My Macbook Pro 13 (early-2015) comes with a 256 PCI-e SSD. Over the years I am running out of space, but I knew for long that Apple’s SSD is proprietary, either I have to buy a 2nd hand spare SSD from other mac devices or go for the OWC drive. However I couldn’t convince myself to buy one as it is more than double the price for the same size, than a standard M.2 SSD. Until one day I came across a post on reddit: Samsung 960 EVO on Macbook Air 2015
The idea is simple, use an ‘adapter’ so that the MacBook can take the standard M.2 SSD drive such as Samsung EVO/PRO. I managed to follow the steps and successfully upgrade my MacBook to a Samsung 970 EVO SSD, and I will be sharing my experience here.
Things you will need:
M2 NGFF TO MACBOOK Converter
You can buy it on ebay or amazon, mine looks like this:
There is also this version:There are debates online as which one is better, I don’t see how they are different except the shape. Some people have complained that some of the adapters are too thick and it makes it a little awkward to put back the back cover, but luckily I didn’t suffer any problem.
Samsung 970 EVO 500 GB V-NAND M.2 PCI Express Solid State Drive
Originally I was going to buy the 960 EVO instead of 970, as 960 EVO has been tested by many that they work. However when I was browsing Amazon I find the 970 EVO is actually cheaper than 960 EVO, and I thought there is no reason why it won’t work just as well, as they are the same interface. Now I can tell you that they indeed work. Personally I believe any M.2 PCI-E NVME SSD should work (but it has to be of 22mm*80mm (2280) to fit the slot), not just Samsung. But when this post is written, all success stories are using Samsung SSDs (EVO or PRO). So if anyone reading this has managed to install other SSDs, I’d also like to know.
Important note: Since MacOS High Sierra (10.13+) you can use NVME technology, in short it achieves faster read/write speed, all said Samsung SSDs above (960,970) are NVMEs.
Preparation Before Hardware Upgrade
- Update your MacOS to the latest version
- Make Time Machine backup of your Macbook, you will need a fresh external USB drive/disk to do this.
- A P5 screwdriver for opening the back case, and a T6 screwdriver for the SSD screw
- That’s it!
It is rather simple, it took less than 20 mins!
- Put your shinny new SSD into the Adapter, set it aside
- Power off your MacBook
- Unscrew the back case using the P5 screwdriver, be careful as two of them is slightly shorter than the rest, so I’d suggest place the screws so that it can tell which position it came from. I bought this very nice set of screwdriver on taobao.com, it is designed by wiha in partnership with Xiaomi, it only cost me about £12 pounds!
- People suggest to first disconnect the battery cable, I forgot this step, but if you want to be sure, here you can find out how to disconnect it.
- Unscrew the screw holding the SSD drive, gently slides out the drive and put it aside. This is how it looks like now:
- Again, gently slide in your new (Samsung) SSD with the adapter in to the slot, put the screw back.
- Put the back case back and screw everything back.
- Connect your Time Machine drive into one of the USB slots. Power on your mac wile holding the option key, this will allow you to choose your startup disk, since your SSD drive is empty, you need your Time Machine drive as a startup disk.
- You should be presented a screen to choose startup disk, click your Time Machine.
- After a while, your Macbook will boot into the Recovery and you have the following options:
- Choose ‘Disk Utility’, if everything’s right, your new SSD drive should be identified, select your new drive and choose erase and select APFS (journaled), the close the Disk Utility dialog.
- Choose ‘Restore From Time Machine Backup’. Make sure you connect your power, it took me more than 3 hours to complete.
- Everything is done, now you can use your Macbook as normal. Go to ‘About this Mac’ -> ‘System Report’ -> NVMExpress, make sure you see Link Width: x4, some have reported less values and cause sub-optimal read/write speed, if this is the case, the most likely cause is a bad adapter.you should have similar read/write speed
- If you intent to give away or sell your old Apple SSD drive, don’t forget to wipe the drive first! You can do this buy putting it back to your Macbook, power up while holding Command+R, choose Disk Utility and Erase.
Some people have experienced problems waking up from sleep mode with this adapter approach, but so far everything is good for me!