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Gone are the days when the term “hard drive” solely referred to the traditional spinning HDD. As technology has advanced, Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become increasingly popular, especially for older MacBook Pro models like the 2011 or mid-2012 versions. SSDs offer a multitude of benefits over their HDD counterparts, including faster performance, increased reliability, and silent operation – yes, you can finally say goodbye to that annoying clicking sound from a spinning hard drive.
In this guide, we’ll assist you in selecting the perfect SSD to breathe new life into your MacBook Pro’s dated hard drive or existing SSD and explain what to look for when getting one.
Need a brief summary of our top picks? Here’s the best SSD replacement for your MacBook Pro depending on your specific needs.
- For general users who want a quality, affordable Macbook Pro SSD, you won’t go wrong with Crucial MX500. It has excellent read and write speeds, with awesome energy-saving features that will keep your MacBook from overheating or using up excessive amounts of battery.
- Another great option for general users is the WD Blue Internal SSD Solid State Drive. It offers consistent performance and reliability at an affordable price, making it a solid choice for those who want to upgrade their storage without breaking the bank.
- For those of you who want to shop for an SSD from a reputable brand, get SanDisk Ultra 3D. It will be able to keep up with your work all day, every day with all-around improvements to your booting, loading, and processing times.
- For power users who want a drive that’s durable and built to last, pick up Samsung 860 PRO. It allows you to make the most of every gigabyte, and meet your need with a great warranty and optimized processing technology.
- If you’re a gamer or someone who requires high-performance storage, consider the ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade. This SSD boasts exemplary read and write speeds, as well as a sleek design that ensures optimal heat dissipation.
Best SSD for MacBook Pro (Internal Upgrade): Our Picks
Note that the SSD drive we recommend below are rated based on our own opinions and preferences. They are by no means made in this order.
The Crucial MX500 250GB SSD offers excellent read and write speeds that significantly boost your laptop performance. It helps programs and files load faster and vastly improves the overall system responsiveness. You may notice a significant reduction in boot times and loading times for commonly used applications.
While 250GB may not be the largest storage capacity on the market, it is more than enough for most users who need a basic upgrade. This capacity is sufficient for storing your operating system and frequently used programs, with enough room left for some personal files. The 3D NAND technology used in the Crucial MX500 SSD provides increased durability and longevity compared to traditional 2D NAND SSDs. So, this SSD will continue to perform well even after extended periods of use, ensuring that your investment will last for years to come.
- Offers four different storage capacities, giving users the flexibility to choose the one that best suits their needs
- Delivers fast performance with a read speed of 560MB/sec and a write speed of 510MB/sec
- Incorporates energy-saving technology to prevent overheating and excessive battery consumption
- Some users may need a spacer to make this fit correctly inside their MacBook
SanDisk is a world-famous storage solution provider that offers many products, including internal SSDs. The SanDisk Ultra 3D NAND 500GB Internal SSD boasts read speeds of up to 560 MB/s and write speeds of up to 530 MB/s, which is a significant improvement compared to traditional hard drives. It uses 3D NAND technology, which allows for higher density and improved reliability. This technology enables the SSD to deliver consistent performance, even when dealing with large files and demanding applications.
With 500GB of storage capacity, the SanDisk Ultra 3D NAND Internal SSD offers ample space for your operating system, applications, and files. This capacity strikes a good balance between affordability and storage space, making it an excellent choice for most users.
Installing the SanDisk Ultra 3D NAND 500GB Internal SSD is hassle-free as it is compatible with most laptops and desktops that use a 2.5-inch SATA III connection. Another advantage of this SSD is its lower power consumption compared to traditional hard drives. Not only does this lead to longer battery life for laptops, but it also contributes to a more environmentally friendly computing experience.
- Ensures fast and efficient performance with read speeds of up to 560 MB/s and write speeds of up to 530 MB/s
- Features specialized caching techniques to optimize performance while keeping the SSD cool and quiet during operation
- Available in multiple storage capacities
- The SSD does not come with cloning software
If you are in search of a storage upgrade that delivers excellent performance, reliability, and capacity, the Samsung 860 PRO V-NAND 1TB SSD is a top-tier choice for consumers and professionals alike. With its V-NAND technology and 1TB storage capacity, the Samsung 860 PRO outshines its competitors in both read and write speeds. Its equential read speeds of up to 560 MB/s and sequential write speeds of up to 530 MB/s translates to lightning-fast boot times, swift application launches, and seamless multitasking.
The 860 PRO boasts a Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) of 1.5 million hours, giving you peace of mind that your data is secure. The drive also features a robust five-year limited warranty, ensuring that you’re well covered in case of any potential issues. The Samsung Magician software is a user-friendly disk utility that helps you monitor and manage your SSD. It enables you to check the drive’s health, optimize performance, and update the firmware. Additionally, the 860 PRO supports AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption, offering top-notch data security without sacrificing performance.
- Highly reliable, suitable for heavy users
- Comes with a solid five-year limited warranty
- Rated for 150 terabytes written (TBW), designed to outlast the lifespan of your MacBook Pro
- Some users reported that they had problems with the built-in data migration software
ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade, a PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD, is designed for gamers and enthusiasts seeking high-speed performance and reliability. It has a sleek and stylish design and an aggressive look that complements any gaming rig. The heatsink is not only visually appealing but also highly functional, as it helps dissipate heat effectively, ensuring stable and reliable performance.
The Gammix S70 Blade comes in different capacities, providing ample space for storing games, applications, and media files. The 2TB version has sequential read speeds of up to 7,400 MB/s and write speeds of up to 6,400 MB/s. It is blazing fast, enabling quick loading times and smooth gameplay. The high IOPS (input/output operations per second) performance ensures responsiveness and stability, even during intensive tasks.
The S70 Blade is compatible with most motherboards that have an M.2 PCIe 4.0 slot. The installation process is hassle-free, and the SSD is immediately recognized by the system. The provided instruction manual is also clear and concise, making the installation process easy even for beginners.
- Reduces load times and ensures smooth gameplay with excellent sequential speeds
- The aluminum heatsink effectively dissipates heat
- Comprehensive software support provides real-time information on its health, temperature, and performance
- Slightly more expensive compared to some other SSDs in the market
The WD Blue Internal SSD features 3D NAND technology, which provides better performance, reliability, and endurance compared to older SSDs. It comes in various storage capacities (250GB, 500GB, and 1TB) to suit different needs and budgets.
In terms of performance, the drive has read and write speeds of up to 545MB/s and 525MB/s, respectively. While these may not be the highest speeds, they are consistent and sufficient for basic functions, ensuring quick file transfers and overall smoother system performance. Thanks to its reliable performance and enhanced speed, your MBP will effortlessly handle demanding applications, video games, and HD media players.
You can download the WD SSD Dashboard software for free from Western Digital’s website. This software allows you to monitor the drive’s health, check for firmware updates, and optimize its performance.
- Consumes less power than traditional HDDs
- Priced competitively for budget-conscious consumers
- Offers a good MTTF (Mean Time To Failure) and limited warranty
- Does not support the faster NVMe interface
Who Should Get An Internal SSD Upgrades
It’s a digital world, and we all like to have the shiniest gadgets on the market. But do you really need to install new internal flash storage and dump the old hard disk drive? Well, it all depends and here are our suggestions.
You should consider upgrading your MacBook Pro with an SSD if:
- You work with large files regularly.
- Your MacBook starts up very slowly or performs sluggishly in general. This is common for old MacBook Pro models from 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
- The internal hard disk drive shows its age and may die out any day. Here’s a guide that shows how to determine if your MacBook’s hard drive is failing.
- You often use resource-intensive apps such as Adobe Photoshop for photo editing, Premiere Pro for video editing, etc.
- You need the greater reliability of file storage or want to minimize negative experiences with overheating and potential damage.
- You want to upgrade your MacBook without purchasing an entirely new machine.
You may NOT need an SSD replacement if:
- You mainly use the Internet and document editing functions on your Mac and do not make use of heavier applications.
- You use your Mac fairly carefully or do not keep important or sensitive files on the drive.
You are using a new MacBook (with Retina display), because “removing the SSD is possible, although it’s not an easy job. For starters, the bottom aluminum side is harder to remove. Then, the SSD is kept in place under the speaker module and has a strong tape covering the interface port.” as pointed out in BGR.
Internal SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro: What to Consider
The capacity of an SSD determines how much data it can store, and it’s essential to select an option that suits your specific storage needs. SSD capacities typically range from 128GB to 2TB or more, with larger capacities allowing you to store more files, applications, and media.
Consider your current storage usage and anticipated future requirements when selecting an third party SSD capacity. If you primarily use your MacBook Pro for everyday tasks like browsing the web, word processing, and basic media consumption, a smaller capacity SSD (e.g., 256GB or 512GB) may suffice. However, if you work with large files, high-resolution media, or resource-intensive applications, investing in a higher-capacity SSD (e.g., 1TB or 2TB) could be a wise decision to ensure ample storage space and optimal performance. Using external SSD drives can slow down your Mac, so it’s best to splurge for extra space now rather than regret it later.
Reading and Writing Speed
The reading and writing speeds determine how quickly data can be accessed (read) or stored (written) on the SSD, and they play a significant role in the overall performance of your MacBook Pro.
Reading and writing speeds are typically measured in megabytes per second (MB/s) or input/output operations per second (IOPS). Faster reading and writing speeds translate to improved performance, shorter boot times, quicker application loading, and smoother multitasking. The range of a good product usually stays between 500MB/s and 550MB/s. The higher these numbers are, the better. So if the data transfer speed is good, you can compare 512GB vs. 1TB MacBook Pro, and decide accordingly.
Keep in mind that high-performance SSDs may come with a higher price tag, so you’ll need to strike a balance between performance and cost based on your specific needs and budget.
Memory Type – MLC and SLC
The two most common types of NAND flash memory used in SSDs are Multi-Level Cell (MLC) and Single-Level Cell (SLC).
Multi-Level Cell (MLC) memory stores multiple bits of data per cell, resulting in higher storage density and lower cost per gigabyte. This makes MLC-based SSDs more affordable and accessible to the average consumer. However, since each cell holds multiple bits of data, MLC memory tends to have a lower lifespan and slower write speeds compared to SLC memory.
Single-Level Cell (SLC) memory, on the other hand, stores only one bit of data per cell. This results in faster write speeds, higher endurance, and overall better performance. However, SLC-based SSDs are considerably more expensive due to their lower storage density and higher manufacturing costs.
For most users, MLC-based SSDs offer a good balance between performance, capacity, and cost, making them a popular choice for MacBook Pro upgrades. However, if you require exceptional performance and endurance, and you’re willing to pay a premium, SLC-based SSDs might be a suitable option.
Reliability is a crucial factor to consider when upgrading your MacBook Pro with a new internal SSD, as it directly affects the lifespan and stability of your data storage. A reliable SSD ensures your data remains safe and accessible, and reduces the risk of drive failure or data loss.
Choose an SSD from a well-established and reputable manufacturer, as they tend to produce higher-quality and more reliable products. Some trusted brands in the SSD market include Samsung, Crucial, Western Digital, and SanDisk. Well-known companies usually have good reputations for reliability and quality control of their products. You’ll want that name-brand security when it comes to something critical to daily functions.
Useful Tips and Resources
Whenever you make any significant changes to your MacBook Pro, like replacing your Mac’s internal hard drive with a new SSD, make sure you have a recent backup of all the important files. See this Apple guide for different ways to back up a Mac machine.
The SSD installation process may not be complicated for computer geeks, but general users find it challenging. That’s why this guide from CNET featuring a step-by-step tutorial on how to upgrade the internal drive is worth checking out.
MacBook Pro models with Retina display (most models after 2013) don’t officially support being taken apart, so consider carefully whether you want to go through with it. If you decide to look under the hood, LaptopMag has a great tutorial on how to do it without jeopardizing your Retina MacBook in the process.Also, if you decide to replace the old drive and install a new SSD all by yourself (aka, DIY), make sure you get the right screwdrivers ready, as you need them to open the bottom case of your MacBook Pro.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if an internal SSD is compatible with my MacBook Pro model?
To know if an internal SSD is compatible with your MacBook Pro model, check the specifications of your MacBook Pro and compare them with the requirements of the internal SSD. It is important to ensure that the SSD’s interface, form factor, and storage capacity are compatible with your MacBook Pro.
Can I install an internal SSD or do I need to hire a professional to do it?
You can install an internal SSD in a MacBook Pro but it can be a challenging task that requires some technical knowledge and expertise. If you are comfortable with opening up your MacBook Pro, working with delicate components, and following technical instructions, install the internal SSD yourself. But if you’re uncertain or have never performed such an installation before, it may be best to hire a professional.
Are there any additional steps I need to take to transfer my data from my old hard drive to my new internal SSD?
Yes, there are several steps you need to take to transfer your data from your old hard drive to your new internal SSD. First, you will need to back up your data to an external drive or a cloud storage service. Then, you can clone your old hard drive to the new internal SSD using cloning software. After the cloning process is complete, you can replace the old hard drive with the new internal SSD and boot up your MacBook Pro. Finally, you can verify that all of your data has been successfully transferred to the new internal SSD.
Upgrading your old MacBook Pro’s internal SSD is a smart move to enhance its performance and extend its lifespan. We’ve presented five great choices to suit various needs and budgets: the affordable Crucial MX500 and WD Blue Internal SSD Solid State Drive for general users, the reputable SanDisk Ultra 3D for those who value a well-known brand, the durable Samsung 860 PRO for power users, and the high-performance ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade for gamers and demanding users.
Each of these options provides a unique blend of performance, reliability, and features to give your MacBook Pro a much-needed boost. Take the time to assess your needs and choose the SSD that best matches your requirements and preferences, ensuring a smooth and satisfying upgrade experience.
If you have upgraded your Mac’s internal SSD, tell us what your experience was like. We’d love to hear which drive you chose and how your MacBook Pro functioned afterward.About Eric