I have been using my Macbook Pro for about 5 years, it was the first model with the Intel chip. The 100GB hard drive is starting to go and I'm ready to replace it. I went over to Cnet to see what looks good. Oops. There are about 2,000 products to choose from, and I don't even know how to determine compatibility with my laptop. What are the steps I should follow to narrow in on a new hard drive? This machine does a lot of heavy lifting: audio, video, and image processing, etc. My goals are to increase storage to 250GB minimum (pref. 500+), improve performance, extend my Macbook's life by at least 18 months, spend less than 400$, and easy home install (youtube videos look do-able). I can spend more if there's a good reason to; just wanted to make the question specific.

Follow-up: Is it a given that I should upgrade memory at the same time? (Currently at 2GB SDRAM)

closed as not a real question by bmike, daviesgeek, CajunLuke, Mark, Lri Aug 28 '12 at 1:13

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I would head on over to a Mac Specific reseller like OWC MacSales, RamJet or where a company has figured which models are the best to sell based on your specific model.


You will see that you have many choices for well under your budget. Also you are spared the SSD/HD decision since your size/price constraint means the quality SSD are not priced in your range.

When you buy from someone that has done the work, they will support you and help you should you run into issues. Get a few options and make the call if you want to buy from someone that will also answer your questions or if you are comfortable buying a community part and ensuring the firmware works, etc...

Since RAM is so easy to swap, you really don't need to include it in the HD exchange other than your budget may be fixed. It's hard to give advice on that front, since your budget is yours and not something that transfers to an internet forum where this question and answer might apply to anyone. Without knowing your specific model and how much RAM is in use routinely based on your apps, it's not possible to advise what the most cost effective combination might be.


You would need a 2.5" hard drive to fit in your MBP. Since your MBP is quite old, you have a SATA1 interface. Due to backward compatibility, it is fine to use hard drives with a SATA2 or even SATA3 interface.

In order to most efficiently improve the performance, I would recommend using a SSD because of their high IOPS . Since you are willing to spend up to 400$, there are options to get 250GB of storage. If you need more space, you could buy an enclosure for your old hard drive in order to make use of it.

An upgrade to more than 2GB of RAM is dependent on your usage - but generally recommended. Do you have lots of (large) programs open at the same time? Then yes. But I can tell, that my sister is using 2GB of RAM with Lion an quite happy with. You can monitor your RAM usage with iStat Pro or the Activity Monitor.app to see if your amount of RAM is sufficient.

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