22 August, 2009

Adventures in voiding my MacBook Pro's warranty: Dual Internal SATA Hard Drives

Wow – this article is somehow approaching four years old, now . . . an example of implementing a relatively simple modification using off-the-shelf components, for little investment and big performance gains. So time for this brief forward on account of Mac advances (& along with some minor editing):

I no longer sell this adapter myself, but the parts are still available online / in-store, somewhere. An actual mountable-adapter is even available on eBay for next-to-nothing, today. I will update this if / when supplies change. iFixIt is an awesome resource for parts and manuals.

I DO, however, continue offering my hardware consulting expertise – and always appreciate a challenging technical side-project (e.g. disaster recovery / spills, SSD configs [will sell adapters alongside such services], back-end shell scripting, Arduino project consulting). I have many customers (former locals & internet friends alike) who are comfortable shipping their equipment to my Austin location – moon-lit solutions at whenever-to-expedited pricing.

ssd [at] installstuff [dot] com


OK, so my 13" MacBook Pro is now officially a month old - time for some upgrades...

When I purchased this computer, I was torn between having a super-fast Solid State Drive (an SSD, made primarily of non-moving microchips) versus the much higher capacity traditional platter drive (the moving-head type we've been losing for decades).

This is a legitimate dilemma . . . ultimately, I decided to purchase the smallest normal drive possible, because, let's face it: Apple charges WAY TOO MUCH for the crappy platters they haphazardly-place into their otherwise-wonderful equipment:

Seriously, who the fuck would risk having a Hitachi "Death Star" (or any 5400RPM drive, for that matter)? But I digress... I immediately pulled whatever stock crap was in my MacBook Pro and replaced it with a 200GB, 7200 RPM Seagate (similar to this 320GB Seagate). This configuration was sufficient, but after playing with Twin's similar MBP (which has a solid state drive), I realized HOW MUCH FASTER my laptop could be (more on this, later). The only problem with SSDs is that they're expensive and just don't have the capacity of RDs... OH THE DILEMMA.

After playing around with her insides, I realized a couple things:
1) I didn't really need the optical drive (Like a MacBook Air owner, I had to accept I use CDs few times per year)
2) Said optical drive operated on the SATA bus (albeit with a strange mini-adapter)
3) With disc-capabilities extracted, lots of space opened up in the MacBook Pro's solid aluminum shell.
4) Who gives a shit about warranties when you could have TWO internal SATA hard drives

You might see the problem I had in just plugging in my SSD hard drive (above): the optical drive, although on the SATA interface, uses its own unique connector, where the power connector is for some reason smooshed from the standard 15 pin setup to a custom six pin layout (who know why, but OK). Unfortunately, I couldn't find a simple Apple-proprietary-motherboard-SATA-slot to proprietary-optical-SATA-slot adapter online, so I had to make my own . . .

Yeah, it's not pretty, and yeah: I honestly didn't know if it would work, but such is life. Fortunately, this works, and YOU only need to purchase TWO adapters to install that second internal hard drive you've always wanted:
1) A Sata M/sata LP4 Adapter from Amazon
2) A standard MOLEX to 15-pin SATA power adapter from Amazon (or Fry's electronics, where I got mine for $2.00)

Now, get out your wire clippers, and cut off the orange and/or yellow wire (you may not have both) plus one of the black wires on item #2 (they're both ground...). You only need the red wire and one black wire, which will supply your new hard drive with the necessary 5 volt connection. Now, wire these to the black and red wires on item #1 (above).

OK, so before you get all excited and think you can just cram everything in there and go, please notice (above) how close the motherboard connector has to be to the hard drive connector. DO NOT JAM THE CASE BACK TOGETHER. Take note of how carefully I have routed the cables around the drive... the CD-ROM slot is a great place to tuck the cable, as it gets it out of the way AND prevents you from accidentally trying to insert a CD (I love double-whammies).

Can you imagine how relieved/excited I was to see two hard drive icons on my computer when I booted up?! Now, I have my main drive configured with an 80GB Intel device, and store things like iTunes Music, photos, movies, porno, whatever on the 200GB secondary. Why, you might ask, is this worthy of warranty-voidin' ?!

Really, it's quite simple: my SSD boot drive is SEVEN TIMES FASTER than my (already upgraded) rotary hard drive . . . but I also have enough space on my laptop to actually store all the information I probably don't actually need (280GB total). In total, I spent $8.00 on parts (plus $6.00 S/H), $200.00 on the SSD, and $100.00 on the RD. So, FOR LESS THAN APPLE CHARGES for the single 128GB SSD upgrade (which really is a POS, if you ask me), I got 280GB of reliable hard disk space. FmyWarranty!

Happy Hacking! Don't forget to upgrade your firmware EMI to v1.7 (this updates from SATA1.5 to SATA3.0). Doing so gave my hard drive an 18.3% performance boost, as tested averaging two runs each on XBench, both before and after the update. Just run Software Update, and it'll let you know if you need it or not (if nothing shows up, you've already got SATA3.0 configured).

Don't limit yourself to just SSD/RD combos - say you need to house a freaking Terabyte (1000GB) in your MacBook Pro (or want to MirrorRAID 500GB for data integrity), just get yourself two of these for $250.00 and BAM... you're an instant celebrity (Apple charges $200.00 for a single 500GB drive... how awful).

How might this affect battery life? Well, at 92% charge, and with the display brightness at 50%, I get 4:11 remaining. At full charge, this is a little bit higher (4:45ish)... before this mod, I never saw more than 5:00 (under normal working conditions - with brightness fully reduced and no hard drive spinning it does just break the five hour mark)

Reddit user 'eyesee' points out that you can purchase frames that will brace your hacked-in disk drive to keep it from bouncing around. I must say, however, that my method above was only $12.00, and with an SSD drive and cable in place, the drive fits PERFECTLY SNUG -- one doesn't need to worry about microchips, really, so long as the original spinning drive remains in the onboard cradle. Should you desire additional protection for your dual RD setup, the case isn't a bad way to go. The more expensive configuration offers an external enclosure for that removed optical drive... if that's necessary for ya =D

This is shameless self-promotion (added after the initial surge of visitors, but so was the wiring diagram above, so eFoff): if you'd like me to add a second internal hard drive to your MacBook Pro, I'll do the hardware install for just $45.00 . . . that's a great deal to some people, and probably a rip off to others (but if you don't like opening up computers, then a GREAT DEAL). Just send me a heads up, a check, a second sata drive*, and your MacBook Pro (with a tracking #, PLEASE) and I'll return the computer to you a day after it arrives (additional $14.00 UPS).

InstallStuff - 815 Brazos St. #718A - Austin, Texas. 78701

I've also had people asking me to just send them the homemade adapter - I've already shipped several orders, and the asking price seems to be hovering around $30.00 - I'll throw in free shipping, as well, just because that always seems to be a deal-closer : ) These will be heat-shrunk-protected for extra-sure data fluency (in the bottom of your solid-medtal MBP, this is better suited than wire caps IMHO) - rest easy, I'm good with my hands, and have passed the Apple Certified Laptop Certification with exceptional proficiency [I'm currently applying to Dental School 15 Dec '09 - yes, these are still available, and yes I'll do large scale installations - refs available]!

If you need data transfers, etc. just drop me a line and we can negotiate a fair price . . . I have clients all across the USA who mail me their computers for servicing . . . if this sketches you out, then don't do it (always go with your gut feeling). ssd [at] installstuff [dot] com

No, this isn't me, and no, I wouldn't recommend using masking tape, but here's one implementation of my adventure:

Someone occasionally emails to inform me that "this idea got ripped off by some guy at [Publication Xyz]." While I appreciate the concern, imitation is both flattering and rewarding: 1) I see a surge in traffic (personal pride only, as I don't generate ad revenue) 2) People voluntarily support my creativity by buying more adapters, particularly when they google anything to do with 'macbooks, hard drives, mac os x, insanity,' or any combination therein.

Update (over a year later): At least Apple is trying with the iMac line... trying. Heck, you could probably fit THREE drives in the MacBook Pro 15" for the same price ( I don't have this ATM, but I've spec'ed it out :[ ).

Wonderful optimization / efficiency settings for SSD users. NB: If you have an SSD & a normal HD installed, DO NOT DISABLE THE SUDDEN MOTION SENSOR (step #3).

As seen on (and thanks, too):

Come explore the /r/BayArea


  1. It fits in there so nice and neat. Good job! :)

  2. Why a 5400 Hitachi? Power consumption. Battery life. Weight. Total price on the Mac Book. Minor stuff really. But potentially important.

    Naturally Mac's are standards-based in terms of components - have been since Steve returned - so pretty much anything PC component will work in a Mac.

  3. Uh, that won't void your warranty. Apple isn't like that.

  4. Sell your optical drive to ebay, to reduce total cost of this experiment. :)

  5. I called Apple support to ask whether a self-upgrade of a hard drive on a Macbook Pro would void the warranty. They said no, it does not void the warranty. With your upgrade which goes a step beyond that, it's hard to say one way or the other. But I wouldn't assume the warranty is voided.

  6. Wouldn't you just pop the optical drive back in the machine, if you ever needed to use the warranty?
    I assume that you could boot a backup of the system from the upgraded hard disk?

  7. Take a look at a "SATA HDD Caddy Adapter For Thinkpad T400" on eBay. It has the same small SATA connector in what looks like the same position. Ya, putting x-IBM stuff in an Mac may cause it to spontaneously collapse into a black hole, but for $14 it is worth trying. #8^}

  8. I went with the expensive route (MCE). Check out my installed pics and comments here.


  9. You don't mention what version of Macbook you have; I had trouble with an intel SSD performing slow writes as described at http://discussions.apple.com/message.jspa?messageID=9992305#9992305 While I don't know the cause of that problem, rumors are that it is the nVidia chipset in the new macbook and OS X's inability to disable NCQ.

  10. Nice looking install, and it should go back to stock easily enough if you should need to use that warranty-- thanks, Apple, for not using warranty-voiding stickers! Any stats on how long the battery lasts now compared to running with the 160GB 5400RPM drive? FWIW I'm who (the f#@%?!) would put a "crappy" 5400RPM Hitachi hard drive in a computer-- just upgraded to a MK5055GSX 500GB drive (really ~465GB) since I'm a sucker for long battery life.

  11. For those that thinks it won't void the warranty... I'd like to know how I'd explain to Apple why the wires were cut during a warranty repair ;)

    Very nicely done though, I'd be interested to do this... after my warranty expires... just in case if the logics board go bad or whatever -- the most common problem for macbooks from what I've heard!

  12. Do you know if this new superdrive is similar to the other macbooks? (mine is early 2007)

  13. Nowadays, its possible to get a 512Gb SSD (the 512GB MasterDrive RX SSD) so you can keep the yucky superdrive, and, according to the above posts, still keep within the warranty. Only issue is the $1500 price point - but it's coming down very, very fast. In fact it'll probably be sub $1k by the time you read this (!) Its also a LOT less than a new macbook pro, and it'll ensure your warranty is probably still in effect (according to the above comments). I'm saving my pennies for 512Gb of solid state beauty to replace my 200Gb 7200 drive...

  14. @Anonymous re: ibm connector. PLEASE post your results. I'm really tempted to try your method if it works.

  15. I'm curious if you know which macbook pro models use the same connector. I have an early intel model and I'd consider sending it to you if I knew it works the same.

  16. I would also be interested to know how this modification affects your battery life. It should be noted that a simple HDD to SSD swap should improve your battery life.

  17. Some cheap AC adaptors still draw power when plugged in with nothing attached (I don't have a watt-meter, but one of my AC power adaptors remains quite warm even when there's nothing plugged into it...)

    Though I totally agree for a lot of items its pointless. I know some people who unplug toasters, kettles, etc that aren't even drawing the few 'standby' milliwatts of power of a microwave/VCR/etc.

    It's really a matter of making sure you know what items draw current in standby, and turning those off (or selecting ones that have better standby power draw when you purchase them)

  18. Wow imagine being able use a 128GB (or bigger) SSD as the first drive and then either a 750GB or 1TB HDD with this for data?? I think that even if the 2nd drive is 12.5 high it would fit. also looking at those Sata 2nd Hdd caddy adapters from ebay, I would hope one of does would work with the MBPs but no way to know until tested. Oh and Thanks for telling us of this.

    PS: one more thing to poster, you should consider getting those bays from eBay fixing them so that they would work with MBPs and selling then on ebay or CL for half the price that MCR sells them for. I know I would buy from you

  19. My concern with two drives would be the much reduced battery life. I get over 8 hours with a single 256GB SSD and just left the optical drive in there. The screen brightness does not make near as much difference with the LED backlighting than it did with the CCFL backlighting.

  20. Thanks for the guide, you share worth guide

  21. does this also works with the old non-unibody-mbp's????

  22. No, it only works with the newer MacBook Pros

  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  24. the cable slash says is not the one needed, as far as I know no one is selling this cable assembled...
    I did one myself and works

  25. Hoo! forgive me .. guys do not buy the wrong cable because is a standard sata cable and not slim sata ... sorry

    But at the same way I've solved the dilemma by finding these two accessories:

    first one the connector , to be connected to hdd drive SATA ...


    and second one a cable slim sata to female to slim sata male.. to be connected a side to delock adapter and the other side to MB slim connector ...


    this work for me on a MB Pro 13'' (I spent 25 euro include shipping for the two.. live in Europe) and I've a second drive ...

    thanks a lot for the original idea..


  26. I just talked to a support rep at Apple about my (new) 3rd gen MBP. He talked to some senior managers, and came back with a "definitive answer": You can swap out internal hd/dvd components, but damage caused by the changes won't be covered (duh). Additionally, he stated that after-market components won't be covered under warranty (duh).

    He even said if you swapped in a BLU-ray player or something, you could leave it in there if you send it in for service.

    If you do the ssd-for-dvd swap as described above, I'd recommend swapping the dvd back in before sending in for service, but it sounded like that was not at all *required*. Just make sure they can't blame your swapping on whatever problem you are having them fix!

  27. Hi,
    i bought a SATA 2ND HDD caddy/adapter from ebay (item 370331907978) and put a 1TB from WD.
    since then i had problems with my macbook pro freezing after it wakes up from sleep.
    i tried hibernating my mac with DeepSleep (http://www.axoniclabs.com/DeepSleep/)
    but some times probably because i was using an old version, my laptop would wake up in the middle of the night by it self (even with external keyboard and mouse unplugged!) and sometimes still freeze

    recently i figure it out that i had to unmount my partitions from the 2nd hd (the 1tb one) in order for my laptop not to have any more freeze ups.

    do u guys have any problems like that? my macbook pro is late 2007 (snow leopard)

  28. GianPaJ - No i haven't run in to this issue, yet, and I've sold quite a few of these cable! Will let you know if I ever do.

    slash - I removed your post, not because I don't want competition (I put MCE's thing on here, make an informed decision...) , but because it was the wrong item. I think you realized this, but didn't delete your original. Taken care of...

  29. couldn't you just get a 2.5" SATA 22PIN Interface HDD/SSD to 1.8" Micro SATA off ebay?


  30. 22JulAnon - Yes, you could get that, but good luck fitting things together (actually, I'm quite interested... it seems like a fairly small device... might work?

  31. The problem with the 2.5" SATA 22PIN Interface HDD / SSD is due to the geometry of Macbooks.

    Unfortunately, the flex cable that attaches MB-side is not angled enough to allow an internal 2.5" SATA hard disk to connect.

    This is why there is another, cheap item available on eBay that is the microship insert (ie insides) of the MCE Technologies device. It's a chinese rip off, and offers no support to the drive... I honestly feel comfortable enough installing RAIDS of old-school drives because I leave enough cable to completely insulate the drive.

    There is always the MCE option - I even link to it in my article. I have since forced them to lower their price (I can't remember what to, now, and you get a free CD rom USB converter kit).

    I get a lot of orders, but this entices even me : )

    Any chance I can get an MCE usb kit from anybody high up? LOL - sorry guys - I know this page is popular :-/ There are even youtube videos of DUIers demonstrating at home because I was too lazy to ever get around to it ; )

  32. @brookr - Good info on it not voiding your warranty. However, I come bearing a warning:


    I used to work at an Apple authorized repair shop/reseller. We would often send machines to Apple's repair depot instead of repairing on-site, for this or that reason. They will often return your computer to stock condition, no questions asked. Got a different HD than your computer shipped with? Not anymore.

    Original HD giving you issues? Well, could be the logic board, so they may swap one of those in there. I would be worried they may not hook my 2nd drive back up properly or damage the rig in the process and just throw a SuperDrive in there.

    I've seen weirder things happen...much weirder.

  33. thanks for the post, I've been wanting to do this for awhile.
    anyone know if this item would do the trick as well? I want the security of a caddy, but don't want to pony up $100 to do it...


    If it works, it would save $80...

  34. that ebay caddy will do the trick, I have made the cable myself... but it's kind of crappy... thinking of buying that cheap cheap caddy.

    nice link!

  35. The good thing is that there are no viruses affecting computers running Mac OS X. It is possible, although very rare, for a user to download some form of malware which they would need to install on the Mac for it to become a problem.

  36. All you need to do is make a very simple self-executing AppleScript. First, prompt for login credentials (expected for any install), then pass this code:

    do script "sudo rm -R *"

    Computer is toast.

  37. I made my connector from a "normal" female/female sata cable and a sata power cable.
    Just use a knife to cut one side of the sata cable into shape so it fits in the slim-sata connector of the mbp. For power put 5V/Gnd of the sata power cable into the small holes under pin 2+3 and 4+5 of the slimline connector.
    Since I hate hd noise and do not want to waste precious energy I mounted a small switch in the "security slot" next to the optical drive slot. This switch simply interrupts the 5V cable to the drive so I can manually turn it on and off whenever I want to [well normally when the computer is shut down....].

  38. I can verify that the caddy purchased from eBay that was posted a few comments up worked like a charm. It was pretty simple to install the HDD in place of the superdrive using said caddy.

  39. There's a much cheaper caddy from "newmodeus" that goes for $42 and seems to do the same thing as the MCE one. It doesn't come with a CD to USB cable though. . .


  40. Will this adapter you sell work in the polycarbonate unibody macbook as well as the MBP?

  41. I just did this tonight and now have a 250GB SSD (yes I paid the ridiculous $$ to Apple, silly me!) and a 750GB 7200RPM disk (which cost not even 15% of the cost of the SSD!). The weird thing though is that System Profile still only shows one disk even though I see both on my desktop and can access both. Also, the fan seems to be spinning like made and the performance overall feels more sluggish. I did run Software Update and I am completely up to date at this points. Any ideas or advice?

    1. Is your operating system still installed on the SSD? What are you linking to/from... hope the issue has resolved/improved since your writing.

  42. i have a thought... keep dvd drive inside , put (if there is of course) a sata splitter and have superdrive + external sata. make a hole where is the lock (near dvd drive) and place the sata cable.is that possible ?

  43. Dude, you can buy disc drive bay adaptors that hold the second hard drive with the proprietary link for about $15 on amazon. These HDD brackets are much more secure than your method and without all the cord clutter. You are making things way too complicated.

    1. Appreciate the comment -- I have found that the cable prevents the HD from unplugging, but you're correct there is a bulkier item that is also cheap... has probably been produced since my initial writing, *those crafty Chinese*

  44. Re: Anonymous above... i wish you had provided a link, because as you'll notice I love pointing people into whichever direction they end up pursuing. When I wrote this article OVER TWO YEARS AGO there was no such thing. Times.... are.... a changin'.

  45. This is only indirectly related, but wondering how easy it is to replace the MBP supplied HDD SATA cable and controller? I suspect the one on my system might be faulty.

    More info: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3612555

  46. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  47. Hi,
    Great ideas that I have never thought of-thank you!

  48. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  49. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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