Performing Surgery on MacBook Pro

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I’m a techie, and I know hardware. I’ve been building computers for most of my life. A few years ago I thought I’d give that up and instead buy designer computers. It started with the first MacBook Pro that I bought myself, extended to my Alienware m17x laptop, and for a while I thought I was done messing with the insides of computers. Well, I ended up upgrading the Alienware laptop’s video card myself and eventually replaced that laptop with an Alienware x51, a portable desktop PC. I’ve done my fair share upgrading parts in it.

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I’m happy with my PC for gaming, but I still used a Mac Mini for work. However, that computer was just too slow for me, so I gave it to my mom (she didn’t have a working computer) and took back the MacBook Pro I had bought back in 2011. It wasn’t working, and it was in pretty bad shape. I was able to get it to boot and reinstalled OS X. I was amazed how fast it was compared to my Mini even though it was 5 years older (to be fair, the MacBook Pro has a faster processor).

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While it was nice to have a laptop again, there were a few things I wanted to change:

  1. The first thing I did was swap out the original hard drive with my Crucial 500gb solid state drive. It was a simple to do and it really sped up the laptop. I can boot up in about 7 seconds give or take. I also added what I’d guess to be about 2 hours of battery life, the best reason to put one in a laptop. Less power is a good thing, in this case.
  2. After that, I soon realized that I no longer had the Handoff feature and AirDrop didn’t work with newer devices. That’s because the wireless card in my MacBook Pro had Bluetooth 2.0. For the features I was missing you need the 4.o standard. Thankfully Bluetooth 4.0 came out a year to two after my model was manufactured and I discovered that I could replace my old wireless card with one that has Bluetooth 4.0. It took a little bit more effort to replace than the hard drive and I had to “hack” my computer to get it to work, but now I have the full function of AirDrop, Handrop, and Instant Hotspot (that’s going to be nice when I travel).
  3. Today I did something more drastic, I replaced the upper and lower case on my MacBook Pro. My brother had dropped the laptop when I gave it to him a few years ago. There was a severe dent where the battery indicator button was and the case was scratched up and dented in other places. I was happy to find a replacement are at a fair price, but I had to dismantle the computer. Every part had to be disconnected. You can see my handy work in the photos.

The whole process took me several hours since it was my first time taking the whole thing apart. It was fun, with a few frustrating moments. Thankfully I didn’t seem to damage anything, and my tinkering was a success. Now I feel like I have a brand new MacBook Pro.

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As you can see it still works. 🙂 There are only three features that I’m missing: USB 3.0, Force Touch, and the Retina display. I COULD get those features on my MacBook Pro by adding external devices. For the USB ports, there’s an adapter that plugs in my thunderbolt port that can give me USB 3.0 ports. The Apple Magic Track Pad 2 is an external pad that has the force touch technology. It allows additional functions that are similar to the iPhone’s 3D touch. Finally, I could buy an external Apple monitor that has the retina display technology in it, but that’s too expensive!

For a company that isn’t known for having upgradable computers, I really lucked out with this laptop! The best part is that now I should be happy with this computer for years to come. And I got to spend some time playing Mac doctor.

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