SSD Upgrade

I finally have a solid state disk in my unibody Macbook Pro.  I can, without a doubt, say this is the single best upgrade I have ever done on any personal computer… ever.  Forget RAM… get an SSD.  I used to have to wait ~30 seconds for my Mac to boot completely, login and all.  Granted, I have quite a few things that get started up at login.  Now, it’s maybe 10 seconds if that.  Apps launch instantaneously.  Decompressing large files is much quicker.  Everything is just faster… much faster.

Where I work, we are constantly dealing with large medical imaging datasets (such as MRI), which contain tens of thousands of smaller individual files.  So, as you can imagine, disk I/O is very important when cycling through these files for analysis.  At the rate SSD seems to be evolving, it won’t be long before our data processing workstations will all have one.  So, I needed one to test.  :)

I chose an OCZ Vertex 250G Mac Edition.  I did extensive research on which drive would be the best candidate to test, and OCZ seems to come out on top quite a bit.  Anandtech’s frequent reviews helped a lot.  The new Indilinx controller has been getting rave reviews, so my decision was easy.  If Intel had a 250G option, it would have made my decision much more difficult.

I’ve been using MacAuthority to source all of my Apple parts lately, and I’ve been extremely happy with their service.  I would even go as far to say it’s the best customer service I’ve ever received.  Next time you need something, give them a ring.  You won’t be disappointed.  So, I let them know what I wanted.  They didn’t carry that specific drive, but it seems all I had to do was let them know I was interested, and they got it for me.  I like that.  :)

OCZ Vertex 250G Mac Edition

So, the drive came in, and I wasted no time swapping it with my old 5400RPM disk.  I hooked the old drive up to a SATA to USB controller, booted from it, and proceeded to use Carbon Copy Cloner to image it onto the SSD.  Unfortunately, halfway through, the SSD disappeared and the clone failed.  ”Don’t do this to me… not with my new toy.”  So, I opened Disk Utility.. no SSD.  I rebooted, tried Disk Utility again… no SSD.  Tried ioreg -l -w 0 | grep OCZ, nothing.  Checked OCZ’s forums, and found another guy was having a similar problem and they recommended to remove the drive for 30 mins.  So I did, reinstalled it, it showed up!  The forum post recommended doing a firmware upgrade.  Downloaded the ISO, burned it, and rebooted.  It didn’t recognize the disk.  ”I can’t believe this”.  So, I contacted MacAuthority to let them know what happened.  ”OK, we’re sending you another one right away.”  Wow, am I a VIP or something?  :)  So, the new one comes in 2 days later.  I immediately check to see if it has the latest firmware, and it does.  I try the clone again, and it works fine this time.  Looking good!

Then I rebooted.  Wow.  I mean Wow.  I know I said it above, but wow.  I’m hardly ever wowed, but this time I was.  WOW.

I did before and after benchmarks using XBench.  If you search the Xbench submitted results for “SSD Upgrade“, you’ll see mine.  I titled both sumbissions the same, but I misidentified the Macbook Pro the second time so rest assured, they’re both me.  :)

Pretty definitive results:

  • Pre-SSD – 37.02
  • Post-SSD – 225.84

So, get one if you haven’t already (from MacAuthority!).  Sell a kidney if you have to.

I’m also looking forward to the next firmware upgrade, which is supposed to configure the drive to self-optimize with a garbage collection function and support for TRIM.  A beta version is on the forums as of this posting, but it seems that Mac owners are having problems with their Macs not sleeping properly, so I’ll wait.  :)