Give Your Older Mac a Heart Transplant
By Braden Storrs
*(Not recommended for those not out of their Apple Care Coverage, preform at your own risk)
**(Backup everything first)
I have a little 2010 13 inch MacBook Pro.
It’s just something I have around for when I need to be mobile. It’s not exactly the top level workstation I’d prefer to edit on but it crawls along well enough to get me by in a pinch when I’m not near my iMac.
The problem is, I don’t like crawling along. Final Cut Pro 10 cured me of that desire a long while back.
It was pretty bad, I couldn’t even watch a full HD video in quicktime without dropped frames and “hurry and catch up moments” as the old tired internal drive was struggling to keep up. In FCP 10 I got the same behavior plus the audio would drop out. Not so fun for editing. Now some of these issues were made less by using a faster external drive but that wasn’t always an option. In general though, the whole system was lagging and many apps often hesitated when doing fairly simple tasks.
So it was time for the SSD transplant. This works on most Mac models in the last while, not just the MacBooks.
I’ve always had good luck with, and heard good things about, Crucial. Plus looking around they have some of the better price to size ratios when compared to the other reputable brands. I went with the MX100 model.
There are a few options at this point. Either you can do a strait swap of the internal drive OR you can leave the existing internal in as extra storage space and add in the SSD. The drawback is you have to sacrifice your optical drive to do it. This is the route I took. In my case I moved the old internal drive to where the optical drive was and put the SSD into the original HDD space. To place a hard drive in the optical drive space you need to use a Hard Drive Caddy that fits in the space of the optical drive and has the proper connections.
Here’s a link to an article that gives detailed instructions on how to change out the drives: MacBook Pro Dual Hard Drives The same site has similar tutorials for various Mac models. It probably took about an hour to do.
Once I had everything installed and put back together I booted up with the old drive and used Disk Utility to format the SSD to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Then you simply download the OS X Mavericks install file from the App Store and start the installer. Choose the new SSD as the target drive and it will take care of the rest. Once you are done with the install and setup steps just start the process of reinstalling your apps or wait for the setup to finish restoring everything from a backup if you chose that option. You can then format/erase your old HDD and use it as extra storage space.
I ran the Blackmagic Disk Speed App to see the difference in disk speed and it was pretty impressive.
Old Internal HDD:
New Crucial SSD:
That’s over 150 MB/s faster write speed and almost 200/MB faster read speed. Not as fast as some SSDs now available but more then fast enough for the purposes of this laptop.
The whole Mac is a new machine it seems. It can now go from powered off to ready to sign in in under 10 seconds. Apps launch wonderfully fast and respond much more smoothly then before. HD footage is no problem anymore and FCP 10 is loving it. I did a test edit and the app runs smoothly and editing and playback of multiple layers of un-rendered full HD material is effortless. Not a bad result from a comparably inexpensive upgrade.
Depending on what kind of Mac you have you may be able to add RAM or even switch out the graphics card in your quest to extend its life. These are important (especial the graphics cards to FCP 10) but do not underestimate the power of fast storage. I’d say it’s easily more important then a faster processor when you deal with large video files like we do.
Bonus Tip: Your optical drive, which was removed during this process, is not a loss. You can get a USB 2 enclosure to place it in. That way you can still use it and it’s nice and compact for travel. Here’s the link to the enclosure: DVD Burner Case It’s plastic and cheap but it looks nice and it works. Make sure and read the reviews for installation tips though.