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Slower SATA in new MacBook Pro?

See my previous comments on the new MacBook Pro, namely that except for the 17" model, say goodbye to the ExpressCard slot, the only way to get high-performance external drives attached (eSATA).

I don’t go in for conspiracy theories, but it’s probably not an accident; Apple cripples the otherwise excellent iMac in several ways, so you have to buy a Mac Pro to solve storage and memory issues for a reliable and fast system (if your data or time is not worth much, then just don’t worry about it).

Several readers pointed me at the rumor that the new 13" and 15" MacBook Pros incorporate an internal SATA port running at 1.5 megabits (150MB/sec) instead of 3 megabits (300MB/sec). That’s 10 bits per transferred byte for those doing the math.

A big deal? Yes, a friggin' big deal as the Intel X25-M offers read speeds of about 250MB/sec (lighting fast), and reads are much more important than writes. Chopping off 100MB/sec of performance is, well, stupid. Then again, Apple has generally shipped sluggard SSDs so maybe this is a way to level the playing field. And it might not be true after all. I'll be finding out when I can borrow a new 15" MacBroke Pro.

BTW, burst rates (drive cache) off hard drives could also be impaired. Notebook hard drives now can sustain 100MB/sec, but transfers from cache are a lot faster than that.

So think twice before buying new Apple snake oil—which includes dubious performance gains (if any). Sleek and polished they may be, but with the loss of the ExpressCard slot and (maybe) this new insult, caution is advised with the new 13" and 15" models.

The 17" model still apparently does the Right Things, so go with it instead. Or save some serious money with the previous model or refurb.

You’re not paying for an SSD anyway? Well, later in 2009 you might want a super-fast SSD as the prices plunge, and it would be a pity if it didn’t run at full speed.


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