The Best MacBook Pro Hard Drive Upgrade
Dan wrote in with the following: “I have a MacBook Pro and I want to make it even faster, what’s the best hard drive upgrade for the MacBook Pro?”
This is a great question, and the answer will vary depending on your budget. I’m going to recommend a few options at different price points, all of which make excellent and speedy MacBook Pro hard disk upgrades.
MacBook Pro Hard Drive Upgrades
Upgrading the hard drive on your MacBook Pro is pretty easy and it’s a great way to breathe new life into an older machine, or turn a new machine into a blistering fast workhorse. It’s pretty impressive what a new hard drive can do for your systems performance, so without further ado here are my recommendations for the best drives:
The Powerhouse: MacBook Pro + Seagate Momentus XT 7200
Seagate Momentus XT 500 GB 7200RPM – $150 – the Seagate Momentus XT is basically the newer version of the Seagate Momentus drive. If you want a superfast hard disk but don’t want to spring for an SSD, this is the drive for you. Seagate claims the drive performs 80% faster than traditional 7200 RPM drives, and I don’t think thats much of an exaggeration. Apps launch faster, boot times are faster, everything is snappier, without a doubt you will see noticeable speed improvements. The drive approaches speeds of an SSD but costs significantly less, and despite the huge speed boost from the faster drive, battery life isn’t really affected. Their marketing speak says it’s an “SSD hybrid drive”, whatever that means I don’t know because it’s still a spinning drive at 7200RPM, but one thing I do know is that this is an amazingly fast drive. This is a highly recommended upgrade to a MacBook Pro and offers the best disk performance and reliability for the price.
- Pro: Extremely fast, best price/performance ratio, more reliable than older Seagate Momentus
- Con: Costs more than a standard 7200 RPM drive
The Affordable Powerhouse: MacBook Pro + Seagate Momentus 7200
Seagate Momentus 500GB 7200RPM Hard Drive – $65 – the Seagate Momentus is incredibly fast and very cheap, without a doubt this is the fastest MacBook Pro hard drive upgrade under $100. A friend of mine replaced his stock 7200rpm drive with one of these in his MacBook Pro and it absolutely screams, scoring nearly twice as fast in many XBench tests for reads/writes. It is a very noticeable improvement and the MacBook Pro feels much faster even just working in the Finder, opening applications, and cold booting. Whether you choose this model or the aforementioned Momentus XT should depend on your budget and how much you value reliability. For whatever reason this drive seems to have a higher failure rate than the XT model and also a tendency to vibrate a bit if it isn’t installed snuggly.
- Pro: Cheap, extremely fast
- Con: Slightly noisier than the stock MacBook Pro hard disk, 7200RPM drives have a higher failure rate, may vibrate if installed poorly
The Reliable & Affordable Workhorse: MacBook Pro + Western Digital Scorpio Blue 5400
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500 GB 5400RPM Hard Drive – $55 – the Western Digital Scorpio Blue is about as fast as a 5400RPM drive can get, in some tests it will approach the speeds of the Seagate Momentus. So why not just go with the Seagate Momentus you may ask? Well, there’s a few valid reasons; the main being that faster drives have a higher failure rate. All hard drives can and do fail, but the Momentus’s higher RPM’s make it statistically more likely to have a higher failure rate. If you’re looking for a fast and reliable drive, the Western Digital Scorpio Blue is a great option with it’s quick performance and high reliability.
- Pro: Cheap, reliable, quiet, faster than stock MacBook Pro drives
- Con: Not as fast as Seagate Momentus or SSD
The Ultimate MacBook Pro: MacBook Pro + Intel X25 SSD
Intel 160 GB X25-M SSD – $438 – no surprise, but the ultimate MacBook Pro hard drive upgrade is a super fast solid state drive. Performance with a SSD is blistering fast; apps open almost instantly, boot time is minimal, and everything just hauls butt, plus it is completely silent since there are no moving parts. I’ve used a MacBook Pro with this drive before and it was the quickest laptop I’ve ever seen. So what’s the downside? Price. For about $440 you’ll get 160GB, which is a fraction of the disk space you get with a standard spinning drive like the Seagate Momentus or Western Digital Scorpio, both of which come in at 500GB for less than $75. If you aren’t concerned about the price, this is without a doubt the best MacBook Pro hard drive upgrade you can get.
- Pro: Outrageously fast, completely silent
- Con: Price
So there you have it, these are the four best MacBook Pro hard drive upgrades. These are based on personal experience and reading around on the web, I’m sure there’s other great drives out there but for the price and performance I think they’re tough to beat.
So what’s the best MacBook Pro hard drive upgrade?
After experiencing an SSD drive in a Mac, I’d go for the Intel X25 SSD on my MacBook Pro. If I didn’t pick that one I would go with the Seagate Momentus XT since it represents high speed, reliability, and it’s priced well. Ultimately, the best drive for you will depend no your budget and needs, so choose accordingly.
Regardless of what you end up choosing, be sure to get a USB powered hard drive enclosure to make good use of your old drive, they’re cheap and will turn your old hard disk into a portable external drive.
Feel free to chime in with any recommendations or personal experiences regarding your own MacBook & MacBook Pro drive upgrades.