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High Speed Drive Incompatibility

I have been told that the hard drive cable in my machine cannot handle a 7200 rpm hard drive. This seems to align with two problems I've had: a 500 gb 7200 rpm Seagate drive that failed (albeit after a few months) and a 750 gb 7200 rpm Seagate drive that failed in 4 days.

The 500 gb drive shows as failed per SeaTools and Disk Utility. Conclusion: Failed Drive-return to vendor.

The 750 gb drive shows as good per SeaTools, but with a failed boot sector per Disk Utility. Disk Utility "repairs" the drive, but an immediate check afterwards shows that the boot sector still fails. Conclusion: unknown

Both drives are checked via a usb-connected Apricorn enclosure.

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Well, nothing has worked yet. I've erased, reinstalled lion, transferred data. When the 750/7200 drive is installed in the body of the MacBook Pro, it is not even recognized as being installed. However, when the old hard drive is installed and the 750/7200 is back in the usb case, it can boot from either drive. The y-cable question doesn't matter. The computer does not even recognize the drive when it is physically installed, yet it will boot from that same drive when it is attached via usb. Bear in mind that this is all via selection from using the 'option' key on bootup. Makes no sense to me, unless the person that told me that this machine's drive cable cannot handle this drive was correct.


The only thing that makes sense is you have not set the drive's jumper to limit it to 1.5GBs. There are thousands of WEB pages, maybe millions, discussing problems with Apple laptops with SATA 2 hard drives running at their native 3GBs.


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Chosen Solution

I had a simular problem when using an external USB case to format & test a fresh high capacity HD.

I switched the drive to a Firewire case and was able to get it to work. I suspect either the USB cable or case I had was bad or not good enough for the larger HD. After some research I learned the issue is Power! (also make sure you have a heavy duty USB 2.0 cable)

The USB port you are using on your system may not have enough power to power the HD by its self (single cable). What you need is a double Y cable (uses two ports on your computer). Or, you need to add an external power to the HD via a AC power block.

If your HD is able to be reformatted with a Firewire/USB case using as external AC power block then you don't have a bad HD and you have other issues within your MacBook Pro system.

MacBook Pro issues:

There's no difference internally in the HD cabling so thats off the table. It's possible your cable is damaged when you took your system apart. amke sure you didn't damage it.

Size and heat are the next things to check. Many of these bigger HD's are slightly larger as the space is tight in the laptop you could encounter either a pinched HD case which is hitting the head armature or have heat build up causing the HD to fail. Do you see any dents in the HD cover? Double check the size of your old HD is the new drive the same or smaller size? To measure you should use a Metric dial caliper or look up the HD on the vendors web page.

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Thanks for answering.

To clarify, I can actually read/write to the drive via usb without a problem. The failure took place when the drive was installed in the MacBook Pro.

There are no dents and there appears to be no cable damage. System reports a negotiated speed of 3 Gigabit. In fact the system has been working just fine with a 640 gb, 5400 rpm Western Digital drive installed. Product data sheet says it is 9.5mm tall, but I frankly had not thought of that.

Thanks for the help. And you are ABSOLUTELY SURE that the cabling capability cannot possibly be a problem...unless it's damaged, of course?


You can always compare your old HD specs Vs your new one to double check the I/O speed and size by going to the vendors web site.

You didn't clarify if your USB connection was with a Y cable or you used an external power source. Even though it may look like it was OK the format was not clean. Reformat again with full power externally and then re-install drive.


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First almost all drives now have three to five year warranties. The cable will handle it. Use Disk Utilities and reformat the drive using the "write zeros" option. Boot sector failure dooms a drive for a PC but not a Mac. Zeroing the drive maps out all the bad blocks. I've been able to use a lot of drives that would just not work on a PC but work fine in a Mac after reformatting this way. If the drive is a new high speed it may need to be jumpered down to 1.5 GHz for the Mac to see it.

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