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View Full Version : Does a ssd make a difference in web browsing?



wolfie
9th February 2013, 10:21 AM
My folks are somewhat complaining that their safari/Firefox experience is slow. They don't use the mac for much else. To a early 2009 2 ghz Mac mini with 4 gig ram and 30 percent full 5600 stock rpm HDD. Connected by Ethernet cable.

So I mucked about with it and while its not a real issue it just appears slow. Will a ssd speed it up or just get a new Mac mini.

glacierdave
9th February 2013, 10:26 AM
I guess it depends on what's actually slow.

If the computer itself is generally fairly slow then an SSD might help.

If it's slow loading the app, slow loading plugins and stuff like that then an SSD might also help.

If it's slow loading run of the mill web pages then this is more likely a function of the Internet connection and whatever's going on over that connection (background downloads, torrents, updates, etc). In this case, adding an SSD may make very little difference.

David

icant
9th February 2013, 10:50 AM
Personally I wouldn't spend too much money on a core 2 duo with 4GB of RAM.

wolfie
9th February 2013, 10:56 AM
Its not a issue, it just appears to lack the snappiness in general use and web surfing when compared to my 1.7 i5 macbook air.

icant
9th February 2013, 11:02 AM
IMO SSD makes everything faster. I have heard before that web browsing is fairly disk intensive.

Orestes
9th February 2013, 11:29 AM
It's not a question of disk speed, an IDE hard drive from 1984 was fast enough to pull things off the substructures of the internet as again in 1996 with the internet as we know it forming. The only thing disk intensive with web browsing is caching and there shouldn't be a lot of that going on unless you're running out of RAM, in which case upgrade the RAM.

By rights a Core 2 Duo machine thats not overloaded with crap should be a fast machine particularly with a SATA disk attached... I believe the issue though will be the actual internet connection speed. Talk to their ISP and bump them up to the next highest connection speed available, if they're on dial up get them off it and put them on at least a 256k ADSL or a wireless 4G data plan. It'll be faster than dialup by miles.

I they're on broadband already, but its 256k then bump them up to 1500k. If they're on 1500k bump them up to 24000k. Also consider cable if they're in an area where it is available... The issue may be with their copper phone lines being crap in which case HFC cable will fix that. In the end though the only thing thats going to fix it for all of us is the NBN.

wolfie
9th February 2013, 12:03 PM
Thanks for the replies, very much appreciated. I just don't know what to do, the internet isn't a issue they are on optus cable on the fastest connection with the latest modem. Just want to reiterate there is nothing wrong with the web browsing, it just lacks the response and snappiness compared to my macbook air. Ill mull over it!

davemc
9th February 2013, 12:35 PM
If you use Speedtest.net - The Global Broadband Speed Test (http://www.speedtest.net/) it should give you what net speed you have from the net. I normally get 30 although just used it now and got 14.
I have the same machine just 8gb on Telstra Cable. For general internet browsing I find it ok. Although the machine has slowed down a bit with 10.8 hence I bumped to 8gb.
If you go into activity centre what is it say is running.
Also see if its slow on stock standard Safari as well. Maybe a firefox problem.
Saying all this I am also thinking of putting a SSD in. $170 will get you a 240gb drive.
Just be careful as a lot of sataIII drives run as sata1 on older macs.
Sandisk Extreme just released a driver

glacierdave
9th February 2013, 12:49 PM
Thanks for the replies, very much appreciated. I just don't know what to do, the internet isn't a issue they are on optus cable on the fastest connection with the latest modem. Just want to reiterate there is nothing wrong with the web browsing, it just lacks the response and snappiness compared to my macbook air. Ill mull over it!

Just to clear up the situation...

Is it system performance generally that's a big slow/sluggish/laggy?

Or is it specifically Internet use?

If the former, then yes, an SSD might help.

If the latter, then probably not.

David

Orestes
9th February 2013, 01:23 PM
The above person is right, run a speed test and see whether it matches the figures that your ISP is saying it should. Also do remember though that being on cable internet you're on a trunk line with everyone else in your street operating on a token ring network. You've gotta remember that the HFC cable rolled out here was never intended for browsing the internet... The problem your having may be some inconsiderate prick/s in your street on Bigpond Cable Ultimate using up all of the bandwidth for your line.

For browser issues try something lightweight like Chrome as opposed to Firefox. Firefox has numerous issues that tends to see it leak RAM. As I said above if your seeing a lot of disk paging/caching, upgrade the RAM to at least 4gb if at all possible. If you're running out of hard drive space, again upgrade the disk.

The above should alleviate any hardware slowness that you might be experiencing, in terms of CPU power, you should already have plenty for browsing the web.

teej
9th February 2013, 01:47 PM
It's not a question of disk speed, an IDE hard drive from 1984 was fast enough to pull things off the substructures of the internet as again in 1996 with the internet as we know it forming. The only thing disk intensive with web browsing is caching and there shouldn't be a lot of that going on unless you're running out of RAM, in which case upgrade the RAM.

I'd be surprised if the improved latency characteristics of an SSD weren't noticeable. Browsing web pages involves lots of small reads and writes which is not the strong suit of a spinning metal drive. To illustrate this a little, inside my Safari's Library there is 492 SQLite databases covering everything from various website's LocalStorage databases to the index of favicons. On top of that there's another half dozen property lists for various browser features, the disk cache, web fonts and plugins (which often have their own storage and caching mechanisms) in the mix.

wolfie
9th February 2013, 03:33 PM
Ok, istats lists cpu usage hovring on average about 15-30%, Memory is 40-65%, HD IS 28% full.
Speedtest over 5 attempts had a average of about 15-18 mbits over wifi and ethernet is random, highest was 68mbits and the lowest score was 17 mbits.

Example, when i open a dock folder that is using grid animation, theres a slight jagginess and sloweness to it that is worse than the laptop that has SSD.

I think ill just buy a SSD and if that dosent seem to work, Ill have a spare SSD lying around for future use.

davemc
9th February 2013, 05:00 PM
If you buy a SSD make sure you buy one that works for that series Mac.
Most as mentioned before default to sata1 speeds as need a firmware updated.
OWC 3G work and from recent threads the Sandisk Extreme has a update.
I am at a simular place do I spend $150-$200 for a SSD or get a newer i5-i7 mac mini for $500

Orestes
9th February 2013, 09:05 PM
Ok, istats lists cpu usage hovring on average about 15-30%, Memory is 40-65%, HD IS 28% full.
Speedtest over 5 attempts had a average of about 15-18 mbits over wifi and ethernet is random, highest was 68mbits and the lowest score was 17 mbits.

Example, when i open a dock folder that is using grid animation, theres a slight jagginess and sloweness to it that is worse than the laptop that has SSD.

I think ill just buy a SSD and if that dosent seem to work, Ill have a spare SSD lying around for future use.

actually those statistics seem to suggest its a RAM issue... if anything.

teej
9th February 2013, 10:12 PM
actually those statistics seem to suggest its a RAM issue... if anything.
Not really. On OS X the Page out figure is pretty much the sole indicator of RAM starvation. I'd not expect a system reporting "Memory is 40-65%" (especially if that includes a non-trivial amount of Inactive) to have a significant number of Page outs, but that's just a guess.

baobab68
9th February 2013, 10:24 PM
I'd second the poster that suggested Chrome. I had a similar machine up until recently and Chrome was faster than Safari on it. (Can't speak for Firefox as I haven't run it for years...since Chrome came out.)

Orestes
12th February 2013, 12:47 AM
Not really. On OS X the Page out figure is pretty much the sole indicator of RAM starvation. I'd not expect a system reporting "Memory is 40-65%" (especially if that includes a non-trivial amount of Inactive) to have a significant number of Page outs, but that's just a guess.

No, just no, you're accessing a network where in this country the throughput is 30mbits/s if you're lucky, or not one of the few on the NBN. Hard Disks have much faster read/write capabilities than this as it is... 30mbit/s = 3.75mb/s even a bog standard platter disk will be capable of doing 70MB/s. Disk caching is not that intensive either.

RAM is also super fast and not even the fastest of SSDs will keep up with RAM transfer. DDR3 has a transfer capacity of 8GB/s an SSD might do 300MB/s reads on average. Even so, as per above, a standard platter disk will be more than enough disk to handle even the most intensive websites. The only difference you will notice with an SSD is opening and closing the app itself.

You will also only start to notice a lot of page outs when you're low on RAM. Although, while I would need to see more statistics, if you're using that higher percentage (65%) of you're RAM with just a browser open then when you open something ontop of that you're going to start to have RAM related issues.

teej
12th February 2013, 09:18 AM
No, just no, you're accessing a network where in this country the throughput is 30mbits/s if you're lucky, or not one of the few on the NBN. Hard Disks have much faster read/write capabilities than this as it is... 30mbit/s = 3.75mb/s even a bog standard platter disk will be capable of doing 70MB/s. Disk caching is not that intensive either.

RAM is also super fast and not even the fastest of SSDs will keep up with RAM transfer. DDR3 has a transfer capacity of 8GB/s an SSD might do 300MB/s reads on average. Even so, as per above, a standard platter disk will be more than enough disk to handle even the most intensive websites. The only difference you will notice with an SSD is opening and closing the app itself.


What I suggested is that a browsing workload is made up of a lot of small reads and writes, and that a workload of small reads and writes is probably better suited to an SSD because of the improved seek time (not throughput).

On my system, if I open up Safari to Apple's start page (http://www.apple.com/startpage/), then navigate to about:blank, then monitor Safari with fs_usage and hit Back, I see ~300 odd different file system operations occur. About half of which are writes. My point being that the browser is doing way more with the disk than you might expect.

To be clear, I'm not saying this workload brings a spinning metal drive to it's knees. It's just one that is liable to be faster on an SSD and probably enough so that a user would notice. Much like a user would notice the difference between a 30mbit/s internet connection with a 500ms penalty to the first hop compared to 1ms.