The MacBook Air Solid-State Drive - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

The MacBook Air offers a solid-state internal hard drive. Solid-state drives have been around for a number of years now (think iPod Shuffle). Unfortunately, however, the solid-state memory used in today’s flash drives gets pretty expensive as capacity increases. In fact, the cost has been the limiting factor, because a solid-state drive offers a number of advantages that really set it apart from a conventional magnetic hard drive:

  • No moving parts: Unlike a typical magnetic hard drive, there’s no read-write heads, no magnetic platter — just gobs of happy silicon memory chips. In effect, a solid-state drive works along the same lines as your MacBook’s system RAM.

    Unlike your Mac’s RAM, though, a solid-state drive doesn’t lose the data it stores when you turn off your laptop. As you can imagine, no moving parts on a computer in motion is superior on two levels:

    • The solid-state drive never wears out or needs replacing.

    • If your laptop is accidentally abused (think getting knocked off your desk), it’s far less likely that you’ll lose a hard drive’s worth of priceless data when it hits the ground.

  • Speed: Oh, is this thing fast! Your MacBook will boot/restart/awake in far less time than computers with magnetic drives can, and everything you do on your laptop will benefit from the speed boost. A solid-state drive can read data far faster than a conventional magnetic hard drive.

  • Power usage: Forget your hard drive spinning up from sleep mode. The solid-state drive uses far less power than a conventional hard drive, resulting in significantly longer battery life.

  • Blessed silence: The solid-state drive is completely silent. (No more of that gargling noise while the disk is accessed. Sweet.)

If you’re considering a MacBook Air, solid-state drives are standard equipment — but what about the solid-state drive option for your MacBook Pro? The answer lies in your bank account (as well as your need for elbow room).

If you can afford the extra expense of the solid-state drive and you can fit all your applications and data into 128, 256, or 512GB, consider joining Buck Rogers with the storage device of the future.

If you’d rather save that coin for something else, or you need a larger 750GB internal hard drive to hold things like a massive collection of digital video and today’s latest 3D games, stick with the tried-and-true magnetic hard drive option for your MacBook Pro.