My 2009 unibody MacBook project!

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by dandeco, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. dandeco macrumors 6502

    Dec 5, 2008
    A few days ago on eBay, I bought a "for parts" late 2009 polycarbonate unibody MacBook, as I needed a replacement for my older mid-2009 MacBook that I could use while at college or on the go (its' screen backlight was going bad, and I figured it was time to upgrade to a Mac laptop that could support High Sierra once it comes out in a couple weeks). I will not say the price I bought it for, but it was less than a hundred dollars, and it was a Buy-It-Now sale! The MacBook came without any hard drive or a power supply. Among arriving, it was in decent physical condition for the most part, except the rubber bottom is peeling off a bit, but I could probably glue it back on. I decided to hook it up to my power supply, hit the power button, and it booted to the question mark folder icon, which was a good sign for me. Then I took the bottom off of the MacBook and installed my 256 GB solid state drive I previously had in the old MacBook into the drive bay. I really like the modular design of the interior of the MacBook; it was much easier to get into than the old one was! And a big difference compared to my old one was the optical drive actually works on this as well! I installed my Snow Leopard disc into the MacBook once the drive was installed, and finally got it booting into the Mac OS! But the sound wasn't working (except for the familiar startup chime), and I couldn't control brightness. Fortunately, updating the OS from 10.6.0 to 10.6.8 fixed that. Then I downloaded a Mac OS El Capitan installer for the MacBook and upgraded the system to that, and then to MacOS Sierra! (As I said, my older MacBook couldn't run it.) Now I am transferring data onto it for use while I'm on the go, in addition to installing the usual apps I also use (Firefox, Skype, iMovie, GarageBand, etc.)
    I really like how I've got a laptop with a working DVD drive. But performance is a bit sluggish at times, but it could be because of how it's got 2 GB of RAM included. I already bought an 8 GB RAM upgrade, and hopefully it'll come in by the end of the week. I know it already boots up really fast thanks to the solid state drive. It also lacks USB 3.0 since it's older, but for college use I am fine with that for now, and I don't mind the lack of Thunderbolt and/or FireWire and an SD card slot (my quad-core Mac Mini has all that; though for SD cards I can buy a little USB card-reader stick for if I want to import from my cameras on the go.) I also like the multi-touch trackpad as well; I've used them before when trying out newer Mac laptops at the Apple Store, and helping with a couple of my friends' Mac notebooks (one of them has a brand new 13" MacBook Air, another has a 15" non-retina MacBook Pro from 2011-2012.)

    I also took photos of how the project is coming, so I can share them with my computer hardware lab class at my college! (Yes, I am going to the college to go for a Computer Science degree so I can work in I.T. and such.) I like how it also weighs a bit less and has a better form factor than the old one, and is also more environmentally-friendly.
  2. gooser macrumors 6502a

    Jul 4, 2013
    i'm glad to see someone else who appreciates a dvd drive.
  3. dandeco thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 5, 2008
    I have now upgraded the RAM from 2 to 8 GB. Certainly much cheaper to do now compared to seven or eight years ago. The RAM arrived in the post this morning, so I was able to install it in my MacBook before leaving for the college campus. While I do kind of miss how the older Mac laptops often had a special RAM access panel, at least it's still upgradeable on the late 2009 unibody white MacBook, AND like I said, I really do like the modular design of the inside, and it's much easier to open up compared to the previous white MacBook design. Only eight screws to remove all on the bottom in a uniform manner.
    So far with the new RAM, I didn't notice that much of a difference at first with light web browsing or email, but I was able to install Photoshop CC and Final Cut Pro X on it for more photo and video power on the go. (I also put iDVD and Roxio Toast on it for when I decide to burn DVDs on the MacBook, taking advantage of the working built-in SuperDrive.)
  4. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    I took a different path, but a similar one. I bought a fully functional late 2008 aluminum MacBook5,1, and then used my leftover RAM from my MacBookPro5,5 to upgrade to 4 GB, and took the SSD out of my early 2008 with MacBook4,1 and stuck it in my MacBook5,1. The white MacBook4,1 now has the hard drive that used to be in the aluminum MacBook5,1. I got the aluminum MacBook5,1 for under US$150 off Kijiji.

    I thought about getting your white MacBook6,1 but didn't want to buy off eBay as I couldn't test in person or see the blemishes in person, plus it was a little more expensive. The benefit of MacBook6,1 is that it supports High Sierra officially. The late 2008 aluminum MacBook does not. However, it can get High Sierra if you patch the installer. I'm typing on it right now in High Sierra. One thing I discovered is that the trackpad wasn't registering clicks consistently, but it turns out the trackpad can easily be adjusted with a single adjustment screw. Now it all works perfectly.

    Well, almost perfectly. Someone in another thread noticed that one page at Apple - --- doesn't render correctly in Safari 11. Instead of a big X with flowing colours, if you make the browser wide and load that page, the X appears with blocky colours. That is the only incompatibility we have found so far with this unit patched to run High Sierra.

    Since our machines use the same nVidia GeForce 9400M GPU, when you upgrade to High Sierra (which comes out next week), please try testing out that page with Safari 11 to see if all renders correctly. The thread on it is here:

    It'd also be interesting to see what happens in Sierra with Safari 11 too. I can tell you it all works fine here in El Capitan with Safari 11 on this MacBook5,1.

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3 September 13, 2017