Apple Slashes Mac SSD Prices

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Along with the news of revised MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, Apple has cut SSD prices across the Mac lineup.

Nice, I’ve been thinking of getting a new iMac but want an SSD and cringed every time I looked at what Apple wanted for them. I’ll still cringe, but not quite as hard. :slight_smile:

It still costs $200 to change an entry-level iMac from its default 5400rpm magnetic drive to a 256GB SSD. It’s $100 to change a higher end iMac from a 1TB Fusion drive to 256GB SSD. And if you get the high end 5K iMac because you want to customize it with the Radeon Pro Vega card, you can’t swap the default 2TB Fusion drive for a 256GB SSD for no cost, you have to get the 500GB SSD for $100 more.

With APFS being the default now, Apple shouldn’t be selling any machines with spinning disks. The performance is abysmal. I will add one tip: for a desktop machine, just buy a cheap 1 TB SSD, put it in an enclosure, and use that as a boot drive. I’ve been doing that with my iMac and it works great. I hope to write about it soon.

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On Macs with a T2 chip, you’ll have to boot the internal drive at least once, set up the user account then boot from the Recovery partition to enable booting from an external drive. I don’t remember what it looks like but I recall the vibe being that you shouldn’t do it (which I ignored).

The comparison between “a name-brand 1 TB SSD” and Apple’s prices isn’t Apples to Apple. See Should you pay the high price of a high-speed external SSD? from Howard Oakley for more.

via Michael Tsai

My (ancient 2014!) tips for booting from an SSD drive are here
But it sounds like the T2 chip issue makes it more complicated.

Heat is only an issue for NVMe SSDs, which I don’t think are worth it for external drives because the entire advantage of them is that they plug directly into the motherboard. I use a Crucial SSD with a SATA interface, and the USB-C enclosure is barely warm. It’s not as fast as an internal SSD would be, but it’s way faster than the internal Fusion Drive.

Sure, Josh. But isn’t the argument that those drives don’t match Apple’s internals in terms of performance and hence it’s an apples to oranges comparison when somebody complains that Apple charges $400 for what can be purchased from others for $100?

Likewise, if you chose to buy externals from third parties that match Apple’s internals performance-wise, you end up paying much closer to what Apple is now charging, yet performance is only matched when people stick them into properly cooled enclosures. Many people likely won’t so they then throttle under load which means you’ve essentially just wasted ~$200.

Don’t get me wrong, they always like to overprice their BTO options. But now with the lowered rates, my impression is we’ve gotten substantially closer to something more reasonable as long as we compare with similar spec’ed alternatives.

That said, there is an argument to be made that the kind of performance levels Apple supplies (NVMe) are lost on many consumers who would be just as well served by cheaper SATA-level performance options. But I think we also all know Apple has never been too big on giving people lots of options, especially options to make their kit less expensive and thereby more appealing to the budget crowd.

Note that Apple has a meagre price guarantee policy, so if you bought a Mac at the old price you’ve got I think two weeks to see about getting a refund for the difference.