Mac Book Pro Modifications

Regular readers will know that I decided to make the switch from Windows to MacIntosh over Christmas and settled on a Mac Book Pro 17 inch laptop.  I ordered one with 4 GB RAM memory, 750 GB 7200 rpm hard drive and anti glare screen with the intention of upgrading the RAM memory and hard drive as soon as possible.  I’ve used the stock laptop for about a month and find it really handles all my photography needs well but is occasionally a little sluggish.  I’ve installed both Adobe Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 along with numerous photoshop plugins to help me edit my images and both programs run better with more RAM memory.

I could have ordered my Mac Book Pro with 8 GB RAM memory but it was considerably cheaper just getting one with 4 GB RAM memory and the ordering a 16 GB RAM memory from Amazon and doing the upgrade myself.  I settled on the above memory from KompterBay.  Once I had the back of the laptop removed and the battery disconnected it was a simple matter of popping out the old memory and putting in the new.  I’m saving the old memory …… just in case.

Speed is the primary advantage of installing a solid state drive (SSD) over a mechanical hard drive.  An SSD is electronic and has no moving parts so data transfer rates are a lot faster as well.  I chose the Crucial M4 256 GB SSD from Amazon and swapped out my hard drive for it.  Both drives are 2.5″ drives and swapping them took about 10 minutes.  Before the swap, I cloned my MacIntosh HD using Carbon Copy Cloner which essentially put an exact copy of my hard drive onto the SSD.  After installation, it was a simple process to initialize the new SSD as the boot drive.  Once I am satisfied the new SSD is working properly, I plan on deleting all nonessential data from the drive and using it only for applications.  All other data will reside on my hard drive which I moved over to the optical drive (CD drive) bay.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the modifications was the removal of the optical drive.  I think the writing is on the wall as far as optical drives continuing to appear in Apple’s Mac Book Air and Pro line of laptops.  Now that Apple has the Mac App Store up and running well, it is far easier to download apps and software upgrades right from the app store instead of buying a shrink wrapped version of a software program or waiting for it to arrive in the mail.  My research leads me to believe that future Apple laptops will no longer offer optical drives as a basic feature.  Following removal of the optical drive, I used the above hard drive caddy to install my MacIntosh hard drive into the now empty optical drive bay.  The caddy is the exact same size as the optical drive and uses the same power connectors and mounting screws.

The final modification was to install my now removed optical drive into the above external enclosure caddy case. The fit wasn’t quite as good as I think it should be and the optical drive doesn’t use the front bezel for the friction opening of the optical drive so I’m going to see if I can find another external enclosure that will provide a better fit.  The optical drive still works fine when connected to a USB port, it just doesn’t have a front bezel on it.

All these modifications took about 90 minutes and that included the time it took me to download and watch several video clips detailing the required steps which I found online at Other World Computing (OWC).  Bottom line so far is that everything is working fine and my Mac Book Pro is now galloping along at a much faster speed than it was before.  It was a little intimidating popping off the back cover of my laptop at first but if I can do these modifications correctly, anyone can.


  1. Mark February 6, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Hi John,

    Thanks for popping by. Everything working well on my set up. Still trying to sort out my old external drive. Going to give it one more go later today. Say hi to Jo!


  2. John Ryll February 5, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    I have the same laptop and did the exact same mod, runs sweet! Don’t miss my big tower at all, editing some video for a friend and rendering is mucho quick, even on the non- ssd.