Upgrading to a solid state drive is like getting your first Mac; there's no going back.
A solid state drive is a disk drive that is comprised of flash memory. They are super fast, super durable, super quiet, and super power-efficient. Along with that, they are super expensive. The standard storage drive for most computers is a hard disk drive, which is a cheaper alternative to computer storage than solid state storage. Hard disk drives use magnetic technology to store data on a literal hard metal disk. This makes them vulnerable to magnet damage, and since it is comprised of moving parts, it uses more power and it can be detrimental if dropped or not handled correctly. A solid state drive on the other hand, can be dropped, hit, pummeled by magnets, no matter what, it can usually survive. Solid state memory is used today in commercial jet airliners in something called the black box. It is used to store sounds that come from the cockpit; these are also known as CVR/FDR (Cockpit Voice Recorder/Flight Data Recorder)'s and they can be used in the event that there is a plane crash to help learn what caused the crash. Yes; solid state memory takes a huge beating in a plane crash and it survives. They don't use hard disk drives because they are sensitive to movement which could damage the data.
Crucial is a good company for buying solid state drives from. Albeit expensive for equal storage in hard disk drive form, there is no comparison to the speeds of a solid state drive. Just like the iPad, a solid state drive can make your computer have that 'instant on' effect. Anyone who has used a newer generation MacBook Air knows the glory and benefits of flash storage over a traditional hard disk dive. Applications open faster, the operating system boots up faster, and data is written much faster than if you had used a hard disk drive.
I bought a 128GB Crucial solid state drive a couple of weeks ago and I have been toying around with it ever since. The first picture of this review is the underbelly of my 13-inch MacBook pro with the Crucial solid state drive installed in the lower left of the computer case. It's a 2.5 inch solid state memory case with all of the specifications on it and it is connected inside of the computer the same way that a hard disk drive is; with a SATA connector and power supply. Since getting the solid state drive, I've been launching a myriad of applications at once (60 or more) and all of the applications open within 20 seconds. Opening any application, one at a time, only takes less than a mere second. On a hard disk drive, opening certain applications can take upwards of around 20 seconds (Final Cut Pro, Adobe Photoshop, iWork applications). The solid state drive also brings boot speeds to a better speed than with the 5400RPM stock hard disk drive that came with this MacBook Pro. With the stock hard disk drive, booting up to Mac OS X Lion took around 40 seconds. After installing the solid state drive, it takes around 6 seconds. This is a major improvement over the slow 5400RPM hard disk drive.
To show you all some of the benefits of the speed differences, I downloaded an application in the Mac App Store known as Blackmagic Disk Speed Test which can be downloaded for free here. Below are two pictures; the first one is the 5400RPM hard disk drive's read and write speeds. Under that is the solid state drive's read and write speeds:
You can see that the speed increases are not marginal, but quite the contrary. The speed differences are tremendous. Since images alone are not cool enough to show off of the speed differences of the upgrade, I composed a video showing the difference in speed by duplicating a 740MB video file. The test was done on the same MacBook Pro with the same hardware; the only difference being a hard disk drive and a solid state drive. So the test is accurate to a tee. Additionally, duplicating a file with Mac OS X demonstrates both read and write speeds, as the drive has to read the original file to write a copy of it. Here is the comparison:
The solid state drive was done within seconds; the hard disk drive took over a minute. Over time, these speed differences make a huge difference in your computing. I am very happy with the upgrade.
MacBook Pro 13" original hard disk drive specifications:
5400RPM Seagate 320GB; 2.5 inch hard disk drive
MacBook Pro 13" new solid state drive specifications:
NAND Crucial M4 128GB; 2.5 inch solid state drive
All in all, I've noticed better battery life, better speeds, and a better computer. I recommend the Crucial solid state drive upgrade. Crucial manufactures RAM and solid state upgrades for just about any computer on the market. They operate from a company called Micron which produces their memory upgrades. The pricing is great. I got myself an 8GB RAM upgrade for only $50 there; doing so through Apple would have cost me $200. I highly recommend the solid state drive upgrade to anyone who is serious about boosting the speed of their computer. It comes with a price tag; but I couldn't be happier with the end results.
You can pick up a Crucial solid state drive for yourself from Crucial's Web Site or you can order the same 128GB 2.5 inch model that I bought by clicking here.
The cost lineup for one of Crucial's solid state drives are as follows:
- 64GB - $118.99
- 128GB - $209.99
- 256GB - $410.99
- 512GB - $794.99
So folks, are you interested in upgrading to solid state storage? Share in the comments below!