Is an SSD in your Future?

I run Delphi in a Virtual Machine on my 2.5 Ghz MacBook Pro 4.1 with 4Gb RAM.  It’s great to have a portable platform, and the combination of Mac OS/X and VMWare Fusion 3 has worked well for me.  However it’s not without it’s limitations.  There are certainly times I wished I had more RAM (ever tried to run more than 1 VM?), and of course I always want more speed.

To squeeze better performance from VMWare Fusion on my MacBook Pro I bought a SATA II express card off of eBay for under $20 and then attached an external 3.5″ hard drive in a SATA enclosure.  It’s significantly faster than running a VM off the Mac’s internal hard drive in part because mine is only a 5400 rpm drive on a SATA I internal interface.  This was great for a while, but meant I had to pack around a lot of equipment including a power adapter for my external drive.  Forget one piece, and you’re SOL when you get on site.

I have been considering my options for squeezing more performance from my laptop, including going to a PC laptop, or loading Windows natively on my Mac, or spending the big bucks and upgrading my Mac.  I had even contemplated replacing my internal HD with an SSD.  They’re just too expensive to replace an internal 320 Gb drive with anything close to the same capacity, and because my Mac’s internal SATA is only a 1.5 Gb interface it wouldn’t make any sense to do so.

The other day I got an email sale advertisement from MemoryExpress.  I checked out the pricing on their SSDs, and concluded a 256Gb drive was still way too expensive.  There was a smaller OCZ Vertex 50Gb SSD on sale though for a mere $80 after rebate.  I thought I would check it out, and when I inquired at the store I discovered for $20 I could get an enclosure that would use USB power to run the drive and I could connect the drive through either the SATA interface or USB.  I was sold!

Although I haven’t run any benchmarking software, I can tell you that this combination is noticeably faster than my external 7200 rpm hard drive, and it’s much more compact and more reliable = better for portability.  Highly recommended!

15 Responses to “Is an SSD in your Future?”

  1. Jeroen Pluimers Says:

    I run 2x 500gb 7200 rpm drives on my laptop, and can’t wait for the 512 Gb SSD prices to come down…

  2. Andre Felix Says:

    I’m not sure about the MacBook Pro that you have because mine is probably a little newer 5.2, but I increased my to 8GB and my VM run like a dream. I’m at same waiting list to see the prices of SDD to drop. My internal HD is already 7200 but with SDD it would flyyyyy :-)

  3. Andre Felix Says:

    ops. change the SDD -> SSD

  4. Colin J Says:

    Middle of last year, I took the plunge and splurged out on a 2.66GHz i7 17″ MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and 500GB SSD. Cost me both an arm and a leg but have not looked back since. It is awesome to use and my VMs start up from scratch in less than a minute. In most cases, my VMs are brought back to life from suspended mode so startup times are even quicker. The 8GB of RAM makes a difference for multiple VMs but the SSD just makes to whole process just scream.

  5. Ritsaert Hornstra Says:

    I have an 160GB SSD as a main drive which is excellent for Delphi (it runs / compiles and searches very fast. Sometimes the developed software (database app) runs quicker on my laptop than the customers server. But all in all it was one of the best upgrades I ever did to my computer..

  6. gabr Says:

    I’m running my main system off a 256 GB Crucial SSD drive and it works just great. The best system upgrade ever.

  7. Morwath Says:

    I run 15k disks on my 16GB desktop and frankly I do not understand why people self-limit themselves on notebooks and virtual machines.

  8. Dorin Duminica Says:

    SSD price will drop a lot in the next 6 months or so, faster SSD’s are actively being developed, for example Seagate has made a HDD that has basically two HDD’s in one running @ 7200 RPM(can’t remember the model) and the price is only about 40% higher(still way cheaper than SSD — but better performance) than normal HDD’s @ 7200 RPM.
    I am curious, how many hours can your run windows in the VM on the Mac running on battery only?
    I’ve recently bought a travel notebook(Dell N3010 13.3″) it comes with an i3 and while running Windows 7 natively and Windows XP in a VM, I can only get about 2.X H of battery life, mine comes with a 7200 RPM HDD, pretty fast!!

  9. Peter Bartholdsson Says:

    To be honest, if you’re waiting for 250/500GB SSD drives to become cheaper today you’ll be waiting for 500/1000GB SSD drives to become cheaper in 2 years.

    Instead get an SSD with just enough space for that which a low latency really helps (aka not video, music and pictures). I need about 100GB for OS, programs and all my projects. I keep everything else on a server making my 160GB SSD feel quite spacious.

  10. Steven Martins Says:

    I also run Delphi under a VMware machine but only because I was able to get near host-like speed under the virtual machine. Storing the image on a SSD is a must, as is having plenty of ram (I have 12GB on my desktop and 8GB on my laptop). After using SSD’s for the past year, I would never go back to running virtual machines on regular drives.

  11. Olaf Monien Says:

    I have two 256GB SSDs in my MacBook Pro, and was one of the best investments I ever did!

  12. Brian Frost Says:

    I have a couple of systems just built running Delphi (7 and 2010) that have 256G SSD (Crucial C300) and a 1TB ‘data’ disk severally partitioned and mounted in folders on the SSD, so the SSD C: drive ‘looks’ like it has 1,300 G capacity.

  13. murphy Says:

    I got a 500gb 7200 rpm drive in my macbook pro and 4gb ram also. the ram is cheap currently. i advise to extend the ram :) I will do next week for mine.

    But SSD is too expensive to me currently.

  14. Ciprian Mustiata Says:

    I used to have two years ago a quad core machine to do development with Velociraptor as SSD were not as feasible and were costful. In one year time I’ve jumped to a laptop with i5M.
    I’ve upgraded RAM (so I have 8G DDR3) and was much cheaper than whatever I will need. SSD did bring minimalist changes. My project fits fairly right in Visual Studio and disk touches (as is a laptop, disk may be slow, is also a 5K RPM one).
    I’ve also had an SSD that died misserably in 6 month time. Will I likely buy another? Probably in 3 years from now, but still not sure. I will buy likely 16G RAM box today with a RAID cheap HDDs as make sense price wise.
    What SSD bring to you? Is your query runs much better on SSD? Your compilation?

  15. PCPgmr Says:

    Writes are still usually slower than a fast HD, but reads are extremely fast, so to install apps on it, absolutely.
    For ever-changing data, and constants writes, no.
    Great application for pics, videos, applications, core-OS

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