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Turn Your MacBook Pro (Mid-2012) into a Super Machine


Sluggish Macbook Pro? Speed it up!

Hello everyone! Here is another how-to blog for your reading and learning pleasure. This last week we supercharged our our Macbook Pro (Mid-2012) and seriously could not be more pleased. It took a total of about 35 minutes to swap the old hard drive with a Sandisk Solid State Drive, add in more Crucial RAM to max it out, and swap the optical disc drive with a caddy that holds the old hard drive. We went from one 750GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM to one 1TB SSD, one 750GB HD and 16GB of RAM. It's amazingly fast and we're not quite sure why we didn't do this sooner.

This does mean that we no longer have a disc drive, but seriously, when is the last time you used your optical drive?! We bought an external Blu-Ray/DVD burner recently that is tiny and portable and can actually burn Blu-Rays, so we felt like it would be a much more valuable to get rid of the disc drive and almost double our storage space. For more information about the Blu-Ray burner we bought, check out our blog on "How to Burn a Blu-Ray with Adobe Encore and Toast Titanium".

Okay, on to the good stuff.

Step One: Back up your system

You know the drill. Grab an empty hard drive. Open up System Preferences and Select "Time Machine."

Select "Time Machine" from System Preferences

Once in "Time Machine", choose which drive you are going to use to backup your system. This will require you to erase the drive so make sure it's a drive that is already empty, or you are fine with deleting.

Turn Time Machine ON and Select Disc. It will walk you through the setup.

Once that's set up, let it run. Depending on how full your start-up disc is, it may take some time. Once that's done, you are ready to operate.

Step Two: Remove the base of the laptop

These are the things you will need once you get to this step: Precision tools, a clothespin (or something non-conductible to lift out the battery connection), new SSD, more RAM, optical drive replacement caddy.

Tools you will need: Precision Tool Kit, a clothes pin, the back-up drive (for the previous step), the SSD that you will be installing, and the RAM.

Optical disc replacement caddy (that will hold your old hard drive).

Once you have everything backed up, power down the system, unplug the power cable and flip the laptop over.

Remove the screws holding the base cover. Start with the top three, as they are longer and it will make your life easier. The rest of the screws are very tiny, so be careful where you place them. Also be sure to use the right size Phillips Head so you don't end up stripping the screws.

Start with the top three screws. Put them aside in a bowl or small container so you don't lose them. Believe me, it can happen.

Step Three: Prepare the Laptop for Surgery

Next up you will need to prepare the computer for the upgrades.

These are the pieces that will be removed.

First, disconnect the battery. Locate the battery, slide the top of the clothespin (or some kind of non-conducting piece) under the side of the connection. It should pop up pretty easily.

Find the battery connection and pry it up gently. The connection should pop out easily.

Next disconnect the three tab connections under the fan, as well as the microphone. The three tabs will pop up easily just using your finger.

Pop up all three tabs located under the fan.

Next, gently pull the microphone connection straight out, parallel to the connection (sideways, not up), also located under the fan. Do not disconnect the one with red wires. Do disconnect the smaller connection next to it.

Microphone connection located under the fan. Pull it gently straight out.

(Close up of the microphone disconnect)

Step Four: Replace the RAM

Locate the RAM (next to the battery) and use your thumbs to pull the tabs away from the RAM at the same time. The top stick of RAM will pop out. Carefully grab the RAM by the sides and slide it out the rest of the way. Do the same thing for the second stick of RAM, located under the top stick.

Use your thumbs to pop out the RAM.

To install the new RAM, look at the empty RAM slot, and line up where the groove is cut out, with the metal piece in the slot that the groove fits onto. (That sounds a bit confusing, but it will make sense when you see what I am talking about.) It will take a bit of pressure to get it in place, but it should pop in. You will feel a difference when it is in place. Do the same for both sticks of RAM.

Step Five: Install the SSD

Unscrew the two screws holding the hard drive in place. Pull the bar out and set it to the side. Next, lift the clear tab to pull the drive out of the bay. Once the drive is free from the bay, pull the SATA connection out of the top of the hard drive.

Steps to remove the hard drive from the laptop.

Once the hard drive is free, you will see that there are four small screws sticking out of the two long sides of the hard drive. Unscrew all four screws and set them to the side. Once screws are out, set the hard drive to the side. We will be using that in the optical drive caddy later on.

Grab your new SSD and screw the four screws from the old drive into the sides, the same spots where the old drive had them originally. Once screwed in, fit the SATA connection into the top of the SSD and then sit the SSD into the hard drive bay. Lastly, take the support bar (with the two connected screws) and screw it back into place. NOTE: You might want to wait to replace the support bar until after the optical drive is replaced. I found I needed a little extra room while completing that step. However, do as you wish.

Step Six: Remove the Optical Drive and Replace with Optimized Hard Drive Caddy

Remove the screws holding the optical drive in place. You will see them highlighted in blue in the photo below. (NOTE: Be super careful not to strip the screws. I managed to strip one and it took quite sometime to remedy my mistake.)

The screw located furthest to the top left is hidden under the component with all the wires. You will have to remove all other screws before removing that last screw.

Once the screws are removed, the drive will be free to lift out. There is a connection at the top of the drive (smaller than the SATA connection). Remove that connection and set it aside. That will be put into the new caddy.

Remove the connection and set it aside, once the drive is free from the bay.

Take your old hard drive that you removed earlier and fit it into the new caddy. There are two different types of connections for your new hard drive optimizer. There is either a support bar that fits at the bottom (much like the support bar being used on the SSD), or it will come with four screws that will screw into the caddy and into the hard drive to hold it in place. Either way, install your hard drive support system. 

Fit the small connection piece that was removed from the previous optical bay, into the top of your new hard drive caddy. Make sure it is fully pushed it.

Next, fit the caddy into the bay where the optical drive was just removed. It's a snug fit, so make sure that you do it gently and be sure that no wires get pinched in the process. Put your screws back in.

Push all your disconnected connections back into place. Here is your checklist:

  • Three tabs in a row
  • Microphone connection
  • SSD Support Bar (if not already in place)
  • Lastly, reconnect the battery

Put your back cover in place. Screw all the screws back in, starting with the longest first.

Flip your computer over and turn it back on.

And now you will have a super charged, super Macbook Pro!

This seriously was a game changer for us. Hope it is for you too!