Buying Guide: Best Mac SSD: 6 solid state drives reviewed and rated

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It’s constantly sad to see a much-loved Mac start to feel slow and doddery as time goes on, with longer start-up times and more waiting around for things to load. When you see the nippiness of something like the iPad or MacBook Air, it can make you feel as though you wish to change a Mac that should still have lots of life left in it, actually.

Fortunately, there’s a cheaper method to put some nippiness back in your old machine: swap out its SATA hard drive for a solid-state equivalent. Solid-state drives, or SSDs, ditch the spinning disks of regular hard disks in favor of exceptionally rapid flash storage.

Decent-size SSDs are now simple to discover for prices that really won’t break the bank nowadays, and that’s what we are checking here. If you doubt about installing a drive yourself, ask at your neighborhood Apple Authorised Service Centre if they can assist. Setting up an SSD can make older Macs seem like new – or perhaps even much better!

It’s not just changing old drives that SSDs benefit, though – if cannot0 got a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac and want some rapid external storage, you can use any one of these drives with a Thunderbolt drive caddy to provide yourself some added external storage that’s as fast as an internal SSD.

How we tested: Guaging an SSD

Quickbench

When routine spinning hard drives were the only truly viable storage choice, the user interface made use of to connect them to the computer system did not need to be that fast. SATA II was what most pcs used up until a couple of years ago, but as SSDs became more popular, it quickly became clear that the SATA II connection was in fact serving as a bottleneck for their efficiency – the drives were quicker than the port was.

Newer Macs all use SATA III connectors, which lets SSDs run at their full ability. Since we are interested in these drives as upgrade options for older machines that you want to provide a rate boost to, along with being methods to make a lovely brand-new Mac even quicker, we ran two sets of tests.

Pretty much any Mac older than 2011 will have SATA II connectivity rather of SATA III, so to make certain that you can see the results for performance in the kind of machine you have, we ran all tests over both connections. Initially, each drive was linked to a Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt caddy plugged into a 2012 Mac mini, in order to check their SATA III efficiency.

Once those tests were finished, each drive was made use of to replace the internal hard drive in a 2009 MacBook Pro 13-inch, which just has a SATA II connector. We ran the specific same set of tests in each case, and the benchmarks on the following pages will show you both the internal and external results for each drive, along with the results from checking the initial hard drive in the MacBook Pro, as a baseline.

Our test suite of choice was QuickBench on OS X 10.8.3. We cloned the exact same OS install and various other files from one drive to another. QuickBench performs a variety of read and compose tests utilizing numerous different file sizes, consisting of small random read and write rests, and larger file read and write tests. We’d these tests run for 10 cycles each, and we ran the suite of tests twice for each drive when connected over SATA II and twice linked over SATA III.

To created our standard charts, we looked at each drive’s results over the 2 test runs, and chosen sets of results that produced the highest typical score for that drive. This ensures each drive is stood for at its peak efficiency.

Test one: Value for money

Seagate 600

The Seagate 600 240GB is the most recent drive here, so has not had a chance to come down in rate yet. This makes it the highest-priced of all the drives right here by a fair margin, so it’s no surprise to see that it’s also the most dear in terms of price per gigabyte, costing 78p per GB.

The next 2 drives are an excellent step down in price, with the OCZ Vertex 4 256GB and KingSpec C3000 240GB being available in at 67p per GB and 66p per GB respectively. The Vertex 4 is actually around ₤ 12 more pricey than the C3000 to purchase general, however since it’s a 256GB drive rather of a 240GB one, they are nearly similar for overall value.

The Kingston SSDNow V300 240GB is in fact better value than the 65p per GB we have ranked it at here recommends, since our testimonial system was the full upgrade kit, which costs ₤ 10 even more than purchasing just the drive. The drive alone would be 61p per GB, making it amongst the top competitors.

The Corsair Neutron 256GB costs a comparable amount, however the additional area implies that you are paying a somewhat lowered 59p per GB of storage, which we’d think about to be excellent, but it’s made to look practically common by our winner.

The Samsung 840 Series 250GB comes in at a bargain 54p per gigabyte, making it almost 10 % much better value than the Corsair Neutron, and a complete third more affordable than the Seagate 600. The prices are all remarkable when you take into consideration the amount of SSDs made use of to cost, however they are still more pricey than hard disk drives: a 500GB hard disk of a comparable form element to those we are looking at right here would cost you around 8p per GB. This indicates that the scores below are graded only as associating with other SSDs – otherwise standard hard disk drives have the edge.

test 1

Test two: Extras

Vertex 4

SSDs often have a few different varieties of extras: some have upgrade kits for fitting your brand-new drive and even transferring from the old one, while others will give you just a couple of basics, or simply the drive itself.

The Samsung 840 Collection in fact provides two options, with the ‘upgrade’ pack of drive plus setup kit setting you back approximately ₤ 40 even more than simply the drive. For that, you get a SATA III cable, an external USB SATA port, data migration software application, screws, a mount for fitting it in 3.5-inch drive bays, and a plastic adapter for turning it from a 7mm thick drive to a 9mm thick drive.

₤ 40 is rather steep compared with exactly what these would cost you individually, however you cannot knock the comprehensiveness or convenience. The regular version just includes the data migration software, and because that’s what we’ve actually made use of for our price contrast, that’s exactly what we will score on.

The Kingston in fact has an upgrade kit (the drive is readily available alone for about ₤ 10 less, however for that paltry cost distinction we strongly advise getting the kit). It’s SATA power and data cable televisions, drive cloning software application, 3.5-inch adapter brackets, a 9.5 mm adapter, and a full-on external USB drive enclosure, which you can use for your new SSD in order to relocate the information across to it, and then put your old hard disk to keep around as an external drive once cannot0 switched. It’s pretty much the best upgrade kit.

Alas, after that, it gets somewhat anaemic for included options. The OCZ and Corsair packages both include 3.5-inch adapter mounts and screws, but that’s it. The KingSpec has just screws, dialling it back even further. The Seagate includes … nothing.

test 2

Test three: Reliability

Kingston SSD Now V300

A trouble that plagued SSDs when they were first beginning to catch on was their lack of lasting life, in addition to their efficiency dropping significantly after they’d been in use for a while. The latter has actually considering that been attended to by the ‘trim’ command, a tool that ensures that old information on SSDs doesn’t hinder of new information.

All of the drives detailed below support trim, however it likewise should be supported by the pc, and Macs are only enabled to use trim with Apple-supplied SSDs by default. Download Trim Enabler and you can trigger trim for any of these drives, though.

However, there’s still the integrity of the drives to think about, and this can be measured in two means: Indicate Time In between Failures (MTBF), and Terabytes Written (TBW – the total maximum amount of information that can be composed to a drive in its life). The OCZ and Corsair are the best here, both offering a five-year warranty and declaring an average of 2 million hours MTBF.

The Samsung offers a three-year warranty, with a lower (but decent) 1.5 million hours as an estimated MTBF. The KingSpec drive is rated at 1.3 million hours MTBF, however includes simply a two-year service warranty. The Kingston drive at least has a three-year guarantee, however is ranked for simply one million hours MTBF – though it’s one of the couple of below with a TBW listing: 128TB, which is the equivalent of filling the drive 500 times over.

The Seagate is an odd one, with a guarantee that’s ranked either for 3 years, or till the TBW rating of 72TB is hit. It sounds poor, however hitting that TBW would still need filling the drive 280 times over, so we think the time will run out for most individuals initially.

Test 3

Test four: Performance

Corsair Neutron

It’s clear from the benchmarks that selecting an outright champion is not really easy. For the most part, the scores are closely aligned, with which drive is doing finest trading locations numerous times.

The Corsair was one of the more disappointing, though, can be found in regularly with significantly lower speeds in the random read test than its peers. It manages to come in with a middle-of-the-pack performance for the arbitrary write test, however is also slightly off the rate for the bigger file tests.

The Seagate is a comparable story, looking even worse than the Corsair for the random read tests, and providing a middling efficiency for random write. It succeeded internally for the large file write test, though.

The Kingston SSD actually did not like being mounted in our old 2009 MacBook Pro. When connected over Thunderbolt, it provided excellent rate – for the smaller sized arbitrary read tests, it was a leader – however when linked to the SATA II user interface in the notebook, it consistently provided around half the speed of the others.

The OCZ Vertex 4 was extensively disappointing in the arbitrary read tests, coming regularly bottom for all however the smallest tests. However it cleaned the floor with all the others for the arbitrary write tests. Sadly for it, review speed is more crucial for home users.

The Samsung is developed for reading, not composing. It provides leading (or near it) read rates throughout the board, however the reverse holds true for write rates. This makes it terrific for casual individuals, then, but experts will wish to steer clear.

That leaves the KingSpec, which eventually takes the crown for us despite not being the fastest that commonly. You see, it’s also never the slowest. It carried out only somewhat below the leaders the whole way.

test 4

Benchmarks

Bench 1

Bench 2

Bench 3

The champion: Samsung 840 Collection

Samsung 840

Though the different drives here reveal strengths in different areas, we’ve actually chosen to provide the Samsung 840 collection the general honor over its closest competition, the Kingston SSDNow V300, because it beats it out in exactly what we think about to be the two most important categories: rate and value, while also being ranked for much better dependability.

In fact, there’s extremely little in between these two drives if you’ve a newer SATA III Mac. However its slowness in SATA II devices makes it not ideal for older Macs. None of the drives below blew the others away in the rate stakes, so it came down to the general plan.

For us, the Samsung offers the rapid read speeds that a lot of house users desire, terrific value, and a good level of assurance from its service warranty.

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