Upgrading the hard drive and memory in a refurbished 13” MacBook Pro
~ 03 September 2009 ~
I have a confession to make: I don’t like paying full price for Apple hardware. So I buy it refurbished. Almost all of it.
In fact, in the past few years I’ve purchased a 20” iMac, 13” black MacBook, Mac Mini, Airport, and now a 13” MacBook Pro 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (aluminum unibody) — all refurbished.
The obvious advantage to buying refurbished over paying full retail is exactly that — you typically save anywhere from 10% to 30%, and all products are covered by a one-year warranty. I’ve hardly needed the warranty. I’ve had only one issue, and it was an unresponsive trackpad in the black MacBook a few weeks after I purchased it. I took it to the Apple Store and the entire top tray was replaced free of charge.
Usually the products are in pristine condition, but this is the first product I’ve purchased with a noticeable blemish:
This small dent protrudes outward on the underside of the machine. But for saving $200 and being hidden from view, I’ll happily live with it.
This model came with a 160GB hard drive and 2GB memory, and I purchased it with the expectation of upgrading the internal equipment. What’s nice about this is Apple not only allows these upgrades to be done without voiding the warranty (unless you damage something else in the process), they even encourage it. The user guide booklets now come with a section titled “Boost Your MacBook Pro” with specific instructions for upgrading the hard drive and memory. This is located on pages 35–48 in my booklet.
Once the back cover is removed, the hard drive and memory slots are easily accessible:
A while ago when I upgraded the hard drive and memory in my black MacBook (and later replaced the optical drive), I purchased this laptop repair tool set from Powerbook Medic:
It’s totally worth the investment and has just about every tool you’ll need to do work on your MacBook. Except a flat probe/spudger tool, which you don’t need for hard drive and memory replacement but will need for optical drive replacement.
As for the hard drive, I chose the 2.5-inch Western Digital 320GB Scorpio Black hard drive. It’s received great reviews on Amazon, and it’s similar to the drive I installed in the black MacBook. For $76 US, that’s a tough deal to beat. (Note: This hard drive spins considerably faster than the one that came with your Mac. As such, it will reduce battery life.)
Installing the hard drive and memory was a snap (literally), and the entire process took less than 15 minutes.
Of course, I obviously skipped a step when I booted up and had nowhere to install the Snow Leopard upgrade I had purchased with the machine. Notice there’s no destination drive available:
Silly me. Need to format the drive. This can be done by booting up from the Mac OS X install disk by holding down ‘C’ for a few seconds after pressing the power button. Once the machine boots up, there will be a “Utilities” menu at the top of the screen:
Choose “Disk Utility” and then either erase the drive (which will also format it) or partition it. I chose to erase and format this drive, but partitioning instructions can be found here. Name it “Macintosh HD” or whatever you’d like. When finished, your drive is now recognized by the installer. Complete the OS installation. (You may have to boot up again from the install disk.)
Total cost if purchased at retail with the upgrades installed by Apple? $1,399. My cost? $1,148. That’s a total savings of $251 for 15 minutes of work and a blemish no one will ever see. And I’ll eBay the hard drive and memory, making the savings even greater.
In my book, it’s a steal.
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