15″ MacBook Pro 7200rpm Drive Upgrade

Posted by: on Apr 28, 2007 | One Comment

After reading this report at Xlr8YourMac, I decided to try the same for myself. That guy had a brilliant idea — buy a portable case with a 7200rpm Seagate Momentus already in it, which saves you a few bucks and gives you a home for your stock 5400rpm drive after the upgrade is complete. (Instant portable backup!)

I can’t emphasize the importance of faster drives. It’d opt for more memory and faster drives over a few hundred MHz any time I bought a new machine. This MBP upgrade is well worth it, just as a RAID for your Mac Pro really makes it a Pro machine.

The installation took less than 30 minutes. I have a few caveats:

  • Carbon Copy clone your stock drive onto the new drive before beginning
  • Clear off a table — give yourself plenty of workspace. Lay down a towel to protect your precious Book, and protect your Book from yourself and static electricity
  • Create a way to organize the screws you remove. I labeled a few ramekins from the kitchen.
  • Watch the OWC install vids as recommended. This is key and only takes 15 minutes.
  • Make sure the little plastic notches in the front above your optical drive don’t pop out when removing the keyboard mechanism. I heard something jiggling around inside my case after I had nearly closed it all up. So I re-opened the whole thing fearing it was a screw that could short something out only to find the little plastic piece floating around between the motherboard and keyboard.
  • Make sure you have the right screwdrivers: a Phillips Head #0 and #6 Torx. Need a PC set? This $15 set from RadioShack should suffice.
  • The Seagate runs a bit hotter, and these machines run hot anyway. Give smcFanControl a shot. I keep both fans around 4000rpm and the drive is still a bit warm under my left arm.

Direct from Apple you can only get 7200rpm drives with the 17″ models. Those Books are just too large and impossible to use in anything but first class on a plane, which is why the 15.4″ers are my sweet spot. It’s a damn shame because the faster drives make all the difference in the world. My Core 2 Duo MBP “felt” slower than my previous last-gen PowerBook (which had a 7200rpm drive) until I gave it this vital organ transplant.

And no, I’m not going to post a bunch of Xbench results. It’s all about how it feels to you. If your machine feels “fast enough” for you today, then don’t waste the money.