Core Duo/Core 2 Duo MacBook CPU Upgrading

dosdude1

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Just recently, I completed a project based on an idea I've had for quite some time now... Upgrading the CPU in a MacBook. In theory it should be possible, as long as the CPU is compatible with the chipset in the machine, and has the same front side bus speed. Well, it turns out that is indeed the case. I successfully upgraded the CPU on a MacBook5,2 (Mid-2009) from its stock 2.13 GHz P7450 to a 2.53 GHz T9400 from a Late-2008 MacBookPro5,1 logic board. Both machines have the same chipset (nVidia MCP79).

The Process

To begin, I had to remove the T9400 from the donor board. Like all my other BGA swaps, I used my hot air rework station with a special nozzle, with the board placed on a board preheater. Here's a picture of my setup. Definitely not the best, but hey, it gets the job done.

reworksetup.jpg


Once the CPU has been removed from the donor board, the re-balling process can begin. This can be quite tedious, as you have to manually pick and place quite a few solder balls into the stencil, but it's not too bad. Here's the T9400 after re-balling it.

IMG_6873.JPG


The next step is to remove the original CPU off the MacBook5,2 logic board. Here's a picture of the board after removing the P7450 and cleaning it up.

IMG_6872.jpg


Lastly, the T9400 is aligned properly on the board, then heated and soldered on.

IMG_6882.JPG


Now, we test the machine, and it works, with the 2.53 GHz T9400 detected properly and working perfectly!

IMG_6876.JPG


IMG_6881.jpg


If you want to see this in more detail, feel free to check out my YouTube video, where I go over the whole process.

In the future, I plan on upgrading more MacBook CPUs, including swapping Core Duos on MacBook1,1 and MacBookPro1,1 logic boards with Core 2 Duo CPUs, allowing them to run Lion. I'm definitely looking forward to these future projects!
 

dosdude1

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Well, just recently I've made an even more ridiculous advancement in my experimentation with MacBook CPU upgrading... I soldered on a CPU socket. Yes, that's right, a SOCKET... I'm serious. And yes... It actually works.

The main reason I performed this modification was to allow for a way to easily test CPUs on a MacBook 5,2 logic board, without the need to solder the actual CPU. I found some PGA479 sockets on eBay, so I figured it could be done relatively easily.

The Process

Somewhat surprisingly, the process of soldering on a CPU socket is almost identical to that of soldering on a normal BGA chip. The sockets I got even came pre-balled, so I didn't even have to do any re-balling.

First off, here's a picture of the MacBook 5,2 logic board before removing the original CPU:

IMG_6960.jpg


To begin the process, of course, I used my BGA rework setup to remove the CPU, just as shown in my previous post. Next, all I needed to do was clean up the pads on the board, clean it, apply a small layer of flux, and solder the socket on. Here's an image of the CPU socket in place, before soldering:

IMG_6961.jpg


The most difficult part about doing this was properly aligning the socket onto the board... Since the markings around the CPU pads are not designed to guide you in soldering on a socket, I simply had to do some eyeballing and careful nudging around with a pair of tweezers. Once I got it in what I think was an aligned position, I began the soldering process.

Now, when soldering the socket on, I had to do it in such a way that the plastic of the socket wouldn't melt. So, I turned my board preheater on to a very high temperature (220 degrees C), to provide most of the heating needed to melt the solder to the bottom of the board. I then positioned the hot air nozzle over the top of the socket, and set it at around 250 degrees C (right below the melting point (I think) of the high-temp plastic used on these sockets), and began heating it. I heated it until it appeared that all the solder balls had become shiny, and flattened down slightly.

After a few minutes, it was soldered on. Here's a picture of the socket right after soldering it onto the board:

IMG_6978.jpg


As you can see, the holes in the socket sucked the flux up like a straw, but it still soldered down just fine... It was an absolute pain to clean (I ended up having to use an ultrasonic cleaner to get it all off). Not to mention it also caused the locking mechanism of the socket to lock up. After getting it cleaned, though, it was ready for testing. Here's a shot with a Core 2 Duo T9900 CPU installed:

IMG_6975.JPG


You can also see in this picture how the socket hangs off the board by quite a bit... This makes it impossible to fit back into the MacBook's casing without modifying it.

Anyways, now with a CPU installed, it can now be tested. And... It works!

IMG_6973.jpg


I did have to use a very ghetto cooling solution, as the original heatsink would now no longer make any contact with both the MCP79 and the CPU, but hey, it works for testing!

IMG_6971.jpg


So, with all that said and done, would I recommend performing this modification?

No, definitely not. At least, not unless you plan on significantly modifying your MacBook case.

There are a few modifications that would need to be made to have this actually be usable:
- A significantly thick copper shim would have to be placed in between the MCP79 northbridge and the heatsink to be able to use the original heatsink
- A portion of the back section of the MacBook casing would have to be removed to make room for the overhang of the CPU socket off the back of the board
- The top case assembly would have to be slightly raised (or slightly bowed up in the middle) to accommodate the taller heatsink
- Slightly longer screws would be needed to secure the heatsink to the logic board
 

Sedulous

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Dosdude1, that looks like a nice reball job! It is definitely annoying when the stencil pulls off a few balls. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to solder the socket but that is a really impressive result, congrats! Thanks for sharing.
 
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appleish19

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Dec 4, 2014
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Wow awesome job @dosdude1. Having the ability to have a socket for testing might open up some interesting options for keeping these MacBooks up to date, not to mention the fun of it all. Have you tested any other cpus?
 

dosdude1

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Wow awesome job @dosdude1. Having the ability to have a socket for testing might open up some interesting options for keeping these MacBooks up to date, not to mention the fun of it all. Have you tested any other cpus?
I tried a Core 2 Quad Q9000, which actually did allow the machine to POST, but it would freeze or kernel panic when booting a copy of Mac OS. I'll experiment with it more, though... Maybe I can actually get it to work stably.
 

dosdude1

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Well, I've done a CPU upgrade yet again. This time, I upgraded a Late-2008 Aluminum Unibody MacBook (MacBook5,1) from its original 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo P7350 CPU, to the best CPU that board can possibly support; a 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo T9900! The performance improvement is huge, and it also makes this machine the world's fastest MacBook5,1! Here is the Geekbench result with the original CPU installed, and here is the result after performing the 3.06 GHz upgrade. The results shown in the video are a bit skewed, as it turns out I forgot to tighten one of the heatsink screws when assembling the machine, causing it to thermal throttle. All in all, quite a successful and worthwhile upgrade!

 

tulgar

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Nov 4, 2019
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Well, I've done a CPU upgrade yet again. This time, I upgraded a Late-2008 Aluminum Unibody MacBook (MacBook5,1) from its original 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo P7350 CPU, to the best CPU that board can possibly support; a 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo T9900! The performance improvement is huge, and it also makes this machine the world's fastest MacBook5,1! Here is the Geekbench result with the original CPU installed, and here is the result after performing the 3.06 GHz upgrade. The results shown in the video are a bit skewed, as it turns out I forgot to tighten one of the heatsink screws when assembling the machine, causing it to thermal throttle. All in all, quite a successful and worthwhile upgrade!

Hi dosdude1. I want to upgrade macbook 2008 late like you. Can i use this cpu https://tr.aliexpress.com/item/32820209753.html?spm=a2g0o.cart.0.0.30253c00ayBy7C&mp=1

Is it compatible with my mac?
 

dosdude1

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tulgar

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That's probably a PGA CPU, in which case the pads are going to be much too big to allow for proper reballing and BGA soldering. But yes, that chip would work if you could get it to solder on properly.
thx for reply. i can't find bga socket for t9900 on amazon, ebay, aliexpress anywhere. could you help me?
 

dosdude1

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thx for reply. i can't find bga socket for t9900 on amazon, ebay, aliexpress anywhere. could you help me?
You won't be able to fit the board back in the case with a socket on it, or use the stock heatsink. What you need is a PGA478 socket, also known as "Socket P". Here's an eBay listing.
 

Benjamin Gabel

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Jan 3, 2020
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I tried a Core 2 Quad Q9000, which actually did allow the machine to POST, but it would freeze or kernel panic when booting a copy of Mac OS. I'll experiment with it more, though... Maybe I can actually get it to work stably.
It is Posible to run this cpu on an imac 24 early 2009 ? It rans at the moment with 10.15 and a e8435
 
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Jkj12

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Apr 15, 2014
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This project is really awesome. I wish I was able to do the same upgrade on my Blackbook.

Is the T9900 still the fastest to run stably on these machines? Any luck with other CPUs?

Would it be possible to upgrade the GPU the same way?
 

fkl

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Feb 9, 2020
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I tried a Core 2 Quad Q9000, which actually did allow the machine to POST, but it would freeze or kernel panic when booting a copy of Mac OS. I'll experiment with it more, though... Maybe I can actually get it to work stably.
Did you manage to get the q9000 to run stably w/o kernel panick?
 

DrDweeb

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Feb 18, 2020
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Hey Dosdude, I've been using your software lately and have two machines running nicely on 10.15.3 now. One of them is a 5,2 white. Thanks for that because it's awesome and useful!

If you want to sell an upgraded 5,1 motherboard to whatever the best that will actually fit in the case, I'd be happy to send my MoBo and $ for a trade.

I am sure >1 people would love this upgrade.

I have this weakness for making old tech last way too long :)
 

dosdude1

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Hey Dosdude, I've been using your software lately and have two machines running nicely on 10.15.3 now. One of them is a 5,2 white. Thanks for that because it's awesome and useful!

If you want to sell an upgraded 5,1 motherboard to whatever the best that will actually fit in the case, I'd be happy to send my MoBo and $ for a trade.

I am sure >1 people would love this upgrade.

I have this weakness for making old tech last way too long :)
The problem with doing these upgrades for people like that is the lack of availability of BGA Core 2 Duo (T9900) CPUs. The PGA version is readily available, but I have yet to find a source for a BGA version that's not removal from another MacBook logic board, and that is most definitely not viable in the long term. Installing a PGA socket is one way to kind of work around this, but as I mentioned previously in that post, it's extremely impractical as it makes it impossible to put the machine back together. The only machine a socket upgrade actually works and makes sense with is the 2009 Mac Mini 3,1.
 

DrDweeb

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Feb 18, 2020
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IIRC anyone can register and buy stuff. I have used AliExpress but I haven't used Alibaba personally, but since they specify minimum order at 1, I shouldn't think they'd have a problem taking your money, they are China after all :D The sellers at that link specifies retail and wholesale. Anyway ... I'll survive.

Be good.

/Edit: eBay seems to have some.
 
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dosdude1

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IIRC anyone can register and buy stuff. I have used AliExpress but I haven't used Alibaba personally, but since they specify minimum order at 1, I shouldn't think they'd have a problem taking your money, they are China after all :D The sellers at that link specifies retail and wholesale. Anyway ... I'll survive.

Be good.
I would really like to find a good source for these, as the upgrade really is worth doing. I have managed to find some other Chinese sources, but they want around $300 for these chips normally. I found one seller offering them for $216, but that's about as good as I could find. Unless someone were willing to pay me like $450 to buy the chip and perform the upgrade (highly unlikely, and probably not worth that price for such an old system), it's probably not going to happen.
 

DrDweeb

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Feb 18, 2020
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The chip should cost $50 tops. Your time is the expensive bit.

Anyway, the machine lives on due to your software ... again thanks for that!
 

DrDweeb

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Feb 18, 2020
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I found a professional who could do this for me today. Sadly his backlog of work is so large he is only doing newer machine repairs now :(
 

dosdude1

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I found a professional who could do this for me today. Sadly his backlog of work is so large he is only doing newer machine repairs now :(
Where'd you find a chip though? I could do it as long as I have a chip to use LOL. Not worth removing from another logic board, needs to be a new/new old stock/used chip.

Just for reference: A PGA Core 2 Duo T9900 has an identifier of SLGEE. A BGA version has an identifier of SLGKH. The proper footprint designation of any standard BGA-variant mobile Core 2 Duo is BGA479. Any listing claiming to have an SLGEE or a "SLGEE/SLGKH" is going to be sending you a PGA chip. In other words, unless the seller knows the difference between an SLGEE and SLGKH, and they know FOR SURE that what they have is an SLGKH, then you'll be getting a PGA chip in the mail if you order that listing.
 
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DrDweeb

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Feb 18, 2020
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No point in sourcing a chip unless I have a skilled technician. He has a really cool lab with lots of cool looking stuff :D

Sadly, as I wrote, he only works on newer machines now because of time constraints.

I like the "White" machine, still uber cool IMHO

The FSB is 1066 on the 9900 spec, does that change anything for use in the White MacBook?

I looked on Ali Express ... they show items as the SLGKH part and list the specs, then show a picture of the SLGEE part - lol. I couldn't figure how to use the website to request clarification ... moving along
 
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nikey22

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Dec 3, 2019
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Excellent work dosdude1, as always.

Question regarding RAM:

I've noticed that the MacBook 5,1 uses DDR3 RAM but they advertise it as PC-8500. I have several 4Gb modules that are DDR3 but I believe are PC-10600. Has anyone been successful in putting these in the machine? Do these modules auto downscale to 8500 speed?

Thanks!