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Two weeks ago I swapped out my Seagate Momentus 7200.2 160GB HDD for an Intel X25-M 80GB. I didn’t want to post my impressions prematurely so held out a couple of weeks.

I took the opportunity to upgrade to Snow Leopard at the same time – as I was performing a clean install of OS X. First thing I did was move my user directory on to my second hard drive (a Seagate 7200.4 320GB), to redirect writes away from my SSD.

Intel X25-M SSD

So what to make of Intel’s SSD; well boot times have come down to a tidy 20 seconds, Skype starts a whole lot faster. Simultaneous reads are noticeably quicker (think concurrent application launches – particularly common at boot time). My Seagate drive was hovering around the 90 second mark with files (images) on the desktop (Mac OS X creates thumbnail previews). Overall though, and I don’t think I’m a particularly IO heavy user, so it’s a fairly subtle difference once booted.

I’ve 4GBs RAM in my Macbook Pro so I doubt I hit the swap file often. The biggest IO waits I experience are loading eclipse, loading Open Office, loading Photoshop and performing multi-file searches in eclipse (~45,000 file project). The latter runs off my magnetic drive, so this contributes to a dulled performance increase.

I got this drive as birthday present, and although I’ve been drooling over SSDs since October, I’d have to say they’re still too expensive. If I had to buy this myself, I’d have held out for another price drop. Intel’s roadmap doesn’t show additions to their consumer SSD line until Q4 2010.

Ultimately, once manufacturers overcome the performance penalty of long term SSD write usage then I’d consider solid state disks all round, instead of a hybrid set up. For now, hold on to your wallet.


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