Upgrading MacBook Pro Question

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by queshy, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. queshy macrumors 68040


    Apr 2, 2005
    Hello and Happy New Year!

    I have a mid-2009 15" unibody MacBook Pro (C2D 2.8 Ghz, 4 GB ram, 500 GB HDD).

    For the past while I've noticed it's crawling compared to newer machines even with routine tasks (multitasking safari, e-mail, iTunes for example). It is also quite slow to load applications (iWork, iLife, etc.). I did a clean install of Mavericks and found some improvement, but it doesn't feel nearly as speedy as it used to.

    The new Retina MBPs look very nice, but my current machine is still in good shape.

    Would there be a significant and noticeable benefit if I upgraded to 8 GB ram +/- swapped out the HDD for an SSD?

    Thanks a lot!
  2. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    I think you'll see a substantial upgrade - your machine is quite fast, and RAM and an SSD shouldn't cost too much. I had a really good friend who had a mid-2009 13" MacBook Pro (2.26GHz C2D) and it was getting a bit sluggish. We had already upgraded the RAM to 8GB, but she was still tempted to get a MacBook Air, due to the speed and a wearing out battery. With an Amazon gift card burning a hole in her pocket, I convinced her into giving an SSD a try - it was a great upgrade (250GB Samsung 840...this was before the Evo models), and it actually felt faster than my brand-new 13" MacBook Pro (mid-2012, 2.9GHz i7) due to avoiding the drive bottleneck. She eventually got a new battery and was out much less than buying a new Mac, especially since hers should be sufficient for another two years or so.

    I'd recommend trying that first, especially the SSD - if you don't want to risk things too much, Best Buy does price match Amazon and you can return an open/used drive. A lot of people like the Samsung drives on here, especially since they make the whole widget and seem to work quite nicely (the optional OEM SSD that Apple offered was an 830).
  3. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014

    To both, I added a120GB SSD in the Optibay caddy and 8GB ram to mine and it flies! I had already upgraded the 320 HDD to a 1TB that now just holds media. A side benefit is that if just browsing/email (work is a lot of that) the HDD spins down and batt life goes up to 6-7hrs so pretty stock despite the extras...
  4. kfmfe04 macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010
    been there...

    I have a mid-2009 2.53 Core 2 Duo 13" mbp with 8GB RAM.

    About 18 months ago, I yanked my machine to the floor via the SafeMag cord and crashed the HDD. I decided it was a good time to switch to a 240GB INTEL 335.

    The SSD is FAST and SILENT. Surprisingly, the power consumption and the heat generated was comparable to the HDD.

    I too, have been looking to upgrade to a Retina 15" for about 2 years now. With this SSD upgrade, I've had no problems prolonging the useful life of this mbp for at least another 2-5 years.

    Currently, I am holding out for the end-of-2014 for replacing this machine, but I would not be surprised if the time frame stretched out to end-of-2015 or 2016. The speed difference is that huge.

    I agree that currently, the Samsung EVO is the best SSD out there - I recently added a 500GB to a WIN8 desktop and the machine runs blazingly fast. AFAIK, since the 2009 mbps are limited to 3GB, the EVO will be capped by the bus speed, but coming from a HHD, the difference is so huge that you won't care.

    FWIW, the only other parts I've had to change on this machine are the battery and the AC-adapter. I intend to hold long as-long-as-I-can - Retina mbps can only get faster, lighter, or more expandable (rock-bottom on expandability of current models) as I wait.

    I fully recommend the EVO and a clean install of Mavericks.

  5. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    The standard 840 will also do for him since the 3 Gb/s SATA2 connector will be his limiting factor.

    MLC drives usually last longer than TLC drives. The Samsung 840 is MLC, so it may be better in the long run. The Evo is TLC.

    I use an 840 Pro myself though on my early-2011 MBP with 6 Gb/s SATA3.
  6. queshy thread starter macrumors 68040


    Apr 2, 2005
    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    Does anyone have a link to the SSD I should get that will be compatible with my machine?

    I saw OWC has memory which is compatible but I'm not sure if they have the SSD you are recommending.

    Also, you are saying I can replace the optical drive with an SSD? Is that complicated to do? Or can I just swap the HDD with the SSD? I don't need a lot of storage, 128 or 256 GB would be fine.

    Thank you!
  7. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    OWC's are a bit pricier for an older machine like yours and there have been some bugs with using some 6Gbps Sandforce-based drives on a 3Gbps connection. If you do end up buying a 3Gbps drive, you'll lose out on being able to reuse it at its full speed down the road. As many others have said, Samsung seems to give the best bang for your buck, and works quite nicely with Macs - go for the 250GB 840 Evo - it's not too expensive and a cinch to install in your hard drive bay. If you're really wanting to do it on the cheap, there is a 120GB model that seems to be around the $100 mark:


    Installation follows the exact same process as a spinning hard drive: http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+15-Inch+Unibody+Mid+2009+Hard+Drive+Replacement/1715

    As for the optical drive bay, you can reuse it for either - on some machines that have different speed SATA connections (the optical drive one is always the slower one if they are different - it looks like yours is the same), people suggest putting the SSD in the hard drive bay and the hard drive in the optical drive bay. For this, you'd need something like one of these:


    Once you load the drive on the "sled", it pretty much follows the optical drive swap process: http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+15-Inch+Unibody+Mid+2009+Optical+Drive+Replacement/1728
  8. queshy thread starter macrumors 68040


    Apr 2, 2005
    Thanks again for your helpful reply!

    I use Bootcamp and even though most data is online I still think the 128 GB is too small. The 250 GB hard drive is about $200 plus tax. The memory is about $100. I'm not sure how much money is wise to put into a 4-5 year old machine. Maybe I'll start with just the memory upgrade and see how the performance improves.
  9. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    Personally, I'd go for the SSD first - it'll be the more dramatic improvement, and if you look around you can probably find something around $160 (I had Best Buy price match Amazon on a 250GB 840 Evo about two weeks ago) - the nice thing is that if you do decide you want to get another machine, you can always slap that SSD in an external enclosure and use it as a very fast backup or archive drive.

    Apple is still shipping machines with 4GB RAM, and while that won't be enough for everyone, it certainly can handle the OS and running a few applications - the increased disk IO with the newer software (and to an extent virtual memory if you use it) is where the SSD will really help.
  10. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    Samsung EVO or Intel (any model) are my recommendations.
  11. queshy thread starter macrumors 68040


    Apr 2, 2005
  12. Jgraeff macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2013
    Samsung evo works great!

    Also I went with gskill ram recently for 16gb and it's working perfectly! Just an option, ram is ram just make sure the latency is right for your machine.

    Good luck

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