Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Installing SSD (Solid State Drive) in your MacBook Pro 13" or 15" unibody

Installing SSD (Solid State Drive) in your MacBook Pro 13\" or 15\" unibody
These days more and more people are switching to using SSD or Solid State Drives in their laptops and you might be thinking about joining them and following the trend. SSD drives have a number advantages over conventional spinning hard drives, the main being their input/output speed. They also don't contain any moving parts and hence are less prone to failures due to vibration. Some people will also convince you that they are more stable, fail less and consume less power, but all those statements are yet to be verified and supported by some actual data.

You can use this same instructable to replace your hard drive with another hard drive, on the outside they are completely identical.

And by the way, I did this at TechShop ( as they have a whole bunch of really convenient large tables in the common area with some great lighting and you'll always find some available.

Step 1Acquire SSD (or conventional HD) for replacement.

Though still expensive, SSDs became much more affordable lately, so you may consider buying one to speed up your computer's I/O operations dramatically. I have installed a few high speed SSD from so far and I'm very happy with them, but if you prefer any other brand, go for it, this instructable is going to be the same for all.

For this procedure all you need in terms of parts is the replacement SSD only. I will talk about tools in the following slides.

Step 2Prepare your workspace.

Having a large space to work on is very convenient and enjoyable experience. For best result and safety I'd recommend using one of those anti-static mats and laying it on one of those big tables (or any other table you can find).

Step 3Connect the ground.

  • MacBookProRepair2.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair3.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair4.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair5.jpg
Connect the ground wire of your anti-static mat to ground prong of any electric plug.

Step 4Ground yourself with anti-static wristband.

  • MacBookProRepair6.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair7.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair8.jpg
This step is important. When working with electronics, have yourself well grounded with a wristband. Very little static electricity can send electronics of your computer into knock-out.

When wearing the wristband, make sure it's not too tight. Wear it entire time while you're working on internals of your computer. Even though you're well grounded, I would recommend not touching any electronic parts with your hands, as you're leaving natural oil behind. Washing hands before this job is highly recommended.

Step 5Make sure you have all necessary tools.

Experienced repair engineer could do this job in under 10 minutes using only one phillips screwdriver. And most likely he'd be fine, but we need to be much safer than that. We could also learn some interesting tips and tricks with other tools.

You are going to need:
1. Phillips 0 size screwdriver;
2. Torx T6 size screwdriver;
3. Pry Stick Opening Tool;
4. Head light (having the area you're working on well lit makes any job much more enjoyable);
5. Piece of cardboard;
6. Double-sided tape;
7. Compressed air;
8. Rubbing alcohol;
9. Microfiber cloth;
10. Thread locker.

I'll explain how to use these tools along the way.

Step 6Get a good quality screwdriver.

  • MacBookProRepair9.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair10.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair56.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair57.jpg
Choosing the right screwdriver is essential for this job. It has to feet snugly inside of the screw grooves, not have much wiggle room and just feel right in there. Not all Phillips screwdrivers are equal, some manufacturers make them slightly different shaped, so just choosing corresponding size may not be enough. With Torx things are a bit more straightforward, but, please, don't use cheap chinese ones.

For this job you need Phillips size 0 or PH0 and Torx T6. Wrong size and you'll end up with stripped screw heads, which is not cool at all.

In this guide I'm using high quality German made Wiha screwdrivers. If you like good tools, I strongly recommend checking out their inventory. Not the best website out there, but tools are certainly some the best.

If you happened to strip the screws on your Mac, or damaged any other part, check out for replacements.

Step 7Prepare sticky tape for small screws.

  • MacBookProRepair17.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair16.jpg
A few years back I came up with this simple technique of laying out screws in a similar pattern to their original placement on electronic device. With complex devices like digital cameras you may need a lot of tape and real estate, but for this project you will only need a small, 4" piece of double-sided tape.

Peel one side of it and apply it to the cardboard. And then expose the other side. Now you have a small sticky area to secure your screws.

Step 8Keep cover screws organized.

Make sure you shutdown your computer before you work on it. If you're not using anti-static mat, lay it on some soft surface "upside down" or "belly up", whichever you like better. Make sure your screwdriver is fitting snugly and start with any screw. It seems to not matter where to start.

Once you have a screw in your hand, stick it on the double-sided tape. Work them one by one laying them out in the same pattern as on the back of the computer. See pictures for details.

Notice, that some of the screws tips are different -- there are some cone shaped while others are flat. I don't know what purpose that serves, but it's safer to just keep them in their respective places.

Step 9Lifting the cover.

  • MacBookProRepair27.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair28.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair29.jpg
Once you're done with all screws and get the prying tool and stick it in the gap between the cover and the computer body. Slowly and carefully work your way around the perimeter and then lift one corner and pick it up with your hands. Cover should come off with no excessive effort. If it feels like applying force, then stop and double-check everything.

Step 10Cleaning dust (optional step).

  • MacBookProRepair30.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair31.jpg
If you like to clean, then it's time to pickup that microfiber cloth and collect some dust, which tends to deposit inside your computer especially around the fan exhaust area. If you have a pet, you'll see a lot of hair in there too, don't be surprised. You can safely clean the aluminum cover and small flat areas of the computer, like the battery or the hard drive, but leave the electronics alone and don't touch them with your cloth.

After taking the cover off, don't stack it on top of the exposed parts of the computer, find another clean spot for it on the table.

Step 11Remove hard drive mounting bracket

  • MacBookProRepair50.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair51.jpg
In MacBook Pros hard drive is held in place by a plastic bracket with some rubber bumpers. Screws that hold it in place are not coming out of the bracket completely, so don't try to take them out of it. Just unscrew enough that bracket comes loose and take it out.

Step 12Remove the Hard Drive

  • MacBookProRepair52.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair53.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair54.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair55.jpg
Very carefully (!) start lifting the hard drive. It's connected to the computer with a ribbon cable, which is very fragile, so make sure to not apply any force to it, otherwise you'll be soon consulting my other instructable on where to get and how to replace that cable.

Gently start removing the connector from the side of the HD, while keeping it parallel to HD side. Don't just remove one side and then another.

Step 13Torx T6 screwdriver

  • MacBookProRepair56.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair57.jpg
You've probably already guessed, but I love my tools, so I'm going to stress it again how important it is to have the right tools to do the job right and enjoy it along the way. To remove screws, that held your old hard drive suspended in place, you'll need a Torx screwdriver size T6. I use german made Wiha screwdrivers for delicate jobs like this.

Torx sizes are easy to confuse -- most of the time one size smaller screwdriver will still feel like it's gripping right, but will soon strip the screw. Appropriate sized Torx screwdriver will fit the screw tightly with virtually no wiggle at all.

Step 14Remove mounting screws from old HD

Remove all four screws sticking out from the sides of the old Hard Drive. You can stick them on the same tape, but this time there is no need to layout any pattern with them as they are all the same.

Step 15Writing on the double-sided tape

Another cool trick I came up with is to write on the tape when you have groups of screws belonging to different parts. It comes in very handy when you're dealing with some complex stuff like digital cameras, you'll find yourself writing lots of comments on and around that tape :)

Step 16Put the screws in on the sides of your new SSD (or Hard Drive)

Using the same Torx T6 screwdriver put those screws back in on the sides of the new SSD. Be sure to not cross thread, as usual -- very little force.

Step 17Insert SATA ribbon cable connector

  • MacBookProRepair61.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair62.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair63.jpg
Connect the ribbon cable connector to the corresponding terminals on the hard drive. Don't twist the cable, rather flip the hard drive to match the cable position. Make sure connector is inserted all the way.

Step 18Install the new SSD in it's position.

  • MacBookProRepair64.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair65.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair66.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair67.jpg
Insert it one side first, then gently lay the other side down, while making sure that ribbon cable underneath the SSD is not being stressed in any way.

Step 19Install top half of the HD bracket.

  • MacBookProRepair68.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair69.jpg
Make sure to check the orientation first, then install the Hard Drive suspension bracket back and fasten the two screws with Phillips PH0 screwdriver. And result should look like the  second photo on in this step.

Step 20Checking your work before you assemble the computer

At this stage I recommend to do something unusual -- boot your computer to check that it accepted the new SSD and doesn't report any errors. In order to do that, very carefully lift it, open the lid and set it on the side. Don't lay it down on the open bottom.

When the chime sounds in the very beginning of the boot process, it means that the hardware test has passed and that's all you want to confirm. At this point your new SSD most likely doesn't have any operating system installed on it (unless it came from another computer) and the computer won't boot anyway, showing you a folder with a question mark on a gray background.

If you hear a sound of a broken glass right after you press the power button, then something went wrong. If that happens, meticulously examine everything you touched inside the laptop. In worst case scenario you may have to install the old drive back in and boot with it to confirm, that you didn't damage anything inside of the computer.

Step 21Set the bottom cover in place.

  • MacBookProRepair70.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair71.jpg
After testing it, lay the computer back on it's display lid in the same orientation you had it before so that you're not confusing placement of the screws. Very carefully place the aluminum cover without touching on any internal parts -- hinge side goes first. It has to just easily snap into place. If it feels like pushing on something then stop immediately, open it up and make sure you didn't leave any objects behind -- no force is applied at any stage in this job.

Step 22Prepare a drop of thread locker.

  • MacBookProRepair76.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair77.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair78.jpg
If not used, over time you'll start loosing screws from the bottom of your computer. Thread locker can be purchased at any hardware store. Put a drop of it anywhere on the cardboard and dip the very tip of every screw before you put it in.

In this instructable I used Red Loctite, but for this application Blue is more appropriate. Red is way to strong for these small screws, go with the Blue version.

Step 23Insert the screws.

  • MacBookProRepair72.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair73.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair74.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair75.jpg
  • MacBookProRepair26.jpg
After dipping them in thread locker, install the screws one by one, but tighten them up just yet, especially if your computer has been dropped and deformed any parts. You'll finally tighten the screws after all of them are in their respective places and lid is in proper position.

Everyone seems to have a different technique when it comes to putting in small screws. I usually use my pointing finger of my left hand to press the screw against the screwdriver.

Step 24Tighten the screws and DONE!

Once you have all screws in their places, make examine the position of the aluminum cover and tighten the screws and some moderate amount of force and you're DONE. At this point you may start your computer and migrate data from your old Hard Drive (instructable on that coming soon!) or install a fresh copy of operating system on it, but that's a topic for another instructable. Cheers!

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms