MacBook Pro 2011 into Desktop?

At_Op45

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 25, 2017
38
1
Hi there!

I've had the pleasure of owning a 2011 MacBook Pro for more than six years now. Not too long ago I noticed a considerable drop in its speed and battery charge retention. I know these issues can be fixed wit replacement parts and other tune ups but, I was curious about turning my laptop into a desktop.

In this thread, I was hoping to get some recommendations and help regarding needed parts to use in this project and how to actually go about building it.

Thank you!
 

New_Mac_Smell

macrumors 68000
Oct 17, 2016
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Shanghai
What do you mean by turning it into a desktop? Do you mean sticking it in clamshell mode and hooking up a monitor, as you can do this anyway.

It wouldn't really be worth it as it's a 6 year old laptop and isn't going to be particularly fast. It's also going to be a lot slower than a 6 year old desktop as it's a mobile device. You can upgrade the RAM and SSD, and replace the battery, which will speed it a little but it's like prodding a dead horse.
 

At_Op45

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 25, 2017
38
1
What do you mean by turning it into a desktop? Do you mean sticking it in clamshell mode and hooking up a monitor, as you can do this anyway.

It wouldn't really be worth it as it's a 6 year old laptop and isn't going to be particularly fast. It's also going to be a lot slower than a 6 year old desktop as it's a mobile device. You can upgrade the RAM and SSD, and replace the battery, which will speed it a little but it's like prodding a dead horse.
[doublepost=1509004823][/doublepost]I wanted to remove any usable component from my old MacBook and put in an affordable PC case with any other needed parts like a graphics card, SSD, ram, and more stable power source. I already have the monitor also.
 

New_Mac_Smell

macrumors 68000
Oct 17, 2016
1,914
1,491
Shanghai
[doublepost=1509004823][/doublepost]I wanted to remove any usable component from my old MacBook and put in an affordable PC case with any other needed parts like a graphics card, SSD, ram, and more stable power source. I already have the monitor also.
You can't really do that. You could remove the MB and fix it inside a case if you really wanted, but you can't upgrade the CPU/GPU, and messing with the PSU isn't recommended unless you're an experienced electronics engineer. So all you can really do is upgrade the SSD and RAM.

If you wanted to remove it from its case and put it inside a tower then you'd also need to solder or get extensions for all the ports on it.

Basically it's a fair amount of work for very little benefit, it won't be more powerful than being in clamshell and obviously won't be portable anymore.
 

leman

macrumors G3
Oct 14, 2008
9,985
4,556
Turning it into desktop is fairly simple. Just sell it, and get an iMac instead.

On a more serious note, I'm sure that what you are asking for is doable. If one is an experienced engineer with excellent understanding of electronics and a full set of equipment.
 

Chancha

macrumors 6502a
Mar 19, 2014
919
790
(Assuming it is a 13" 2011)
You can do some of what you want but not all. Ripping the board out and putting it in a case makes no sense, the motherboard cannot be easily dissembled from the casing, and even if you do there may be short circuit or sensor errors waiting. If you want to improve cooling, putting the machine on top of a generic laptop cooler with fans is usually enough, throwing it inside a case won't help. The PSU on board is also tightly integrated with the MagSafe port.

The CPU if I recall correctly is soldered which means no chance to upgrade. Even if it is socketed, the replacement that can fit the specs and then being compatible with this machine's EFI is not going to be much more powerful than what is already inside.

GPU is an odd one. The internal one is just on-chip so no chance to upgrade, but in theory you could use Thunderbolt to go an eGPU route, but that itself is already tricky even on newest Macs with TB3 and High Sierra which supports it. On your MBP there are many issues to be encountered but they are solvable.

The I/O is probably the one part where you can get the most. Machine has 2 SATA cables on board, one to the original hard drive, one to the optical drive. There are lots of owners of this gen model swapping out optical for a 2nd HDD/SSD, with a 3rd party caddy that cost only 20 bucks or so. If you are inclined, this cable can be extended outside of the cassis, connect to a 3.5" HDD or even an array with its own external PSU. You can throw all these into one giant PC case, hide them inside and perhaps using some ghetto cooling methods if you like.

Either way I concur with those above, while some modifications are doable, they are not really worth it in cost-performance. Only do it if it is hobby project of sorts.
 

At_Op45

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 25, 2017
38
1
(Assuming it is a 13" 2011)
You can do some of what you want but not all. Ripping the board out and putting it in a case makes no sense, the motherboard cannot be easily dissembled from the casing, and even if you do there may be short circuit or sensor errors waiting. If you want to improve cooling, putting the machine on top of a generic laptop cooler with fans is usually enough, throwing it inside a case won't help. The PSU on board is also tightly integrated with the MagSafe port.

The CPU if I recall correctly is soldered which means no chance to upgrade. Even if it is socketed, the replacement that can fit the specs and then being compatible with this machine's EFI is not going to be much more powerful than what is already inside.

GPU is an odd one. The internal one is just on-chip so no chance to upgrade, but in theory you could use Thunderbolt to go an eGPU route, but that itself is already tricky even on newest Macs with TB3 and High Sierra which supports it. On your MBP there are many issues to be encountered but they are solvable.

The I/O is probably the one part where you can get the most. Machine has 2 SATA cables on board, one to the original hard drive, one to the optical drive. There are lots of owners of this gen model swapping out optical for a 2nd HDD/SSD, with a 3rd party caddy that cost only 20 bucks or so. If you are inclined, this cable can be extended outside of the cassis, connect to a 3.5" HDD or even an array with its own external PSU. You can throw all these into one giant PC case, hide them inside and perhaps using some ghetto cooling methods if you like.

Either way I concur with those above, while some modifications are doable, they are not really worth it in cost-performance. Only do it if it is hobby project of sorts.
I truthfully want to do a hobby build but if it's not as cost effective as your saying, I may just opt to use fresh parts for 500 pc build in that case. I wanted to use the MacBook motherboard with upgraded ram and an SSD in the build but I suppose that cant is done. Thank you for the help, however!