fast with the same SSD.

I'm sure adding a faster SSD to the Windows 7 laptop won't help make it feel faster. The problem is the CPU. For the same reason, I didn't bother with an SSD in my uber-slow dual Atom nettop.

Ironically, both the Atom and the Pentium machines can play Blu-ray just fine.

Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
Well.... i picked up a 120GB Intel320 SSD. Picked up a screwdriver set, and a 2.5" SATA case for the old HDD.

The screwdriver set sucks, i tried to get the first screw of the HDD housing off and i ended up stripping the screw a bit, picked up another set of screwdrivers and the same thing. I went in to the local Apple store and they turned me away, kinda shocked at that. So i called a mac retailer, and asked them how much to just swap the HDDs and they quoted me $65... insane, but i might just have to bite the bullet and get them to do it.
How about just pay them $10 to open it up?

I used some inexpensive screwdrivers and was able to replace mine fairly easily. I did start to strip one screw, but just pressed very hard when turning the screw and it worked fine.

I put the SSD into the enclosure and managed to install OSX onto it and actually booted onto the drive VIA USB.... and i transferred most of my settings over. I had no idea you could boot over USB....very cool.
Yep. No target mode support though.
( Last edited by Eug; Jan 31, 2012 at 04:53 PM. )
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Feb 1, 2012, 05:41 AM
 
Hah.... turned out to the store, and wouldn't you know it an old friend of mine from the Apple store i used to work in was there, and he did it for me free of charge right there at the counter.

This....thing....is...fast. Bootup on a 2.4Ghz Unibody MB w/ 4GB RAM is 15-20 seconds. And launching apps(including iPhoto with a huge library) is under 2 seconds.

I'm very pleased, i think i've added another 2 years to this machine, assuming nothing fails before then.

Cheers for your help guys!!!
     
new1macuser
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Feb 1, 2012, 04:51 PM
 
Saw this deal on Slickdeals and thought of sharing it here for those who may be looking for a SSD below $100.

Intel 320 Series SSDSA2CW080G3K5 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) for $70 after mail in rebate

Newegg.com - Intel 320 Series SSDSA2CW080G3K5 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
     
   
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