4 Replies Latest reply on Jul 18, 2011 4:00 AM by kba

    Faulty or incompatible SSD? Intel 320 160 GB + Mid-2007 MacBook


      Hi everyone,


      I hope this issue has not been asked a bunch of times, but I looked around and found nothing specific, so here goes.


      After a couple of bad experiences with OCZ's Vertex 2 (first drive wiped its partitions after a BSOD, the replacement bricked itself) I decided to switch to Intel for the acclaimed reliability. I installed the drive into my mid-2007 MacBook (2.0 GHz, 3 GB RAM) running Windows 7 32-bit over Boot Camp, restored the Windows system image to it and all seemed OK. However, the performance was not at all what I expected. In fact, the SSD seemed only marginally faster than my 7200 rpm HDD previously in use. While it worked, the Vertex 2 was blazing fast with exactly the same hardware configuration, so it does not seem to me that the computer is by default incompatible with all SSDs.


      I used the Intel toolbox to optimise the system etc. and ran AS SSD a couple of times. Here are the results on the MacBook:

      as-ssd-bench INTEL SSDSA2CW16 30.6.2011 11-31-35.png


      This is in no way comparable to some benchmarks I've seen for the drive (AHCI or IDE). Even though I'm not using AHCI, the Vertex 2 had no performance problems whatsoever, so does IDE vs. AHCI really make that dramatic a difference? I reinstalled my old HDD and plugged the Intel SSD to my desktop computer (Win 7 64-bit, Athlon 64 X2, 2 GB RAM, some ASUS motherboard). I wiped the drive clean, made a new NTFS partition, ran the Toolbox optimisations again and then ran AS SSD:

      DESKTOP as-ssd-bench INTEL SSDSA2CW16 30.6.2011 17-00-05.png

      Again only IDE, but the performance is pretty much the same. I'm currently pretty much out of ideas. Since the Vertex 2 had no issues with performance (only reliability ), are Intel SSDs especially picky about the hardware? Again, this is a brand new drive. All tests run OK and the drive seems perfectly healthy. The label on the drive indicates firmware 0302, which I suppose is up to date as I only bought the drive a few days back.


      At this point, any ideas are welcome. Currently, I feel that I have bought a €300 lump of hardware with limited capacity and performance. I would very much appreciate someone to prove me wrong on that.



        • 1. Re: Faulty or incompatible SSD? Intel 320 160 GB + Mid-2007 MacBook

          Have you tried to just run a generic computer performance tool on it.  Most do a drive speed check.

          • 2. Re: Faulty or incompatible SSD? Intel 320 160 GB + Mid-2007 MacBook

            Today, after a two weeks' holiday, I started to re-investigate the issue and made some interesting findings.


            These are the drive's specs in OS X (10.6.8, clean install with updates), and as you can see AHCI seems to be enabled:



            I ran a disk test with XBench in OS X, which provides results very similar to AS SSD in Windows under Boot Camp:


            For comparison, here's the same test with a 7200 rpm HDD:


            So, the SSD is not much of an improvement, and as the problems continue in OS X with AHCI enabled, this does seem like a hardware issue. Are my computers just too old for this drive? If yes, then what could be causing the dramatic speed difference between the Intel 320 and OCZ Vertex 2? Can the drive be faulty in that it works normally otherwise but just its read and write speeds are poor?



            • 3. Re: Faulty or incompatible SSD? Intel 320 160 GB + Mid-2007 MacBook

              Look closely at the Link Speed and Negotiated Link Speed lines in your screen shot.  Your controller is an Intel ICH7-M (mobile edition), and the ICH7 does not support SATA300 or SATA600.  Your controller is SATA150 only; this is why you're seeing a "cap" of around 100MBytes/sec on your drive.

              • 4. Re: Faulty or incompatible SSD? Intel 320 160 GB + Mid-2007 MacBook

                Yes, this must be it. Thank you. After the initial letdown I became too hung up on the benchmarks. Now that I've spent some more time actually using the SSD, It feels overall like an improvement over the HD, albeit not as visible as Vertex 2. I guess I'll just have to make do with the performance I get until I upgrade my laptop.