Is SATA capped at 1.5Gbps on the 13" MacBook Pro

Is SATA capped at 1.5Gbps on the 13" MacBook Pro

Summary: For some, the pride of owning a brand new 13" MacBook Pro was shortlived as they discovered that the speed of their SATA hard drives are capped at 1.5Gbps, well below the expected 3.


For some, the pride of owning a brand new 13" MacBook Pro was shortlived as they discovered that the speed of their SATA hard drives are capped at 1.5Gbps, well below the expected 3.0Gbps.

The difference between 1.5Gbps and 3.0Gbps makes little difference when you're dealing with traditional hard drives, but when it comes to newer solid-state drives (SSDs) then a cap at 1.5Gbps means owners are experiencing a huge performance hit.

Over on the forum there's a thread that's currently 38 pages long (and growing) full of confused owners. Some think that this issue may be down to the NVIDIA chipset driver, while other's think it's a big, and some think that the hard drive speed depends on which processor is in the MacBook Pro (2.26GHz or 2.53GHz).

There's also a growing thread over on Apple's support forum ...

Note: There's nothing on Apple's 13" MacBook Pro tech specs page about hard drive speed.

If you're stumping up the cash for an SSD, this speed bump is seriously hitting performance, almost to the point where those looking for the best data throughput might be better off sticking with a regular hard drive.

Is this deliberate? Can it be fixed? Is it down to Apple trying to save money or differentiating the product line? At this point we just don't know ...

[UPDATE: This issue may affect the 15" MacBook Pro too ...]

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Processors, Storage

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  • Its Apple

    They Choose for their customers.
  • Is this deliberate? Good grief.

    It's a glitch somewhere and will get fixed. Funny when
    Windows Vista had crappy network transfer speeds, no one
    on ZDNet was claiming Microsoft conspiracy.
    • Erm ... yes, they were!

      When Vista RTM shipped and users discovered that it's file & networking throughput was less than expected, they (and many ABM'ers who'd never even installed the OS) started baying for blood.

      MS fixed many of its file & networking issues (particularly file copy/move) in SP1, but the ABM'ers in particular continued to tell the world how "useless", "crap" and "slow" Vista was.

      Whilst MS earned a certain amount of criticism at Vista RTM, OEM's must also shoulder a lot of the blame. Since SP1, however, Vista is a considerably improved beast.

      What's funny though is that Apple contains their entire stack from the hardware, up through the OS & drivers, all the way to the user's fingers and eyes. If this turns out to be a deliberate cap, then their customers will be right in filing a class action lawsuit against Apple for artifically and deliberately crippling thir customers' machines.
      • Either way, it just goes to show...

        that Apple isn't as perfect as they claim to be.

        Apple has been getting hit with a lot of bad press here lately, surely it has nothing to do with how strongly they have been bragging about being so good in their ads. Karma, Apple, it'll get you when you least expect it.
  • What is it SATA or SSD?

    You start off talking about a SATA hard drive and then start
    talking about the solid state drive. Which is it?
    • The connection.

      SATA is the physical connection/protocol an internal disk drive
      peripheral uses on many modern computers. The mention of SSDs is
      because standard magnetic platter disks cannot saturate the 1.5 gbits,
      whereas high end 800 dollar SSDs can. SATA uses 8b10b encoding which
      means the 1.5 gibts allows for 150 MB per second. High end SSDs can hit
      far over 200MB/s, whereas high end 2.5 inch HDs usually cannot pass 50
      -100 MB/s.
    • Umm...

      SATA is the interface that the hard drive uses to communicate with the rest of the hardware.

      SSD is the type of hard drive.

      Standard hard drives used IDE interfaces until recently, now they are almost completely SATA,but inside they are the same.

      SSD drives have no moving parts, and I'm almost certain all SSDs are SATA, because IDE would negate all benefits of the SSD.

      SATA is faster then IDE, in that it can provide a more steady stream up to 3Gb per second. However, standard drives have to spin up and buffer, and this decreases their efficiency. Because SSDs have no moving parts, the data can be accessed much quicker, and therefore taking full advantage of the SATA interface.

      Any more questions?
      • Got it, Thanks guys! (NT)

        • No problem...

          It's what we are here for.
  • It's another Apple screw up..go linux instead..

    Everything in the Apple world is messed up. Go with Linux instead.
  • Can someone explain

    I have been watching some of the threads about this. Adrian
    says that owners of SSD's will take a huge hit. Many of the
    the comments on the other sites say there is no way a single
    SSD will max out a 1.5Gps. Which one is correct? If Adrian is
    correct, bad Apple. If the other comments are correct, then
    Adrian, pure FUD.
    A Grain of Salt
    • Well...

      Standard SATA drives can hit 1.5Gb/s. SSDs are expected to hit near 3Gb/s. From what I know, SSDs consistently reach the 1.5Gb/s and approach the 3.0Gb/s range often. Otherwise, why would anyone care?

      Most likely, it's a conflict in the bus and the way that Apple designed the layout, or the company that manufactures the boards built them incorrectly. This is what happens when you outsource your manufacturing to companies known for their cheap OEM parts due to offering a competing product.

      Either way, Apple needs to step up to the plate quickly and take care of the issue. If they fail to do so, they could open themselves up for a whole new world of bad publicity.
      • What does Apple due with all the bad product in

        the pipe line, if this really becomes a really-really big publicity issue ...... their will be allot of cheep Apples on sale at Best Buy come holiday time.

        So your choice will be a bad Apple or a brand new shiny Windows 7 from someone......some choice ...... your call
        Over and Out
        • For most this is not an issue...

          It is only an issue if you are shelling out the extra $$$ for SSD (Most will not @ current prices)
          • Maybe today

            But as prices come down, people will likely want to upgrade their drives -
            at least some of us. With droves so easy to replace this has the potential
            of hitting a very large user base 1-3 years down the road. Based on the
            machines I saw at the Genius Bar when I worked there average service
            life for a Mac is still well above 5 years. many people buy hardware with
            planned upgrades at some future time. For those people this is an issue
  • RE: Is SATA capped at 1.5Gbps on the 13

    Now I know why Apple has been dropping there prices! It did not make sense before. I have to wonder what will be found now that people are looking.
    • You can be sure of one thing

      If it's a choice between cheaper parts or lower margins.... well, there's really no choice.

  • RE: Is SATA capped at 1.5Gbps on the 13

    They are going to use the same excuse they used to get rid of ExpressCard.

    Which makes no sense. Business Users will have to go elsewhere for Broadband access, since tethering their Iphone is illegal also.

    SSD users, sorry folks.

    Apple doesn't really care about catering to it's users. It just cares about making money.