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A Less Elegant, But Effective Solution

Install A Solid State Drive In Your Notebook
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Our solution is less elegant, but just as effective as the first two. The problem is simple: Our notebook computer is a 15" MacBook Pro. Apple doesn’t support replacing the optical drive with a hard disk, and this notebook has only one 2.5" slot.

Replace The Optical Drive With A Hard disk

Despite this limitation, there is a solution – the OptiBay from MCE. This is a case containing an adapter that lets you connect a hard disk in place of the optical drive.

Obviously, since our notebook uses an ATA optical drive, the hard disk has to use the same interface. OptiBays exist for MacBook and MacBook Pro, in two versions – for computers that use a slim optical drive (12.5 mm thick) and for ones that use an ultra-slim (9.5 mm) drive. OptiBays are usable on any computer, but need a few adaptations, including to the tray. The OptiBay costs $99, but you can order it with a hard disk or an external optical drive.

optibay ssd

Choosing Components: The Hard Disk

Once we had the adapter, we needed to choose a hard disk and SSD. For the hard disk, we needed an ATA model with a decent capacity (at least 120 GB). The speed didn’t matter much since the disk would only be used to store data – all our applications will be on the SSD. We chose a Samsung HM160 (5,400 rpm, 160 GB). Note that the most recent 2.5" hard disks are no longer made in ATA and only in SATA format, which limits the capacity (250-GB models exist, but they’re rare).

samsung hm160

Choosing Components: The SSD

The second problem was which SSD to choose. First, it had to be a SATA drive, because the machine’s original hard disk uses that interface. Then, its capacity had to be at least 32 GB so that we could use a recent operating system like Mac OS X Leopard or Windows Vista with no problem and still have all our applications on the SSD. We ended up choosing a 32-GB Mtron MOBI 3000. This fast SSD (the specs claim a 100 MB/s read speed and 80 MB/s write speed) uses a SATA interface and is currently one of most highly reputed SSD models.

ssd mtron

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 18, 2008 2:09 PM
    Is there something about that lenovo adapter that's special to lenovo laptops? Is it not a standard ata adapter with a standard form factor?
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , April 18, 2008 2:54 PM
    Good article.
  • -4 Hide
    FHDelux , April 18, 2008 3:10 PM
    I dont usually leave comments, but this article has no point. Anyone interested in an SSD, knows how fast it is and how to put one in a laptop. Also, why all of the sudden is this site being mucked up with rediculous MAC stuff. I could care less how fast a MAC boots up, its useless anyway. I come here to read about real computers, not, ooooo its pretty i wanna buy it cause it has a catchy theme song on the commercial computers.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , April 18, 2008 3:37 PM
    What ever boost they got on there mac. You would get on your pc as well..

    Hell my photo shop still opens faster(within a second of the SSD times). But Quad + Raid will do that.

    What machine they use does not matter much. I do agree they may as well of just slapped it into one of there windows notebooks first since its not too hard to do and then they could get some benches for that, but the speed boosts should be about the same on either OS.

    Any day they gut hardware for upgrades(Even if its a mac) is fine with me
  • 0 Hide
    palach , April 18, 2008 8:07 PM
    I think it's more interesting to show what is the battery time gain by installing the SSD compared to the normal HDD in this or other laptops, since most people will take the laptop to a certified technical support if they want to install a new HDD or SSD.
  • 1 Hide
    TeaCup , April 19, 2008 12:21 AM
    In response to FHDelux, I used to be annoyed by everything Apple/Macintosh, until I actually got to use one. Strangely enough; my Macbook Pro is literally the most stable and capable WINDOWS system I've ever owned. I run Windows XP only, and everything works flawlessly. It's practically silent, and has better battery life than any other laptop I've owned. So you're a bit behind the times bashing the apple system they used. Great article btw.
  • 1 Hide
    laxmidd50 , April 19, 2008 6:13 PM
    I think most people who know what a SSD is are capable of installing one themselves.
  • 1 Hide
    boogman , April 21, 2008 4:14 AM
    What's with all this "ATA drives not compatible"???


    SATA is ATA.


    PATA is also ATA.

    Sigh...
  • -1 Hide
    bobloadmire , April 21, 2008 7:27 AM
    i find it funny that my Vista desktop launches word and photoshop froma cold bott in about half the time the SSD mac pro does.But yeah ssd's FTW
  • 0 Hide
    bobloadmire , April 21, 2008 7:32 AM
    i find it funny that my Vista desktop launches word and photoshop from a cold boot in about half the time the SSD mac pro does. But yeah ssd's FTW
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , April 21, 2008 5:01 PM
    Readyboost on?

    My XP is about the same as the SSD(and like a second or 2 on a second open). but i can see vistas Ready boost pushing those hard.
  • 0 Hide
    cisco , April 21, 2008 5:28 PM
    I agree, Mac makes up less than 5% of the market, who cares. Until they allow me to build my own system and run the Mac OS on it (legitimately), I don't care. I refuse to pay their adsorbent prices for what is essentially a mid range PC.
    However, I can't wait for SSD technology to get more affordable. I think this type of hard drive will make laptop seem considerably faster and use less power, lower heat, etc...
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , April 22, 2008 7:26 PM
    TeaCup, have you ever tries to compare an equally new/spec. ThinkPad with your Mac? If you are comparing a new Mac with a three years old notebook, that's not much of a comparison.
  • 1 Hide
    robojocks , April 23, 2008 1:04 AM
    i installed TRANSCEND 2.5" IDE 32GB SSD SOLID STATE HARD DRIVE in my tc4200 laptop and its useless. it took 2 days for it to write all the stuff on it. I'll say computer opens the windows explorer ( To view the drives) very fast, But thats it. Its so slow that the computer stops what is is doing . I can move the mouse pointer around but thats it. I cant do anything else while the computer is writing to the swap file or what it is doing. My 5400rpm laptop drive was faster writing then it.

    I have 1gb of ram
    Pentium M 1.7 ghz processor on it
    And SSD from hell.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , April 23, 2008 2:08 AM
    thats kind of sounds like DMA is off, go check.
  • -1 Hide
    st430 , April 24, 2008 6:31 PM
    why do you need a tray and take out CD rom drive?
    unless you need 2 drives.
    all you have to do is to connect a USD drive, run a harddrive clone software and dump the disc image to the USD drive...
    then just open up 2 screws in your laptop (like those in dell)
    and take our your old harddrive and swap in a SSD drive.
    Boot up the computer with a DVD boot disk make by the clone disk software, then connect the USb drive and run the disc re-covery to load the image back to the new SSD drive...
    done...everything is there just like before...no need to re-install any software or O/S...
    of course now that your 160G/200G harddrive is gone... you have to live with a 32G drive that is 10 times more expensive just to save a few minutes of run time over the 3 hrs that your battery can run...and may be your battery can run just a few minutes longer because of the SSD...
    worth it? not really.

  • 1 Hide
    ilovehomes , April 27, 2008 7:08 AM
    good
  • 0 Hide
    skypecakes , April 29, 2008 6:30 PM
    st430, you missed the whole point of the article! Extra battery life is a minor perk of putting an SSD in your laptop. The main benefits are shock tolerance and READ PERFORMANCE. That's what you're paying for if you're in the market to buy an SSD.

    SSDs are faster at reading data than HDDs. Thus they make booting and starting apps lightning quick. They are slower at writing data, which is why the 2nd drive is needed to avoid a performance hit when writing. Surprisingly, according to the test in this article, write performance with the faster SSD was better than the laptop's HDD!

    Note that not all SSDs are equal. There are slow SSDs and fast ones. Keep that in mind if you read one of the articles out there that says "SSDs are supposed to be fast, but I tested X brand SSD and it was slower than my hard drive." If you want performance from an SSD, you have to buy it, preferably from a company that sells both "general" SSDs and performance SSDs. BitMicro, the company that made the SSD(s?, only one is mentioned) for this article is one such company; another is Super Talent.
  • 0 Hide
    wankten , May 4, 2008 5:55 AM
    to fhDuhLux...the person with the comments about the mac...
    I use windows 99% of the time. I make a living on windows because people need more help with windows than mac users need with their macs. Macs are far superior from an engineering level, software level, and all around human ergo design.
    Besides, nukemaster commented correctly... the same ideas can apply to your windows machine.
    It is extraordinarily easy to tell the novices from the experts just by hearing them speak (or write, in your case)...
    what does "F...H..." stand for anyway? Nevermind, I already guessed.
    geez!
  • 0 Hide
    swankenstein , January 19, 2009 1:01 AM
    wankten. I wouldn't be criticizing other posters names for a start.

    Secondly, you make a living on windows because everybody and their dog uses it. It is extraordinarily easy to spot morons that think they can gauge the sophistication of a brand by how many people are using it.
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