I’m very fond of my MacBook Pro. It’s an early 2011 17”model: the penultimate model before Apple discontinued the 17” chassis. And there’s the rub. If you want a large-screen Macbook Pro now, your only option is the 15” Retina display, which may have more pixels, but in terms of screen real-estate, it’s not just the pixel count that matters: I want to be able to actually see what I’m doing.
I dabble in freelance video production (using Final Cut Pro 7), and occasionally photography. After pruning my Aperture library down recently, it now stands at around 25,000 photos. This meant it performed like a dog – an elderly, arthritic dog. I had no particular performance complaints using FCP7 to edit 1080p video, but the machine did feel in general like it was a few years old, with the spinning beachball becoming a regular friend, and apps taking in some cases something approaching minutes to open.
Recently my significant other purchased a new MacBook Pro 13”Retina, and I was blown away by how fast it was. I thought my i7 processor would hold me in good stead compared to the i5, but the Retina device is blindingly fast and makes my 17” look positively lethargic in comparison. However, upgrading to a new MacBook isn’t an option if I want to keep my lovely 17”screen.
Some investigation revealed that the 13” Macbook’s speed is down in no small part to its SSD drive. OK, it’s only 250GB, but boy, does it shift. Blackmagic Disk Speed Test revealed the shortcomings of my creaky old Toshiba 5400rpm 750GB HDD:
That’s right: the SSD is running 14x as fast as the HDD on the reads, and nearly 16x on the writes. Oh dear. Time to get an SSD installed.
Anybody who has looked at SSD pricing recently will realise that there are only a few players in the home user market, Samsung being one of them. When I consulted an Apple Genius at my local Apple Store, he specifically recommended Samsung on the grounds of reliability. Generally these guys know what they’re talking about so I heeded his comments. A few calls to Samsung later and a 750GB 840 EVO SSD drive arrived at my doorstep for testing.
Note that at the time of writing, 1TB 840 EVOs are actually slightly cheaper than the 750GB model, and Samsung say the larger drives are faster as they can process more data in parallel.