After installing the Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe 240GB SSD drive, I felt its performance was a bit sluggish so I ran some speed tests. I used XBench.app but because that app is older than dirt, the results were a bit misleading. A Mushkin rep suggested AJA System Test because it’s specifically geared toward testing read/write speeds on drives. One cool feature is that you can test external drives, including USB memory sticks.
Anyway, here’s the screenshot showing the read/write speeds. Indeed, 182.1 MB/s write is crappy for the Mushkin SSD, especially with the advertised speed of 275 MB/s. The 235.7 MB/s read is pretty nice.
One of my favorite laptop accessories is/was made by an Oregon company and sold in local Mac Stores. They’re the ever useful and popular Dr. Bodelin’s laptop bumpers. The laptop bumpers raise the back end laptops up by about 1″ or so, dramatically increasing air flow thereby reducing internal and external temperatures. Ultimately, this can extend the life expectancy of a laptop. For $10, it’s a pretty good deal. Anyway, I recently needed a new set of silver laptop feet, so I called the Mac Store closest to me. I was mortified to find that they no longer carried the silver ones and that they only had white or gold. Gold?! Ugh. And white laptop feet on an aluminum MacBook Pro?? The horror. Being somewhat resourceful, I called Dr. Bodelin’s customer service line to see if the silver feet were really gone. Yup, confirmed. Not even a private stash at the company headquarters. Frak.
I did some Googling and found very few alternatives – some looked flimsy, some were bulky, some were plain ugly and they were all way too expensive for what they are – molded plastic nubs.
What to do…
Well, I found a very decent solution to my laptop foot woes. Two solutions, actually. I’ll demonstrate them below and you can decide which one you like best. First, a photo to show why laptop feet are a good idea.
As you can see here, the MacBook Pro has less than half a millimeter of airspace underneath. It’s part of Apple’s super sleek design, but it naturally restricts significant air flow.
I’ve used two 3M “Self Stick Rubber Pads” under the laptop and right next to the paper-thin feet Apple supplied.
Here you can see the MacBook Pro with the 3M rubber pads – the back is raised by about 1/4″. The pads hold up under moderate heat. Super warm laptops may eventually turn the 3M glue a little gooey. It takes a bit of heat, though. The 3M rubber pads cost $2.50 for 12 – enough for 6 laptops or 6 applications.
The solution I went with…
Here you can see a 3M “Command Strip” mini hook. These plastic hooks are clear, strong and easily support the weight of the 17″ MacBook Pro. They also have a somewhat cool shape. The tabs are removable and leave no residue. If you don’t want the little pull tab, it’s super easy to remove with a quick snip with some scissors.
The MacBook Pro is lifted by roughly 1/2″, providing extra air flow. The 3M mini hook is strong, gives a very comfortable angle of lift for ergonomic typing, etc. The 3M mini hooks are $3.50 for a set of 6, enough for 3 laptops or 3 applications.
Here are the two 3M packages. I got mine at The Container Store, but they’re available in lots of stores. And not to be too obvious, but #1 is the 3M rubber feet ($2.50) and #2 is the 3M mini hooks ($3.50).
I went ahead and picked up the granddaddy of all laptop hard drives for my MacBook Pro – the Seagate Momentus 500GB 7200RPM with SATA 3.0 (model ST9500420AS). I upgraded from a Hitachi 320GB 7200RPM drive and boy, what a wonderful difference!
Using Carbon Copy Cloner, it took roughly 3 1/2 hours to clone the contents of my 320GB drive to the 500GB. 120GB of photos was the #1 slow down, and #2 was the 320GB drive dragging its proverbial feet. Once the cloning was done, replacing the 320 with the 500 took about 2 minutes – 5 little screws (1 brace and 4 stabilizers on the drive).
The first thing I noticed was that the 500GB Seagate drive boots about 40% faster than the 320GB Hitachi. Apps open up a little faster – not 40% faster, but certainly 20% or so.
Once I’d booted up, I ran several tests and scans on the drive to make sure the drive was going to be stable and error free. Nothing sucks quite so much as banking on a new hard drive, only to have it melt down. Tests showed no drive flaws.
I then ran an XBench test to compare the two drives. The 500GB drive scored well over twice as fast as the 320GB with sequential and random reads/writes. For the non-techies, this simply means that this new Seagate drive whips the snot out of the Hitachi drive.
(XBench is a free utility that every Mac user should have, even if it’s rarely used.)
On the down side, the Seagate drive is just as loud as the 320GB Hitachi. That was a little disappointment to me. That said, the drive isn’t “noisy” per se, it’s just that the spinning is clearly audible in a near silent room or if one listens within 6 or 7 inches of the laptop body. No huge deal.
Other positives? XP boots and runs faster in Parallels. So does Windows 7. So does Linux. Photoshop CS4 opens up 25% faster and runs actions in an instant. File transfers to other 7200RPM drives are way faster. In short, pretty much everything is better and faster.
The best part of all? After Leopard, tons of apps, tens of thousands of photos, etc. I’ve got about 300GB free. Awesome!!
If you’re considering buying the Seagate 500GB drive, I hope these comments help. And hopefully you wind up with a good stable drive that passes any tests you subject it to.