Don’t Buy the MacBook Pro with Retina Display… Upgrade Your Current Rig

Calling all Apple Fan Boys… STOP! Put your credit cards down and do not buy the newly released MacBook Pro with Retina display. I know it’s hard to keep yourself from throwing wads of cash at Apple (believe me, I suffer from the same disorder), but the Macbook Pro with Retina display is probably not the best investment of your money right now. I’ll try to make this brief…

Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display is a wonder of modern engineering, this is not to be disputed. That being said, just about everything Apple cranks out these days is “a wonder of modern engineering,” but that doesn’t always mean it’s the right engineering for your needs right now. To get a decked-out MacBook Pro with Retina display, you’re looking at spending nearly $4,000. With a price tag like that, you should step back and ask yourself if there is a better way to spend your money… or is there a way to spend a fraction of that and be just as satisfied with your purchase? I asked myself these questions, and the answer was yes in both cases; more specifically, the answer was to upgrade my early 2011 MacBook Pro with the following:

1. Replace primary hard drive with solid state drive: Crucial 265GB M4 – $203.84
2. Replace super drive with a large capacity hard drive: Hard drive caddySeagate Momentus XT 750 GB – $157.46
3. Max out Ram: 16GB OWC memory upgrade – $157.99

The total cost of upgrade… $519.29, or just about 13% of the cost of a fully-loaded Macbook Pro with Retina display. If you want to level the playing field here, let’s just say for argument’s sake that my MacBook Pro is still worth about $2,000, which would make the grand total $2,519.29 after upgrade or roughly 61% of the cost of a cutting edge, fully-loaded, Macbook Pro with Retina display. Well, after using my newly-upgraded machine for just a few hours, I can tell you that I’m happy with my decision to save a significant pile of cash by opting for the upgrade instead of the new machine. This thing screams! Take my word for it and please don’t make me embed various screen shots of speed tests. If you’ve experienced a modern OS running on a solid state drive then you know what I’m talking about; you owe it to yourself to experience sub 30-second boot times and apps that open almost instantly, including Adobe CS and Office.

So, is upgrading right for you? If you like to stay current, then I’d say you go for the upgrade, as long as your computer can run Mountain Lion. If it can’t, then you’re probably ready for an entirely new machine, so lucky you!… here comes a MacBook Pro with Retina display. Well, not so fast! You can still save some cash and have an insanely fast machine by getting a new, non-Retina display MacBook Pro and perform the upgrades I outlined above. Also, after doing my homework, I really don’t think the Retina display is ready for users that demand raw horsepower from their machines; I came to this conclusion because of this insanely thorough review from AnandTech that covers everything from soup to nuts… it’s worth the read. To summarize, the MacBook Pro with Retina display can sometimes lag and/or chug along when attempting to drive all those pixels in high demand situations, which is something you don’t expect from a brand new, state of the art machine, but that’s the price you pay for Retina.

Even if you’re intimidated by the prospect of cracking open your old MacBook Pro or sacrilegiously defiling a brand new one, I highly recommend giving it a shot; there are plenty of YouTube tutorials like the one below to guide you through the process. If you have any trouble, feel free to pester me on twitter @joecorbett, I’ll do my best to help you with any of your questions. Once you’ve got your optical drive replaced you can start making use of that storage by dumping your iPhoto Library on it, and most importantly, moving your iTunes content over as well, both of which will free many gigs on your primary drive. Good luck and happy upgrading!


Header Image from : MP-R care of deviantart.com

182 Responses to “Don’t Buy the MacBook Pro with Retina Display… Upgrade Your Current Rig”

  1. avatar
    Joseph Rooks July 18, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    The Retina MacBook Pro is definitely a warning shot to developers: “We’re going all-retina across all of our lines and it’s not far off, so get your apps ready. Here’s a HiDPI display to test them on if you need it.”

    Whatever benefits photographers or other types of designers get out of it are probably just secondary consequences of that.

    • avatar
      Joseph Rooks July 18, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      I’ve been thinking about doing some upgrades on my machine, too. It’s about two years old now and I think I can double the RAM in it, which would be fantastic. That’s really the bottleneck for me right now.

      • avatar
        Joe Corbett July 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

        I’m just amazed at how cheap these upgrades are, for me the biggest benefit is the dual hard drives with the primary being solid state, the boot time is fantastic.

        • avatar
          Joseph Rooks July 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

          Yeah, correction, the lack of a solid state drive is probably the bigger bottleneck for me now, with RAM a close second. I want to move my current primary drive into the DVD slot using an OptiBay (http://www.mcetech.com/optibay) for extra storage once I pick up an SSD for this thing.

          I’ve never cracked open a Mac before, but it seems like it’s a lot easier than I thought it’d be.

          • avatar
            Joseph Rooks July 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

            (And then when all that’s said and done, maybe I’ll feel alright upgrading to Mountain Lion. Right now I’m a little bit uneasy rocking the boat when Snow Leopard has been so remarkably stable for me the past couple of years.)

            • avatar
              Joe Corbett July 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

              Lion has been hit or miss in a number of ways, though it certainly got better with the last few updates. The consensus around the office is that Mountain Lion is what Lion should have been so I’m confident it’ll impress, I’m really looking forward to AirPlaying my desktop to any AppleTV, should be great.

        • avatar
          david dumas August 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

          I recently picked up an early 2011 MBP 2.2ghz for $650 in very good shape, and plan to replace the drive with a SSD, reuse the drive in an enclosure for backup and larger file storage and up the ram to 16gb. That should run about 350 to 400. Eventually I’ll score a new Dell 24″ IPS monitor for when I’m working or playing at home, for 350 + tax.
          total less than 1500

          • avatar
            Joe Corbett August 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

            Sounds like a fantastic setup!

  2. avatar
    Joy November 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Your crazy…Even after all that you have brick compared to a retina mac pro. Its not JUST the performance, its the form factor, screen resolution????Wheres that in your review. Of and how does that video card compare??? It was such a bias review for someone who most likely is tight on money and just is trying to convince them self to pay rent instead of a new retina macbook.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett November 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      Holy hell are you a professional troll, because my god you are good at trolling! First of all this was not a review of the MacBook Pro with Retina display. This was one nerds opinion about the decision to buy an entirely new machine vs. upgrading one you currently own. If you want the Retina display then get it. I just personally don’t think there is much value in owning one yet considering the limited content that makes use of such a high resolution display. In less than a year it probably will be, in fact someday soon you won’t be able to buy a mac without a Retina display. But anyway, since you’re so interested in what my review of it would be here it is…

      “My god it is an incredible engineering wonder, you will be incredibly happy with your new MacBook Pro with Retina display, be sure to wear a diaper when you turn it on for the first time because you’ll most likely evacuate your bowels into your pants upon viewing such stunning piece of hardware.” Happy now?

      P.S. My machine is now packed with dual 512GB SSD’s so it is lighting fast no matter what I’m doing. My graphics card meets my needs, but who cares anyway because you could easily build a PC for $500 that destroys my computer and your coveted MBP with Retina display when it comes to raw power across the board.

      P.P.S. Thank you for giving me a reason to rant, it felt good, Happy Thanksgiving!

      • avatar
        Lorenzo August 23, 2013 at 8:48 am #

        Could you please recommend what is the best MBP upgradeable?
        I don´t know where to buy it since the Apple stores only sells the new models.

        Thank you

        Kind regards

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett August 23, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

          Hey Lorenzo,
          eBay is good option if you don’t want to buy a new machine. If you have the money you could spring for a new 15″ MacBook Pro and upgrade that, but that is a lot of money.Please let me know if I can help further.

    • avatar
      logic March 29, 2013 at 11:37 am #

      the screens, though amazing, have serious ghosting issues (LG). you need to check your numbers on the video card business, and don’t forget that retina display is demanding 4x the performance (heat) at all times. It’s not a money thing, I took back the retina for a non-retina because it’s a first gen product and it needs some time to simmer into greatness. i need a mobile terabyte too.

    • avatar
      Joykill April 6, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

      Your crazy what, exactly? If you want to troll learn some god damn grammar!!!!

      • avatar
        Joe Corbett April 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

        ok, you are without a doubt a professional Troll! Thanks for stopping by, now back under YOUR bridge.

  3. avatar
    stephanie December 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    I got my non-retina macbook pro this week (8 gigs or ram and ssd drive) and I am VERY satisfied! Also, I will never ever buy a machine that I can’t repair or customize!!!!!! Retina display SO WHAT?

  4. avatar
    Sam January 3, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Just put in an order for a new solid-state, and like the idea of moving my hard drive into the optical bay, but was wondering about the added weight of carrying two hard drives round?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 3, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      Good question. SSD are VERY light probably about the same as an optical drive, maybe even less. The caddy weighs almost nothing else well, so I think you’d be hard pressed to notice a weight difference, it’s probably about the same if not slightly lighter. If you’re worried about weight you could always make your secondary drive an SSD as well, at the point your computer should probably be lighter than it was with the original HDD and optical drive. Of course you’ll need space and 512GB SSDs are not too cheap, but they sure are worth it.

  5. avatar
    Jeroen January 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    The Macbook Retina for $4,000? Last time I looked, it was about $2,100.

    I see your current macbook is a 2011 model. That’s not an old model. Yeah… in that case i would upgrade my current model too.

    But… I own one of the first Macbook models, from 2007. I already upgraded it twice with new RAM, Harddrives, optical drives (these things always get broken), and batterys. There are also some cracks in the lid and these things are expensive to replace.

    What would you do then? Upgrade or get a new machine? Hmmm

    The only thing i’m not very happy about concidering the new retina Macbook Pro is the fact that the entire system is one single peace. In the future you can’t upgrade your Macbooks, so it better be future-ready…

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      I’m a bit of a performance junky so when I priced the Retina it was fully loaded with apple care, then include Tax and you are at just about $4,000. If I were you and I wanted performance and I didn’t want to pay a ton for it I’d consider a MacBook Air. Understand that by performance I mean responsiveness with doing normal daily tasks like web surfing and executing applications. If you are a gamer I’d never suggest the Air unless your playing very simple games from the App store. Also with the Air consider get the maximum storage capacity if your used to taking all your music/movies with you, because 256 or less will not cut it. You really just have to think about what you plan to use it for, but overall I think you’re ready for a new machine :-)

      You also share the same concern that a lot of people do about not being able to upgrade or even repair your own machine. I understand that fear, but at some point we’re all just going to have to get over because computers are only going to get smaller and use logic boards that integrate everything.

  6. avatar
    DANIEL January 16, 2013 at 3:52 am #

    Thank you, Joe!! I just ordered 16GB ram for my early Macbook Pro i7 2.2 quad core, The Ram was about $90 from Crucial.com. I will wait to get a 512 GB SSD. Prices are coming down. It seems I just bought this machine, then they pull out a new toy ( Retina Display ) I will wait for a 27″ Thunderbolt Retina Apple display for $1000.
    I like you comment that the screen slows down the processor. Nice you were able to fill the Optical drive space with a HDD. Nice to put in 2 (512GB SSD’s) My new Nikon D800 is a memory Hog for Sure at 44-55mb per raw shot then add the JPEG back up Image of about 14mb. When I bought my MacBook Pro I chose it to not buy another $2400 dollar computer for 5 years. Some Troll wack job’s don’t have a life!!! They chase their tail trying to stay up with the latest and greatest for one up man ship and bragging rights. Usually they have a big pot belly and no wife or an ugly one. I’m hanging out overlooking the Chao Praya River in Thailand with a super beautiful petite wife and I pay $100 a month for a big 2 story house. I spend my days taking pictures and today I ran into you upgrading my Old MacBook Pro. No problem for me to buy a New MBPro But Why? This machine is faster than the Troll wack job will ever use. I don’t envy MBPro Retina. In 3 and a half years they will be cheaper and faster and better and I will EbaY mine for $500. A used Apple has value a used IBM is a door stop!!! Thank You again your a lot of help.

  7. avatar
    Susan January 23, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    OK, I’m in the same boat. I have a 4-year old 15″ MBP. It still works great (just like my 15-year old Dell OptiPlex) – it’s just S…L…O…W! I do quite a bit of graphic work on it and it’s time to upgrade my Creative Suite but my setup doesn’t meet the VRAM requirement. :( With all this talk of upgrading the components, I don’t suppose I can upgrade the GPU too? (Please say yes)


    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 23, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

      Hey Susan, I’m really sorry, but the GPU is directly integrated with the logic board so unless you happen to be an incredible electrical engineer you’re out of luck. What version of Creative Suite are you upgrading to? I’m by no means a graphic designer, but in all my years of using photoshop and CS I’ve never had a resource issue with both my Macs or PCs. My point is it might be worth trying the upgrade anyway because CS might be forgiving if you come up short in the VRAM requirement which as far as I can tell is only 256mb, and then if it works you can try maxing out your RAM and switching to and SSD to get another 1-2 years out of your machine.

      All that being said 4 years is getting on the older side for a machine that is supposed to crank out graphic work all day. You may want to upgrade to a new machine, BUT now is not a good time to buy, check out buyersguide.macrumors.com and you’ll see why. Let me know if you have any more questions :-)

      • avatar
        Susan January 24, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

        I’m upgrading to CS6 and, according to Adobe, I need 512Mb VRAM. My MBP only has 256Mb. Yeah, I know 4 is on the old side but I have a tendency to use my machines to death. I guess I’m very patient – I’ll just go for a walk or make me a drink or watch some TV while it’s working on the 500 mouse clicks I just did. Haha. I did that with my Dell – 8 years later, I finally got a new machine. (But in the meantime, I did upgrade the HD and max out the RAM.) I might try to max out the RAM and exchange the HD to SSD on the MBP and we’ll see … Thanks bunches, Joe!

  8. avatar
    M February 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Are you really comparing like for like though? You say a fully decked rMBP costs $4000, fair enough. But is that really the relevant comparison? A 15″ model with 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM is around $3000 (for the 2.6GHz model – the 2.7GHz adds another $250 for a marginal improvement). A non-retina MBP 2.6GHz machine with a 512GB SSD drive and only 8GB RAM is already more than that. Fair enough, you can probably get a $750GB hard drive and swap the optical drive for less, but the non-retina display is surely also worth less.

    An upgrade to an existing machine is always cheaper as long as you can do it. The relevant comparison should be an equivalently specced new non-retina MBP.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett February 4, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

      I understand what you’re saying, but my point was that rather than jump on a Retina MPB, upgrading ones current rig is a better move because you can get a lot out of performance out of a few simple upgrades. I’d even say getting a current non-retina fully loaded is smarter than getting a retina. A lot of designers I’ve spoken with say its not quite ready to design on as there are still quite a few apps and popular sites that do not render appropriately on the screen. I probably wouldn’t upgrade to one until all of Apples displays are retina. That should only be another 1-2 years. For now… I say skip the MacBook Pro with retina display and squeeze some more miles out of the machine you have.

  9. avatar
    Aiden February 26, 2013 at 2:16 am #

    Hey Joe, I was just hovering over purchasing a brand new fully specced Retina Macbook Pro when i stumbled across this page!! Wow, so glad i did. I have the full spec early 2011 Macbook Pro. 2.3Ghz i7, 8GB, OS X 10.8.2. Would you be so kind as to list what exactly i could use the Retina funds with, to max out my upgrades instead of a new laptop altogether? Ive always been terrified about messing with the macs but i agree with your article and i’m also very much a performance enthusiast. It just doesn’t make sense to throw so much money at new macs every time they come out just because they are “the most powerful blah blah blah…” but it works unfortunately, i cant help but look at my current previous beast of a machine with utter resentment and compare it to a shiny retina mac. Help would be very appreciated Joe, thanks.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett February 26, 2013 at 9:58 am #

      Hey Aiden,
      Here is what I suggest for your machine…
      512GB SSD:$350 from Amazon
      16GBs of RAM: $118 from MacSales.com, you can find it cheaper on Amazon, but MacSales.com has never let me down.
      If you want more storage you can add a second SSD to maintain that high speed or you can add a traditional laptop HDD and push your storage to 1.5TB, MacSales.com has a decent one for $139.99
      Either way you are going to need to swap out your optical drive for a hard drive caddy that costs about $10
      Go slow when you are doing the hard drive conversion, the cables are very delicate, watch the video I posted above a few times to make sure you know what to expect. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      • avatar
        Aiden February 26, 2013 at 10:31 am #

        Happy days. I’ll be in touch again when I do it. Can I still add two ssd’s even though my laptop is a 15″ then? I heard it was only possible on the 13″ version? Thanks again Joe.

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett February 26, 2013 at 10:34 am #

          Both the 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros can handle two SSDs. SSDs are treated just like a traditional hard disk drive. I doubled up on 512GB SSDs in my 15″ and it’s awesome.

  10. avatar
    Vic Karmazinas March 12, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    Joe, I appreciate the effort you put into this web site. It’s very informative. Can I ask, it’s March, 2013 and I can finally get my hands on a Macbook Pro. I understand the Macbook Pros with Retina display are NOT “upgradable”. So, which regular Macbook Pro should I get if I want the most powerful/fastest? What hardware should I have installed in it and what hardware should I upgrade myself to max out the performance? Thanks in advance..

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett March 13, 2013 at 11:10 am #

      Hey Vic,
      I actually just did this myself a few months ago it’s a simple formula really.

      1. Buy the fastest 15″ non retina Macbook Pro they make. Upgrading the processor to be slightly faster is optional, I opted to do it.
      2. Only get 4Gigs of RAM because you’ll be upgrading that to 16 yourself
      3. Only get the 500GB HDD unless of course you plan to convert your optical bay to a secondary HDD or SSD
      4. Get AppleCare, It’s worth it.

      That’s all you need from Apple.

      Once you get your computer, do the following.

      1. Buy 16GBs of RAM from macsales.com or amazon.com Macsales makes it easier to find compatible memory but is sightly more expensive.
      2. Buy the biggest SSD you can afford. If you got the money go with a 512GB SSD if your have super deep pockets go with two of those and put it in as a secondary drive. Though a standard HDD in the optical bay is sufficient because the speed gains are really seen on the drive that is running OSX. You’ll need an optical bay conversation kit that you can also get on Amazon.com
      3. Upgrade

      That’s it really.
      1. Max out a 15″ MacBook Pro (not RAM and only the HDD if you plan to reuse it)
      2. Upgrade to 16GB’s of RAM
      3. Upgrade to an SSD for your primary drive (for more storage convert your optical bay to an HDD or and SSD)
      4. Enjoy!

      If you need any more info just hit on twitter @joecorbett

      • avatar
        Vic Karmazinas March 14, 2013 at 1:01 am #

        Thanks for all the advice Joe. You said get the fastest 15″ MBP so that’ll be 2.7GHz Qad i7.. but you mentioned optionally upgrading that. To what exactly? What is a good supplier? OWC?
        As for the RAM upgrade, is there a brand & supplier you recommend?
        I do want to convert the optical bay to a secondary SSD. Eventually two SSDs. What brand SSD do you like? Sorry for all the questions (too much to Tweet). I’m trying to make this purchase within the next few days and want to be sure I’m doing the right thing.

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett March 14, 2013 at 11:20 am #

          Hey Vic,
          I just mean that you didn’t necessarily need to get the fastest processor, but it is an option. Whatever processor you get from Apple will be the one you have for the life of the computer, it is not upgradable in any way, which is the reason I went with the fastest one possible at the time of my purchase.

          I like using OWC, macsales.com, because their compatibility chart ensures you’ll get the proper RAM. Amazon is a bit cheaper, but you need to be sure that the RAM you get is compatible, usually you just need to check the BUS speed of your system and the memory and match them up, Corsair memory is a great buy on Amazon at the moment, I would check them out if you don’t go with macsales.com

          I always go with the Crucial M4 SSDs, I have bought MANY for myself and my company (20+) and not one has failed.

          Drop another comment if you need me to clarify something! Good Luck!

  11. avatar
    Jon Andrews March 13, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    Hi Joe,

    I’ve had your page bookmarked for a while, because I was considering upgrading my Summer 2010 13″ Macbook Pro around Christmas last year but never had the money. I’ve read though that the 2010 models only support certain SSD as well as the optical bay. Would you happen to know off the top of your head what those specs were? Because the 2010 models are older I don’t think they are quite performance heavy like the 2011+ models. Also an SSD with TRIM? Any thoughts on that as well? I’ve upgraded my RAM from 4GB to 8GB because that’s the max it holds but all I need is something else that’ll make it faster because right now I still have a stock HDD in this thing running at 256GB… Not much. Just let me know of some suggestions and I’ll get back to you. Thanks a lot.


    Jon Andrews

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett March 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

      Hey Jon,
      Thanks for booking marking my post, it’s truly a compliment! Here is what I think… I’ve put SSDs in Macs much older than yours and never even gave a thought about compatibility, this is because SSD are basically no different then an HDD in how a system treats them via their SATA connection, so I’m very confident ANY SSD should work with your Macbook Pro which I’m pretty sure is a MacBookPro7,1. I don’t know every little detail about each models optical bay, there is a chance some could be temperamental and not always work with and SSD or even an HDD, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you want to avoid swapping out your optical drive and you are happy with 256GBs of space why not just upgrade your primary HDD to a Crucial M4 256GB drive? Of course if you’re looking to get a lot more storage you’ll probably want to do the drive conversion.

      I did some homework on TRIM and what I’ve found is that it’s not supported in OSX for third party drives, but there is a free third party tool called Trim Enabler that will enable it for any SSD you install. To be honest, I do understand the benefits of TRIM, but I haven’t concerned myself with it and my system is working perfectly. If you do decide to use it, let me know how it works.

      In short upgrade your HDD to and SSD with a crucial M4, the largest you can afford, and do the conversion if you need extra space.

  12. avatar
    Vic Karmazinas March 16, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    Joe, Re: “Only get the 500GB HDD UNLESS of course you plan to convert your optical bay to a secondary HDD or SSD”

    I do plan to use an 512GB SSD. But, I can only afford one right now. So, for now, is the 500GB HDD the best option?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett March 16, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      Depends on what you want to spend now you could get a 1TB HDD but if your going to swap it eventually you may consider just using what you have on hand.

  13. avatar
    Mathias Denichi March 22, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    The benefits of replacing the optical with a SSD, and booting OSX from it also can increase battery length with no spinning physical disk. I fully agree with this, and as far as Apple, the only product buy from them is their Macbook. I feel it’s the best laptop out there for the form factor and price. Once you get into PC laptops such as sager or malibal, it basically cost equal if not more than a macbook, and doesn’t have near the support.

  14. avatar
    Cathy March 22, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Hi Joe, I’m looking at replacing a 6-year-old white iMac this year. Was looking at the non-retina MacBook Pro and wondered if you recommend getting the higher resolution antiglare display?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett March 22, 2013 at 11:20 am #

      Hey Cathy,
      Hi-Res all the way! It’s a cheap upgrade and worth it. Whether you choose Anti-Glare or Glossy is really a personal preference. Glossy has been said to cause eye fatigue more quickly, and of course it is sensitive to Glare, I for one prefer glossy, for a number of reason. Just know that you probably won’t be able to walk into an Apple store and pick up a hi-res MacBook Pro, they’ll have to order for you, or you can do it through apple.com, they only stock select builds, custom option are built to order (BTO). Enjoy!

    • avatar
      logic March 29, 2013 at 11:43 am #

      also, you can convert a glossy to antiglare with a film. this doesn’t work the other way. glossy is way easier to clean too. since the 2.6(7) 15″ is no longer for sale, you might check the refurb store (bottom left of apple store), or some other online retailers to find one. it’s worth it, and it should be discounted.

  15. avatar
    Squid April 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Did the upgrade (2 ssds) a few months ago and set up a Raid 0 on my late 2008 macbook pro. Works like a dream. faster than I ever dreamed. The 2 crucial m4 256 ssds I would recommend to anyone.

    What can we do next to improve our macs or is that it?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett April 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

      Wow, I’m not sure there is much more you can do, unless you RAID a bunch of thunderbolt SSD’s but that’s not really viable. Have you maxed out your RAM? Other then that I’d say go forth and prosper!

  16. avatar
    Mark April 3, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Great blog,,,thinking about buying a late 2011 17 macbook pro and maxing it out…. Thoughts?? would I be better getting the new non retina macbook pro?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett April 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      Thanks Dr jaffe!

      It’s not an easy call. Depends on the condition and price of the 17″. Aside from that, I always really wanted to get a 17″, but waited too long and of course now they don’t make them. Looking back I’m glad I didn’t get it because my next machine would have to be 15″ by default so it might be an annoying transition down the road. Either way I wouldn’t go out a buy a new non-retina today because buyersguide.macrumors.com is showing that an update is likely coming so if you do go that route you should wait. Overall… If it’s in great condition and it will save you some money sure why not, the 17″ MBP is pretty cool, otherwise wait and get a brand new non-retina. Hope that was helpful.

      P.S. Always check http://buyersguide.macrumors.com before buying!

  17. avatar
    Joykill April 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    I hate apple, I hate their business model, I hate the fact they come out with new models faster than auto manufacturers do. I bought my wife a rMBP as an upgrade for her 5+year old mbp which couldn’t run crap efficiently. I hated paying the steep price for the lackluster specs (especially compared to the desktop I just built), but she will love it, it will survive through her post-grad school, and the display will be great for imaging. So that makes it worth it…. I suppose. Good write up, though. I would have upgraded the old rig if I could have =

  18. avatar
    John DeWolfe April 12, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    I am afraid. Very afraid. OK, so I have a MBP7,1 early 2010 (maybe its mid) and I have had ALOT of trouble with RAM as its only 4gb and multiple app death ball, overheating, and the slow crawl of doom time expansion has me frustrated, ill willed, and sweating bullets. I am active in photo, video, 3D modeling, movies, music, and games. I don’t even have an external drive so I am very ill equipped. I am beyond salvation I am afraid to admit.

    But as of late, I have found Buddha.

    And along his Eight-fold Path of Enlightenment that has strayed far from Cupertino, I have found 16 gigabyte RAM sticks, 120 gb ssd, data doubler, hybrid ssd 1 terabyte drive in the old optic space – and I await Nirvana. Yet, I have the fear. I am still waiting for all of this stuff to arrive at my door. Will it work? Will I even be able to install all of this hardware? Will I figure out how to move all of my data from the old drive to the new? Will I clone the hd or just use Migrate Assistant? Will I brick my MBP? Is all of this shit even worth it? I spent about $400 so far and my refurbed MBP I got about a year and a half ago. I got a nice black speck case and some keyboard covers so it looks better but I want something fierce and bloodthirsty. You’re right tho you could totally piece together a bad ass PC that would completely obliterate all Mac platforms – but if all of this works out then I’m good right now.

    Will I be saved? Will I be able to pull this off? Oh, random nerd gods help me with an answer of confirmation or condemn into the stinking carbon pit of hell fire for all eternity…………..

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett April 12, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      You will be successful… I can feel it. Please hit me up on twitter for anything you need via @joecorbett

      I’d happily Skype with you too if you hit a road block.

      You can do it… You too, are a Random Nerd…

  19. avatar
    John DeWolfe - Vader/Anakin April 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Darth Vader: Joe… help me take this mask off.
    Joe: But you’ll die.
    Darth Vader: Nothing… can stop that now. Just for once… let me… look on you with my *own* eyes.
    Anakin: Now… go, my son. Leave me.
    Joe: No. You’re coming with me. I’ll not leave you here, I’ve got to save you.
    Anakin: You already… have, Joe. You were right. You were right about me. (*Right about my MBP upgrade success and my Random Nerdness*) Tell your sister… you were right.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett April 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

      “These are not the nerds you’re looking for”

      ha that’s all I got!

      John I’m so happy you had a successful upgrade. I’m sure you’re already enjoying the benefits of a lighting fast SSD.

  20. avatar
    Walter April 21, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Hi Joe,

    I have an early 2011 MacBook Pro 2.2 15 inch. I was considering upgrading the machine after reading your article, and hearing about problems that the retina ones are having. In one of your replies in March, it seems that you bought a new machine some months ago, was it time to let your 2011 model go? If you did configure a newer model, what improvements are you seeing?
    As for the buying guide, I see that we are in mid-cycle, and it is not a recommended time to buy.
    I can wait to see what the next release of MBP offers, as it would be nice if they did not run so warm. Would you suggest upgrading my current machine now, and then transferring the upgrades to a newer model? Or that an upgraded 2011 should be good for several more years. Thanks.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett April 21, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

      Hey Walter,
      The only reason I got yet another MacBook Pro so soon was because I changed job and I did not own that machine, so I yanked my upgrades and turned in my machine. That meant I had to buy a 2012 machine, otherwise I would have waited sometime to upgrade the base machine. In your case I would wait to buy a new machine until the newest model comes out. I would also not upgrade the components until that time too. The price of SSDs could drop and/or capacities could increase as well. Just hold tight for a few more months and you’ll get much more for you money. Let me know if you have any other questions and and good luck!

  21. avatar
    Troy Anderson May 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Hi Joe:

    Regarding your comment above, I bought a brand new late 2011 17″ MacBook Pro from MacMall. I had previously owned the non Core i7 17″ and used it easily with an Octane SSD in the main bay and a Crucial SSD in the optical bay. Using Lion was no issue. Now……with the new Core i7 version, restarts are very difficult and the computer will not recognize the Crucial SSD in the optical bay. Apple’s senior tech group is baffled. Two service consultants in the Boston area are baffled. This is my second unit – thinking that the first unit had a defective board and returned it to MacMall. Any ideas from you or your readers??



    • avatar
      Joe Corbett May 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      Hey Troy,
      Sorry for the delay here… Your situation is rather dicey because there are so many things that could be going wrong here, not to mention you’ve already taken it upon yourself to chat with qualified people that should be able to help. That being said here are my thoughts…

      1. The drives could be damaged… You need to eliminate this possibility by putting each of them in a different machine and seeing whether or they will boot
      2. The cables could be damaged… Have you tried putting a regular HDD drive back in the 17″ and running a fresh install of the OS? Does it work as it should?
      3. The Logic board could be damaged… Trying out step 2 would prove this to be true or false
      4. The drives are not compatible with your Computer. This is incredibly Rare, but I’ve heard “Myths” about certain machines not being able to run SSD drives. I’ve never actually seen this first hand.
      5. Your computer maybe have a firmware update pending… You mentioned you are using Lion. I don’t know what variables need to be in place to allow a firmware update to take place, but maybe there is a chance you have to be running Mountain Lion to then have the computer eligible for a firmware update that might fix the issue. If that is the case and the firmware update fixes it, my guess is you are a in a very rare category.
      6. OH! I just remembered I once got a bad drive caddy so try a different one, even one from a different vendor, that fixed my issue the one time this upgrade did not work for me.
      7. Wipe both drives. Try and clean install to them in the Primary bay. See what the results are. It might yield some info for you that could explain what’s going on.
      8. If you are still having the issue I’d be happy to chat about it more. Feel free to email me: josephcorbett at me dot com

      Good luck! Sorry you are having trouble!

  22. avatar
    Blythe June 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    So glad I stumbled on your page…definitely bookmarking your post! I just purchased a 2.6GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, 8 GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM -2x4GB, 750GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200, 8x Double-Layer SuperDrive,
    MBP 15″ HR Glossy WS Display…and was having doubts about it but reading your post it seems like this will be upgradeable to SSD drives later, as well as the 8GB to 16GB if that is what I read correctly?

    I am upgrading from a late 2008 model Macbook (which has the aluminum casing) which apparently was only a one time release from Apple because while it doesn’t say “Pro” on the lower half of the screen it was a pre-Pro model. Do you think this model is upgradeable as far as memory to maybe a SSD? It had a 250GB memory. Nothing is actually wrong with it but it is 4 yrs old, and was running out of memory space.


    • avatar
      Joe Corbett June 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

      Hey Blythe,
      Yes you are reading that correctly you’re new machine should be able to handle those upgrades just fine. Your old machines should be able to handle some sort of upgrade as well. Check this link http://www.macsales.com SOrry for the short answer, flight is taking off, all electronics off!

  23. avatar
    Alexandre June 12, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Hi Joe, sorry for my poor english, whatever I’m from Brazil and just made like you, I have a 2010 MBP 17″ and was waiting for new MBP line with better GPU and newest ac band wifi. Of course I’ll wait for the next second set, not the next to wait for bugfixes on these new specs. I recently bought a Samsung 840PRO 256GB SSD drive and move my Seagate Momentus XT 750GB HD to second drive with a NIMTZ optibay. That’s my first day with this new setting and now I’m afraid the drive don’t stop to spin… don’t know if it will stop soon… do you saw anything like this? I still not formatted the second drive, it has all old OSX folders and files. I’m transfering the files and I’ll partition it. I would like to ask you if there is any app to put the second drive to sleep and wake up. Thanks and I’ll bookmark your blog just now! See ya

  24. avatar
    Richard Clark July 30, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    I’ve got a MacBook Pro 8,2 and got a 512G SSD and a 1.5T HD in place of the SuperDrive along with 16 G of memory and a 2.5G I7. The machine is blazing fast and I have lots of room for many, many apps and VMs (I have about 10). Everything has been great for the past year until today when I needed the 2880x resolution for a high-rez graphics project. So I would say that given the fact that the Retina models can’t hold the extra drive, the price differential, and the fact that I needed the graphics capability only once in the past year, that I made the right choice and saved a ton of cash like you did.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett July 31, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      That’s awesome. I’m going to raid my two SSD’s when I upgrade to Mavericks, I’ll let you know how that turns out.

  25. avatar
    Ali August 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Hi Joe,
    Thanks for this article and the links. I have been considering upgrading my MBP from…I think 2009 for awhile now. I know it used to be amazing and now its so slow. I’ve saved up the cash and I’m ready. I’m a bit nervous to try, and I’ve been googling tutorials on upgrading my hard drive and RAM. Would you happen to know a website that has the best tutorials or videos?


    • avatar
      Joe Corbett August 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      Hey Ali,
      Most of what you need to know is in the video I posted above. It’s a VERY straight forward process. Remove a few screws swap in the new drive and go. If your question about the process is what to do after the new drive is in I can suggest the following:

      1.Pick up this USB to SATA adapter.

      2. Now put your new drive in using the steps outlined in the video above

      3. You’ll need to install the latest version of OSX on it, but you’ll need to read this post on MacRumors.com about how to Create a Bootable Mountain Lion USB Key Installer.

      3. The installer will ask you if you have any user data to import. At that point you’ll connect your old drive to you computer with the sata to USB adaptor and select the user accounts you want to import to your freshly upgraded MacBook pro

      4. Rejoice!

      If you have any more questions let me know!

  26. avatar
    Waleed October 20, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    Hi Joe,
    I loved the article but i have a question. I have an early 2011 MBP (2.3 GHz Core i5, 4GB ram, and a 1TB hard drive that i installed as an upgrade from the built in smaller one). Is it worth upgrading my MBP to the max or should a new one be bought? (considering that the new macbook pros are almost here)

    If you think i should upgrade my current rig then please tell me all the things i can upgrade to max because frankly speaking i dont really want to spend so much money on a new fully specced MBP when i can save alot by just upgrading my current rig as you have said in your article.

    • avatar
      Waleed October 20, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

      Im not really that much of a heavy user…. just some video editing on iMovie, some Graphic designing on Adobe CS, some music on Garageband, and then there is the regular internet browsing. Basically i just want to get another 3-4 years out of my current rig. So is it worth upgrading it to make it last longer or should i just consider saving up some more and getting the new MBP fully specced for doing the same things that i have mentioned, nothing heavy or performance intensive really just some average stuff. Thanks.

  27. avatar
    zach benton November 17, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    is this possible with a late 2008 model, trying to run in design and final cut and its not as fast as i want it to be and i would also like a better graphics card, is that dueable? or should i save up for another computer?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett November 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      I’m sorry Zach, that’s not possible, the graphics card is part of the logic board which is essentially the entire computer. If you’re unable to run apps because of this I think your best option is to get a new machine. Any of the current MacBooks Pros or Airs will work.

  28. avatar
    David January 16, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    Hi Joe,
    I am new to Mac and am planning to buy a MBP and find this very informative post. Indeed it should save a lot of cash by upgrading on non-retina MBP rather than buy retina MBP. I am planning to do the same (buy a non-renita and upgrade). However, you also suggested follow the website’s suggestion http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/, which now has a reccommodation of “don’t buy” for non-retina MBP because it will soon be phased out. Do you think I should buy a retina or still buy a non-retina and upgrade? Many thanks.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 16, 2014 at 7:42 am #

      Hi David,
      When I first wrote the post I suggested not buying the retina display because the performance between the non-retina and the retina was fairly comparable, especially when the non-retina was upgraded to an SSD. Today things are a bit different. The engineering of the Retina computers have improved and the non-retinas has mostly stayed the same. Also the price for the Retina has dropped just a bit, which was likely in anticipation of the non-retina phase out. My point is I think the Retina display, if you can afford it, is the right purchase today. If you’d like to save some significant money I’d consider buying a used non-rentina MacBook Pro and upgrading that. Good luck and welcome to the Cult of Mac! ;-)

      • avatar
        David January 17, 2014 at 6:22 am #

        Hi Joe, Many thanks for the explanation and suggestion. I think I will buy a second hand non-retina to start with:-)

  29. avatar
    Al Haines January 17, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    Hey Joe
    I recently decided that I need to upgrade my early 2011 MBP as it has become extremely slow. Luckily I stumbled on to this article and plan to take the advice above as far as those three upgrades go! I understand everything except there is a lot of confusion on the SATA connection for the optical drive. The video above says 6Gb/s is not compatible. Ive read people saying that it is and isn’t on forums. The seagate hybrid drive is 6Gb/s. So my question is, do I need to worry about all this SATA stuff? Also is 7400 vs 5400rpm hard drives really a significant improvement?

    Sorry for more questions on this. Thanks much.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 17, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

      Hey Al,
      I don’t think you need to worry about it. I’m currently using two SSDs in both areas and I’ve never had a problem. I’ve also used that Seagate hybrid wihtout issue in multiple computers. My guess is that the limitation if there ever was one was on the OS side and probably was eliminated in an update. I’ve actually never even looked at the stats for data transfers speeds because every drive I’ve put in always seems to work just fine. Just a note I have gotten bad drive caddies before and had to replace them with a different one. So I say go for it!

      • avatar
        alex haines January 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

        Great thanks! Yea I am taking a chance on the drive caddy over the $35 data doubler.

  30. avatar
    Jake January 22, 2014 at 2:46 am #

    Hey, thanks for this great post! I’m hesitating between buying the Retina or upgrading my early 2009 MacBook (the white one) w/ 2Gb RAM, 2Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo. I’m wondering to what extent upgrading to 8 Gb of RAM and a 512 or even 1Tb SSD would improve performance as well as battery life (I suppose I could replace the battery too, would be the second time). I’m guessing it would make a big difference, though I am still tempted by the Retina just because it’s so lightweight and I travel a lot (the Air ‘should’ be my choice, but the upward-slanting keyboard is the opposite of what my arms/wrists/hands need to avoid tendinitis relapse!). On the topic of physical weight am I right to assume that subbing a SSD for my HD is going to have a negligible effect? Anyway, I may upgrade either way and worst case maybe I can sell my newly maxed out Core 2 to pay for a Retina…

    Besides that, I too don’t feel comfortable buying into Apple’s new no-upgrading era (I do no graphic design or video editing – mainly web, office apps, entertainment media and occasionally use dj apps – and yet am still pondering buying a 16Gb RAM Retina just to be future proof! makes no sense I guess) – though you give me pause with your comment about how we should get used to this dynamic as things get engineered super-small.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 22, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

      Hey Jake,
      Thanks for your comment. I think upgrading your machine would be a good move because it is FAR cheaper than buying a new machine and you haven’t described anything that would make me think you really need a brand new one. I think you could get another year or two out of your MacBook if you upgrade to an SSD and max out the memory. I don’t know what exact model you have, but if it’s compatible with Mavericks that should help your battery life issue as it is far more efficient with battery usage.

  31. avatar
    Alex Jacob February 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

    Hey i have read through your article and i am so impressed with how much you are willing to help people and the amount of time this has taken up. The internet is a way better place because of people like you.
    I just bought a used 2011 macbook pro for $600 in pretty much new condition and was wondering if it was worth keeping and upgrading or if i should just sell the thing and go back to pc’s. I mostly just need it for college, music and random web browsing and stuff. I was thinking about just putting in a 126gb ssd which costs like $100 (everyone in college is broke). i know you frequently recommend people to upgrade but it seems the majority of them are from a while back.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett February 3, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      Hey Alex,
      Those were very kind, humbling, and validating words. Thank you so much! The whole reason I wanted to start Random Nerds was to give back to the community of nerds that gave so much to me. Our first post is all about that.

      Anyway… First of all. NO! Do not go back to PC’s, not right now anyway and probably not for a very long time. Second of all it sounds like you’ve got a pretty decent machine so I’d hang onto it if I were you. 126GB SSD is not huge so unless you are planning to swap out the optical drive with your old HDD then I would consider bumping your SSD to 240GBs if you can make that happen. I still love what Crucial is putting out right now. Seems like a fair price to me. Anyway good luck and let me know if you have any additional questions.

  32. avatar
    Gregg Brent February 17, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Glad I stumbled on this site since I’m in exact same position.

    I have an early 2011 Macbook Pro 15″. I also have 2008 Mac Pro Tower which is really slowing down and just too damn big. So was going to get rid of the Mac Pro Tower and upgrade my Macbook Pro with 16 GB RAM and large SSD and connect it to external monitor to use as a desktop (I don’t travel much anymore with my Mac).

    Two Questions for you: I use Adobe Creative Suite mostly (just upgraded to the Cloud version) as well as Final Cut Pro. I was reading that faster SSDs that are a bit better for video and photoshop, etc.

    I was going to buy a Crucial M500 480G for $260 but have been reading good things about the Samsung 840 PRO 512GB (esp for video editing) but it costs $400. Do you have any thoughts or info about the difference in using faster read/write SSDs and if they are worth the extra money? Or is it one of those things I probably wouldn’t notice (without specifically benchmarking)?

    The other question is do you have any experience using a Macbook Pro as a desktop? I’d like to hook up the laptop to external monitor and bluletooth keyboard. Is this a feasible solution for a workstation?

    Oh and there is one other scenario I can do: I received an iPad air for Christmas. Since I have a Ipad 2 I returned the Air and got $700 Apple credit. I could take the $500+ I’d be spending on upgrading my 2011 MBP and combine it with $700 store credit and buy something like a new 13″ MBP. Any thoughts?


    • avatar
      Joe Corbett February 17, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      Hey Gregg,
      Thanks for commenting! Allow me to respond in the form of list because you have a few questions here…
      1. I don’t have any experience with the Samsung’s SSD, but they do have the reputation of performing better than others. That being said all SSD’s are not created equal but they are all much faster than what you are used to with a HDD. That being said if you want serious performance install two of the Crucial M500’s into your MacBook pro and then set them up as a striped RAID. I’ve been doing that since mavericks came out and the performance of my machine is pretty phenomenal. I should have a post about that in the near future. One last thing to consider here, the performance differences here are a matter of seconds or minutes when rendering video, so unless you running a mini pixar studio out of your house I don’t think you need to make the investment.

      2. I in fact do treat my laptop like a desktop. I always have a second monitor and an external trackpad and keyboard. I would use the additional monitor for more space rather than keeping the laptop closed and having one screen. “Studies have shown” that a second monitor increases your productivity substantially. I’ve attached a picture of my home setup for your viewing pleasure

      Home Workstation

      3. I wouldn’t get the 13″ if you’ve been using the 15″ exclusively, you’ll like miss the screen space. I sit on the gift card for now and use it for something else.

      Let me know if you have any more questions Gregg! Good Luck!

      • avatar
        Gregg Brent February 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

        Thanks for speedy reply. I think I’ll put that order in today. I like your home setup. Is that a special stand you have your MBP on? Interesting idea about setting up a RAID. For right now I’ll probably keep my dvd drive as I still have occasional need for it and just replace the hard drive with the one SSD.

        Great info on this site. Thanks

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett February 17, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

          No problem! The stand I like is called the mStand, it’s perfect!

      • avatar
        ANdrew October 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

        Hi, I read your comment on the dual M500 960GB.. I just purchased one for my Late 2008 Macbook Pro Unibody 15″ and was wondering if I get two what the performance would be.. Im new to Raid so I’m wondering if its worth it

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett October 9, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

          Hey Andrew,
          I actually wrote a whole post about it too, check it out here. That being said the striped RAID is certainly faster, but you need to consider that software RAIDs have a reputation for not being stable, though I’ve never had an issue with any of mine. For me the main benefit is really the combined storage adding up to 1TB. So if you really have to have every ounce of performance and your backing up your stuff then I say go for it. Otherwise it’s not really worth the trouble.

  33. avatar
    sancho February 25, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    I’ve got a Macbook Pro 15 (MC118) Mid 2009(!!!) 5 years old notebook!
    http://take.ms/nNtis – screenshot

    I have just upgraded it:
    1. SSD Crucial M4 256 Gb (for system disk only)
    2. Optibay + Hitachi Travelstar 7K1000 2.5″ 7200rpm 32Mb (half for data, half for TimeMachine backups!)
    3. SO-DIMM DDR3, 8ГБ (2×4ГБ), PC3-10600, 1333МГц, Corsair, CMSA8GX3M2A1333C9

    – Now I just have a fanstastic fast machine! OS boots very quickly. All software definitely like SSD :)
    – Mac OS X like 8 Gb of RAM
    – TimeMachine and data storage is always with you

    – So I have upgrdaded everything to the MAX level. No more RAM is allowed by motherboard.
    – I can’t change a CPU and GPU :(
    – SATA is not a latest versions, so the speed of my SSD is not MAX

    Regarding MBP Retina, I can say only that It’ s will be optimal to wait 1-2 generations of new mbp to get a really great notebook. Now MBP Retina is like iPad 3 with Retina. Great screen, low hardware.

  34. avatar
    sancho February 25, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    I just found a new 1.5TB HDD
    HGST HTS541515A9E630
    It can be installed in MBP too

  35. avatar
    kawehi February 28, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    Hey, I’m a college student and i want to buy a macbook pro, but I’m having trouble choosing between the 13″ 2012 model and the 2013 macbook retina. I’m mainly going to type essays and browse the web once in a while. I already have an ipad and smartphone so I would barely be using the laptop, but I want a macbook pro because I know they last long and is well worth the money. I’m also wanting a fast macbook so I was thinking about buying the 2012 model and upgrading it?? Thank you

    • avatar
      Bob Wacker March 26, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

      I’m no Joe but reading through these comments and got to your comment and thought I would share my experience with upgrading my 13″ mid 2012.
      (And Joe thank you for this post, though I found your webpage after I upgraded my Macbook Pro 13″).
      I bought this computer in mid 2012, I would imagine that you could find the lowest model of this very cheap now being almost two years later.
      I recently decided to upgrade to a SSD.
      I got a Samsung EVO 1TB SSD (It is crisp and fast.) on sale for under $500.00 on amazon when it was going for closer to $800 [couldn’t pass it up] http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/memory-storage/MZ-7TE1T0BW [It is currently going for $509]. {They also just released an mSATA 1TB that has potential for replacing optical drives in the future possibly{Joe, Isn’t the optical drive hooked up by mSATA?} here is the link for that: http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/memory-storage/MZ-MTE1T0BW;

      I then shortly after upgraded my Optical Drive by using a bay (I bought an MCE Opti-bay, http://store.mcetech.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=OBSXGB-UNB&Category_Code=STORHDOPTIBAY ;
      I also bought the add-on purchase of an external casing for the optical drive so that I could hook it up by USB; the optical bay now runs even faster)
      I put the original hard drive (an Apple 1TB 5400 RPM) in the Opti-Bay.
      I set the Opti-bay drive up as a second storage drive (Mostly being used by iTunes and Movies at the Moment). SSD is running OSX Mavericks.
      The Comp. has 8GB of RAM (Eventually I will double that to 16GB).
      With just the change to a solid state drive I have seen remarkable improvement in apps launching and web pages loading. Also I have seen an extreme speed up in start-up at just under 20secs. So I can only imagine what it will be at with a 16GB.
      The two downsides to the 13″ is that its a 13″ and that its dual core processor (unlike its bigger brother the 15″ that has a quad-core).
      So if you are using it for those tasks listed above you will see great speed and functioning. I also use it for some minor graphic design and photo-editing in CS4 Suite and CS4 Lightroom.
      So if you do buy (or have already bought) a 13″ from 2012 it is well worth upgrading and will give it new life for years to come.
      Joe this is truly an awesome post and thread.
      Also I thought I would tell you I do use TRIM enabler. I found out that my computer will crash if it is not enabled (at least after the recent update to OSX 10.9.2 after the update shut off my TRIM and I didn’t know and the comp crashed. So Atleast with the Samsung EVOs its important to Enable TRIM. For Kaweh here is the link to Trim Enabler (You will want this if you go the Samsung SSD route): http://www.cindori.org/software/trimenabler/

      • avatar
        Joe Corbett March 27, 2014 at 10:35 am #

        I really appreciate the comment, Bob! I’m always trying to give back to the greater nerd community because I’d be nothing without it.

        • avatar
          Bob Wacker March 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

          You’re welcome. I actually have a question. Is the Macbook Pro’s super drives hooked up by mSATA? or some other connection?

  36. avatar
    Travis March 19, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    I have a 2009, 160GB 4GB Ram 13″ Macbook Pro. I have Mavericks on it, it is full, and slowing down. I like to play games on it, I don’t need the best graphics, just decent graphics that play smoothly. If I were to upgrade to I think 8GB ram is the max on this machine, and get a larger hard drive, do you think it would work well, or should I just buck up and get a new one (in our opinion)?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett March 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

      Hey Travis, If your hard drive is full it doesn’t matter what system you have it will slow to a crawl and in most cases be entirely unusable. If the games you want to play to require a very impressive graphics card, Macs are not known for that. Then yeah I’d say upgrade to an inexpensive solid state 256GBs should be fine for you, and I’m double your memory. Note that SSD don’t have too much impact on your gaming experience so if you see any performance gains there at all it will be because of the memory. Good luck!

  37. avatar
    Eduardo April 14, 2014 at 2:50 am #

    Hi Joe,
    Thank you for your advice, you are absolutely right, I will be better off if I upgrade my MBP late 2012 than go for the Retina one. I will upgraded from 4GB of RAM to 16GB and also I will go for a 256 GB SSD to replace my current 500GB HDD. I have a question for you…How do I do to move my Phototoshop app., also my Lightroom and other apps. that make my computer slow? Where should I put then in the SSD or in the HDD (this one will replace my optical drive. Also which of the crucial SSD would you recommend me?
    Thank a lot for your help…you are the man!!!

  38. avatar
    Luce April 19, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    Just randomly landed on this site! I know your post is like almost two years old but people keep on commenting so might as well comment as well. :) I’m thinking of buying rMBP 13in 126gb to replace my 2008 Macbook White since the battery only lasts like 2 hours and I can’t really update any of my software or apps (its 2ghz 1gb model). I’m not sure though if it’s the right move after reading online reviews that you’ll be wiser to buy non-retina model and upgrade it. Sorry if you’re getting a lot of questions on these. Btw im a graduate student who use laptop a lot (like ms office), web browsing but also use it to watch series, movies etc. Hope you (or anyone else) here replies. Thanks!

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett April 21, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      Hey Luce,
      Thanks for commenting! I think you’re ready for a new computer. Here is what I would do…
      If you want to keep the cost low and all you’re are doing is browsing the web and using office I’d go with the MacBook Air. If you want to spend a little extra money that I’d take invest in a 13′ MacBook Pro with Retina display. The only thing to consider between both of these machines is storage since their base is very low. Let me know if you have any additional questions!

      • avatar
        Luce April 21, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

        Wow thanks for the reply! Will consider your recommendation. So ill put off the non-retina on my list probably. Im just concerned with the 128g size. My brother-in-law says its too small for the price? My reason is its okay to invest on a laptop and splurge a little (seeing mine lasted like 6 years).
        Anyway, thanks for replying again!

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett April 21, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

          Yes, 128GBs is not a lot of storage. I do feel that 256GBs should be the minimum and of course 500GBs is even better. That being said you can always store you iTunes library on and external hard drive along with other large files so there are ways to use only a small amount of storage. Anyway, good luck!

          P.S. always check here before buying anything from Apple: http://buyersguide.macrumors.com

          • avatar
            Luce May 3, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

            Hi Joe! Just bought my rMBP 13in and using it right now. Thanks for all the help! :)

            • avatar
              Joe Corbett May 4, 2014 at 9:54 am #

              My pleasure, I’m sure you’re enjoying!

  39. avatar
    Joe May 2, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Hi Joe,

    I just read your entire and interesting review and I dicided to wrote this message.

    I’m planning to buy a new Macbook pro, but I’m afraid of all these problems about this new Retina Model : u can’t upgrade, if there is a problem with the machine you can’t repair it yourself, the iris graphical card can’t handle well all the pixels of a RD, the life of an SSD, the price, etc…

    So I was wondering if u still recommend me to buy a Macbook pro Mid 2012 or a refurbished one (1099$) with 8Gb of RAM and i5 processor, and 500 Gb of storage, and then upgrade it to 16Gb of RAM and a dual mode (SSD and 1To storage). Is it a better deal ? or the Retina Display late 2012 ?

    Thanks a lot.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett May 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

      No, I think that the Retina MacBook Pro is a better buy at this point. It’s also always best to buy right when the hardware has been revised. Always check http://buyersguide.macrumors.com first. Hope that helps!

      • avatar
        Joe May 3, 2014 at 7:52 am #

        Thanks for ur quick answer !
        Honestly, I don’t think that buying a Macbook that I can’t upgrade or can’t repair is a good idea…but anyway thanks.

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett May 4, 2014 at 9:58 am #

          Hey Joe,
          I totally understand, that was one of my motivations for writing this post a few year back. That being said I do believe the rMBP is superior to any 15″ non-retina that you can upgrade. Mine is maxed out in every way, I’ve even raided the SSDs in a striped configuration which made it even faster, but my co-workers rMBP is still faster. The time where we can tinker with out laptops is ending unless of course you are an electrical engineer. :-(

          • avatar
            Joe May 5, 2014 at 8:11 am #

            Ok then, I understand your point.
            I will wait for the next generation, I think that Apple is now making on purpose this Closed Macbook so they can make a lot of profit…I don’t think its clever but if there’s still people who will buy there products they will continue on the same strategy…
            Anyway I’m not buying it, because I’m feeling like being in prison.

  40. avatar
    Kasper Grusfstedt May 5, 2014 at 6:32 am #

    Hi Joe

    I hope you can help me.

    I have a macbook pro 15” Early 2011, 2,2 GHz intel Core i7

    8GB 1333 MHz, AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1024

    I have a Samsung 840, 512 GB SSD drive installed.

    My question is, I am thinking of buying af Macbook pro 13” late 2013 retina i5. 8G memory and With 256 GB SSD but will it be slower than my macbook pro 15” early 2011

    If Ilook at Geekbench 3 the results are like this

    My 15 inch Macbook pro early 2011 scores 2809 in singlecore and 10455 in multicore

    The Late 2013 macbook pro 13 inch i5 scores 2948 in singlecore and 6187 in multicore.

    The programmes i use most Mail, word, Excel, safari, Iphoto, Imovie, I am not editing pictures and vidoes very often. It’s is only small movies of kids and family.

    Is the macbook pro 15” inch early 2011 faster than the late retina 2013 13” i5

    Which programes uses singlecores and which programes uses multicores ?

    sorry for my bad english.

    Is it a waist of money to upgrade to 13” macbook pro retina late 2013 ?

    I hope you can help me.

    Yours sincerely

    Kasper Grufstedt, Denmark

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett May 6, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Hey Kasper,
      Your current machine sounds more than adequate for the uses your described. If I were you I would use your computer for another year or even longer as I don’t think you’ll see a major difference in performance if you upgrade to Retina MacBook Pro. The only difference would probably be better batter life and of course the Retina screen. If those don’t matter to you I would wait. If you just feel you need a new machine because you want one and have the money I’d say go for it and maybe consider 13″ macbook air if the Retina doesn’t matter to you because they have exceptional battery life and are ultra portable. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  41. avatar
    Annette May 26, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Hi Joe,
    I’m so pleased I found you in my search for help with upgrading. I’m nowhere near as nerdy as I’d like to be and get confused by some of the techy language and remembering what’s what…so please bear with me.

    I have an early 2011 MacbookPro 15inch that I bought new. It has become sluggish and I’d like to upgrade.
    Back in December 2013 I was told it was probably a faulty cable to the motherboard so had that replaced, which seemed to speed it up a for a week or two.
    I have now moved all my music and photos to an external drive, then discovered the option to erase empty spaces – this has helped, but I’m not sure what I’m doing really. It’s an interesting and enjoyable learning curve… and possibly, potentially lethal for my computer Lol.

    It has 500MB HDD right? and 4Gb ram?
    I thought I would upgrade to 500SSD (that’s the Solid state with no moving parts, faster and more stable – right? )
    I should also upgrade the ram – what do you suggest (size and type)? and anything else…processor perhaps?
    The battery doesn’t hold it’s charge anywhere near as long as when new – is it worth replacing?

    Reading your earlier comments, I take it there is room to put a new SSD in and leave the existing HDD in for extra storage/backup – like I had in my old PC. That would be good. I thought I would have to buy a case and us it as external back up.

    Is it fairly straight forward transferring everything, incl. operating system, across to the new SSD? I bought my Mac in New Zealand but am currently living in the UK and left my disks behind. Am I going to be able to do this upgrade without them?

    Thanks so much,

  42. avatar
    Annette May 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    One other question – I find my MacBook a bit too heavy to cart around, especially when I’m gallivanting around Europe – but am not convinced that an iPad is the answer. I don’t use cloud much as often internet access is an issue, and like to be able to use a USB stick or ext HD for saving/transferring photos, music etc. Perhaps I need to just get over it :P

    I am wondering if a small Air would be better.

    Do you have an opinion on this, please?


    • avatar
      Joe Corbett May 26, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

      Hey Annette,
      Thanks for leaving me a comment, a very long comment at that!


      I’ll answer both your questions here…


      First of all it sounds like you need to consider getting a new machine because you’re looking for something that is more mobile while also being a bit faster. That would be a MacBOok Air as you already identified. I’d recommend getting that with the 500GBs of storage which will be very fast as it is a Solid State Drive and I’d get 8GBs of RAM to ensure it stays fast for years to come.


      I know from personal experience that the iPad can not completely replace your laptop so that’s not an option for you at this time. I’d buy that MacBook Air transfer your data two it then sell your old machine to help make up for the cost of the new one.


      Second, if you don’t want a new machine because of money or other reasons then yes I’d upgrade your current machine to the 512GB SSD and max out the Ram to 16GBs, your 4GBs is probably why you are seeing the slow speeds. As the post above describes you can keep your current HDD as a secondary drive if you like by using a drive caddie to replace the DVD Drive. Transferring your data would actually be easy in this case as you can just keep it on your original drive and import the user account to a clean install on the new SSD.


      The only challenge here as I see it would be getting OSX Mavericks installed on your new drive and for that you need the help of a friend already using Mavericks. But as I mentioned you should skip all this work and get a new MacBook Air.


      So what do you think you’ll do? Either way I’m happy to keep helping you, just let me know and I’ll give you more specific information. Good luck!

  43. avatar
    PS June 3, 2014 at 12:45 am #

    Hi Joe,

    Came across your post after spending 2 hours trying to determine if I ought to buy MBP Retina or not and becoming thoroughly confused. I would like to keep my budget to a minimum, with best specs in terms of performance. I will be using my computer mostly for apps development work and occasional graphic design work as a hobby.

    My concerns/questions are:

    1) Not being able to add RAM in rMBP. If I am hoping to use this machine for at least 4yrs, will 8GB be enough RAM?
    My previous macbook had slowed down to an excruciatingly painful level. Not sure if it was a RAM issue (it was a Tiger, 1GB RAM) or what…but I definitely want to make sure I get enough RAM to have a comfortable experience for a few years.

    2) Should I pay extra $300 (or $150 for non-retina MBP) to upgrade the processor to i7 instead of i5? What are the major advantages especially for programming purposes?

    3) When is it smart to upgrade to an SSD? If I buy a new computer which is 500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm, would it work just fine, and if yes, for how long?

    Good display resolution always looks good, but at this moment I’m not sure if I want to spend any more than ~$100 for merely that difference, unless Retinas have other performance upgrade attributes which I’d be paying for by getting a Retina.

    Sorry for so many questions. These computers are just too expensive and for the first time I’m actually doing so much research before buying a machine. Need a macbook bc I’m starting to learn to develop iOS apps. Your help is greatly appreciated!

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett June 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

      Thanks for commenting. At first I thought my reply would need to be complicated, but here are my thoughts… I think you should get a 13″ MacBook Air with 8GBs of Ram and 512GBs of storage. I don’t think you need a more powerful system for what you do because you’ve been getting by with a system that is very old and running a very dated OS. The jump to a New MacBook Air with those specs will be huge. If you can afford it I’d highly recommend Apple Care because replacing a failed logic board on your air would be VERY expensive. So in summary, do not upgrade, sell your old machine for whatever you can and purchase a new MacBook Air with 8GBs of RAM and a 512 GB SSD. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any additional questions!

  44. avatar
    Josh Mellicker June 7, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    Nice article, Joe!

    I upgraded my old 17″ instead of upgrading also, and very happy with the results! Even chose the same 750GB you did to replace the optical drive, though I went 512GB on the main SSD drive.

    Here’s my experience:

  45. avatar
    Annette June 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Thanks for you reply Joe.

    I’m thinking I might just upgrade for now. So the catch is, if I want to keep my current HDD I will lose my DVD player?

    What is the difference between solid state and flash storage (i.e. MacBookPro v Air)?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett June 17, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

      Hey Annette,
      If you want to use your current hard drive as a secondary storage device you will in fact have to remove your player. I’d argue that you should already be moving on from DVD playback so that shouldn’t be a sticking point unless you truly can’t party with your DVD’s.

      Also there is technically no difference when it comes to SSD storage and Flash storage if you are talking about installing a drive, but an SSD is usually meant as a mass storage device that is permanently installed in a computer where a flash drive usually connects via USB and can be removed on the fly.

  46. avatar
    Erik August 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Hi Joe,

    Great advice. I followed it back in April when my Apple Care warranty ran out. I have an early 2011 Macbook Pro 15″ and I upgraded to 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD HD, all from Crucial.

    Unfortunately, this past week my computer succumbed to a problem with the logic board that seems rather widespread: http://www.macworld.co.uk/news/mac/widespread-2011-macbook-pro-failures-continue-3497935/.

    Apple is not acknowledging that this is widespread, but the Genius bar did diagnose it and I was able to purchase out-of-warranty service for $300 to replace the logic board.

    Unfortunately, a few days later when I received my machine back, it was “working” but with a blankly-installed new HD. They also replaced the RAM. My Crucial parts were all returned in a little bag. In addition to the headache of having to restore my HD from Time Machine (which I was told I wouldn’t have to do), the specs on this new hardware, although better than my original hardware, is worse than my recent upgrade. 750 non-SSD HD and 8GB of RAM.

    Apple of course blamed the Crucial hardware for not working with the new logic board and is telling me I should be thrilled with the service and new hardware they’ve provided me, and have told me to essentially go to hell from here. The fact that I purchased non-Apple hardware makes it my problem, not theirs.

    So to cover their tracks from a non-acknowledged widespread hardware failure, Apple provided me with a new logic board that hopefully will not succumb again (the first few months the problem appeared most people complained that after Apple replaced the board it just happened again and again within a few months). However that is non-functional with my upgrades, which are all brand new and matched to the original, flawed logic board.

    Any advice? Did I just waste over $1,000? I tried a number of troubleshooting items to get the old HW to work but nothing seems to work. They just don’t jive with the replacement board. Apple doesn’t care and Crucial has zero support. I’m thinking of taking it to some place like Micro Center because although I am savvy enough to do the hardware upgrade I’ve reached my limit. I also have a baby and am starting a new project tomorrow so I don’t have time to run around town all day with little hope of success. The worst part is that the easy solution would be to replace my upgrade HW with Apple HW (since Crucual can no longer match to my computer’s model) and Apple would then HAVE to support me. Or I could buy an entirely new machine. Both of those would be rewarding Apple for being Ass-hats. But Windows is worse, so what can I do, and I need it now! The Lenovo T61 that i am typing this on will only tide me over for a few more days at best.

    Thoughts?? Thanks!

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett August 24, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

      The failure of your logic board has nothing to do with the parts you installed. I would not worry about putting them all back in, in fact your SSD should boot up just fine without having to restore from backup. In the future it’s best to downgrade your machine to the factory installed parts so Apple can’t use them as an excuse for the failure. Let me know how it goes.

      • avatar
        Erik August 25, 2014 at 11:25 am #

        That is indeed my lesson learned! Never let Apple touch the upgrade parts! Unfortunately, I was at the Genius bar to have it diagnosed and then the solution was to send it out straight away. I told him about the Crucial parts and he ignorantly assured me that would not cause a problem; only that is would void the warranty, which didn’t matter because it was out of warranty and I way paying (which was exactly what I thought).

        The end results are very strange (as confirmed by a friend of mine who has a bit more experience on the IT support side with Macs):

        The machine won’t run with my Crucial SSD HD and RAM (as stated), nor will it with my SSD HD and the new Apple RAM. I get the grey apple logo screen with the progress bar to nowhere.

        It runs fine with all of the new Apple parts in it. Luckily they reinstalled Mavericks, which is what I was running.

        When I plug my SSD HD in via USB it will not boot to it (although it sees it if I try to boot to it; the icon shows but again I get the progress bar to nowhere). When I run Disk Utility it can see the drive, but the only partition on it is greyed out.

        When I use Finder to see my drive it can see it and all the folders and files within it, so as I suspected there is no data loss, and it can use it as an external drive!

        What I did was restore the new HD via Time Machine and it’s back to where I was within a day. The HD is non-SSD and only 75% of the capacity, and I have half the RAM, so the spinning beach ball of death is now driving me nuts (I had banished it!!).

        My plan is two-fold: I may try to wipe my SSD and reinstall Mavericks and restore it via Time Machine. Maybe then it will work. Step two is that I have another Genius Bar appointment tomorrow night where I plan to scream bloody murder because even if the first plan works to restore my SSD I’m still running with 50% of my RAM and that’s unacceptable.

        I tried to price out replacement parts from Apple, but they don’t even appear to sell after-market SSD upgrades and they no longer sell RAM for my machine (or so it appears). I can’t buy via Crucial because the model of my computer is no longer a reliable indicator of its configuration. Would the Cruclal system scan be reliable?

        I want to get my machine back to its prior level of performance no matter what, but am not sure how. Preferably, I’d like Apple to pay for it, but that’s a long shot. I may try to join the US Class Action Lawsuit that is forming around this logic board issue in the early 2011 Pros. Again, I think the only repair shop that may be able to help me around here is Micro Center but I don’t have a ton of time to spend right now running all around town for nothing.

        So frustrating!! but at least I have working computer that is between where I had it and where it was prior to my upgrades. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

        Like I said, any advice is welcome. Thanks, Erik.

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett August 25, 2014 at 11:31 am #

          Ok i think I understand better now… Were you running Mavericks at the time? If not this new board which is probably not the same exact model of the one that failed as I suspect Apple is updating these failing boards to one that is without that flaw, at least we hope. That being said not all boards can run older versions of OSX. Anyway I’d remove the Appe installed HDD put your SSD back in, wipe it, install mavericks from a bootable installer and the restore your user account from the time capsule. This should work without issue. Once that is done I’d then add your RAM back in and all should be right with world. Let me know how it goes.

          • avatar
            Erik August 25, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

            That’s my current thinking exactly. However, why should I expect the RAM to work? My understanding is that the hardware of a HD isn’t logic-board specific (although the SW installation may be), and wiping it should work, however RAM hardware *is* specifically matched to the logic board, which is why the RAM won’t work.

            Actually you just made me realize the one thing I have not yet tried: running the Apple-provided HD with the Crucial RAM. Silly me. I was so focused on getting a working machine back.

            A massive pain in the butt to have to restore my machine (twice!) and reinstall Mavericks on my SSD first (and everything was always on Mavericks), but in many ways it beats stading at various counters wasting time.

            • avatar
              Joe Corbett August 25, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

              As long as the BUS speed of the memory matches the BUS speed of the new board you should be fine. I’d be very surprised if they gave you a higher performance board which made your memory no longer compatible, but at this point nothing would surprise me.

              To verify the speed of your memory check under Apple -> About This Mac -> More Info -> Memory

              Then look up the speed of your corsair memory and hopefully they match.

  47. avatar
    Erik August 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    The new RAM is 1600 mHz DDR3. From what I can tell by part numbers and searching online (Part Number CT102464BF1339), it appears that the old RAM is 1333 mHz. Does that sound right? Could they have replaced my logic board with one that has a different BUS speed in order to evade their ongoing support headaches with the originally installed board, and had to swap out the RAM as a result?

    That’s kind of infuriating from my perspective. In trying to cover their tracks they brick my 3rd party RAM.

    As for the SSD, that would explain why it also no longer works, but a fresh reinstall should at least cure that.

    Of course, Apple charged me $300 to give me all of this additional effort and make me spend another $160 to get back to 16GB RAM! But do I have any other recourse?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett August 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      Ok. So this means the new board is also 1600mHz. It’s a different model from your faulty board which makes sense because we know from you web research that the original board which operated at 1333mHz has a fatal flaw which causes it to fail in mass. This means your old RAM is not compatible and will never work on this new board. They did not do this so your old RAM wouldn’t work, they did this probably because they’re aware of the flaw in the old boards design so they are installing new boards that are free of this issue and in the process it was probably cheaper to just procure a board with the 1600mHz clock speed because that is what they had a supply of. So in their opinion they’ve done right by you because you have a new board without a flaw that is actually slightly better than your old board in terms of performance. You might try and argue with them about how this forces you to buy new memory, but you will likely lose because while your board and the new board support up to 16GBs of memory Apple does not acknowledge this which is why they never sold your model with with more than 8. So in their eyes they’ve give you the most RAM they can for that board. If you want 16Gbs of memory you’ll have to buy a new set of Ram with the right clock speed. You can also try re-selling the old memory to recoup some of your loses here :-(

      • avatar
        Erik August 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

        Grrrr… that’s what I was afraid you’d say.

        At the very least I will buy myself back to 16GB RAM (only $160) and reinstall my SSD, although maybe not in that order. Maybe the SSD and 8GB will be sufficient for performance. I’ve never tried that.

        More importantly, I will fight Apple to refund my $300 because I have read a number of accounts that other people with this issue have been getting free service when they request it, although they are all one-offs and not any part of an official recall or repair program. There is even a Facebook group dedicated to the problem with about 3,300 members.

        One final question (and thanks so much for your help in troubleshooting this!): I downloaded the Crucial system scan app and here are the specs of the memory that it is recommending. My interpretation is that it is not actually analyzing my machine in any significant way (BUS speed) but just doing a lookup based on the model. I think these are still 1333mHz chips:

        Specs: DDR3 PC3-10600 • CL=9 • Unbuffered • NON-ECC • DDR3-1333 • 1.35V • 1024Meg x 64

        Assuming I am right about that, what would I need to purchase? Same specs but “1600” in place of “1333”?

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett August 25, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

          Yes, you need to match bus speed first and foremost, but anything you get I’d verify thats its compatible by checking with crucial.

  48. avatar
    John August 27, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    should i buy a macbook pro with retina display now or not?

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett August 27, 2014 at 7:58 am #

      Hey John,
      Can you get Apple products easily in Pakistan? Either way it depends on your own personal situation. If you have a computer now that you are unhappy with and you have the money for a new MacBook Pro with Retina display I’d say go for it!

      • avatar
        John August 27, 2014 at 10:14 am #

        Well i’m getting it from America

  49. avatar
    Joe Corbett August 27, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    Ah, ok that makes sense… YES get one now, always check out http://buyersguide.macrumors.com before you buy anything from apple they are a great resource to find out when Apple will be updating their products lines. Good Luck!

  50. avatar
    John August 27, 2014 at 10:33 am #


  51. avatar
    Adriana September 2, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Joe, I am by no means a computer expert, but I am trying to get a computer for my sister.
    can I add the SSD the larger capacity HDD and the 16GB card to this reference computer? MB133LL/A
    I don’t want to be faced with difficulties if I buy all the pieces and the computer cant support them.
    I appreciate your advice.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett September 2, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      Hey Adriana,
      Thanks for reaching out to me! Can you confirm which computer you have… Is it this one: http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/macbook_pro/specs/macbook-pro-core-2-duo-2.4-15-early-2008-penryn-specs.html If so I would stick to removing the old hard drive and upgrading it to an SSD, but refrain from removing the optical drive. This will make the task much easier and your sister will still be able to use the DVD drive is she wants to. I’d also max out the memory as well. Once you’ve done that you should see a significant performance boost. Do you know how to reinstall the operating system on the new Solid State Drive? Just let me know and I promise to help however I can. :-)

      Memory to Order: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/5300DDR2S6GP/

      Solid State Drive to Order:

      • avatar
        Savanur September 7, 2014 at 3:45 am #


        Thank you for your wonderful post on optimising Mac usage.

        I have a early 2011 Mac Pro 15 (i7 2.2 GH, 16GB RAM ). Recently I faced problem with 512GB hard disk and replaced it with 1 TB HDD.

        I would like to go for 512GB SSD and replace optical drive with the 1 TB hard disk. I will be using both Mac OS and Windows. What’ your suggestion on using Mac and Windows effectively to boost performance

        1) Mac on SSD and Windows on HDD
        2) Both Mac and Windows on SSD and use HDD as a backup drive
        3) Go for another SSD and use Mac on first SSD and Windows on second SSD
        4) Sell this laptop and go for new Retina Mac pro 13 or 15 with maximum configuration (i7 , 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD)

        Please advice.

        Thank you,

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett September 7, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

          Hey Savanur,
          Everything depends upon how you are planning to just access windows, are you planning to use specific software sometimes or do you plan to use it a lot and play games?

          4) Is always a great option and according to Mac Rumors, now is the time to buy.
          3) Is good too and I’d considering RAIDing the SSDs and installing windows on parallels or Bootcamp depending on how you plan to use it. The RAID will be really fast, check out my post to get an idea of what performance gains you can expect.

          I hope that helps!

          • avatar
            Savanur September 8, 2014 at 12:24 am #

            Thanks Joe,

            I will be using Windows a lot via Vmware to work with specific softwares like SAS, MS-Office (prefers Win 2013 excel against Mac’s 2011 Excel)

            I would like to try option 3 and save some money :-) In case of RAIDing the SSDs, which one is better evo or pro ?

            Here in India, I am getting samsung 840 evo 500GB for $280 and samsung 840 pro 512GB for $405 (source: http://www.flipkart.com)

            • avatar
              Joe Corbett September 8, 2014 at 7:19 am #

              Ok great, it sounds like you know what you want to do. I did find this information about the pro/evo models. It looks like you’ll fine with whatever you go with. Just so you know I’ve been running a RAID 0 (striped) for many months now and have not had any issues. You should be fine if you choose to go that route. That being said I back up my data everyday and so should you. :-)

      • avatar
        Adriana September 8, 2014 at 4:49 am #

        Thanks for your answer.
        I bougth this computer for my sister: Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Laptop – 500 GB HARDRIVE – i7 QUAD-CORE – 8gB – MC721LL/A
        I wanted to know if that machine will support upgrading it to 16GB and adding an SSD or increasing the HD to 1TB. The person that sold it to me told me that it only supports up to 8GB abd I dont understand why.
        Your help is much appreciated.

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett September 8, 2014 at 7:23 am #

          Hey Adriana,
          According to MacSales.com, my go to site for parts, this model can in fact support 16GBs. Most people are unaware that these computers can support 16GBs because no one really knows why Apple didn’t offer that as an option directly from the factory. This machine should support any SSD you can get rom MacSales or Amazon. This will be a really fast machine once you make these upgrades. You’re clearly a great sister. :-)

  52. avatar
    Savanur September 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm #


    Thank you for your suggestion. I just checked SATA details of my Macbook and it shows Link Speed of 6 Gigabit and Negotiated Link Speed of 3 Gigabit. Could you please confirm whether SSD upgrade will improve performance in this case ?

    Intel 6 Series Chipset:

    Vendor: Intel
    Product: 6 Series Chipset
    Link Speed: 6 Gigabit
    Negotiated Link Speed: 3 Gigabit
    Physical Interconnect: SATA
    Description: AHCI Version 1.30 Supported

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett September 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      If you are talking about going from HDD to SDD then yes you will see a massive increase… If you are talking about seeing a speed increase from one SSD to another… You might see a small increase, but nothing too major.

  53. avatar
    John September 14, 2014 at 12:50 am #

    Hi Joe, greetings from Perth, Western Australia, 
     firstly I must say thanks for such an informative blog, it’s amazing knowledge.
    My situation is I have an early 2008 MacBook, standard with 2gb Ram, 160 Hd, 
    The screen keeps freezing up on me, so I’m wondering if I need more RAM or a larger HD ?    Or both ?
    Also can I upgrade the LION to the latest operating system ?
    My intention is to have a more reliable, and possibly a faster computer.

    Regards John

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett September 15, 2014 at 8:37 am #

      Hey John,
      Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you found this post helpful. I would need to know more about your system to suggest the appropriate upgrades for you. That being said 2GBs of ram and a 160GB HDD is not enough resources to run OSX without performance frustrations. I would certainly upgrade the RAM and upgrade the HDD to a Solid State Drive. Whether or not you can run Mountain Lion, Mavericks or Yosemite depends on your exact system. To identify your exact system choose Apple in the left hand corner -> About this Mac -> More Info… This will give you a lot more information about your computer and allow you to select the proper memory from MacSales.com. I hope this helps!

      Yosemite and Mavericks are compatible with the following systems:

      • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
      • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
      • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
      • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
      • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
      • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
      • Xserve (Early 2009)
      • avatar
        John September 16, 2014 at 3:48 am #

        Thanks Joe, I really appreciate you taking the time and your answer. :)

  54. avatar
    Universal October 8, 2014 at 3:03 am #

    Thanks for taking the initiative in starting this site. I’m sure you have helped hundreds or people by doing what you do. Hopefully I’m one of those people.
    For starters I have never owned or used a mac, period. I have only used PC. However 2 of my really good friends suggested I look at the MBP. So I went to the Apple store and played around with them. I was amazed! The battery life really stood out to me as well. And the operating system is different than windows, but I liked what I seen. I always stayed away from apple because of having t learn a whole new OS, and the fear of having to buy all new software to convert everything that I have on my PC. But this seems now not to be the case at all.
    I looked at the new Retina’s and the anti-glare is very nice!! But They are a bit pricey..!! Especially if you want to get one with a good bit of RAM and SSD space. Plus I wasn’t happy with the fact that what you get is what you will have, with NO options… So I was brought to my attention about the certified/ refurbished MBPs.

    Was looking at a Refurbished 13.3-inch MacBook Pro 2.4GHz Dual-core Intel i5 with Retina Display.
    Originally released October 2013
    13.3-inch (diagonal) Retina display; 2560-by-1600 resolution at 227 pixels per inch
    4GB of 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM
    128GB Flash Storage1
    720p FaceTime HD camera
    Intel Iris Graphics

    But it’s not enough memory, nor can it be upgraded.

    So i looked at the Refurbished 15.4-inch MacBook Pro 2.3GHz Quad-core Intel i7
    Originally released June 2012
    15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, 1440-by-900 resolution

    4GB (2 x 2GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    500GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm
    8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 512MB of GDDR5 memory

    I’m really kinda leaning towards this one (the 15.4). And my reasoning is that I can upgrade the memory from 4GB to 16GB. Then eventually swop out the 500GB ATA HD for a 500SSD or a 1TB SSD.
    If I go this route will the 15.4 operate almost or as fast as the 13.3 with retina,,??

    Would this overall be a great choice yes or no,,??
    And are there any reasonable upgrades that would improve the screen quality, maybe not complete retina quality but close,,???

    I would like whatever I get to last me for 3-5 yrs, if possible…

    My use for this unit will be mainly for;
    1.) Creating Documents
    2.) Numbers/ Excel (spreed sheets/ inventory)
    3.) Creating videos (nothing to major)
    4.) watching movies from time to time, music and surfing the web.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett October 8, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Thank you for the kind words. Welcome to the Apple cult! I think you will enjoy it here. ;-) The most important factor here aside from what you can afford is what you plan to use this system for which you laid out nicely in your comment. The uses that you listed mean that the performance of your system are not a huge factor here aside from using an SSD so the next question is screen size. If you can afford the Retina I would say they are a great purchase now, but if you want to save a few bucks and easy your way into the Apple world I think think the used system you mentioned would be a great fit. Just make sure they are compatible with Yosemite, you don’t want to go too old. Let me know what you decide to do, good luck!

  55. avatar
    Universal October 8, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    Thanks Joe for your response. The screen size isn’t a huge factor, but the larger screen would work better with spread sheets. But storage space and decent speed is very important to me. And of coarse trying to keep cost at a minimum to some degree… But as I said after purchasing the unit I hope to keep it for 3-5 yrs. So I want to make the right choice.
    Is the 2012 15.4-inch MacBook Pro 2.3GHz Quad-core Intel i7 compatible with Yosemite??
    Is Yosemite the OS that is coming?

    Thanks in advance

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett October 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

      Yosemite should be out this month it is the latest version of OSX and will run just fine on the 2012 MacBook Pro you mentioned. I think That machine would last you 3-4 years if upgraded to SSD and 16GBs of RAM. Good Luck!

  56. avatar
    Universal October 17, 2014 at 3:45 am #


    If the ATA hard drive is changed out to a SSD will it give a 15′ Mac Book Pro more battery life on a single charge?


  57. avatar
    Edu December 10, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    Hello Joe ! I’m Edu from Brazil and your post is helping me a lot. I want to go to NY next year and thought of bringing a MBP perhaps retina ( because until September 2015 should now stop making the non- retina) .

    But my brother has 2 MBP (early 2011 and late 2011) and he may sell one to me . Both me and he intend to do maximum upgrade the devices.
    He already has 8GB Ram 1600 Mhz MBP late 2011 ( even some saying that only accepts 1333. )

    Does the MBP early 2011 accept 16GB 1600Mhz ? I also want to put SSD 512 in primary and secondary use my 120 gb SSD who already own or 1TB HDD.

    Congratulations on the posting and hugs !

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett December 14, 2014 at 11:31 am #

      Hey Edu,
      Sorry for the delay here! The early 2011 does accept 16GBs, but I don’t think the clock speed is 1600Mhz, check out the options here. I like your upgrade plan, but I will say they Retina’s are now battle tested machines and are a great buy depending on what you need them for. Good luck and have a great holiday!

      • avatar
        Octav December 15, 2014 at 6:59 am #

        I have 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 installed in an early 2011 17″ MBP and it works fine, recognized as 1600MHz. I’ve tried 16GB and it was fine, but that was 1333MHz. I see no reason why 16GB of 1600MHz wouldn’t work.

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett December 17, 2014 at 10:17 am #

          Hey Octav,
          Looks like you just taught me something. I had no idea that would work. Found a good conversation about it here.

      • avatar
        Edu December 16, 2014 at 11:56 am #

        yeah … the doubt continues! hahaha !

        The problem is that Brazil is one of the most expensive countries to buy Apple. IPhone 6 – $ 1,176 US dollars. And so does the Retina . I do not know if I buy a new MBPR or buy a MBP 2011/12 and make upgrades . = / Be what God wants ! Hugs and Happy Holidays

  58. avatar
    Lazaro December 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    Here is a silly question for any one who can help.
    I love apple products, but sadly I do not know much about it. recently bought a Macbook Pro Retina Display Mid 2012 with a 256 Gb SSD, when I was ready to upgrade to a larger SSD I found that these SSD drives are so expensive. And I had no idea about this. So my question is. Is there a way to upgrade my Macbook Retina to a larger drive, other that these SSD’s Drives? Unfortunately money is a problem for me and I do not want to spend $700 – $ 900 Dollars on a larger SSD drive. Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    • avatar
      Octav December 25, 2014 at 5:46 am #

      I recently upgraded my MBPr’s SSD, if you’re interested to buy my original 512GB module please send me an email at octavpo@aim.com. Thanks.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett December 26, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

      Hey Lazaro,
      You can upgrade your MacBook Retina to a larger SSD, but it is more expensive because it uses a different type of storage technology. You can see compatible chips here. Note you’ll also need a special screw driver to take your Retina MacBook Pro apart, found here. Good luck!

  59. avatar
    Mark December 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    You have inspired me to upgrade my daughter’s mid2010 15″ MacBook pro., Os X 10.8. I am comfortable with the hardware work, but being not really versed in mac speak, I am most concerned about migration of Os and data.

    I have cloned her hard drive to an external hard drive after reading other tutorials. I believe it is a solid clone, done with proper protocols.

    Can I go ahead now and replace the hard drive with the 256SSD, put the hybrid drive in the optical bay, replace the RAM, and then boot from the external hard drive?

    After that, move OS and apps to SSD, and data to hybrid? I am wondering about the OS upgrade. Show I do that first?
    I hope I don’t sound too needy, but I the Mac stuff sounds so simple and straightforward that I am antsy.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett December 26, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      Hey Mark,
      Here is what you can do…
      1. Updated the Primary Drive to SSD
      2. Take the old drive and put it in the optical bay. DO NOT FORMAT OR TOUCH THE DATA.
      3. Install OSX Yosemite to that New SSD drive. Instructions for making a bootable installer of Yosemite can be found here.
      4. Once you have Yosemite installed on the SSD boot up Yosemite and follow the setup instructions.
      5. At some point it will ask you if you want to import a user account choose “from another drive” or something like that and locate your old user account on the old drive in the optical bay and import any user account you like.
      6. Once you’ve booted into the account and verified that everything is fine, format the old drive so it can serve as Secondary storage.

      That should be it. Good luck! If yo have questions reply here or hit me on twitter @joecorbett

      • avatar
        Octav December 26, 2014 at 9:35 pm #


        Your plan has the advantage that it generates a clean OS installation on the new SSD, but has a couple of flaws vs what Mark seems to want to achieve: it doesn’t move any applications to the SSD, and it doesn’t separate the data on the hybrid drive vs the OS/applications on SSD (I assume the current drive is larger than 256GB so it won’t all fit on SSD). It also assumes all data is under the user account, which might not be the case (it’s not on my drive).

    • avatar
      Octav December 26, 2014 at 9:28 pm #


      Your plan sounds good to me, but I have a few comments/suggestions to make it safer:

      1. Try the external drive (by booting off it) before making any hardware changes, to make sure it works fine.
      2. Make the hardware changes one at a time, so if something doesn’t work you know what’s the culprit. You don’t need to screw the backplate in between changes, you can just press it in the middle until it clicks and it will run fine.
      3. Make sure to disconnect the battery connector before making any hardware changes.
      4. I don’t know how you plan to clone the external drive to SSD, but if you’re using Disk Utility, it will refuse to make the clone if the whole disk doesn’t fit on the SSD. So you need to first copy the data to the hybrid drive, then delete it from the external drive (and empty the trash), then clone the rest to SSD.
      5. I don’t think it matters if you do the OS upgrade first or last, but since you’ve already cloned the disk maybe it’s easier to leave the OS upgrade last, otherwise you’ll have to redo the cloning.
      6. If you have an external drive case (or buy one for about $10 on Amazon), it might be easier/safer to prepare and try the drives before you install them.

      • avatar
        Mark December 27, 2014 at 10:31 am #

        Yes, that all sounds reasonable, and the input is most welcome. I’m still not 100% on how to separate the OS and applications (which should fit on the 256 SSD?) from the data that I want on the hybrid.
        I have extra partitions on the external drive – if I follow Joe’s advice on installing Yosemite on the SSD, then import the user account to the SSD, what is my best next step to get the hybrid set up properly?
        Thanks, guys for the hand-holding.

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett December 27, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

          Hey Mark,
          First things first… How much space is taken up on your current drive? I ask because if it’s under 256 GBs this process will be much easier. To answer your next question I’ll assume you have EVERYTHING on this SSD now because your original data took up less than 256GBs… You’d simply format the second drive and partition it into 1 partition and call it something like “Secondary HDD” At the point it will show up as another internal drive with one partition and be completely empty. You can then create a massive amount of free space on the Primary SSD by following Solution 1 below.

          Solution 1: Moving your home folder to the secondary drive: A fantastic tutorial can be found here, should be mostly the same in Mavericks.

          Solution 2: Moving the home folder means you’ll lose some of the benefit of having an SSD because your apps will be executed form the slower HDD. Therefore you may consider keep the home directly on your SSD, but manually moving larger caches of files such as the iTunes folder. More on that here.

          Solution 3: This solution is more expensive as it requires you to get another SSD drive. If you do that you can RAID the drives and it will appear as one drive totaling 512GBs this will also have the added benefit of making the computer event faster. See what I mean here.

          • avatar
            Mark Conaway December 27, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

            Thanks, Joe. It’s looking good now. I really appreciate your time.

  60. avatar
    Mark Conaway December 26, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    Thanks so much for your help. It looks like I can take it from here. I will let you know how it works out either way. Cheers.

    • avatar
      Mark Conaway December 30, 2014 at 8:30 am #

      One final word – The operation was a success. My daughter is tickled with the speed of the computer and the upgrade to Yosemite.
      I am so impressed with your generosity of time and info, as well as the Mac community that pitched in.

  61. avatar
    Gerry January 5, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Hi there, I was wondering if you could help me out with my dilemma? I am currently thinking about moving from windows to mac and i have been looking at the Macbook Pro 13 2012 edition purely because you can update it easily.

    I intend to keep the Macbook for at least 4 to five years and upgrading to a SSD and 16GB of Ram. Do you think it is worth getting this model over the newer version? I will be using it for general tasks and photo editing along with web development. I just want to make an informed decision before i commit over €1000 with potential €300 upgrades.

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 5, 2015 at 11:07 am #

      Hey Gerry,
      Do you plan to get a 13″ or 15″ screen? I ask because that option will impact the price of the new computers. For example you could get a new 13″ Retina for $1,400-ish that would probably serve your needs just fine for many years. That being said if you plan to get a 15″ screen then a new retina is going to be at least $2,000+. When I wrote this post the Retina line was brand new (unproven) and even more expensive for the base model so an investment in the Retina line now is well worth it if you care about the added performance and “gorgeous” pixel packed screen. Since you’re new to Apple and OSX I’d actually advise getting the used machine for a few reasons.

      1. The used machine will force you to tinker more and learn about OSX more quickly.
      2. From what you say you’ll be doing with the machine your plans to upgrade will be more than adequate for the coming years.
      3. It’s cheaper and would leave you some funds to purchase any accessories like a new external display for example.

      Another factor to consider is storage, if you need it. The Retina gets even more expensive when you up the PCIe-based storage. With the used machine you do have more options here, an adequate SSD with a massive HDD in the secondary bay, or you could even get two SSD’s and RAID them like I’ve done here. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

  62. avatar
    Jasmine January 12, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

    Hi there,
    I stumbled upon this site trying to see if I should buy a new Macbook with Retina display, but now you made me just want to upgrade my computer! I have a Macbook Pro Mid 2012. I want to expand the memory and make it faster, what items would I buy to do this? I looked into the items you have listed and the caddy wouldn’t work for mine. I’d appreciate any insight or direction on where to find the information!


    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 13, 2015 at 10:48 am #

      Hey Jasmine,
      First of a new Retina is a good investment these days, but if you want to go the upgrade route which is still viable here is what you should do…
      1. Max out the memory – Find your computer on OWC and purchase the most memory your computer can handle.
      2. Upgrade your primary drive to SSD, there are lots of options on Amazon. If you could possibly skip swapping out the DVD drive by buying a large enough SSD then you’ll have enough space otherwise you’ll need to locate the right drive caddy. This one should work for your model.

  63. avatar
    Noah Reynolds January 14, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    I have a late 2008 15 inch MacBook Pro with a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo and 8gb of ram. I am looking to upgrade the stock hard drive to an SSD, and replace the optical bay (it doesn’t work anyway) with my old hard drive. I was wondering if you have had any experiences with a RAID 0 between a HD and SSD. Also, I have long been envious of the Hi-Res Antiglare displays, so I was wondering if I could replace the stock screen on mine. Since the late 2008 has the same display driver and connections as the 2011 for which it is intended, I would suppose that it would work as it should. I have tried to do research on the topic, but apparently few have tried this before, and those who did neglected to post their experience online. Is there anything that you could think of that would make this not work?

    • avatar
      Octav January 16, 2015 at 4:49 am #

      To me a RAID 0 between an HD and an SSD doesn’t make much sense, you’d lose most of the speed advantage of the SSD.

      Regarding the screen upgrade, I don’t know if you’ve seen the link below:


      It doesn’t provide an explicit answer to your question, but the screen supplier linked in the answer (http://www.etechparts.com/) shows that the hi-res 1680×1050 screen is compatible only with MBPs starting with 2010. You could send them a question maybe they know more.

      If I were you I’d probably sell the 2008 MBP and try to find a cheap basic configuration 2011-2012 MBP, and upgrade that one. Or just jump to a 2012 rMBP that’s already upgraded. You might find some good deals on Craigslist, if you negotiate the price.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 18, 2015 at 11:11 am #

      Hey Noah,
      The link that Octav provided from fixit.com seems to prove that this upgrade can be done. If you don’t have a lot of experience tinkering inside a Laptop you should know that there is a real risk of damaging something in the process most likely a ribbon cable. My point is you should proceed with caution here and be prepared to buy additional cables if something gets damaged in the process. If you do this upgrade I’d love for you to document the experience and tell me about it so I can share it with our readers. Good luck!

  64. avatar
    Kostas January 24, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    Hey Joe,
    Great advice throughout, thank you. I was in a similar position soon and your article help me so much! I have a mid 2012 BacBook Pro and it was running very slow. I was considering both the Air and the rMBP, they both look beautiful, but I was more after the Pro performance, because I do quantitative research at the university and I run computationally intensive algorithms.

    I was reading for SSD drives and their advantages over HDD, and so I thought before embarking to the Air or the rMBP, I would upgrade mine to see how it works. So I bought a 256G from Crucial and 8Gb RAM (I had only 4Gb) and I must say I am so impressed how fast the machine is running…. like a new one!

    Now I am left with only 70Gb of free space in my SSD drive and I am looking to upgrade my optical drive. I can put back the original 500Gb HDD drive (this option will cost only about $10) or I can buy a second SSD drive and put it in the optical bay. Obviously, the cost is a factor, but I guess the question is whether there is a performance boost on the 2nd drive (in the optical bay) or whether I should stick to the HDD.

    Thank you,

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 24, 2015 at 11:25 am #

      Hey Kostas,
      I’m very happy to help and I’m glad your upgrade went smoothly. If you looking for raw power you may consider getting another SSD (exactly the same one) and RAIDing them. I wrote a post about how you can RAID your machine here. My machine is runninng a RAID array and I’ve had no problems at all and the performance has been fantastic. Let me know what you end up doing!

      • avatar
        Kostas January 24, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

        Thank you Joe for the prompt reply. I think I will initially try to install a second SSD drive in the place of the optical unit. I think I will not do the RAID for this one (I think I need two extra drives), but corrected me if I am wrong.

        Another related question. Is 8Gb RAM enough for most applications? I do not play games, do any video editing, or other heavy stuff. Mostly I use the web, mail, iTunes, world processors, LaTeX for maths editing and from time to time I run programs like MATLAB or R. Most people in forums seem to suggest that 8Gb of RAM is enough, but I would like to know your opinion.

        Thank you again.

        • avatar
          Octav January 24, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

          Rather than asking people for advice I think you should ask your laptop. First you should be at least on Mavericks, as it introduced memory compression. Then open Activity Monitor, click on the Memory tab, and take a look at the Memory Pressure graph on the bottom while you have your software running. If it’s green you’re fine.

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett January 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

          8GBs should be enough, but if you are running Yosemite you may find that your memory always appears to be low, but what you need to keep an eye on is memory pressure. Yosemite uses up a lot of the free memory for file cacheing so stuff will open faster. The best measure for if you need more memory is if you experience a lot of slow downs. That being said a reboot will help your machien or you can run app like FreeMemory Pro to purge your memory when it there is a need to.

          If you are going to get two SSDs I strongly recommend going with the raid, that way you have 1 Partition of 500GBs that will be lightning fast. You will have to start with blank drives so yes you’ll need an external drive of some kind to backup to while you setup the RAID. If you decide this is not worth it, put a really big HDD drive in your machine so you’ll have plenty of storage. Let me know if that was clear enough. Good luck!

  65. avatar
    Kostas January 25, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    The Activity Monitor shows always green under the memory pressure, it is a green bar in the bottom. I assume I am ok at the moment with 8Gb, but may need to invest on the 16Gb to be on the safe side and yes I am using Yosemite.

    Your RAID suggestion seems very tempting, I read your other article on it. Do I need to have the same capacity in both drives (e.g. 256Gb?) and do they have to be the same brand? I have a 256Gb Crucial MX100 drive in the main drive slot and could get the same in the optical bay, or I could get a 500Gb SSD if they can be of different capacities.

    • avatar
      Joe Corbett January 25, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

      Well… If it’s working fine, then don’t bother, but if you got the money… It can never hurt to have more memory.

      Regarding mixing and matching drives in a RAID. I strongly suggest that the drives are identical in every way. Software RAIDS are safe, but they aren’t as safe as hardware raids that you find when use a NAS device like a Drobo. IF 500Gbs is enough for you then just get the same drive you have now otherwise if you upgrade you should buy two new drives that are identical.

      • avatar
        Kostas January 25, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

        Hey Joe, thank you for the advice. I think I will get the smaller drive to have a total of 500Gb (I had the same before and I did not use more than 250Gb) and it is considerably cheaper!
        I will come back here to let you know how the RAID has gone.

        • avatar
          Joe Corbett January 25, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

          Sounds good! If you back up before starting you’ll be just fine.

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