After becoming accustomed to upgrading to newer MacBook Pro models every year, I finally convinced myself that I’d try hanging onto the same 2.16GHz laptop for a little longer, even if it was out of warranty and a whole 240MHz slower than the latest-greatest. I already had 4GB RAM installed, so I figured it’d be best to just upgrade the hard drive. Granted, the 160GB 5,400RPM stock hard drive I was using had more than 60GB free, so I wasn’t exactly aching for storage, but bigger is always better, right? I found a great 200GB 7,200RPM SATA drive on newegg.com for only $139 after $30 rebate, so I bought it.
I cloned my 160GB drive to the 200GB drive. Unfortunately, it took nearly 4 hours thanks to the 80GB of data running over a USB 2.0 connection. USB 2.0 sucks. Really.
Once the cloning was done, I got my handy-dandy Torx screwdriver set out and began disassembling the MacBook Pro. I used the awesome (but somewhat outdated) instructions from iFixit.com.
MacBook Pro, ready to go. Note the awesome Dr. Bodelin’s Laptop Bumpers that keep the MBP raised up a little for heat dissipation. I have a set for each of my laptops, my wife’s laptop, etc. You should, too.
Removing screws from the body of the MacBook Pro is simple.
I found that placing the screws along side the iFixit instructions made things easier on me. So many screws, but so little to worry about.
Lifting the top off the MacBook Pro is easy… kind of. The rear, left and right pry loose with almost no effort, but the front was a real pain in the butt. There are some little plastic tabs that are hooked just under the lip of the front bezel. They just don’t want to let go. After a leap (or tug) of faith, I wrestled the entire top of the laptop off.
Pretty stuff under the hood:
Old drive with heat sensor:
Old drive and new:
200GB drive snugly in place in the MacBook Pro:
Putting the MacBook Pro back together was dirt simple. It took no more than 4 minutes and everything looks as good as it did before the whole upgrade process.
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After replacing the hard drive, I’ve got nearly 120GB free space. Wow. I noticed that moving data to and from my FireWire 800 backup drive is much, much faster. A 10GB transfer used to take 6-8 minutes, and now it rips through in less than 4 minutes. Parallels seems to open and run faster, too.
I’ve noticed almost no increase in heat with this new drive, and it’s actually quieter than the 160GB drive that came with the MacBook Pro. Hooray!
With a 7,200RPM drive, I was expecting a serious decrease in boot time. I saw a significant increase – like 15-20 seconds slower. Converting AVI files to MP4 (for AppleTV) went from 5 mins 20 seconds to 6 mins 40 seconds. Time to open big RAW images in Photoshop remained the same. A bit of a disappointment.
During the cloning process, something must have gone awry, because the Leopard video drivers got seriously messed up. The colors on the MBP screen looked washed out and my 24″ LCD screen, which was previously gorgeous at 1920×1200, was now rendered dull brown-ish green in color and wouldn’t display anything above 1440×900. I re-installed the video card firmware update that Apple released in late February, but that didn’t fix it.
I ran a full battery of cleanups with Leopard’s Disk Utility and OnyX. Neither made any notable improvement.
After several fruitless calls to Apple Genius bars, I decided to wipe the drive clean and see how things would go. The fresh install of Leopard fixed the video problem, but it didn’t seem to make any difference with the speed I was hoping to see in the 7,200RPM drive.
Even with 4GB RAM and a fresh OS X installation, the apps I use most often seem to move at the same (or slower) pace with this new drive. Bogus.
While I’m happy with the extra hard drive space, I am pretty disappointed with the fact that I’m not seeing any real-world, “holy crap!” increase in speed. Aside from the kick-ass transfer rates with my external backup drives, the 200GB 7,200RPM upgrade seems to have been a bit ho-hum.
Update on New Upgrade:
After using the 200GB 7,200RPM drive for a couple months, I swapped it out for a 320GB 5,400RPM drive made by Western Digital. Check out the installation process for photos, notes, etc. Comparing this modded 2.16GHz MacBook Pro to my newer 2.4GHz MBP, they’re really running about even.
These same display problems eventually plagued my 2.4GHz MBP and I had to have Apple replace the logic board. Thankfully, that fixed it – and it was free. – Jason