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Double checked cable connection to new drive, everything is secure. Created a bootable drive using diskmaker on another MacBook and plugged it in (macOS sierra).

Held alt/option key upon startup but no drive options pop up, only "Choose Network" option that leads to Internet Recovery.

Also upgraded RAM, not sure if this matters.

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i would but a known good drive back in the Mac to ensure its working. Then install an is on the sandisk drive while it's connected externally via USB or whatever other dock you prefer. Once you're sure all the parts work, then move the sandisk drive internally.

Much easier to troubleshoot hardware when you only change one item each step along the way and then test.

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