“SSDs are amazing. They’re so fast, once you’re using to using one in your day-to-day work, switching back to working from a traditional hard drive is painful,” Matthew Guay reports for AppStorm. “You’ll get so used to apps opening nearly instantly that everything will feel slow. It’s no wonder Apple’s switched its most popular laptops – the MacBook Air and the new MacBook Pro Retina Display – to SSD.”
“There’s only one problem: SSDs cost more per gigabyte than traditional hard drives, so instead of the roomy 500GB hard drives you might be used to in other computers, a MacBook with an SSD will likely only have 128-256GB of storage,” Guay reports. “With HD video downloads and retina display ready apps, it’s rather easy to fill that up.”
Guay reports, “If you’ve got a 13″ Air or a Retina Display MacBook, though, you’ve got an SD card slot. Now what if that could be used to add extra storage that felt integrated fully with your Mac? That’s exactly what the Nifty MiniDrive – a tiny microSD card adaptor that sits flush with the exterior of your MacBook – sets out to do… For now, the most you can add to your Mac with microSD is 64GB, though 128GB microSD cards should be coming out later this year (and there’s the eventual potential of up to 2TB microSD cards).”
Before anyone gets a bit too excited, met me clarify this a little. There is no microSD card that will deliver the performance of an SSD, and a microSD is not ever mounted permanently inside your computer so its not appropriate to compare it to an SSD. Its more comparable to a flash drive (thumb drive, jump drive) than to an SSD drive.
Flash drives and microSD cards use flash memory for storage. As does an SSD. The difference is that an SSD is designed for, and delivers a tremendous speed boost. Most thumb drives and flash drives are much slower than the disk drive in your computer right now. SSDs now commonly deliver 300 to 400 MBps read/write performance.
Randomly selected flash drives and microSD cards came in at 10 to 20MBps when I clocked them for my post on USB 3.0 SD card readers. The every fastest micro SD card, that is easily available in the real world, the SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I Class 10 microSD card clocked in at 68 MBps Write and 82 MBps Read speeds. This card left everyone else in the dust and is not fast enough to keep up with my internal laptop hard drive, so its not fair to compare it to an SSD.
SSD drives use flash memory, just as microSd cards and flash drives do but they use the fastest available memory, and they have controller chips that control many smaller, faster flash chips in parallel. This is why they ae so incredibly expensive but also why their speed is so spectacular.
Sure, there are a handful of very fast flash drives that I discussed here, but they cost as much as an SSD so why bother? They are intended for IT professionals that need to move entire databases or operating systems very quickly. That just not a need for a typical user.
Another point I’d like to clarify is that SD to microSd card adaptors are not new. In my performance test I found that the Sandisk MicroSD & MicroSDHC to SD Adapter is cheap (85 cents), reliable and delivers full speed. Its the size of a standard Sd card so it slips inside the Sd card slot of your Mac or PC and completely disappears, and is made by SanDisk, a company that you can count on.
If you really want to spend $20 then here is the The MiniDrive | microSD Adaptor | MacBook Air/Pro/Retina
Finally, one more very important point. As more UHS-1 Class 10 cards that actually deliver high speed data transfer (60MBps+) actually arrive in the stores (very few actually deliver on their promised speed you must keep one thing in mind. The SD card slot in your laptop won’t necessarily deliver anything above 25MBps speeds, regardless of the card you use because most Sd card slots are on the USB 2 bus, so its impossible to go any faster. Higher end laptops, like my mid-2012 MacBook Pro have the SD card slot wired to the PCI bus so the practical limit will be the SD card itself. If you are using a cheap Windows PC, forget it. You’re not likely to have anything other than USb 1.1 or USB 2.0 speeds available on your SD card slot.
In case you can’t get speeds faster than USB 2.0 from your machine, don’t lose hope. If you have a USb 3.0 port then you can use a tiny USB 3.0 SD card reader to get the same effect. No its not flush but at this point there is nothing you can do about that. Windows laptops are not upgradable, you cannot change the controller chip so this is your only hope.
In my previous post, here, I tested the Uspeed USB 3.0 Card Reader and it to be super fast and dirt cheap. Plus it has the advantage that it has two built in slots, one SD slot and one microSD slot making this the very fastest and cheapest way to use SD and microSD cards at full speed.
The choice is yours, but do your research well, if you don’t want to get ripped off.
Make your own Upgradeable-Memory Thumb-Drive using USB Flash-Card-Reader and SD Cards
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