Francesco's posts

DIY MacBook Boost… and a bitter-ish reflection on today’s Apple offer

A rocket!

This is what my powered up computer has become.

After a few minutes following this tutorial and this one here, I finally completed the surgery to my MacBook Pro early 2011.

My old pal had been showing the signs of his age for a little while now, and the last thing I could really not afford to put up with was the incapability to manage the Unreal Engine 4 Editor.

Apps and technological developments, particularly VR and more complex music making software, had been pushing the capacity of my little laptop beyond its limits. Still, with a 2.3 GHz Intel i7 dual core inside, I was not really keen on throwing my old buddy away and spending anything between £1000 and £3000 for a new machine.


Well, considering that as a computer geek I was feeling a little “different” for having done ZERO (0_o’) IT hardware DIY in my life, I thought that this was going to be the perfect opportunity to pick up the screwdriver and open up my loyal mac.

Best thing about this? It does not even invalidate any Apple support or whatever cover one may have.

In the end, exploring the insides of my machine has been a worthy experience: it felt great, it did not involve any particularly difficult task (I dare to say the operations were fairly dumb-proof), and it gave me a super-fast computer with an expense of just £180 including shipping cost!

Here is me updating the UE4 after checking it can now handle creating and editing new projects…. Oh and it does it with Ableton Live running in the background as well! Now, this is something.


So what did I exactly change?

RAM: 2 x 2GB (4) —> 2 x 8GB (16) // Apple says this model supports only up to 8GB: bull**it! The Crucial components I got from Amazon are working lovely fine.

STORAGE: Hitachi HDD 7500 500GB —> Samsung 850 Evo SSD 500GB // Before doing the swap I chose to clone the hard drive onto the SSD first using the trial version of Carbon Copy Cloner – now my old HD is in an Orico enclosure and works nicely as an external storage/backup disk

Results: beyond expectations. I wholeheartedly recommend doing this to anyone who owns a Macbook from before the Retina era. They are lovely portable machines, they can read CDs and DVDs and -judging from today’s results- can still be quite a way off the pension. Just a little refresh and they will regain, if not surpass,  the BOMB-like speed they used to boost back in the days of their release.

I just wish Apple was still interested in producing powerful beasts like these… Today’s requirements for a top-end laptop (especially for gamers, VR developers, and the like) definitely include having a powerful GPU in my opinion.

Unfortunately, the fact that Apple does not offer this, and does not seem to care about those who want to use a laptop but don’t mind the bulky feel in exchange for processing power, make me think that the days of macbooks pro 2010/2011 are gone.

Back then, my newly purchased machine cost me £2k and was the best Apple offered in terms of laptops. It was a product which definitely positioned itself as a top-end device among the very best you could get then.

Today, a powerful Alienware is way cheaper than a £3k Macbook Pro 2016 -and it’s VR ready, unlike the Apple model.

In today’s market, not only you are asked to pay an extra grand for the best Macbook compared to 2011. That massive investment is not even going to give you a machine that can run any type of app/environment and be as fast than the best laptop PCs.

Oh…but you get a silly touch bar underneath the screen – Wow.


No, thank you. I’d rather stick to my newly powered up MacBook Pro 2011 for now, and in the future -if needed be- I’ll definitely go PC.




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