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SSD in the HDD slot or Optic Drive slot?

I have an early 2011 MacBook Pro (15” uni-body) and I am wondering if it is better to swap the optic drive for an SSD, or put the existing HDD in the optic drive slot and a new SSD in the HDD slot…? Hope this makes sense…it did in my head :)

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First we need to talk about your systems SATA ports. While the HD and optical bay ports are listed as SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) Both the HD and optical bay ports have issues!

  • The HD bay has an added circuit to protect a HDD from crashing its heads, the Optical bay does not offer this.
  • The Optical bay SATA port has a timing defect so SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) drives won’t work correctly! You need to use a fixed SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) speed drive (auto sensing drives will not work).

OK, so now we have a framework to work from.

So if you are not moving your system about then placing the original Apple SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) HDD to the optical bay will work. Just don’t bang your system around. Then you can use a SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) SSD in the HD bay. But if you are using your system on your laptop or banging it around then you’ll want to leave the HDD in the HD bay. You might want to get a better HD like a Seagate FireCuda SSHD. But the Optical bay will need a fixed speed SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) SSD like what OWC sell’s OWC Mercury Electra 3G SSD.

Frankly, I find all of this mixing about as not offering enough for the work and the sensitivity of the HD running in the optical drive puts your data at risk. I would just go with a bigger SSD replacing the current HD and not bothering with the optical drive at all!

OK, so we are going to upgrade the HD but we still have one more issue! The original SATA cable Apple used was not rated for SATA III performance and some cables are just bad! So you really want to replace it using this part MacBook Pro 15" Unibody (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable and here’s the guide to put it in MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Early 2011 Hard Drive/IR Sensor Cable Replacement Now before you jump the cable I’ve pointed you to is the better version of the cable (2012 model) In addition you want to apply a strip of electricians tape on the uppercase where the cable crosses over to the drive to protect the cable. And lastly, you want to form a radius not a fold at the bends! Use a BIC ball point pen ink straw to help you form the bends. Sharp folds damage the cable!

References:

OWC Data Doubler

MacBookPro8,2 models

Your Hard Drive Cable Is A Ticking Time Bomb

MacBook Pro 15" Unibody (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable 이미지

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MacBook Pro 15" Unibody (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable

$34.99

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Wow, thank you so much, Dan! I am completely new to tinkering with computers and I truly appreciate your honest and insightful answer. This is great information, and I will certainly take your advice.

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