Life with a 320GB Raid 0 Striped Array in a MacBook Pro

I couldn’t help but provide a link to this great article by my friend Eric on his experience tricking out his MacBook Pro laptop with two 160GB hard drives, and configuring the machine as a 320GB Raid 0 Striped Array.

I’ve posted here about Eric before. He is a professional photographer, with a specialty in underwater digital photography. He also runs the website professionally.

What you may not know is that Eric has a storied history with the Mac. Eric was a PC-focused freshman when he came to Stanford, but during his years on the farm he relented and ended up working on Macs. He even did an internship with the famous Apple Technology Group, in that last summer before it was killed.

Eric went back to PCs at the end of the 1990s, being extremely rational about his technical needs and the advantages at the time of the platform. But every now and again, maybe once every year or two, I’d catch Eric seriously considering going back to the Mac. Well, he finally did it a little while ago, and he’s been working off a MacBook Pro.

Eric is a pretty tough cookie to please when it comes to computers, and he demands a lot of performance out of his machines. He also really focuses on his specific needs as a photographer who travels the globe constantly.

So, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see the pickup of Eric’s article on a lot of sites. On Lifehacker, I take some delight in seeing Eric referred to as Mac user Eric Cheng– it’s nice to see Eric publicly wed to the platform.

There has been a lot of discussion on Digg about the merits of running Raid 0 on a laptop. Personally, I wouldn’t question Eric when he gets into the zone like this on an upgrade. The stats in his article are pretty compelling, as are his experiences running Windows XP in Parallels on the upgraded machine.

My favorite comment of his, however, is directed at the Digg comments:

Some folks on the second Digg page are saying that it’s stupid to use RAID 0 in a computer, because there are “no real world benefits” and because it’s too dangerous.

I disagree. My machine is clearly running much faster, and it doesn’t seem to be running that much hotter. The fans still only spin up with high CPU usage. Battery life has always sucked on the Macbook Pro, and the estimates of losing 10-15% seems to be accurate so far. Finally, I back up frequently onto bootable, external media, even when I’m on the road, so losing my internal volume wouldn’t be catastrophic. At home, my system backs up automatically to NAS every night. The only problem is that I would have to work off of an external drive, if the RAID failed. I’d have the same problem even if I wasn’t using RAID.

I used to use a Thinkpad T-series notebook, which was a great machine because it allowed the use of two hard disks at a time in a supported, modular way. I loved that thing.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I’d love to hear about the negative Digg commenters’ personal experiences with running RAID 0 in a notebook. I’ll bet none of them have ever done it, and are speaking without any facts to back up their claims.

Cheers to Eric for his super cool MacBook Pro and for standing his ground.

In case you missed the link at the top, Eric’s article on adding RAID to a MacBook Pro can be found here.

2 thoughts on “Life with a 320GB Raid 0 Striped Array in a MacBook Pro

  1. Pingback: Beyond Cool: Striped 120GB SSD RAID in a Macbook Pro « Psychohistory

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