Upgrading macbook 5,1 instead of buying a new one

I bought my unibody macbook at the start of 2009. It was slow and swapping a lot and it start showing it's age. After I saw a lot of my friends unboxing new laptops for christmas and I needed to make a decision. Off course I wanted to buy a new one.

One of my New Year resolutions was spend less money. via ifixit I also learned recycling is more wastefull than repairing (or upgrading in this case).

As everybody knows the new macbook pro's are impossible to upgrade. So you have to buy the full option one which is quite expensive. I understood I had an oppurtinity here. I could upgrade my existing macbook and get a few more years out of it.

So I wanted to upgrade:

  • Harddrive
  • Ram
  • Change battery

And install a clean Mavericks version.


As you're going to change the harddisk you need to boot from a another medium. So I used a 8GB USB stick which I prepared with a bootable Mavericks image. There are several guides when you google but here's one

Upgrading the harddrive

This was quite easy. Bought a Samsung 840 EVO 500GB.

The upgrade was easy but I needed to buy a Phillips PH00 and Torcx tx6 and follow the iFixit guide.

Upgrading the RAM

Getting my hands on the correct ram was not easy. So I ordered it from the OWC website. It had the correct RAM: OWC 2 x 4.0GB PC8500 DDR3 1066MHz 204 Pin

Upgrading was quite easy.

Changing the battery

While I was on the OWC website I ordered the battery also. It was a 30 to 40 euro's cheaper then buying it in Europe from apple. I was already paying the shipping and tax for the RAM

After all theses steps I booted with my bootable USB stick and installed a clean version of Mavericks. Again sufficient guides online with a simple google



I did a simple disk speed comparison and before I got 90 Mb/s and now it's 250Mb/s. Off course the disk is able to get + 500Mb/s. The laptop is SATA2 so it's not able to get these high speeds but the speed was more than double. After all the macbook boots quicker. Don't have swapping issues. Even surfing webpages feels quicker.


The current 13-inch macbook with 8GB RAM and 512 GB SSD costs 1830 euro. I understand that it still has better specs then mine. But if I would bought my perfered choice it would be the high end 15-inch Macbook Pro which would set me back 2600 euro. Upgrading cost me 600 euro in total and I get 2 or 3 more years out of it. Currently I'm looking into an big external monitor to scratch the retina itch.