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One of the best ways to improve the performance of most older laptops is to replace their hard drives with a faster SSD. An upgraded SSD for MacBook Pro models older than 2016 will go a long way in speeding up their performance by several magnitudes.
Best SSD for MacBook Pro Reviewed
Upgrading any MacBook Pro is a challenge because they’re generally difficult laptops to open and repair. However, if you know what you’re doing and want to make your older MacBook Pro fast again, we’ve handpicked the 5 best SSDs for MacBook Pros from 2011-2015 right now and reviewed them.
To avoid confusion and risk of buying the wrong product, be sure to check out our buyer’s guide after the reviews.
Best for Pre-2012 MacBook Pros
For any MacBook Pro prior to late 2012, the Samsung 860 Evo’s reliability, warranty, speeds, and lifespan make it the best option out there.
Samsung makes very reliable SBDs, so it’s not surprising that the Samsung 860 Evo is our top budget upgrade pick as an SSD for MacBook Pro. This is a 2.5 inch SATA III interface drive, which makes it is compatible with MacBook Pros made in 2012 and earlier.
The read and write speeds of this SSD are 550MB/s and 520MB/s respectively, which is on par with most SATA III solid-state drives. This is still much faster than any stock storage system you may have in a MacBook Pro released before 2013.
We recommend the 250GB storage capacity version, as it offers great value. This is the best SSD for MacBook Pro if you don’t want to spend excessively on an older laptop yet still want a considerable performance boost.
- Great value
- Fast enough to make a considerable difference
- Extremely resilient
Best for MacBook Pro 2013-2015
If you own a MacBook Pro from 2013-2015 with a removable PCIe SSD, the Transcend JetDrive is the best upgrade you could make for it.
The Transcend JetDrive is compatible with the MacBook Air 11″ & 13″ (2013 – 2017) and MacBook Pro Retina 13″ & 15″ (2013 – 2015). This is a PCI Express m.2 SSD which provides faster transfer rates than normal 2.5” Solid State Drives. The form factor makes it compatible as an SSD for MacBook Pro.
Because of its advanced interface, the drive can reach high read and write speeds of up to 950MB/s. The speed is also thanks to the advanced 3D NAND flash technology used in the drive.
We love the fact that the Transcend 480GB comes with an enclosure. This has Thunderbolt technology, so you can transfer files up to 10Gb/s. The JetDrive toolbox makes it easy to monitor the status and health of the drive.
- Very fast
- Comes with an aluminum allow enclosure
- JetDrive lets you monitor status, health, and make upgrades
- Tricky to install
The Western Digital brand is a very trusted and reliable name in the market when it comes to storage options. The WD Blue 3D NAND has a lot of storage space and Sequential read speeds up to 560MB/s and sequential write speeds up to 530MB/seconds, which is comparable to the Samsung models of SATA III SSDs.
You even get a 5-year warranty on the product, you get a software to monitor the SSD and to make a backup. The storage capacity starts from 250GB and goes up to 4TB which is more than enough for your needs.
WD Blue 3D NAND is a reliable product and can easily replace high-end products from various other brands whilst being very cheap compared to other SSDs.
- Very Affordable
- High Performance comparable to expensive SSDs
- WD F.I.T. Lab certification
- High Durability
- None So Far
The SanDisk SSD Plus offers 480GB of storage space at a great price. It’s a 2.5 inch SATA III drive, so it is ideal for MacBook Pros made between 2011 and mid-2012.
With this drive, you get sequential read and write speeds of 535MB/s and 445MB/s respectively. It’s not as fast as the Samsung drives, but it offers a better GB per dollar ratio. SanDisk is well-known for making excellent flash-based memory, so you know you’re in safe hands with this drive of theirs. It’s reliable, shockproof, and resistant to vibration. It’s an overall great mix of value and performance improvement as an SSD for MacBook Pro.
- Great value
- Fast enough to make a considerable difference
- Not as fast as Samsung’s drives
You can get up to 2TB of storage space in the OWC Aura Pro X2, which makes it an ideal upgrade for your early MacBook models, giving you not only space but amazing performance as well.
The SSD gives about 3200MB/s read and 2400MB/s write speed, which is amazingly fast compared to other brands. You will not be able to find a better deal than this, with 1TB drive just under $250 mark, you can go as low as 240GB and as high as 2TB, depending on the amount of money you have to upgrade your MacBook.
This NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.1 x4 SSD is easy to install, consumes less power and runs cooler. You get about 5 years of manufacturer’s warranty on buying this from Amazon.
- High Speed Transfer
- Designed specifically for MacBook
- Runs Cool
- Some might have difficulty installing
- Only MacBook Compatible
SSD for MacBook Pro Buyer’s Guide
MacBook Pro Version and SSD Type
Which MacBook Pro you have will determine which SSD type you want. Any MacBook Pro prior to 2013 will only be able to use the SATA III interface 2.5-inch SSDs. We’ve listed three of them in this product review article.
MacBook Pros (Retina) from 2013 to early 2016 will be compatible with the more advanced and smaller memory type, the m.2 SSD which runs through the PCIe slot instead of a SATA port. Be sure to do thorough research about which SSD type you need; you will need to know exactly which MacBook Pro you have and what kind of drive interface it uses.
Accessing the internals of any Apple product is extremely tricky, and most MacBook Pros are no exception. There is a lot that can go wrong, so we only recommend changing SSDs by yourself if you know what you’re doing.
The installation process will depend on the MacBook Pro version you have and the type of SSD available. Generally, you will need special screwdrivers to remove the underplate of the laptop to access its internals.
If you have a MacBook Pro with an m.2 type SSD, you will need to follow careful instructions of the manufacturer of the SSD you bought (Transcend or OWC) to make it work properly once it has been slotted in. OWC Aura SSDs are not factory formatted, so you will need to do that before installing it. You will also have to consider upgrading certain drivers for compatibility.
The installation of 2.5” SATA III SSDs is simpler in older MacBook Pros (before late 2012). Simply swap out the hard drive for the SSD and you’re good to go.
Speed and Capacity
The read and write speeds will determine the tangible speed improvement of your MacBook Pro, but you shouldn’t concentrate too much on hard figures. The form factor and connection type determine the overall speed. For a 2.5” inch drive, there is a read/write transfer speed limit. A few MB/s extra will cost you a lot more than what it’s actually worth.
Capacity is also important as it is one of the biggest reasons to upgrade your storage, especially in an SSD for MacBook Pro Retina 2013-2015. PCIe SSDs are already expensive, but the ones designed for MacBook Pro are even more expensive, and options are few.
Should I DIY or get the SSD for MacBook Pro replaced by a professional?
It is highly recommended that you get your SSD replaced by a professional, especially for an Apple laptop. Apple makes its products so that they’re extremely difficult to open and repair, with special screws that regular screwdrivers aren’t compatible with and complex internal design.
Why can’t I use any standard NVMe PCIe SSD with my 2015-2016 MacBook Pro?
Apple is notorious for staying within its own ecosystem and making their products very difficult to access internally and repair. They use a different type of PCIe SSD system which the standard m.2 SSDs cannot fit in or are simply incompatible with. This is why the m.2 SSDs designed for MacBook Pro are so expensive.
What about an SSD for MacBook Pro 2018?
Unfortunately, the MacBook Pro 2018 comes with an SSD that is soldered on the motherboard. This makes it impossible for any regular user to replace the drive.