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New MacBooks have SATA downgrade

New MacBooks have SATA downgrade

The latest MacBook Pro models - both the 13" and 15" versions - seem to have had a downgrade in the SATA department.

Apple may be making some cost-cutting measures in its latest laptop lines if reports from users are accurate.

As revealed over on MacRumours, the latest MacBook Pro models introduced last week appear to be using an older revision of the SATA interface for their hard drives.

The affected units – the 13” and 15” MacBook Pro models – are reporting as being equipped with a 1.5Gb/s SATA hard drive interface – a far cry from the 3.0Gb/s SATA controller fitted to the 17” MacBook Pro, the 13” MacBook, and the 13” MacBook Air models.

While the drop in performance will be all-but unnoticeable to the vast majority of users – unless they're replacing their stock drives with high-performance SSD units – it's somewhat surprising to see Apple lowering the specifications of its flagship line of laptops compared to earlier models. The move is especially surprising as solid-state disks become more affordable – and popular – in the laptop market, as the slower controller can have real performance impacts in such situations.

So far, Apple has yet to comment on the move. It's not yet known whether the change has occurred in hardware or software: if it's merely a driver issue, then it's possible that owners of the new-model MacBook Pros could find a firmware upgrade unlocking the additional performance in future. If the change was made as part of the new motherboard revision – which also saw an SD card slot added to the system – then they'll be stuck with 1.5Gb/s SATA until their next upgrade.

Should Apple come clean on exactly what's going on with the SATA hardware in these new MacBooks, or are people worrying unnecessarily over what is at best a marginal change? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

18 Comments

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DarkLord7854 15th June 2009, 14:58 Quote
That's funny, and for some reason doesn't really surprise me.

Remember the 10$ Wireless N unlock for the Macbook Pros or w/e it was?
p3n 15th June 2009, 15:07 Quote
My 15" says NVidia MCP79 AHCI is 3Gb/s (early model) - surely they are using the same chipset still?!
liratheal 15th June 2009, 15:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord7854
That's funny, and for some reason doesn't really surprise me.

Remember the 10$ Wireless N unlock for the Macbook Pros or w/e it was?

That was slightly different in that when the products launched before N was officially 'released' - SATAII has been around for a while now.

I expect this was done to improve battery life. Most likely there wasn't a sufficient gain in speed for SATAII to be worth the loss of battery life. Seems a typical Appleism - See video cards. Underclocked to suit their hardware.
chaosfrantic 15th June 2009, 15:16 Quote
I'm confused after reading what "llratheal" posted.
So were the late 2008 models of the macbook, macbook pro's in October using Sata or Sata 2?
But i won't be surprised. It's apple. Funny how they only offer the anti-glare screen exclusively to the 17" pros only.
p3n 15th June 2009, 15:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosfrantic
I'm confused after reading what "llratheal" posted.
So were the late 2008 models of the macbook, macbook pro's in October using Sata or Sata 2?
But i won't be surprised. It's apple. Funny how they only offer the anti-glare screen exclusively to the 17" pros only.

My '08 is fine like I said above. The battery life thing has got to be bull**** as there isn't alot of difference, the harddrive is still using the same juice. Apparently they do have the same chipset so its hopefully only 'software' (feel really bad for the people who just bought an SSD for the new ones!)
liratheal 15th June 2009, 15:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by p3n
My '08 is fine like I said above. The battery life thing has got to be bull**** as there isn't alot of difference, the harddrive is still using the same juice. Apparently they do have the same chipset so its hopefully only 'software' (feel really bad for the people who just bought an SSD for the new ones!)

I was thinking the chipset itself. Processing anything at twice the speed is going to, inevitably, use more power. Quite how much, I don't know, and can't be arsed to go sifting through google to find out. I was merely speculating.

The fact that most of the drives are 5400RPM makes the extra speed found with II seem kinda pointless. Any bonuses would quickly be lost through a slower drive. Of course, this wouldn't be true for SSD users or the users that opted for the 7200rpm models. Guess they have to either like it or lump it.
cyrilthefish 15th June 2009, 15:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
Guess they have to either like it or lump it.
Or Apple could have set a BIOS option for SATA I/II mode, meaning everyone would have been happy
liratheal 15th June 2009, 15:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrilthefish
Or Apple could have set a BIOS option for SATA I/II mode, meaning everyone would have been happy

You seem to be under the impression that Apple want to give their customers choice..
DarkLord7854 15th June 2009, 16:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
You seem to be under the impression that Apple want to give their customers choice..
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrilthefish
Or Apple could have set a BIOS option for SATA I/II mode, meaning everyone would have been happy


And under the Impression they have a BIOS :p

Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
That was slightly different in that when the products launched
before N was officially 'released' - SATAII has been around for a while now.

I expect this was done to improve battery life. Most likely there wasn't a sufficient gain in speed for SATAII to be worth the loss of battery life. Seems a typical Appleism - See video cards. Underclocked to suit their hardware.

Well yes, but I meant in terms of limiting the hardware's capabilities ;)
liratheal 15th June 2009, 16:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord7854
And under the Impression they have a BIOS :p




Well yes, but I meant in terms of limiting the hardware's capabilities ;)

I'd imagine that if Apple charged for a SATAII restore then there'd be class action lawsuits all over the place.

Would be kinda funny, though.
shomann 15th June 2009, 16:27 Quote
Clarification would be a good thing here before I go off, but as big of an Apple fan that I am, I can't see the point in this.
fodder 15th June 2009, 16:41 Quote
Nothing new for apple.

Remember the old mac 'power pc' towers? They were still using 2x CD rom drives long (maybe even a year+) after you couldn't buy them anymore. My theory is they did a bulk buy of discontinued Sata II stock and will continue to find reasons to fit it until it runs out. I bet the reason to then switch to Sata III wil be 'Solid state drives are now being accepted as the format of choice' thus putting the reason back on the user for sticking with Sata II for so long.
DarkLord7854 15th June 2009, 16:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fodder
Nothing new for apple.

Remember the old mac 'power pc' towers? They were still using 2x CD rom drives long (maybe even a year+) after you couldn't buy them anymore. My theory is they did a bulk buy of discontinued Sata II stock and will continue to find reasons to fit it until it runs out. I bet the reason to then switch to Sata III wil be 'Solid state drives are now being accepted as the format of choice' thus putting the reason back on the user for sticking with Sata II for so long.

Article read fail?


It's SATA I ;)
leexgx 15th June 2009, 18:14 Quote
SSDs are fast as they are you not miss the 60-100MB/s been chopped off under norm use

SSDs seem to not work well with Mac + nvidia notebooks (some any way)
shomann 15th June 2009, 18:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fodder
Nothing new for apple.

Remember the old mac 'power pc' towers? They were still using 2x CD rom drives long (maybe even a year+) after you couldn't buy them anymore. My theory is they did a bulk buy of discontinued Sata II stock and will continue to find reasons to fit it until it runs out. I bet the reason to then switch to Sata III wil be 'Solid state drives are now being accepted as the format of choice' thus putting the reason back on the user for sticking with Sata II for so long.

I remember them extremely well and I know of what you speak. You are taking into account those were SCSI CD-ROMs, right? ;)

The SATA II to SATA I downgrade just makes no sense. I mean the model just prior to the new ones, (Macbook included I believe) had SATA II.
DarkLord7854 15th June 2009, 19:37 Quote
Engadget confirmed it's the actual chip that's different btw
gavomatic57 16th June 2009, 08:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord7854
Engadget confirmed it's the actual chip that's different btw

Got a link? I've been reading the article on engadget and nobody seems to know for sure. Last I heard it is different firmware on macbooks with SATA1 and SATA2, so it could be a firmware thing. It wouldn't make any financial sense to put a different chip in.
leexgx 16th June 2009, 14:29 Quote
Most are only going to be useing norm hdds in the laptops so why fuss over it, as hdds do not come close to the sata 1 spec

If your going to be useing ssd in it date rate speed is not that inportant , as the access times are so low makes them respond fast
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