SSD Upgrade: Was it worth the money?

A couple of months back I decided I’m upgrading to a SSD drive to breathe some new life into my old Mac laptop.

Has it been worth the money? Read on.

SSD Upgrade: The Premise

So here’s the situation.

I am still running my trusty old 17″ Macbook Pro. It’s the mid-2010 version, so 5 years old by now. It has a 2.66 Ghz core i7 processor and the RAM is maxed out at 8 GB. For HDD I’ve been using a 750GB, 7200 RPM drive.

It’s the only computer I have so I do everything on it. It’s a very solid computer and has served me well over the years!

Macbook Pro & Console 1

My old and new workhorses side by side: Macbook Pro and Console 1.

However as times move on, software becomes more demanding. There’s also new technology around these days which my computer can’t utilize. This includes for instance any devices that use USB 3.0, Thunderbolt or SATA III.

I’ve already been stretching the limits of the laptop for a while. But with the recent price developments of SSD drives… I figured there was one last upgrade to do and stretch the retirement of my beloved Macbook Pro for a little bit longer!

Ideally, I was hoping to maybe achieve another year of use out of the computer.

 

The Drive

I did some research and decided to go with the 500GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD drive. Without getting into too much detail, it just seemed like it had received overall great reviews and provided good bang for the buck.

SSD Upgrade: Samsung 850 EVO SSD drive

Samsung 850 EVO SSD drive

I paid about 260 USD for it (in Finland we pay 24% VAT for everything which makes things a bit more expensive for us compared to folks in the USA for example).

In the US, the same Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD drive currently sells for 178 USD (via Amazon.com), which I think is a steal.

A 500GB drive was the absolute minimum size for me as I wanted to be able to run my operating system, all software and sound libraries as well as ongoing music projects off it.

Samsung also have a 1 TB drive available in the 850 EVO SSD series, which I considered but I didn’t want to stretch my budget that far in the end.

When the drive arrived I was dumbfounded by how light it was. The thing weighs almost nothing!

It’s funny – made me think did I really pay that much for this little piece of plastic? Fortunately it turns out this was no ordinary piece of plastic!

 

Setting Up

With some help from Youtube and iFixit the installation was easy – even for a non-technical person like myself.

When I installed the drive, I also removed the old CD/DVD drive from the laptop and put my old 750 GB HDD drive in it’s place (using a handy drive caddy).

I rarely need the CD/DVD superdrive anymore and when I do, I have an external Blu-Ray drive these days anyway.

So – now I have 1250 GB of hard drive space in total inside the laptop: 500 GB SSD for “active” stuff and 750 GB HDD for storage.

I have my operating system, all software, sound libraries and ongoing music projects running from the SSD. Everything else (mainly photos, dormant music projects and stuff like that) I keep on the HDD.

It’s important to know that the less stuff you have on your SSD, the faster it actually runs.

I try my hardest to keep any clutter off (Clean My Mac 3 and Gemini are a great help there).

I also move any non-current projects over to the HDD drive so that they’re not sitting on the SSD taking up space and slowing it down.

 

SSD Upgrade: The Results

I didn’t make any speed tests so this is really not a scientific evaluation by any means.

But I can tell you about my experience and feel of using the computer which is what counts for me after all.

I am very positively surprised with how much faster the computer feels now. Even though my laptop can’t even utilize the SSD at it’s full speed (it’s a SATA III drive and my laptop only has SATA II), it’s still a very, very notable difference.

Everything loads up faster. In my daily music production work I have to search and go through a lot of files and it feels like a breeze now. Software starts much faster. Boot time was reduced by more than half (yes I timed it).

Previously I had some trouble with experiencing audio dropouts in Pro Tools at times. I figured it was a RAM or CPU issue. Turns out the SSD upgrade fixed that too.

The computer also runs more silent and produces less heat.

What’s there not to like? It’s all good news.

All in all, my SSD upgrade has turned out to be one of the best purchases I’ve made in a long time.

If nothing breaks I definitely expect to meet my goal and get another year of use out of this old computer before I really have to get a new one due to it’s CPU and RAM limitations.

At that point I can snag the SSD drive from the old laptop, buy a cheap external enclosure for it and utilize it in the new setup as an external drive.

 

Definitely money well spent. After a couple of months of use, my conclusion is there is no reason to be buying HDD drives anymore other than for storage. Especially seeing how quickly the prices of SSD drives are falling.

What are you thinking? Do you have a similar experience with SDD drives? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Jared

    Awesome – I was just looking at this exact SSD for my macbook pro this week!!

    • Jared

      Awesome tip for the cd drive!!! Mine doesn’t work anyway. 🙂

  • cYpher Deimos

    I have also upgraded my MacBook with a SSD drive and kept the HD instead of the DVD/CD drive last year… the result was outstanding. so I am happy with the result.
    I also have re-arranged the folder structure by moving some of the content folders to the HD drive via symlink. So from system perspective it all is on the SSD and some specific folder pointing to the HD drive.
    For me it makes some things more useful. Like the TimeMachine backup. It is hard to restore from two volumes with Time Machine ….

    • Ah, that’s interesting. I still haven’t decided how I’m going to deal with backups with this system. Thanks for the tip, I will look into that.

  • Decided on an SSD awhile back.. I’ve never seen the boot time on a computer so fast 🙂

  • Vladimir Naumov

    Glad you did it, i must too. How did you move your system files to new SSD? What program did you use for that and may you recomment any addition resourses to read about it?
    Thanx

  • Piotr

    Thanks for the info; very useful. Please note though: “it’s” with apostrophe means “it is”…always. If you want the possessive, it’s “its”. Zero exceptions.

  • Just did a Google search for SSD in music production and found your blog post as first result haha. I JUST got a 480GB SSD today, will pickup tomorrow, I hope it’s big enough. Will be using HDD for samples and projects, keep SSD for operating system and Live.

    • Great! Yeah that’s what I’m doing as well. Works great.