I bought my first MacBook Pro in 2011, and I’ve never been unhappy with that purchase.
But things haven’t been all sunshine and daisies for me with this computer all those years in between. Recently, particularly now that it’s running OS X Yosemite, the computer has slowed down a ton.
I tried my best to future-proof the computer. I spent a couple hundred extra dollars at first to get a better processor, and bumped up my RAM about a year after buying it to 16GB, from a measly 4 GB. I do a lot of video editing and wanted this thing in tip-top shape.
But things have not been working out lately. That’s when I read an article on Business Insider that suggested a few tweaks one can make to an old MacBook Pro like mine to make it shine.
One of the suggestions was upgrading the RAM, but I’ve already maxed my own MacBook Pro out in that category. It’s the other suggestion that has turned my personal computing world from frustration to bliss.
I ripped out the old hard drive and replaced it with an SSD (solid state drive).
This absolutely changed everything. My computer is now blazing fast with a solid state drive and 16GB of RAM. It feels brand new.
Solid state drives are becoming the industry standard. They are much faster than classic hard drives, and also more energy efficient.
And even though Apple computers are pretty locked down in general (and more so lately, this isn’t an upgrade you can do on later models), this particular augmentation wasn’t all that tough at all.
Here’s what I did:
First, I bought a Crucial 512 GB SSD from Amazon. After some research I discovered this is the best one you can buy that will fit my particular make and model.
Next, I picked up a set of small Torx wrenches that included the “T6” size. I needed that to take the mounting screws off the old hard drive and put them on the SSD.
After that, I simply unscrewed the bottom of my MacBook Pro, took the old hard drive out, put the SSD in, and screwed the lid back on (check out a good YouTube tutorial here). If you have all the tools and don’t freak out when you look at the inside of a computer, you can do all this in probably 20 minutes if you wanted to.
As for the software piece of this, you have a few options. I decided that I just wanted to install a clean version on Yosemite on my flashy new solid state drive, and eliminate the clunkiness. So, I backed up all my essential files on an external hard drive before I took out the old drive.
In order to install a clean version of OS X Yosemite you have to create a bootable USB drive for it. It’s not that tough and takes about 30 minutes (instructions here). After you install the SSD you just hold the option key with the USB plugged in and boot right from that.
You also have the option of simply cloning your old drive beforehand. If you take this option you won’t have to do anything after you install the SSD, just boot up.
The whole thing cost me about $US206 — $US200 for the SSD and $US6 for the wrench set. All that for a computer that feels like it’s brand new and has specs similar now to current models. I can’t recommend this enough.