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Macbook Pro - SSD in Optical Drive Bay

Can you put an SSD in the optical bay of an Apple Macbook Pro?

One of the blog entries I get the most emails about is this one:

Fitting a second hard disk to an Apple Macbook Pro

It’s a powerful combination - a fast SSD for your OS & Apps, and then a normal SATA drive for mass storage. SSD prices have plummeted since I first wrote that article - you can now get 500Gb SSDs for about 250GBP, so maybe the financial argument for an SSD/Physical isn’t as strong as it was, but it’s still a fairly attractive proposition.

I currently have a 500Gb Samsung unit fitted to my Macbook Pro - you can read about that here:

Samsung 840 Series SSD in a Macbook Pro

It’s fast, and it’s very capable. It runs all of my day to day apps and also houses about 200Gb of demo virtual machines. As a side note, if you have a large Aperture library running it from an SSD is just

A common question I get though is about the placement of the SSD and the physical drive. People often want to put the SSD in the OptiBay, and the physical drive in the normal drive slot - a common reasoning being the vibration you can feel in the 13” units by having the physical drive in the OptiBay.

The problem you have with this on the 2011/2012 Macbook Pro units is that I’ve found SSDs just utterly unreliable in the OptiBay. They pause, stutter, and are just unreliable. In my current late 2011 unit for example I’d
love to put another 500Gb SSD in the OptiBay - the problem is, it just doesn’t work. Nor does any of the SATA-II unit SSDs I have kicking around.

You’re always left with the layout of SSD in the primary hard disk bay, and the physical drive in the OptiBay - and no option to fit
two SSDs. What I don’t know is if that’s the same with the late 2012 units? Will be interesting to find out. I used to update my units with each refresh - putting the old ones on eBay. The cost to upgrade was relatively small given the way the units hold their value. I haven’t however upgraded from my current one mainly because there isn’t an upgrade available to the late 2011 17” Macbook Pro. I love the 17” screen, it’s awesome! It looks like I’ll be moving to a 15” though I guess.

OWC have done a number of tests with the same thing - SSDs are unreliable in the optical bays. Make sure you’re aware of this if you choose to go this route - it’s important when considering the physical drive you want too as you can’t fit 12.5mm units in the optibay.

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