Is your Macbook Pro slow and you want to bring it back to life? Here some tips on how to do this and make the Macbook fly again like a new one! All non retina Macbooks from 2009-1012 have multiple upgrade options which can be used to give the speed a real boost. Lets go through all the things we can do to make your system up and running again, ready for a few more years of service!
1. CPU: The CPU is at the hart of the system. If your Macbook is older it is most likely a Intel DuoCore CPU and if you have a later model an Intel Core i5 or i7 which also features 2 Cores. All CPU in Macbook Pro’s are over 2gHz and minimum Duo Core. This means the operating system will see the one CPU as 2 units. Any CPU of 2gHz or more is very capable of running most of the software we use like office, photoshop and iTunes. CPU Technology nowadays focuses mainly on increasing the number of Cores. You will see new Macbooks released with the same clockspeed of 2.5gHz but having more cores. For normal use we do not need more then 2 Cores and your old CPU will be fine to run anything you throw at it, so the good news is we do not need a CPU upgrade.
2. Memory: Standard the Pro was released with 2 x 2GB memory, totaling 4GB. The DuoCore system can upgrade to 2 x 4GB, 8GB total and Core i5/7 can upgrade to 2 x 8GB totalling 16GB. If you have a DuoCore we advise to swap a 2GB module for a 4GB bringing thew total at 6GB. This is more then enough for normal use. If you are editing pictures or video you might consider replacing the 2 x 2GB to 2 x 4GB to max out its performance. If you are the lucky owner of a Core i5/7 we suggest to replace one of the 2GB modules for an 8GB one bringing the total to 10GB. This is more then enough for most users and it will benefit you more to spend your money on a faster SSD drive.
3. Harddrive: De standard harddrive sizes used in the Pro Series are 320, 500 and 750GB. The disks are SATA type. They are mechanical drives with a spinning disk and a reading arm, just like an old record player. The disadvantages of these drives are they are slow and more easy to damage then newer SSD Drives. SSD drives, short for Solid State Drives, are non mechanical drives, basically a large memory card like you use in your camera or smartphone nowadays. They are available in sizes over 1TB but these large SSD drives are very expensive. If you want to really speed up your system, we highly recommend to add an SSD drive to the configuration. To keep the cost low we suggest following. We replace your old drive with a smaller 128 or 256GB SSD drive and reinstall the operating system in this drive. The old disk we can move to the CD-ROM Drive Bay. Who uses the CD-ROM nowadays? The old drive you canuse as storage disk while you are running OSX and applications from the high speed SSD drive. This upgrade is the single most important upgrade you can do, it is better then just adding memory that you are not likely to use and the speed increase is huge. If you do need lots of space and do not want to spend too much money another alternative is to get an SSHD drive, and old fashion SATA disk with a small SSD drive build in to increase speed.
4. CPU/GPU Cooling Paste: Macbooks, especially older one, tend to get very hot. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the cooling paste that transfers heat from the CPU (or GPU) to the heatsink dries out and needs to be replaced every 3 years. Few people are aware of this important fact, that is true for EVERY computer system. Cooling paste is a kind of toothpaste with thermal transfer capability that it gets from i.e. adding silver to the mix. The paste fills up the space between the CPU die and heatsink, transfering the heat to the fan that blows the hot air out of the system. If after a few years the coolling paste has gone to dust, it is replaced by air which works as an insulation keeping all the heat trapped in the CPU and pushing it into the mainboard. This leads to overheating and a slower performance of your Macbook/Macmini/iMAC. The good news is that this is an easy and cheap fix.
5. GPU: The graphics processor of older Macbooks is soldered to the board and cannot be upgraded at low cost. This might be the only bottleneck in your system opting you to go for a newer model. If you are not into heavy graphic rendering, you should be OK with any GPU though. One tip on the side, 2010/11 Mac pro’s have many issues with GForce GPU’s failing. In case this happens it is strongly advised to not reflow the GPU (just heat it up so cracks in the soldering dissapear) but to replace it. Make sure if you bring it to service with any repair shop, they do not reflow the GPU and charge you for a replacement one! Always ask to have the old GPU returned to you. Reflowed GPU’s might work for a few month, but this is a short term fix and not a proper one.
6. Battery: Is your Trackpad not clicking anymore? It is very likely that the battery has gone bad and needs replacement. Although a new battery will not speed up your system, it can prolong the time you can work away from a power outlet and when you upgrade to add 2-3 years of extra use to your Mac, its smart to replace the battery as well. Want to check the status of your battery? Click on “about this mac” in the top left corner and choose “system information”. Here you will see the power options and you can read the battery Cycle (number of charges it has had) and capacity. If the cycle is between 500-1500 most batteries will loose capacity and die slowly. If at condition it says: “service” you will have to replace the battery soon. Want to get the most out of you old battery? Try a deep cycle! Let it die to 0% and keep it totally empty for 5 hours. Then recharge the battery minimum 8 hours, overnight and this might bring some extra life out of your old battery. When buying a battery you can opt for an original one or OEM. OEM battery are usually OK but there are many suppliers selling battery with smaller capacity. Just pickup the battery and compare the weight with your old one. Does it feel very light? Then you know you don’t get what you pay for! You can also compare the “full charge capacity” of your original battery with the replaced one in the “system information” menu. For more info on how to check your battery read THIS
7. Fans: The fans are important to blow hot air out of the system. It is a good idea to clean them after a few years so they will run smooth, fast and with less noise, keeping your system as cool as possible. Cooler = more performance!