is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. RSS sponsorship opportunities available through /Syndicate Ads.+
The MacBook Air that I bought in late 2009 was never much of a speed demon, but by the end of last year it was operating so slowly that it was nearly unusable. Startup times, application launch times, even accessing open and save dialog boxes all seemed interminable, due mostly to the lamentably poky hard drive that shipped with the laptop.
I finally did something about that earlier this week when I pried open up the laptop casing, removed the hard drive and replaced it with a brand new solid state drive that I ordered from Other World Computing. Even for someone like myself who has very limited experience and comfort with the innards of delicate machinery, the installation process was fairly straightforward, especially with the aid of OWC’s handy installation videos.
The Need for Speed
The post-replacement experience has been dramatically, even shockingly faster than what I had become accustomed to before. The MacBook Air now boots in just a few brief moments, applications practically spring to life, and accessing anything on the ‘disk’ is effortless. Even with just 2 gigabytes of RAM, I’m able to run Adobe Photoshop CS5 comfortably alongside several other, smaller applications — in and of itself, this development is mildly revolutionary.
I first wrote about the availability of these SSD upgrades back in January, but I dithered on buying one for some time. I’d never used a solid state drive in a personal computer before, and I wasn’t sure how much of a difference it would make, especially since there was no way to exceed the sluggish 1.86 GHz processor at the heart of my MacBook Air. What I’ve realized now — and it’s long been a well-known fact to SSD converts and people who are generally smarter than I am — is that the operating system and applications spend far more time waiting for hard disks than I could have guessed; a solid state drive fundamentally re-factors this equation. It really is like getting a brand new computer.+