Macbook Pro 2011 17" SATA3 in optical bay DIY fix.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bxt403, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. bxt403, Apr 14, 2013
    Last edited: May 3, 2013

    bxt403 macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    After my 2009 mac mini died on me- I had a spare slimline SATA adapted cable from the earliest dual SATA2 hard drive mod (the procedure is available at -]


    and upon looking at the results from

    and was utilizing (out of fear of instability and incompatibility) a the stock 750 GB SATA2 HD with ifixit's MBP optical bay enclosure: Product code: IF107-080-1
    in my early 2011 17" 2.3 i7 MBP.

    From The Macbook Pro Project's analysis- it might look like you desolder your EXPENSIVE SSD's connector and replace it with a slimline one then wrap it in tinfoil to get a SATA3 device to work correctly. Although I agree with the causes (and am technically inclined to do such a mod), I figured that there MUST be a simpler/reversible fix that can address the same problem (and I think I found it).

    I agree that the likely cause of incompatibly of SATA3 in the optical bay is from RF and EM interference from the numerous antennae that densely populate (and intersect with) any optical bay adaptor's slimline SATA to regular SATA adaptor board. I really don't buy the fact that you'd need to solder/risk bricking ANY expensive equipment just to end up with a Faraday cage.

    My fix involves hacking/destroying the optical bay- and slimline cable (exact same one used for the 2009 mac mini mod). I think the cost in parts is less than $100 (unless you already have them)- and aside from the enclosure- the SSD and MBP are fully intact. The upper portion of the casing needs to have the metal that sticks inward (and keeps the SATA device and connector centred) to be cut away. Any connector adapting circuit board needs to be removed. Drill out the raised rivots in the rear of the lower casing (so that the SATA3 device can be moved as far to the rear of the enclosure as possible).

    The slimline SATA cable needs to have the connector's casing removed (on the slimline side)- so that the SSD fits snuggly next to where the slimline connecter comes out of the bay. You want to have the SATA 3 device's connector facing the opposite side of the bay (the side where the optical slot is). Run the slimline cable so that it's straight/parallel (and curl up any extra-length along the same side. The SATA data cable on the SATA 3 device side still sticks out a bit from the enclosure (so you need to remove the black cover that's on the optical disk input side of the enclosure).

    After installation- the end result you want is for the slimline SATA cable to be run next to the battery side of bay (rather than have the SATA3 device connector be near any antennae/cables). The almost total coverage of the ifixit (or similar) lower optical-bay casing should be a sufficient Faraday cage (and more elegant that tinfoil). Having the SATA cable slightly sticking out on the optical-slot side of the HD enclosure shouldn't matter (as the SATA device's connector is now running on the opposite side and the nearest device that can potentially interfere is now only the battery).

    Thus far (72 hours) I've been able to do Time Machine backups (and restore), run Blackmagic's disk speed test, and do Disk Utility repair on an Intel 520 240GB SSD (and am getting the same negotiated SATA3 speeds as I did from Main Bay).

    I first tried a Crucial M4 128GB (Disk Utility was able to initialize/format + repair and I could run Disk Utility and Black Magic). Things got hairiest/error-prompty when I swapped my Mac HD Samsung 840 Pro with the intel 520 (when it was part of a software esata RAID0 array). The array appeared to be corrupted but after formatting each drive and testing individually in the optical bay: no issues (except noticing my Corsair Force 3 240GB SSD's poor performance- 10MBps faster over SATA3 vs SATA2). The 840 Pro was restored from a Time Machine backup (and was in the main bay) so when I tested it in the optical bay, Time machine backups would hang (my guess is if I restored it inside the bay it would work).

    The final test/setup was restoring the Intel 520 in the optical bay with the data from the old RAID0 array and Samsung 840 Pro in the main bay from Mac HD backups on Time Machine (that's now on a FW800 RAID0 enclosure) then do a new Time Machine backup of the new setup. Reopening projects all appear to work. Time Machine, Disk Utility, and Blackmagic Disk Speed Test all appear to work on both SSDs. System Profiler reports negotiated link speeds of 6Gbps for both. It's now been 72h but if all is well at the end of the month, I'll be comfortable sharing photos of the procedure.

    Until then...
  2. xSavagedMonkey macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2012
    Hi, would it be possible for you to add photos of the modification, I'm struggling to get my SSD to work in an optibay, so thinking a solution such as this might work.

  3. bxt403, May 3, 2013
    Last edited: May 6, 2013

    bxt403 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    As this is working of my 17", it should also work for the 15" 2011 MBP.

    As I did quite a few tests and setups, here's the gist of my findings:

    - the optical bay seems to be 2 MBps slower than the main bay
    - as the Intel 520 was reliable, went out an got another 840 Pro
    - RAID0 performance of dual 840 Pro SSDs for Mac HD was around 950-ish MBps read and 800-ish write iirc
    - did a Time Machine restore onto a single 840 but couldn't tell which 840 was the Main or optical- a week or so after realized Mac HD was actually in the optical bay (physically moved into the Main bay)
    - all errors/problems were from Time Machine disk (750GB cloned to ext FW800 1GB RAID1 array; forgot to disable Time Machine between restores- everything was back to normal when I restored from a slightly older backup than the one I used before)
    - ALL the 2011 MBPs should be able to use SATA3 for both connectors (where it's supported/listed in System Profiler/Report->Serial-ATA)- Apple's design is good as there are now two possible work-arounds...a bad design from Apple would've meant no solution for dual SATA3 (when it's listed as present).
    - the 3rd-party optical bay designs are flawed- maybe since there's many implementations of SATA of the 2011 models; the bottom line seems to be interference from antennae signal traces and close proximity of the SATA3 device connector/adaptor.

    Now for the MBP pr0n...

    The slimline side has the shell cut so that it could mate with the 2009 Mac Mini sata connector- I'm sure only the moulding needs to be removed for the 2011 MBP.








    Although my current working Mac HD was restored in the optical bay (and is running fine as-is in the main bay), I noticed the swapped SSDs dropped 2MBps read/write when moved to the optical bay.
    The higher read speed is the Mac HD in the main bay. The lower speed is the other 840 Pro in the optical bay.
  4. yoli macrumors member


    Apr 7, 2012

    Hi bxt403,

    I have exactly the same MBP model as yours and while the SSD is stable it only works at 3Gbps.
    Was yours the same before the mod or didn't work at all?
    I'm wondering maybe a shielded SATA cable replacement or wrapping it with aluminium foil would help?
    I asking because from what I figured out from OWC's blog is that the shielding helped only with the stability issues but not getting the from 3Gbps to 6Gbps. So how was it in your case?

    Thanks in advance!
  5. yoli macrumors member


    Apr 7, 2012
  6. bxt403, Jun 10, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013

    bxt403 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    SATA3/6GBPS was detected on the system profiler BEFORE the mod... i.e. I only got the negotiated link speed for SATA2/3GBPS using SATA2 devices (connection speed has always been reported as SATA3/6GBPS). I bought mine in Early 2012 refurbished so I'm guessing it was one of the last Early 2011 models to be built (hence, I have dual SATA3).

    There's another post in the MBP forum that is w.r.t. the 15 in. MBP optibay; the brass tax is if you have 3GBPS reported with a SATA3/6GBPS device in the optibay then I don't think it's possible to "upgrade" to 6GBPS. There are three or four variants for SATA3 in the the early & late 15 & 17 in. 2011 MBP but there's a higher probability there's dual SATA3 the later in the year it was built (keep in mind you still need to do the mod to get the optibay SATA3 port to work reliably for the 15 and 17 in models).

    Like I mentioned in the first post: the metal enclosure is a cleaner/more elegant solution than wrapping an SSD/HD in tinfoil (end result is the same: RF shielding from putting the SATA3 device in a Faraday cage). The cabling problem isn't the shielding of the cable- it's the fact that the antenna traces on the logic board are causing interference with the optibay adapter board, from my analysis. This explains why macbookproproject's solder solution works, as does my 180º rotation with the slim-line cable- and why the 13 inch model supports dual SATA3. No intersection between the antenna traces/flat-cable and SATA3 connector occur in all the cases so my scientific conclusion supports macbookproproject's hypothesis that it's the antenna traces/flat-cable causing unreliable SATA3 in the optical bay (so long as SATA3 is the reported link speed in system profiler).
  7. Ubiquix macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2013
    Can we try this?

    my MBP 17 'late 2011 is 6Gbps chipset in the optical bay, and cannot read, does not initialize any HD sata 3.

    According to you, if I unplug the wireless-bluetooth cable from the motherboard and do the restart, my MBP should recognize the hd sata 3 mounted in the caddy without no mod?
    It could be a test to be performed before making the mod to the caddy, right?

    (is it possible disconnet the wireless-bluetooth cable and reboot without cousing
    any damage to the System?) :eek:
  8. Ubiquix macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2013
    MBP 17 'late 2011" SATA 3 optical bay issue

    I have disconnected completely the wireless/bluetooth cable, both from the motherboard that from the antenna;
    I turned off via software the airport and the bluethoot and Infrared.
    But nothing has changed.
    Then the problem is certainly not due by any interference. If really this mod at the connection cable sata is working, then probably the sata3 issue is attributed to the specific connection between the gate of the caddy and the optical cable. My conclusion is that if the modification developed by bxt403 is working, simply it's becouse it bypasses the caddy and its connection port, and then, admitted that the optical cable is working, the problem is the type of connection offered by all the caddy on the market. Please I'd like to call bxt403 to an update of the status of his mod SATA cable and his operation.
  9. mbpjedi macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2014
  10. vinceofdrink macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2014
    I have tested the Extreme Optical bay

    I have just tested the MCE Extrem Optical Bay in my Macbook8.2 15" Early 2011.

    here my story, i had a standard Optical Bay (storeva) for a long time running in Sata 2 as my Logic Board would not negotiate more with my Crutial M500 SSD, everything was working nicely since i had to swap my Logic Board (the infamous GPU probleme) and i got lucky to have a new logic board which then was ok to negotiate a 6Gb link with my M500, but here i had a lot of freeze state that make me regret my 3Gb Link .
    I could monitor with my DriveDX (apps) that i had a lot of UDMA CRC Error Count (smart id 199) which relate to inconstant Sata Link.
    So i went for the Extrem Optical Bay just today and so far so good my UDMA CRC Error Count do not grow up and i do not experience the freeze.

    I keep you inform on the long run in a week or so to confirm my first impression.

    Thank to all the contributors and especially mbpjedi who lead me to the Extrem Optical bay.

  11. vinceofdrink macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2014
    Extreme Optical Bay Sata 3 after 5 day of use

    I have been using the extreme Optical bay with my Sata 3 Crutial M500 for almost a week, and it work very well i do not have any freeze and my smart ID 199 UDMA CRC is steady now no more error.
    So i would recommend this gear if you the DIY solution scare you.
    I use this SSD to store big VMWARE for development purpose, so i use the full bandwidth of SATA 3.

  12. rmoore3d, Aug 18, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014

    rmoore3d macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2014
    Another Successful Optibay Extreme Insatll

    My son has a 2011 MacBook Pro 15" that shows 6GB negotiated link speed. I wasn't aware of the 2011 problem until after I bought him a SATA III SSD. I didn't want to put the original HHD in the optical drive slot because of the noise factor and the lack of drop protection. The only solution I could find was the MCE Optibay Extreme. Very expensive compared to other trays but after assurances that they would refund if it didn't work, I went ahead. The bottom line is it works. Rock solid performance. Expensive but it I could not find another solution to keep the SSD in the optical bay.

    Title should read: Another Successful Optibay Extreme Install
  13. JTToft macrumors 68040

    Apr 27, 2010
    Aarhus, Denmark
    - Interesting reports. My question is if this device will also enable reliable performance with SATA III drives on 2011 machines that only have SATA II connections. Obviously only at SATA II speeds, but as it stands now, SATA III drives can't be used reliably at all in those machines. I wonder of this device would correct that?
  14. bxt403 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    Noticed the original website's pics are gone:
  15. balloz macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2015
    The SATA cable appears to work. I don't have a photo handy, but I have the cable going lengthways towards the side with the SSD drive at an angle. I didn't bother modifying my caddy since the drive is solid state
  16. balloz macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2015
    Weeks later with constant use and it's working great. 1GB/sec throughput
  17. Ant.honey macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2008
    New York City
    That's all she wrote? Which caddy are you using? I have an OWC caddy and a 15" mbp.
  18. balloz macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2015

Share This Page

18 April 14, 2013