Mini review: Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ (512GB external SSD)

I should say at the outset that this is not cheap. Very not cheap. What you’re looking at is $890’s worth of external drive in the 512GB version I have here, or $500 for the 256GB model.

This is not a drive aimed at a consumer wanting a bit of external storage for their movies, but rather a high-performance drive aimed at audiovisual professionals who need an external drive that delivers the kind of speeds in a mobile environment that they are used to from their office setup …  Read more

Latest MacBook Pro 15 gets blazing SSD performance thanks to 4-channel PCIe (updated)

4chan

Update: It appears this may be a function of the 1TB drives fitted to both 13- and 15-inch models. The reason for this isn’t yet clear: it may be the drives used offer greater bandwidth.

Benchmark tests by French site Mac4Ever show that the latest MacBook Pro 15 is delivering SSD read and write speeds in excess of 1GB per second. The site repeatedly achieved these speeds when Apple claims only “up to 775MB per second.”

The MBP 15 is able to achieve these speeds because it has a 4-channel PCIe connection to the SSD, in contrast to the 2-channel link on the MBP 13 and MacBook Air models, though from some reader reports this may be the case only on models fitted with 1TB drives …

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Sonnet announces 15-port Echo Thunderbolt dock with built-in HDD/SSD & optical drive options

Sonnet-Echo-15-Thunderbolt-dock-station

The much-anticipated Belkin Thunderbolt Dock appears to be delayed once again unfortunately, missing its planned Q1 launch, despite taking pre-orders for the device in February after missing its original September launch date. While we’ve been recommending the popular Matrox Thunderbolt Docking station in the meantime, today Sonnet announced a new competitor in the space with the Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock.

The 15-port dock includes many of the ins and outs you’d expect: Two thunderbolt ports, four USB 3.0 ports, 3.5mm audio in and out (front and back), FireWire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, and two eSATA ports. However, there are two features this 15-port Thunderbolt docking station has that most others do not: extra space to install a 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA HDD or SSD and your choice of a built-in DVD or Blu-Ray drive:

the Echo 15 Thunderbolt dock has you covered—it includes your choice of DVD±RW drive, or Blu-ray Disc™ player (BD-ROM/8x DVD±RW). If you are a Mac user, you’ll also find that the included Blu-ray player software for OS X® is very handy, enabling you to watch Blu-ray movies on your computer or attached monitor.

The fast 6 Gb/s SATA interface supports an HDD at its maximum speeds, and an SSD at up to 380 MB/s… Best of all, the drive sits inside the Echo dock, so you don’t have to clutter your desk space with an external hard drive and its power brick and cable clutter to add more storage. Don’t feel like adding a drive yourself? Sonnet also offers the Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock equipped with a 2TB HDD, available exclusively through the Sonnet online store.

The Sonnet Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock is available to pre-order now in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico starting at $399 for a DVD drive and no built-in drive. The next model up comes with a built-in 2TB HDD for $499, while a Blu-ray drive and 2TB HDD brings it up to $549. Other options are also available through Sonnet’s website, and most models are expected to ship in Summer 2013.

LaCie updates Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series with SATA III SSDs and speeds up to 635MB/s

LaCie issued a press release today announcing an update to its Little Big Disk Thunderbolt series that now includes a pair of 2.5-inch SATA III SSDs. The new Little Big Disk provides read speeds up to 635MB/s, according to the company, approximately a 33 percent increase from the previous generation. It is also capable of daisy chaining up to six devices via its dual Thunderbolt ports:

The product features a pair of 2.5” SATA III SSDs. A RAID array can be configured using the Mac OS Disk Utility for performance (RAID 0) or security (RAID 1). It supports daisy chaining up to six compatible devices such as displays and other peripherals.

An example of just how quick the it is: LaCie said the new Little Big Disk can transfer a 50GB project in under two minutes or edit six uncompressed 422 streams simultaneously… Read more

iFixit posts repair guide for Retina MacBook Pro, estimates battery replacement at $500

You might remember a couple months ago when our friends at iFixit tore down the new Retina MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, the device received its lowest repairability score with the company calling it “the least repairable laptop”. While the new MacBooks provide possibly Apple’s least accessible and upgradeable design out of the box, iFixit updated its website today with its official 2012 MacBook Pro Retina repair guide to make it as easy as possible. Fifteen separate installation guides for the AirPort Board, battery, fans, logic board, speakers, SSD, trackpad, etc., are included in the repair guide with one maintenance guide for reapplying thermal paste to the CPU and GPU.

Many components within the laptop can be removed without much fuss, provided folks use the correct tools. Pentalobe screws hold the lower case in place and Torx screws secure everything else. Spudgers and plastic opening tools are absolutely necessary, as many of the components are designed with such tight tolerances that using fingertips is simply not an option.

Fair warning: working on the laptop is no easy task. Some repairs are simply infeasible. For example, there is no way to replace the trackpad without removing the battery. And while it’s possible to remove the battery, chances are high that it will be punctured in the process. Puncturing Lithium-polymer batteries releases noxious fumes and can cause fires. Additionally, removing the LCD glass from the aluminum frame will almost certainly break the glass. So components residing under the LCD — such as the FaceTime camera — will have to be replaced with the entire assembly… Finding replacements for the machine’s proprietary components is currently difficult. We’re working to source parts, but it may take some time.

iFixit also estimated that third-party battery replacements —if done correctly— could cost over $500:

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New MacBook Pros will get Samsung’s fast 830 series SSD too

In January, following a meeting with Samsung Storage solutions at CES 2012, we told you that Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air would likely make the switch to the speedier 830 series SSDs from Samsung alongside an update to Ivy Bridge. This was of course before we revealed some major changes coming to Apple’s new MacBook and iMac lineups. In addition to Retina displays for almost the entire new lineup, the new ultra-thin 15-inch MacBook Pro will be getting a complete redesign, losing the optical drive, and bringing it closer to to the thin design of current Airs. Like the new MacBook Airs, we have been told that at least some of Apple’s prototype MacBook Pros have used Samsung’s 830 series SSDs…
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That’s not a defibrillator, it’s OWC’s DIY SSD kit for 2011 iMacs

iFixit introduced its iMac Mid 2011 Dual Hard Drive Kit ($69.95) last month for adding an SSD to both the 21.5-inch and 27-inch models. Meanwhile, OWC Macsales made its own kit available today for 2011 iMac users, which allows you to install any 2.5-inch Serial ATA SSD. The kit will work with most compatible SSDs, but OWC recommends its $99.97 OWC Mercury 6G SSD (up to 480GB) shown in the installation video below. As for the kit itself, it is now available through Macsales for $44.99. Here is what you will get:
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iFixit launches Dual Hard Drive Kit and guides for Mid 2011 iMacs

While you might be familiar with iFixit from its in-depth teardown guides meant to provide the ultimate resource for DIYers, it also offers the necessary tools to get the job done. We told you a while back about its “iPhone oppression kit” allowing you to swap out Apple’s pentalobular screws with standard Phillips screws. Stemming from a discovery of two unused mounting points in its recent 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac teardowns, iFixit is now providing a kit that provides all the tools necessary to install a second hard drive in your mid 2011 iMac.

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90GB OCZ 90GB Agility 3 SATA3 SSD for $100

From 9to5Toys.com:

Today only, Amazon offers the OCZ 90GB Agility 3 2.5″ Serial ATA 6Gb/s Internal SSD, model no. AGT3-25SAT3-90G, for $99.99 with free shipping. That’s the lowest total price we could find by $30. This Sandforce-controlled drive advertises 500MB/s+ read write times when connected to a SATA3 controller.

While OCZ’s drives are certainly fast, we’ve had a better experience with Samsung’s 830 series SATA3 SSDs which should soon be entering production on Apple’s MacBook Air/Pros.  The 128GB is listed at $199 while the 64GB variety is $109.

Update: previously mentioned rebate had expired last week.

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Intel’s new 520 Series SSD benchmarked: Easy on the battery, great data protection and compression features

Intel announced today the new 520 Series solid-state storage code-named “Cherryville” and a number of tech websites and blogs already have their reviews up. The Verge has a nice review round up, and MacWorld’s own review provides an extensive overview of the pros and cons of the device. Fabbed on Intel’s 25nm Multi-Level Cell process, the 520 boasts sequential read/write performance of 550/520MBps when using a system with a SATA 3.0 6Gbps interface. The spec sheet positions the 520 Series as a solution for media creators and tech enthusiasts.

Still, Samsung’s comparable 830 Series came in fastest during Tech Report’s review (see the chart below the fold), with sequential read/write speeds of 500/350MBps on a SATA 3.0 6Gbps interface. We reviewed the Samsung 830 and found it to be the fastest available. In addition, the 830 SSD is almost $150 cheaper and it is going into MacBook Airs soon, unlike the 520 Series that comes in a 2.5-inch form factor—so it only fits inside MacBook and MacBook Pros.

MacWorld’s review achieved read-writes of 303/324MBps (sequential) and 303/338MBps (random) with Xbench 1.3 and 456/241MBps in read/writes using Blackmagic benchmarking software with 4K blocks. The 520 Series also has lower-than-usual power requirements and delights with strong data protection and compression features…

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OWC gives Mac Pro users the first PCI Express SSD option

The easiest way to upgrade your Mac Pro’s everyday performance is to replace its slow internal hard drive units with pricier and much speedier solid-state storage (SSD), as it typically provides many times faster access times compared to HDDs and way greater sustained transfer rates. The problem is, you can only put flash storage inside the Pro’s hard drive bays that connect to the SATA interface.

Unfortunately, your super-fast SSD is limited to transfer rates of the Mac Pro’s SATA controller.

Enter OWC’s upcoming PCI Express-based SSD solution for Mac Pros, due for release “in the very near future.” Why does it matter? Well, for starters, it is a dream come true for the Hackintosh community. However, there is more to it than meets the eye…

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Samsung updates MacBook Air class SSDs to 6Gbps SATA 3, 500MB/s reads and 350MB/s writes

Variant of SSD that could go in future MacBooks Pros and Airs

We told you back in April that Apple was upgrading from Toshiba SSDs to Samsung-built drives in the latest MacBook Air lineup. Today a report from Anandtech notes the Samsung PM810 (a customized variant of the same drive currently ships in the 2011 Air) has received some substantial upgrades in its latest refresh.

Samsung has announced the PM830, the latest generation of the PM810, which is slated to pack a 6Gbps SATA 3 that provides up to 500MB/s reads and 350MB/s writes, according to Samsung.  That 150% to double the real world speed of the current Samsung Air SSDs and easily beats Apple’s Pro line options.

The new drive will also be shipping with up to 512GB capacity, a nice bump up from the current 256GB offered in the MacBook Air.

Normally it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to think that Apple might naturally include this upgraded SSD in the next MacBook Air refresh. However, with tension growing between Apple and Samsung due to patent related lawsuits (if you haven’t heard by now), more and more questions are being raised about the sustainability of Samsung being one of their main competitor’s part suppliers.

According to a story from The Economist, Samsung might turn out to be a much more important supplier than you may have thought. While companies like Taiwanese-based Foxconn are known to provide many of the cheaper components that make up Apple devices, the report notes Samsung “provides some of the phone’s (iPhone) most important components” including flash memory, DRAM, and processor components. However, they are also quick to point out Apple is one of “Samsung’s largest customers”.
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