I've been trying to find ways to make my late 2008 unibody MacBook Pro run faster because I want to hold out on upgrading at least until the end of the year, and preferably after the next range refresh.
I run a lot of applications simultaneously, especially at work. I also use Windows virtual machines a lot for cross-browser testing (I'm a web developer), and so a lot of my day is spent waiting for stuff to load.
I also run a lot of persistent menubar widgets for everything from managing my VPN connections to quickly accessing my code snippets:
The first step was to up my RAM to 6Gb (Apple says it will only take 4, but 6 has been found to be the real stable maximum by the community). This helped a little, especially when running VM's, but I still found myself spending way too much time on the Apple site with my cursor hovering over the buy button for the 17 inch i7.
The next obvious upgrade was an SSD drive, and after seeing this video I decided to take the plunge:
After quite a bit of research I settled on the 240Gb OCZ Vertex 2 as my drive of choice. Big enough to not need a second internal drive (I didn't want to trade the increased battery drain and heat for extra space) but not so big as to break the bank. It still wasn't cheap (£285 GBP / ~ €325 EUR from Amazon UK), but having installed it this morning and used it at work for a day, I have to say it was money well spent!
In fact the results are nothing short of stunning. I will never go back to rotational media again for my main workhorse machine.
I put together a series of tests while I was waiting for the drive to turn up so I could empirically compare it with my old 5200rpm stock drive.
First, the specs of my system and the two drives:
cold boot test
Dock appears: 1:20
Desktop loads: 1:40
Finder and menubar loaded: 2:10
Dock appears: 0:30
Desktop loads: 0:31
Finder and menubar loaded: 0:36
Multiple application loading test
I made a simple AppleScript that loads a selection of my most commonly used work apps: Photoshop CS5, iTerm2, CSSEdit, Espresso, Versions, EclipseJEE and Firefox.
SSD: ~ 14 seconds
I recursively grepped for "wp" in the root of a WordPress site
grep -ri "wp*" ./
HDD: ~ 9 seconds
SSD: ~ 5 seconds
I timed how long it took to tar up a joomla application (5283 files, 69.2Mb) from the commandline.
tar -cvf testdump.tar sangwine.net_2010
HDD: ~ 13 seconds
SDD: ~ 5 seconds
The test results really don't convey the feeling of working on a system that loads applications and accesses data so fast.
To put it in perspective, here are a few application load times I am getting with the new SSD drive:
- Mac Mail: < 1 second
- Outlook 2011: ~ 2 seconds
- Windows XP VM running under Parallels: ~ 30 seconds
I downloaded a tarball earlier today, and Archiver unpacked it so quickly that it didn't even get a chance render to the screen.
If you are considering making the switch, I highly recommend it.