How to use an NVMe drive to upgrade your Mac's SSD

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2020
If you're not able to shell out $1000 or more for a new machine, you can squeeze out a few more years with a storage upgrade for some older MacBook Air or MacBook Pro models. Here's how to do it.

The new drive and adapter installed
A new drive and adapter installed


This year, schools are offering in-person or virtual options. No matter which option your school is offering, the best new computer may be a computer that's new-to-you.

Last year, we purchased a 2015 MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The problem is that 128GB is not large enough to meet the school's requirements. They want 256GB or greater.

Upgrade MacBook Air

First, you're going to need to gather the computer and parts. We found the 2015 MacBook Air and a 2017 MacBook Air on Craigslist.

Both years are essentially the same computer, with a speed bump in CPU MHz. We could have also found a MacBook Pro, but those cost more and weigh more.

  • 2015 or newer MacBook air

  • bootable macOS USB drive to reinstall macOS

  • Sintech NVMe adapter

  • Crucial P1 1TB drive

  • P5 pentalobe screwdriver

  • T5 torx screwdriver

Supported models

The Mac you upgrade doesn't have to be a MacBook Air. It could also be a MacBook Pro, or Mac mini.
In general, any 2013 to 2017 MacBook Air, 2013 to 2015 MacBook Pro, and 2014 Mac mini can be upgraded, with good results. How can you tell if your computer is compatible with an upgrade? When you click on About this Mac, System Report, the Hardware Overview section has a Model Identifier number that you can use to determine compatibility.


MacBook Pro


  • MacBook Pro (15-inch Retina display Mid 2015)
    Model ID: MacBookPro11,5

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch Retina display Mid 2015)
    Model ID: MacBookPro11,4

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch Retina display Early 2015)
    Model ID: MacBookPro12,1

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch Retina Display 2014)
    Model ID: MacBookPro11,3

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch Retina Display 2014)
    Model ID: MacBookPro11,2

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch Retina Display 2014)
    Model ID: MacBookPro11,1

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch Retina Display 2013)
    Model ID: MacBookPro11,3

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch Retina Display 2013)
    Model ID: MacBookPro11,2

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch Retina Display 2013)
    Model ID: MacBookPro11,1

MacBook Air


  • MacBook Air (13-inch Mid 2017)
    Model ID: MacBookAir7,2

  • MacBook Air (13-inch Early 2015)
    Model ID: MacBookAir7,2

  • MacBook Air (11-inch Early 2015)
    Model ID: MacBookAir7,1

  • MacBook Air (13-inch Early 2014)
    Model ID: MacBookAir6,2

  • MacBook Air (11-inch Early 2014)
    Model ID: MacBookAir6,1

  • MacBook Air (13-inch Mid 2013)
    Model ID: MacBookAir6,2

  • MacBook Air (11-inch Mid 2013)
    Model ID: MacBookAir6,1

Mac mini


  • Mac mini (Late 2014)
    Model ID: Macmini7,1

The problem with Standby

When we write, "with good results," there is a caveat. 2013-2014 machines treat hibernation differently than 2015 and later machines.

Apple has different power management modes for increasing battery life. One of those can cause a problem for users who upgrade to an NVMe drive in a 2013-2014 machine.

Some of these machines will kernel panic when attempting to go into standby mode. Standby is where the computer records a snapshot of the current state of your computer to the flash drive, usually after about 3 hours. A Mac on Standby can stay charged for up to 30 days without being plugged in.

The solution is to prevent the computer from going into Standby. Here's how to do it.
  • Open the Terminal app
  • Type sudo pmset -a standby 0
  • Press Return
  • Quit the Terminal
The computer will still hibernate or sleep, without saving the current state of the computer to the flash drive. You'll still have battery-life, although maybe not the 30-days-without-charging kind of battery life.

2015 and later machines need no modifications like this at all.

Supported OS

You can run a range of macOS using these NVMe drives:
  • High Sierra

  • Mojave

  • Catalina

  • Big Sur (probably)
For the students in our house, we're going with Mojave. Every app they're going to use will work fine with Mojave, but your mileage may vary.

At some point in the future, we will likely upgrade the machines to Big Sur, but not until it's been out for a few point releases.

Supported drives

There are a range of drives available that will work, but unless the Mac has a controller that can take advantage of faster speeds, there's no benefit to spending more on a faster drive.




While the WD Black SN750 can transfer speeds at a rated 3400 MB/s, it's not useful if the Mac can't support those speeds.
The Samsung drives have a history of working after firmware updates have been applied. The problem with firmware updates is that they require a Windows machine to install them. If you're preparing a computer for a student, this may be outside your comfort level.
The Crucial P1 drives are affordable (1TB for $104) where every other terabyte drive was more money.

Our advice: buy the drive that's within budget and will meet the needs of your Macintosh and your school's recommendations.

What you can you do to max things out:

We considered what the machines we had were capable of, and maxed them out based on that.

For example, you could get a 4TB drive. It will be expensive. Practically, we targeted 1TB or fewer.

For a MacBook Air, the maximum speeds of the controller are between 700 and 1500 MB/s. The Retina 15" Mid-2015 MacBook Pro supports 4x lanes PCIe 3.0 speed, and can support 3000 MB/s.


The upgraded MacBook Air


For our MacBook Airs, the Crucial P1 makes sense. If we were upgrading a Retina MacBook Pro 15" from 2015, the WD Black might make more sense.

Even though we chose the slower Crucial drive, it reached 1476 MB/s read and 1323 MB/s write speeds on the MacBook Air. On our stock 2015 MacBook Pro, we get only 529 MB/s read, 482 MB/s write speeds.


The original drive in a 2014 MacBook Pro


It's worth noting that just because a drive is rated at a high speed it's possible to achieve less than that speed. For example, We tried the WD Black drive in a computer running Windows, and it reached 2900 MB/s. On macOS on the same computer, it reached 2400 MB/s.

There are a lot of variables, and while we're doing something not officially supported, it's still an impressive speed increase over stock drives.

Okay, you've convinced me. How's it done?

Make a bootable macOS USB drive. You're taking out the internal drive, and when you do, you won't have a recovery partition temporarily.




Shut down the computer. Use the Pentalobe P5 to remove the bottom cover of the MacBook. Not all screws are the same length, and it's important to get each back into the same hole it came out of.


keep the screws in order


You might take cardboard and poke the screws into the cardboard in orientations similar to the screw holes they came out of. Or you might put strips of double sided tape down and organize them on that. Whichever you do, make sure the screws go into the holes they came out of when you're done.

The cover will come off easily. On the MacBook Air, we lift at a corner or hinge area working around the sides. There's a sort of latch at the middle of the sides of the machine, where you'll feel the cover pop free and lift off.


Removing the original drive


Locate the SSD. In the center of the MacBook Air, there's a Torx screw holding it down. Unscrew it and remove the drive, setting it aside.

Take the Sintech NGFF to M.2 NVMe adapter, and insert it in place of the original drive. Then, take the new NVMe drive and insert it into the adapter. When everything is aligned, the notch in the end of the NVMe drive will line up with the post the Torx screw came out of. You can reuse it, or use the Philips screw that came with the adapter.


Inserting the adapter


Make sure to align the adapter and drive correctly on the standoff that the Torx screw goes in. This may require some care to insert the adapter and drive fully into their slots.



Put the cover of the computer back on, taking care to replace the screws in the holes they came out of. Normally on Macs, the longest screws go near the hinge area, or near the center of that hinge edge.


The new drive and adapter installed


Insert the USB macOS drive you made earlier. Power on while holding down the Option key. When the list of drives comes up, select the USB drive. The computer will boot to recovery.

Open Disk Utility to format the new SSD drive as GUID partition scheme with macOS journaled file system. Once done, quit Disk Utility and proceed installing macOS.


Reinstalling macOS


The result will be a faster computer than stock configuration, more storage, and the drive will show up in System Report under NVMExpress.


System Report showing success

Squeeze some life out of those storage-constrained MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models

We purchased a 2015 MacBook Air for $280 and a 2017 MacBook Air for $420. Craigslist is subject to availability and haggling, and your willingness to meet strangers wearing face masks with considerable sums of cash.

The Crucial P1 drive was $104.99. The WD Black drive is $134.99. The Sintech NGFF M.2 NVMe adapter is 16.99. You'll also need a Pentalobe screwdriver to open the computer. An appropriate tool kit is $6.99 making the all in cost about 130 above the cost of your computer.

There's a lot of life left in second-hand Macs, and upgrading one from just a few years ago is an affordable way to meet or exceed back-to-school computing requirements. The computer will be faster, have more storage, on a budget.
jhoncastro
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,987member
    Nice. I have a feeling I'm going to have to do something similar to my 2016 iMac before too long.
  • Reply 2 of 39
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,647member
    On a desktop you can just use a thunderbolt case with NVMe sad  change your boot drive to boot of the external.  I did this in my fusion drive equipped iMac. Much faster. 
    svanstrom
  • Reply 3 of 39
    As someone with a 2015 MacBook Air with a 128 GB drive, I'm going to seriously consider this. Thank you for the article.
  • Reply 4 of 39
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,467member
    I second Chadbag's comment. The iMac is much more of a bear to open and modify than a vintage MBA, and the late 2015 iMac you must have (there were no new iMacs released in 2016) has Thunderbolt 2, which has throughput of up to 20Gbps. OWC has recently put out an affordable TB3 case (you'll need a TB3 to TB2 adapter) for NVME drives and you'll get decent results. I'm hoping that some other vendor offers such a case with a better controller, OWC's is rather speed-constrained but still capable of up to 1533MB/sec (not megabits, megabytes), which should still really put some spring in that iMac's step, especially if used as a boot drive. The OWC case is currently pre-ordering for US$75, so it's certainly something to consider for cheap external NVME expansion.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 5 of 39
    Hopefully someone will see this:
    Is this, " format the new SSD drive as GUID partition scheme with macOS journaled file system. " correct? Shouldn't it be APFS?
  • Reply 6 of 39
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,037member
    The article doesn't provide enough specifics.  For example, I have a mid-2015 15" MBP with Apple 1TB SSD and I get 2057MB WRITE & 2815MB READ.  What would something like the WD Black give me for the same 1TB size?

    Obviously, if I ever upgrade my SSD, it's foolish to get a 1TB.  2TB or larger would make logical sense.  But again, the benchmarks are lacking!  Please provide more info, AppleInsider!
    Devon7
  • Reply 7 of 39
    jdw said:
    The article doesn't provide enough specifics.  For example, I have a mid-2015 15" MBP with Apple 1TB SSD and I get 2057MB WRITE & 2815MB READ.  What would something like the WD Black give me for the same 1TB size?

    Obviously, if I ever upgrade my SSD, it's foolish to get a 1TB.  2TB or larger would make logical sense.  But again, the benchmarks are lacking!  Please provide more info, AppleInsider!
    Silly AI writing an article about upgrading computers with too small to function SSDs when the whole thing should have been about your computer without a too small SSD, and about whether or not you personally would see a speed bump or not. Sometimes it's like they don't even realise that their target demographic is you, right?!

    Seriously, this is an article that fits great with students heading back to schools; with many of them in need of a "new" computer simply to have a functioning computer. Complaining about how it doesn't include benchmark data for the already functioning maxed out configurations from yesteryears gives of a bad feeling of being out of touch with reality; like, let the broke kids be the focus when your particular situation could be googled in like three minutes, ok?
    jackzbmwm3GeorgeBMacrazorpitllamaStrangeDaysapmiller
  • Reply 8 of 39
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,037member
    svanstrom said:
    jdw said:
    The article doesn't provide enough specifics.  For example, I have a mid-2015 15" MBP with Apple 1TB SSD and I get 2057MB WRITE & 2815MB READ.  What would something like the WD Black give me for the same 1TB size?

    Obviously, if I ever upgrade my SSD, it's foolish to get a 1TB.  2TB or larger would make logical sense.  But again, the benchmarks are lacking!  Please provide more info, AppleInsider!
    Silly AI writing an article about upgrading computers with too small to function SSDs when the whole thing should have been about your computer without a too small SSD, and about whether or not you personally would see a speed bump or not. Sometimes it's like they don't even realise that their target demographic is you, right?!

    Seriously, this is an article that fits great with students heading back to schools; with many of them in need of a "new" computer simply to have a functioning computer. Complaining about how it doesn't include benchmark data for the already functioning maxed out configurations from yesteryears gives of a bad feeling of being out of touch with reality; like, let the broke kids be the focus when your particular situation could be googled in like three minutes, ok?

    The TITLE of the article does not have the word STUDENT or BACK TO SCHOOL in it.  The FIRST SENTENCE of the article is similarly lacking that info.  Anyone well versed in the English language knows that a properly constructed title should convey pertinent details of an article's content (unless the title is either click bait or seriously length-constrained). If indeed "school" and "student" are the lone focus as you seem to contend, the title and first sentence have serious issues which should be addressed.  Again, the first sentence of an article or paragraph sets the tone and subject of what follows.  What keywords are found in the TITLE and 1st SENTENCE?  Let's investigate that...  Ah!  The words YOUR and YOU'RE are found there!  Those words speak to EVERY AppleInsider reader, not merely students or educators or those exclusively affiliated with schools.

    While pondering that critically important information, we see it is only the 3rd & 4th sentences that talk about SCHOOLS, along with a sentence in the middle of the article, and then the closing paragraph.  HOWEVER, the article also includes the 15" MBP, which every well-read and informed AppleInsider reader should very well be aware that "MOST" STUDENTS do NOT necessarily own.  (If they do, their PARENTS surely bought it for them.) Most students seem to prefer the 13" MBP or 13" MB Air owners as such machines are smaller and lighter to tote around in their backpack with all those heavy books.  That remains true despite the present lockdown and study from home, knowing that when the lockdowns end, you will be totting that Mac around with you again.  

    The title, the first sentence and the inclusion of the 15" MBP all work together to show your sarcasm and brow-beating of me was insensitive and totally uncalled for. My request to AppleInsider (not to my fellow forum members) is legitimate.  At the very least, my request can be viewed by AppleInsider as a request for a follow-up article that offers more detailed information that pertains to higher end MBP machines which may or may not have larger stock internal SSDs.  By knowing what content we readers would like to read, AppleInsider can craft articles that are even more appealing and inclusive of everyone.

    Lastly, if you care anything at all about students (or "broke kids" as you prefer to label them), you should be equally as empathic and understanding of those in this forum who are PARENTS and who have children who are either in school now or soon to enter college.  Therefore, information in articles pertaining to education very much apply to parents such as myself, which may be facing financial hard times due to the pandemic.  A "good parent" is one who is involved in their child's education, which includes college, regardless of pandemics.  Parents pay a heck of a lot more for their children's education than you may fully understand, so to think that ONLY STUDENTS would be reading this article as a means to use THEIR OWN MONEY to buy such SSD upgrades is a serious stretch indeed.

    In conclusion, the more details that can be presented from AppleInsider in otherwise good articles like this the better, seeing that many of us AppleInsider readers prefer AI articles over randomly Googling around for information which we may or may not trust as much as AI.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 39
    jdw said:
    svanstrom said:
    Damn, bro, check your autism; that shit is whack.
    So you can’t really go like...
    You really must analyze a text by...
    And to think, all I did was ask AppleInsider to add more info.  Now after that I am told that (1) I am autistic (which is a medical diagnosis), and that (2) what I write is "whack," and that (3) I cannot say certain things, and that (4) I must analyze text only in a certain way.

    Please just ignore my posts in this thread because my original post was not for you.  It's for AppleInsider.  Let's just leave it at that.  Thanks.
    But damnit, here I was analysing that you meant to write something publicly when all you wanted was to leave a tip for AppleInsider; my bad, so here I got you their tip-link so you don't accidentally write your tips publicly the next time: https://appleinsider.com/contact

    You're welcome.
    razorpitStrangeDays
  • Reply 10 of 39
    svanstrom said:
    jdw said:
    svanstrom said:
    Damn, bro, check your autism; that shit is whack.
    So you can’t really go like...
    You really must analyze a text by...
    And to think, all I did was ask AppleInsider to add more info.  Now after that I am told that (1) I am autistic (which is a medical diagnosis), and that (2) what I write is "whack," and that (3) I cannot say certain things, and that (4) I must analyze text only in a certain way.

    Please just ignore my posts in this thread because my original post was not for you.  It's for AppleInsider.  Let's just leave it at that.  Thanks.
    But damnit, here I was analysing that you meant to write something publicly when all you wanted was to leave a tip for AppleInsider; my bad, so here I got you their tip-link so you don't accidentally write your tips publicly the next time: https://appleinsider.com/contact

    You're welcome.
    Just easy off the poor guy, for crying out loud.  Not every post here needs a sarcastic attack.  I too want to see some of the same details he asked for.  And I don't think I need to send a private email to AI to get that done either.  Sheesh.
    GeorgeBMacjdwmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 39
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    That's good stuff!   But, I took a slightly different route:
    This past Christmas I bought my grandson a new, 2017 MacBook Air with 8Gb memory and a 128Gb SSD -- along with 3 years of AppleCare+ from Amazon ($650!).    Shortly afterwards he demanded that he be able to run Windows which I decided to install under BootCamp, but realized the SSD was too small to support both Windows 10 and MacOS -- so I had to upgrade.  

    But the problem came up that, if over the next 3 years the machine needed service, a 3rd party drive would make the Apple technician's heads explode and likely void its warranty.

    My solution?   I bought a used 512Gb OEM (Apple) SSD on EBay.   It cost a little bit more ($143 if I remember correctly), but the machine is essentially still an unmodified stock Apple machine that (hopefully) will not raise any concerns if and when it is brought in for service.   (A side benefit was I didn't have to mess around with thumbdrives to reinstall the OS).

    Today, my grandson starts his first day of 8th grade Cyberschool with a machine that fully meets the criteria set by his school.   (They only allow Windows machines with certain minimum specifications which his MBA (which he loves!) running Windows 10 fully meets.)
    edited August 2020
  • Reply 12 of 39
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,424administrator
    ajl said:
    Is it mandatory to use a Sintech adapter?

    Why?

    Thanks.
    It's not mandatory, but we've had good long-term experiences with that particular adapter.
    ajlentropysmuthuk_vanalingamchetan9477
  • Reply 13 of 39
    RobJenk said:
    svanstrom said:
    jdw said:
    svanstrom said:
    Damn, bro, check your autism; that shit is whack.
    So you can’t really go like...
    You really must analyze a text by...
    And to think, all I did was ask AppleInsider to add more info.  Now after that I am told that (1) I am autistic (which is a medical diagnosis), and that (2) what I write is "whack," and that (3) I cannot say certain things, and that (4) I must analyze text only in a certain way.

    Please just ignore my posts in this thread because my original post was not for you.  It's for AppleInsider.  Let's just leave it at that.  Thanks.
    But damnit, here I was analysing that you meant to write something publicly when all you wanted was to leave a tip for AppleInsider; my bad, so here I got you their tip-link so you don't accidentally write your tips publicly the next time: https://appleinsider.com/contact

    You're welcome.
    Just easy off the poor guy, for crying out loud.  Not every post here needs a sarcastic attack.  I too want to see some of the same details he asked for.  And I don't think I need to send a private email to AI to get that done either.  Sheesh.
    Haha. I think he can take it, though; but, yeah, my "hilarious" side might perhaps have been at 11 while I was merrily and mainly focused on other stuff. Sometimes it's just so much fun being a bit of an asshole, ya know; like turning his analysis around on him by pointing out that public posts aren't private communications not meant to be commented on by others.  :D

    As far as doing SSD upgrades the performance upgrades are somewhat easily googled, and at the same time not as clearcut as how this article talks about taking a computer from a "no go" to a functioning option; so it'd be a very different type of article.

    As some general advice I would say that you start by checking with https://www.ifixit.com/ what types of upgrades are available, and that seem to be reasonable, for you computer; and then do a quick comparison of numbers of the parts (like read/write speeds etc).

    As far as going from SSD to SSD you will probably very rarely find a situation where the upgrade is cost-efficient as a general speedboost; the real value would be in just upping the storage to make the needed software fit at all (and depending on the exact hardware/requirements you might even then find it better with an external solution; perhaps even just an SD-card).
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 14 of 39
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    Hopefully someone will see this:
    Is this, " format the new SSD drive as GUID partition scheme with macOS journaled file system. " correct? Shouldn't it be APFS?
    Hi, I wrote this article.

    No, format with macOS journaled, which used to be labeled HFS+ Journaled. The macOS installer will take care of converting / reformatting to APFS, you just want the drive visible to the installer as a target drive it can install on.

    It's possible you may not need to format the drive at all and the installer will take care of it, but I haven't tested that. I like formatting the drive, it reassures me that it's working correctly.
    edited August 2020 llamacomcastsucks
  • Reply 15 of 39
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    jdw said:
    The article doesn't provide enough specifics.  For example, I have a mid-2015 15" MBP with Apple 1TB SSD and I get 2057MB WRITE & 2815MB READ.  What would something like the WD Black give me for the same 1TB size?

    Obviously, if I ever upgrade my SSD, it's foolish to get a 1TB.  2TB or larger would make logical sense.  But again, the benchmarks are lacking!  Please provide more info, AppleInsider!

    I suspect you would see a 500MB/s ± bump in speeds. This image is for the WD Black 1TB drive. 
    edited August 2020 jdw
  • Reply 16 of 39
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,987member
    chadbag said:
    On a desktop you can just use a thunderbolt case with NVMe sad  change your boot drive to boot of the external.  I did this in my fusion drive equipped iMac. Much faster. 
    chasm said:
    I second Chadbag's comment. The iMac is much more of a bear to open and modify than a vintage MBA, and the late 2015 iMac you must have (there were no new iMacs released in 2016) has Thunderbolt 2, which has throughput of up to 20Gbps. OWC has recently put out an affordable TB3 case (you'll need a TB3 to TB2 adapter) for NVME drives and you'll get decent results. I'm hoping that some other vendor offers such a case with a better controller, OWC's is rather speed-constrained but still capable of up to 1533MB/sec (not megabits, megabytes), which should still really put some spring in that iMac's step, especially if used as a boot drive. The OWC case is currently pre-ordering for US$75, so it's certainly something to consider for cheap external NVME expansion.
    Thanks. I've been going back and forth on that. I prefer the idea of replacing the internal drive, mine's also a fusion drive, as it's a lot cleaner solution. But getting into the iMac is a bear. I've watched online videos of how to do it and frankly it scares the h out of me. It's not as clean but I think I'll probably go with the external TB drive. Thank's for the point on the TB3-TB2 adaptor. I've looked around but haven't been able to find a clear answer on whether one was needed or if I could just plug the TB3 into a TB2 port.
    svanstrom
  • Reply 17 of 39
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor

    ajl said:
    ajl said:
    Is it mandatory to use a Sintech adapter?

    Why?

    Thanks.
    It's not mandatory, but we've had good long-term experiences with that particular adapter.
    Thank you very much for the answer.

    Please let me ask you something else: what’s the possible scenario if I install an adapter of a different brand.

    I ask this question because I actually own a different adapter, although I didn’t installed it yet with a Crucial P1 blade (that I have yet to buy), just because I’m a bit scared to install it and make some serious damage to my Mac, and yours is the only article I’ve found that seems to explain the process clearly.

    Thank you.
    I'm afraid I don't have any information on the adapter you already own. It may work. It may not, I just don't know anything about it.

    The adapter used here is one I've had in my child's MacBook Air for a little over a year now, and it's been reliable. The adapter is one of the least expensive parts required for this upgrade. If you're truly hesitant about it, perhaps consider purchasing a new adapter? 
    edited August 2020 ajlmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 39
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor

    jdw said:
    svanstrom said:
    jdw said:
    The article doesn't provide enough specifics.  For example, I have a mid-2015 15" MBP with Apple 1TB SSD and I get 2057MB WRITE & 2815MB READ.  What would something like the WD Black give me for the same 1TB size?

    Obviously, if I ever upgrade my SSD, it's foolish to get a 1TB.  2TB or larger would make logical sense.  But again, the benchmarks are lacking!  Please provide more info, AppleInsider!
    Silly AI writing an article about upgrading computers with too small to function SSDs when the whole thing should have been about your computer without a too small SSD, and about whether or not you personally would see a speed bump or not. Sometimes it's like they don't even realise that their target demographic is you, right?!

    Seriously, this is an article that fits great with students heading back to schools; with many of them in need of a "new" computer simply to have a functioning computer. Complaining about how it doesn't include benchmark data for the already functioning maxed out configurations from yesteryears gives of a bad feeling of being out of touch with reality; like, let the broke kids be the focus when your particular situation could be googled in like three minutes, ok?

      That remains true despite the present lockdown and study from home, knowing that when the lockdowns end, you will be totting that Mac around with you again.  

    Toting. Totting means to sum (total) up numbers. Toting is to carry.

    I apologize for not having "student" in the headline or lede, and hope you'll forgive me. Buying a used computer is a series of trade-offs: price, availability, and weighing what will have the greater longevity.

    If a 2017 MacBook Air has an i5 1.7 GHz processor and 8GB of RAM and a 2015 MacBook Pro has an i5 2.5GHz with 16GB of RAM, and the hypothetical price difference is about $100 between them, it's entirely possible the student will be carrying the extra weight and size, based on the idea that more CPU and RAM will make the computer usable for the duration of the next 3 or 4 years of school. It comes down to what's available at the time. 
    edited August 2020 GeorgeBMacjdw
  • Reply 19 of 39
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor

    That's good stuff!   But, I took a slightly different route:
    This past Christmas I bought my grandson a new, 2017 MacBook Air with 8Gb memory and a 128Gb SSD -- along with 3 years of AppleCare+ from Amazon ($650!).    Shortly afterwards he demanded that he be able to run Windows which I decided to install under BootCamp, but realized the SSD was too small to support both Windows 10 and MacOS -- so I had to upgrade.  

    But the problem came up that, if over the next 3 years the machine needed service, a 3rd party drive would make the Apple technician's heads explode and likely void its warranty.

    My solution?   I bought a used 512Gb OEM (Apple) SSD on EBay.   It cost a little bit more ($143 if I remember correctly), but the machine is essentially still an unmodified stock Apple machine that (hopefully) will not raise any concerns if and when it is brought in for service.   (A side benefit was I didn't have to mess around with thumbdrives to reinstall the OS).

    Today, my grandson starts his first day of 8th grade Cyberschool with a machine that fully meets the criteria set by his school.   (They only allow Windows machines with certain minimum specifications which his MBA (which he loves!) running Windows 10 fully meets.)
    That's excellent! My past experience has been that Apple will update their records to reflect your increased storage, since you used an Apple drive.

    For my house, I am the warranty. I never expect to take these machines to Apple for support, so I felt comfortable using this unsupported path. It's been very stable.

    My children's school recommends Windows 10 or macOS. They don't care which one is used. They've allowed Linux in the past, provided they aren't asked to make an effort to support it. I imagine they might be okay with newer iPad, now that iPadOS Safari is more desktop-like than mobile. Their main insistence was no Chromebook.
    edited August 2020
  • Reply 20 of 39
    This article is great if you do indeed purchase a used MBA or MBP and don't care about what's on the SSD drive already.  Starting fresh with a new install of macOS is always a good idea in this case.

    BUT, many people here have mentioned they want to do this to their existing MBA or MBP.  You probably want to keep your data!  For those people, the process of cloning their existing SSD to a new SSD is very easy.  You will need to purchase a NVMe-to-USB adapter like this.  Simply mount the new SSD on the adapter, fire up your MBA or MBP and grab a trial copy of Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) and install it.  Plug in your NVMe adapter that has your new SSD on it and fire up Disk Utility and erase the new SSD using APFS format.  Then, fire up CCC and select your source and destination drives, and click "Clone".  When cloning is finished, simply shut down and install your new SSD with the instructions in the article.

    When you turn it back on, it should boot on the new SSD.  

    There are on-line step-by-step videos (YT) for doing this in case my general instructions weren't clear.  But for an extra $22 for the adapter, the ability to keep your existing setup is priceless!
    edited August 2020 muthuk_vanalingam
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