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Late 2008 MacBook - Which SSD?
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ghporter
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Oct 6, 2018, 10:00 PM
 
I’m upgrading my wife’s well loved late 2008 MacBook (aluminum - the last model that had a removable battery). I have the RAM maxed out and it’s got a new battery, so the current bottleneck is its 5400 RPM hard drive.

I’ve found tons of listings for 9.5 or 7mm 2.5” form factor SSDs that will work with the late 2008 MacBook, but not a lot about how this one or that one is superior - or INferior.

So far I’m leaning toward a Crucial MX500 series SSD. Crucial ships all of their 7mm 2.5s with a 9mm adapter, so the fit isn’t an issue, and the newer MX500s are both better on paper and less expensive than older Crucial SSDs.

But there are a bunch of other, similarly sized SSDs that vary widely in price per GB, from way less expensive to WAY more expensive. OWC, for example, prices their drives head and shoulders over Crucial and Kingston’s SSDs, while ADATA has a noticeably lower price point.

Am I missing anything, or is it as simple as “go with a well known maker and a dependable vendor?” Guidance would be well appreciated.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
BLAZE_MkIV
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Oct 6, 2018, 10:32 PM
 
From what I have seen on sites like Anandtech there can be a big performance difference between SSDs. They aren't as limited by physics as the HD's are. All of the current and last gen drives are miles beyond a 5400 rpm through on any metric but $/Gb
     
Waragainstsleep
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Oct 7, 2018, 02:06 AM
 
The controllers are picky in the Macs of that era. I believe the Crucials are ok but I'm 99% certain you won't go wrong with a Samsung Evo. Current ones are 860s and 870s. I haven't tried the 870s but the 860s are fine, as were the 850s.
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Oct 8, 2018, 04:57 PM
 
Yes, Samsung is a safe choice. Apple used a controller similar to the old 830 in its first SSDs.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
OreoCookie
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Oct 8, 2018, 08:03 PM
 
Another vote for Samsung.
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turtle777
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Oct 9, 2018, 12:11 AM
 
If you want to be safe, get it from OWC.

They know what they’re doing (selling)

-t
     
ghporter  (op)
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Oct 16, 2018, 09:22 PM
 
I've been doing the price comparisons, and OWC has some really nice stuff. Competitive prices too. But Crucial's MX500 series drives are about twice as fast (560 MB/s read and 510 MB/s write versus 274 MB/s read 253 MB/s write).

I think I'm going with the Crucial drive here.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Oct 16, 2018, 10:19 PM
 
The OWC drives are SATA-2 (3G speeds), matching your 2008 MBP controller. The MX500 SATA-3 (6G) speeds will matter only if you later move the drive. To a computer with 6G speeds, or a USB3 enclosure.
     
subego
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Oct 17, 2018, 05:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I've been doing the price comparisons, and OWC has some really nice stuff. Competitive prices too. But Crucial's MX500 series drives are about twice as fast (560 MB/s read and 510 MB/s write versus 274 MB/s read 253 MB/s write).

I think I'm going with the Crucial drive here.
About 4-5 years back there was a flash memory shortage, and manufacturers were increasing supply by easing up on QA.

I needed an SSD for something “mission critical”, so I was checking them for bad cells out of the box. The two Crucials I tested were pristine.

The rest looked like Vietnam.

For whatever that’s worth. It’s obviously out of date, and the shortage has eased up.


P.S. Those were also about the speeds I got when I tested them.
( Last edited by subego; Oct 17, 2018 at 06:02 AM. )
     
ghporter  (op)
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Oct 17, 2018, 05:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
The OWC drives are SATA-2 (3G speeds), matching your 2008 MBP controller. The MX500 SATA-3 (6G) speeds will matter only if you later move the drive. To a computer with 6G speeds, or a USB3 enclosure.
Ah. That's an important consideration. And I'm sure that applies to the Mac Book (my wife's computer) as well as MBPs.

The OWC page for their Mercury Electra 3G drives offers as a "recommended item" a 7mm to 9.5mm spacer (such spacers come with all Crucial drives), but the page for the spacer says it's "not needed for any installation of a 7mm drive in Apple Macintosh computers." I assume that includes Mac Books?

Finally, would there be any problem using a "more capable" drive (a 6G, like the Crucial) in the 2008 MacBook as compared to a drive that's more matched to the controller, like the 3G OWC drive? I can get both shipped free. The price difference for a 250 GB unit is about $15, but for a 500GB drive, the OWC drive is almost $45 more.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Oct 17, 2018, 06:44 PM
 
A SATA-3 drive is backwards-compatible with -2 and -1. There are rare exceptions, but I'm not aware of any with a 2008 MBP.

Personally, I'd buy by price, and the biggest drive I'm willing to afford. That said, I like OWC. And their solution will definitely work.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Mar 2, 2019, 07:04 PM
 
I stumbled into a deal on Woot, and bought a Seagate 500 GB SSD for my wife’s MacBook. I’m planning to clone the hard drive to the SSD tomorrow, but I have a couple of questions.

If I boot the MacBook in recovery mode and use Disk Utility in that mode to clone the drive, will that let me also clone the recovery partition?

This is a 7mm drive. I can’t find anything definitive saying whether or not I’ll need a spacer of some kind for the HD bay in this computer. Can someone verify for me that I won’t need a spacer in this particular machine?

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
turtle777
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Mar 3, 2019, 10:14 AM
 
I’m not sure if DU clones the recovery partition.

Carbon Copy Cloner can.

-t
     
Doc HM
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Mar 3, 2019, 04:54 PM
 
Both CCC and SuperDuper will make you a clone with a recovery partition no problem (DU will not - but being crap is what DU is all about these days). I generally prefer CCC as the interface is nicer but in practicality there is no difference.

I would consider making an external El Cap installer and doing a clean instal on the SSD and then migrating rather than cloning, I guess it's marginal but why duplicate ALL your historic cruft?
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ghporter  (op)
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Mar 3, 2019, 06:58 PM
 
I had issues with my (very old) copy of CCC, so since I was also migrating my Linux box to a second Seagate SSD and had used the DRBL Linux tools to clone that drive, I went with that.

I got the 240GB partition from the original hard drive cloned, as well as the EFI and Recovery partitions cloned, but then I ran into a road block. I can't increase the size of the 240GB partition with either DU or the GPartEd in my Linux tools. DU says the size change is too small (?!!!????!!!), and GPartEd just won't let me increase the size of the partition. I wound up creating a second partition in the unallocated space, so it's usable, but it's not the way I wanted to go.

The MacBook is running like a champ, super zippy and my wife loves the new performance. I just wish I knew what went wrong... I may wind up following Doc's guidance and starting over. It shouldn't be too big a deal to do, and it can't hurt to clean out the cobwebs from the old installation. Doc HM, how does one "make an external El Cap installer?"

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Mar 3, 2019, 09:44 PM
 
You just need an external bootable drive. Potentially your old drive. If "Install OS X El Capitan.app" is in your apps folder, you're good. Note that your bootable drive has to be El Cap or earlier. Recent OS versions have gotten pissy - they won't let you install an earlier OS, even on another partition.

Your partition probably won't expand because there's an invisible small partition in the way. Perhaps your Recovery partition. DU does not move partitions around to make contiguous space. I use iPartition for such tricky cases - it will move partitions as needed. If you don't own that, just partition the SSD fresh, the way you want it to be. Install the OS on the main partition, then use Migration Assistant.
     
Doc HM
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Mar 4, 2019, 02:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
how does one "make an external El Cap installer?"
Yup just boot your Mac from any external drive running El Capitan or earlier (well between 10.7 and El Cap anyway. You'll need a copy of the El Capitan installer app. I think Apple have now removed this from the App Store even in previous downloads which is a pain, so you may have to hunt this down if you didn't keep a copy.
Swlwct your new internal SSD as the install destination and away you go.
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ghporter  (op)
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Mar 4, 2019, 09:06 PM
 
No invisible anything is in the way. GPartEd lets me move the partition anywhere I want, but won't let me make it any bigger. It'll let me make it smaller... That's what's got me stumped.

I'll hook up the old HD with a cable and see if the app is there. Is it hidden? I don't recall noticing such an app in any of my Macs.

And please set me straight if I have this wrong, but I can use the old drive to migrate from with the Migration Assistant, right?

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Mar 4, 2019, 10:50 PM
 
OSX installers are not hidden.

Mac HD/Applications/Install OS X El Capitan.app

Even if you upgraded in place last time, the app should still be there. Unless you trashed it after the last upgrade.

You can migrate from your old drive. Boot into the new one after the fresh install. If this is the first boot, Migration Assistant will come up as one of the steps. If not, create a dummy admin account. Then mount your old drive, run MA manually, and pull everything across.
     
reader50
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Mar 4, 2019, 11:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
No invisible anything is in the way. GPartEd lets me move the partition anywhere I want, but won't let me make it any bigger. It'll let me make it smaller... That's what's got me stumped.
I assume you are using Core Storage/HFS+ in a GUID partition scheme. It's possible you're trying to enlarge your HFS+ volume, when you should enlarge the CS partition first. Core Storage is useless if you aren't using a Fusion drive, I normally get rid of it on my disks. It complicates things unnecessarily, and cripples some 3rd party utilities.

Not all partition types mount (and become visible). Recovery partitions are not normally mounted. Or the EFI partition, or some Microsoft or Linux types. If any of these are in the way, they will block expansion of your system volume. The small blocking partition is the one that would have to be moved.

Open up Terminal, and type "diskutil list" - you'll get a list of attached drives, and a full list of partitions on each, in numeric order. Along with their sizes. This will let you see what's on either side of your system volume. If you post the result here, we can interpret it.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Mar 5, 2019, 09:17 PM
 
Somehow, I'd managed to format the problem partition incorrectly. It "OS X Extended," but NOT journaled, which seems to have locked it into a maximum of the original 240GB.

I wound up downloading Apple's OS X El Capitan installer, creating a bootable USB drive, then reinstalling - it complained that something was wrong, but the warning pointed to the installer not being able to install the Recovery Partition.

I missed reformatting the DDS in my first attempt, but that let me fiddle with DU again with no more information gleaned. Then I booted to the Recovery Partition, planing to use those tools to attack the partition. With that version of DU I saw the difference, but it wouldn't let me do anything to it. So back to the Linux tools; GPartEd did a fine job of flattening the SSD.

Once it was all "unallocated," I again booted into Recovery, used DU to format the whole fargin' thing with OS X Extended (Journaled), and then everything fell into place. I'm migrating documents, apps and settings at the moment, and it's all going smoothly.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Waragainstsleep
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Mar 8, 2019, 05:33 AM
 
Make sure you spend a couple of days testing before you rely too heavily on it. When I had issues on my 2008 MBP it was going well for a while but after a day or two it started to flake out badly.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
ghporter  (op)
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Mar 8, 2019, 09:21 PM
 
I have the original drive put away, just in case. My wife doesn't stress the machine much at all, but its increased speed has certainly impressed her.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
turtle777
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Mar 9, 2019, 12:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Make sure you spend a couple of days testing before you rely too heavily on it. When I had issues on my 2008 MBP it was going well for a while but after a day or two it started to flake out badly.
In many cases, it's the cable. They were not built to handle SSD read/write speeds.
I had multiple cables cause major issues.

-t
     
ghporter  (op)
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Mar 9, 2019, 04:01 PM
 
My transfer device is fairly new, and advertised as being for SSD. It seems to have done the job just fine.

On the other hand, I wound up doing a fresh install, so all that got transferred with the cable - in the final iteration - was documents, apps and settings.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Mar 9, 2019, 04:11 PM
 
turtle is referring to the data cable inside your notebook. The one that attaches to the new SSD. If that cable were only shielded for SATA2 speeds, there could be problems. But it shouldn't be an issue here:

Assuming your 2008 MacBook is the aluminum model, the drive interface is SATA2, so the SSD will only run at that speed anyway.
If your 2008 was a white MacBook, the drive interface is SATA1, with your OS limited to Lion (or El Cap with hacking).
     
ghporter  (op)
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Mar 10, 2019, 08:52 PM
 
I see. Yes, it's the aluminum version with a SATA2 controller.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
   
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