Latest Macbook Pro that can run Snow Leopard?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by maccer99, Jul 3, 2016.

  1. maccer99 macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2015
    I'm seeing a lot of different information about this and would like to know exactly what model is the latest that can run OS X 10.6. I need it for certain versions of media applications that do not run on later OS X.

    Some caveats:
    The Retina 9,1 (mid 2012) dropped support for upgradable RAM and storage drives. What is the latest MBP that allows you to upgrade RAM and to a modern SSD?

    In addition, can anyone tell me what 10.6 Installation DVD I need to then install it?
  2. Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
  3. maccer99 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2015
    10.6.8 is fine but I prefer earlier versions for guaranteed compat.
  4. maccer99 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2015
    That's Apple's official word, but I heard that you might be able to run it through a DVD. I just want to know if maybe one of the 2012 Lion ones can run it from an install DVD that came with an earlier model.
  5. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    There is no MacbookPro(retina)9,1. The Retina models start off with 10,1 - and do not have owner upgradeable RAM.
    The Macbookpro 9,1 is the last non-retina 15-inch (2012), and the last one with upgradeable RAM and a standard 2.5 drive that can have that hard drive-style SSD (rather than the later blade type.)
    The 13-inch (pre-retina) 2012 is still being sold as new by Apple.
    Neither one can do Snow Leopard natively, although adjusting some kexts, it would likely work - but no guarantee about the software that you want to use, either :D

    Really, your best choice is that Early 2011 MBPro, as mentioned by tubeexperience.
    Keep in mind that the Early 2011 came with a special version of Snow Leopard, so if you get that MBPro after it has been upgraded, it's tricky to install Snow Leopard unless you have the original restore DVD that shipped with it. It won't boot to Apple's commercial Snow Leopard DVD natively, as Apple stopped at 10.6.3 for that DVD. The 2011 models mostly came with 10.6.6 or 10.6.7 on the special version DVDs. See the challenge here?

    What are your "media apps"? Just curious - maybe ProTools? That one I can understand :D
  6. maccer99 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2015
    According to EveryMac, the Late 2011 MBP line had the Snow Leopard branding on the stock images, so they must have shipped with Snow Leopard. I don't recall Lion having that supernova desktop branding. So why are you all saying Early 2011 is latest?

    Look at the image of a late 2011 here:

    Even though that says shipped with Lion, why is it using Snow Leopard imagery in the stock shot? Maybe it is like Mac Pro where the 2012s use same architecture as the pre-2012s and are compatible via non-retail install DVDs.
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Because people use stock pictures for a generation of Mac and don't bother changing it when the OS X changes.
  8. maccer99, Jul 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016

    maccer99 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2015
    Did Apple use those images at the time they were being sold on their site, though? If not, EveryMac should change the images.

    Apparently there are people who got 10.6 on Late 2011s and apparently the shipped install DVDs work but a guy in the comments only did a work-around:

    Does anyone know where I can buy 10.6 Install DVD for the 17" Early 2011 MBP? It might even work for the Late 2011, but I need more confirmation on that.
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Everymac is an information website, providing information for free, they are not part of Apple or in any way beholden to anyone to change anything. You use their information at your own risk.

    Those macs originally shipped with snow leopard and Apple keep those stock images until the next hardware update if I remember correctly anyway.

    As for install DVDs this may be some use, create an apple developer account and get snow leopard for free.
  10. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    The early 2011 MBPro came with special builds of 10.6.6 or 10.6.7 on DVD. The download that is linked apparently would give 10.6.0 (if it actually is a good link), and not helpful for even the early 2011 models, let alone the late 2011. Those models will not boot to the 10.6.0 installer, and also won't boot to the last SL installer that Apple sold, which was 10.6.3
    Apple never sold those included DVDs. They only came in the box with those Macs. Good luck finding one.
    If you do need to reinstall Snow Leopard, then you would need an older Mac (2010 or older) that will boot to the commercial Snow Leopard installer (which stopped at 10.6.3) to install on your hard drive, then update that install to 10.6.8 before you can boot to the 2011 models. It's a big circle-jerk to get Snow Leopard installed on those models, if you don't have the original DVD that it came with.
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Your solution is a bit convoluted, but if you "go this way", you'll be able to run any app that requires 10.6.8.

    The solution:
    Install a "virtual machine" app (I'm thinking VMWare Fusion), and then run "Snow Leopard SERVER" (emphasis added).
    Only the server version of Snow Leopard can do this, not the "regular" version. But that doesn't matter -- just turn off the "server apps", and it's still Snow Leopard.

    You can search this forum for how to do it, but I highly recommend that you visit "" for tips on what to do.

    Snow Leopard server can still be ordered from Apple. There is a specific part number that you MUST give to the person at the other end, because few of them seem to know about it.

    Do things this way, and you can still run old apps without being "restricted" by the modern OS.

    Could you tell us what apps in particular you want to use?
  12. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Ah, good catch!
    but, even with that, you would still have the same issue with a Late-2011 MBPro, as that DVD will boot the Early-2011 that it was made for, but probably not the late-2011 models.

    I also like the good tips from Fishrrman - which would also mean that you are not limited to Mac models that run Snow Leopard natively.
  13. tubeexperience macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2016
    You don't need Snow Leopard DVD.

    If you do an Internet Rocovery, it will install the version of OS X that the computer shipped with.


    I don't have anything else to say here.
  14. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Dec 20, 2013
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    that is true, starting with 10.7.
  15. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Internet Recovery won't be helpful if Snow Leopard is what you want.
    If, in fact, your Mac shipped with Snow Leopard, and is capable of Internet Recovery, then you would be offered Lion.
  16. tubeexperience macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2016
    I wasn't aware of that.
  17. Andy2k, Jul 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016

    Andy2k macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2015
    You can make a Universal USB install drive using the restore disc from any 10.6.X disc. (I've done a lot of research on this too). I made a USB installer for version 10.6.6. I believe the newest Macs that can natively run snow leopard are early 2011 Macs. Like someone else mention is like the Wikipedia of Mac models / info. I made a permanent 10.6.6 installer. I LOVE me some Snow Leopard. Follow this guide to make universal USB.

    FYI I am running SL on a 2011 15" nMBP i7. I could not install it with the standard retail version of snow leopard (10.6.3). I was able to install Snow Leopard on it by making a USB following the link I posted below. The DVD was from an iMac so any full snow leopard restore disc should work. My 2011 MBP shipped with 10.6.6.

    Mail me a 8 GB USB thumb drive and I can make one for you. ;)
  18. seggy macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2016
    I'd say upgradability is kinda moot unless you're really strapped for cash and need a 16Gb/1Tb machine, etc. You stick a present day respectable SSD in a 2011 MBP and then compare it with a '15 MBP and there is just no contest for intensive stuff. Add that to the fact that nMBP's were terribly cooled and the Retinas significantly improved on that, and you have power that you can more realistically use as well.

    I notice a lot of people "romanticising" the concept of upgradable, but so what if you still end up with a crappier experience overall? Apple's decided to do away with it, so get with the program or move to a better platform for you if the concept of upgradability is paramount (for mobility hardware I personally think it's entirely redundant given other priorities).

    As for SL, run it in a VM as Fisherman says?
  19. Daytona 360 macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2010
    The late 2011 MBP is the last one that can install Snow Leopard. I believe the stock 10.6.0 disc can boot the early 2011 MBP, but not the late 2011 one. For the late 2011 model you need to find a 10.6.7 boot disk to install. I was able to find one online and it successfully booted and installed SL, although the machine type will not show up correctly (I have the 15", System Profiler says it's a 13"). Update immediately to 10.6.8 using the combo updater and everything works fine after that.
  20. Fozziebear40 macrumors regular


    Apr 14, 2008
    Newton-le-Willows, England
    I was in the same position, I wanted a native Snow Leopard machine. I would have gone with an early 2011 MBP but I did what Fishrrman said.

    I got Snow Leopard Server and installed from scratch on Parallels 11 and it runs great. Running on iMac 2011 so I now know when it needs replacing I can just get the latest Mac without buying an old Mac from ebay. Swiping from El Capitan desktop to Snow Leopard desktop is great.

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