Crucial SSD Seriously Boosts 2008 MacBook Performance

I can’t believe how affordable SSDs have become. Last year I put a 256 GB Samsung SSD in my 2.0 GHz 2007 Mac mini for $90. This time I put a 480 GB Crucial SSD into my Late 2008 Aluminum MacBook (also 2.0 GHz) for $110!

This replaces a 512 MB WD Scorpio Black, a 7200 rpm drive that has performed nicely for years – but the SSD in the Mac mini spoiled me. I have OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.9 Mavericks, and work files on three partitions on the hard drive, and I pretty much duplicated that on the SSD, although with less room for Snow Leopard and more for Mavericks and work files. I used SuperDuper! to clone each bootable partition to the SSD.

Enabling TRIM

Apple doesn’t support TRIM on most third-party SSDs unless you’re using the trimforce command in OS X 10.10.4 Yosemite or later – and I’m not. As with the Mac mini, I used the free OS X 10.6.8-only version of Trim Enabler on the Snow Leopard partition. After a reboot, TRIM was working. I don’t often use Snow Leopard on this MacBook, but it’s there if I need it in the field. Otherwise it’s always running on my Mac mini in the home office.

One drawback of using OS X 10.6 with my 1600 x 1200 pixel display in vertical mode is that Snow Leopard won’t let me rotate the image to match the orientation of the display. (I have the same problem with OS X 10.4 Tiger on my Power Mac G5 Dual – and it works perfectly in OS X 10.5 Leopard.)

After failing with some online instructions for using Terminal to enable TRIM in OS X 10.9. I could choose between the $10 full version of Trim Enabler or Chameleon SSD Optimizer, a shareware utility that has received positive reviews and supports OS X 10.7 Lion and later. Chameleon also lets you disable writing a sleep image to your drive, which uses up as much space as the amount of RAM in your Mac and slows shutdowns as it writes the contents of memory to your drive.

Another benefit of Mavericks is that it does support portrait mode on my display. Since there’s no room to rotate the display, this is a great convenience.

Comparing Performance

At present I still have the Scorpio Black hard drive installed in the MacBook’s optical drive bay using an OWC Data Doubler. The Crucial SSD is in the regular hard drive slot. When time permits, I will remove the hard drive and put the SSD in the optical drive bay.

These tests were done as a restart after first booting the OS and drive. I started the stop watch on my iPhone when I heard the startup chime, stopping it when the Finder’s menu bar appears. The MacBook has 4 GB of RAM installed.

  • Snow Leopard on HD: 36.7 seconds
  • Snow Leopard on SSD: 21.4 seconds, app. 41% faster
  • Mavericks on HD: 83.1 seconds
  • Mavericks on SSD: 26.7 seconds, app. 67% faster

Startup time is significantly improved and under 30 seconds in both cases, so there’s a lot less penalty for shutting down your MacBook or desktop Mac.

Other Benefits of SSD

Folders open and show file icons far more quickly, most apps will load more quickly, and files will open and save more quickly. LibreOffice is a nice freeware office suite that’s simply slow running from a hard drive. Even with old 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo Macs, it performs very nicely from SSD.

If you’re using an SSD on a MacBook or Mac mini, be sure to read our Safe Sleep FAQ to see if you want to change the default hibernate behavior. When the computer can boot in under 30 seconds, I don’t want to spend 15-20 seconds writing a disk image of system memory. I suggest you consider disabling Safe Sleep – even on hard drive Macs. Our Safe Sleep FAQ includes the Terminal commands for doing so.

Recommendation

If you’ve got a Mac that is feeling sluggish, an SSD can give it a new lease on life. Be sure you have enough system memory (RAM) to run your OS decently, and then look for an SSD with more space than you currently have. They’re quite affordable these days.

If you’re using OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard, use the special version of Trim Enabler to turn on TRIM, and consider using the Terminal commands to turn off the hibernate feature in Safe Sleep.

If you’re using OS X 10.7 Lion or later, use Chameleon SSD Optimizer, which will enable TRIM and disable Safe Sleep hibernate. And make a donation. Support those who help you be more productive.

Keywords: #ssd #trim #trimenabler #chameleonssd #safesleep

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