Mid-2009 13-inch MacBook Pro - is there any HDD upgrade that will work?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by DSTOFEL, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #1
    I've bought the mid-2009 13-inch 2.26 MacBook Pro (5,5) when it came out. Mine has the "stock" 160GB HDD. My question is very basic: Is there "any" 3rd party upgrade HDD that has been proven/tested to to work with my MacBook pro model?

    BTW....I have the EFI 1.7 firmware installed. I've researched this topic at nauseum......and am more confused now than when I started the research:confused:

    I've read so many posts of "beach ball's", "EFI rollback's", etc.... that I'm not sure which way is up at this point.....with regards to whether or not I can "successfully" upgrade the HDD on my MacBook Pro.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. macrumors 601

    alust2013

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Location:
    On the fence
    #2
    Yep, it's been done plenty of times. Did it to my Aluminum MacBook in fact. You can use any 2.5" HDD that is 12.5mm or less in height and has a SATA interface. My personal preference is Western Digital, but other brands work as well. If you're looking for capacity, you can get up to 1TB @ 5400 RPM, or if you're looking for more speed, you can go with a 7200 RPM drive, up to 750GB. If you don't need quite that much space, you could get a drive in the 320-500GB range for pretty cheap.
     
  3. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    #3
    I don't want to lead you in the wrong direction, I come from a 9 year winPC history (not knowing macbook cons) but here's my thought. If the HDD fits (height) and the connectors match up I don't see why you can't upgrade your HDD. If in doubt buy a potential upgrade drive (sounds stupid) hook it up via usb, format it in the OS, make it journaled or whatever, clone your drive and then replace. Or start with a fresh install on a new partition.

    Just my thoughts..
     
  4. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #4
    Thanks for the feedback!

    My understanding from the research I've done is that the EFI 1.7 upgrade to allow 3Gbps SATA speeds creates a problem for normal SATA I "non Apple Stock " drives, SATA II drives that support 3Gbps and SSD drives for my particular model Macbook pro. I've read that some people seem to be able to downgrade from EFI 1.7 to 1.6 to "fix" the issue. I'd prefer not to have to go this route....if at all possible.

    My main question is: Can anyone provide specific make/models for "any" HHD's or SSD's that will work (ie as a upgrade/replacement) with my model MacBook Pro (ie SATA I, SATA II, HDD, SSD, etc...)? In my research, I've come across so many makes/models that are not playing well with the mid-2009 macbook pro. I'm just hoping to find a few that "will" work!

    Thanks,
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2009
    #5
    you are making this very complicated, just swap with a 2.5 hd and call it a day plz
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2010
    Location:
    east coast
    #6
    My wife just got me a Hitachi travelstar 500gb 7200rpm drive for mine....works perfectly. Sudden motion sensor works flawlessly. Purchased from OWC for 86 bucks.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #7
    Hitachi Travelstar

    Thanks for the suggestion. I do see that I can get some very good prices on this one right now. From doing some searches, it looks like this one should work with my model MBP, the mid-2009 13 inch 5,5 model (ie with EFI 1.7 update). Although, I did come across some posts (Appleinsider) where users with my MBP model (and EFI 1.7) had to use a Hitachi utility to throttle back (ie set the HDD) to operate in 1.5gbps mode (ie down from the 3.0gbps delivered mode) to avoid the constant "beach ball's", system freezes, etc.. caused by the EFI 1.7 update. Not sure if my year/model MBP is the only one affected. However, there are huge threads on both this site and and appleinsider that chronicle the problem.

    Just curious: What exact model is your MBP? Is it a 5,5 by chance? I'm also curious if you have the EFI 1.7 update and if so, whether or not you've had any related problems with the HDD upgrade. Thanks!
     
  8. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    #8
    Here is a source that has all of the specs of your machine based on what you provided.

    Notice that it states your SATA connector is good for 3Gb/s.

    Now search for a high rotational speed (7200 rpm is good), higher capacity (fills up quick if you have a lot of iTunes crap on your box, not to mention programs, movies, pics, etc.), don't forget about the cache buffer (32 Mb is optimal), and last of all the warranty that comes with the drive.

    Once you think you have narrowed your drives down do some google-ing and check the reviews, or check NewEgg, or this forum.

    Another thing, for what it'w worth, concerning platter drives, the quality has gone up and down, companies have been bought out and sold off, so I really don't know if there is "a best manufacturer" anymore. People may swear by one brand, I use to like the IBM drives but they since sold their operations to Hitachi which I won't buy and I can't remember why. All people have their preferences for various reasons.

    Remember, typically the larger the drive the power it is going to suck out of your system while on battery power...just FYI.

    After all my years working on laptops I've never heard of EFI nor heard of having to downgrade a "firmware-esque" driver, if you will, in order to get a HDD to work in any computer, laptop or desktop. Not saying it isn't true, just never heard of it.
     
  9. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #9
    EFI 1.7 Problem

    Thanks for the feeback! Greatly appreciated. I'm like you in that I never really had to consider whether an HDD upgrade would work (ie i've done this several times with windows PC's). This EFI 1.7 firmware issue with the mid-2009 MBP's is the only time I've run into such an issue. Here are a couple of threads that discuss the problems many have had with SATA II HDD upgrades on the mid-2009 MBP's. The 1st is 133 pages....huge thread! The second is a thread from MacRumors that has about 650 posts about the issue. Very strange problem!

    From what I can tell, this issue has yet to be resolved.

    Links:
    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2054387&start=0&tstart=0

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=729883
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
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    Not here
    #10
    I remember that when his generation of MBP came out that there was a lot of talk about the SATA controller only being ID'ed in System Profiler as SATA I (and operating as such) even though in actuality it was a SATA II controller. I also remember many people complaining that a bunch of SSDs and I think some magnetic drives weren't working reliably or at all.

    I guess the fact that people don't seem to remember these issues is indicative that they may no longer be valid. I don't think the OP is overcomplicating, I think he/she did some research and was looking for some guidance, as it relates to his/her specific iteration of uMBP.

    John
     
  11. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #11
    mid-2009 MBP

    Exactly! This is a very strange issue that at least affects the 5,5 model of the MBP and that to my knowledge was never resolved/fixed by Apple.

     
  12. skidmarc, Feb 12, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2011

    macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    #12
    Something seems rather odd from what I've read about EFI. People running 1.7 are saying that a SATA II will not run properly from a USB/Firewire port...I'm calling BS on that.

    Back to your problem, from what I have read, you will either have to find someone in your exact same situation that cares enough to respond to your thread and enlighten you, you could downgrade your EFI to 1.6 and run at SATA I speeds of 1.5 Gb/s and upgrade your HDD accordingly (they are expensive compared to SATA II drives) or you could use an external 2.5 HDD (or flash drive) for additional storage.

    I don't know what your ultimate goal is: performance, storage, both, etc.

    After reading a few threads on the EFI it seems as though complaints started to die off as the newer MBPs came out...presumably to fix the controller problem.

    ***Edited***
    Yes as pointed out below he could run a SATA II drive on 1.6, most controllers are backwards compatible with slower model correctly outfitted drives...if the connections fit.
     
  13. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    #13
    I have a mid-2009 13-inch 2.26 MacBook Pro (5,5). After I bought it in November 2009 I tried upgrading it with a Western Digital WD5000BEVT 500 GB hard drive and got constant beachballs. So I put the original Apple 160GB drive back in and gave up on upgrading it.

    I have read all the threads on all the forums and there has never been a definitive solution to the problem. When I finally do upgrade or replace the hard drive I plan on taking my Macbook Pro to the Apple Store first and asking them to downgrade it to EFI 1.6. That should work. The advice from the previous poster is incorrect though. You would not need to specifically get an SATA 1.5Gb/s hard drive. Just a regular SATA 3Gb/s drive.
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2010
    Location:
    east coast
    #14
    Yes it's a 5.5...I just checked and yes the update is in there. I have had no issues at all. Performs perfectly. No freezes or balls here .

    Main reason I went with hitachi...it s the exact same drive as originally used in my MBP. I looked at the spec sheet and compared it to the one for the oem drive. I even called OWC to confirm with them and there is no reported issues with this drive.
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #15
    OP I have the same MBP as you, bought June/July 09 or whenever they released. I've upgraded my HDD to an WD 500GB. I only notice a slight freeze/beachball when its been idle for a few minutes...then spins back into action. I thought that was normal.

    Its not a major problem for me, and tbh I reckon I now need to upgrade my ram to 4GB, as with my (limited computer knowledge) I believe that should help a little.
     
  16. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2009
    Location:
    Kyoto, Japan
    #16
    I have a mid-2009 15-inch 2.53 MacBook Pro (5,4) with Firmware 1.7. After I bought it in Oct. 2009 I tried upgrading it with a Western Digital WD5000BEVT 500 GB Scorpio Blue hard drive and got constant beachballs. Another try with a seagte Momentus 500GB 7,200rpm HD worked fine, quiet, fast and little vibration. Then I found a Hitachi 500GB 7,200rpm HD on sale, bought it on impulse and installed it. Same results as with the Seagate, very quiet, no vibration, fast and no problems with the firmware, ie., no beachballs.
    So, I can say either the Seagate and Hitachi should also work in your MacBook Pro (5,5) with Firmware 1.7. The Seagate Momentus line now aslo has a 750GB model.
    HD drives are cheap enough now that you can buy 2 or 3 if necessary to find one that will work right, use the others in external cases for backup. :cool::eek::cool:
     
  17. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #17
    Thanks for all of the information everyone....very helpful!

    I think what I'm going to do is order the Hitachi 500 GB 7200, SATA II HDD (Model: 0S02858). It's about $62 bucks at Amazon. I'll first try and install it leaving my EFI 1.7 firmware update "as is". If I run into the EFI 1.7/SATA II problems others have reported, I'll make an appointment at the Genius bar at the Apple store here in Atlanta and ask them to downgrade the firmware to 1.6.....then reinstall! Hopefully, I can get it to work. If not, I'm only out $62 bucks and a little time. So, no worries if things don't work out.

    I'll follow-up with a note to this thread to post the outcome.

    Thanks again!
     
  18. sydenham, Feb 12, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2011

    macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2010
    #18
    I wouldn't worry too much. Just get your new hard drive and put it in. The worst thing you will have to do is roll the firmware back. You may even find that your machine will not have any problem. I thought it primarily affected the 2009 15 inch models. You could roll the firmware back yourself. I had to roll back the firmware in mine. If you just follow the instructions its not that hard, just remember to hide the 1.7 update when it shows up again.
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 11, 2008
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    Not here
    #19
    Glad you got some helpful responses!
     
  20. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #20
    Thanks for the tip!!!

     
  21. thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 11, 2011
    #21
    Follow-up

    Just wanted to post a quick follow-up after the HDD upgrade.

    All went flawlessly with the upgrade to the Hitachi 7200 HDD (Model: 0S02858) on my mid-2009 Macbook Pro. Startup and opening of applications is noticeably faster and everything moves along at a quicker pace in general with the new drive. I would say the 7200, 500GB HDD is a "bit" louder than the 5400, 160GB stock drive, but nothing to be concerned about. Vibration is not an issue.

    For those of you who have the mid-2009 model and are concerned about the EFI 1.7, SATA II issue, you should consider this drive. Hitachi has a tool that you can download (Hitachi feature tool) that let's you force the speed of the drive to operate at 1.5Gb/s (versus the 3.0Gb/s at which the HDD is delivered). From all of the research I've done, this is the "trick" for getting this drive to work with the mid-2009 MBP's and EFI 1.7. I did this before cloning the drive and have not experienced any "beach balls's, system freezes, etc...

    Just wanted to pass this along!
     
  22. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #22
    Follow-up

    Just wanted to post a quick follow-up after the HDD upgrade.

    All went flawlessly with the upgrade to the Hitachi 7200 HDD (Model: 0S02858) on my mid-2009 Macbook Pro. Startup and opening of applications is noticeably faster and everything moves along at a quicker pace in general with the new drive. I would say the 7200, 500GB HDD is a "bit" louder than the 5400, 160GB stock drive, but nothing to be concerned about. Vibration is not an issue.

    For those of you who have the mid-2009 model and are concerned about the EFI 1.7, SATA II issue, you should consider this drive. Hitachi has a tool that you can download (Hitachi feature tool) that let's you force the speed of the drive to operate at 1.5Gb/s (versus the 3.0Gb/s at which the HDD is delivered). From all of the research I've done, this is the "trick" for getting this drive to work with the mid-2009 MBP's and EFI 1.7. I did this before cloning the drive and have not experienced any "beach balls's, system freezes, etc...

    Just wanted to pass this along!
     
  23. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    #23
    Thank you for posting a follow-up.

    How did you run that tool? Did you put the drive in a Windows PC? Also, did you try the new drive in your Macbook Pro without modifying it first?
     
  24. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #24
    Your Welcome...glad to help.

    To answer your questions:
    1. Yes, I burned the ISO file for the Hitachi tool onto a CD, put the new Hitachi drive in a windows PC and booted from the CD in order to run the Hitachi tool and make the SATA speed setting changes. The whole process took about 5 minutes.

    2. No, I didn't try the new drive in the MBP before I modified it. I kind of wish I'd had at least given it a shot. I might still give it a try....it wouldn't take much effort.

     
  25. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    #25
    Changed SATA speed setting from 1.5 to 3.0

    Just a quick update. Your question sparked me to give the drive a try at the SATA 3.0 speed. I plugged the drive back into my windows PC this morning, loaded the Hitachi tool and reset the SATA speed from the 1.5 setting I had to 3.0.

    So far, so good. No beach ball's or freezes yet. Not really sure how what a good test would be to try and trigger the problem (ie if it exists on my MBP). The test I did was to copy a 6GB file from one folder on the HDD to another folder. I did this test before the SATA speed change (ie when it was set to 1.5 and after the change to 3.0. The results: Exactly the same time to copy the file 2 minutes, 34 seconds (give or take a second or two). I watched the activity monitor during both copies and no freezes with either test. So, so far, so good with this drive at SATA 3.0 and my mid-2009 MBP. One note: I did not enable the "Spread Spectrum Clocking" on the hitachi tool with either speed setting (not sure what this is or if it would make a difference)?

    I'm not really sure how to measure the speed of the drive. I watched Activity monitor (Disk Activity tab: set to IO mode) during both copies. The average Data written/sec was about 40mb for both the 1.5 and 3.0 settings test. 54mb was the highest I saw it jump to. Not sure if I was watching the right setting?

    I wonder since I'm okay with this SATA II drive at 3.0, if this means I'd be okay replacing the HDD with an SSD? I've heard nightmares about those in the mid-2009 MBP too. I may give it a try if prices on the SSD's drop a bit.

     

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