MacBook Pro mid-2009 ... please help me pimp it up!!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by OceanFrog, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. OceanFrog macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2009
    I just got my hands on a MacBook Pro mid-2009 thats in very good condition. I've decided to to upgrade it as much as possible (as per advice I've received on these forums) as it's very slow.

    Specs are:
    • MacBook Pro 13" mid-2009
    • Processor 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    • Memory 4GB 1067 MHz DDR3
    • Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256MB
    • OSX El Capitan (10.11.6)
    I want to upgrade the HDD to an SDD, and I'll put in as much RAM as possible (there are 2 RAM slots (see attached) ... can this machine take 8GB?). I'm also thinking about replacing the battery (current health is less than 50%).

    I have a few recommendations from another thread, but I thought this topic deserved a separate thread in case anyone else is thinking of doing something similar.

    So, can anyone recommend the best SDD, RAM and battery please? I've already had recommendations (thanks to MSastre) for Crucial for both SSD and RAM. I've also been recommended the Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB 2.5 inch SSD.

    MSastre also suggests that replacing the battery is easily done ... use OWC.

    Should I stick with El Capitan as this is the last "officially supported" OS for the MacBook Pro 2009?

    I'm based in Ireland, but happy to see recommendations for
    US and Euro based suppliers. I think the actual hardware is more important than the supplier is this is to be a good reference thread for anyone pimping up an old MacBook Pro.

    Thanks in advance.

    MBP 2009 1.png MBP 2009 2.png
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    What do you wish to use it for?? If you want to game on it don’t bother it will never be any good.

    I would get an ssd and see how it goes before buying anything else, if this works well for you then extra ram and a battery replacement is probably worth it. If it doesn’t then it probably isn’t worth sinking any more money into it and the ssd will make a fine external drive in a $20 enclosure.
  3. OceanFrog thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2009
    Thank you ... that sounds like excellent advice. I’ll be using the laptop as a good, solid field/work laptop. It’d have to boot fast, load word, excel and a few other office/writing type apps Without too much waiting around. No gaming or intensive graphics work.

    Any suggestions on which ssd would be best suited?

    Do you think it’d even be worth upgrading?
  4. cr2 macrumors regular

    Feb 19, 2011
    What is your storage need? Being such an old laptop, I would not sink a lot money in it. Having said that as the OceanFrog has mentioned you can use it as a super-nice external device if needed. Go for Samsung EVO SSD, 512MB or 1TB maybe?
  5. OceanFrog thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2009
    I could probably get away with 250gb (or even 120gb) storage as this won’t be my main laptop.
  6. Poki macrumors 65816


    Mar 21, 2012
    Pretty much any 2.5" SATA SSD you can get today is fast enough for the SATA connection in the mid-2009 MacBook Pro. So I'd just shop for a relatively cheap 250 GB 2.5" SSD with nice random read/write speeds.
  7. Woodstockie macrumors member


    Aug 12, 2015
    I have the same machine already for years and is still working well, my wife uses it for YT or other streaming, internet and email.

    These are my specs and did the upgrades all myself:
    - main drive is a 128GB SSD, which is a simple SSD drive
    - removed the DVD drive to add a second drive, 1TB HD
    - 8GB of RAM
    - bought an OEM battery from eBay for ± $50. Recommend you got to find the right seller though, there are some bad batteries available.
    - running El Cap which runs fine

    Maybe I would not suggest to invest all of the above at the moment, but the machine works well for such an oldie.
  8. OceanFrog thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2009
    What exact model/brand of ssd, RAM and battery did you get? Can you let us know where you bought them?

    Thanks :)
  9. Woodstockie macrumors member


    Aug 12, 2015
    SSD not sure anymore more, but could be Crucial (bought it a long time ago and would have to open the computer up to check). But just as other posters are mentioning, any SSD drive will do.

    RAM modules from OWC, always buy it from them, but maybe you can find a supplier in Ireland.

    Battery is original. Checked the eBay seller I bought it from, but doesn't carry it anymore. Would not go with the ones that are around $30 or lower. They don't last long. The one I have installed at the moment is running well for 2 years and counting. This is the one you should be looking for, but this seller only ships in the US:

  10. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    It should be fine for your usage, I would go with a cheap SanDisk ssd as you can get good deals on those or any crucial or Samsung Evo range.

    Batteries are a minefield of rubbish and anything under about $80 US is usually a piece of rubbish, ifixit do pretty good batteries for macs as do owc although they are quite expensive, I always go with crucial ram where I can it’s excellent but again ram prices have gone up and you need the right spec which makes supplies on that vintage constrained.,-mid-2009)/CT3309351

    You are looking around the $250-300 for all the parts you need.
  11. OceanFrog thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2009
    Hey all ... OP here.

    Based on the excellent advice in this thread I've ordered this Crucial SSD 250gb,-mid-2009)/CT11265594. I'm going to see if this gives a significant performance boost, and if so I'll think about more RAM and a replacement battery. If not, at least I have a nice ssd.

    I've decided to do a clean install of the original operating system that came with the MacBook Pro (I don't need anything currently on the laptop). I think this might be Snow Leopard, and I have the original operating system disk on CD. Should I simply install the new SSD out of the box ... turn on the laptop with the operating system cd in ... then hold down "C" key and this will clean install??? Or do I need to format the SSD before I install?

    As usual, any replies are very greatly appreciated.
  12. OceanFrog thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2009
    OP here.

    So I did it! Installed the new ssd, clean install of El Cap and feels like a new machine. I kept the original battery and the original 2+2 gigs of RAM. Total cost was less than $90 and around 2 hours of my time.

    Boot time to desktop is now under 10 seconds! I am so so so happy :)

    Thanks to everyone for their help. Anyone considering this ... do it! It’s cheap and easy and you’ll have an amazing machine at the end of it.
  13. treekram macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2015
    Honolulu HI
    Congratulations. Glad you were able to successfully upgrade.

    It would help us help others if you could find out what negotiated link speed you're getting.

    In Spotlight, type in "System Information" and press enter. Alternatively, you can click on it - it will be in the Applications/Utility folder. You should get something that looks like:


    (This is from my Snow Leopard Mini, so it looks slightly different.) Make sure the "Hardware" list is open (if not, press on the arrow pointing toward the right). Select "SATA/SATA Express" (it appears as Serial-ATA on this image). Select the first "NVidia MCP79 AHCI" as it is in this image. On the bottom, what "Negotiated Link Speed" do you have? In this section, the vendor should be "Crucial" (or possibly "Micron").

    Again, this would be really helpful to others who come here looking for suggestions at to which SSD to get.
  14. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    You can run Sierra on it too if you want. But if El Capitan suits your needs, then may as well keep that... for now.

    I run High Sierra on my 2008 MacBook and 2009 MacBook Pro though. See sig.

    The reason why I might recommend Sierra over High Sierra for some people though is because it has already gotten its last and most mature update, and because it is pretty good with software compatibility. High Sierra causes compatibility problems with some older software. There is also a rare QuickTime compatibility issue with 9400M.
  15. OceanFrog thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2009
    Here ya go ...

    Attached Files:

  16. LarryJoe33 macrumors 65832


    Jul 17, 2017
    Here is my $.02, most of which has been mentioned. I did all the upgrades you are looking into. My experience, recommendations:

    1 - SSD, I went with Crucial, the EVO is the cream, but it will not matter as your SATA speeds will be maxed out with any drive. Your decision should be based on best price from the 3-4 manufacturers people reference here. Sandisk, Crucial, etc.
    2 - Memory: 8GB should be what you need, same advice as above. You may be able to run 16GB. I originally went with Crucial but upgraded to Kingston HyperX overclocked RAM at 2133
    3 - Battery: don't expect much. These machines are hogs. My "new" battery still sucks.
    4 - Run High Sierra
  17. treekram macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2015
    Honolulu HI
    Thanks much for posting your results and providing the screenshot!
  18. LarryJoe33 macrumors 65832


    Jul 17, 2017
    Enable TRIM on that SSD (or if you install High Sierra it will)
  19. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    Yeah, you need to enable TRIM.

    1) Open Terminal
    2) Type "sudo trimforce enable" and confirm you want want to do this at the prompt
    3) Reboot

    Then check System Information again to confirm TRIM is enabled.
  20. OceanFrog thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2009
    TRIM enabled - thanks for the recommendation. This is an incredible community - thank you all so much again :)

    Two questions:
    1. Why enable TRIM?
    2. What are the advantages of High Sierra over El Cap?
    --- Post Merged, Mar 2, 2018 ---
    TRIM enabled

    Attached Files:

  21. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017

    2. If you’re using older software I might actually recommend Sierra. High Sierra causes some compatibility issues with legacy software. OTOH High Sierra offers compatibility with new formats, speeds up Safari, and offers software updates like for Photos.

    Plus, High Sierra will get updates 2 years longer than El Capitan.
  22. nehas91 macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2008
    Hey guys! I'm in the same situation as OP and have a few follow up questions.

    MacBook Pro mid 2009 15"
    2.8 GHz
    4GB 1067 DDR3 RAM
    500GB Samsung EVO SSD
    NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256 MB

    I've already upgraded the hard drive to a SSD and noticed a bit of speed increase. I am thinking of upgrading the RAM next. I'm trying to decide between Crucial or OWC. Is there recommendations for one or the other?
    Also, I'm currently running Mavericks but was thinking of upgrading to El Capitan but I see some of you have recommended to run High Sierra.
    May I ask why it's better to run High Sierra over El Capitan and most importantly, can my specs handle running High Sierra. I would think such an old machine/hardware might run into issues running the most recent OS since it would place more demands on the hardware? I would love to hear your inputs on this!

    Thank you in advance.
  23. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    Crucial is a top tier brand. Crucial is the retail brand of Micron, one of the largest RAM chip manufacturers in the world. OWC is not a top tier brand. They really just rebrand other RAM, but since they cater to Mac users and have a reasonable warranty, Mac users like OWC RAM.

    Check out the RAM prices from the various brands and compare the pricing. If Crucial is similarly priced, I'd recommend Crucial. However, right now I think OWC is significantly cheaper than Crucial. I believe OWC has what you need for US$74 for the 2 x 4 GB = 8 GB kit, whereas Crucial has it for US$92. In my case I got a 8 GB kit of Transcend RAM just because I got it for US$35 in an sale (sold by Amazon itself). Sold out in minutes so I was very lucky. I think they were just clearing it out, since I haven't seen it for sale there since.

    High Sierra has a bunch of features that are missing in El Capitan, including HEIF and HEVC support, APFS support, and a much better version of Photos. However, it also has a bug (rare, but there nonetheless) that causes video corruption with h.264 video files under very specific circumstances, with the GeForce 9400M. The other issue is that High Sierra has more incompatibilities with legacy software than El Capitan or Sierra, which may matter if you like to run old versions of software. I run High Sierra on my 2008 aluminum MacBook and my 2009 13" MacBook Pro, and I've only encountered the video bug in the wild twice since September. I don't have the boot disk set to APFS because the boot process is in verbose mode and looks un-Mac like, but it's nice having the APFS support nonetheless just in case for other external drives.
  24. IdentityCrisis Suspended

    Sep 9, 2018
    I am trying to do the same thing here. Just popped in a 512gb Crucial SSD MX500 I had laying around, had to order Snow Leopard so I could reinstall it. And its installing right now. Still have the 4gb of ram, which i am waiting to see how it runs.

    I do have another partition already on it that I installed Mojave on, and it worked fine, just a little slow with Mojave. So now I am trying to see how it runs with the software it was designed for fully up to date once it's done. Will post back soon. :)

    I do have my 2015 MBP 13" that I use for my portable daily.
  25. Db8 macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2017
    I have a mid 2009 13inch MacBook Pro as well running 8gb of ram.

    So thanks every for all of the above posts as looking at changing the battery and hard drive.

    One question. I didn’t think Sierra or above would run on these older models and only El Capitan was the last update to work.
    Or by putting an SSD in change things ?


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26 January 30, 2018