14 Replies Latest reply on Jun 3, 2013 5:47 PM by joe_intel

    Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD

    RodneyFerguson

      Hello All,

       

      I have been contemplating putting the new Intel 520 series 240gb ssd into my early 2011 13" MacBook Pro. However, I do have some serious concerns and would really appreciate some advice.

       

      I know that Apple can be very stubborn in supporting third party hardware where they are not benefiting financially. After reading a number of forums that have reported problems with Macs and Intel ssd's my main concerns are:

       

      1. Getting the beep that tells me the ssd is incompatible.

      2. That there is no tool box for OSX.

      3. There is no trim support (Snow Leopard)

      4. Getting the OSX to recognise the 6gb/s sata interface.

       

      I would love to hear that all of these problems have been resolved and that I'm being paranoid about getting this new drive. Any comforting words or sound advice from people who have successfully installed and intel 520 series ssd into an early 2011 13" Macbook Pro (Snow Leopard) would be gratefully appreciated.

       

      I plan on performing a clean install with the SSD rather than migrarting my existing software from my 5400rpm hdd.

       

      Regards

       

      Rodney Ferguson

       

      Ps. Please do not suggest upgrading to Lion. Unfortunately, I find it truly awful.

        • 1. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
          costab

          I am also interested in this. Please see my post: http://communities.intel.com/thread/27774?tstart=0.

           

          All I can tell you is that the Intel 320 ssd worked for me without problems - without one exception, I used to run win 7 64 bit in bootcamp (native) and it wasn't as fast as it should have been. Getting the ssd to work in AHCI mode under win 7 required some hacking as well which I found on the internet.

           

          But I didn't have any problems so far under SnowLeopard or Lion.  The intel 320 retail box comes with a 5 years warranty and I also do backups regularly. I stopped worrying about the trimming and all the other details. I didn't see any degradation in performance, so, if something happens I will send it back.

           

          About the 6Gb speed I thought Apple released some EFI patch a while ago the get these puppies running at 6Gb. Mine runs at 3Gb.

           

          Costa

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
            parsec

            Given the quirks and realities of Mac's, as you said, unless someone used a 520 with an identical platform as yours, how can someone predict what the result will be?

             

            Where the responsibility lies for fixing or changing things to allow a 520 to work well with your Mac cannot, IMO, be assigned only to the 520 or any SSD. Some of those things are beyond the control of the SSD itself. It's well known that Apple PCs are much more "locked down" regarding what third party hardware they will work with, relative to other PCs. That is not the fault of the third party hardware sources.

             

            Hopefully someone may have tried a 520 on a Mac that is similar to yours, since the only way to truly know is to actually try it and see what happens. In your case, a random, untested opinion is worthless.

            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
              costab

              parsec:

               

              I agree with you, but my problem is this. Intel has, let's say, more than 10k employees. They boast that everybody uses SSDs (I assume intel ssds). Are you telling me that nobody there uses a macbook pro? Why is so damn hard to get this information from Intel?? We pay premium money for these SSDs. About the quirks of Macs, the guts of a MBP is probably made mostly of components made (or designed or however you want to say it) by Intel.

               

              Rodney:

               

              You should check the performance intel 520 tests done by Anandtech and tomshardware. I think one of them reported slower speeds on macs (mbps I think) for 4k reads/writes.

              • 4. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                parsec

                costab, You have a good point. The best place to get official Intel support is not in this forum, but here:

                 

                http://www.intel.com/support/feedback.htm

                 

                I suggest you go from there directly to their phone support, unless you get lucky in the Live Chat option. The compatibility guide is worthless, and the FAQ question about using Intel SSDs with Mac's refers you to Apple.

                 

                All PC component manufactures seem to pass the buck back to the manufacture that uses their products, as you'll see right away on that page above. For example, the chip manufacture Marvell provides zero support to retail customers, not even drivers for their SATA chipsets, it's all provided by the mother board manufactures (if they can or will that is.)

                 

                You could try searching on the compatibility of your Mac with SSDs using the SandForce 2281 controller, for a general idea (I don't own a Mac.)

                 

                IMO, if you bought a 520 at retail, you deserve support from Intel. Good luck.

                • 5. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                  RodneyFerguson

                  Hello costab and parsec,

                   

                  Thank you very much for replying to my topic.

                   

                  I can report that I took the plunge and bought an OEM 520 series 240GB SSD from Intel.

                   

                  External Formating

                  In the event of any misfortune I decided to format and install OSX 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) as an external drive. Post-format size of the drive is a pleasing 239.7GB. After I installed and updated all of the software that I use together with a few large files the drive had around 150GB of free space left for future use.

                   

                  Internal Install

                  My next step was to install it into my Macbook Pro 13", early 2011, 2.7GZ i7, 8GB ram model which was relatively painless other than having to find a Torx T6 screwdriver.

                   

                  First Boot Up

                  After the first boot on the internal SATA interface everything started up as expected. Looking at the system information I could see that the link speed of 6gb/s had already been negotiated without any intervention from myself. However, trim support had not been enabled by the OS.

                   

                  Read/Write Speeds

                  I then tested the read and write speed of the drive. Read speeds were around 480mbs and write speeds were a lot lower at around 280mbs.

                   

                  Trim Support

                  After the test I enabled a thrid party trim support app which required a reboot. After the reboot, system info displayed that trim had now been turned on. However, this did not appear to have any immediate effect on the previous read and write speeds.

                   

                  Impressions

                  Without a doubt my system feels a lot snappier with the 520 SSD over the spindle 70mbs Toshiba HDD. Large apps such as Logic Pro 9, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator open much quicker and feel very responsive. One area that has been significantly improved is the time it takes to save large graphics files in Illustrator. I probably edit around 50 files per day with each file taking around 30sec to save. The SSD saves these files in a flash, so its saving me time and helping to keep up my enthusiasm.

                   

                  Longevity

                  Of course it is far to early to say how long the drive is going to last but I have set myself some 3 monthly reminders to add some quick updates on the drives performance over time. I'll probably post them on this thread.

                   

                  Conclusions

                  At the current time I have to say that the upgrade has been relatively painless. Although I'm a little dissappointed with the write speed of the SSD at 280mbs. However, 280mb/s is still four times faster than my previous set-up with a drive that I managed to get for £275 (£1.14 per GB). So I'm very happy with it so far.

                   

                  Thank you for the interest and allowing me to voice my concerns. Hope this helps others in choosing whether to use an SSD or not. Personally I would recommend it if you can get one for a good enough price.

                   

                  Kind Regards

                   

                  Rodney Ferguson

                  UK

                   

                  Message was edited by: Rodney Ferguson

                  • 6. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                    mel.blanc

                    Hello,

                     

                    I have replaced my original 320 GB drive in MBP 13" early 2011 / OS X Lion with Intel 520 240GB just yesterday. So far flawless. I did a clean instalation and will move my files later on as needed with some cleanup to be done. No optibay dual drive setup, just pure replacement. TRIM enabled with trim enabler 2.0. Also I upgraded RAM from 4 to 8 GB, as I have seen in some situations the memory full and waking up from sleep times were becoming too long.

                     

                    To the read/write speeds: If you are testing the speeds with blackmagic speed test (this is what most people use on Macs) it tests with incompressible data, where traditionally Sandforce controller drives (like Intel 520) are giving much lower than advertised speeds. In real world it does not mean anything wrong. If you have compressible data, like RAW photos, wave files or  large text files for example, you can get better speeds than the measured 280. The reason is that Sandforce controlled drives are doing onthefly compression and therefore writing less data and hence becoming quicker (for data that is compressible). If you have already compressed data like MP3s, Divxs, JPEGs, PDFs, etc, it cannot use that advantage, so the 280 Mps speed is pretty good anyways. This is where most of the SSDs are despite of the advertised speeds, and the Intel 520 (at least 240 and 480GB options) is in the top rank there anyways. So this has nothing to do with TRIM. It also depends on many other aspects, but wanted to say, that it is nothing to worry about. I knew about that before I bought the disk and it behaves as expected. If you compare to Marvel controlled drives (like Intel 320 or Crucial M4) they give pretty much the same speeds, having slight advantage on the incompressible data and small data chunks (especially reads) and losing abit on the compressible data for writes in comparison to Sandforce.

                     

                    Before release of Intel 520 I was not even thinking about Sandforce drive, as Sandforce has it's issues, but as Intel took 1+ year to adpot and test the technology and gives 5Y warranty on the drive I can say most of them you will not experience on I 520 and as it got even on price level with marvell drives, it won for me simply by the warranty.

                     

                    Overall speedwise I got the very same results with Blackmagic> that is 480/280.

                     

                    Also I recommend tomshardware and anandtech reviews of the drive, where in tomshardware review it's showed that the speeds on Macs are a bit lower than the drive itself is capable of, and Anandtech review mentiones one off the drawbacks of the drives with Sandforce controllers, and even if it is a rare case I think it should get attention: it's the situation, where you write incompressible data over and over to the disk, the speeds can go down dramatically and are irrecoverable even by TRIM. This is pointed to the nature of the Sandforce controller and the use of compression, though there is no firmware update from either Sandforce nor Intel available for this issue.

                     

                    Hope this helps.

                     

                    Sure if I will face any issues or will have recommendations I will post in this thread as I live with the drive.

                     

                    cheers

                    mel.blanc

                     

                    EDIT: I have applied some additional of the tweaks besides TRIM enabling to the system based on the following article:

                    namely:
                    - changed the sleep mode, so it does not write RAM to disk
                    - disabled sudden motion sensor
                    - disabled hard drive and computer sleep
                    - enabled mounting with noatime option - so the file is not updated each time it is accessed (here I found articles, where also nodiratime should be enabled, or relatime should be used instead / see http://serverfault.com/questions/47466/drawbacks-of-mounting-a-filesystem-with-noatime ) and decide yourself if it's really needed and useful. EDIT: nodiratime and relatime are linux only available, OS X does not have these inherited from unix.
                    I will post here, if I have any findings or issues with the tweaks.
                    mel

                     

                    Message was edited by: mel.blanc

                    • 7. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                      anoop5000

                      I installed Intel 520 on my 2007 MacBoo Pro (Dual Core 2.16 Ghz, Model: 2.1), and did a clean installation of Lion. Worked very well for a week with noticable increase in speed. After that, system started to become unresponsive for upto 30 seconds. It then comes back and everything is OK. Frequency is once every 2-3 hours.

                      • 8. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                        RodneyFerguson

                        Hey anoop,

                         

                        It might be Lion that is the problem. I had exactly the same symptoms when I was running Lion from a spindle hard drive. Because of the freezes with Lion I went back to running snow leopard.

                         

                        Do you have trim enabled on your SSD. You can do this with a third party trim enabler. But before you do this I recommend you go into disk utility and delete the free space on your SSD. However, I dont think that your system freezes are due to the SSD.

                         

                        Good Luck

                         

                        Rodders

                        • 9. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                          Metin

                               Hi Rodney. I have been using X-25 M G-2 80 gb intel ssd for two years without problem. I also used it with Macbook aliminum unibody. And there was no problem. I bought a Macbook pro early 2011 13 inch (same as yours) six months ago. I also used it with new Mac. It was flawless. I read lots of thing about intel ssds. Then I wanted to try the new 520 120 gb series. I bought it last week. First I recognized is: it can not delete lots of files at first time. It says that this file is in use. After doing a restart it deletes. On the contrary I have never experinced such a thing with my first ssd. Later I had lots of problems with my WD hard drive that is connected to airport extreme. It is impossible to go in to drive when it is online (I mean when it is connected to extreme) and time machine backups are full of problem. Than I got tired of dealing with these problems and changed the new ssd with the older one.

                           

                               I am sure that all my problems are not related with Lion. When I changed the ssds, I did a clean install. But everytime I changed there were problems with intel 520 series. In two years time I haven't had any single problem with x-25 M G-2.

                           

                               Now I am waiting a new firmware update. As far as I know 400i is the newest firmware for intel 520 series. As a result I don't recomment you to buy this ssd.

                          • 10. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                            dhinostroza

                            Specs: MacBook Pro i7 2.4GHz 15"/2x4GB HyperX 1600 MHz.

                            Placed the the 520 180GB SSD on an external usb case and cloned the entire disk using a Macbook Air w/Lion 10.7.3.  Then placed the SSD in the HDD bay because from what I've read the Optibay runs at 3 Gbps.  Didn't trim.

                            I'm using the SSD for the OS & Apps.  The 750 GB 7200 rpm (now formatted clean) in the optibay is for storage, Dropbox and Thunderbird mail.  Dropbox sometimes loses its path with large files (such as 8 GB backups).

                             

                            As an afterthought, I probably could've just cloned the recovery partition and then installed Lion with InstallESD.dmg.

                             

                            The SSD is running fine, though I haven't tested yet if it holds true to 6 Gbps.

                            • 11. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                              DCIFRTHS

                              dhinostroza wrote:

                               

                              Specs: MacBook Pro i7 2.4GHz 15"/2x4GB HyperX 1600 MHz.

                              Placed the the 520 180GB SSD on an external usb case and cloned the entire disk using a Macbook Air w/Lion 10.7.3.  Then placed the SSD in the HDD bay because from what I've read the Optibay runs at 3 Gbps.  Didn't trim.

                              I'm using the SSD for the OS & Apps.  The 750 GB 7200 rpm (now formatted clean) in the optibay is for storage, Dropbox and Thunderbird mail.  Dropbox sometimes loses its path with large files (such as 8 GB backups).

                               

                              As an afterthought, I probably could've just cloned the recovery partition and then installed Lion with InstallESD.dmg.

                               

                              The SSD is running fine, though I haven't tested yet if it holds true to 6 Gbps.

                               

                              What software did you use to clone the boot drive to the SSD? I'm having some trouble with this.

                               

                              Thanks!

                              • 12. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                                dhinostroza

                                Hi,

                                I used the latest version of Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the entire MacBook Air early 2012 SSD.  No problem at all.  CCC is donationware.

                                After a weeks worth, the SSD 520 hasn't given any trouble, Dropbox is stable and Thunderbird is much faster.  Lion Finder indexing went along without a hitch as well.  Some trouble with latest versions of Word and Excel 2011 but hey, can't blame the SSD for that.

                                Can anyone recommend software to test the SSD speed?  I'd like to know how close it can get to 6 Gbps.

                                • 14. Re: Should a Mac-User Upgrade to an Intel 520 SSD
                                  joe_intel

                                  Thank you all for posting,

                                   

                                  We recommend asking Apple for a list of validated SSD models that work with their systems.