Best setup for SSD upgrade?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by nehas91, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. nehas91, Mar 16, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016

    nehas91 macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2008
    Hello everyone,

    After much time, I am finally thinking of upgrading the RAM and HDD of my Mid 2009 MacBook Pro (I have listed the current specs of the laptop below). My hard drive is failing so I figured this would be the time to finally make some upgrades. Before I start purchasing hardware, I have a few questions that I'm hoping I can get some assistance with.

    • I am leaning towards getting a Samsung 850 EVO 250GB. Now I am not sure if this will be enough or if I should opt for a higher capacity or if any more than 250gb will be a waste?
    • What would be the optimal way to set up my SSD. I have heard that it is wise to use the SSD for the OS and applications only and to use some other method for the storage of files/folders. What options are recommended?
    Some background: My usage is about 10% general browsing, 20% college work, 20-30% downloading and watching movies, and about 45% painting in Photoshop.

    Now I am concerned about being able to run Photoshop because some files can get pretty big in terms of size and I'm worried that might cause wear to the SSD so I am not sure what is the best way to set up the SSD relative to my Photoshop usage.
    • For me to change out the hard drive and put in the SSD, are there any special tools that I need or cable that I should replace?
    • Does Mavericks have TRIM enabled? If not, what third party programs should I look at?
    • I am upgrading the RAM to the maximum allowed which is 8gb and have narrowed it down to the two brands below. Why is there are price difference and are they both the same? Which one should I go with? OWC or Crucial
    • And finally, is there anything else I should keep in mind or look into or just general suggestions/advice from those who have gone through this?

    Model Name: MacBook Pro
    Model Identifier: MacBookPro5,3
    Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
    Processor Speed: 2.8 GHz
    Number of Processors: 1
    Total Number of Cores: 2
    L2 Cache: 6 MB
    Memory: 4 GB
    Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz
    Boot ROM Version: MBP53.00AC.B03
    SMC Version (system): 1.48f2
    Hardware UUID: 866DCB7F-1F5A-5F0D-83F3-AB66EE8F9E30
    Sudden Motion Sensor:
    State: Enabled

    Sorry for the long post, I just want to make sure I get everything correct before I start with the upgrades. Thank you in advance.
  2. marioman38 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    Elk Grove, CA
    No special tools needed other than the Pentalobe screwdriver to open the bottom case. Mavericks does not have TRIM enabled for third party SSD by default. You need a command in terminal or a 3rd party GUI app like Trim Enabler. OWC and Crucial are both reputable buy whichever is cheaper.

    With SSD prices dropping rapidly. I'd seriously consider looking at 512GB models at this point.
  3. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    I recommend against splitting your filesystem across SSD and hard disk. Unless you really know what you're doing it can present usability challenges. As the previous poster recommended, get a 480+ GB drive. They are well under $150. But, if 256GB is 2x what you're using now, then get that. Don't worry about trim. In my experience OWC is nice. Crucial is also good. They have different levels of service and pricing models, so they price their products differently.
  4. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    How can we know if 250GB is enough if you don't tell us the capacity of the drive you're currently using? How can we know if using a split SSD/HDD configuration (with only OS and apps on the SSD) is appropriate unless we know how much space OS and apps currently occupy?
  5. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    It depends how much you are comfortable spending and on how much data you want to carry around.
    For "general use" 250 GB will probably be fine, its movies that really start to suck space.
    Personally, at current prices, I'd go for 500GB.

    There's no technical reason for splitting files that way other than not wanting to pay for a big enough SSD to hold everything. At your level of use, the biggest gain comes from having the system, applications and virtual memory - which involve lots of read/write operations on multiple files) on the SSD (if you're into something like pro video editing that needs insane data throughput then things may be different).

    If you do need extra storage space, you can get something called an 'optibay' or 'data doubler' that lets you mount an extra hard drive in place of the DVD drive. As far as organising data, the simplest thing to do is use the SSD/System drive as your day-to-day main drive and the hard drive as an 'archive' where you manually move bulky and/or infrequently used files (a quick Google will tell you how to move iPhoto/Photos/iTunes libraries).

    ...don't try and do it with the wrong screwdrivers.

    Bear in mind that, once you've swapped the drive, you need to get OS X onto it somehow - I don't think Macs of your vintage can do the 'boot from Internet' trick, and installing Snow Leopard from DVD and then upgrading is tedious. Make sure you've made a bootable OS X installer USB stick (google for instructions - also note recent news that previously-made sticks won't work). OR: get a cheap USB to SATA adapter (that will let you plug the bare drive into the USB slot) and, before you start, use something like SuperDuper to make a bootable copy of your current disc on to the new drive.

    I'd recommend Trim Enabler as the simplest answer:
    ...I think the basic version is still free (and throwing them $10 wouldn't hurt) and it will remind you if TRIM gets disabled by a software update.
  6. nehas91 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2008
    Ah sorry for the oversight. I currently have a 500GB drive. I've partitioned it into 2. One for the Mac OS and one for Bootcamp with Windows 7 that I mainly need to run a program called Apophysis.

    Mac HDD: used about ~80 GB.
    The movies/soccer match downloads take up the most space (~25gb) but I can either move these to an external drive or watch and delete regularly. Second are my photoshop files which take up about ~15gb but I back these up to an external drive when I'm done working on the files.

    Windows partition: used about 32GB.

    I don't keep huge photo/itunes libraries on my HDD, they're mostly on an external drive. But still I wonder if it would be wise to opt for the 500GB to futureproof it a bit or get the 250gb now and change to a 500gb later if i need the space?

    I have a bootable USB stick with Mavericks (downloaded from the app store) on it. Will it work as a clean install?
    Could you point me towards articles as to why previously made USB sticks won't work? I haven't heard anything about this until now.
  7. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Here you go:

    As for capacity: its up to you to decide how much money you want to spend. If I had 500, I'd be reluctant to downgrade to 250. Having a bootcamp partition "wastes" space (i.e. you need to leave some free working space on the Windows partition as well as the OS X one). Running windows in a virtual machine is more efficient/flexible with disc space than splitting your disc - provided it gives you enough performance.
  8. nehas91 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2008
    Yeah, I understand. The 500GB SSD's are around $150 at the moment, so I'm trying to decide if it would be wise to spend that much money right now or if the prices will drop anytime soon. There's around a $80 difference in price between 250 and 500 so it's tough to decide.
    Could you give me a bit more info on running windows in a virtual machine. Is it the same as using something like parallels or something new. I haven't been too up to date in terms of current technology.
  9. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    Upgrade to El Capitan and use Trimforce, why stick with Mavericks?

    You don't need a Pentalobe for a 2009 MacBook Pro.

    Yes. Using Parallels/VMware is using a virtual machine :)

    Go with a 500GB drive they aren't that expensive.

    If I were you I'd upgrade to 8GB of RAM as well
  10. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Yup - Parallels, VMWare Fusion or, the free option, Oracle VirtualBox.

    They're more efficient with disc space because rather than having to guess how much space you'll ever need for Windows and partitioning it off, Windows gets a 'virtual' disc which is just a big file on your Mac's disc that starts off small and only expands as the space is actually used. Also, in Parallels at least, Windows shares your Mac 'home' folder and desktop so, by default, only Windows system files and software end up on the 'Windows' virtual drive.

    If you had just one silly bit of office software that you needed windows for, I'd heartily recommend going for a VM, starting with VirtualBox because its free - Parallels and Fusion cost money but are slicker and have better performance esp. on games and graphics. Generally, I'd only bother with BootCamp for serious gaming and pro graphics stuff that really needed the full power of the machine. However, since the software you mentioned is graphics software I don't know what to recommend (my guess is if you're using it to generate static artwork rather than real-time animation you'll be OK)
  11. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2010
    London, UK
    It sounds like 250GB is enough for your needs, especially if you have an external drive and you are nowhere near using that much capacity at the moment. Not sure 'future proofing' applies to storage capacity, and it might not be worth throwing that much money at an old laptop. I can highly recommend the 850 EVO, I've installed half a dozen into Mac Pros, iMacs, MBA, MB, Mac Mini, etc with no issues ever.

    You don't need any special cables, only a screwdriver. Though if you want to clone your existing hard drive into the SSD you will need a SATA->USB cable or enclosure, and Carbon Copy Cloner (free).

    If you do want more storage than 250GB, one thing you could do is get rid of your optical drive (if you don't use it), and put the HDD in the optical drive bay (and leave as separate drives, or set up as Fusion). You will need an 'enclosure' for that, I can recommend the OWC Data Doubler.
  12. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    First test is - how full is your existing 500GB drive?
    Also, living with a drive that is 99% full is (a) annoying and (b) hits the performance of the drive, particularly with a SSD.
    However, its quite possible that you'll happily be able to live with 250GB - it's just not a decision anybody else can make for you.

    True, bit on the other hand, you're not going to want to throw another $180 at it in a year's time
    I think its down to nehas to decide how long they are likely to keep the laptop for - the SSD should give it a new lease on life.

    I SSD-ified my 2011 MBP three years ago - put in a 256GB Samsung and moved the original 750GB spinner to the optical bay) and I'm still using it (and, with hindsight, going 500GB would have been money well spent) - but, then, I need to carry round a shedload of videos.

    Nehas said that their HD was failing, so the usual economy of moving the old HD to the optical bay won't work for them - they'd need a new HD as well.

    Also, I'd note that while the HD replacement is a no-brainer (it was actually a user-replaceable part in the good 'ol days of 2009) the optical bay job is slightly more fiddly: its still a screwdriver job and hardly brain surgery, but there are a few cables and other gizmos that you have to remove to get at it. Then, my expensive MBP was only 2 years old when I did it, so maybe my hands were shaking a bit more...
  13. nehas91 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2008
    Hmm okay, I will look into those. Apophysis generates fractal renders so I'm not sure either.

    That's good to hear!

    At the moment, my HDD fluctuates around 80-120GB. It would probably be more but every few months I move all the big photoshop files to an external drive so that frees up some space. I guess I'll have a go at the 500GB drive just to be on the safe side incase I do end up needing more space in the future, then in retrospect I would have thrown $90 for the 250gb now+ $150 for the 500gb later if I need space versus the $150 I'll just spend once now. Unless there's a gap in my reasoning?

    I'd rather not fiddle with the optical bay (I'm thinking of getting at least two more years worth of use of the laptop(with the sdd/ram upgrades and then giving it to my mom for light web browsing use) so I would rather leave the optical bay as it is. And since my hard drive is failing, it probably won't make much sense for me to buy a regular hdd just to put in the bay when I can use that money to get another external drive to back up to.
  14. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    #14 the answer is that you have tidy disc organisation habits and could easily live with a 250GB drive but 500 would be nicer.

    ...well, nobody can predict the future, but its quite possible that the 500GB will be more like $100 in a year or so.

    If it were me, I'd go for the 500 now, but I'm in the privileged position of not having to think too hard about blowing the occasional hundred bucks. However, I'd also be thinking about how long a 2009 computer was going to last me. Personally, I think upgrading my 2011 17" MBP when it was 2 years old (at a cost of about $300 in 2013) has probably doubled its useful life and, on a $2k computer, that sounds like a good deal.

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