While the MacBook Pro with Retina Display has been getting a lot of press around here lately, the real unsung hero of WWDC 2012’s new Macs is the MacBook Pro 15”.
Though it’s lacking the thinner profile and high-resolution screen, the 2012 MacBook Pros offer two things that the Retina Display model doesn’t which mean everything to performance: an optical drive and a standard SATA hard drive.
Those two components themselves aren’t particularly great; the platter-based hard drive is a dog-slow 5400rpm and nobody seems to use their optical drives any more. The real potential here comes, not from the components, but from the space they occupy.
The hard drive is easily replaced, and replacing it with an OWC 6G SSD is a natural upgrade path for those looking to max out their performance. The bay will handle SATA Revision 3.0’s 6Gb/s speeds just dandily. It’s the optical bay, though, that really opens up possibilities.
Replacing the little-used optical drive in your MacBook Pro with an OWC Data Doubler is nothing new. We’ve even established that the 2012 MacBook Pro 15” optical bays will support an OWC 6G SSD without any data loss. You could drop a fast SSD into the optical bay with a Data doubler and leave the original drive in there for large, inexpensive storage. Either way, you’d be moving your OS from a slow platter-based drive to a fast SSD like the MacBook Pro with Retina Display has.
Since a lot of performance can be tied to the speed of your main internal drive, be it HDD or SSD, benchmarks are certainly in order. So, we ran DiskTester (part of the diglloydTools suite) to gauge performance in a realistic scenario. Here’s what we saw.
First, let’s look at Apple’s “flagship” portable, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display
The SSD inside the MacBook Pro with Retina Display fared quite well, with reads averaging around 475MB/s or so, writes hitting 370-400MB/s range.
Let’s compare that to the 2012 MacBook Pro with the stock hard drive.
The stock drive returned abysmal results, with write speeds topping out at just over 100MB/s, read speeds around 80MB/s, and both degrading over time. For a “pro” machine, this is completely unacceptable.
We then dropped a 240GB OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD in both the main drive bay and in the optical bay with a Data Doubler.
Both tests were nearly identical to each other, with read speeds averaging 500MB/s, writes averaging around 475MB/s and those, too remaining consistent over time.
So, considering that all the other components (memory capacity, processor speed, bus speed) can be configured nearly identically, just dropping a single OWC 6G SSD into your a 2012 MacBook Pro 15 can boost its performance on par with, or even a little past) the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
But wait… the MacBook Pro 15” has two drive bays, each capable of running an OWC 6G SSD at full 6Gb/s speeds.
You know where this is going…
Yes, we decided to go all out and put the two drives in a Striped RAID to see how fast we could get
Yow! With this setup, we averaged over 1000MB/s read speeds and write speeds that nearly hit 900MB/s. That completely blows the MacBook Pro with Retina Display out of the water!
While Apple’s flagship MacBook Pro may be the Retina Display model, for professional users who require professional performance, the clear winner is a 2012 MacBook Pro 15″ with an OWC Data Doubler and a pair of OWC 6G SSDs in a Striped RAID.