Since the SSD technology already matured a lot and the drives are mostly more stable than Hard Disk, the only question remains on which drive to choose. Actually, the answer is more simple than you might have thought: go for the longest warranty.
The OCZ Vertex 3 is a very cheap and awesome piece of hardware (read the benchmarks here: OCZ Vertex 3 vs. Intel 520 SSD) but the Vertex 3 has one major problem: it features only 3 years of warranty. So what drives are currently offering more than 3 years? The OCZ Vertex 4 and the Intel 520 SSD drives, both the cutting edge of speed and durability offer 5 years of warranty.
Both drives feature a 5 year warranty, which shows us that the drives are really high quality.
OCZ just released the OCZ Vertex 4 as a successor to the OCZ Vertex 3. The internals and performance of the Vertex 4 are very different from the Vertex 3: based on the Indilinx Everest 2 Chipset, the OCZ Vertex 4 is a totally different story: I would call this drive the Octane 2, but OCZ went with Vertex 4, to show the future of the Vertex product line.
The drive shows lots of potential, especially in random 4K writes, where it even outperforms Intel's 520 Cherryville SSD. Anandtech notes "OCZ has finally delivered much of what we've wanted in an SSD: low write amplification and very good random/sequential write performance. It could use a more aggressive real-time garbage collection algorithm but running an OS with TRIM, that's mostly picking nits." Is the Indilinx Everest 2 Chipset finally challenging the throne of the dominating Sandforce Chipset? I would definitely say: yes.
The tool to test read/write speeds: AJA System Test is a free download from AJA. The Software is available for Mac and Windows, the Tests performed were on a 10.7.2 Z68 Chipset Hackintosh System (Intel Chipset).
After almost 9 months with the OCZ Vertex 3 SATA-6GBPs (read about my OptiBay two-drive setup) and mostly no issues, the drive died on me. Starting with several GSOD (Grey Screens of Death) on my OSX Lion MacBook Pro, the drive became more and more unreliable.
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs: FindNextLeafNode: Error from hfs_swap_BTNode (node 9852)
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs_swap_HFSPlusBTInternalNode: catalog key #54 too big
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs: Runtime corruption detected on SSD, fsck will be forced on next mount.
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs: FindNextLeafNode: Error from hfs_swap_BTNode (node 10370)
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs_swap_HFSPlusBTInternalNode: catalog record #22 keyLength=32 expected=65568
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs: node=10965 fileID=4 volume=SSD device=/dev/disk0s2
Nov 28 18:30:43 mbp kernel: hfs: Runtime corruption detected on SSD, fsck will be forced on next mount.
Nov 28 18:30:43 mbp kernel: hfs: FindNextLeafNode: Error from hfs_swap_BTNode (node 14503)
Nov 28 18:30:43 mbp kernel: hfs_swap_BTNode: record #55 invalid offset (0x9B46)
It was getting slower and slower, reporting tons of errors in the Console.app. Then, it did not reboot anymore. Even in an external USB drive enclosure the drive did not mount anymore. Contacting OCZ about this issue, they sent me an RMA number right away and told me they will replace the drive. Does this mean our data is not safe in SSD? What can we learn from this?
First of all, it is a myth that SSDs are more reliable than hard drives. Secondly, they are not even fully supported on OSX yet (see Should I use Trim Enabler on Lion for the OCZ Vertex 3? No!) - at least if you install the drives yourself (which is also what I would suggest, since Apple does not offer any decent SATA 6GBPs drives yet).
So where is the proof, you ask?
Proof #1: The Hot/Crazy Solid State Drive Scale (via Coding Horror)
Super Talent 32 GB SSD, failed after 137 days
OCZ Vertex 1 250 GB SSD, failed after 512 days
G.Skill 64 GB SSD, failed after 251 days
G.Skill 64 GB SSD, failed after 276 days
Crucial 64 GB SSD, failed after 350 days
OCZ Agility 60 GB SSD, failed after 72 days
Intel X25-M 80 GB SSD, failed after 15 days
Intel X25-M 80 GB SSD, failed after 206 days
As a commenter put it: "Average life of SSD = 227.375 days (based on Wills' data)" - which is also what I can confirm.
SOLUTION: Backup early, backup often. Don't rely on the SSD and make two local backups plus one backup in the cloud.
Proof #2: long-term study of SSD failure rates (via Tomshardware)
SOLUTION: Buy drives that come with a very long warranty. Be prepared to let your drive replace for several times.
I am still waiting for my replacement OCZ Vertex and I will benchmark how fast it will die again. Since OCZ told me, it can take up to three weeks for my replacement to arrive, I bought myself a Seagate ST750LX003 750 GB SATA 600, Momentus XT, 8 GB SLC - it's a hybrid 750GB HDD with an 8GB SLC cache. The drive shifts data that is used often in the 8GB SLC SSD space automatically. While the SSD part of this hybrid drive can also fail, the data won't be lost and it will suffer just some minor speed loss (if it fails, since SLC is said to be more reliable than MLC chips). While this disk is now my main startup disk, i will go back to using the OCZ Vertex 3 again, once the replacement arrives. I just need to backup regularly - the speed gain is really worth the trouble.
We recently blogged, after purchasing two OCZ Vertex SATA3 Drives (240GB) and inserting them with an Optibay setting (2 Drives in one MacBook Pro; see our previous post: 2011 Macbook Pro and SATA III 6Gbps, Optibay: two HD drives – setup explained).
Since we still were experiencing freezes and Sandballs on our Mac OSX Lion 10.7 SSD Setup that were actually not related to TRIM, also the system did not feel as snappy anymore.
Conclusion: don't use TRIM on OSX Lion 10.7, if you are using a Sandforce based SSD. Revert to the original driver and not only the Beachballs will go away, but also the system feels snappy again. See the below Benchmarks for real-life results (since AJA System Test does not work on internal drives, we can recommend using XBENCH to verify the figures for you).
XBENCH Screenshot with TRIM Enabled (using TRIM Enabler for OSX 10.7 Lion)
Screenshot of XBENCH without TRIM Enabler (Restored to original setting)
UPDATE: Grant Pannell (digitaldj.net) reports on how to restore to the original settings.
Since we recently purchased two 2011 MacBook Pros (with lots of issues, as previously reported) we were wondering if SATA III 6Gbps drives would be supported. The short answer is YES, the longer answer is: only on the original Hard Drive port. Here are recommendations on which drive setup is best suited for getting the maximum out of the 2011 Apple machines.
Which type are you?
- the collector: two 750GB SATAII Drives
- fast, but not furious: 256GB SSD SATAIII drive + 750GB HDD in the optical drive slot
- the caretaker: 256GB SSD SATAIII drive + 500GB SATAII hybrid drive in the optical drive slot
- speed enthusiast: 256GB SSD SATAIII drive + 256GB SSD SATAII drive in the optical drive slot
- humongous and rich: 512GB SSD SATAIII drive + 512GB SSD SATAII drive in the optical drive slot
The new MCE OptiBay was created for users who want as much hard drive capacity as possible inside their MacBook Pro, MacBook, PowerBook G4, iMac, or Mac mini. Period