Monday, December 26, 2011

Upgrading an older MacBook to a new Seagate hybrid drive: it was easy

My daughter has had a MacBook for four years that was sufficient in CPU but underwhelming in disk space. [Claire is a musician and has a large music library]. Life as a struggling musician does not allow new computers every two to three years, so we looked for an upgrade to increase the disk space and, if possible, improve the system speed. A solid state disk drive (SSD) was a possibility, but the price of more that $1,000 for 600GB was out of the ballpark: it was also beyond the requirements.

I'd seen blogs from other folks such as Greg Wilson blog about how simple the upgrade was. And I'd heard about, which gives great instructions on the process. I was convinced that it was easy, although I have some fear of opening up Apple devices. and Greg convinced me that this was very easy.

I'd seen Seagate's hybrid drives for a while, but never found the excuse to try them. If you don't know, a hybrid drive adds 4GB flash drive in front of the rotating disk, so you get SSD performance for the recently used files. This was the time to take the plunge, as we needed at least 500GB and our budget was low. We settled on a Seagate Momentus XT 500GB 2.5 Inch Solid State Hybrid Drive ST95005620AS from Newegg, which we took away for under $100 thanks to special discounts. The upgrade process was easy, especially with the use of SuperDuper!; we finished the process in an afternoon.

But the important test is the timing benchmarks. The times before (all seconds):
  • Boot time: 121
  • GarageBand Launch: 30
  • Photoshop CS5.5 Launch: 30
and after the upgrade:
  • Boot time: 100
  • GarageBand Launch: 5
  • Photoshop CS5.5 Launch: 6
That's only a 17% improvement in boot time for this old mac, but the 5-6x application launch time was the big winner.

I recently heard the story of how they came to be a content-centric site; I will blog on it in the future. For now, they have my vote of confidence and a willingness to take on other Apple repairs.


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