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I have a decently modern (late-2010) Macbook Pro, with a 7200 RPM 500GB HD. I need this much space, but I'd like to have an SSD for compiling code, running the OS, and running games.

Is there any way to add an SSD to my machine? Without voiding its warranty? If not, what's a good choice for a 500GB replacement SSD?

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4 Answers

Warranty coverage gets denied if you present your mac for service and it's obvious that damage has been caused that wasn't made in the factory. Adding anything that isn't user replaceable (according to the user manual from Apple) means special tools, special training, and/or limited availability of proper replacement parts. Not being static safe can cause damage to other components, so it's not so much "can you install the hard drive" and more "will you not damage anything else while you're in there".

You'll want to ask the seller if the replacement drive has equivalent temperature sensors and firmware to work with your mac and what their return policy is if you find your mac won't sleep or overheats with a replacement drive added. The risks are very low for DIY repairs if you take your time and can work on things small as eyeglasses screws. But the cost of failure could be a major repair - logic boards are often in the $600 to $800 range. Once you have a unibody back off, that part is exposed. Use care to not disturb the battery - a loose screw between the battery and case is a serious fire hazard.

I find the manuals at ifixit.com to be a great place to see how involved a repair is so I know if it's worth investing in the tools and time to attempt a repair.

Armed with more information, you can decide how much your time is worth and whether you want to pay a professional.

The pros will let you know to bring the mac back so they can put in the original HD for warranty service and they will ensure their work is up to Apple's standards so you don't lose warranty protection.

DIY is an awesome feeling and less expensive when things go well.

As to specifics, there are some great mid price level SSD around and the kits for mounting a SATA drive in place of the optical drive from MCE and OWC look to be equally fabulous items. The new SSD that run at 6Gbps are starting to ship so the "old" models are starting to drop in price. I plan to take advantage of this price drop and grab an SSD myself in the June time frame. Adding about any SSD will add significant snap and more useful life to any 4 year old or less MacBook Pro.

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Has anyone seen reviews on these products? –  mindless.panda Apr 28 '11 at 15:32
    
From the usermanual: "Your MacBook Pro does not have any user-serviceable parts, except the hard drive and the memory." manuals.info.apple.com/en_US/MacBook_Pro_13inch_Mid2010.pdf (page 64 paragraph 1) –  Nilloc Apr 28 '11 at 17:40
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The warranty issue is a gray area and you will want an "Apple Certified" tech to do the drive replacement for you, and even then, you might be out of luck.

In any case, you can certainly change your internal drive for an SSD or add another SSD to the machine (effectively replacing the optical drive) and -should you require Warranty- put everything back where it was and pretend nothing happened :) If you are careful (and you should) when you install the drives, there shouldn't be anything to worry about.

The starting point for all this is OWC - Mac Sales, they have good drives and the "kits" to replace your optical drive.

Just do it. You won't look back.

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There's no need to put the old HD back into the MBP, it's considered a "User serviceable part" (see comments in apple.stackexchange.com/questions/13064/…) –  Nilloc Apr 28 '11 at 17:43
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@Nilloc if he uses a replacement kit and replaces the Optical drive with a hard drive, then that's not "user serviceable part". Since he wants to preserve his high capacity drive, his only choice is to replace the superdrive. –  Martín Marconcini Apr 28 '11 at 19:26
    
You're right, missed that part of the question. Time to get more sleep. –  Nilloc May 2 '11 at 9:41
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Remiel has a great, detailed blog post on this.

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Great link - covers issues with wake from sleep and hibernate mode changes to help the system transition to a drive that's not what the mac firmware is expecting. –  bmike Apr 28 '11 at 18:00
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Links aren't enough. Sites go down, and addresses change. It's pertinent to at least post relevant bits in case these problems occur. See the "Provide context for links" section of the How To Answer page. –  Jason Salaz Apr 28 '11 at 19:26
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I've done this just recently, it is really worth the speed increase.

Have a look at my post here for details on how to do it: http://applelife.tv/2011/05/add-solid-state-drive-ssd/

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