Model A1286. Released February 2011 / 2.0, 2.2, or 2.3 GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 Processor

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New SSD won't boot in 2011 15in MacBook Pro

I have seen a similar question show up a million times but I have not seen a straight forward simple answer. My hard drive failed so I have decided to make an upgrade I picked up a new SSD (Samsung 860 with 500gb). I installed it into my computer but when it is starting to boot up I will get about 25-30% through the loading bar and then it goes black for a second and then a white screen.

I took it to the Apple Store to get OSX installed but they said it was not working and the Apple technician told me to replace the Sata cable inside my computer. I did some digging and it seems that a good chunk of 2011 MacBook pros are no compatible with sata iii SSDs. There are no clear answers on if replacing my sata cable in my computer would resolve this problem, some places kind of hint that getting a 2012 cable would work but won't fit 100% perfectly, others have hinted that getting a 2011 cable will work because the later models resolved this issue.

I would be happy to record (and speed up) my boot up process if anyone believes that the issue I am describing is something other then a outdated sata cable.

TLDR: early 2011 MacBook won't boot with SSD would upgrading my Sata cable inside my computer to a 2012 cable resolve this issue.

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For reference: Samsung 860 EVO spec sheet. Review the 'Interface' line: "SATA 6 Gbps Interface, compatible with SATA 3 Gbps & 1.5 Gbps interfaces"

Which basically stating it has auto sense technology so if you used it in a SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) system it would still work!


The older 2010 models needed a replacement cable as the cable was not able to support SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) which these systems could support once they got their firmware updated.


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Your 2011 system IS a SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) system! So I have no idea where you got that idea it wasn't! For reference review your systems specs here: MacBook Pro 15" 2.0 GHz i7 (Early 2011) I grabbed the lowest model in the series here as they are all the same. Jump down to 'Storage Interface' where it clearly states '(6 Gb/s)

So lets see if we can figure out why your system is having problems. First you really need the newer SATA cable (2012 model) MacBook Pro 15" Unibody (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable as its the better cable. Even still I place electricians tape on the uppercase when the cable rests as the rough aluminum surface of the uppercase wears the cable! I also take care not to over do the fold bends as that can fatigue the thin foil pathways of the conductors. Follow this IFIXIT guide: MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Hard Drive/IR Sensor Cable Replacement. I'm sure your cable is damaged or if this is a new cable defective, needs replacing!

Did you create a bootable OS installer? How to create a bootable macOS Sierra installer drive You'll need to boot up under it and then run Disk Utility to create a GUID Journaled partition. You'll note I gave you the Sierra instructions I don't recommend using High Sierra on SATA based SSD's! Apple still needs to makes fixes for SATA based SSD's If you install High Sierra you'll encounter queueing issues within the Finder.

At one point I maintained over 200 MacBook Pro's all of them had upgraded drives from SSHD's to SSD's (Samsung 840 EVO's) so I can tell you first hand this is a very workable config and I often end up replacing the cable as it does breakdown from all of the abrasion against the uppercase.

MacBook Pro 15" Unibody (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable Image

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Why do I need the new cable if it already supports 6gbs? I got no problem swapping it out but what would I gain from having the new cable?

I have not installed anything onto my new hard drive, when I took it into the Apple Store they tried installing 10.10.5 and they did not succeed. I have never been able to make it to the installer/disk utility. I have tried booting up my computer off of a time machine, internet recovery, and in the Apple Store with their installation of 10.10.5.

I don't mind installing a new version but I was using 10.10.5 before so I thought it would be best to start from there instead of upgrading.


You mixing things up here. The issue you are facing is a worn cable which has nothing to do with support of SATA III Vs SATA II the older 2010 models had.

Things wear out! In this case is the constant rubbing against the uppercase which is like sandpaper is why I put tape down to help protect the cable. Re-read what I wrote.


Gotcha I will order a new cable just to be safe


So a small update I was able to plug both my new and old hard drive into a Mac through a SATA USB adapter and my old hard drive is "working" I am able to read and write files off of it without any issues so I am not sure why it showed up as failing in the apple store.

Does this point to the internal cable being the most likely suspect?

I still plan on upgrading to a SSD even if my drive works.

Also I already ordered a new cable and it will be here tomorrow.


I would say that just adds weight the cable is bad.


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