Monday, September 20, 2010

MacBook Air Part 2 - 128GB Used SSD Benchmarks


This is the second article in a three part series on MacBook Air Solid State Drive Benchmarks.

At this point I've been using my MacBook Air (MBA) for many months and I can accurately attest that my MBA's Samsung SSD drive has seen a performance decrease from "actual use". I've formatted the drive, reinstalled Snow Leopard and used boot camp to install Windows 7 (which I use as my primary operating system). Each of these tests have been performed a few times so the numbers are averages. Also, I use the term "formatted" drive instead of "used" drive to differentiate between my prior tests.

To recap here was the outline for benchmarking:

  1. New Drive – running OS X 10.5.6
    1. Cold Boot Times, Shutdown Times, and Time Launching Apps including iTunes, Safari and Firefox.
  2. New Drive – running OS X 10.6
    1. Cold Boot Times, Shutdown Times, Time Launching Apps including iTunes, Safari and Firefox.
  3. Used Drive – running OS X 10.6 (elapsed time: 1 week)
    1. Same as above
  4. Formatted Drive – Dual boot with OS X 10.6 and Windows 7 (elapsed time: > 4 months)
    1. Same as above minus the Benchmark Apps, Windows 7 Performance Index
Here are the initial results:

  1. Brand New Drive - running OS X 10.5.6
    1. Cold Boot Time was about 27.3 seconds
    2. Shutdown Time was about 4.1 seconds
    3. Time Launching Apps
      1. iTunes was about 4 seconds
      2. Safari was about 1 second
      3. Firefox was about 1 second
  2. Brand New Drive - running Snow Leopard - OS X 10.6
    1. Boot Time was about 29.3 seconds
    2. Shutdown Time was about 2.3 seconds
    3. Time Launching Apps
      1. iTunes was about 1.5 seconds
      2. Safari was about 1.4 seconds (40% increase)
      3. Firefox was about 2 seconds (100% increase)
  3. Used Drive - running Snow Leopard (elapsed time: 1 week)
    1. Boot Time was about 31 seconds
    2. Shutdown Time was about 1.9 seconds
    3. Time Launching Apps
      1. iTunes was about 2.1 seconds
      2. Safari was about 1.75 seconds
      3. Firefox was about 2.3 seconds

When comparing the previous data sets with the new data sets you should know that Snow Leopard boot and shutdown times should be directly comparable across the "New", "Used" and "Formatted" test categories. However the Windows 7 tests should not be directly compared to the Mac OS X results because not everything is equal. Since Windows 7 has to go through Apple boot camp the whole machine operates a little bit slower. For reference my MBA has a Windows Experience Index of 3.6. It gets a 5.9 for the SSD Hard Drive but only gets a 3.6 for the CPU.

Here are the subsequent results:
 

  1. Formatted Drive – running Snow Leopard (elapsed time: >4 months)
    1. Boot Time was about 43.6 seconds (40% increase over "used" boot time)
    2. Shutdown Time was about 2.2 seconds (15% increase over "used")
    3. Time Launching Apps
      1. iTunes was about 1.6 seconds
      2. Safari was about 1.6 seconds
      3. Firefox was about 3.2 seconds (60% increase)
  2. Formatted Drive – running Windows 7 on boot camp (elapsed time: >4 months)
    1. Boot Time was about 54.9 seconds
    2. Shutdown Time was about 14.3 seconds
    3. Time Launching Apps
      1. iTunes was about 5.5 seconds
      2. Safari was about 2.0 seconds
      3. Firefox was about 2.3 seconds
Windows 7 has the fastest boot and shutdown times for any Windows version but you can clearly see that Mac OS X smokes it. Also, if you know anything about SSDs you might expect the Windows 7 machine to be faster for read-modify-writes speeds since it supports TRIM the problem is the drive contained in my MBA doesn't support it. Of course neither does Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

As I stated in the previous article I should have tried to encode a video file or mp3 because the write speeds show the largest performance decreases over time. (I'll have to remember that when I test the new MacBook Pro I just picked up). These numbers are rudimentary at best but the idea is to show you how fast a MacBook Air could be with a Solid State Drive. Is it worth the extra +/- $300? Well that's for you to deicide. Despite the drop in long term performance a SSD still feels much faster than a regular spinning hard drive and the extra battery life attained is impressive.


Continue to the MacBook Air’s AD SSD Benchmark statistics here.




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