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Maximize Performance of Your Aging MacBook Pro with SSD

There are tons of rumors that Apple will be releasing new MacBook Pros very soon. This means that prices will be falling on the current generation and you will be seeing some great craigslist deals on the outgoing MacBooks. These rumors suggest that the new MBPs will include the operating system on separate NAND Flash (SSD) from your general storage. Well guess what, you can put your operating system on a SSD right now and keep your internal MBP storage. This is a cost effective way to maximize the storage and performance of the current MacBook Pro that you already own, or one that you pick up at a steep discount after Apple releases the new models. Full Instructions after the break.

Step #1: Temporarily move your documents, photos, music, and movies to an external drive.

The idea is to only include your operating system and applications on your boot drive. Look to see how much space your OS and applications are using; this will tell you how big of an SSD you need to buy.

Step #2: Clone your newly streamlined boot drive to another external drive using SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner.

Personally, I have been using SuperDuper for years, but have heard good things about Carbon Copy Cloner cloner too.

Step #3: Replace your hard drive with an SSD.

Pick something fast and affordable such as the OCZ 60 GB Vertex 2 or the Samsung 470 Series.  The OCZ drive will have higher write speeds and higher read than the Samsung, but there is an argument that you will see more consistency in the Samsung product since they use their own Flash, whereas OCZ purchases their flash from third parties. Feel free to discuss pros and cons of each drive in the comments. Pick an SSD that is large enough to support your OS and applications.

Step #4: Clone your operating system and applications onto the SSD.

You will use the SuperDuper! or CCC Image that you made in step #2.

Step #5 Remove your optical drive and replace it with your original hard drive.

This is actually pretty easy to do. You can use the OWC Data Doubler to convert your optical drive slot to an additional hard drive slot and then just attach your original system hard drive to the new SATA port. An alternative is the Optibay from MCE.  It’s a little more expensive than the OWC product, but they are currently including a free USB 2.0 enclosure for your optical drive. That way, you can still use your Superdrive when you need it. For an additional charge they will perform the upgrade for you if you don’t want to do it yourself.

Step #6 Copy your documents, photos, music etc back on to your hard drive.

Step #7 (Optional) Upgrade your RAM to 8 GB.

Make sure to get the right RAM for your MBP. I have always purchased my RAM from Crucial and they include a handy tool to identify your system and make sure that you are purchasing the right chips. Here’s a link to a 5% off coupon from Crucial.

Enjoy your new, speedy MacBook Pro!

Obviously there are many ways to perform similar upgrades, this is just one method. I encourage you to discuss your own upgrade experiences below. If you need more instructions on how to take upgrade your laptop, there are great guides at Ifixit or just ask your questions in the comments and I’ll be happy to help you out.

-Chip

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