I’ve been intrigued about putting a SSD in my Mac ever since I reading about the performance gains that can come from doing so. This November, the AppleCare in my late 2008 MacBook Pro expired, so I decided to go for it.
Let’s get started.
I’ve heard good things about OCZ SSD drives and they are considerably less expensive per GB than Intel drives. With that being said, I’ve also heard quite a few bad things about OCZ SSD drives as well; most common is that the drives dies shortly after being purchased (30 days or so). In the end, I decided to go Intel for a few reasons, the first being, I don’t really need a huge hard drive. My original hard drive was 320 GB in size, but I’m only using 90GB of it at the moment (all of my digital media is stored elsewhere). The second reason is the reviews of the drive. Almost all of them were positive with very few negatives. I’ve also bought Intel hardware in the past and have never been disappointed with it.
There was another late contender that I was looking at before I made my decision and that was Crucial’s 256 GB RealSSD C300 Drive. It’s was top-rated by CNet, the reviews that I’ve read are all fairly positive and Crucial has a very good track record with RAM. If I were to do it all over again, I might pick up this drive.
SSD’s are a fairly new technology and things move fast in this space. If you’re considering making the move, then you owe it to yourself to do some research to make sure that there isn’t a better drive for your needs.
I picked this USB hard disk enclosure after reading Fabio’s article. At ~$13, it’s a good drive enclosure with minimal fuss, but I ended up doing the upgrade without it (I just used the Western Digital drive listed below). Unless you have a specific purpose for the hard drive that you’re taking out of your MacBook Pro, then I would suggest getting a drive enclosure so you can reuse it.
I picked up this drive to do a clone of the hard drive that was in my MacBook Pro and as a media storage device afterwards.
Cloning with SuperDuper! is actually free, so you don’t need to purchase a license, but at ~27 bucks it isn’t that much for the registered version (and you’d be supporting a small Mac development shop). The choice is yours, but I opted to pick up a license.
Cloning your drive is extremely simple, I plugged in my USB hard drive, erased it using the built in Disk Utility and then chose to back up all files from my current hard drive to the USB hard drive. I’m not sure how long this took because I didn’t watch it. I kicked it off and did other things while it was working away. You can probably safely assume that it’s going to take several hours depending on the size of your hard drive and how much data that you have.
You’ll probably need a couple of screwdrivers for this depending on your MacBook Pro model. For mine, I needed a #00 Phillips Screwdriver and a Torx T6 Screwdriver.
If you don’t already have one, I suggest picking up this Syba 12 Piece set for ~9 bucks. The screwdriver comes with several bits and telescoping shaft.
Installing the Hard Drive
Although the steps are dead simple, it’s probably best to check out some videos on YouTube for your specific MacBook Pro. Here is one that I found for my MacBook Pro:
Restoring your data
Once your hard drive is installed, simply plug in the external USB hard drive and boot up computer. It should boot directly off of the USB drive if all of the steps in the section “Software” were completed correctly. After OS X is booted, open up the Disk Utility application and format the newly installed SSD.This shouldn’t take that long and after the format is complete, open SuperDuper! again and select to copy all files from the USB hard drive to the SSD drive. Restoring the data will probably take the same amount of time it took to backup so keep that in mind.
Once the restore is finished, reboot your Mac and disconnect the USB hard drive. You’ll now be booting off of the SSD. There is one thing that I should note; although SuperDuper! seems to have an option for copying your Spotlight index, it didn’t seem to do that. The first time that the Mac booted up, I noticed that the processes for Spotlight were consuming a high amount of memory and CPU. This was Spotlight re-indexing the entire drive. The time estimation on it was 8 hours but it didn’t take nearly that long (probably no more than 20 minutes).
This is probably one of the easiest hardware upgrades I’ve ever done and by far the easiest backup and restore jobs ever. The process itself (excluding backing up and restoring) should take you about 5-10 minutes. After the upgrade here is what I’m noticing:
- Boot time is greatly decreased (but honestly my computer is rarely shut down all the way and most of the time it’s asleep).
- Apps open with lightning quick speed.
- PeepOpen (a text editor file navigation utility) doesn’t stutter on really large projects.
- Running tests on projects seem to be quicker.
- It’s now completely silent. I’ve only heard the whirring of the fans when it was re-indexing the drive for Spotlight.
- It seems to run cooler.
Overall, this is an expensive upgrade, there is no doubt about that. However, if you have the money and want to squeeze all of the performance you can out of your Mac, upgrading is a no brainer.