13" mid-2012 drive cable replacement

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by macstatic, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. macstatic macrumors 65816

    macstatic

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    #1
    My 13" mid-2012 MacBook Pro seems to have the dreaded hard drive cable problem (my experience being that it often takes forever to boot and open up apps or files) which I've heard is a common problem for this particular model, so I'm considering getting a new drive cable, following the iFixit instructions.

    I see iFixit selling the cable for around US$ 45 (plus shipping I assume) while at eBay you can get them for from around US$ 10 (plus shipping) for what appears to be the same thing. Are the eBay ones inferior copies while the iFixit cable is the real deal? Obviously i don't want to pay more than necessary and they're all no doubt made in China anyway...
     
  2. treekram macrumors 65832

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    #2
    If you're close to an Apple Store, you can try to see if they'll replace it for free (call for an appointment). There's supposedly a "silent" repair program and several people here have reported that Apple replaced the cable.

    As for eBay vs. iFixit, you get what you pay for.
     
  3. CleanFeed macrumors member

    CleanFeed

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    #3
    I did this on my old 2012 MBP. I used a cable off eBay, it worked fine but didn't fit as neatly as the original Apple cable. it was slightly too long so there was a bump in the cable.
     
  4. JPNFRK7 macrumors 6502a

    JPNFRK7

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    #4
    Used the iFixit cable on my Mom's 2012. Worked great and super simple install. Also didn't fit exactly as well as the Apple cable as it comes flat and you have to bend it into position.
     
  5. macrlz9 macrumors 6502

    macrlz9

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    #5
    Go to an Apple Store, it's free for all 2012 models...
     
  6. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

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    #6
    You have given no reason why you believe it's the cable not the drive at getting on for 5 years old it's probably the drive dying rather than the cable unless you have opened it up and played around with it the cable is probably still fine. You can check by putting the drive in an external enclosure and booting from there or running a hard drive diagnostic.

    First I would do a disk repair in disk utility if that doesn't help run hard drive checking software and do the external enclosure check that will probably show you need a new hard drive, at which point replace it with an SSD for better than new performance.

    If the drive seems fine then do the cable replacement, I would replace the HDD with an SSD anyway while you are in there, it really is the best single thing you can do to upgrade your computer.
     
  7. BarracksSi Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #7
    It could be both the cable and drive, too.

    A few months back, when my mid-2012 13" started acting up, I ran Disk Utility while booted in Recovery Mode and it said the drive was failing. I made backups after rebooting normally and ran regular backups from then on, but it seemed to run fine.

    Later, when it started getting weird again (especially taking FOREVER to boot), I booted into recovery mode and ran Disk Utility again -- but it found no errors, saying the disk was fine.

    I took it to the Apple Store a couple days later. When the Genius plugged in their diagnostic tool and started its run, the Mac started beachballing, and she said right away, "Usually, on a 2012 13", if it does this, it's the drive cable going bad. I'll get started on a work ticket to have it replaced." I approved, and she took it into the back while I left to go shopping.

    A couple hours passed without contact from them, so I went back to see what was up. They were probably minutes away from calling me to tell me that, after opening it up, they checked the drive itself and found that it was failing as well. Although the cable was covered, the drive wouldn't be, and I'd have to pay for a new one.

    In the end, they covered the new cable and all labor, and I paid less than eighty bucks for a new drive. I may upgrade to an SSD later on, and as long as this bugger keeps running the current macOS, it's more than enough for my needs.
     
  8. macstatic, Mar 14, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017

    macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816

    macstatic

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    #8
    I actually bought it in 2014, but that's still 3 years so it's a good idea to check the drive in an external enclosure first.
    But I highly suspect it's the cable because it's been slow as molasses ever since I can remember.

    Replacing the drive with an SSD is something I plan to do some time, but prices are still high if you want a reasonably large one, so I'm holding that off (I know some people replace the DVD drive with a hard drive bracket where they put the old and large (mechanical) hard disk drive, then put an SSD where the hard drive used to be, but I think it's nice to have a built-in DVD player, so it's not for me).

    Is it a lot of work to open up the computer in order to take out the drive and put it in a 2.5" USB enclosure for testing? And will I lose any warranty by opening it up or is upgrading the RAM and hard drive what Apple would consider "user-serviceable"?
    --- Post Merged, Mar 14, 2017 ---
    Yes, but if it's not the cable (or drive) they'll charge me for opening up and checking the machine.
    My other Mac (Mac Pro) has multiple drives and a boot SSD so I'm used to everything running a lot faster, but still I can't believe it's right that the Macbook Pro should be so slow at everything (I've had several Macs in the past with normal hard drives and can't recall them being that slow).

    It might be worth contacting a Mac dealer though and see what they have to say about it.
     
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

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    Oct 24, 2013
    #9
    Unless you have Apple care your warranty is up anyway, ram and HDD are also user replaceable in that machine. If it's got applecare they'll fix it anyway.

    It's easy to open up and remove the drive you will need a number 6 torx screwdriver though. An SSD is always a good idea if you can swing it makes a massively difference especially with modern OS X versions. They are much cheaper these days.

    https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-MX30...?ie=UTF8&qid=1489487939&sr=8-1&keywords=Mx300

    Do check the drive booting externally if it's just a $20 cable replacement it's an easy fix.
     
  10. DaveOP macrumors 65816

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    #10
    A real Apple Store does not charge for diagnostics. Maybe if you're outside the US it's different, but in the States they only charge if a part is used. The hard drive cable with bracket is ~$18 there, often they wont charge labor since it's a quick repair. (At least I never did when I worked there).
     
  11. macstatic, Mar 19, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017

    macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816

    macstatic

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    #11
    DaveOP: I'm outside of the US (Norway) and that's what I've been told, so I'm thinking it's just quicker and simpler to do myself.

    So I've started timing the bootup and reboot procedure with the drive mounted internally several times. I've timed it to between 53 seconds to around 1 minute (till I reach the login screen) regardless of booting from power off state or clicking on "restart" from the login screen. This is using the standard 500GB hard drive which was factory installed from Apple (I've used about 85GB).
    Does this sound normal or painfully slow compared to other people's equivalent machines here?

    Samuelsan2001: I didn't know SSD prices had come down so much, so I might just consider replacing my drive soon. Brand-wise I've heard that Samsung is the way to go for reliability, which is why I installed two Samsung 830-series (128 GB each) drives in my Mac Pro. Is Samsung still the one to go for, or are other brands worth considering these days (such as Crucial as you linked to) if you want a reliable and reasonably fast drive?

    UPDATE: now here's something interesting. I decided to take a look inside and look what I found!
    IMG_1431.jpg IMG_1437.jpg IMG_1449.jpg

    Although the cable isn't exactly cut in two it appears to have been mistreated, somehow forcefully folded, and I'm guessing there's an intermittent contact problem. The computer was bought brand new and never before opened, so I have no idea how this has happened.
    Surely this must qualify as a warranty issue.
     
  12. BarracksSi Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #12
    Maybe, but it'd be a hard sell as a warranty-covered problem if it's been opened.

    Doesn't matter if you opened it yourself, either. When you call for support, whoever you talk to on the other side of the phone will wonder if someone else opened it and damaged it, or if you did it yourself to try to claim a free repair or replacement.
     
  13. macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816

    macstatic

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    #13
    I see what you mean, but on the other hand: why would someone open up their machine, mess up the cable attached to the original hard drive and ask for a replacement? There are probably dozens of reasons, but it might just as well be that the customer wanted to check for loose SIMMs or other problems causing it to be so slow, thereby opening it up to check (after all, this model has "user replaceable memory and hard drive").

    I haven't actually removed the hard drive yet, for putting it in an external USB-3 enclosure because I'm waiting to hear if my boot times are representative of this machine, or if those times indicate a faulty drive and/or cable.
     
  14. BarracksSi Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #14
    Or because they wanted to cry foul and invent a reason for Apple to send them a brand-new laptop.

    Eh, who knows? Get a hold of Apple again and see what they can swing for you. Cheaters and thieves usually don't write very well, but it seems like you're honest enough to get Apple on your side here.
     
  15. macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816

    macstatic

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    #15
    Thanks :)
    I moved the hard drive over to an external enclosure but the boot times stay around the same as before. But the "beachball" doesn't seem to pop up as often as before though (when starting apps etc.), so this is getting a little complicated.
    Is there a special key-sequence I should press when booting up from an external drive (when there's no internal drive to be found). I would hate it if the long bootup time is caused by the computer spending time looking for the internal drive, until it figures out it's not there and then finally looking for an external one instead of just booting from the external one right away.
    It's in an external USB-3 enclosure now.
     
  16. iMacC2D, Mar 23, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017

    iMacC2D macrumors 6502a

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  17. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #17
    Go to System Preferences and there is a pane there called Startup Disk. Go there and select the external as the boot drive and it will use that drive from then on.
     
  18. macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816

    macstatic

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    #18
    Really? I do that all the time, but never tried booting a Mac without an internal drive present.
    So the Powerbook doesn't search for an internal drive first, then when it doesn't find one continues to search for an external drive with OSX on it?
     
  19. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #19
    Yes it will do that, but you can avoid the slow boot that causes by selecting the boot drive in that pref pane I mentioned. Otherwise it takes a long time to boot while it searches around for a boot drive.
     
  20. macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816

    macstatic

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    #20
    I understand.
    After timing the internal drive booting (while placed in an external USB-3 enclosure) I decided to try booting from another external drive (also USB-3) containing a bootable backup clone of the same machine.
    Well, turns out that it actually took a couple of seconds longer to boot, and just to be on the safe side I rebooted several times with the same result.

    So I fear Apple will say that neither the drive nor the cable is at fault (even though hard drives are known to be failing even though they appear to work perfectly now and then -I've even experienced a drive with a perfect SMART status to be dying), so I think I might just order a new cable myself and avoid all the hassle with Apple.

    I came across MacBook Pro 2012 hard drive issue by Danny Dullin which explains the procedure in more detail than usual including the part numbers of the cables. He says the old part number is 821-1480-A and you should instead look for 821-2049-A or 923-0741. The one found inside my MBP is 821-2049-A, but still unlucky because of the folded bags they came in apparently.
    I read that some people have been receiving cables that are a bit longer than the original Apple one, but perhaps some dealers only sell one cable which works for both the 13" and 15" MBP. I should probably just go for another 821-2049-A, but how about 923-0741 mentioned above? Is it an improved, newer cable?
    Several Chinese eBay sellers have the 821-2049-A or 923-0741 (often referred to with both numbers!) for around US$ 13 and onwards. Are these usually fakes or the exact same cables as Apple uses but not sold through the correct channels, thereby a lot cheaper than if you get them through an Apple service centre?

    I'm still curious as to how long a startup for this particular Mac normally takes, but having tested with two separate drives I'm so far concluding that it really just takes that long (around 1 minute give or take a couple of seconds), perhaps also due to just having the stock 4GB RAM as well.
     
  21. macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816

    macstatic

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    #21
    Good news!
    I got my MBP repaired under warranty. They replaced the "HD bracket with cable" (part no. 923-00975) and it looks fine now (no folded cable or any other visible damage).

    I haven't had the time to thoroughly test the machine, but it appears to start up a lot faster than before so the cable must have had contact problems already. Now I'm going to do a fresh reinstall of everything (I did make a clone backup but on second thought that's from only a partly functioning hard drive so there might be errors. Better to start from scratch and do it properly).
     
  22. Midnight_Habit macrumors newbie

    Midnight_Habit

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    Sep 30, 2017
    #22
    Sadly, the free replacement program ended in July 2017, according to the Mac rep I spoke with yesterday. Since, my 2012 is out of warranty, it's DIY for me. Mine was replaced by Apple within a few months of purchase and has failed again a few months later (just after my warranty expired).
    From what I can tell, OE or aftermarket will continually fail. Having scoured forums and negative Amazon reviews, they all fail and need repeated replacement. The most common cause seems to be that the rough housing rubs on the thin insulation and wears it away, causing shorts. To prevent this, you must protect the cable with electrical tape.

     
  23. macstatic, Sep 30, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017

    macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816

    macstatic

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    #23
    Thanks for your comment.
    That's a good point, to use electrical tape to prevent it from happening again!
    Fortunately, as posted above, my MBP got repaired for free. I can't remember if I looked closely enough if there was any tape or anything else to protect it from happening again, so I should probably open it up and look again.
    I'd likely DIY fix it myself if it happened again, but the cost for the cable alone is too much (with shipping to outside the U.S.) if you don't go the eBay route that is...


    UPDATE
    Midnight_habit: I'm not entirely sure, but I think the soft black "pads" shown in the photo below right after I got my MBP back from servicing wasn't there to begin with. Has anyone else here noticed them originally or after having their MBP repaired?

    I suppose Apple may have learnt their lesson and try to prevent it from happening again.

    20170424-125116__MG_7885-Edit-2.jpg
     

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