Upgrading 2013/2014 Macbook Pro SSD to M.2 NVMe

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by maxthackray, Mar 1, 2017.

  1. maxthackray macrumors newbie


    Jan 13, 2016

    I am in the process of upgrading my mac setup. I am currently using a 2011 MBP 15 and am looking to buy a notebook and build myself a Hackintosh as my current MPB is too heavy to carry around and is outdated performance wise.

    I have the specs I want for the desktop build and don't want to splash out on an expensive notebook so I am looking at 2013/2014 Macbook Pro.

    I know that it's possible to use an M.2 SSD with an adapter to increase the storage, but will a 2013/2014 MBP support an NVMe SSD and make use of the increased read/write that NVMe offers?

    I have done a lot of reading and have seen that NVMe support was introduced with Yosemite but can't find information about whether this is simply a software change or whether the M.2 + adapter in a 2013/14 model only supports AHCI and can't use the NVMe protocol despite the OS supporting it...

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance
  2. Ampidire, Mar 1, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  3. iMBP15 macrumors newbie

    Feb 27, 2017
    @maxthackray I would just upgrade the 2011 mbp to a regular samsung pro ssd you'll gain a noticeable performance boost and continue using that along with a hackintosh build for the house but as for the 2012-2016 macbook I believe they already come with Nvme/ssaux ssd that are capable of 1200mb/s so only thing you can upgrade on them is the capacity.
  4. MichaelDT macrumors regular

    Aug 18, 2012
    Check with the hackintosh community, they have hacked/made kernel extensions to handle this on the macOS side. Your obstacle is likely EFI support, i.e. will it recognize it as a boot drive to even load the kernel. A way around this might be to have a small flash drive with the clover boot loader on it plugged in at boot. Select the flash drive to boot off. Then use clover to load macOS on the NVMe SSD.

    No guarantee, but that is what I'd try if the EFI doesn't see the NVMe drive.
  5. maxthackray thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 13, 2016
    Hey, thanks for the reply. The reason I want a retina one is just for portability. So you reckon that the 2012 onwards models will accept a NVMe ssd? I just wasn't sure if the 2013 model would recognise it as NVMe appears to have only been introduced in the 2016 version but I don't know if thats a software update or whether theres a hardware change. I don't want to get a NVMe drive to find out that I'm still only getting 550MB/s if there's a bottle neck caused by AHCI
    --- Post Merged, Mar 3, 2017 ---
    Hi. It did seem like I would have to approach it using clover but I would be happy to do that. Presumably once Ive used clover, I would be able to boot from the NVMe drive afterwards?
  6. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    How much extra storage do you need? And how fast does it need to be. If you can get by with slower storage you can insert a Jet Drive into the SD slot of the 2013/2014 MBPro and be done.
  7. maxthackray thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 13, 2016
    Ideally around 1TB. And the reason I started this thread is because I want to know if I can use the NVMe speeds. If it does, then I'll spend the extra money to get the extra speed but I don't want to spend the extra money if the Macbook won't be able to make use of NVMe speeds. See where I'm coming from?
  8. jerryk, Mar 3, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017

    jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area

    Not sure you would ever get current NVMe speeds anyway.

    I had the same issue with my deskside system and had to replace mother boards to get one where the controller had enough channels to fully utilize the performance of my Samsung 960 Pro. But with that said, 3.5 GB/sec is fast, real fast.

    Best of luck on your performance search.
  9. maxthackray thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 13, 2016
    Ok so you reckon that it would accept it as a boot drive if I used clover but wouldn't see any speed difference on a NVMe drive in a 2013 model compared to the stock SSD?

    Out of interest, how many PCIe channels do you need to get NVMe speeds optimised? Wiki has info on the SSD interface with version and channels etc
  10. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    I am not sure how to calculate channels. I needed a PCI-Express 3.0 X 4 M.2 slot
  11. robertdmunn, Mar 5, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017

    robertdmunn macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2017
    I'm interested in this same kind of upgrade as I have 3 machines like this. The best indication of how you can upgrade, and what is possible, I found in this post:


    The short story is that they put a 2013 Mac Pro SSD in a 2013 MB Pro and increased throughput from ~750Mbps to ~1200Mbps. The difference is that the Mac Pro SSD uses a x4 PCIe connection v. x2 PCIe connection used by the stock drive. I believe that it has a PCIe 2.0 interface, which I inferred from this system architecture diagram of the Mac Pro 2013:


    I can't believe that Apple would put a faster interface in the 2013 MB Pro than the Mac Pro of the same year, so I conclude that the MB Pro has a x4 PCIe 2.0 interface with a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 2GBps, per the PCIe spec:



    Earlier in this post I suggested that you should be able to buy any PCIe 2.0/3.0 SSD, used with an adapter, and get close to 2 GBps speeds. That seems to not be the case, as the MB Pro chipset only supports certain SSDs. Make sure the SSD you buy is supported by the adapter vendor.

    A seemingly easy alternative, if you are willing to "settle" for 1200Mbps, is to acquire a Mac Pro SSD that supports x4 PCIe from at least 2013. Make sure to check the bandwidth. OWC recognizes the value of those 2013 Mac Pro SSDs, just look at this page for a 2013 Mac Pro SSD upgrade:

    https://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/SSDA13MP1.0/

    And this note:
    • Re-purpose the factory-installed SSD as a blazing fast portable drive
    So you can definitely use one of these original drives. Note that the "upgrade" drive seems to be 2x and only matches the MB Pro speed, so you need the original 2013 Mac Pro drive or an 4x replacement.


    I don't know if this particular adapter (below) is what is needed. It looks like there are a variety of adapters for different models, best to check with the sellers.

    A good alternative is to get an adapter for the Apple SSD interface and get a standard (non-Apple) NVMe SSD:


    which should then allow you to use any 4x PCIe 2.0 SSD. I wonder if you use something like this:


    if you could get close to the ceiling with it, because its PCIe interface would be bound by the internal PCIe 2.0 interface speed. That's both a pretty cheap upgrade and potentially the fastest solution.

    I found this product on Amazon, looks like a very good solution, new part and clocks in ~1500Mbps read:


    and this part:


    I think if you look around enough you can find a 4x part in the size you want for the money you want to pay.


    The other alternative is to get an external Thunderbolt 2 NVMe SSD. There is this 256 GB model:


    which is $499 and gives you ~1350Mbps read speed. You just reinstall the OS to that drive and run. It's inconvenient to need an external SSD, but it will work- and you don't have to open the case on your MB Pro.

    Thunderbolt 2 supports aggregated bandwidth of 20Gbps:


    meaning you can get up to 2GBps theoretical maximum bandwidth.

    The only remaining question is just how fast could you go. i think you could get close to the 2GBps ceiling with something like this:


    You'll need an adapter to go from Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 ( Apple sells one )

    This company, Akitio, sells Thunderbolt PCie enclosures without drives, so you could get a smaller drive and save some money while still getting close to 2GBps.

  12. maxthackray thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 13, 2016
    Hi there,

    Thank you for a very informative and lengthy reply. This has cleared a lot up for me and it seems that an NVMe drive would not only work in a 2013/14 MBP but also nearly hit the ceiling of the drive's capabilities.

    I have one question though: for a drive such as the Samsung 960, does it matter that the drive says PCIe 3.0 but the MacBook Pro only uses PCIe 2.0? I am unsure what the difference is and whether that would effect the performance. Either way, I would be happy with 1000MBps+ so even if this does affect the transfer speeds, would I still get that level of performance?

  13. robertdmunn macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2017
    The good news is that you can definitely get at least 1400Mbps performance with the right drive, that was confirmed by OWC. The bad news is that it looks like you can't use just any SSD after all, because Apple's chipset only supports certain SSD models.

    The Samsung 960 PRO Series isn't going to work because it isn't supported by the MB Pro internal chipset. After a little more digging this morning, I am seeing mixed information depending on the specific model of MB Pro. The Late 2013 model looks like the best option for use with an adapter like this one:


    It only supports certain models of SSD that are already supported by the MB Pro hardware. The best one I see in the product details is the Samsung SM951 MZHPV512HDGL, 512GB SSD with 2150 Mbps read speed, which is $450:


    and the 256 GB variety, which is $305:


    Note that the internal bus speed of the late 2013 MB Pro is only 2 GBps, so actual performance will be something less than the drive's max speed. I have a question pending on the product page about performance specs with this particular SSD.

    The big difference here is going to be cost. The MZHPV512HDGL is $450 v. ~$360 for the Samsung 960 PRO that doesn't work with the Apple hardware. Such is life buying replacement parts for an Apple product.

    Note that the Kinston model:


    in the 240 GB variant is $179 and supports ~1400 Mbps reads.

    in the 480 GB variant is $329 and supports ~1400 Mbps reads.

    I'm going to wait for the adapter vendor to reply about specs, but I think it's safe to say the Samsung 951 is going to be faster than the Kingston model. Is it worth an extra $120 for a 25% bump in SSD performance? It is for me if the speed is confirmed. I have one late 2013 model, so that's probably the route I will go with that machine.

    For the mid-2014 model, I found an interesting tidbit on this page:


    which is the 1 TB SSD with ~1500Mbps reads for $899. I don't need a 1 TB SSD, and I don't want to pay $899 for it, but this drive says that it supports the late 2013, mid 2014, and mid 2015 MB Pro, which means they are using the same PCIe interface.

    Does that means the adapter from above will work on the mid 2014 model as well? I don't know, but since I am ordering one already I might just try putting it in the 2014 model to see if it boots. If I go that route and it works I will post an update to this thread with my results.
  14. robertdmunn macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2017
  15. maxthackray thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 13, 2016
    Hi again,

    Do you know if there is a list of SSD's that the Macbook chipset supports? If not, what spec should I be looking for to ensure that it will work. Been doing some research and the SSD I'm most interested in is the Intel 600p in either 512GB or 1TB. Great value and the speeds are fast enough for me.

    Please do let me know when you hear back from the adapter vendor!

    Thanks again for all your help!
  16. robertdmunn macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2017
    The Intel 600p was released last year, so I don't think there is any way that the 2013/14 MB Pro supports it, sorry. With the adapters, you should only buy an SSD that the vendor specifically says will work, because they have done the homework when building the adapter.

    Without the adapter, you are stuck buying only SSDs that conform to the Apple PCIe port spec. As I said earlier, the reality of shopping for Mac replacement parts is that you are going to pay more than buying comparable parts for a PC. That's just how it is.

    That said, the 240 GB Kingston model from my earlier post is nearly as fast on reads and faster on writes than the Intel 600p. If you need more space for files, you can get an external 4 TB USB 3.0 HDD for $119 on Amazon:


    or a 500 GB USB 3.0 SSD for $169:


    Speeds are nowhere near the internal port speed, but do you need 1500 Mbps read speeds for everything? Sure it's a PITA copying big files, but if you are constrained by your budget, that's the best option.

    It seems like a bit of a Catch-22 upgrading the SSD, doesn't it? Why pay $899 for the 1 TB drive I linked to when, for a little bit more money, you can buy a slightly dinged Asus Zenbook Pro 15" with a 512 GB SSD (1500Mbps), 16 GB RAM, etc...:


    Of course the CPU on my mid-2014 MB Pro - I7-4770HQ @ 2.2GHz:


    is faster than the CPU on that Zenbook - i7-6700HQ @ 2.60GHz


    which is both pretty impressive and a good reason to pay a little extra for the upgraded SSD. Make no mistake, MacBook Pros retain their value for good reason.
  17. maxthackray thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 13, 2016
    Any idea what's stopping the chipset supporting the Intel 600p?
    Also, why is that the adapter only works with some SSD's? Surely the premise is the same regardless of the drive?
  18. robertdmunn macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2017
    Firmware. Yes, the premise is the same, but each drive requires its own firmware. Apple apparently only supports a small subset of SSDs on the market.

    What seems clear from the adapter vendor's listing on Amazon is that they have tested certain drives and confirm that some drives simply do not work. Here is a bit of explanation about an SSD function called Trim that may be part of the problem:


    but I can't guarantee that you could get a third-party trim solution working and therefore be able to use just any SSD. I would give it a shot for kicks if someone sent me the parts, but I don't think it's a good idea to spend money on parts that are most likely not going to work.
  19. Earl Urley macrumors 6502

    Nov 10, 2014
    Does anyone know if a M.2 SSD with a Phison 5007-E7 controller would be compatible with the previously described M.2 NGFF adapter? The specs for the controller claim AHCI 1.3 compatibility, which is what I believe is needed both for compatibility and bootability.

    The specs also claim MacOS X support but with no further details..
  20. liudayu macrumors newbie


    Nov 4, 2014

    Hi mate, I have a 2014 Macbook Pro with Retina display model (same as you) and I'm looking for upgrading my storage as well. As I'm aware of that 2014 Model of Macbook Pro shows it's PCIe x2 but I found that OWC link you posted earlier states this MacBook Pro can achieve the 1400MB/s speed, so I got a bit confused: Does this model (A1502) support PCIe x4 or it's limited to x2 (as shown in System Information.app)?
    Also since you are upgrading your 2014 MBP's SSD as well, could you tell me which brand's SSDs are supported for this Mac? I'm currently looking for the upgrade to 512GB.
    Thanks in advance!
  21. gilles_polysoft macrumors regular


    Jul 7, 2017
    Tours (France)

    Good news : I have just found that NVMe SSD are compatible with MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air and Mac mini from mid-2014 models up to 2017 iMac...
    You need to use MacOs 10.13 High Sierra at least, because of the NVMe driver which doesn't recognize non-Apple NVMe SSD on lower OS (El Capitan or 10.12 Sierra).

    Bad news : it doesn't work with 2013 Macs : Late 2013 Mac Pro, late 2013 MacBook Pro 13 and 15", and early 2014 MacBook air.

    See the story there :

    The adapter can be bought here :
  22. treekram macrumors 65832

    Nov 9, 2015
    Honolulu HI
    I don't know what the French link is saying, but the sintech link says that it is compatible with the late 2013 MBP's.

    But the big thing is that the compatible SSD's are AHCI, not NVMe. The Kingston SSD is a current model and maybe the better choice. The Samsung SSD's are OEM drives so the warranty comes from the seller, not from Samsung. I don't know if Samsung is still selling these or not. If one gets the Samsung, one should make sure to get the suggested model - the SM951, which has MLC, vs. the TLC model (PM951).
  23. gilles_polysoft macrumors regular


    Jul 7, 2017
    Tours (France)
    Sorry... but did you read what I wrote ? I wrote that, despite what has been believed, in fact NVMe are compatible.

    They are not compatible with late 2013 and early 2014 macs, but they are compatible with macs from mid-2014 and later.
    I'm writing this post on a mid-2015 MacBook Pro retina 15" with a 2 TB NVMe "APPLE SSD SM2048L" which comes from a 2017 iMac. This SSD works with the Apple NVMe driver and I am still with El capitain (10.11.6).

    As for "non-Apple" SSD, I tried a NVMe SM961 drive and it works, believe it or not... Only, it requieres MacOS High Sierra because it is not an Apple SSD drive, and the Apple NVMe driver didn't work with tiers SSD before 10.13 beta.

    Attached Files:

  24. liudayu macrumors newbie


    Nov 4, 2014
    Hi, thank you so much for letting us know!! How kind of you!
    Could you run a benchmark on the SM951 and check the S.M.A.R.T status use a software called "DriveDx" please?
  25. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    Do know if the lower costs Samsung 960 Evo and 960 Pro will work in a 2015 MBP with High Sierra. The SM961 is in short supply.

    Also, any danger that the final version of High Sierra will be modified to only support the Apple branded units?

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