Should I upgrade my 2011 MBP's bluetooth module for LE?

alexjholland

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Hey, I'm using an early-2011 MacBook Pro i5, with:

  • 1TB SSD for boot
  • 1TB spinner for storing (replaced the optical drive)
  • 16GB RAM
This loyal workhorse is used for writing, music/video production and editing photos as I travel and work remotely.

Given a new MBP with 2TB of onboard storage is a top-of-the-line 15", I'm in no rush to upgrade. It's only rendering videos where her age starts to show.

I'm a minimalist and always keen to own less stuff. My iPad (using TouchABLE) has already replaced all my USB controllers for Ableton Live (music software) and I just need a simple, two-octave MIDI keyboard now.

Unfortunately, all new Bluetooth MIDI keyboards use the Bluetooth LE standard, which was added to the model after mine.

I've found a few guides to adding the Bluetooth module you can buy from AliExpress.

  • How difficult is this? I've already added a second hard drive in the optical bay.
  • Is there much chance of things going wrong?
  • Is there much chance of an OS upgrade disabling this bluetooth/WiFi module?
  • Will it indeed work for Bluetooth LE MIDI keyboards (most people just mention features like continuity)?
I'm keen to enjoy the range of Bluetooth LE MIDI keyboards out there, but it's not worth bricking my MacBook for!
 

Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
7,682
2,103
Hey, I'm using an early-2011 MacBook Pro i5, with:

  • 1TB SSD for boot
  • 1TB spinner for storing (replaced the optical drive)
  • 16GB RAM
This loyal workhorse is used for writing, music/video production and editing photos as I travel and work remotely.

Given a new MBP with 2TB of onboard storage is a top-of-the-line 15", I'm in no rush to upgrade. It's only rendering videos where her age starts to show.

I'm a minimalist and always keen to own less stuff. My iPad (using TouchABLE) has already replaced all my USB controllers for Ableton Live (music software) and I just need a simple, two-octave MIDI keyboard now.

Unfortunately, all new Bluetooth MIDI keyboards use the Bluetooth LE standard, which was added to the model after mine.

I've found a few guides to adding the Bluetooth module you can buy from AliExpress.

  • How difficult is this? I've already added a second hard drive in the optical bay.
  • Is there much chance of things going wrong?
  • Is there much chance of an OS upgrade disabling this bluetooth/WiFi module?
  • Will it indeed work for Bluetooth LE MIDI keyboards (most people just mention features like continuity)?
I'm keen to enjoy the range of Bluetooth LE MIDI keyboards out there, but it's not worth bricking my MacBook for!
This machine is highly likely to have a graphics failure and the free program to fix it ran out at the start of the year (and the fix almost never lasts) . Any money spent on it is likely to be money down the drain. Google radeongate for details.
 

alexjholland

macrumors 6502
Original poster
This machine is highly likely to have a graphics failure and the free program to fix it ran out at the start of the year (and the fix almost never lasts) . Any money spent on it is likely to be money down the drain. Google radeongate for details.
This machine does not have a discrete graphics card. It's got an Intel HD3000. Are you confused?
 

Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
7,682
2,103
This machine does not have a discrete graphics card. It's got an Intel HD3000. Are you confused?
Not really confused your original post has no reference to the size of the machine only the size of replacement. I made an erroneous assumption with limited data.

I personally would spend no effort on a 6 year old machine out of warranty, however at that age why not if it bricks it you've got your money out of the machine.

see here for ifixit guide for difficulty of procedure

https://it.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Unibody+Early+2011+AirPort-Bluetooth+Board+Replacement/5131

and here for some more info on feasibility of compatability.

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6401528?start=0&tstart=0

and here for a little more info

https://it.ifixit.com/Answers/View/200753/Swap+bluetooth+4.0+to+support+handoff

it gets confused at this point it may be possible just not easy at all it may not fit and may need an adapter for PCI connection.

Hopefully someone with experience of trying this will chime in.
 
Last edited:

alexjholland

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Not really confused your original post has no reference to the size of the machine only the size of replacement. I made an erroneous assumption with limited data.

I personally would spend no effort on a 6 year old machine out of warranty, however at that age why not if it bricks it you've got your money out of the machine.

see here for ifixit guide for difficulty of procedure

https://it.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Unibody+Early+2011+AirPort-Bluetooth+Board+Replacement/5131

and here for some more info on feasibility of compatability.

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6401528?start=0&tstart=0

and here for a little more info

https://it.ifixit.com/Answers/View/200753/Swap+bluetooth+4.0+to+support+handoff

it gets confused at this point it may be possible just not easy at all it may not fit and may need an adapter for PCI connection.

Hopefully someone with experience of trying this will chime in.
Yes you're right I forgot to mention it's a 13", my bad.

6 years old or not it's a machine I use every day that does most of what I need (it just struggles with rendering video).

The money would be well-spent simply in terms of minimalisiation, simply as it means I can buy a bluetooth MIDI keyboard. and not have a USB cable trailing anywhere I make music..

However, it wouldn't be worth bricking it over. That said I haven't heard of anyone bricking one in any of the related threads I've found; and a guy on a music forum has done precisely the same move too, with no issues.

Cheers for the links. I think I'll give it a go, as I haven't heard any bad experiences; but I'll keep the old card, just in case a future MacOS update stops it working.