I’m planning to upgrade my 2011 15” MacBook Pro’s hard drive with an SSD. Currently I’m still running on a 5400rpm 500 GB HDD. When I ordered the Mac two years ago, I intentionally went with the cheapest HDD option – this one – with the plan to upgrade it with an SSD setup 1.5–2 years later when SSD prices have come down. It’s now 2.5 years later and I’m finally looking at some options.
The current situation
I’m primarily looking for the performance increase in the upgrade. But I’m also going to run out of HDD space fairly soon, and it would be nice to still be able to fit all my data on that one machine after the upgrade.
Out of the 500 GB I currently have, most of it is occupied by my photos and movies in the Aperture library. The library is currently taking up 275 GB. I would only need fast access to the more recent photos – not further back than one year. The rest is merely an archive.
My iTunes library is another 55 GB that doesn’t need SSD-grade speed.
So most of these files could live on a/the good old spinning hard drive without a problem. But I’d definitly want to keep my music available on the MacBook’s internal hard drive. I need my music with me at all times.
Here’s what my current storage allocation looks like:
To keep all my data on the MacBook, I’d have to increase the disk space to at least 750 GB. I think this amount would easily last me for the next few years.
Here are the options I am considering, ordered from cheapest to most expensive:
- A Samsung 250 GB EVO SSD and the Hardwrk Kit. Keeping the existing 500 GB HDD internally and moving the DVD drive out of the MacBook.
- A Samsung 256 GB Pro SSD with the same setup as in 1.
- A Samsung 500 GB EVO SSD internally. Moving the existing 500 GB HDD to an external enclosure.
- A single Samsung 750 GB EVO SSD internally.
(A fifth option would be to get a 500 GB SSD and the Hardwrk Kit to have a 1TB Fusion Drive internally. But price-wise this is pretty close to option 4, which I would chose over this option anyway.)
The reason I consider the more expensive Pro SSD for the 250 GB setup, is that the 250 GB EVO seems to drop a bit in performance compared to the 500-GB-and-up EVOs. The Pro is closer – and slightly better even – to the bigger capacity EVOs.
The most affordable solution. The Hardwrk Kit replaces the DVD drive with an adapter that can house another drive – HDD or SSD. It also comes with a enclosure for the DVD drive, so you can still use the drive via USB.
I’d put my existing HDD into the adapter and the SSD in the place of the HDD. Then I’d use Mac OS X’s FusionDrive to combine the SSD and HDD into one logical volume and let the operating system decide what lives on the SSD and HDD respectively.
I don’t care much for having a DVD drive internally. So making that external via the Hardwrk Kit is perfectly acceptable to me. The only downside would be, that I’d need to take that component apart as well.
- Costs: ~ 230 EUR (150 EUR for the SSD, 80 EUR for the Hardwrk Kit)
- Disk space: 750 GB, all internally.
- Pros: Affordable, enough space, good to great performance increase, good use of existing HDD.
- Cons: Performance not as good as a pure SSD setup, more effort installing since I need to replace the DVD drive.
The same setup as option 1, but with a more performant SSD.
- Costs: ~ 280 EUR (200 EUR for the SSD, 80 EUR for the Hardwrk Kit)
- Disk Space: 750 GB, all internally.
- Pros: Quite affordable, enough space, good to great performance increase, good use of existing HDD.
- Cons: Performance not as good as a pure SSD setup, more effort installing since I need to replace the DVD drive. Not quite as affordable as option 1.
Internally, a pure SSD setup. The existing HDD would be put in an external USB enclosure to hold additional data.
- Costs: ~ 300 EUR for the SSD.
- Disk space: 1 TB, 500 GB internally on the SSD, 500 GB externally on the HDD.
- Pros: Great performance increase, price ok, somewhat good use of existing HDD, no messing with the DVD bay.
- Cons: Not all data on the MacBook. I would need to start manually relocating parts of the Aperture library onto the external drive and keep managing this.
The most expensive option, but certainly the one I’d prefer, if I left costs out of the equation.
- Costs: ~ 410 EUR for the SSD.
- Disk space: 750 GB SSD-only storage, all internally.
- Pros: Great performance increase. Enough space for all my data on the SSD, no messing with the DVD drive bay.
- Cons: Expensive, no really good use of the existing HDD.
Option 4 would certainly be the best one performance- and convenience-wise. Also, it might be the most future-proof and least error-prone solution. But is it really necessary to have all my data on an SSD at all times?
FusionDrive seems to work quite nicely and options 1 and 2 would give me the necessary speed plus big storage capacity without having to manage it manually, either. Especially option 1 seems to be great value for money.
I’m least convinced with option 3. Mostly because it means I’d need to start managing data on an external drive in addition to the data on the MacBook.
So, we’ll see. I guess I have to sleep on it for another night or two.
It’s not so obvious, or is it?
Update: I went with option 1.