The limitation in a 15inch early 2011 mbp is that the hdd should have a height of 9.5mm and that the SATA port only works reliably with drives that connect at SATA 2 speeds (3G bits/sec)

To use a hdd in the optical drive you have to use an adapter, of course. The height is easy to verify.

I'm looking for the drive with the most storage space that will work reliably in this case.

There are reports that the 1.5TB hdd by HGST works in this case. Are there any other drives that work?

  • Are you looking for a list of drives that are 9.5mm or less?
    – bmike
    Feb 28, 2014 at 13:10
  • I'm looking at the drive with the most storage space that will fit in the optical drive bay, and that will work reliably in an early 2011 15inch mbp. I'll update the question to make it clearer.
    – xpereta
    Feb 28, 2014 at 13:24
  • Excellent. I was hoping to steer this away from a hardware shopping question a those get closed for being off topic. Doing good research and having objective criteria (physical size, supporting OSX, interface details, etc...) make it useful as new drives always hit the market and prices vary widely.
    – bmike
    Feb 28, 2014 at 13:27
  • For more information, I'm now using the stock drive that came with the mbp in the optical drive and a SSD drive in the hdd bay.
    – xpereta
    Feb 28, 2014 at 13:28
  • 1
    Most 2.5" drives will fit as @omgmog says, but I'm looking for the those that work reliably and provide the most storage. The actual SATA link speed is negotiated between the SATA port and the hdd, so it can't be deduced from the hdd specs alone. The trouble with 2011 mbp is that the optical drive SATA port only works reliably if the actual negotiated speed is 3G bits/sec. It's not a problem with SATA 2 drives because the maximum link speed is 3G but newer drives, the ones that tend to provide the most storage, are usualy SATA 3 and not always negotiate a 3G link speed in this case.
    – xpereta
    Feb 28, 2014 at 13:38

1 Answer 1


I added an SSD to my Macbook back in 2012, and did a write-up about it here: http://blog.omgmog.net/post/upgrading-my-macbook-pro/

Most 2.5" drives should do, the dimensions of these drives is pretty much standardised.

If you're putting a HDD fitted using an adapter in the old optical drive bay, it won't have the shock detection that the lone HDD bay has. Choosing SSD in the optical bay is better from a shock management aspect.

  • Please, note that I'm asking about an early 2011 mbp in the optical bay drive. Other models don't have the limitation that the optical drive SATA port only works reliably when it connects at SATA 2 speeds.
    – xpereta
    Feb 28, 2014 at 12:39
  • 1
    This is a great answer in general, so I +1 easily on it. The biggest disks generally have more platters and are almost exclusively the ones that measure in at 10-12mm height so the fast, biggest capacity drives will be the ones that don't fit in the 9.5mm gap.
    – bmike
    Feb 28, 2014 at 13:49

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