Nov 13, 2011
When you buy a MacBook Air, you are taking a little bit of a chance. Computer manufacturers apparently seem think that consumers don’t realize all SSDs are not created equal, and tend to refer to the SSD-equipped models of their computers only by capacity and not by its manufacturer and model. This trend will almost certainly change; in an area where performance differs so greatly from one model to the next, wanting to know the SSD in your computer is no different from wanting to know the video card manufacturer or model. Until then, though, you’ll have to do a little sleuthing. While we recently did an article about the best SSDs for the MacBook Pro, your options with the MacBook Air are a bit limited.
Apple gets its SSDs for the MacBook Air (2011) from two manufacturers: Samsung and Toshiba. As it turns out, the performance difference between the two is rather massive; according to AnandTech, the Samsung SSD offers as much as 16.4 times the performance of the Toshiba in random write operations and 2.47 times the performance in random read operations. While the Toshiba’s random read score of 18.0 MB/sec is still fairly respectable, the random write score of 1.65 MB/sec is downright abysmal. If you find that your MacBook Air momentarily pauses or becomes unresponsive when you install software, there is a good chance that you have a Toshiba SSD.
Find the MacBook Air SSD Manufacturer and Model in OS X 10.7 Lion
- Click the Apple menu, and then click About This Mac.
- Click Overview at the top of the window.
- Click the System Report button at the bottom of the window.
- Click to expand the Hardware section of the report, and then click Serial-ATA.
- Examine the information displayed next to Model. This shows the model number of your MacBook Air’s SSD, such as APPLE SSD SM128C.
The model prefix SM – such as SM128C – indicates a Samsung SSD. The model prefix TS – such as TS128C – indicates a Toshiba SSD.
So, what can you do if your MacBook Air is hobbled by a slower Toshiba SSD? Not much, as far as Apple is concerned; until computer manufacturers fully disclose the SSD models in their products, consumers unfortunately get what they get. However, there is an alternative: OWC has released a MacBook Air SSD upgrade that knocks both the Toshiba and Samsung SSDs into next week. The OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G as a 128 GB SSD that, for a little over $300, can really turbocharge your MacBook Air. Take a look at this comparison from AnandTech:
While the Aura Pro Express is certainly not a cheap upgrade, its performance outshines that of the Toshiba and Samsung SSDs by a wide margin.