Last October after months of waiting, Apple finally refreshed their MacBook Air lineup, which we reviewed shortly after launch. The update introduced a new 11.6” form factor along with a minor redesign, faster graphics, and bigger SSDs—all with cheaper prices as an added bonus. The new SSDs were fairly interesting, since Apple didn’t use normal 2.5” or 1.8” SSDs but instead introduced a whole new form factor with mSATA SSDs (also known as blade SSDs).

In iFixit’s teardown, it was confirmed that the MacBook Airs use Toshiba’s Blade X-gale SSDs. A bit over month ago, however, it was discovered that 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.

MacBook Air SSD Comparison
AJA System Test: iSebas/DiskWhackTest
Model Read MB/s Write MB/s
TS128C 209.8 175.6
SM128C 261.1 209.6

The interesting aspect is that the SM128C models provide quite a nice performance bump in at least one performance metric. 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. The Samsung 470 Series uses Samsung’s own controller with model number S3C29MAX01-Y340.

There is no absolute confirmation yet that Samsung manufactures the SM128C, but all indicators point that way. Regardless of manufacturer, the SM128C appears noticeably faster in sequential read/write performance. What we can’t confirm is how the two models differ in more intense testing, specifically with regards to random read/write performance, TRIM support, etc. Ultimately it may not matter, as users will get whatever Apple decides to put in their laptops.

 

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  • Spazweasel - Monday, April 18, 2011 - link

    Yet another Apple-hater screed.

    Integrators change components all the time. You know very well that other PC manufacturers like HP and Dell change their bill of materials on a given model all the time, and don't disclose things like the manufacturer of their WiFi chipsets.

    "False advertising"? Apple claims to give you an SSD of a certain size. They do not claim any particular manufacturer of any particular component, nor do they owe you a list. They also don't say who manufactures their screens, track-pads, or other major components. Apple computers are not kits.

    And no, people would not buy it if it had a brick in it. This contempt for people who don't lurk PC tech websites has to stop. It's one of the reasons why the stereotype of "comic book store guy" exists, and why the rest of the world looks at techies as Asperger's poster-children, and ignore them when it comes time to pass laws or set company policies. Having a black T-shirt, cold-cathode glowies in your PC case, and a Front-242 CD doesn't make you master of society.

    Why doesn't Congress listen to techies on subjects like copyright and electronic monitoring? Could it be because of how techies present themselves?
    Reply
  • Penti - Monday, April 18, 2011 - link

    They are just bog standard Intel, Broadcom components and LG TFT-panels nothing sub standard about that, neither is there really any substandard parts available. It's not like you will get a specific RAM-chip in any other OEM machine or something like that. Neither does it matter when all it does is running by-spd. Tech specs are clear, you know what cpu you get, how much ram in what speed and what GPU. You know you will have your broadcom wireless, minidisplayport and Intel thunderbolt and that you don't have to choose the camera as option and so on. Nothing unclear about buying a mac if you choose to do so. Intel platforms are usually what the consumer wants :)

    Sure they sell lifestyle instead of hardware in ads but so does the competitors which generally don't advertise a specific product to begin with. You have to choose carefully within a lineup of the OEMs products to get what you want.
    Reply
  • NCM - Monday, April 18, 2011 - link

    B3an writes: "And they [Apple] could put an actual brick in it and people would still buy it."

    I take it that you're unfamiliar with the aphorism that it's "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
    Reply
  • thatch - Monday, April 18, 2011 - link

    Where do you live? Haiti ?

    Apple has by far the best reputation for quality and service in the industry. Don't take my word for it - read the reviews of its products. They don't have people waiting in line at their stores because they make shoddy products or advertise falsehoods. Their customers are smart and will pay for quality. Apple doesn't have 60 billion dollars in cash because they have stupid customers.
    Reply
  • MrTroy - Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - link

    "Their customers are smart and will pay for quality. Apple doesn't have 60 billion dollars in cash because they have stupid customers."

    Actually, when someone owns an iPhone and uses it purely for texting and calling... I'm not going to call that stupid, but I'm going to come very close.
    Reply
  • appliance5000 - Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - link

    I don't think people would buy it if a brick was inside - nope ,I'm pretty sure that's a mistaken assumption. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    I can't wait to see mSATA SSDs in full sized laptops, especially ultraportables.

    Full-sized laptops would rock if they could use a ~64GB mSATA SSD for boot and a ~320GB HDD for storage. They might even maintain enough space for a disk drive!
    Reply
  • Gobbledock - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    You want a Thinkpad X220 with microSSD option. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    I don't like the lower resolution. 768 vertical pixels just doesn't do it on a computer like that. I could live with it on a netbook, but I need to do occasional Office work on my laptop. I need more than 768 vertical pixels to fit the enormous ribbon and what not.

    I think I would actually give up the IPS display if I could get a 1600x900 12.5" screen. For typical productivity work and web surfing, it would be worth it.

    Otherwise, I love the mSATA SSD option. I was rather bummed out when the X220 didn't launch with such an option.
    Reply
  • ch0p - Friday, April 15, 2011 - link

    You won't have to wait long! Thinkpad X220 will be available with 80 GB mSATA SSD plus a 320 GB HDD in the 2.5" drive bay. Lenovo says availability is April 2011. Rumors point to Monday 4/18. Reply

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