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I have had a faulty internal superdrive (Apple calls their optical drives superdrives) for the longest time in my MBP 13" Mid 2009. I want to replace it, but in my area it's pretty hard to come across a superdrive, be it new or used. I considered an external optical drive but quickly dismissed it, as it would be a pain to carry around and from what I've heard MPB's don't allow using external optical drives for recovering from CDs.

The next step was to check for any obvious signs of incompatibility. I looked at my MBP's optical drive, and sure enough, on first glance it looked like a standard laptop optical drive. The MBP Mid 2009 is decently upgradeable, with us being able to replace the shipped battery and the HDD. Unless there are some special requirements I am unaware of, I feel this is possible.

Another query I have is: Even if the optical drive works for general CD reading, will it work for recovery? Or will it act like the aforementioned external optical drives?

Please note: I have already put an optical drive caddy for an SSD earlier, and I didn't quite like it because it added extra bulk to the Mac. In the end I took the SSD out of the drive caddy and replaced the old HDD with the SSD. I removed the caddy too. It made the Mac much lighter. And yes, I have put in the faulty optical drive to check the weight and I find it quite a bit lighter.

  • I can only make parallels to my experience with Mac Pros of similar age. I replaced the drive in an 08 machine with a modern one, same make, nothing else similar. Success. I tried swapping that same drive into my 09, doesn't work at all. So I'd say 'maybe' is the best you'll get. – Tetsujin May 13 '17 at 13:47
  • @Tetsujin then I suppose I'll buy an optical drive from amazon, and if it doesn't work I'll give it back to them as "defective" :P – Rushat Rai May 13 '17 at 13:58
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A SATA drive is a SATA drive. The fact that you were able to put in a SATA optical bay caddy for an SSD is evidence that an aftermarket SATA drive works.

Looking at the SATA connector of the "SuperDrive" you will notice that it's the exact same SATA data and power connector of pretty much any other SATA drive

enter image description here

So, the trick here is finding a SATA optical drive that has the SATA connector in the same location.

There is no reason for a different CD/DVD drive won't work for recovery. As long as it can read/write, you can use it. You can boot from CD/DVD by holding down C while booting. After all, the MacBook Air requires you to use an external (USB) drive if you want to do recovery.

Speaking of recovery, if weight is an issue, why not get a USB flash drive. You can get a 128GB USB Flash for around $30 and is great for backup/recovery.

Personally speaking I haven't used a genuine Apple Super Drive in years - I either use external hard drives or USB flash drives. On the rare occasion I need a CD/DVD drive, I have a Plextor USB CD/DVD RW drive which works perfectly.

  • Thanks for the tip! I think I'll try an optical drive and if it doesn't work I'll return it :P – Rushat Rai May 14 '17 at 6:35

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