Thursday, December 02, 2010

Once You Go SSD, You Can't Go Back

I traded in my MacBook Pro last month for the new MacBook Air.  My initial device had some problems but one free replacement later, I know I will not be able to go back.  This MacBook air has a slightly slower processor than my MacBook pro did, but that doesn't matter.  Once you use an SSD-equipped laptop, you can't go back.

For office work, the speed simply cannot be beaten.  So much of what you do depends on loading and unloading files or searching for information.  All of those are pretty much instantaneous with an SSD.  As is booting up and resuming from sleep.

In the airport and on the go, this thing is amazing too.  In the past, opening the laptop for a quick e-mail check could be a maddening exercise in frustration.  Standing near the gate and hoping to get your e-mail in 3 minutes before departure - all too often those moments were ruined by the interminable wait to resume.  Even if the resume worked well, you might find your whole PC slowed to a crawl for no discernible reason for a few minutes.

Virtual memory is another revolution.  On a hard drive, it's painfully slow.  With an SSD, it's almost unnoticeable.  I used to see my MacBook slow to a crawl when using my VMWare PC instance.  All that swapping and hard drive activity caused paralysis on other applications.  Not even noticeable with an SSD - the swapping is so fast.

Now it's true that SSDs are pricey, and I had to settle for half the size of storage that I had before.  But even then, I still have a lot.  The entirety of my business files: thousands of documents and powerpoints: just 17 GB.  With discipline, I could probably have worked comfortably with the lowest end MacBook Air out there, with just 64GB of storage.  With most media on my iPhone and back-up in the cloud, it's do-able.

A power gaming machine this is not, but for everyday use, I think I will never be able to go back to a regular hard drive on any machine.  Forget any kind of benchmark test that looks at CPU performance.  Even when I've loaded all my crapware and other stuff on the laptop, boot-up to usability still happens in under 30 seconds.  Resume is under 5 seconds.

Sayonara.  Flickr CC Mac Users

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