2017 Macbook Air NVME Intel 660p 1TB Installed (SSDPEKNW010T8)

westrock2000

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Oct 18, 2013
524
22
I installed an Intel 660p in my 2017 Macbook Air and so far it seems to be working fine. I don't notice any behavioral difference from the original 128GB drive that was in it as far as sleep or booting.

I went with the Intel for the following reasons:
  1. Historical Intel reliability (though this is a new drive using new technology)
  2. Low price for 1TB (~$135-$140 as of Feb 2019)
  3. 660P having very low power usage (especially compared to Samsung Pro)
With 1TB I feel like I have no restraint on usage of my Macbook now. I don't have to worry about using for all kinds of different work. I did look at 512, especially since the price is about half. But was concerned about space usage considering I am also running Windows on this.

Installation was straight forward.

Supplies needed:
  1. Pentalobe P5 (1.2) screwdriver
  2. T4 Torx screwdriver
  3. Sintech NVME Adapter (bought mine on Amazon)
  4. USB flash stick with Mojave installer
Remove the screws along the bottom of the chassis. Turn them slowly to avoid stripping out the threads or the heads of the screws. I ended up buying a kit on Amazon that also came with new screws just in case. But I ended up not needing them. Just turn slowly to remove and install and if you feel resistance while installing, stop and restart the screw to get in it. It goes in at kind of an angle, leaning away from the center of the computer.

The chassis cover should come off pretty easy. There is a black plastic retainer in the middle that will cause some resistance, so you will need to give it a little force to pop that retainer.

With the top off, locate the battery connector and use the pull tab to remove plug.

Unscrew the T4 torx screw from the stock SSD.

Insert the new NVME drive into the Sintech adapter. Slide the combination into the connector on the motherboard. You will need to push it in quiet a bit, until the half circle on the other end lines up with the screw post. Put the T4 screw back in. The original Apple SSD is physically longer than a normal NVME drive. The Sintech adapter and the NVME drive end up being the same length.

Since there is some concern about the heat build-up of aftermarket NVME drives versus the original Apple SSD's, I used some thermal tape to couple the SSD to the aluminum chassis. This does cause the bottom of the laptop to get warm, but it's a small price to pay for pulling heat away from the harddrive. It's not "hot", but is definitely warm.

To make sure the thermal tape is actually touching the chassis, I took the protective film off just one side and sat it on the SSD with the film still between the SSD and the thermal pad. Leaving the side facing the chassis sticky. I placed the chassis back on the laptop and then removed it again. The thermal tape came up with the chassis, which told me it did touch the chassis. I pushed it firmly against the chassis and then removed the protective film on the other side. Then I reinstalled the chassis. Now the SSD and chassis are stuck together with the thermal pad. This will make it more difficult to get apart in the future, but I'm hoping not to ever have to do that (part of Intel reliability and more than enough size).

Use USB Mojave installer and go to Disk Utility and initialize the drive. Set to GUID/GPT (not MBR or Apple File System). Then format with APFS. If APFS isn't an option, do the Journaled format and then in the Edit options menu select Convert To AFPS.

Drive will now be selectable for install. And that's it. Everything worked fine for me.

Drive shows up in NVMExpress under About This Mac -> System Report with x4 Link Speed.

Battery Life: My battery life has been shorter, HOWEVER, with the increased storage I now am able to use the Macbook for a lot more tasks. I now have email set up. I also installed Parallels and am using it at the same time. When I don't have Parallels running, the battery usage is much better. But I'm not in a situation where I need to be frugal with my power. I would say, with Parallels running and using it to run Foobar2000 and making lots of writes to lots of music files, I see about 10% battery usage per 30 minutes and the bottom chassis does get warm. If I'm not using parallels, the bottom chassis barely gets warm and battery life seems to be ok.

Bootcamp Observation: I have Windows 10 on a Monster brand 240GB external Thunderbolt drive (link) that works fine. I thought I would be able to install Bootcamp with no problems on this new big 1TB drive. But it seems there is a new issue with Bootcamp and Windows installer having files greater than 4GB. So Bootcamp fails while trying to copy the install media to the temporary FAT32 partition. I tried many times and many ways to get past that. In the end I installed Parallels and I am really enjoying this. It works perfectly for what I normally need Windows for. Luckily, if I need "real" Windows like to play a game or something else I have my Thunderbolt drive that I can use. But otherwise, I couldn't get Bootcamp to work, though I suspect it is not because of the drive. I did buy Winclone and was able to successfully clone my Thunderbolt install to the internal SSD. And it would boot to Windows, but it would crash while loading Windows. I suspect this is because the Thunderbolt drive uses a different harddrive controller. Where as if you had an internal Bootcamp before and did this upgrade, while the drive might be different, you are still using the same disk controller. So when I boot from the image, Windows has a problem with the drivers. I am enjoying Parallels though, so do not feel too inclined to mess with it.












 

BigBoy2018

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2018
882
1,568
Good info. I tried a samsung 970evo with the Sintech adapter in my 2015 macbook pro but it was real wonky. Was able to install os, but then on restart got black screen.
Sometimes it would get to the desktop but had a lot of spinning beach balls, etc.

I tried a couple times with a different drive and different Sintech adapter, but same result.

Maybe for some reason it works better with the macbook airs.

For the macbook pro, at the end of the day I went ahead and got a 1tb drive from MCE Tech that's specifically made for the macbook pro's (doesn't need an adapter). It was $460 or something, but yea, but once you get used to the luxury of having that kind of space you can never go back.
 
Last edited:

Macdctr

macrumors 6502a
Nov 25, 2009
612
293
Ocean State
I had a 2TB 970 EVO in my 2015 MBA and unlike BigBoy's experience the NVMe drive performed flawlessly. Interesting to see that for some reason it does not work as well in the 2015 MBP...

I have since replaced my 970 EVO drive for a 950 PRO 500GB drive and placed the 2TB drive inside my 5,1 MP using a PCIe NVMe card. My MP did not work with the other NVMe drives I had and the 970 EVO worked perfectly so that's why I switched drives....

Good write up West...
 
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Audit13

macrumors 601
Apr 19, 2017
4,410
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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Good info. I tried a samsung 970evo with the Sintech adapter in my 2015 macbook pro but it was real wonky. Was able to install os, but then on restart got black screen.
Sometimes it would get to the desktop but had a lot of spinning beach balls, etc.

I tried a couple times with a different drive and different Sintech adapter, but same result.

Maybe for some reason it works better with the macbook airs.

For the macbook pro, at the end of the day I went ahead and got a 1tb drive from MCE Tech that's specifically made for the macbook pro's (doesn't need an adapter). It was $460 or something, but yea, but once you get used to the luxury of having that kind of space you can never go back.
Was your MacBook running the latest bootrom? Many people have successfully run the Samsung with no issue.
 
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BigBoy2018

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2018
882
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Was your MacBook running the latest bootrom? Many people have successfully run the Samsung with no issue.
If you're referring to the fact that you need to install High Sierra on the laptop first, before installing the new drive, yes I did do that. This was last summer, when High Sierra was a 10.13.5 or 10.13.6. Mojave wasn't out at that point yet.
 

Audit13

macrumors 601
Apr 19, 2017
4,410
1,112
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
If you're referring to the fact that you need to install High Sierra on the laptop first, before installing the new drive, yes I did do that. This was last summer, when High Sierra was a 10.13.5 or 10.13.6. Mojave wasn't out at that point yet.
Yes, that's what I was referring to.

It's unfortunate that you encountered these issues.
 

turbineseaplane

macrumors 603
Mar 19, 2008
5,458
8,027
I had a 2TB 970 EVO in my 2015 MBA and unlike BigBoy's experience the NVMe drive performed flawlessly. Interesting to see that for some reason it does not work as well in the 2015 MBP...
Agreed - Super weird.

I had a 2TB EVO 970 and in my 2015 15" MBP and it was literally flawless.
Everything about it was native feeling and acting...
[doublepost=1550615126][/doublepost]
Many people have successfully run the Samsung with no issue.
Yes - myself included..
Surprised to hear that report from @BigBoy2018
[doublepost=1550615358][/doublepost]Here's my DiskMark score on the HP EX950 2TB in my 2.8ghz 15" 2015 MBP (Dual GPU model)

 
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