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Upgrading the mid-2012 MacBook Pro

Is upgrading the mid-2012 MacBook Pro Worth It?

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A couple of weeks ago, Apple announced the launch of the 2018 MacBook Pro. This had me thinking, hey, maybe I want to get a new Mac!

Back in college, I bought a mid-2012 MacBook pro after a series of Windows computers were dying on me consistently for years. I went through about three computers in high school and the beginning of college purely because they were cheap. I still have this computer today (it’s turning 6 in September!), and I just upgraded it.

In this article, I want to provide some insight into the process to upgrade a mid-2012 MacBook pro. And, I also want to give you my thoughts on whether upgrading the mid-2012 MacBook Pro was worth it.

2019 Update: Read my thoughts on whether upgrading a MacBook Pro in 2019 is worth it.

The original tech specs

I bought the better of the two 13″ mid-2012 MacBook Pro’s offered at the time. Here’s a list of the key technical specifications my MacBook Pro had before the upgrades.

  • 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz) with 4MB L3 cache
  • 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory
  • 750GB 5400-rpm hard drive
  • 8x SuperDrive
  • macOS High Sierra
2019 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 16GB RAM, 512GB...
Ninth-generation 6-Core Intel Core i7 Processor; Stunning 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone technology
$2,399.00 −$114.00 $2,285.00

Why I chose to upgrade

You might wonder why I didn’t just buy a new Mac. And the answer is quite simple.

The 2018 MacBook pro that I want is about $2500. And to top it all off, I LIKED using my mid-2012 Mac. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t have a good reason to replace it, other than it was running a little slow and laggy. Finally, after doing some research on upgrading the mid-2012 model, I found out that it’s a pretty easy upgrade!

Should you upgrade your mid-2012 MacBook Pro?

Upgrading the mid-2012 MacBook Pro

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to replace or upgrade your mid-2012 MacBook Pro, I recommend considering the following points:

  • Do you have the budget to buy a brand new MacBook Pro or would you rather pay a fraction on upgraded components?
  • Are you capable of and comfortable performing the DIY upgrade?
  • Can you follow instructions to install a fresh copy of macOS on your new SSD’s?
  • Are you ready to have your computer wiped with a fresh copy of macOS? AKA is your data backed up?

To perform any technical upgrade, you’ll have to be comfortable opening up your MacBook Pro, taking apart subassemblies, and reassembling the aftermarket components.

With this upgrade, you’ll also be removing your original hard drive, which means you’ll be starting over with a fresh system. If you have important documents or programs, you’ll want to back these up before continuing.

If this makes your stomach churn, then you’re probably better off buying a new Mac. On the flip side, if this doesn’t phase you, you can save quite a bit of money replacing a couple of components.

Components I upgraded

If you made it this far, you’re probably wondering what parts I updated on my mid-2012 MacBook Pro.

First off, I replaced the original 750GB mechanical hard drive (HDD) with a 500GB Solid State Drive (SSD). Then, I opted to remove the optical drive and replace it with a second 500GB SSD. The original plan was to create a RAID 0 drive with the two 500GB SSD’s. But, that didn’t happen. I’ll explain more about that later. Lastly, I upgraded the 8GB of RAM to 16GB.

You may also want to replace your mac battery while you’re upgrading everything else.

Prepare for the upgrade

I recommend setting up your Time Machine and backing up your existing files and programs. Take note of the programs you most commonly use. You’ll have to reinstall these applications once the existing hard drive is replaced.

Create a Bootable Flash Drive

Then, you’ll need to create a bootable flash drive with macOS. I recommend using at least an 8GB flash drive that’s new or empty, as it will be completely reformatted before installing macOS.

Here are a couple of videos that’ll walk you through the process.

Using Terminal Commands

Using One-Click Method

Now, that you have a bootable drive, you can gather the components needed for the upgrade.

List of Parts

Here’s a full list of parts and tools that I used to upgrade my Mac.

If you want to perform this upgrade, feel free to use the same list of materials! The Items with an asterisk (*) are optional.

Upgrading the mid-2012 MacBook Pro

To upgrade the original HDD to an SSD

Update November 2019: The 1TB and 2TB SSDs have significantly dropped in price, so you may want to consider buying the largest possible drive you can afford!

To upgrade the RAM

To replace the optical (Super Drive) with an SSD


Perform the Installation

Once you have your parts, you’re ready to do the upgrade. Here’s the video that I used to complete the installation.

DISCLAIMER: Proceed with Caution. I’m not liable for any damage you do to your computer. Do this at your own risk.

If you have some handyman skills, this should be pretty straight forward. Just be careful when working inside your computer.  Some of the cables (FaceTime Camera, WiFi module cords) are very delicate. If you break them, the repair is more complex than this upgrade.

Also, remember to unplug the battery before working on your computer!

My thoughts on the Installation

In the 6 years that I’ve owned my computer, I’ve never taken off the back cover or upgraded any of the components. If I had known this upgrade was so simple, I probably would have done this a long time ago!

It probably took me about 30-40 minutes to fully replace the RAM, the original HDD, and the optical drive. The easier replacements were the RAM and the original SSD. The optical drive replacement was a little trickier but doable.

Optional Extras

I also opted to get an External HDD Enclosure so that I could use my original HDD as a backup drive. Also, if you chose to replace the optical drive with an SSD, you may want to pick up a USB Super Drive. My computer runs noticeably faster without the internal SuperDrive taking up communication bandwidth. Therefore, I’m ok with having an external DVD drive because I prefer speed over occasional entertainment.

Software Configuration

Congrats on making it this far. I hope your installation went smoothly. Now that the hardware upgrades are finished, we can move on to installing the software.

Format Your New SSD’s and Install macOS

Once you install the new components, you’ll need to format and install a copy of macOS. I opted for macOS High Sierra, which is the latest version of macOS. One thing I wasn’t aware of is that you cannot install High Sierra on drives formatted as Striped RAID 0. So, unfortunately, I just installed macOS on one hard drive, and the other hard drive is recognized as an internal SSD. The installation video above shows you how to do this.

RAID 0 isn’t supported on High Sierra (yet)

There have been a lot of comments about this on Apple Forums, so hopefully, with the new macOS release, this problem will be fixed. If you’re planning on using the Striped RAID 0 format in the future, you will need two SSD’s of the same size. That’s why I bought two 500GB SSD’s rather than one 500 GB SSD and one 250 GB SSD to save money. So, while this wasn’t accomplished with the upgrade, it could be an addition I see soon.

RAID 0 on Catalina is promising…

While I haven’t gotten around to using RAID 0 on my Mac, a few of you have mentioned your success with RAID 0 on Catalina. You can read about that experience, here.

If you’re looking to use two SSDs, make sure they’re both the same capacity, and buy the largest ones you can afford. (It doesn’t make sense going through this process only to run out of space in a few months.)

Here’s what I’d buy (as of April 2020) if I were to do this again:

Samsung SSD 860 EVO 2TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal...
Buy 1 SSD and leave your optical drive

Enable TRIM once the OS is installed

Lastly, you can enable TRIM on your Samsung SSD’s.

Open up a terminal and type in the command,

sudo trimforce enable

You’ll be prompted for your login password, then hit enter. Your system will reboot to enable TRIM support. You can verify this worked by going to the Apple logo (top left) and pressing alt/option > System Information > SATA/SATA Express. Finally, choose your SSD, and look for “Trim Support: Yes”

Upgrading the mid-2012 MacBook Pro

To read more about the benefits of TRIM, click here.

Is upgrading the mid-2012 MacBook Pro worth it?

All-in-all the total cost to perform the upgrade was $363.25 $225.

Was it worth it? Absolutely, yes.

Related: You may also enjoy reading about the Best Laptops to Buy in 2020.

Update November 2019

Yet another price drop for this project. Expect to spend about $225 with the tools. If you’re planning to use your computer for another few years, then upgrade the SSDs to the largest size you can afford. The 1TB and 2TB SSDs have significantly dropped in price, so if you plan to do a lot of video editing or photography, it might be worth the extra up-front investment.

Timetec 16GB KIT(2x8GB) Compatible for Apple DDR3L...
Guaranteed – Lifetime warranty from Purchase Date Free technical support
Samsung SSD 860 EVO 2TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal...
System RAM type: DDR SDRAM
$399.99 −$110.04 $289.95

Update January 2019

The replacement parts are less expensive now. If you were to do this upgrade now, it’d cost you $267 with the tools. Not too bad, considering a 32gb iPad costs $279!

Here’s the new specification of my mac:

  • 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz) with 4MB L3 cache
  • 8GB 16GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory
  • 750GB 5400-rpm 2X 500GB SSD
  • 8x SuperDrive
  • macOS High Sierra

Compared to the latest 2019 MacBook Pro, the savings are 100% worth it. I wasn’t ready to pull the trigger on a new computer because mine was in really good shape. If you have taken care of your Mac, and it’s just a little slow now, then I’d highly recommend upgrading the components. I can’t recommend it enough.

Upgrading the mid-2012 MacBook Pro
The spinning wheel of death is now a memory.

My computer used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to restart or boot up. Now, my computer boots in less than a minute. I can also have many memory-hogging programs (Adobe Photoshop, iMovie, etc.), and my computer is very responsive. I used to see the spinning wheel of death while working within graphics or modeling programs. Now, this is just a distant memory! 😉

I had to share this upgrade with you because I was skeptical of even doing the upgrade in the first place. But if your computer is in really good physical condition, and you have a bit of patience and handyman skills, I would say go for it!

Enjoy My Teaching Style?

Now that you have a blazing-fast 2012 MBP, maybe you’re interested in taking your tech skills to the next level! Learn Robotics has a growing collection of robotics courses where you can build projects alongside me while learning coding, electronics, and mechatronics skills.

If you enjoy my teaching style, and how I explain things, you’ll love my courses! The best part, is you don’t even need to be technical to start building robots! Click here to learn more about Learn Robotics Courses.

Before You Comment or Ask a Question

Before posting your comment, please consider buying me a coffee. This article is free, and providing you with customized information does take a lot of my time. I’m happy to help, but I can no longer provide individualized advice pro bono. Thank you for understanding.

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  1. Thank you so much for responding!! Just followed you on IG. I Appreciate the response, will share and tag you once I do the update!!

    1. Liz Miller

      Adan, Awesome! Good luck with the upgrade! 🙂

  2. Hello!!

    In the article I noticed you listed the 500GB SSD Drives and also updated with links to 1TB and 2TB SSD Drives…question…the 500GB are Designated 860 EVO and the 1TB/2TB are Designated 860 QVO…what is difference? Either is compatible? I am thinking about replacing my HDD with the 1TB SSD (since it’s $99!) but want to make sure it’s compatible…since I won’t be doing a RAID setup what option do I select when formatting? I already upgraded the RAM to 16gb and I have noticed significant improvements but right now notice a bit of a lag on startup (since I am using Lightroom CC, Photoshop, and doing a lot of video editing on iMovie) so I am hoping to improve my speed a bit more. Thanks for any suggestions or response!

    1. Liz Miller

      Adan, the QVO drives are designed to be more affordable than the EVO drives. Both should be compatible. RAID0 is only an option if you plan on replacing the optical drive with an SSD. If you’d rather have one boot drive and one backup drive, you’ll need to install the OS on one and enable TRIM on both. See the instructions above. You should see a noticeable difference in speed with SSDs.

  3. Larry Lowe

    I’ve been running a late 2019 MBP 17 inch and it has gotten a little long in the tooth. I decided to upgrade and arrived at the mid-2012 15 inch MBP as a main frame.

    The only comment I’d make is that Crucial is giving Samsung a run for their money in the SSD market.

    I went to a Crucial MX550 2TB internal drive. Same specs, basically – you cannot tell the difference in everyday use. 5 year warranty. One well produced video I referenced said that the Samsung EVO and the Crucial MX550 are so close that the only meaningful difference is the price. Which fluctuates. Buy the cheapest of the two – bottom line. I got a Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal : 2 TB for less than $200. While I have the case open, I tend to go for the most I can afford, maybe a bit more, to future proof the system. 2 TB buys me a lot of future.

    I have a 2.6 Ghz i7 CPU. You can sometimes find a 2.7 Ghz model which has a somewhat better graphics chip. If you can, snap it up.

    Buy from a reputable refurbisher and it’s like getting a new system.

    It’s been a rule of thumb for me that to get a state of the art new system will run you $2500 give or take. That has been true since I bought my first system, an Apple II with 48K ram, two floppy drives, monitor, printer and modem. (remember those?)

    I upgraded from a core 2 duo 2009 MBP limited to El Capitan due to the hardware to a quad core i7 mid 2012 system with 16 GB RAM, 2 TB of internal boot SSD, Mojave (Catalina is not settled yet), Metal graphics drivers, APFS and a case for my external drive for ~1200.

    Big bang for those bucks.

    Should last me another 6-8 years.

    1. Liz Miller

      Larry, Thanks for sharing your story and helpful tips!

      I agree, upgrading the internals of a 2012 MBP with better drives does outperform the newer MBP for a fraction of the price. I haven’t had a chance to use the Crucial drives, but I’m glad you’ve had a great experience with them. Definitely buy the largest capacity SSD you can for the upgrade. Fortunately, 1 TB and even 2 TB drives are more cost-effective now.

      Feel free to drop by again and update your comment in the future!

  4. Gerald Taylor

    I have a question about the SSD, if I decide to go with two SSD, can I use one that is a 1TB and the secondary a 2TB? Computer is MacBook Pro 2012 i7.

    1. Liz Miller

      Gerald, you can get two SSDs of different sizes, but you won’t be able to set up a RAID0. They’ll be two separate disks. If you want to try RAID0, they need to be two disks of the same size.

  5. Spyder Prime


    So while I’m not the most software savvy I did attempt those two methods in the links we posted. Didn’t work for me. I had done a clean install using a USB boot drive, loaded Catalina but didn’t have much luck. Did a few speed tests while I was clean installed on one drive using Blackmagic (The speed test app, not voodoo;)) and was roughly in the 100-200’s MB/s write 200-300 MB/s read range.

    Prior to attempting Raid, after the upgrades, I had done a bit of work in Catalina on the one disk (with the other showing as external) so I made a time machine backup. Using APFS to do so.
    On a whim, since I already had the computer in disc repair/recovery mode for a standard reinstall/restore, I created a striped Raid0 with APFS (no encryptions). Quit disk utility, and just to see if I could, did a restore from that time machine back up.
    First startup went straight to recovery screen (restore, reinstall, internet, disk utility) but I thought that was weird as it did the full backup install after an hour or two. Restarted and it went to log in. Soooo… It worked!?! O_O

    Just ran speed tests again a few times. Last said 893.5 MB/s write 968.7 MB/s read. Almost 3-4x prior tests. And it’s only showing one disc now other than the OS data partition. Not any external discs. So I’m going to assume something worked. If so, purely accidental. /;)

    If you try that method, and it works for you, could you let me know in technical terms what I did and if it’s repeatable?

    Thanks again! /:)


    1. Liz Miller

      SZP, awesome news! I will have to try this at some point! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

  6. Spyder Prime

    Thanks for the reply! I’ll look into that set up. The following link is what I’d run across when searching, seems somewhat similar, but I haven’t had a chance to try it. If I get the chance to try either, I’ll post my results. Thanks again!
    -SZP- /:)

  7. Hi there,

    Great article! Did the upgrade to two 1TB SSDs and RAM. Did first configuration with trim enabled, did well. But I’ve attempted multiple configurations to Raid0 the internal SSDs with no luck due to Apple wanting to store the boot up on one of the drives.
    I’ve tried creating volumes, partitioning, booting from external, you name it… But when the system is installed, raid utility shows me the options to RAID but I can’t choose the disk with the boot up on it. Even when it’s partitioned and such. When it’s partitioned it just shows the non boot drive as external.
    Is it able to run raid from internal disks? If so, how? If not, what the speediest configuration for the drives in Catalina?
    Any info helpful. Thanks! /:)

    1. Liz Miller

      Thanks SZP – Yep, the whole RAID0 setup has been very meh since I did this upgrade last year. At the time I was running macOS High Sierra, and it wasn’t supported by Apple. And even now, the setup is muddled. I’ve just been using one SSD for boot and the second SSD for backup storage. Not an optimal configuration, but I haven’t had the chance to play around with a new setup.

      Do keep me posted if you happen to find a solution. I’ll add it to the article for sure, as I’m sure a bunch of people (I’m included) wants this setup! Couple quick searches led me to this article, but I can’t verify if it’s helpful or not.

      Glad you stopped by. Hope the upgrade is treating you well!

  8. Can i RAID my HD and new SSD

    1. Liz Miller

      You can, but you’ll lose the advantages of having an SSD (which defeats the purpose). Your best bet is to use two of the same size SSDs and RAID 0 both.

  9. Sophiya Dulal

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you for the article. Very informative! I am also considering to upgrade my old mac book pro. These are the specifications of my computer:

    MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012)
    Processor: 2.9 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7
    Memory 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
    Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB
    Sn C1MNG147DV30

    I am thinking to upgrade with 1 TB Samsung 860 Pro SSD and 16 GB Ram.

    My current issue is similar. The computer is slow, apps takes longer time to load, word and excel with larger documents crash, the computer shuts down in the middle of working.
    I was wondering if you could give me advice on the following things:
    1. So you think this is the right choice of SSD and which RAm would suit best? Can you share the link with the best deal?
    2. After upgrade can I upgrade the software to macOS Catalina? Many times after software upgrade computer gets slow. would it be safer to upgrade software in the future after the upgrade? Is it necessary to update the mac software? How does this affect the performance?
    3. Can you give my tips on how I can determine if my battery is functioning well?
    4. is it fine to keep the CD ROM? Will this slow the speed after the upgrade?

    Your reply is much appreciated.

    Thank you 🙂

    1. Liz Miller

      Hi Sophiya,
      Yes, this upgrade will work for your computer. Here are some answers to your questions:

      1. The RAM and SSDs mentioned in the article should be sufficient. I’ve linked to the products that I’ve used. Prices vary, but I suspect the cost will be less than I paid because technology becomes cheaper over time.

      2. Yes. I’m running macOS Catalina now. It’s great!

      3. Go to the top bar and click the Apple on the left. Click “About this Mac”. Then, select “System Report…” Choose “Power” in the left menu. You’re looking for the section that says “Health Information.” There’s an item called “Cycle Count.” Typically a value less than 1000 is considered normal. There’s another item called “Condition.” If it’s anything other than Normal, then you’ll probably need a new battery.

      4. You can keep the CD ROM. It’s a personal choice. I think you’ll get a little more juice by swapping it with another SSD, but it’s entirely personal preference. Just having an SSD as your boot drive should give you a boost.

      Good luck.

  10. I have a mid 2012. I was considering upgrading but found your article. It seems well worth it since this mac has been so good to me all these years. I have a 2.5 GHz Dual Core Intel i5, 4 GB 1600 MHZ DDR3, Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB. Should I get the same things you recommend in your article?

    1. Liz Miller

      Hey Tulia, Yes, definitely upgrade the RAM and get an SSD. You should see an instant boost in performance. Good luck!

  11. Hi Liz,

    Thanks for your thoughtful guide!

    I’ve a MacBook Pro 13″ Mid-2012 running on Mojave 10.14.6 right now, and I’m thinking of upgrading it.

    I watched the installation video you shared and I’m unsure about the RAID part. If I’m only using one SSD and keeping the Optical Drive, do I still need to go to Disk Utility to perform an “Erase” and set up RAID?

    Thanks! =)

    1. Liz Miller

      Joven, glad you’re finding this useful! RAID 0 is for a pair of drives. If you’re only replacing the original HDD with an SSD, you only need to reformat and install macOS. Good luck!

  12. AnnaMlance

    I have the 2.3ghz mid 2012 15” MacBook Pro. Are those specs still worth doing the upgrade or would I want the faster processor and could I just install the 1 terabyte ssd and 16 gb of ram?

    1. Liz Miller

      AnnaMlance, you’ll notice a major performance increase by just upgrading the 1 TB SSD and the 16 GB RAM. Good luck!

  13. David Birk

    I upgraded to 1 SSD 500Gb and 16 GB RAM. Did not do the optical drive. The result is UNBELIEVABLE!! Super lightening fast. Really can’t believe I didn’t do this earlier. Thank you so much.

    1. Liz Miller

      You’re welcome, David! Glad the upgrade is treating you well. 🙂

  14. Wow, just bought a used mid-2012 and installed a 500gb SSD. After seeing this I want to do more! Thanks! Question though, just updated to Mojave, do you recommend going back to a previous OS? If so which one? I had no issues with Yosemite.

    1. Liz Miller

      Awesome Oz! I recommend staying with the current OS. The nice thing about the Mid-2012 Mac is that it’s still compatible with the latest macOS. Let’s hope this remains the case for the next few years. I don’t recommend reverting back to previous versions of macOS because some of the Apps aren’t compatible with older versions. Plus, new OS’s have the latest security patches and updates, etc.

  15. Hey Liz,
    Loved your work over there. Well I thinking t0o buy an old MacBook Pro 13″ 2011 model off ebay. Can you help me out with the necessary upgrades and listing if any.
    -Love from India

    1. Liz Miller

      Hey there Pratik,
      Thanks for the kind words. I only recommend doing this upgrade on a 2012 MacBook pro. The 2011 model and earlier aren’t compatible with the latest macOS, so it’s not worth doing. Good luck!

  16. Nice article. I am still using my mid 2012 13″ MBP i5 as well. I think in 2014 I swapped the slow HDD for 500 Evo 850, added 16GB HyperX DDR3 and it made huge difference. The one thing that users doing the upgrade from HDD to SSD may need to change is the the poor SATA cable. If you install SSD and have issues booting up, IO errors and such – replace the cable and all should be good :).

    1. Liz Miller

      Tomas – good point! Luckily I didn’t have issues with the SATA cable, but it’s worth noting for an upgrade like this. How is your computer running overall? I’ve been thinking about salvaging a 2012 mbp i5, but I’ve only ever had an i7. Is it fast for things like video editing and CAD?

  17. David Birk

    What is the difference between the HD mechanical drive and the optical drive? I see you replaced them both with the same hardware. Do you need to replace the optical drive?
    Also, why did you choose a SSD 500GB when your original HD was 750GB?
    Thank you for this very helpful article.

    1. Liz Miller

      David, good questions.

      The HD mechanical drive or HDD is the drive that typically the OS and all your files are stored on. The optical drive is the DVD or SuperDrive that you can use to read/write CDs. I replaced both of them with SSD’s for 1) faster speeds (the optical drive is notoriously a speed hog), and 2) because I wanted more storage space and didn’t use the DVD drive much.

      Swapping out the optical drive is 100% optional, but others (and I) have noticed significant speed increases without it plugged in or by using another SSD. So if you aren’t watching movies on your Mac, and don’t really use the optical drive, I’m 100% in favor of replacing it with another SSD!

      For your second question, I chose the 500 GB SSD because I knew I was going to have 2 drives (500 GB + 500 GB = 1 TB) but also because at the time, I wasn’t willing to spend more than $100/$150 per drive since I was buying 2. Now, the prices of these drives are so cheap, I probably would have picked 2X 1 TB drives.

      The reason I picked two of the same size was that I wanted to have a RAID0 system which requires drives of the same size. Like I mentioned in the article, RAID 0 wasn’t available for the macOS at the time, so I haven’t actually gotten around to setting that up. (Maybe sometime soon!)

      Lots of blathering here, but I hope this helps!

  18. Fernando

    Hi Liz, thanks for sharing this process.

    Would you say it’s worth it to upgrade it even if I have the version with:

    4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory
    2.5 GHz Intel “Core i5” processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.1 GHz) with 3MB L3 cache
    500Gb HD

    If yes, do you know if the list of parts you used would be compatible with mine?

    Best regards,

    1. Liz Miller

      Hey Fernando, you’re welcome! Glad you stopped by.

      I think there are a couple things to consider with your current laptop. 1) overall condition 2) your budget

      This mac model has a 2nd gen Intel processor, and the latest model is up to the 8th gen Intel processor.

      With that said, if you don’t want to shell out $1200+ now to have a similar model, I’d say go ahead and upgrade the RAM and install an SSD.

      If you don’t need the optical drive, you can install a second SSD or just unplug it. The optical drive is a speed hog from what I’ve noticed.

      These parts are compatible with your machine:
      Qty 1: 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 memory – 2 pack
      Qty 1: 500 GB SSD

      Optional: Replace the optical drive with an SSD
      Qty 1: Conversion Kit
      Qty 1: 500 GB SSD

      You can always pick up SSD’s greater than 500 GB; however, I recommend getting 2 of the same size SSD’s so that when you upgrade to Mojave / Catalina (soon), you can perform a RAID 0. (More about that in the article above.)

      I also recommend picking up a toolset. For the $8 you don’t really want to be messing around with standard / non-ESD rated tools and potentially crack or damage internal components.

      If you have about $230 to spend, that’s what I’d suggest. Plan to spend a couple of hours doing the upgrade (and don’t rush it!).

      Let me know how it goes!

  19. Thanks for the feature – definitely considering this process on my trusty 2012 MBP!

    I’ve not done a HD swap for ages now but when I did it last, I used superDuper to clone the old drive out to the new one (which was in a caddy) before doing the swap.

    I see you chose to do a clean install and restore from Time Machine so I just wondered if there was a particular pitfall you were avoiding by not doing clone and swap?

    1. Liz Miller

      Matt, glad you dropped by. The main reason why I didn’t clone the HD was that I wanted a 100% fresh install. I wanted a clean copy of macOS, and I wanted to go through the process of weeding out programs that I hadn’t used in a while or didn’t need.

      Surely this takes more time and effort, but I wanted a “true” upgrade experience, so a fresh install was what I decided to do. You can use the cloner and go through that process. I’m sure it will work similarly!

      Time Machine is great for restoring all the files, and, the original HDD that came with my laptop works just as it did as an external drive.

      Let me know how it goes! Team Mid-2012 all the way!

      1. Makes total sense – thanks for clarifying.

        Still weighing up the value of upgrading. I have a 1tb drive in mine with about 40% free capacity and I only use a handful of apps regularly so partly considering if a same capacity SSHD might be just enough of a boost to get me through another year or two without sinking too much cash into this senior citizen.

        Your account of the process and result has definitely pushed me more toward taking the leap though so thanks again!

        1. Liz Miller

          If you currently have a 1 TB HDD, then a 1 TB SSD will give you a noticeable difference. Even just unplugging the optical drive will help (if you’re not a DVD kinda person).

          Good luck with the upgrade! Let me know how you fare.

  20. Bob Bohemian

    Thanks for helping me downgrade to upgrade. My 2018 MacBook Pro died because of a RAM failure. I wanted to quit Apple because of their existential, imposed obsolescence, but this guide helped me stick with Apple.

    1. Liz Miller

      Bob, you’re welcome! I am glad you found this article. Sorry about your 2018 – those are pretty sleek machines, but definitely harder to upgrade.

    2. Can I use two 1tb SSD instead of the two 500gb SSD you used? Thanks

      1. Liz Miller

        Blake, yes you can. In fact, I recommend going this route if you can afford it. When I did this upgrade, the 1TB SSDs were crazy expensive, but now the price has dropped quite a bit.

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