Apple's MacBook Pro with 128GB SSD: Performance and Battery Life Investigatedby Anand Lal Shimpi on April 15, 2008 4:20 PM EST
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While 2009 may end up being the first year that we see widespread adoption of SSDs (Solid State Drives) in notebooks, 2008 will go down as the year that it all started happening.
My experience with a SSD on the MacBook Air was an overwhelmingly positive one. While most application usage performance didn't improve, boot and application start times were noticeably quicker. Also, amazingly enough, battery life was improved by a good 5 - 15% depending on the usage model. I was quite impressed.
The size and price of the MacBook Air's SSD option were both tough pills to swallow however. Available only as a 64GB drive and as a $999 option from Apple, the option honestly doesn't make financial sense on a notebook that has a healthy shelf life of only a year or two thanks to a non-upgradable CPU and memory.
If you'll remember, one of the issues with the MacBook Air's SSD is that it's still based on older PATA controller technology. When the first SSD drives hit the market they were almost exclusively for industrial applications, where reliability not performance was the top concern and they also happened to be PATA drives. Once it became clear that there was consumer interest in SSDs, development quickly shifted to SATA drives and Flash-to-PATA controller technology lagged behind. The overall market for SSDs was small enough that it didn't make sense to commit a ton of resources to the development of these things, thus we saw SATA drives improve in performance and PATA offerings stagnate. While the Flash memory side of the Samsung SSD in the MacBook Air was fast enough, the controller became the bottleneck and thus there were some instances where the SSD option was actually slower than the already sluggish mechanical disk that ships with the Air.
I was very eager to find out what would happen if I paired the latest MacBook Pro with an even faster SSD. Built with the latest in Flash-to-SATA controller technology I expected to see both performance and battery life improve.
DVNation shipped me the drive, a Memoright MR25.1-128S (the same thing as the MR25.2-128S apparently). I didn't realize how expensive it was until I got the package. DV Nation had shipped me a 15" MacBook Pro with a sticker price of $3,074, expensive but not the shocker. The next line told me the price of the SSD: $3,819.
That's right, the Memoright 128GB SATA SSD costs almost $4K just for the drive. And you thought Apple's SSD option was pricey.