Best SSD for Old MacBook Pros (Internal Upgrade)

When most of us think of where our Macs store data, we are used to saying “the hard drive”. But the truth is, not all drives are physically spinning HDDs anymore, and the Solid State Drive (or SSD) is becoming an increasingly common upgrade for an old MacBook Pros that is showing its age, for example, the 2011 model, or mid-2012 model.

Because SSDs have a number of advantages compared to HDDs, they are more speedy, reliable and quieter — yes, you won’t hear the click sound from a spinning hard drive. However, SSDs are also a little bit more expensive than HDDs though the price difference is diminishing.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through picking the best SSD drive to upgrade your MacBook Pro’s old hard drive or existing SSD and point out how we chose the favorite products along the way.

Quick Summary

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 SSD, you won’t go wrong with Crucial MX500 — which has exemplary read and write speeds, with awesome energy-saving features that will keep your MacBook from overheating or using up excessive amounts of battery.
  • For those of you who want to shop an SSD from a reputable brand, get SanDisk Ultra 3D — which 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 — which allows you to make the most of every gigabyte, and meet your need with a great warranty and optimized processing technology.

Who Should Get This

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 slow or performs sluggishly in general. This is common for old MacBook Pros such as 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 models.
  • The internal hard disk drive is showing its age and might die out any day. Here’s a guide that shows how to determine if it’s failing.
  • You often use resource-intensive apps such as Adobe Photoshop for photo editing, or 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 very strong tape covering the interface port.” as pointed out in BGR.

Best SSD for MacBook Pro (Internal Upgrade): Our Picks

Note that the SSD drives we recommend below are rated based on our own opinions and preferences. They are by no means made in this order.

1. Crucial MX500 250GB 3D NAND SATA 2.5 Inch Internal SSD

If you are on a budget and need dependability and security for your data, this drive from Crucial fits the bill. Its energy-efficient features will protect your MacBook from overheating or draining the battery.

This is an SSD that should meet most users’ needs. In our opinion, 250 GB is the best choice, but you may also choose a larger one such as 2TB.

  • Pros: It has four different capacities available for you to choose from. The drive is speedy as it’s rated for read and write speed of 560MB/sec and 510 MB/sec respectively. Also, the drive includes energy adaptive features to prevent overheating and excessive battery use — this is especially helpful if you’re still using an old MacBook with a battery under fairly poor conditions.
  • Cons: It’s not the fastest drive on the market and some users may need a spacer to make this fit correctly inside their MacBook.

2. SanDisk Ultra 3D NAND 500GB Internal SSD

SanDisk is a world-famous storage solution provider that offers many types of products especially memory cards, flash drives, etc. If you’re a photographer, chances are you’re using or have used an SD card manufactured by SanDisk.

What you may not know is that the company also offers solid-state drives. If you need a drive that will perform well under pressure, then Ultra 3D NAND SATA III from SanDisk can definitely fill that need.

With lightning-fast read and write speeds, improved startups, and shorter loading times all around, this drive will keep up with you throughout a busy working day.

  • Pros: It’s very fast as rated at 560 MB/sec in reading and 530 MB/sec in writing. The drive also comes with specialized caching methods to enhance performance while maintaining a cool and quiet operation. Plus, there are a variety of available storage capacities to choose from.
  • Cons: It doesn’t come with cloning software which means you need to take some time to transfer the data from the old drive to the new one.

3. Samsung 860 PRO V-NAND 1TB SSD

Boasting a 5-year warranty, cloning software, and a respected name, it’s hard to know where to start with this Samsung drive’s best attributes. You’ll benefit from increased speeds for loading applications and saving files, as well as a variety of options for storage capacity to meet your specific needs.

  • Pros: It’s extremely dependable and known for use among heavy users, will work efficiently with your MacBook (reads 560 MB/sec, writes 530 MB/sec), and includes an outstanding warranty. Also, it uses 3D V-NAND to increase speed and rated for 150 terabytes written — more than enough to outlast your MacBook Pro itself.
  • Cons: Some users reported that they had problems with the built-in data migration software.

Internal SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro: What to Consider

Capacity

When making a purchase, you may find yourself willing to compromise on storage capacity because of the cost compared to an HDD. Don’t do this!

Because storage capacity is a key factor that determines how much use you get out of your new drive, and as computers progress, you’re going to want to have the space to keep up.

Additionally, using external 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

Every disk drive is rated with a certain set of speed that describes how fast it can read and write files. The range of a good product usually stays between 500MB/s and 550MB/s. The higher these numbers are, the better.

Please note that the advertised numbers are not representative of real-world conditions though, in which you’ll probably experience speed about two-thirds of those rated.

Read: How to Quickly Test a MacBook’s Hard Drive Speed?

Memory Type – MLC and SLC

SSDs have two types of memory: multi-level cell and single-level cell. The first is cheaper to make and stores more information, but the later has a lower rate of error. However, some SSDs come with error-correcting features to minimize this difference, so it’s up to you to decide which best fits your needs.

Reliability

While judging a book by its cover is generally frowned upon, when it comes to flash storage, it’s perfectly acceptable to judge performance and reliability from the brand name alone.

Well-known companies usually have good reputations for reliability and quality control of their products, and you’ll want that name-brand security when it comes to something as critical to daily functions.

Useful Tips and Resources

Whenever you consider making any significant changes to your MacBook Pro, it’s always a good practice to 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.

Therefore, when it comes to replacing your Mac’s internal hard drive with a new SSD, you’ll want to make sure that everything is backed up properly in case of any potential risk.

The SSD installation process is fairly simple to computer geeks, but general users may find it challenging.

That’s why this guide from CNET is worth checking out, it features a step-by-step tutorial on how to upgrade the internal drive and walks you through the precautions, and helps you stay on your feet.

Using a MacBook Pro with Retina display (most models after the year 2013)? These Macs don’t officially support being taken apart so you should consider carefully whether or not you want to go through with it.

However, if you do decide to take a look under the hood, LaptopMag has a great tutorial on how to do so 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.

Final Words

It may seem like SSDs have been slow to take off, but they really are the drives for many laptop computers in the future. They’re generally faster, more durable, and more efficient than any similar-sized HDD, and you can count on them to store your files and applications safely.

If you’ve decided to make the internal SSD upgrade for your Mac, 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
Eric currently uses a 15-inch MacBook Pro for both work and personal errands. He did all the research and testing to make sure all the fixes and optimization tips shared on the blog are relevant to Apple’s latest macOS updates as well as fact-checking.

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  • Max Ryden

    Hi,
    I have a mid-2012 MacBook Pro with the Toshiba 500 GB HDD, which I analyzed using DriveDx and the HDD is failing. I want to replace it with a (probably SanDisk) 500 GB SSD. I watched the video, and have a question about the cloning part. If I already have my MacBook backed up using Time Machine to an external HDD, do I still need to clone the internal HDD or can I restore my files using Time Machine and/or Migration Assistant? I’m really desperate to get my computer working right again. Now it’s just hang, hang, and more hang! Thanks.

    Max

    Reply
  • Koray İnçki

    Hi i have a MacBook pro late 2012 A1425, will these SSD options fit for that?

    Reply
    • Lorena

      You are using the 2014 model, which is beyond the scope of “old MacBook Pro” covered in this article. You’d better take your MacBook to a computer shop for recommendations.

      Reply
  • Robert

    Will Samsung 870 EVO 1TB internal SSD work with MacOS Sierra 10.12.6?

    Reply
  • Ajis

    Hello master.
    Im bout to upgrade my hdd to 1tb ssd sandisk. N for the existing hdd i will use caddy to replace the dvd rom to get extras

    My question.

    What is the best RAM capicity for the upgrade? My model macbook pro mid 2012. A1278.

    Currently on default 4gb.

    So, what is ir suggestion?

    8gb (4gb + 4gb)?

    Or

    16gb (8gb + 8gb)?

    And can u share the best Ram brand n model to be used?

    Tqvm in advanced. God bless u.

    Reply
  • Melanie

    Hi team, I want to upgrade my Macbook Pro as well as start from scratch. I have a lot of old Apps that I want to remove and think just starting from scratch would be easier. What should I do differently as part of the upgrade process?

    Reply
    • Lorena

      You may go ahead with the upgrade and reinstall your MacOS. Read here.

      Reply
  • Brian Ledford

    I have a mid 2009 MacBook Pro and it’s 2020 can you give me a suggestion for a Samsung solid-state hard drive replacement I just wanna make sure I get the right one I was going to buy a new computer but I’m gonna wait until Apple starts putting in the solid-state hard drive

    Reply
    • Lorena

      How about our list 3. Samsung 860 PRO V-NAND 1TB SSD?

      Reply
  • Jim Graniela

    I also found the OWC Mercury 500Gb SSD to be fabulous too. At a price point of $119, it came with all the tools and full access to video to make the upgrade yourself.

    Reply
  • Luis Ontiveros

    Hi, I have a MacBook Pro (the latest) with Touch ID and Touch Bar with 121GB, and every Day I recibe mensajes that I don’t have enough space, Can It fit the “Samsung 860 PRO V-NAND 1TB SSD” ?
    Please let me know.

    Thank You
    Luis

    Reply
    • Lorena

      I don’t think the manual SSD upgrade works for the Touch Bar model, Apple seems to have soldered the SSD to the motherboard. Read more here.

      Reply
  • Peter

    Hi, I just replaced my old hdd to a Sandisk Ultra 3D 1tb. I contacted Sandisk customer service, before I decided, and they said the ssd is compatible with my 2008 Mackbook Pro (early 2008 edition). However, after replacing the ssd, I got “Folder with ? mark”. Did not want load. I thought the hdd cable is bad. Tried to put my old hdd, and everything went fine. Please advise.
    Thank you, Peter

    Reply
  • Rhiannon

    Hello!
    You mentioned that with #2, the Sandisk Ultra 3D that there is no cloning software included.
    What would you recommend to do this instead? Would Time Machine suffice? Or making a manual back up on an external hard drive too?
    Any/all advice appreciated!
    Rhiannon

    Reply
    • Lorena

      You may use external cloning software, and watch this video for more info.

      Reply
  • DavidE

    Thanks for this article!
    I have successfully replaced the HDD in my mid-2012 MacBook Pro with a Crucial MX500 CT2000MX500SSD1 2 TB SSD. I used Carbon Copy to transfer my stuff in one simple operation, with the new SSD hooked up via an external USB drive case, then simply swapped the drives, exactly as you described, and took the opportunity to lift the fans out, and vacuum the fluff out of the system.
    The only thing I’d add is, if your eyes aren’t young, get some cheap +4.0 reading glasses for this otherwise very straightforward job.

    Reply
    • Lorena

      Good to know that it works for you. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • Fatima

    How can I move my apps and notes for the new ssd?

    Reply
    • Lorena

      Hi Fatima, the best way is to back up your Mac (follow the guide here) first, then once you install the new SSD, restore your Mac from the backup.

      Reply
  • Tony

    Hi, I have a mac book pro late 2013 model. Its only 256 GB SSD. I would like to upgrade it to 512GB or 1TB SSD.  Can it fit the Crucial MX500 250GB 3D NAND SATA 2.5 Inch Internal SSD? Are there any other alternatives? Please do reply.
    Thanks
    Tony

    Reply
  • Haeyoung Lee

    Hello,

    I would like to (re)confirm whether or not Mac Pro (2011 model) is comparable enough to accommodate for upgrading its internal drive from HHD to SSD. Also, your write up recommends to have enough capacity and memory to accommodate SSD – what would be the minimum capacity and memory?

    Please let me know. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Lorena

      Our guide is for MacBook Pro, not Mac Pro. You’ll have to consult Apple support or local computer shop to confirm.

      Reply