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SSD + Photoshop

December 01, 2010

I just got my first Mac with a solid state drive. If you’ve heard anything about SSD performance, you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s fast. How fast? Well, I filmed a video.

December 01, 16h

That’s just incredible.

I wonder how much of a difference the processor and RAM makes here and what sort of variance there would be between MBPs with 7200 RPM traditional HD vs the SSD.

Dave S. says:
December 01, 16h

@jeff white - I think it’s pretty much all due to the SSD. Even comparing against my desktop iMac with its 2.66Ghz processor (faster), 7200 RPM hard drive (slower), and 4GB of RAM (same), the new Air loads Photoshop at least three times as quick.

December 01, 16h

Off topic; can you link to the wallpaper on the left computer? Or maybe just its name or something? I like it. =)

Dave S. says:
December 01, 16h

@Nathan - they’re both from my Processing output sketches folder on Dropbox, ready for use:

December 01, 17h

I love the new SSD drives but the 4gigs as compared to 2 gigs helps a ton also in terms of application launching and speed.

It does show the speed of the SSD BUT its not the only factor in it launching faster than the older.


Dave S. says:
December 01, 17h

@Geek for Him - I realize it’s not an apples-for-apples comparison, but per my reply to Jeff above the new Air’s load time performance is so much better than a higher-specced iMac that it’s obvious to me it’s the SSD that makes the big difference.

Damien says:
December 01, 17h

Wow, thats got me seriously re-considering whacking one of those in my Mac pro…

December 01, 18h

I had the first-gen 13-inch MacBook Air, which was a 1.8 Core 2 Duo with 2GB of RAM, and my new 11-inch MBA (which only has a 1.4 Core 2 Duo) blow is out of the water. The SSD makes a huge difference.

Although, it should be mentioned that in this case it’s not simply SSD versus HDD… the first-gen MBA used a particularly slow 4,200 RPM parallel ATA drive. Parallel ATA can be less than half the speed of SATA in bursts, which means that it just CRAWLED.

On my MacBook Pro, I just recently installed an SSD drive and while it’s definitely faster than a HDD, the difference isn’t nearly as large because I was coming from SATA and a 7,200RPM drive.

Still, the MBA can definitely be a person’s primary machine now, which wasn’t the case before (unless you didn’t mind waiting 3 minutes for it to do anything).

(Side note: Holy lord the palm rests of that older MBA are filthy!)

Chris says:
December 02, 00h

interesting comparison, but I wonder if age is a factor. how fast did Photoshop load when you first got the 2009 Air?

jesse says:
December 02, 07h

I wondered about what @Chris says, filters, plugins, etc too… but then I watched the video.

I’d be at least a couple of years younger given how much time in my life I’ve spent waiting for PS to load…

December 02, 11h

It’s interesting (or maybe not) how Photoshop loads so much faster the second time on the 2009 MacBook Pro. Seems to take about 6 seconds when first opened and 3 after closing and loading again.

I haven’t compared accurately but the fact that the new Air is as fast as the current MacBook Pros is awesome considering the price difference.

Dave S. says:
December 02, 12h

@Garrett Murray - hadn’t realized that there was more to it than just RPMs, but your experience echos mine. When swapping started happening, it was time to quit apps and go get a coffee cause it would be at it for a while. (The grime on the palm rests is ironically due to the Invisible Shield I have on it to protect the aluminum from my corrosive body chemistry; if/when I peel it off the aluminum underneath will be immaculate.)

@Chris - as slow if not slower. I actually think the video caught the old Air on a good day, that load time was a bit faster than I thought it would have taken.

@Matt - I noticed that too, which is why I stressed in the video it was off a cold boot. Once I had it loaded on the old Air, the second load was much quicker.

Vagelis says:
December 02, 15h

Wow! That new MBP I fancy, will get some SSD love for sure! It’s obvious to me most of the difference is down to it. Also got an much better speced iMac, never seen photoshop loading this fast.

Thanks for sharing the evidence :)

December 02, 17h

As a Limux user I am rarely impressed with anything that has got to do with performance on a Mac. And as a matter of principle I never buy hardware where the drive is not 7200 rpm or better and have not for many years.

Even so, I think that SSD is wicked fast.

OTOH, the old Macbook AIR is just a piece of crap from a performance perspective (4200 rpm - seriosly?), so the competition is not exactly hard.

ChamFamDad says:
December 03, 12h

I’ll take the old one as it is infinetly faster than not having one at all ;)

Justin says:
December 06, 08h


Luigi Di Maggio says:
December 10, 00h

I was given a MacBook Air as a gift in january, and i used it a lot. I would never, ever say it can be the primary machine for an IT professional…
I work a lot with virtualization, and I could never start up more than 1 virtual machine per time(only 2 GB ram, poorly performing HDD, etc.).
So, welcome SSD, but having 4 GB ram is another great step ahead. Not to mention, now MBA has more than just 1 USB port - yup!!

BTW, what about reliability? Any idea of what the lifetime of the SSD is?

P.S.: Dave, this is my 1st time here… awesome site… I really like it!

Dennis says:
December 10, 06h

Don’t get too excited. The speed diminishes once the disk is full. The issue with SSD is that the process or reclaiming disk space is inefficient. So once you start re-using sectors, it slows down considerably. If you’re using a disk that will never be full and you don’t delete anything; great. Otherwise you’ll be happy for a while and then you may be unhappy later on, as once you’ve used all of the sectors at least once it gets very ugly.

Google TRIM OSX for info. Until OSX supports TRIM SSD is a tricky call.

David says:
December 12, 08h

I’m really impressed with how fast it is. SSD is definately the way to go.

Andrei says:
December 13, 10h

I really can’t understand why you all spend that much money on a Mac and are angry that it works so hard, when you could by a PC that loads much faster and costs less.
And that glossy look…pfff.

This is really no offence, just my point of view.

Jeffrey says:
December 19, 13h

wow, the 4 seconds load up time is about 2 minutes faster than the load up time on my crappy windows desktop computer. I would take the 30 second load up time on the old mac over that ;)

gapacho says:
December 19, 15h

I found out this years ago.

I used to move the photoshop folder to a ramdisk, it loaded amazing fast, and also using it was a lot faster.

Te create ramdisk you can use Esperance 32bit. it has also a restore function, so actualy you don’t need to copy the folder to your ram each time you want to use photoshop.

if you try to update it will fail (or it is because my ram disk was set to small, 560MB - try to keep this as small as you can)

December 23, 03h

Looks like the speed boost you can get from an SSD is truly awesome –I’m seriously considering adding an Intel X25-M Postville to my system… :-)

Neal G says:
January 07, 18h

@Dennis, while Dave doesn’t have a PC it appears that Windows 7 supports TRIM which handles writing to blocks with previous data on them more efficiently.

You’d also need a SSD which supports TRIM which I’ve found several on Newegg.

Also here’s an article with benchmarks with SSD on the Macbook -

Ben Sky says:
January 11, 11h

WOW, I need to get one of them! Over the course of a year think how much time you’ll save… it will pay for it’s self!!

January 11, 11h

How much do you want for the old one? I’ve been using my 2006 PowerBook G4 and it’s just now pooping out on me.