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BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

"BARE facts on Mac speed FEATS"
Rob-ART, Main Mad Scientist (aka Dr. Frankenstein)
Bet-TAY, Special Features Edtior (aka Frau Blucher)

SHOOTOUT: MacBook Air drives
HDD versus SSD

Originally posted February 12th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Many of you are curious how the two MacBook Air internal drive options compared. Is the Solid State Drive (SSD) worth the extra $999? We've seen Xbench results posted everywhere but we think Speed Tools' QuickBench 4.03 is a more rigorous benchmark. So here's what we learned:

GRAPH LEGEND:
64G SSD = Samsung 64GB NAND Flash based Solid State Drive (MCCOE64GEMPP)
80GB HDD = Samsung 80GB 4200rpm 1.8 inch subnotebook drive (HS082H8)

INSIGHTS and ANALYSIS
The MacBook Air's 64GB Solid State Drive (SSD) excels in small random reads and writes. That explains why it boots so fast, wakes so fast, and launches apps so quickly. It should also speed up virtual memory and Photoshop scratch disk activity.

When it comes to sequential READS, it beats the HDD significantly in medium to large transfers. That bodes well for movie playback.

The weakness with the SSD lies in the sequential write speed were the 80GB HDD beat it soundly. But keep in mind that the HDD will slow down progressively as it fills while the SSD's write speed remains unchanged.

NOTE: Our testing was done on drives that had Leopard OS and Apple applications as they come from the factory. In other words, we didn't test empty drives. The 80GB HDD had 50GB free. The SSD had 38GB free.

HOW GOOD IS THE SSD's RANDOM READ SPEED?
We wanted you to see how dramatic the average small random read speed advantage is on the SSD compared to all other notebook and subnotebook HDDs. We submit to you this graph:

LEGEND:
7K200 (Hit) = Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 200GB 7200rpm SATA notebook drive
5K320 (WD) = Western Digital Scorpio 320GB 5400rpm SATA notebook drive
5K250 (Hit) = Hitachi Travelstar 5K250 250GB 5400rpm SATA notebook drive
64G SSD = Samsung 64GB NAND Flash based Solid State Drive (MCCOE64GEMPP)
80GB HDD = Samsung 80GB 4200rpm 1.8 inch subnotebook drive (HS082H8)

NOTE: The 250G, 320G, and 200G notebook drives were empty. The 64G SSD was 31% full.

IF you want to test your hard drive with Speed Tools QuickBench, go visit SpeedTools.com. They also have a benchmark called ZoneBench for testing how a hard drive slows down as it fills up.

RELATED ARTICLES
Bare Feats compares the MacBook Air to a MacBook Pro costing less -- includes CPU and GPU intensive speed tests.

ExtremeTech benchmarks a 64GB SSD against the 320GB WD Scorpio.

Samsung has a page discussing their Flash SSD product line including those that you can put in a MacBook Pro or MacBook.

AppleInsider published their own "face-off" between the HDD and SSD.

Apple Online Store

WHERE TO BUY A MAC
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2008 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster