Four Awesome Upgrades for Your Old-Style MacBook Pro


The new machines just announced this Monday are great, but surprisingly the most calls we’ve had this week have been from people interested in upgrading their older MacBook Pros. You might be surprised to hear that as an Apple Reseller, we think upgrading your old machine is often a great idea, and might even be better value than buying a brand new machine. What’s the secret?Unlike the latest crop of Retina display Macs, MacBook Airs and the new MacBook, older MacBook Pros with disc drives do not have a lot of soldered-in components. In order to make the recent machines as small as possible, things like the RAM and the solid-state drives are fixed to the motherboard and can’t be replaced, but older machines have more space and can handle having their components swapped around. With a few key upgrades, a machine from as long ago as 2010 can still compete with a brand new machine with a hot new processor. So without further ado, here’s a few upgrades you might want to think about.New features and better compatibility – OS X Update

The original line of MacBook Pros shipped with Snow Leopard, otherwise known as OS 10.6. Today we’re five generations ahead with El Capitan, AKA OS 10.11.2. There’s a wide range of changes between the two, from basic design and interface to compatibility with newer software and better connectivity with iOS devices.

With the latest update to 10.11.2 most of the bugs have been ironed out and we’ve been happily using Yosemite for months here at the shop, so this is one of the simplest upgrades that can make your Mac feel like a whole new unit.

Faster operation with the latest software – Upgrading your RAM

If you think of a hard drive as your computer’s long-term memory, RAM is the short term. Your computer uses RAM to temporarily store files in a faster format, preventing the slower speed of a hard drive from bottlenecking the processor. In the years since the early MBPs came out, standard RAM capacity has gone from 2 GB all the way up to 16 GB. Modern software, including newer operating systems Like Yosemite, demand more RAM, so this is a key upgrade for older machines.

Bigger, faster storage for videos, pictures & other files – Replacing your HD

In 2008, most MacBook Pros came with a 250 GB hard drive with a speed of 5400 rpm. Today, most Macs ship with extremely fast solid-state drives with no moving parts — however, you pay quite a bit more per GB for your storage. Older machines however can accept old-style hard disk drives (HDDs) of up to 2 TB in size, eight times as large as their originals. You can also install a SSD drive of up to the same size for blazing fast data access, making video and photo editing a breeze.

The nuclear option for the biggest, fastest machine – OWC Data Doubler 

The upgrades above are pretty standard and have been done on older Macs for years. This one, on the other hand, has only become common in the past few years as people move away from physical media. There’s a reason most Macs no longer ship with a disc drive; most software is available online, and most folks are leaving DVDs and CDs behind in favour of streaming and downloading options on the web.

So – what to do with the big space taken up by the disc drive in your Mac? Take out the drive and replace it with a special bracket and an all-new HDD or SSD. This allows you to double the potential storage of your Mac up to a potential eight terabytes, or combine a large HD with an SSD for the best of both worlds. This is a great option for video editors or anyone else working with big files on the go.

As usual, if you have any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please hit reply and let us know. Thank you for reading Mac Tips!