Giving new life to your older MacBook Pro

With rare exception, current generation Apple laptops can’t be upgraded – or even repaired after accidental damage – in any meaningful or easy way after purchase. That’s the tradeoff we’ve made for wanting our Macs to be thinner, lighter and sleeker. To accomplish that, displays are fused to the glass, proprietary Solid State Drives (SSDs) store all our files, RAM (memory chips) is soldered directly to the logic board and even the batteries are glued to the case. This trend started with the original MacBook Air and through the introduction of the MacBook Pro with Retina Display and it’s now the rule, rather than the exception.

And yet, as recently as the 2009 Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs himself said, “Our pro customers want accessibility: […] to add memory, to add cards, to add drives.” He was introducing the “Unibody” MacBook Pro that day. And he was right!

If you still have one of those Unibody MacBook Pros, made between Early-2009 and Mid-2012 (or an older 2006-2008 Aluminum model), you’re probably struggling to keep up with the demands of newer operating systems and newer technologies on the web, etc. Your computer is slow. Just watching a YouTube video can be a chore. The machine drags, the fans start racing, your super-fast Internet connection feels wasted because the video may download fast, but the playback is still choppy and the audio stutters. But you have a distinct advantage over owners of newer MacBook Pros because you can install a few hardware upgrades and make your 6/7/8 year old Mac perform almost as well as a new one, for only a fraction of the cost.

mbp-upgradesUpgrading your RAM to the maximum it will support (8GB-16GB, depending on the exact model) will cost you an average of $75-$150 for the RAM itself. It’s not even difficult to install on your own and the tools you’ll need to pop the bottom case off for installation aren’t expensive either. But the real life-changer will be replacing your internal storage (which is probably a 5400RPM platter-based hard drive) with an SSD/Flash drive. For under $500 you upgrade up to a 1TB SSD that will really make your Mac fly. While replacing your hard drive is almost as simple as installing RAM, I’d still recommend professional installation since there’s a bit more to it than just popping the old drive out and the new one in. There are more screws and more steps and more things that can go wrong. Although you’ll pay an average of $150-$200 to have a professional take care of this for you, it’s worth it for the peace of mind. And the end result is that for about $800, tops, you can have your older MacBook Pro performing almost as well as a new $2500 model. Both the battery and the Superdrive can also be replaced if you’ve got a few more $$ to spend.

Here’s a direct quote from an email I received from a client of mine last month, after I maxed out his RAM at 8GB and installed a new 1TB SSD running Mac OS X 10.10.x Yosemite into his Late-2008 MacBook Pro 15″ (a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo – a machine that Apple now officially classifies as “Vintage.”)

Laurie, you are the best! My Mac runs like a Ferrari now! I want to see if I can get it to run for ten more years!

He is a real “car guy” so he recognizes appreciates vintage beauty paired with fast speeds and smooth performance.

If you’re interested in hearing about what upgrade options are available for your own “vintage” Mac, get in touch and we’ll prepare a complimentary no-obligation quote for you.


  1. llamacidetbyrd June 15, 2017
    • MacSamurai June 16, 2017


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