Late 2008 Aluminium MacBook - upgrade or replace?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by spangled, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. spangled macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Location:
    England
    #1
    Hi,

    Just canvassing some opinions here...

    I have a late 2008 Aluminium MacBook (5,1). It has a 5,400rpm 750GB HDD (that I installed myself) which has 600GB of data on it (so just about keeping to the magic 20% free space). 4GB RAM. 2.4GHz processor.

    The HDD is slow and I get the spinning beachball of death quite a lot. Some apps (esp MS Office apps) are painfully slow to boot. And I need more space. I travel a lot and don't really want data spread over external drives (although I do double back-up my HDD to external drives).

    So two options for me:

    1 Swap out the 750GB HDD for a Crucial 960GB SSD (£430 in the UK) and upgrade the RAM to 8GB (£75). The battery is on its last legs too so that's another £110. Total to upgrade = £615.

    2 Wait for new MacBook Pros to be released (hopefully this year?) and buy a brand-new laptop. Cost = £1,200 approx.

    What would you go for? I *can* afford a new laptop - but then again, even that would not come with a 960GB SSD as standard. Can you even upgrade the drives in the new MacBook Pros yourself??

    If I went down the upgrade-my-existing-MacBook route, should I just upgrade the SSD and not the RAM?

    Although installing a SSD in my current laptop should give me a significant performance boost, I'm just concerned that I'd be throwing good money after bad, considering that I wouldn't be upgrading the processor plus parts like the logic board etc would still be 5+ years old and more liable to failure.

    Cheers for any opinions.
     
  2. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #2
    Do you have a need for the SuperDrive?
    If not you could put your larger mechanical drive in there.

    You could get a smaller ssd for the os

    Slap 8gb of ram in.

    It'll be back to flying along
     
  3. BrettApple macrumors 65816

    BrettApple

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Heart of the midwest
    #3
    My thoughts exactly. And that's what I have done myself. I got a cheaper 120GB SSD for the OS + Apps. And put my 750GB HDD in the superdrive bay via an OWC Data Doubler. Works great! I get more space for my data, and can easily swap it out for a larger drive as time goes on on. All while having a super fast computer. No more beach balls.

    As for the RAM, if you need it go for it. I have 8GB and use it primarily between Aperture and Photoshop when editing RAW images. Those things eat RAM like it's nothing. But if you don't really have a need for it, 4GB + and SSD will still be great. I did that to an '07 MBP I picked up on Amazon recently.
     
  4. HIMAN1998 macrumors 6502

    HIMAN1998

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    #4
    The optimal way to do this is actually to put the mechanical hard drive in the normal HDD space and the SSD in place of the superdrive. This makes it so that the hard drive has the shock sensor, and will cut off if needed.
     
  5. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #5
    I thought the 2008 mb ran sata 1 on the SuperDrive bay and sata 2 on the hdd bay
     
  6. HIMAN1998 macrumors 6502

    HIMAN1998

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    Jan 24, 2013
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    #6
    I don't know about that, but I read somewhere that it is safer to put the mecahnical hard drive in the regular HDD place.
     
  7. teleromeo macrumors 65816

    teleromeo

    Joined:
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    Location:
    kidnapped by aliens
    #7
    Crucial 960GB SSD is great in my early 2009 MBP. If the bottleneck is disk speed get one and clone everything to it.
     
  8. spangled thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Location:
    England
    #8
    Thanks for everyone's replies - really useful.

    One other question:

    With HDDs the recommendation is to keep 20% as free space, to optimise performance.

    Is that requirement necessary for SDDs? Or can you max out the space more?

    Cheers.
     
  9. BrettApple macrumors 65816

    BrettApple

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Heart of the midwest
    #9
    As for the SATA speeds. It will run at SATA 2 in the optical bay and the HDD bay if the SSD in the optical bay is a SATA 2 drive.

    I would recommend putting the HDD in the HDD bay for the Sudden Motion Sensor to work properly, and for heat and vibration dampening. And the SSD in the optical bay, less heat under the keyboard, and less likely to have to replace it since HDD's fail more often.


    Here is how my MacBook is laid out. Both run at 3 Gigabit no problem. But from what I remember reading well over a year ago with this is that if you have a SATA 2 SSD in the optical bay, it will run at SATA 2 speeds, but if you put a newer SATA 3 SSD there, it will revert to SATA 1. I haven't confirmed this recently, but that's just what I remember reading.

    If its a SATA 3 drive in the HDD bay, it should still keep running at SATA 2 however.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    For free space, I'd say keep a little. But most SSD's now have overprovisioning, and their garbage collection has only gotten better over the years. I usually have about 10-30GB free on my 120GB. I've got Mavericks, Office, Aperture and CS6 loaded. As well as Parallels and a Win 7 VM for windows apps all on there. So it varies a good deal. But I haven't noticed any performance drop. At one point it got down to a couple gigs because I was working on a project off the SSD. And it was still flying around. So I wouldn't be too concerned about it.

    HDD's it is a good idea to do that though so that it can keep itself from getting too fragmented and not being able to move the data around. OS X does a pretty good job of this though, and in this day and age with larger faster drives it isn't as big of an issue. And the further out the data is on the platter the slower it will be, so that's one other reason for it.
     
  10. paww macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    #10
    Hi Brett, I'm torn on what todo with my MB 5,1.

    You've upgraded both the memory and SSD. Did you do them separately?

    I'd be keen to find out what made the biggest difference and the order you did them if it was separate.

    Also have you tried the developer previews of Mavericks?

    I'm not sure if I should stick or twist as it'll probably work out around the same price. (stick upgrade 5,1/ twist buy a slightly newer stock MBP)

    I get the feeling if I can be patient enough to wait for Mavericks and upgrade RAM & SSD I won't need to buy a newer laptop.
     
  11. BrettApple macrumors 65816

    BrettApple

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Heart of the midwest
    #11
    I did do them separately. Looking at my OWC account I got the RAM upgrade in Nov. 2011. So in the Lion era. It made a difference certainly, but only if I'm using all of it. I got the SSD July of last year. And by far it made a much bigger difference than RAM alone. You can see that with an older MacBook Air, only 2GB of RAM but with an SSD they're still pretty peppy.
    So if you have to pick one, go with the SSD, it will be far more beneficial to every day use.

    Also, I am currently using the DP of Mavericks and it is a decent bit faster than Mountain Lion. Mostly the animations and transitions are much smoother and better optimized for our older hardware (9400m). I've also got a mid 2007 iMac and MacBook Pro (Both have SSD's and 4GB RAM) that are on Mountain Lion that I put the Mavericks preview on another partition, and I saw some performance improvements there as well. So overall I'm happy with where OS X is going, especially for older machines.

    In my opinion I would go with the upgrades. I'm the type that just likes to keep using things until they just don't suit my needs. And I'm happy to say that it still does 5 years down the road. Just don't plan on playing any games :cool:
     
  12. MeUnix macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2013
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #12
    I have two Late '08 Aluminum MacBook's (one for development and beta testing OS Mavericks and one that I use to store more crucial information on running OS Mountain Lion). I've held off on upgrading because I have upgraded each of my MacBook's to fit my needs. I am, however, waiting for the new MacBook Pro to be released this year and I will be upgrading to that when available.

    My suggestion would be to update your current MacBook. They are great machines IMO, mine have never given me any trouble that was not absolutely a headache. I don't even plan on selling mine after I purchase the new MBP because I really just love the Alum MacBook's :D. However, the new MBP is pretty tempting, hence why I am upgrading when it is released. ;)

    - Kyle
     
  13. paww macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    #13
    Thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to reply.

    I'm especially happy to hear it was the SSD that made the difference as I figure worse case is I still upgrade and can move the drive from the Macbook to a MBP anyway.

    I do notice that I'm always on the edge of using all my 4GB of memory so it may well be I should consider upgrading that anyway.

    I'm well past the point of thinking it's realistic to play games on iGPU :)

    Definitely got itchy fingers to do something with a laptop, I'll see if I can hold for proper release of Mavericks as it sounds quite promising that I should be able to keep going with C2D.
     
  14. MeUnix macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2013
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #14
    You will definitely be able to keep going with the Core 2 Duo processor running OS Mavericks, I've been using Mavericks since the first DP release and it has ran great (with the exception of bugs :p) on my alum MacBook.

    An upgrade is never a bad thing though.
     
  15. paww macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    #15
    Yep, since a lot of the sites I visit now support HTML5 my CPU rarely gets pushed to needing to max out the fan.

    Strangely the thing that's bugging me most after speed is lack of backlit keys, I use my laptop a lot in the evenings. I got very used to my old Dell that had that it allowing me to work in lowlight. I didn't find out until after I'd just won an auction for my MB that the 2.0 model didn't have it! - May be the small thing to push me over the edge and get a 2011 MBP
     
  16. spangled thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Location:
    England
    #16
    OP here. As an update I'm going to take on board the advice of posters on this thread and rather than just swapping my HDD for a 1TB SSD, I'm going to instead install a 120GB/240GB SSD in the optical drive and keep my HDD.

    It makes sense for reasons of cost. But the other reason is that SSDs used in newer MacBook Pros seem to have different connectors to the ones I would use in my 2008 MacBook. So if I was to buy a £440 1TB SSD for my current MacBook, I wouldn't be able to use it in a newer MacBook Pro if I upgraded in, say, a couple of years' time - which was a major positive in my original plan of just swapping the HDD for the SDD.

    I'll be going through with it all in early Nov. I'll let you know how I get on! Cheers all.
     
  17. Billenium_uk macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    #17
    Just noticed this topic and from my experience I've put 8Gb of RAM and a 1TB SSHD hybrid sore and can honestly say it was well worth the upgrade - from what I've read the hybrid drive has 8gb of SSD storage and is smart enough to cache your frequent accessed files etc on this so they open and respond like an SSD would. In my experience this upgrade along with the RAM has given my aging 2008 aluminum MacBook a completely new lease of life - start up time from power on to desk top is less than 1 minute (reduced from around 4-5 mins) and the applications I use lost frequently (safari,photoshop, dreamweaver) launch within seconds). I opted for the SSHD as I wasn't in the market for a 1TB SSD - I'm sure that would offer further improvements but I'm over the moon with how much more responsive my MacBook has been since this upgrade!
     
  18. jbg232 macrumors 65816

    jbg232

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    #18
    I also have a macbook aluminum 5,1 and upgraded to a 3G electra owc sad and 8gb of memory. Made the computer feel like new.

    A 1TB SSD for the computer is a total waste of money - it's like doing a $5,000 repair on a car worth $6500 - just not worth it.
     
  19. Lolito macrumors 6502

    Lolito

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2013
    Location:
    here
    #19
    get yourself a 120gb ssd, optibay to replace the superdrive with your current hdd, and 8gb of ram. It will feel like a new computer, for just a 150$ investment.

    A large ssd is an overkill, and completely un-necesary.
     
  20. mykelala01, Oct 28, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013

    mykelala01 macrumors 6502

    mykelala01

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    #20
    I have a data doubler in my suprdrive with 500 gb HDD and 320 gb HDD both run 7200rpm... I have not notice any heat right now. And I run triple booth on it. Mountain Lion and Windows on my main drive... 250gb on ML and 70gb on Windows... Then install Mavericks on my Data Doubler drive make a 200gb/300gb partition. Install Mavs on 200gb partition and leave 300gb partition as a file drive. Where I can throw in any files in it. So both my Mountain Lion and Mavericks can share library likes of iphoto, iMovie or Garageband. Even Itunes library. So keep your macbook pro 2008 it is a powerful machine.

    And I use Air Parrot for mirroring bec. as you know right now Airplay does not work on our machine.
     
  21. Elho macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2013
    Location:
    Belgium
    #21
    What if you just use like a 80 gb ssd for your boot files. And you keep all the rest on a second internal HDD, will this also makes the MacBook faster?

    For exemple, if iPhoto is slow, where do you put the files when you have an ssd and HDD. The application itself on the ssd and the librabry on HDD? Or both on ssd?

    Bottom line, what files need to be on the ssd if you want to make your whole system a bit faster?
     
  22. brdeveloper macrumors 68020

    brdeveloper

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Location:
    Brasil
    #22
    There are tutorials about making two units working as a fusion drive in Mountain Lion. I don't know if that work in Mavericks though.
     
  23. teleromeo macrumors 65816

    teleromeo

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Location:
    kidnapped by aliens
    #23
    I disagree.

    Since I need my superdrive to read and write CD's and DVD's very often I kept it in place and just replaced my hard drive with a crucial SSD. After cloning my hard drive to it my Macbook Pro felt like brand a new machine with everything left on place.
    Also I partitioned it not knowing really what to do with it but last week I installed mavericks on that partition, I'm not upgrading my system until I'm sure everything works fine.
    Also I plan to use it in or with another machine the moment I upgrade to another Mac.
     
  24. jbg232 macrumors 65816

    jbg232

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    #24
    An SSD is totally worth it, but a $1,000 SSD for a system worth far less than the cost of the SSD is NOT worth it. You can get much more for your money value wise with a new machine if you really feel you need a 1TB SSD.
     
  25. diane143 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #25
    What's with the 8gb of RAM? I upgraded mine in August 2011 and was told that 6gb was the max.

    I put a new 500gb hard drive in a few months ago and it made a difference. I find Safari really sucks resources so I keep it closed when I'm doing heavy Illustrator work. I would like a new machine at some point but for now this one is really working well.
     

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