HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

Started Feb 22, 2013 | Discussions
dbbarron Contributing Member • Posts: 548
HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

I have a 2008 aluminum unibody macbook (5,1) with its original 160gb drive which is now full.

The machine also has 5Gb of ram.

I am looking to upgrade it to get a few more years out of it.  I use it for a secondary field computer - Some Aperture work, some GoPro video import and minor editing, etc.  I have two performance problems - (1) no more drive space; and (2) trouble with certain video work; the CPU and display can not keep up.  Otherwise, it is a good performing machine.

I see two paths (in both I will upgrade to 8Gb Ram).

First replace the HDD with a Hitachi 1Gb 7200 RPM drive.

Second, same as 1, but also replace the optical drive with a small (60 ro 120gb) SSD for the OS and Apps while using the new 1Tb HDD for data.  This will add almost $200 to the upgrade given need for the SSD and adapters, etc.

Here is the question  - given the age of the machine, and uses, will the SSD option make a meaningful difference?  My goal is to get another 2 years out of the machine.  It seems like other than free space, I am CPU/GPU limited and no drive options will improve that.

db

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Mike Zed Junior Member • Posts: 46
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

I would definitely go with the SSD  drive .

i had an iMac 2008 and took out the 1tb hd and put in a Ssd.

It was like a new computer .... Still using it.

You will see an increase in speed.

You can use and older SSD which is cheaper. The newer ones have faster data transfer but because the MacBook is 2008 it has the slower interface.

In my opinion my iMac is twice as fast as it was before with the SSD.

Definitely a must do!

Mike Boreham Senior Member • Posts: 1,317
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

Just a few thoughts to throw in.

You will definitely notice a difference for SSD. The random access time and small file read times transform the whole user experience., even for lower spec and older models. No point in getting a 6G model, since money seems important in this you might find a second hand one.

I would get the largest SSD you can. For me 64Gb would be tight even for just OS and apps, and minimum user files.

If you go the SSD plus Optibay route you could consider combining the SSD and HDD into a Fusion Drive (assuming you are on 10.8.2) I have done this on both my MBPs and delighted with it. My MBPs are 2010 and 2011 but I don't believe there is any reason why you couldn't run a Fusion drive in 2008 machine.

Beware that you can't boot Windows from an external optical device or USB stick...so things that need this capability (Bootcamp, SSD firmware updates) are a problem.

(EDIT I have edited the initial version of this reply quite heavily after realising what it says in the title that you have a Unibody...initial reply was thinking earlier aluminium!)

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Edvinas Senior Member • Posts: 2,812
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

dbbarron wrote:

Here is the question - given the age of the machine, and uses, will the SSD option make a meaningful difference? My goal is to get another 2 years out of the machine. It seems like other than free space, I am CPU/GPU limited and no drive options will improve that.

I still have in my house late 2007 MacBook Pro 3,1. (4GB of RAM).

When Mountain Lion went out and I have updated to it, this old laptop became really slow - unfortunately every new version of OSX is becoming slower and more memory hungry. So I had started to think about replacing it with MacBook Air. However I had decided to give a try to SSD. I've bought an $10 adaptor from eBay and 128GB Crucial M4 (not the fastest SSD).

It made huge difference in overall speed and responsiveness. I think that this laptop will last another couple of years now

BTW, I've set up fusion drive over SSD and old 120GB HDD and it works very nice.

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OP dbbarron Contributing Member • Posts: 548
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

Thanks for all the advice.

Say I install a 128Gb SSD and 1TB conventional HDD in the macbook, my current HD is 160Gb and 150Gb full.

How do I migrate the system to a smaller boot HD/SSD.  That is, how do I move my user data over to the 1TB HDD while moving the system over to the SSD?

I'd prefer to do a clean install of the OS to the SSD, and then restore from time machine to duplicate my setup, but this will try to install all the user data to the SSD which will not fit.

How do I get the system restored to the SSD, but user data over to the 1Tb HD?

Thanks

db

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Mike Boreham Senior Member • Posts: 1,317
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

dbbarron wrote:

Thanks for all the advice.

Say I install a 128Gb SSD and 1TB conventional HDD in the macbook, my current HD is 160Gb and 150Gb full.

How do I migrate the system to a smaller boot HD/SSD. That is, how do I move my user data over to the 1TB HDD while moving the system over to the SSD?

I'd prefer to do a clean install of the OS to the SSD, and then restore from time machine to duplicate my setup, but this will try to install all the user data to the SSD which will not fit.

How do I get the system restored to the SSD, but user data over to the 1Tb HD?

Thanks

db

You will need a cheap enclosure to put the SSD and 1 Tb HDD in to accomplish all this. One will do...you can do them sequentially.

Use Carbon Copy Cloner (free) to clone your current 160Gb HDD to the new 128 Gb SSD in the enclosure. When you set up the clone (very easy, but read the instructions carefully) exclude the data files which you want to put on the 1Tb HDD later. This will make it fit, You may still get a warning that the destination is not large enough, but provided you have excluded enough data you can can ignore this and continue anyway.

Drag the data files which are currently on your 160 Gb HDD to the new 1Tb HDD in the enclosure.

Before cloning the operating system to the new SSD, format the SSD with Disk Utility to use GUID partition scheme and HFS journalled file system.

After putting the SSD and 1Tb HDD in the machine, put the old 160Gb HDD in the enclosure in case of problems...it can become a backup later.

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Jen Yates Senior Member • Posts: 1,414
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

dbbarron wrote:

(1) no more drive space

Adding in a 1TB will certainly solve that one.

(2) trouble with certain video work; the CPU and display can not keep up. Otherwise, it is a good performing machine.

Moving to an SSD will most likely NOT work out for you. While I would never willingly use a machine without an SSD these days you are saying your CPU cannot keep up and I would agree with you.

Your machine will simply not have the CPU + GPU + RAM 'grunt' to work well on anything but very minor (and standard def) video. Push it too far and you're going to hit the wall of performance limitation.

You'll see an improvement and it MIGHT be enough for you. Sorry it's all 'might' and 'likely' but the "Will I be happy with the performance?" question is a bit like "Will I be happy with that portion size of chocolate cake?". Some people want all the chocolate they can get others accept what they have to work with.

When it comes to computers I'm a 'death by chocolate' kind of gal... but then I'm like that will chocolate too!

Disclaimer!

I had a 2009 MBP that was upgraded to 8GB of RAM, 1TB HDD + SSD and while the upgrades gave me another 18mo of life out of the machine that was in 2011 / early 2012.

The machine has since been replaced with a more powerful machine (the top of range retina which comes full of chocolately goodness).

Good luck with whatever route you take.

OP dbbarron Contributing Member • Posts: 548
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

Thanks to all for the advice.

I took a hard look at the machine and my use last night. The real change was getting a gopro a few weeks ago. I am accumulating video files rapidly. On gpu/CPU I can not playback certain hd video at full screen, but I can with a smaller window.

Thus I definitely need a larger hd for data, and I can live with the CPU,gpu for this secondary machine.  I'll probably go for the ssd just to get some more life  out of the machine.

Db

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afterburn Senior Member • Posts: 1,033
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

dbbarron wrote:

Thanks to all for the advice.

I took a hard look at the machine and my use last night. The real change was getting a gopro a few weeks ago. I am accumulating video files rapidly. On gpu/CPU I can not playback certain hd video at full screen, but I can with a smaller window.

Thus I definitely need a larger hd for data, and I can live with the CPU,gpu for this secondary machine. I'll probably go for the ssd just to get some more life out of the machine.

Db

My old MBP was one like you, albeit the one from April 2009 but it is the same generation. It is more than fast enough to play HD video full screen. More likely it bails out from having 1) a full hard disk (which makes things a lot slower) and 2) a slow hard disk to begin with. All the CPU/GPU/RAM don't matter if you cannot feed it data fast enough. Assuming you have the nVidia 9400M and discrete 9600GT like in mine, it should have no problem whatsoever playing HD video, not even with the slower 9400M enabled.

I put in a SSD in that machine, and it flies. I have since replaced it with a Retina MBP like Jen but only because waiting for it to process large numbers of RAW files was becoming a bit tedious. At least I was telling myself that because, let's be honest, I really wanted that Retina MBP. I would still be using that machine if it wasn't for that, because other than very CPU intensive tasks it is still more than adequate to do anything you can throw at it. But let's be real, with really CPU intensive tasks the only realistic downside is that it takes a little longer to complete.

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Mike Boreham Senior Member • Posts: 1,317
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

I don't know a lot about video bottlenecks, but just to chip in that the new 1Tb HDD will have faster read/write speeds than the old 160 especially if he springs for the recently available 7200rpm versions.

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BeachnCruz Senior Member • Posts: 2,034
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

Mike Boreham wrote:

I don't know a lot about video bottlenecks, but just to chip in that the new 1Tb HDD will have faster read/write speeds than the old 160 especially if he springs for the recently available 7200rpm versions.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/891232-REG/Hitachi_0s03563_1TB_SATA_2_5_Internal.html

walesjs Regular Member • Posts: 116
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

Checkout these upgrade installation videos:

http://eshop.macsales.com/installvideos/macbook_13_unibody_hd/

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JW

OP dbbarron Contributing Member • Posts: 548
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

Mike Boreham wrote:

I don't know a lot about video bottlenecks, but just to chip in that the new 1Tb HDD will have faster read/write speeds than the old 160 especially if he springs for the recently available 7200rpm versions.

I just ordered the Hitachi 1Tb, 7200RPM, 32MB cache.  I am also upgrading from 5Gb to 8Gb.  After I see what performance boosts this change brings (from the 160gb, 5400rpm), I may then still go for the SSD.

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OP dbbarron Contributing Member • Posts: 548
Re: HDD upgrade path for 2008 unibody Macbook

I installed the 1Tb drive and 8Gb of RAM (now a matched set from 4+1).

No need for the SSD, a huge improvement.

Machine will now playback HD video full screen; no SWOD, just zippy (ok, not SSD zippy).

Nearly full, old drive was the problem (and RAM didn't hurt).

db

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