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How do you upgrade or replace the storage in the 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models? Is it even possible?
By default, all 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models are configured with either 256 GB or 512 GB of SSD storage.
As originally introduced on June 11, 2012, Apple only offered 768 GB of storage for the high-end MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.6 15" (Retina). However, as first reported by C|Net, starting on or around August 2, 2012, Apple also added 512 GB and 768 GB storage options for the entry-level model. All subsequently released models have 768 GB of storage as a custom configuration option.
Officially, it is not possible for an end user to upgrade the storage in any Retina Display MacBook Pro model after purchase. However, as first discovered by site sponsor Other World Computing, the SSD is installed as a removable module.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Retina Display MacBook Pro)
As of the date last updated (see top), the 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models can be quickly identified as they lack an internal optical drive and all earlier 15-Inch MacBook Pro models have one. However, as future models no doubt likewise will lack an optical drive, more specific details are needed for long-term identification.
The "Mid-2012" and "Early 2013" 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models share a unique model number -- specifically A1398. Future models likely will share the same model number, so the EMC number -- 2512 for the "Mid-2012" models and 2673 for the "Early 2013" models will be better for long-term identification. As always, EveryMac.com has painstakingly hand documented these details for your convenience.
Finally, EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Lookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app -- additionally can uniquely identify each of the "Mid-2012" and "Early 2013" Retina Display MacBook Pro models by the last four characters of their serial numbers.
Upgrade Obstacles & SSD Details
Apple does not intend for end users to upgrade the SSD in these models themselves. The company even has used uncommon "pentalobe" screws -- sometimes called five-point Torx screws -- to make the upgrade more difficult. However, access is straightforward with the correct screwdriver, the SSD is removable, and Apple has not blocked upgrades in firmware, either.
As a result, third-parties, like site sponsor OWC have released SSD upgrades with a compatible connector. Specifically, OWC sells the compatible Mercury Aura Pro SSD and provides the needed screwdriver as well as an Envoy Pro bus-powered external enclosure so the original SSD can be repurposed as an external drive.
The bottom plate of the 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro is held in place with ten screws of differing lengths, but when the bottom of the notebook is removed, it's simply a matter of disconnecting the battery and removing one more screw to pop out the SSD.
OWC provides this straightforward upgrade video, too:
By watching the video, you should be able to determine if you feel comfortable performing this upgrade yourself or if you would instead prefer to hire a professional.
In addition to the compatible Mercury Aura Pro upgrade kit, OWC sells a number of other upgrades for Mac notebooks. Mission Repair offers an affordable Mac notebook upgrade service by mail with a 24 hour turnaround.