New MacBooks have SATA downgrade

June 15, 2009 | 14:36

Tags: #macbook #macbook-pro #sata #sata-30 #ssd

Companies: #apple

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.
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