I had originally planned to â€śdowngradeâ€ť to a smaller and lighter 11-inch MacBook Air when my current MacBook Pro turned three years old this October â€” I was tired of lugging the 4.5-pound laptop to and from the office every day.
But the iPad 2 I got 14 months ago changed all that. Yes, I still bring the laptop with me to work every day, but I leave it on my desk most of the time, and just bring my iPad to classes and meetings, and even most out-of-town trips. The MBP, though, with a processor that’s at least two generations behind, was showing its age. Bootup and app launch times were noticeably slow. I would have to wait about a minute between clicking the icon for MS Word or Excel and seeing a blank page or spreadsheet ready for writing or editing.
So, when Amazon sent out an email that the Sandisk Extreme (240GB) SATA 3 solid-state drive was on sale for US$180, down from its introductory price of $400, I pulled the trigger. At first glance, $180 sounds like a lot of money to pay for a 240GB hard drive, but it was a hell of a lot less than the $999 that the base model MacBook Air is going for.
When Lion was freshly installed on my MBP a year ago, I luxuriated in a bootup time of around 30 seconds. But that didnâ€™t last very long, and the boot up time had since been extended to a minute and a half because of crud accumulatedÂ from a yearâ€™s worth of installing and uninstalling different apps. Now, after a fresh install of Lion on the SSD, my bootup time is an incredible 10 seconds.
Large, RAM and processor-intensive programs such as MS Word and Excel, and iWorkâ€™s Pages and Numbers used to take anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute and a half to open the first window. Now that been cut down to a few seconds. Smaller, less resource-intensive apps launch almost instantaneously.
File transfers to the SSD, and moving files around from folder to folder, is also noticeably zippier.
The SSD hard drive transplant has given my laptop a new lease on life, and the aging MacBook Pro, with its pokey Core 2 Duo processor, now thinks itâ€™s a spring chicken once more. A Php58,000 upgrade to the latest version of the same MacBook Pro model, with the new Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor and faster RAM, wouldnâ€™t have given me the same performance boost.
My answer is an unqualified â€śyes.â€ť Prices have fallen to the point where the performance and productivity boost outweigh the additional cost. Sourcing one at prices lower than what you find in local stores will require some creativity, but its very doable.
Price At $180 (about Php7,500), it was less than $1 per GB, and a steal considering the original price of $400. Yes, you can easily get a regular HDD with four times as much capacity for less than Php7,500, but then youâ€™d also get â€śregularâ€ť (read: slow) performance.
I saw some SSDs in VMall in Greenhills a couple of weeks ago and a 240GB or 256GB SSD cost somewhere up to Php15,500. At that price, most people will think twice or thrice before getting an SSD.
Try rooting around in Amazonâ€™s online store, and sign up for their deals newsletters to be notified when prices on items you like drop. As of this writing, the highly rated SanDisk Extreme 240GB SSD and Crucial 256GB SSD sell for between $190 and $200. You can have a friend bring it over, or even have it shipped over by a service like Johnny Air Cargo. Your costs would still be lower than getting a unit from a local retailer.
Capacity I gave up about 100GB in disk space by swapping a 240GB SSD for my old 320GB drive, but prudent management of my files and regular and aggressive cleaning of the Downloads and For sorting folders have kept me from maxing out the capacity. Two weeks after a fresh Lion install and the reinstallation of apps and the reconstruction of all my data folders, I still have 180GB of free space.
And when SSD space starts running out, I can keep rarely used files â€” installers, backups of old photos, audiobooks and video files that I had already listened to or seen â€” on an external FireWire HDD for fast access.
Longevity Solid state drives have no moving parts so they are less prone to crashing because of mechanical problems, but they do have a finite number of read/write operations before they start slowing down. For most users, that shouldnâ€™t be a cause for worry, though. The venerable Ars Technica, in a a treatise on how SSDs work, says that â€śnumerous synthetic benchmarks give current-generation consumer SSDs at least 5 years of flawless service before any type of degradation sets in.â€ť That should give most people planning to get an SSD peace of mind.
Oh, and be sure to read their other article on how to make the most of your SSD.
An SSD will breathe new life into your laptop and give you a speed boost at a fraction of the cost of upgrading to a new one (that uses a regular drive). Itâ€™s a no-brainer.
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