Advice for speeding up 2009 MacBook Pro?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by james*b, May 28, 2013.

  1. james*b macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2011
    I have a 2009 17" MacBook Pro (2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo) with 4 GB of RAM running Mac OS X 10.7.5
    It has fairly recently started running slower and slower. I have spoken extensively to Apple support who couldn't explain it - other than advising me to keep the hard drive half full - and the slowdown all seemed to follow an OS X upgrade a year or two ago.
    For example running Firefox seems to cause noticeable lags, also heavier apps such as Lightroom, iPhoto and Photoshop Elements cause problems. It soon becomes ver frustrating running these apps.
    I have moved most of the labour intensive tasks (image and photo processing) off on to another mac, but I still use the Pro for most routine work tasks such as Mail, Office, Skype etc.
    I just wondered what would be the best ways to give the Pro a little shot in the arm and maybe another lease of life without spending too much? Eg a RAM upgrade, or adding an SSD, I don't know which would be most effective (if any).
    Also, I bought the unit second hand with its optical drive removed and had planned to install something inside but never got round to it. Any idea if a modern SSD would fit in this space - eg a Samsung 840 series?
    I am ideally looking for beginner friendly upgrades... I am not worried about voiding the warranty, as it is history, but I don't have much experience opening computers and changing parts (successfully!)
    Thanks in advance!
  2. yusukeaoki macrumors 68030


    Mar 22, 2011
    Tokyo, Japan
    SSD is probably the only upgrade you can do on it.
    And raise the RAM to 6GB.

    Modern SSD would work fine but since your Mac is SATAII, it wont have the full SATAIII speed.
    I suggest getting a cheaper "not so fast" drives like Crucial M4.
    It isnt the fastest drive on the market but it is reliable.

    The optibay mod is available as well as you mentioned.
    I suggest putting the SSD in main bay for boot and apps while the large capacity HDD is set in the optibay for data storage.
  3. F1 Fan macrumors regular

    F1 Fan

    Apr 18, 2012
    I suggest watching some YouTube videos on comparing speeds between SSD and HDD on a Mac. That'll probably convince you! After that, watch some videos about how to perform the switch and see if you think you can do it. Enjoy :)
  4. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Before doing anything hardware related do the next 2 things first.

    1. Make a new User Account in Users & Groups, restart once and login into the new one, is that making a difference.

    2. Keep an eye on pageouts in Activity Monitor, if you always have then upgrading RAM would prevent your System getting sluggish.

    Edit: And an upgrade to ML should be an option as well, it's the better of the Lion versions.
  5. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    I'd go the SSD route. I have a 2009 13" 2.26 GHz C2D and it seemed like a slug with its HDD. I installed an Intel series 330 180GB SSD and can't believe the difference in speed.
  6. makaveli559m macrumors 6502

    Apr 30, 2012
    Add more RAM and get a Hybrid Harddrive, it beats the low space of an SSD and half the cost.
  7. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    Double the RAM and put Snow Leopard back on it.
  8. johnnnw macrumors 65816


    Feb 7, 2013
    Echoing others, SSD is night and day difference.
  9. Dadioh macrumors 65816


    Feb 3, 2010
    Canada Eh?
    SSD and 8GB RAM would make a huge difference.

    If you are buying an SSD you need to avoid the Sandforce drives based on the SF22xx (e.g. SF2281) SATA 3 controllers. There is a bug with your Nvidia MCP79 controller that will only detect it as SATA 1. The older SF1200 based SSD's are OK.

    Safest bet is to get something based on a non-Sandforce chip. Crucial M4, Samsung 830, 840. OCZ Vertex 4, etc...

    Although you only have SATA 2 and that will limit sustained read write speeds there is still an advantage to buying a newer technology SSD since the small 4K IOPS will be much faster and that is where you notice the speed of the SSD most/.

    Good luck....
  10. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base


    Exactly this!

    8GB Ram + SSD 840 Basic
  11. Mighty Anderson macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2012
    It is not true Dadioh, Intel 520 uses SF 2281,The Sandforce controller firmware in the Intel SSD's are the best one of any other manufactures,I see Intel is mainly using sandforce controllers today on their best selling SSDs.
  12. Dadioh, May 30, 2013
    Last edited: May 31, 2013

    Dadioh macrumors 65816


    Feb 3, 2010
    Canada Eh?
    Yes I know that intel uses the SF2281 in both the 520 and 330 series. And both of those drives have the same bug with the nvidia MCP79 chipset used on the late 2008, mid 2009 machines. Intel knows about the bug but has decided not to fix it. As far as i know the only vendor that provided a firmware fix for this issue is OCZ who did this for their Vertex 3 and Agile 3 drives. All other vendors chose not to provide a firmware fix.

    If you have personally used an intel 520 SSD on the MCP79 and achieved SATA 2 speeds then a screenshot would be appreciated. But the info you provided above is just generic info about intel SF2281 based SSDs so I suspect not.

    So my recommendation stands. If you have a machine that uses the Nvidia 9400m/MCP79 then the easiest way to avoid grief is to stay away from the SF2281 drives. If you must buy one then at least get the Vertex 3 or Agile 3 and update to latest FW. Otherwise there are lots of better solutions that will work at full SATA 2 speeds.

    I have 2 intel 330 180gb drives by the way and love them. But they are on i7 iMacs that don't use the nvidia chipset. I also have OCZ Vertex 2, Vertex 4, Agile 4, Vertex Plus, Patriot Inferno, Samsung 840, Crucial M4 SSDs in my machines around the house so I am a bit of an SSD addict :)

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