MacBook Air: 1.8GHz SSD vs 1.6GHz HDD [Updated]

ArsTechnica compares the Solid State Drive (SSD) and Hard Disk Drive (HDD) versions of the MacBook Air to see if the SSD upgrade is worth the additional cost.

Their benchmark results are consistent with earlier benchmarks revealing that the SSD drive is slower at writing and sequential reads than the HDD. The SSD, however, is faster than the HDD at random (non-sequential) disk access.

This difference shows itself in "real world" tests such as Exporting a 60MB Quicktime, Compiling an Application or Unzipping an archive. As expected, the large file export, which performs a large sequential write to disk favored the HDD model. Meanwhile, building Webkit and Unzipping an archive showed off the speed advantage of the SSD.

Ars also looked at battery life of the MacBook Air and in their HDD review found that their Air averaged a paltry 2.5 hour battery life in their "real world tests". Questions of the validity of these results have been raised, with other anecdotal claims of battery life as long as 4-5 hours on the same configuration. Indeed, reports are varied:

Forums: 56% left after 2:15, 5+ hours?; Engadget: 2:25 watching movie, 3:35 light usage

Ars, however, is pretty confident in their battery life tests for their machine and felt it was consistent with some other reports. They found that the SSD didn't seem to offer a significant longer battery life (on average), however, their battery tests were not standardized and the SSD model had a faster processor. (Of note, MacLife found an SSD drive in a MacBook Pro brought a 14% battery life improvement.)

In the end, they felt the SSD upgrade was not worth the additional cost ($999), but noted the biggest advantage of the SSD was a lack of disk-access related slowdowns that they experienced on the HDD model.

Update: Several readers note that the SSD model had a 1.8GHz processor, rather than a 1.6GHz processor, so even equivalent battery life is likely an improvement. Also, another big advantage to SSD is durability -- with no chance of a hard drive "crash".

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Popular Stories

iPhone 15 Pro FineWoven

Apple Reportedly Stops Production of FineWoven Accessories

Sunday April 21, 2024 6:03 am PDT by
Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories, according to the Apple leaker and prototype collector known as "Kosutami." In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Kosutami explained that Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories due to its poor durability. The company may move to another non-leather material for its premium accessories in the future. Kosutami has revealed...
Provenance Emulator

PlayStation and SEGA Emulator for iPhone and Apple TV Coming to App Store [Updated]

Friday April 19, 2024 8:29 am PDT by
The lead developer of the multi-emulator app Provenance has told iMore that his team is working towards releasing the app on the App Store, but he did not provide a timeframe. Provenance is a frontend for many existing emulators, and it would allow iPhone and Apple TV users to emulate games released for a wide variety of classic game consoles, including the original PlayStation, SEGA Genesis,...
iOS 17 All New Features Thumb

iOS 17.5 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Sunday April 21, 2024 3:00 am PDT by
The upcoming iOS 17.5 update for the iPhone includes only a few new user-facing features, but hidden code changes reveal some additional possibilities. Below, we have recapped everything new in the iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5 beta so far. Web Distribution Starting with the second beta of iOS 17.5, eligible developers are able to distribute their iOS apps to iPhone users located in the EU...
maxresdefault

Apple Announces 'Let Loose' Event on May 7 Amid Rumors of New iPads

Tuesday April 23, 2024 7:11 am PDT by
Apple has announced it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, May 7 at 7 a.m. Pacific Time (10 a.m. Eastern Time), with a live stream to be available on Apple.com and on YouTube as usual. The event invitation has a tagline of "Let Loose" and shows an artistic render of an Apple Pencil, suggesting that iPads will be a focus of the event. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
apple vision pro orange

Apple Vision Pro Customer Interest Dying Down at Some Retail Stores

Monday April 22, 2024 2:12 am PDT by
Apple Vision Pro, Apple's $3,500 spatial computing device, appears to be following a pattern familiar to the AR/VR headset industry – initial enthusiasm giving way to a significant dip in sustained interest and usage. Since its debut in the U.S. in February 2024, excitement for the Apple Vision Pro has noticeably cooled, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Writing in his latest Power On...