While the lure of a shiny and speedy new Mac is tempting, there is a way to squeeze a few more years from older Macs. It’s easy to do, doesn’t cost much, and actually adds years and value to a Mac notebook. Here’s my story.
The SSD Upgrade
There’s a reason Apple has added solid state drives to the Mac lineup. SSDs are blazing fast. They’re also more expensive than their typical hard disk drive counterpart.
Through the years I’ve owned three Mac notebooks. An original Mac PowerBook 100 (no color, 40MB disk drive), A 17-inch PowerBook, and an original aluminum MacBook.
That’s right. After Apple stopped making the plastic MacBook notebook, there was an aluminum model, non-MacBook Pro, which launched circa fall of 2008.
The built-in 256GB disk drive was of the 5,400 RPM variety, which is another way of saying slooooow startups. Worse, I added plenty of utilities which made the startup process top well over two minutes.
While I’m pining for a speedy fast new 13-inch MacBook Air with 12 hours of battery life, the accumulation of lint in my pocket dictates that I hold onto the MacBook awhile longer.
Still, fast is better than slow so I swapped out the MacBook’s disk drive and replaced it with an SSD (from MacSales). If your Mac is sluggish, and seemingly takes forever to start up, an SSD breathes new life with little effort or money.
I ordered the less expensive 240GB OWC SSD and added the little Torx wrench toolkit for a few dollars. MacSales has a video which describes the disk drive-to-SSD swap out step-by-step.
It could not have been an easier upgrade. The MacBook opened effortlessly in the back, and popping out the old disk drive was easy. The holder rails need to be swapped to the SSD, hence the custom Torx wrench, but the whole job was done in less than five minutes.
The end result feels like a brand new MacBook. Instead of taking about 2 minutes and 20 seconds to startup (I have a dozen or so startup utilities running on 4GB of RAM), the MacBook starts up in about 40 seconds from chime to Finder.
Even better, most Mac apps startup faster, too. Click on Safari in the Dock, and by the time you look back to the screen Safari is visible. Every Mac app opens much faster, saves files faster, and even backup clones are faster to finish.
If your MacBook seems slower than the new models in the Apple Store, a new SSD is a good way to squeeze a few more years out of that original investment.