SSDs: Bringing new life to older Macs

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The recent acquisition of my new 11″ MacBook Air at work has prompted me to do something that I’d long wanted to try: Putting a great SSD into an older Mac. Seeing just what a difference it made in the MacBook Airs, I just purchased a 90GB OCZ Vertex 3 for my 15″ MacBook Pro3,1 from 2007. The difference is absolutely remarkable. I’m not sure what Apple is doing that Microsoft isn’t but I noticed such an improvement in both Linux and MacOS with SSDs that I just don’t see in Windows 7.

For the truly geeky, the Vertex 3 was overkill.  It is a SATA3 drive capable of 6GBps speeds.  The Mac in question is only SATAI (though the Intel chipset it uses can support SATA2) so the maximum bandwidth for the machine is 1.5GBps, a quarter of what the drive is capable of.  Still, there’s a reasonably good chance that the drive will outlast the computer, and the price differences isn’t very noticeable these days.  If you’re interested in doing a similar upgrade, the Vertex 2 drives cost a little less and should yield the same performance.

As with the MacBook Air, a secondary benefit of the SSD is system noise.  The 2007 MacBook Pro still has a fan, but I had to put my ear up to the machine to hear it.  It is a whisper-silent machine now.

I’ve run a few informal benchmarks and it seems to start large programs a bit faster than my 2010 MacBook Air, which is no surprise, as the CPU is clocked at 2.4GHz compared to the Air’s 1.4GHz.

So, now I have three blindingly fast Macs at my disposal between work and home.  What a luxury!  Next up:  My 24″ iMac at home.

I know it isn’t great for manufacturers, but it really is wonderful that a laptop that is almost six years can be easily upgraded to the point where it is still competitive with current offerings.  For me, a five year old Mac with an SSD is a far better option than most of what you can find new at Future Shop and Best Buy.

GoSaBe Blog - Mar 3, 2012 | Hardware