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I'm considering buying a solid state drive for my Unibody White MacBook 2010. The trouble is, I have no idea what to look for. What kind of connector am I looking for? (SATA?) What size? I'm told to get the kind that Apple uses so that I don't void my AppleCare warranty. What model/brand(s) would that be?

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You're looking for any 2.5" SATA drive. I'm not sure if the MacBooks came with SATA 3 (6 Gb/s) or SATA 2 (3 Gb/s), so you should match whichever the installed drive is. (There's no harm in putting a SATA 3 drive in a machine that only supports SATA 2, you just won't get the speed and you'll pay more.) You should be careful of 12.5mm height drives - they won't fit in some Macs. Anything smaller should be fine.

Some references:

  • That's the right one. – Moshe Mar 26 '12 at 2:06
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Moshe, If you can find one instance of AppleCare being refused for a simple HD swap I'll be amazed. In fact I was surprised to find that it is not specifically allowed by AppleCare terms (linked below) as I had heard it was for Unibody models onwards.

Having said that, I don't think you can buy an Apple OEM drive anyway.

I have had a horrible experience with "iRam" drives - installed fully on two of them, after sleep both came up completely blank! But this is not an isolated experience. Many SSDs will work at first and fail quickly. In my office we have had bad Kingston, OCZ and other brands.

The only one that I have found good so far (fingers crossed) is the OWC Extreme 6G series, and even then only after getting a bad one first and having to exchange. The new one from OWC bears a different label so I would say direct from OWC is the way to go, not from a reseller who may have older stock.

Current Intel drives are highly regarded but I have not used one personally.

I had started by saying that the AppleCare plan specifically allows you to change the hard drive as a user-serviceable part. But it doesn't. Then I interpreted

The Plan does not cover:
a Installation, removal, or disposal of the Covered Equipment, or installation, removal,
repair, or maintenance of non-Covered Equipment (including accessories, attachments, or other devices such as external modems) or electrical service external to the Covered Equipment;
b Damage due to accident, abuse, neglect, misuse (including faulty installation, repair, or maintenance by anyone other than Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider),

To mean that you can't do it - but that could mean you only have a problem if you cause damage while doing it. And the limitation of warranty for performing an operation like that might be illegal depending on the laws of where you live anyway.

Bottom line is I would (and do) do it, and Apple do treat such altered machines as covered. The inclusion of instructionsto do so in the manual is a pretty strong hint that it's OK.

  • AppleCare is not voided when you replace the hard drive in a unibody laptop - they're explicitly user-replaceable parts. Your experience with various drives is useful, however, so remove the inaccurate parts and I'll rescind my downvote. For proof of non-warranty-voiding, see the manual linked in my answer. – CajunLuke Mar 26 '12 at 1:37
  • Done, but I Wish the actual AppleCare terms said it was ok. – Adam Eberbach Mar 26 '12 at 1:52
  • Keep the drive... put it back in before sending it to AppleCare. – unom Dec 12 '12 at 21:45
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Your Macbook will accept any standard 2.5" SATA drive including the 240GB or 256GB models.

There's no limitation or compatibility issues with the size being 240GB, your Mac will recognize it and macOS will format and utilize the space just fine. Since this model has the space for a spinning hard drive, pretty much anything that's physically the same or smaller than the OEM drive will work.

I just recently upgraded the drive in a 2007 White MacBook with a Kingston SSD Now 120GB with no issues. It's a standard SATA I interface and while the drive is SATA III, it is backward compatible. The interface on the 2010 is SATA II (if memory serves) and will also be compatible with a SATA III drive.

The best piece of advice I can give is to use a drive from a brand that you trust. Avoid no-name or generic brands. Kingston, Samsung, PNY, and Crucial are all good, reliable brands to consider.

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Any SATA SSD up to 2TBs will work (2TBs + 16GBs RAM IF you've got your white 2010 Macbook's firmware upgraded to the latest version from Apple). The white Macbook's HDD bus speed is limited to 3GBs/sec, but I've run 6GBs/sec SSDs in my own white Macbook just fine, though the 6GBs/sec data transfer speed is limited by, and maxes out to, the white 2010 Macbook's 3GBs/sec capability.

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