If you can afford it, OWC offers storage upgrades to the mid-2010 MacBook Air. The Mercury Aura Pro Express is available in capacities ranging from 180GB for $470 to a 480GB model for $1580, which. I have a Late-2010 Macbook Air with the fastest processor (2.13GHz Core 2 Duo) and most memory that was available at the time. I upgraded to MacOS Sierra, and I had a horrible time of it. The processor was always overloaded, and the fan was always running. The $999 base-model 11-inch MacBook Air is the most extreme of these: it comes with 64GB of flash storage. (It’s a $200 upgrade to move up to 128GB.) The 13-inch models come in 128GB and 256GB.
How to get BIG performance gains by upgrading the memory and drives in your MacBook Pro.
Focus here is on demanding tasks, such as Adobe Photoshop editing, Lightroom 3 and video. As a proxy for all these tasks, the diglloydMedium benchmark was used as a reliable way to test the limits of drive speed and memory.
I used the OWC 8GB memory kit and the OWC solid state Mercury Extreme Pro and Pro RE drives for this test. I do not in general recommend just any solid state drive as some have issues. Caveat emptor.
Memory prices have plummeted for the 2010 MacBook Pro, so it’s foolish to even consider a 4GB configuration for a MacBook Pro. But the MacBook Air is limited to 4GB (an upgrade at the time of ordering only), so a reasonable inference can be made as to the severe limitations for serious work with the ’Air. Therefore, results with 4GB are also shown.
General observations apply to other Macs—
The gray bar is the standard Apple configuration— miserably slow performance.
The SSD is also a huge improvement, but having 8GB is a better choice than the SSD for this type of work. Note that for all-around computing, the SSD might actually outperform the 8GB memory, since some programs have modest memory needs, but access the drive significantly.
We’ve established that 8GB memory is the first and best choice if the budget allows only one upgrade, at least for this type of Photoshop work. It’s a pity that’s 8GB is the maximum memory possible.
In addition to 8GB, adding the OWC Mercury Pro SSD cuts 35% off the runtime, and going with dual OWC Mercury Pro RE SSDs, cuts 60% off the runtime. Both configurations are MPG Pro Laptops.
Performance is 2-3.2X slower with 4GB memory than with 8GB, but the SSD configurations still offer a massive improvement! Compare to the graph above.
The path is clear for Photoshop and similar programs (and will benefit video or any other demanding use):
Want it all installed and rigorously pre-tested and ready to use? Get a quote for an MPG Pro Laptop.
* OWC Mercury Extreme Pro or Pro RE strongly recommended, other brands can have issues.
** Dual internal drives means the internal optical drive (DVD) must be removed. An external optical drive must be used. I used the OWC Pro RE RAID-ready models.
This chart captures all the combinations together.
I used the 17' 2010 MacBook Pro with the Intel Core i7 as the test mule. Similar results will apply to any current or prior model. I varied both the amount of memory and the drive configurations:
I was surprised that the Fujitsu 500GB 5400rpm drive performed the same as the Seagate 7200rpm drive (my choice would be the Hitachi 500GB 7200 drive, which I’ve tested as notably faster than the Seagate). Any time a specific program is run, actual access patterns determine actual performance, since more than just drive speed is involved.