The Blackmagic Disk Speed Test benchmarks show that the SSD in my 3-year-old MacBook is not quite as fast in terms of read & write performance as the current issue 13” MacBook (most likely due to the I/O subsystem on the older machine rather than the drive), but compared to the old HDD it’s in a different league: a ninefold improvement in read speed and over tenfold for writes.
Real World Performance
What’s held me up from buying an SSD before now is the niggling doubts regarding whether the performance difference would be that noticeable. Well, I can now answer this.
Boy, is the speed increase noticeable.
Not that one often shuts a Mac down, but when I timed a restart, the startup time had reduced by a factor of 4. That’s a phenomenal improvement. I didn’t formally time a startup of Aperture, because there is too much variation in normal startup time to make it a fair comparison, but what used to take in the region of 30 seconds is now over in less than 5.
In everyday use, the laptop has gone from being sluggish to use, bordering on distinctly painful at times, to being fast and responsive, even when handling large data throughput. The spinning beach ball has all but disappeared from my life. It genuinely is like having a new laptop, at a small fraction of the price, and without sacrificing the 17”screen. In fact, my only wonder is why I didn’t do this years ago.
When restarting I’ve avoided using the “Reopen windows”option in the past because it’s slowed the restart to the point that I couldn’t get anything productive done for several minutes, while my mail client and Safari loaded back up again. With the SSD, everything that needs to reopen does so in a flash.
One unexpected side-effect of the upgrade is that my CPU cooling fans spin up more frequently. From the temperature data I have for various points in the machine, I don’t believe this is a cooling problem from the SSD: rather, I suspect that the CPU used to spend more time idling waiting for the I/O subsystem to catch up and give it some data to work on, and now the CPU is getting caught on the hop and working harder to process the faster-flowing data. Next time I open up the clamshell I’ll be checking the CPU heatsink cement just in case.
A final consequence of the upgrade is that the machine is noticeably quieter, without a bunch of platters spinning at 5400rpm.