Posted on February 3, 2011
De como renove mi vieja Macbook Pro
I have had a 2006 Macbook Pro 2,2 for about 5 years now, its a strong, trustful computer which I only had to replace the internal hard drive once. The laptop has the maximum available RAM of 2 GB, 200 GB HD and has an Intel 2.16 Dual core porcessor.
I always try to have up to date OS and software, so with time the system has become slower mostly at startup and loading applications.
At work I have a Macbook Pro i5 with 4 GB RAM, so I can tell the difference on a daily basis, sometimes I think about replacing mine with a new model. The problem is that I don’t walk around with $2k in my pocket, so I have to find creative alternatives to renew my laptop.
After a lot of research, I learn that the main bottleneck is the Hard drive access. Depending on the speed the computer takes to open applications, the user experience can be slower or faster.
Nowadays there are lots of hard drive options, some very fast, but on a laptop a fast hard drive (7,200 to 10,000 RPM) produce a lot of heat, noise and consume more battery.
So at this point I got interested in SSD – Solid State Drives, which act very similar to RAM memory, but work as a hard drive. The advantages of these drives are the read and write speed, the low energy consumption and the fact that there are no moving parts, which makes them also very tough. Did I mentioned the read and write speeds are incredible?
My Mac used to take from 45 to 60 seconds to boot, compared to the i5 that takes 30. The same thing happened at loading applications and files, Photoshop would load in 15 seconds. It may sound ridiculous but when you need to finish a deadline every second counts when you have a file or idea to be worked.
The main problem with SSD is the price, it is very high compared to traditional HD: a 240 GB can cost up to $500. So what should I do? How to balance between capacity and price?
To whoever want to learn more about SSD, Anandtech has an excellent Anthology.
At the end I decided to buy a 120 GB SSD for 2 reasons: it is big enough for the OS plus applications with extra space for Photoshop scratch disk and system caches, and the price is around $200. The big files and applications would stay on my original HD. Now the problem was to either use the original HD as external or replace the internal DVD with a bay that holds the drive. I like that idea, since i barely use the DVD anyway. OWC have an adapter for the new unibody macs, but my mac model requires a special adapter sold by OptiBay, but at the end I bought a compatible one from Ebay a lot cheaper ($20).
In my research found the best SSD is the Mercury Extreme Pro, from OWC. It is optimized for OSX, uses the SandForce processor that has been rated higher in several tests in different tech sites. the problem is the price is rather high, $250 so I searched for alternatives, and found both the OCZ Vertex 2 and Corsair Force series. They use the same SandForce processor o=-lus the OCZ’s specs are almost identical to the Mercury Extreme.
At the end I bought the OCZ from Amazon at $200. I install it (following this excellent video from OWC) and before replacing the DVD, I installed Snow Leopard on the SSD.
After that I replaced the DVD for the HD and put together the Mac. Awesome! Snow Leopard 10.6.6 starts up in 8 seconds! Photoshop takes 3 seconds and Safari 2 seconds. I couldn’t be happier.
In total my SSD uses 30 GB with OS and Applications, all my files are in the “normal” HD. There are no compatibility problems, hibernation or else. Somewhere I read there were some sleep issues with SSD, but I have not yet experienced any problem. the only other thing I did is follow the guide on this site and disable the “noatime”.
I have tested side by side my Macbook and the i5 , and on startup and opening programs the difference is huge! I’m sure the applications “process” faster on the i5, but I have added at least two years of life to my trusty Mac. All for less than $250.
That’s it. I hope my experience helps to lengthen the lifespan of other Macbooks that still have lots to give, save money on upgrades much needed in this economy. I will be happy to get you comments and suggestions.