MacBook Pro (Howto): Install A Solid-State-Drive

MacBook Pro (Howto): Install A Solid-State-Drive

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In this article I will show you, how to install a SSD into the Apple MacBook Pro. All the essentials of material and tool that is required for the installation are linked in the article.

For the installation of the SSD we have to unscrew the MacBooks, therefore it makes sense to upgrade the main memory (RAM) right now. In a a previous article I have already put together suitable memory recommendations: Apple MacBook Pro: RAM upgrade (HowTo)
 


Difficulty level:


 

  1. Frequently asked questions
  2. Suitable SSDs for the Apple MacBook Pro
  3. Data transfer
  4. Installation
  5. Instruction
  6. Starting up / completion

 

Frequently asked questions

What are the advantages of a SSD?

  • short start times for operating system and apps
  • comfortable and faster work under Mac OS X
  • SSD work completely silent
  • SSD has no mechanical parts, thus insensitive to hits and external influences

 

To what should I pay attention with a SSD?

When choosing the SSD, care should be taken that the memory size of the new SSD is not too low.
It is advisable to choose an SSD with at least 120 GB or better even 240GB. With regard to the height both SSDs with 7 and 9.5 mm can be installed. All SSDs recommended below meet these requirements.
 

What are the differences between Samsung 850/840 EVO/Pro?

The main difference is the flash memory which is used in the SSD. The new Evo series is designed for the home user and relies on TLC flash memory. This one is reasonable to produce but on the other hand a bit slower. Therefore Samsung could recover this performance disadvantage in the EVO series with a so-called turbo-Write buffer and achieve a similar performance to the Samsung 840/850 Pro. With the 850 Pro Series Samsung has introduced the successor to the 840 Pro. This one is even faster than its predecessor and offers extraordinary 10 year warranty.

I have a detailed explanation of the differences (incl. Advantages and disadvantages) in a separate article: SSD Comparison: Differences between Samsung 850 Pro / EVO and 840 Pro / EVO Series
 

Can I install an SSD with SATA 3 in a MacBook Pro with SATA2?

Yes, SATA3 is fully backward compatible. Therefore SSDs with SATA 3 can be easily operated on SATA2.
 

Which MacBook Pro models can be upgraded with a SSD?

Apple-Modell Display Size Designation Upgradable
MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015) 13 inch
15 inch
MacBookPro12,1
MacBookPro11,4/11,5
no
MacBook Pro Retina (Late 2013 / Mid 2014) 13 inch
15 inch
MacBookPro11,1
MacBookPro11,2/11,3
no
MacBook Pro Retina (2012 / 2013) 15 inch
13 inch
MacBookPro10,2
MacBookPro10,1
JA
MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) 15 inch
13 inch
MacBookPro9,2
MacBookPro9,1
JA
MacBook Pro (Early + Mid 2011) 17 inch
15 inch
13 inch
MacBookPro8,3
MacBookPro8,2
MacBookPro8,1
JA
MacBook Pro (Mid 2010) 17 inch
15 inch
13 inch
MacBookPro6,1
MacBookPro6,2
MacBookPro7,1
JA
MacBook Pro (Early + Mid 2009) 17 inch
15 inch
15 inch
13 inch
MacBookPro5,2
MacBookPro5,3
MacBookPro5,4
MacBookPro5,5
JA
MacBook Pro (Early + Mid 2008) 17 inch
17 inch
15 inch
13 inch
MacBookPro5,1
MacBookPro4,1
JA

 

Suitable SSDs for Apple MacBook Pro

[Last update: 08.02.2017]

Datajourney - Personally tested Comment
On the market there are a variety of solid-state drives (SSD), but they differ seriously in speed and durability. For this reason I have compiled only high quality and fast SSDs that I could test in MacBook personally in my professional life and as a result I can recommend in good conscience.


 

MacBook Pro Non-Retina (2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012)

SSD > 120 GB: (Price: ~ $60 – 100)

SSD > 240 GB: (Price: ~ $80 – 135)

SSD > 480 GB: (Price: ~ $160 – 230)

SSD > 750 GB: (Price: ~ $350)

SSD > 1000 GB: (Price: ~ $300 – 440)

My recommendations were helpful?
Then just say “thank you” with a coffee!

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Data transfer

Before the existing disk is exchanged for a SSD, all data and settings must be saved. There are different approaches.

Option 1: Clone hard drive to SSD

  1. Before making any modifications create a backup via Time Machine, in case of emergency there is a backup
  2. Connect the SSD via USB to the MacBook Pro (e.g. using SATA to USB3.0 Adapter, about $15)
  3. The new SSD must first be formatted using Disk Utility (as “Mac OS Extended Journaled“)
  4. Then subsequently create a fully bootable 1:1 copy of your hard drive to the SSD with SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy Cloner. (This process may take several hours).

Option 2: OS X reinstall and restore the backup

  1. Before making any modifications create a backup via Time Machine for later restore.
  2. Create a bootable OS X recovery stick (instruction)
  3. Now the new SSD have to be installed in the MacBook Pro (introduction see installation)
  4. After the SSD is installed into the MacBook, insert the USB flash drive. Then turn on your MacBook while holding down the ALT key.
  5. You will be asked which medium should be used for booting. Select the USB stick.
  6. Before reinstalling the SSD, it first must be formatted (as “Mac OS Journaled Extendet”) via the Disk Utility. After that OS X can be installed on the new SSD. In order to this just follow the instructions on the screen.
  7. Finally, the data and settings from the Time Machine backup will be restored now.

 

Installation

In principle, everyone who doesn’t have two left feet can do the installation. The important thing is to allow oneself plenty of time for the installation and proceed with caution. There are two ways to install a SSD in the MacBook Pro:
 

Option 1: Install SSD as a second drive

Everybody who needs a lot of memory or uses the DVD drive rarely, can install a second hard drive / SSD to the place of the Super Drive. For this purpose, a special frame (conversion kit) is required in which the hard disk will be installed. Then the removed SuperDrive comes in an portable USB enclosure, which is included in the conversion kit.

I made very positive experience with the following four conversion kits:

 

Option 2: Replace hard drive with SSD

The replacement of the existing hard drive with a SSD is the easiest way. This reconstruction is completed quickly with little effort (about 10 minutes). For this purpose, no special accessories or conversion kits are required, only a proper SSD and the appropriate screwdrivers.

After the SSD is built into the MacBook, it makes sense to use the removed hard drive as an portable hard drive. A good portable enclosure with a fast USB3.0 interface is, for example, the following:
ORICO portable USB3.0 enclosure
 


Tools

If you decide on the installation variant 1, the conversion kits I mentioned have already all tools needed for. At the Flancrest kit there is even a SATA-USB adapter enclosed to clone the hard drive without a separate 2.5 “USB hard drive. Otherwise, the mini screwdriver set from Hama is recommended that contains the required PH00 and Torx6 screwdrivers.
 


Safety recommendation

Basically, it is recommended when working within range of electronic components, to wear an antistatic wrist strap. It protects against electrostatic charging, thus preventing possible damage to electrical components in the Macbook. The bracelet is slipped over the arm and has a cable with alligator clip which is simply clamped to the radiator.

There are corresponding bracelets already for a few dollars::

 


Preparation

Basically a Time Machine backup should be created. If this is completed, the MacBook Pro can be shut down. Afterwards unplug the power cord and other cables and place them upside down on a soft surface.


 

Instruction

The following Youtube video explains the installation procedure in great detail:


 

Starting up / completion

After installation, the MacBook can now be started for the first time from the SSD Pro. Please do not be alarmed if the boot should not be noticeably faster after a new installation. Because Spotlight must rebuild the index from scratch, which can take some time.

Should there still be any problems (e.g. durable high-revving fan), in addition the SMC (introduction) and NVRAM / PRAM (introduction) should be reset.

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