Advice on hardware upgrade

Hi all,

I was pleased to learn that with my model of Macbook Pro it’s possible to upgrade the hardware and have it running at approx. 0.3hz slower than the basic current Pro. I was also pleased to learn that removing the optical drive will significantly lower the weight.

As a novice to modifications of this kind, however, I’m slightly overwhelmed by the options and could really do with some knowledgable input with regards to a few specific questions I have:

- 1) is it possible to remove the optical drive, and soley replace the hard drive with an SSD of equivalent volume therefore leaving the optical drive slot empty? Is this advisable or not?

- 2) Related, and depending on the answers to 1), if I install x2 SSD drives (one in place of the SuperDrive/optical drive, and one in place of the existing hard drive) will the OS treat these as one drive, or as two (i.e. partitioned) drives? Does this matter? By ‘matter’ I mean will it make managing and backing up files extra difficult?

- 3) I gather I cannot improve the visuals/display of the macbook because this is a more serious operation. Is that correct? Or is there a way to boost the graphics with a fairly minor, DIY, modification?

- 4) I am aware that my model has only USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt/firewire, but I understand that it is possible to convert firewire to USB 3.0, is this correct?

- 5) I wondered if there is a possibility/requirement to replace/upgrade the battery and charger also?

- 6) Finally, I've heard conflicting things about the best way to back up and restore from my current hard drive to new SSD drive(s). Someone suggested using time machine, and that this would keep all the metadata for music in iTunes (esp. play count and ratings), settings etc. Someone else however suggested that I should reinstall everything so as to maximise the chances of the new harddrive running more smoothly. Any further advice on this please?

Many thanks for any tips/advice etc!


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Wow! You do have a large shopping list here ;-}

Lets start off talking about drives. Yes, you can swap out your current HD for a SSD and if you have the money you could put in a 2 TB drive in with little effort 2 TB Samsung 850 EVO 2.5". I would not recommend trying to swap out the optical drive for a SSD as this series has a known issue with the optical drives SATA port. You would need to find a fixed SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) drive to put in its place. Review the note in Red: OWC Optical to SATA Drive Converter Bracket Solution. These slower drives are hard to find so I wouldn't waste the effort. Besides, a larger single drive will be lighter than two smaller drives and cheaper as well.

I would also not recommend taking the optical drive out to save the few oz of weight.

The next action I would do here is look at upgrading your RAM to at least 8 GB.

Thats all you can do here you can't improve the graphics and you can't alter the ports.

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Thanks very much Dan! Helpful.

Any recommendations on point, 6)?


Using this: USB 3.0 to 2.5” SATA III Hard Drive Adapter Cable and doing a fresh install on the SSD using the OS installer you will be asked if you want to migrate your users, apps & data at the end of the install process let it migrate your stuff over is the best way and you won't loose anything.


Thanks very much Dan!


Is this still possible with High Sierra? I've heard Apple have 'hobbled' non-apple hard drives with this update Dan?


Lets clarify the issue: Apple altered the drive formatting in High Sierra to APFS which offers SSD's a better structure!

If you are merely upgrading the HDD to another bigger HDD this is a non-issue.

If on the other-hand you are planning on upgrading to a SSD or if you reformat your HDD with APFS then you might have some issues not so much with the internal drive, but, if you are also planing on using external drives to boot up your system and still want access to the files on your internal drive. Thats the only issue!

Most people forget to reformat their external boot drive to APFS! And if you move drives between systems you can encounter an issue where the APFS drive won't work as the other system was not first upgraded to High Sierra as the firmware also gets an upgrade! So the older firmware'd system doesn't understand the new drives APFS format!


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