I got hold of a Verbatim ExpressCard/34 64GB SSD from Sim Lim Square today to fill up the ExpressCard/34 slot that’s otherwise left empty for a while on the MacBook Pro. At 120/35 MB/s read/write speed, it is much faster than other USB-based ExpressCards, which typically runs at 35/23 MB/s. With it’s PCIe interface, it’s no surprise that it can outperform other ExpressCards at the same price point.

I would have gotten a FileMate Ultra ExpressCard/34 48GB SSD, if not for the confusion that Amazon.com presented while I was trying to place it in my cart. Apparently, it always tells me that the item is no longer available whenever I tried to place the item in cart. I am not sure, but I suspect there is a little glitch at the backend with regards to Prime Members. Anyway, I have taken myself off the trial because I gathered that I’d have to do 30 non-free shipping purchases in order for the annual membership of almost US$80 to be worth it.

Nonetheless, the purchase of the Verbatim ExpressCard/34 SSD was to take up the challenge (or rather, personal curiosity) if a MBP could indeed boot from an ExpressCard/34 SSD. Upon insertion of the SSD into the ExpressCard/34 slot, I knew the answer. It was an astounding “NO”.

Apparently, the Verbatim ExpressCard/34 SSDs require a Mac driver update, which basically means that it is not recognised when it is first plugged into the MBP. Only a driver installation will get it to mount. Needless to say, the loading of a vendor driver at Startup is *unheard of*, so it is not possible for the ExpressCard/34 to be booted from. There are, however, 2 solutions to this: either the startup is hacked for the drivers to be loaded, or the interface of the ExpressCard/34 is changed. Since neither of this is probable, it is highly unlikely; if not impossible, that the Verbatim brand of ExpressCards/34 SSDs can be used to boot up a MBP.

Despite this, you will still be able to install Mac OS Snow Leopard when you are already booted into the OS (i.e. no installation from DVD drive on bootup); only to be disappointed that the installation cannot continue after it boots for the first time after the first phase of the installation. This was certainly a great letdown.

That was indeed an expensive experiment, but the silver lining in this is that I can now make the Verbatim ExpressCard a Mac OS Extended (Journaled) *and non case-sensitive* partition for Adobe Photoshop and Parallels Desktop for Mac. For some reasons, my MBP came with the OS installed on a Journaled and Case-sensitive partition, which made installation of Adobe Photoshop impossible (Ed: Adobe Photoshop can only be installed on non case-sensitive partitions).

At the same time, running Parallels has became incredibly fast as long as the PVM (Parallels Virtual Machine) file is located on the SSD. However, at just 30MB/s write speed, it will be good to hold your expectations a little because this is probably just about as fast as transferring data to a FireWire drive when you carry out write-intensive tasks.

While it was a little disappointing to find out that my MBP is not blazing across the highway anytime soon, I got to experience SSD read/write performance, which is really better than its USB thumbdrive cousins. As I continue to explore what else I can do with this possibly white elephant, I am also anticipating the Filemate 48GB SSD in my mailbox in the next 2-3 weeks.

Till then, let’s hope I can find more useful things that I can do with my ExpressCard/34 SSD.

This is a personal review of the Verbatim ExpressCard/34 64GB SSD. No fees or gifts had been received as a result of this review.



Reader's Comments

  1. Edwin | October 21st, 2009 at 1:53 am

    I’m glad you didn’t get the Filemate expresscard. I just had one die on me after less than six months.

  2. Simply Jean | October 21st, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Hi Edwin,

    Oh, that’s quite a surprise, considering the amount of favourable comments on Amazon and other review sites. I had came across bad comments for the Filemate 48GB but I thought it was probably the “occasional good that failed quality control”.

    Are you able to get a replacement for that? Most importantly, did you have a backup of your data?

    Cheers.

  3. Griffin | November 5th, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Where in Sim Lim did you get the Verbatim card? I’m in the market for one myself – just to fill up the Expresscard slot and serve as extra storage.

    In fact, if you are looking to sell your old one, let me know…

  4. Simply Jean | November 5th, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Hi Griffin,

    You can get it at Chamoxa. Give them a call first and let them know that Jean recommended you to them. You should also do a quick search on how much the card should cost 😉

    Cheers.

  5. Juri Munkki | November 12th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    The MacBook Pro is capable of booting up from a ExpressCard SSD drive. I bought a 48GB Filemate SolidGo Expresscard Ultra about six months ago and it works as a boot drive. It’s very fast. However, it fails miserably on the reliability front, causing kernel panics several times per week, sometimes more often. I suspect it only starts acting up after the machine has been sleeping. It’s really sad when a product is otherwise about as perfect as can be, but it destroys the reliability of your whole system.

    I’m probably going to abandon the Filemate and will buy a Verbatim card to see if it could restore perfect reliability to my MacBook.

  6. Juri Munkki | November 13th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I bought a 32GB Verbatim last night. Driver on the European site is outdated (version 1.0.0) and doesn’t install at all on Snow Leopard. I found the 1.0.2 driver on the Singapore and Australian sites, so installed that one.

    Read speeds are slightly faster than on the Filemate (maybe 20%), but write speeds are slower.

    My main use for the flash drive is to play World of Warcraft, so I installed it on the drive and played last night. The results were unfortunately not good. I had sound and frame stutters and at one point lost all sound output and input (USB headset) until I reset the audio completely.

    I’m thinking of doing a completely clean install of Snow Leopard and then giving both flash drives another try. I would probably return the Verbatim drive after last night’s experiences if I could, but reading the store return policy, I don’t think I can. It’s of course possible that Verbatim will resolve the problems I had in a future driver update or that there’s something wrong with my current Snow Leopard install.

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