Apple Compatible MacBook Pro SSD Upgrades

The changing form-factor of SSD drives is making quick and easy MacBook Pro and Air upgrades more challenging. As Apple has shifted from 2.5" SATA drives to micro-SATA SSD modules, now to NVMe PCIe SSD modules/blades, the choices in solid-state drive upgrade options are complex and somewhat limited. For many older MacBook laptops, off-the-shelf low-profile 7mm and 9mm 2.5 inch SATA drives have become very cheap and are easy to install.

"Classic" White MacBook SSD Drive Upgrades

A reasonably easy SSD drive swap: The Classic white Apple Intel MacBook has 3 screws in the battery compartment to access the MacBook's "L" shaped metal strip that covers the memory slot. Remove it and you'll see the plastic tab that allows you to pull out the SATA I or II speed hard drive. 4 Torx screws on the standard drive mount holes remove the thin 'tray' that holds the 2.5" SATA drive. Put tray that onto your new SATA SSD and slide it back in. Replace the "L"-shaped memory cover, then the battery. That easy.

Note: The White 'consumer' MacBooks all used a SATA I speed 1.5 Gigabit controller chip until early 2009. It wasn't until the first Unibody Aluminum models (and revised late 2009 models of the White MacBook) that Apple moved up to a SATA II 3 GBPS speed controller chip. So if your laptop is several generations old, you may not need to buy a really high-performance SSD. 'Value' series SSD's may be a better match for the 'slower' SATA I spec. Use Apple System Profiler to determine if yours is 1.5, 3.0, ot 6 Gigabit.

UniBody MacBoook Pro SSD Drive Upgrade Insights

Apple finally got design decisions right to make Unibody MacBook and MacBook PRO SATA hard drives easily replaceable. They're right under the battery compartment cover (and along with Mac Pro towers) - one of the easiest solid-state Mac drive upgrades to perform. You'll want a good Apple toolkit with a set of Torx bit drivers and small Philips screwdriver. In a nutshell: Turn off the notebook, disconnect cables, flip it over and push down the latch to release the access door, discharge static electricity, unscrew the drive retention bracket, disconnect the SATA connector, remove the 4 T-6 screws and install them on the new drive, and reassemble the computer. It's really that easy!

UniBody MacBoook Pro SSD Upgrades

Apple made things different with the built-in Li-On battery models in it's Mid 2009 and later MacBook Pros. The entire bottom cover must be removed. Then 2 Phillips screws in the drive's lock bar are removed. Lift the hard drive, remove the SATA II cable, then swap drive mount screws. Verify the rubber grommets are in position for the solid-state drive. Reassemble, noting that some of the bottom cover screws go in at a slight 15 degree angle on the rounded bevel edges. Also note the 3 right-rear screws are 13.5mm long - all others are short 3mm.

Retina MacBook Pro SSD Card Upgrades

Both 6Gbps SATA III -- and now PCIe solid-state drive modules have been used in the more recent Retina era MacBook Pro lineup. And once again, Apple has chosen to use slightly non-standard mSATA or PCI SSD connectors. Custom pin configurations and notch-spacing make retail solid-state drive card upgrades a challenge. OWC, Transcend, and Fledging seem to your main choices who provide Apple compatible modules specific to Mac.

In the Windows PC world, many desktop and laptop manufacturers jumped on and complied with widely-adopted industry standard mSATA or PCIe module M.2 connectors and pinouts that allows PC owners to find compatible solid-state drive upgrade cards from companies like Samsung, WD, Crucial, Kingston and others quite easily. Not so in the all too often proprietary world of Apple computing.

Touch-Bar MaBook Pro SSD UN-Upgrades

Apple's 2017 decision to permanently solder the SSD module onto the motherboard of it's Thunderbolt 3 - OLED Touchbar models makes end-user upgrades impossible. Your only 'upgrade' option is a BTO - Build To Order your preferred solid-state drive configuration at the time of purchase. An external USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 for additional storage or bootability is an option.

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