I have had my MacBook pro for a few years now, I used to be a pc user and did the whole building and modding computers, I loved the move to apple and would never go back to a Windows world.
The whole SSD idea was planted by a friend who bought a MacBook air, I was at work coping a file over and it took ages to copy of my MacBook pro but seconds to get it on his MacBook air, after this we ran a few speed tests, much to his joy as a 1.6 Core 2 Duo ran faster than my Pro i7, this simple afternoon at work showed me the HDD is not only a bottle neck but the biggest bottle neck of the entire system.
So I decided this would be the best thing to speed up the whole system, OWC have some great videos that helped in this decision With this 4 way speed test
What SSD hard drive do I get?
If you are reading this post you will have started looking in to this and i’m sure you have been looking in to it for some time, there are loads on the market and i’m sure you have read forum posts saying “just wait a week as a new one is coming out”, you would never get anything if you just put things off.
The 1st big decision is what drive you want, there are pro’s and con’s to everyone, unless you go with the SSD you can buy from Apple (and please dont, expensive and slow) you may or may not have problems. Here is a list of drives/manufactures I was looking at:
– OWC Mercury Extreme pro 240GB,
Very good reviews on speed and reliability, slightly more expensive and based in the USA. Has sleep and hibernation issues on some macs.
– Crucial C300 256GB,
Again very good reports, slightly cheaper than the OWC drive, the main thing a read is that for some the drives just does not work, I dont really want to have the problems this may bring.
– Intel x-25
Good reports about speed, I find this speed reports a little misleading as it all depends on what article you read, the extra price for the speed boost would not work well for me as I have the 2010 Pro, it does not have SATA 3. Another point I found is I could not find anything bigger than 160GB, I wanted something bigger than this.
– OCZ Vertex 2E 240GB
Now down in price due to a new version, faster version that again would not better the speed I would see. I have read some good and bad things about this drive.
I went with the OWC SSD 240GB for a few reasons.
1- Great reports of most forums, the fact that so many mac uses out there are running this drive keeps the info fresh and again with the problems you may see there is a lot of support on the usual forums.
2 – With the problems OWC release firmware to try and address problem, this show they work hard to try and solve the little problems.
3 – The articles I have read about this speed of this drive are very good, but not just about now, as soon as you install it but a number of years down the line.
But I still have a few downsides:
I live in the UK so have to get the drive shipped from the States, not a problem not but what if I need to ship it back.
Import tax to the UK, it still works out as slightly cheaper than most of the other SSDs on the market.
Firmware updates can only be done on a windows boot and not a virtual boot, they are working on a mac update program but its not here at the moment.
So now I have the SSD I want where shall I put it?
You have 1 of 2 options, replace the HDD or add to the HDD.
Changing the HDD you have may bring down the capacity of your Mac, I have a 500GB drive and its 90% full all the time so I wanted to keep the space. The only way I could have the speed and keep the room I wanted was to place the SSD in the CD/DVD drive with a optibay. An optibay is a unit that replaces the space you have once removed the superdrive, it allows you to put another hard drive in its place.
The decision on where you have each drive is yours but I will go through my thought process on this one.
SSD in hard drive space and HDD in optibay:
If you have new MacBook pro (2011+) the SATA conation to this space is SATA 3. For me this is the only reason you would do this if wanting 2 drives on your mac.
You may have to turn off “spin down” and “motion detection” for the HDD
Keep HDD in its original space, SSD in optibay.
Both SATA ports in my 2010 mac are SATA2 so it would make no difference to me in speed.
Keeping the HDD where is it I get to keep spin down and motion detection.
I have also read people can hear the HDD more in the optibay.
What optibay to get?
MCE Tech have a great deal. If you buy an optibay from them they will send you a caddy for your recently removed superdrive, I didnt want to lose my superdrive completely or have to buy another so I decided on this, I would love to tell you all about it but its been 3 weeks and I still dont have it, I did call then and they were very sorry but they cant make enough to sell.
OWC sell there own, if you get the SSD from them its cheap to get the optiabay as well.
NewmodeUS also sell one, I bought one from them (as I could no longer wait) and for the price its ok, I will be changing over once my MCE one comes as it does not have all the relevant screw holes so its not as secure as I would like.
Installing the hardware.
Now please dont think this is a walk in the park, I have spent a lot of time in side my past computers so I felt ok with it, there are thousands of videos online for you to see but please follow the instructions step by step, doing the smallest thing wrong would “brick” you mac, great door stop but not to good at surfing the net! Not much point me going in to this as the videos you will watch will explain this in much more detail.
Installing the OSX
Once me SSD was in I booted to the old HDD so I could partition the drive, call it something you will remember, I called mine SSD OS.
You then need to install OSX from a usb key, just google it as you cant just copy over the DVD image to a USB, I had a little problem where it would not boot but after changing what USB port it was plugged in to it was fine.
Go through the usual install.
Once I had it installed I went through migration and copied over all my settings and appellations to the SSD, I left music, movies and documents on the HDD. Once I had got the migration sorted out I change the location of the “Users” files, this makes it look as it should but keeps the bigger files on the HDD and not the SSD.
The other option would be to keep the user files in the normal place and have different folders for the lager items (music, mail, photos) and you can change the default locations of where the applications access this information. There is a chance I may re-install and do this as at the moment with everything installed I have 160GB on my SSD free, for now i’m going to see how it goes.
I did not sale through this one.
The problem I have seeing is the old sleep one than most SSD drive see.
If I close my lid the mac goes to sleep, if a leave my mac open the screen goes black but it wont go to sleep, I have also found it takes a little longer to sleep which is odd with a SSD.
So my Tips.
I have found 2 little applications that have helped.
Please sleep is a program that forces the sleep settings I have set in my mac, this fixes this problem and it works well.
SmartSleep is something I didnt really need but its a good one, You have different options on how it deals with sleep and hibernation. At the moment I have mine set up so when it goes to sleep and the battery is higher than 15% it just sends all the info to RAM and nothing to the SSD, this keeps the writes down to the SSD, once the battery gets to less than 15% it starts to do the apple safe sleep so makes a copy to the SSD as well RAM so if all power goes I wont lose unsaved info.
Its fast, just so very quick on boot times, applications loading up, i do use bigger applications like FCP and motion but i have yet to try these out as of yet but im sure i will blog about it soon.
At the moment I have only had this setup for 3 days but I done the same reading anyone has when they are looking as SSD in mac’s, I hope this info has helped and any questions I will try to answer.