Add a SSD to a 2012 or older MacBook Pro or Unibody MacBook

One way to increase the performance of a MacBook Pro is to change the hard drive out for a fast Solid State Drive (SSD).  The problem is that large SSDs are still more expensive than hard drives, so getting faster means accepting less drive space.

The alternative for Pre-Late-2012 MacBook Pros and MacBook Unibody machines is to install the SSD in place of the MacBook Pro’s hard drive and move the existing hard drive to the optical (DVD) drive.  Kits from MCE, OWC and others provide a bracket for a standard 2.5″ SATA SSD to fit in the larger space vacated by the optical drive.  They also have the option of an external USB enclosure for the optical drive mechanism to fit in, so you can still use it as an external DVD drive.

MacBook Pro Optical Drive Bay Adapter

MacBook Pro Optical Drive Bay Adapter SATA – shown with optional USB external optical drive enclosure (left)

One important thing is to know whether your MacBook Pro has a Serial ATA (SATA) optical drive or a Parallel ATA (PATA or IDE) optical drive.

Retina MacBook Pros do not have DVD drives, and do not use 2.5inch SATA hard drives.

Unibody MacBook Pros from late 2008 to Mid 2012 have Serial ATA DVD drives; here is a list of the model numbers:

Unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro models,

  • MacBook : MB466LL/A, MB467LL/A, MB881LL/A, MC240LL/A, MC207LL/A, MC516LL/A
  • MacBook Pro: MB470LL/A, MB471LL/A, MB604LL/A, MC026LL/A, MB990LL/A, MB991LL/A, MC118LL/A, MB985LL/A,
  • MB986LL/A, MC226LL/A, MC371LL/A, MC372LL/A, MC373LL/A, MC374LL/A, MC375LL/A, MC024LL/A,
  • MC700LL/A, MC721LL/A, MC723LL/A, MC724LL/A, MC725LL/A

order the OptiDriveDV21 SATA bay adapter.

If you have an older 2006 – 2008 MacBook Pro machine with a PATA optical drive, you can upgrade by ordering the PATA mounting hardware OptiDriveDV23.
You can install the optical drive you removed into an external USB SATA enclosure.

Installation is straightforward, but it requires careful tracking of the screws that come out so you can get them back into the right places. There are a number of online tutorials for disassembly and installation in different models of Unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro.

You will need a Philips #00 screwdriver and a plastic spludger or thin guitar pick for prying the case open without scratching.  Then depending on your model of machine you my need a six-point Torx T-8 driver, a Tri-Wing Y-0 or Y-1 driver or a 5 point Torx Pentalobe driver.  (When you are undoing the case screws, use the correct driver and bear down firmly on it. Do not try to unscrew the small Philips screws with a driver that does not fit the screw exactly, the driver tip will cam out of the screw and strip the head. That’s bad.)

Note: There are some MacBook Pros in the 2009 region which have a non-standard SATA controller chip. These machines have trouble with SATA 3 (6.0 Gbps) SSD drives, and require either a SSD drive that is locked to SATA 2 speed (such as the OWC Electra 3G) or one with a compatible controller chip (such as the Crucial MX series).

The optical drive brackets are not compatible with Pre-2008 white or black plastic body MacBooks or with Powerbooks.

How to upgrade a hard drive in a Mac Notebook

CanadaRAM stocks optical drive bays and SSD drives.

This entry was posted in Computer Questions and Answers, Hard Drives and SSD, How-To, Mac questions, Product Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Add a SSD to a 2012 or older MacBook Pro or Unibody MacBook

  1. Pingback: Q. What Memory and Drives fit my MacBook Pro? | CanadaRAM: Memory and Computer Q&A

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