Operation Infusion Successful
The goal was to give my mid 2010 MBP a bit of a performance boost to help me hold off replacing it a little longer. I’ve always held that when purchasing or upgrading a machine, one of the most significant bottlenecks is the hard drive. In fact when ever I purchase a machine I’ll trade a slightly faster CPU for a faster HD every time - oh and always max the RAM. I ordered the machine with a 500GB 7200 RPM drive - which felt pretty snappy at the time, but now in the days of SSD, it feels down right sluggish.
I’ve been thinking about this upgrade for a bit over a year now. Since my 500G drive is pretty much maxed out with VMs, HD Video and such, I’m in a bit of a pickle because I can’t really afford to get 500G of SSD to replace it. Instead I opted keep the HDD and swap the optical drive for an SSD. Apparently, going sans-optical is all the rage now anyway. This time last year my plan was to get as small an SSD as I could to run the OS, and keep all my data on the HD. I was considering 80 - 120G. Luckily prices have dropped enough in a year that I was able to get a 240GB for even less than the 120 I was looking at back then. I opted for an OCZ Vertex 3. I also purchased a drive bay adapter and an external slim drive enclosure so I could use my DVD drive via USB when I needed it. The whole kit set me back less than 250.00 on Newegg.
I’m still keeping most of my large files (VMs, Video, Music) on my HDD, but now I have a bit more freedom and room to decide what goes where. I’m using symlinks from the SSD back to the HDD in those cases so that everything pretty much just looks the same as it did before the upgrade.
I did some rough performance benchmarks before and after. Nothing too technical, just a few items of data:
Event: HD / SSD
Boot to login: 1:49.5 / 20.2
Login to finished: 45.9 / 16.1
Xcode startup 8.1 / 5.5
Project build from clean: 1:47.4 / 1:46.1
iMovie startup:18.2 / 8.8
Garageband startup: 11.9 / 3.6
Vmware boot W7 cold 2:09 /2:05
Photoshop startup: 15.1 / 3.0
Notes: The VM boot didn’t change, which makes sense as the VM is still located on the HDD. I included it though because I wanted to see if there would be an impact as a result of paging. I still predict that overall system performance once I’m running tons of apps will improve as paging will be done at much faster speeds. If I had a VM I used all the time I would just move it to SSD. The Xcode build results are a bit disappointing but also understandable. That build test was for my most complicated iPad project - building for the device (the slowest case). Unfortunately most of the build time is spend optimizing .PNG files (CPU bound) and there are a TON of those. The good news is that I usually build for the simulator instead where the .PNG optimization is skipped. This same project builds clean for the simulator in 8.5 seconds! I don’t have the before numbers captured, but I’ll tell you that is a lot faster than it was.
Will this upgrade satisfy my tech lust for now? Well things are feeling pretty snappy and I’ve got more drive space to play with. I’m feeling pretty good, the shakes are subsiding. I think as long as I stay away from the Apple store and the glow of the shiny MBP Retina display I’ll be fine… for awhile anyway.
Some shots of the operation:
The SSD ready to be mounted in the bay.
Back cover removed. Nurse hand me a scalpel.
Legacy optical removed.
SDD and drive bay adapter installed. (SSD is on the opposite side of the adapter).