Model A1297 Unibody: Early 2009, Mid 2009, Mid 2010 & Late 2011

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upgrade to a faster chip/mother board

I have a mac book pro 17 and want to keep the large screen but need a more powerful faster computer. Can I upgrade from a 2.53 GHz motherboard to a faster chip mother board and also upgrade the graphics processor?

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Sadly your options are limited here. You can swap out the logic board within the series MacBookPro6,1. As to it being worth while going to a Core i7 (I7-640M) based logic board but you'll end up paying out close to $900 dollars.

I would try first upgrading the RAM to the max of 8GB this system can support. I would also swap out the HD to a SSHD (hybrid drive) to gain performance.

If these didn't offer enough performance, I would look at buying the next series Apple offered a 17" model (replacing your complete system): MacBook Pro 17" "Core i7" 2.5 GHz Late 2011 (MacBookPro8,3). There you get Quad-Core Core i7 (I7-2860QM) and you can upgrade to 16 GB RAM. But the rub here is these are getting hard to find used as many people are holding on to them.

I would still swap out the HD for a SSHD to gain additional performance as the HD's are still on the slow side.

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No.

Wireless card won't fit into connector on the board.

You have three boards. 820-2610, which is old core 2 duo based junk, 820-2849 which is i5/i7 with a good NVIDIA GPU, and 820-2914 which is a newer chipset but with that garbage radeon junk that keeps dying.

You can go from 820-2849 to 820-2914, which I would not advise doing unless you want to see it die. But, you cannot go from the 820-2610 that you have to anything else.

If you want to see speed, get SSDs. I define any computer using a spinning drive as BROKEN and once you use a proper SSD you will too. Even hybrid drives are bunk compared to an SSD. You can have the fastest 16 core processor, dual GPU 32 GB RAM setup there is, if it runs off a junk mechanical drive it will work like GARBAGE. It pulls the potential of the entire system down.

Same with RAM, you can go from 2 or 4 GB to 8 or 16, it will still be slow off a mechanical drive. The mechanical drive is the bottleneck here.

Do this. Get rid of the optical drive, and the hard drive in the main bay. Buy two Crucial MX100 SSDs, 512 GB each. Put them in RAID 0. You'll get a terabyte of storage and over 800 MBps read/write real world speed. This will kick the snot out of a lot that costs much more, and you're looking at a total investment of $425. This is way less than the cost of a new board, and will make a real world difference you do not believe.

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Can you explain your answer? It does not make any sense here. This is not a Core 2 Duo system.

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Whoops. Without specs or the number of the board I am just guessing then.

If you have an 820-2849 board, you can "upgrade" to an 820-2914 board, but those are notorious for GPU issues so I would strongly suggest not doing it.

If you have an 820-2914 board, you cannot "upgrade" any further as that was the last A1297 board made before they discontinued the 17" line.

820-2914 & 820-2849 are completely compatible and will fit into the same laptop, just keep in mind you will have to change the battery, but this shouldn't be much of an issue if the machine is 4 years old - it will need a new battery anyway.

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