9 Replies Latest reply: Jun 15, 2012 12:10 PM by alisons0923
alisons0923 Level 1 (0 points)

What is the difference between a solid state drive and a Serial ATA drive in the MacBook Pro's?  And why would I choose one over the other?

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.3)
  • Kappy Level 10 (266,058 points)

    SSDs are essentially a form of flash memory. They are much faster than SATA drives and have no moving parts. They are also much more expensive. SATA drives offer larger amounts of storage for less money and are slower than SSDs, have moving parts, and are cheaper than SSDs.

  • Level 8 (41,760 points)

    The solid state drive does not have moving parts like the hard drive...uses silicon as the storage medium like the iDevices all use.  The advantage is the very high speed of read/write vs a hard drive because you are not searching over a moving platter.  But the cost of the storage is a great deal more than a hard drive.  And the capacity is much less due to the expense of the item.


    SSD results in much faster startup than HDD, and much faster loading of software.


    Question becomes, do you need that speed or not?

  • alisons0923 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks Kappy and Ralph for the quick replies.  So, do I need the speed for the price?  I use the computer recreationally - not for work or anything like that.  My kids use it to do school work, my husband tools around on Safari.  I generally use it for holding my 15,000+ iPhoto library, iTunes, iCal, email and Safari. 


    Is it worth the extra cost to me?


    And one more question -- is it worth the upgrade from 750GB to 1TB on a Serial ATA drive on a MacBook Pro?

  • Level 8 (41,760 points)

    Personally, I do not feel SSD is worth the price...and it would be s significant downgrade in quantity of storage.


    If a little more speed would help, move from the standard Apple supplied 5400 rpm drive to the 7200 rpm drive...that reduces the seek time by a quite a bit.  For most people who are not speed demons that is enough.


    And for those of us who use external drives for backup and storage and bootable systems a question comes up of why to to something like SSD just for faster startup?


    Upgrade the 750 to 1 TB?  Why not get a good external drive?  See what they have at OWC, I bought their 2 TB Mercury Elite Pro and partitioned for Time Machine to use as backup and two bootable partitons for more work space...runs great and has quad interface so you can find one interface that will give you great speed.

  • OGELTHORPE Level 8 (45,207 points)

    My opinion:


    SSDs are not cost effective for the majority of users, especially in a home environment. 


    An upgrade to a 1 TB drive is good if your current HDD is becoming filled up with data you want to keep and not download to an external HDD.



  • Kappy Level 10 (266,058 points)

    I can't answer a question like that. You have the facts so you must decide for yourself.

  • ds store Level 7 (30,325 points)

    If your going to go SSD you need to go large as you can get, like 750GB or more and it's going to cost plenty.


    SSD's are shock resistant as they have no moving parts, should last longer and cause less problems that hard drives, but they can wear out faster than hard drives if your moving around a lot of data.


    Drawback to SSD's is you can't securely erase them, and with their "wear leveling" placing your data on the least used cells, you basically have to enable Filevault 2 to encrypt the whole thing all the time to protect your data, this results in a performance loss a bit as your CPU has to encrypt and decrypt everything on the fly before using it.


    A skilled person can break the password, or you have to provide it to Apple for repair purposes or Customs officials/law when ordered by the courts. There are devices for iPhones, iPods, iPads and even GPS that can image the whole SSD in mere minutes and gleam the password, apparently in cooperation with these major companies like Apple. So it's safe to assume the newer SSD on the closed boxe MBP-Retina's will also be accessible this way via the Thunderbolt port.


    So if you want the option to "scrub" your boot drive, then your going to want to go with a SATA hard drive and not a SSD. Also you want a MBP other than the MacBook Pro-Retina, so that you can open the machine and remove the internal storage for destruction.


    How do I securely delete data from the machine?

  • xHotaru Level 1 (15 points)

    Speed is not the only benefit- SSD drives don't "die" like normal hard drives. Even if you drop it, you won't hear the "click of death" and lose all your data, because as others stated, there are no moving parts. It's appealing, especially for a mobile device or a laptop. However, they're still way too expensive IMHO and the amount of storage you get is so small that you are better off just getting a normal internal drive and using an external to back up your storage. As for the speed....welll, sure if you really need your computer to boot that much faster but since most people always keep theirs on it really doesn't make that big of a difference.

  • alisons0923 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks everyone for all of your input and advice!  Greatly appreciated!!!