April 18, 2011 at 9:11 AM ET
Apple's super slender MacBook Air line of laptops currently uses Toshiba's slim Blade X-gale solid-state drives (SSDs), but there's talk that the company is making a quiet switch to some speedier Samsung drives.
AnandTech reports that there appears to be some variety among the SSDs shipping inside MacBook Airs within about the last month or so:
There appear to be two different revisions of SSDs circulating in MacBook Airs. The first one is obviously the Toshiba, but later user reports show that there is a second, totally different SSD. This SSD carries a model name of SM128C while the Toshiba is TS128C. The SM in the model name hints towards Samsung as the manufacturer, and Apple has used Samsung SSDs before.
While the Samsung model is in fact a bit speedier than the Toshiba SSD, the difference — based on AnandTech's reporting — is not very significant:
Benchmarks posted by users show that the SM128C manages up to 260MB/s read and 210MB/s write speeds. In our tests (and corroborating what users have reported), the TS128C only offers speeds of up to 210MB/s read and 185MB/s write. The SM128C also supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) while the TS128C does not. The performance figures match the figures of Samsung 470 Series pretty well, which Samsung quotes as providing up to 250MB/s read and 220MB/s write.
So what does that mean to you? It means that you shouldn't worry too much about hunting down a MacBook Air with one of the faster SSDs. After all, the speed difference isn't significant, there's no confirmation regarding the details of the part — such as whether its actually made by Samsung — and there's not really a way to tell if a laptop is using the SM128C SSD until you've got it out of its box.