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Can replacing the hard drive with an SSD boost your old iMac or MacBook?

Can replacing the hard drive with an SSD boost your old iMac or MacBook?

If you have an old and slow MacBook or iMac, the best thing you can do to give it a new lease of life is to replace the traditional rotary hard drive (HD) with a solid state drive (SSD). Although Macs have a reputation for being difficult to repair, this is not always true. The hard drive (or SSD) is a component that you can usually replace, especially on older Macs. Here's how to find out if you can replace yours and how to do it.

Can replacing the hard drive with an SSD boost your old iMac or MacBook?

There is a reason that all modern computers use SSDs. They are more energy efficient, more reliable and quieter than hard drives with magnetic rotating disks. In addition they are not so expensive.

Replacing the old hard drive with a modern SSD is surprisingly affordable and results in performance up to five times faster: A 480 GB SSD from the respectable Crucial brand (which I recommend and use on my iMac) can be purchased for just over R $ 300, while 1 TB options are available for around $ 800 – both considerably cheaper than a new MacBook. It is also very easy to change, even if you do not know the hardware of a Mac.

A new SSD drive for your Mac makes an instant impact. Applications will launch faster, files will be saved faster, and multitasking will be a much smoother experience.

What is your Mac model?

Before doing anything, you need to be sure which Mac model you have. Just calling it a MacBook Pro is not enough, as there are several different MacBook Pr models, from several years. To find out what your model is, click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the menu bar and select the "About this Mac" option.

About this MacAbout this Mac

On the Overview tab, you will see the exact model of your Mac.


This will help you find out if you can update your Mac's hard drive and find the right parts by searching for your exact model.

Which Macs can you upgrade?

If your Mac is older, you can certainly upgrade your hard drive, but not all newer models can be upgraded. The new Macs you can update are:

  • MacBook Core 2 Duo
  • MacBook Unibody
  • MacBook Pro 13 (2009-2012)
  • MacBook Pro 13 "with Retina display (late 2012 to early 2015)
  • MacBook Pro 15 (2008-2012)
  • MacBook Pro 15 with Retina display (mid-2012 to mid-2015)
  • MacBook Pro 17 (all models)
  • MacBook Air 11 (all models)
  • MacBook Air 13 (all models)
  • Mac Mini (all models)
  • iMac (all models)
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro (all models)

This means that the Mac models on which you cannot update the hard drive are:

  • MacBook Retina (all models)
  • MacBook Pro 13 "(2016-2017)
  • MacBook Pro 13 "with touch bar (all models)
  • 15 "MacBook Pro with touch bar (all models)

This can change if a third-party manufacturer can create a compatible hard drive, but for now, you will need to go to an Apple Store or an Apple authorized service provider if you need to replace the hard drive.

What to consider when choosing a MacBook Pro SSD

To reap the benefits of an SSD, you need a drive that is ready for the job. Here's what to consider:

  • Read / write speed – SSDs are rated for read and write speed. The higher the speed, the better the performance. Something in the range of 500MB or more, although the actual speed is about a third less than advertised.

  • Memory – MLC (multi-level cell) and SLC (single-level cell) are the two options available. The first is cheaper and is able to contain more information, but the second is more reliable.

  • Capacity – Get as much space as possible. The greater the capacity of an SSD, the more it benefits Mac performance.

  • Reliability – Read the comments. See what experts and other users say about SSD performance and reliability. You will usually see that SSDs from famous brands are the most recommended. Samsung, SanDisk, Crucial, KingSpec and Transcend are prominent brands.

Consider increasing RAM

There are two internal items on your MacBook and iMac that impact speed and processing power: the HD / SSD and the RAM. Correct both, and you can make your Mac work like new equipment.

You need at least 8 GB of RAM for macOS Catalina. If you have 10GB or 12GB, the machine looks good. 16GB make it incredible. However, sand you choose to upgrade the RAM or SSD, choose to buy a new SSD. With 8 GB and an SSD you will already have a super fast Mac.

Upgrading RAM is easy, but replacing the hard drive with an SSD is a little more difficult. However, it is not impossible.

How to exchange HD for SSD on macOS

Although it is possible to replace the hard drive on any Mac listed above, the difficulty varies greatly with the model. The MacBook is designed to easily replace your hard drive, while an iMac requires you to remove the entire screen.

Swapping HD for SSD on MacBookSwapping HD for SSD on MacBook

If you do not feel safe to apply the necessary techniques if the replacement is correct, consider asking a more qualified friend for help or even looking for professionals.

Remembering that after updating the hard drive, you will need to install macOS again.

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