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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > New MacBook Pro (2010): To SSD or Not to SSD?

View Poll Results: What would YOU do?
Poll Options:
Stick with the 500 GB stock HDD. 12 votes (100.00%)
Upgrade to 256 GB SSD ($650). 0 votes (0%)
Upgrade to 512 GB SSD ($1300). 0 votes (0%)
Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll
New MacBook Pro (2010): To SSD or Not to SSD?
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sinoevil
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Apr 15, 2010, 06:21 PM
 
Hello All,

It has been a while since I have been in the market for a new computer. I've managed to hang on to my 12-in. PowerBook G4 since 2003! Alas, it's time for an upgrade, now that the new 2010 line of MBPs have been released.

So far, I'm leaning towards getting the 15" i7 2.66 Ghz, with an 8 GB RAM. My dilemma is whether to stick with the 500 GB HDD that it comes with or "upgrade" to Apple's stock Solid State Drive. I'm not a techie, but I've been reading a little bit about the pros and cons of SSDs. It's a pricey option (especially for the top-tier 512GB), so I thought it merited further consideration.

I'm particularly interested in your thoughts about the longevity of these drives (decay, degradation?), SLC vs MLC drives, and whether or not Apple's stock SSD drives are a good value overall. (Anybody know which brand(s) Apple uses?)

The salesperson with whom I spoke at the Apple store didn't seem to know much about the machine's internals. I've had much better success searching answers in these discussion boards, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Your experienced and thoughtful insight is always appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Cheers!
( Last edited by sinoevil; Apr 15, 2010 at 06:25 PM. Reason: Revise poll.)
sinoevil
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Cold Warrior
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Apr 15, 2010, 06:24 PM
 
Don't get Apple's SSD upgrade. Purchase something better after-market. The Intel X25-M models are excellent.
     
analogue SPRINKLES
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Apr 15, 2010, 06:37 PM
 
I was going to ask... what quality are the apple ones? Do they fragment?
     
mduell
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Apr 15, 2010, 08:47 PM
 
For those prices you can get something aftermarket that's the same size but with a good controller instead of the sh!tty one Apple offers.
     
issa
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Apr 15, 2010, 11:20 PM
 
Just my two yen; but I'd recommend Option D. That is, to start off by just paying the $50 at the Apple Store to upgrade to the faster 500 GB HDD that spins at 7200rpm.

Use that for a while. Then, if and when the SSD urge stays with you, you'll have had the time to weigh the pros and cons of the respective SSDs on the market. It's a muddled scene at present, and as you wrote, very pricey. Besides, the SSD market is evolving rapidly enough that pricing and such might be quite different, resulting in greater overall savings even if it takes you only a few months to make the leap. Also, as others have written, you will quite likely get a better deal or a better device going the third-party route after buying your MBP.
( Last edited by issa; Apr 15, 2010 at 11:38 PM. Reason: Added acronym "HDD")
     
imitchellg5
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Apr 16, 2010, 12:18 AM
 
From what I've heard, Apple's SSD are cheap Toshiba. I'd just stay with the standard HDD, then upgrade in the future if that's still something you'd like to do.
     
SierraDragon
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Apr 16, 2010, 01:15 AM
 
What issa said. Option D.
     
analogue SPRINKLES
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Apr 16, 2010, 01:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by issa View Post
Just my two yen; but I'd recommend Option D. That is, to start off by just paying the $50 at the Apple Store to upgrade to the faster 500 GB HDD that spins at 7200rpm.

Use that for a while. Then, if and when the SSD urge stays with you, you'll have had the time to weigh the pros and cons of the respective SSDs on the market. It's a muddled scene at present, and as you wrote, very pricey. Besides, the SSD market is evolving rapidly enough that pricing and such might be quite different, resulting in greater overall savings even if it takes you only a few months to make the leap. Also, as others have written, you will quite likely get a better deal or a better device going the third-party route after buying your MBP.
Funny thing this is exactly what I did when the first unibody MBP's came out. Here I am 2 years later and not much has changed. They are always around the corner with a more reliable and cheaper model. This always seems to be the case with technology.

At some point you just have to bite the bullet and do it.

My next computer in a year or so will have a SSD for sure. I can really feel that the 7200 RPM drive is the bottleneck for almost everything I do that's intensive.
     
CharlesS
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Apr 16, 2010, 02:28 AM
 
The Crucial RealSSD C300 is the fastest consumer SSD by a really huge margin. Go compare the specs and benchmarks to the rest of the SSDs on the market and be amazed. This thing is actually faster than the 3.0 Gbps SATA controller in the MBP is able to handle, so it is literally the fastest possible read performance that you can get.

And it's only $30 more than Apple's $650 upgrade.

And to top it off, you get to keep the stock 320 GB hard drive that comes with the MBP.

There's not really much reason to go with Apple's SSD upgrade, in my opinion.

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Simon
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Apr 16, 2010, 02:58 AM
 
I guess it depends on what capacity requirements you have. Myself for example I don't need more than 120/128 GB for the SSD (I can still have a large HDD in the optical bay). There Apple's option is actually quite OK because no decent third-party 120 GB SSD comes in at $200 which is what the BTO upgrade costs. So I'll probably be getting Apple's 128 GB SSD and then when the new Intel SSD arrives later this year I'll get one of those for real performance.

OTOH if you need a lot of SSD capacity you'll be better off getting the stock HDD from Apple and getting the SSD from a third party.
     
surreality
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Apr 16, 2010, 11:07 AM
 
I've been looking at this same decision as well. There is plenty of conflicting information. The two most prevalent negatives I've seen about SSD's in general are:

1) Some drives are prone to performance degradation over time and require you to run utilities to clean things up and regain to regain the performance.

2) The long-term reliability is in question as the memory in them have only so many write cycles.

I cannot remember the site where I saw one interesting review. I believe it was on an OCZ SSD. It was interesting as they noted that they were 100GB or 200GB drives that were actually 128/256GB capacities, but that the drive controller used the additional memory to handle optimization and memory location failures. This to me just pointed out that maybe SSD's were not as robust as I would like/require.

I also liked the read/write specs on the Crucial C300 series, but am not sure if 256GB is enough space.

While I know it might limit Apple's ability to use multiple suppliers, but it would be nice to know the read/write speeds of their SSD's.

There is one major upside to getting the Apple SSD as a configuration option--if you get Apple care, the drive would be warrantied for 3 years. So, if there were issues with SSD failures, Apple would supply the new drive. If you purchase an SSD aftermarket, then you live by the manufacturer's warranty. I don't have any experience with doing RMA's with other manufacturers, but Apple has been excellent at standing behind their Apple Care warranties. My most recent experience was to replace a battery on a 2.5 year old MBP. I made an appointment, the appointment started on time, and I was out of there with a new battery in less than 10 minutes--no hassle, just had to sign the receipt.
     
analogue SPRINKLES
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Apr 16, 2010, 12:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by surreality View Post
I've been looking at this same decision as well. There is plenty of conflicting information. The two most prevalent negatives I've seen about SSD's in general are:

1) Some drives are prone to performance degradation over time and require you to run utilities to clean things up and regain to regain the performance.

2) The long-term reliability is in question as the memory in them have only so many write cycles.
1) From what I hear most of them have a utility built into the ROM that does it automatically. Just how OSX defrags files on your mac under 20 megs when you launch it.

2) SSD's should last 5-8 years no problem. Even hard drives aren't rated to run that long. Not to mention you really have the same computer for 8 years and never upgrade any part of it or replace it all together? If it does fail in 5 years a replacement will prob be cheap as hell by then.
     
Simon
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Apr 22, 2010, 02:14 AM
 
Here's the latest benchmark from BareFeats. They basically confirm what's been consensus here. Apple's SSDs are faster than any HDD, but third parties offer even faster SSDs.

MacBook Pro drive roundup







     
KP*
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Apr 22, 2010, 02:26 PM
 
I am buying mine today. Gonna get the stock model, as I have a new-ish 320GB 7200rpm drive in my current MBP, which will be more than enough for me in the new MBP. In a year or two I hope it will be possible to get a nice SSD for around the same price a regular drive is today.
     
Simon
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Apr 29, 2010, 04:05 AM
 
I did end up changing my mind about the SSD. I finally decided to go with the 500 GB 7200 rpm HDD but in addition I'm also ordering an Intel X25-M G2 from a third party.

I'll install the SSD in my new MBP myself. I'm not sure yet if I'll put the HDD in the optical bay or just use it for backups or so in my SATA dock.

The Intel X25-M G2 is going to rock in the i7 MBP.
     
aehaas
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Apr 30, 2010, 11:10 AM
 
Why does Apple not offer the fastest SSD for us professional users out of their own box?

aehaas
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fishguy
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Apr 30, 2010, 02:22 PM
 
So is performance degradation something to really worry about? I've heard of trim support in Windows but not Macs and I noticed utilities that will restore ssd performance. If performance degradation is real (and significant), are there tools available now to deal with it?
     
   
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