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Unibody MacBook Pro Q&A - Updated May 11, 2016

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How do you upgrade the hard drive in the "Mid-2009" through "Mid-2012" Unibody MacBook Pro models? What type of hard drive do these models support? How do you replace the hard drive with an SSD?

Please note that this Q&A is up-to-date and covers pre-Retina "Unibody" MacBook Pro models. EveryMac.com also provides instructions for upgrading the storage in the subsequently introduced 13-Inch and 15-Inch Retina Display MacBook Pro models.

Upgrading the hard drive in the "Mid-2009," "Mid-2010," "Early 2011," "Late 2011" and non-Retina Display "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro models requires a screwdriver, but it still is a simple and straightforward procedure. If a hard drive was installed by default, it is quite possible to replace the stock hard drive with an SSD, too.


Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. ("Unibody" MacBook Pro Models)

Identification Help

If you're not sure which "Unibody" MacBook Pro model you have, many of these systems share Model Numbers, unfortunately. EMC Numbers are not externally listed, either.

As a result, they only can be externally differentiated by the Serial Number courtesy of EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Lookup feature as well as the EveryMac app.

However, in software, it also is possible to get "close enough" to an exact match to determine hard drive compatibility and SATA connection type by Model Identifier. In turn, each model can be uniquely identified via model identifier and one or more secondary identifiers (like processor speed and/or processor type).

To locate the model identifier in software, select "About This Mac" under the Apple Menu on your computer and click the "More Info..." button. If the MacBook Pro is running OS X 10.7 "Lion" or later, you will need to click the "System Report" button after clicking "More Info..." as well.

For example, the 13-Inch "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro models -- which support 3.0 Gb/s SATA 2.0 -- can be identified by the model identifier MacBookPro7,1. Likewise, the non-Retina Display 15-Inch "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro models -- which support 6.0 Gb/s SATA 3.0 -- can be identified by the MacBookPro9,1 model identifier. A full chart is provided below.

More details about specific identifiers are provided in EveryMac.com's extensive Mac Identification section.

Hard Drive Types & SSD Replacement Options

All of these MacBook Pro models support a 2.5" notebook hard drive or SSD that is up to 9.5 mm tall (0.37 inches) and use a SATA interface, but the maximum SATA interface speed of different models varies.

When the "Mid-2009" MacBook Pro models first were released, systems configured with a hard drive only had 1.5 Gb/s SATA enabled, whereas systems configured with an SSD had faster 3.0 Gb/s SATA 2.0 enabled. This caused a great deal of discontent among those across the blogosphere interested in performing their own SSD upgrades, but thankfully Apple quickly corrected this issue with a software update.

The "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro models were properly enabled with 3.0 Gb/s SATA 2.0 by default, and subsequent models are equipped with faster 6.0 Gb/s SATA 3.0.

The Serial ATA (SATA) standard for each of these specific models along with its precise corresponding Model Identifier may be helpful:

MacBook Pro

Subfamily

Model Identifier

Serial ATA

"Core 2 Duo" 2.26 13"

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,5

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.53 13"

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,5

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.53 15"

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,4

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 15"

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,3

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.8 15"

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,3

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)*

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 15"

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,3

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)*

"Core 2 Duo" 2.8 17"

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,2

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)*

"Core 2 Duo" 3.06 17"

Mid-2009

MacBookPro5,2

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core 2 Duo" 2.4 13"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro7,1

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core 2 Duo" 2.66 13"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro7,1

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core i5" 2.4 15"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core i5" 2.53 15"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core i7" 2.66 15"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core i7" 2.8 15"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,2

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core i5" 2.53 17"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,1

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core i7" 2.66 17"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,1

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core i7" 2.8 17"

Mid-2010

MacBookPro6,1

3.0 Gb/s (2.0)

"Core i5" 2.3 13"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,1

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.7 13"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,1

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.0 15"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,2

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.2 15"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,2

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.3 15"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,2

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.2 17"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,3

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.3 17"

Early 2011

MacBookPro8,3

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i5" 2.4 13"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,1

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.8 13"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,1

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.2 15"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,2

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.4 15"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,2

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.5 15"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,2

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.4 17"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,3

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.5 17"

Late 2011

MacBookPro8,3

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i5" 2.5 13"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,2

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.9 13"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,2

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.3 15"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,1

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.6 15"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,1

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

"Core i7" 2.7 15"

Mid-2012

MacBookPro9,1

6.0 Gb/s (3.0)

* These models support 3.0 Gb/s (SATA 2.0) if the software has been updated from the default installation.

Hard Drive Upgrade Instructions

Apple explains how to replace the hard drive starting on page 35 of the 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch "Mid-2009", 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch "Mid-2010," and 13-Inch, 15-Inch and 17-Inch "Early 2011" MacBook Pro User Guides, respectively, and this provides most of what you need to know to upgrade the default storage.

The "Late 2011" MacBook Pro models are so similar to the "Early 2011" models that Apple didn't bother to release an updated instruction manual. For the "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro line, Apple's "Quickstart" Guide does not cover hard drive installation, but it is the same process as it is for earlier models.

The Apple manuals provide installation instructions complete with drawings, and definitely should be reviewed prior to upgrading the hard drive, but even better, site sponsor Other World Computing provides convenient step-by-step videos of the process for the 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch models alike.

13" MacBook Pro Hard Drive Upgrade Video
Mid-2009, Mid-2010, Early 2011, Late 2011 & Non-Retina Mid-2012

15" MacBook Pro Hard Drive Upgrade Video
Mid-2009, Mid-2010, Early 2011, Late 2011 & Non-Retina Mid-2012

17" MacBook Pro Hard Drive Upgrade Video
Mid-2009, Mid-2010, Early 2011 & Late 2011

After watching these videos, it should be clear that upgrading the hard drive in these models is straightforward. However, if you do not feel comfortable -- or have the time -- to perform the upgrade yourself, hiring a professional always is a good option.

MacBook Pro Storage Purchase Options

In theory, just about any hard drive or SSD that meets the minimum requirements should work in the MacBook Pro. However, it always is best to buy from a trusted company with Mac knowledge for the most trouble-free experience.

In the US (and many other countries), site sponsor Other World Computing sells storage upgrades in addition to memory for the MacBook Pro models (and all other Macs as well).

In the UK and Ireland, site sponsor Flexx sells MacBook Pro compatible hard drives and SSDs with free shipping. The company provides flat rate shipping to France, Germany, and Switzerland and inexpensive shipping for all of Europe, too.

In Australia, site sponsor RamCity sells MacBook Pro compatible storage and memory with fast, flat-rate shipping Australia-wide.

In Southeast Asia, site sponsor SimplyMac.sg sells MacBook Pro compatible storage and memory with free delivery -- and optional upgrade service -- in Singapore and flat rate shipping to Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea.

Also see:

  • How do you upgrade the RAM in the "Mid-2009" through "Mid-2012" MacBook Pro models? What type of RAM do they use? How much RAM does each model actually support?
  • How do you replace the optical drive in the "Unibody" MacBook Pro models with a hard drive or SSD? Is it possible?


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