updated 12:05 pm EDT, Tue October 26, 2010
MacBook Air SSD faster than Sony VAIO Z in testing
A new showdown (video below) between the 11-inch MacBook Air and the Sony VAIO Z has landed an unusual victory for Apple. Despite the Z having dual SSDs in a RAID stripe and theoretically outperforming the single SSD of its rival, it took almost three times longer to start in the Laptop test, launching from a cold boot in about 40 seconds where the Mac took just 15 for the same task. Wake from hibernation was also about twice as slow on the Sony system at five to six seconds where the Mac can take just two to three.
Both were beaten by the iPad, whose ARM chip and mobile OS help it start quickly and wake almost instantly.
The Mac was helped by being a relatively fresh system where the VAIO already had installed apps, but the startup times were also defined by the operating systems themselves. Windows, even under 7, has traditionally taken longer to boot and resume versus a Mac with a similar-performing drive. The gap has traditionally stemmed from both the amount of overhead of the software itself as the way the two handle third-party system utilities that load on startup.
Sony in particular has been one of the most frequent symbols of the problems with unwanted software affecting performance on Windows PCs. The company was once one of the most prominent installers of "craplets," or background utilities, trial apps and other software that would load by default and slow down the entire computer. It has since trimmed back the amount of software, but some software comes standard and can only be removed if the buyer pays $50 extra for Windows 7 Professional and opts for a Fresh Start. All Macs go without extra menubar items by default and only ever have trial apps sitting in the Applications folder, where they won't automatically load or clutter the desktop.
Electronista also understands that the MacBook Air's SSD is also relatively fast for a mass-produced SSD, peaking at about 160MB per second. The best drives in the market are often 250MB or faster but are both expensive and usually available only as aftermarket models from OCZ and other specialists.