Question:Q:Macbook Pro 13 (March 2015) SSD Adapter
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As far as I know this laptop has a proprietary storage interface, so neither PCIe nor SATA fits in there.
Is it possible to upgrade the internal SSD storage of a Macbook Pro 13-inch (March 2015) using an adapter for M.2 SSD modules? Are there any specifications I need to be aware of, e.g. NVMe modules don't work?
I have looked at many modules by Kingston, Crucial, WD, Samsung 850, Intel? Any particular recommondations?
Proprietary standards are a true hustle for us users and this one, I simply could not solve! Thanks in advance!
MacBook Pro with Retina display, macOS Sierra (10.12.6), null
Posted on Aug 21, 2017 4:51 AM
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Aug 21, 2017 6:38 AM in response to tjk In response to tjk
Thanks for the reply. I live in Germany, so US retailers are not working for me. Besides, these modules are really, really expensive. The standard M.2 PCIe or SATA modules cost around 200€ compared to 500€ for drives with Apple's proprietary interface. Therefore, the latter is no option for me.
Aug 21, 2017 6:38 AM
Aug 21, 2017 7:14 AM in response to blablabla2015 In response to blablabla2015
The one and only time I worked with someone on this, we were unable to find a proper adapter. I think we ran into something like "NVMe modules don't work." Search for an adapter the works with the type of module you have in mind (the ones we found were on eBay).
Aug 21, 2017 7:14 AM
Question:Q:Macbook Pro 13 (March 2015) SSD Adapter
Upgrading MacBook Pro/Air SSDs
Apple laptops are somewhat notoriously resistant to upgrades. The SSDs used by MacBook Air and MacBook Pros shipped between 2013-2017 used a proprietary adapter. Relatively recently (10.13) it became possible to upgrade these systems with an aftermarket adapter and stock NVMe M.2 form factor SSDs. There is an amazingly thorough thread on this, but I figured I’d post my experiences upgrading 2 of my laptops that I’ve upgraded so far. Go read at least the first page of that thread if you have questions I don’t answer, there are 220 pages of feedback so far.
The total cost was under $90 USD each for upgrading to 500 gigagbyte drives.
Take the time to figure out exactly which model you have before getting starting. EveryMac.com has thorough descriptions of each model, use -> to gather up all the details of your system. These are the 2 machines I updated, named for Futurama characters.
Make sure you have the right equipment for performing the upgrade. The iFixit Mac Laptop Repair guides provide excellent step by step instructions for SSD replacements specific to each model. You will need the following equipment:
NVMe M.2 SSDs & Adapter
There are a lot of options for which SSD to purchase, the general consensus from the MacRumors thread was that the Sabrent Rocket and Adata XPG SX8200 models provide the best price/performance results. If you have a 15” Macbook Pro you may benefit from a faster SSD because of the PCIe 3.0 x4, but the rest of the models are limited by PCIe 2.0 x4 giving them a theoretical limit around 2,000 MB/second (results from the thread rarely get above 1500 MB/s with 13” models. Larger drives (1TB) appear to be a bit faster, I didn’t see much need to go beyond 512 gigabytes of storage and wanted to keep it relatively inexpensive. I used the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro 512GB 3D NAND NVMe Gen3x4 PCIe M.2 2280 Solid State Drive, but would consider the Sabrent 512GB Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 Internal SSD.
The Sintech NVMe M.2 adapter is considered to be the best and you can get them directly from Amazon.
Once you have your parts in hand, here are the steps I followed to upgrade my systems to the latest version of macOS 10.15 ‘Catalina’ with new SSDs.
- Create a bootable USB macOS Catalina disk
- Back up the machine with an external Time Machine drive. Make sure you have everything crucial backed up and saved before progressing.
- Before removing the original hard drive, do a complete upgrade of the macOS operating system to the latest version available (currently 10.15.1) to ensure that any firmware updates available to your machine are applied. This is especially important if you’re upgrading from 10.13 or earlier releases. This page lists the latest currently available firmware for each model.
- After all the upgrades have been applied, shut down your Mac and follow the relevant iFixit Mac Laptop Repair guide for removing the SSD from your laptop. Be careful not to strip the P5 and T5 screws.
- With the case open, take the time to clean it with the compressed air and isopryl alcohol, it’s filthy in there.
- Attach your new SSD to the Sintech adapter and place a small strip of the Kaptop insulation tape across the adapter, as seen here.
- Gently insert the new SSD and screw it into the motherboard without overtightening.
- Close up the laptop case, reversing the steps from the iFixit guide.
Configuring the Drive and Installing the Operating System
At this point you should be ready to perform a fresh installation of macOS 10.15.
- Insert your bootable USB stick into the Mac and hold down the Option key while it boots. Select the ‘Install macOS Catalina’ disk.
- Choose the Disk Utility, find your new SSD and format it APFS with a GUID Partition Map.
- Proceed with the macOS installation. You may restore your previous installation from your Time Machine backup if you want, I usually do a fresh install.
- After completing the install, make sure you have all the latest macOS patches applied.
- If you have one of the 2013-2014 laptops they will not properly wake from hibernation and you will need to disable it in the terminal with the commands
The upgraded SSDs are noticeably faster and have much more storage than the drives they replaced (128 and 256 gigabytes). The machines have been stable and battery life isn’t noticeably different (the batteries were already 50% capacity) even though hibernation is disabled on Farnsworth. Here are the before and after benchmarks from Blackmagic Disk Speed Test:
Farnsworth: MacBookPro11,1 (Mid 2014, Retina 13-inch)
|Original Speed||Upgraded Speed|
Bender: MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015)
|Original Speed||Upgraded Speed|
Other World Computing sells SSD upgrade kits that do not require an M.2 adapter but they are about twice as expensive and performance does not appear to be as good as cheaper drives. They do however, have an external USB 3 case for reusing the original internal Apple SSD. The cases are expensive compared to generic NVMe M.2 SSD USB cases on Amazon, but they will allow you to reuse your Apple SSDs and there are refurbished models available from OWC for only $60.
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Old customer reviews
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Adapter SSD for MacBook Pro 2015 a1502 works?
@danj - can you provide reference material regarding your comments on CRC error count? How significantly did these errors affect performance? Did you A/B Gen 5. Apple SSD to third-party NVMe SSD with adapters?
I'm investigating the benefits of upgrading my mid-2015 15" MBP Retina SSD to one that supports NVMe.
Options for purchasing a salvaged Apple SSD are considerably more expensive than purchasing a Samsung SSD with adapter...
I have seen youtube videos showing successful upgrades to third-party SSDs. I did not see any comments on CRC errors, though.
I would love to hear your opinion/comments on this subject. Thanks!
@mayer I would follow your recommendation, but the purchase cost is non-negligible.
Thanks for the information @danj. Yeah, I'd prefer to get a salvaged Apple SSD, but they're considerably more expensive.
I produce music with my MBP, and I'm currently experiencing overheating issues and the subsequent unraveling of Ableton Live at high sample rates and multi-track recording. I'm building a Hackintosh in the mean time, but I am curious to see if my MBP heat problem can be reduced.
For multitrack recording, reading/writing audio streams to an SSD is the main work-intensive task. This is the incentive for me to pursue this option to begin with.
OWC sells Aura Pro X drives that do not require an adapter, but the user reviews on Amazon are split about 50-50 positive negative, with issues relating to increased heat & OS malfunctions post-install.
It also looks like Apple purposely attempts to ignore third-party drives.. Installing such an SSD may not be a future-proof option if Apple is actively fighting the third-party SSD community.
Going this route may be an exercise in frustration, a la "fixed one problem and made another.."
The Beetstech HD site has this quote which I'm going off of for pursuing a new SSD option.
"Both the 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros also support the NVMe protocol and upgrading to Gen. 5 SSDs can bring a modest speed boost to the 13″ model A1502, but the 15″ model A1398 with its PCIe 3.0 connection really allows the NVMe technology to shine. Read speeds increase by ~40% and write speeds can increase by ~60%."
I will message the author and see if he can shed some more light on options for better performance..
Thanks for your comments, guys!
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2013 adapter pro macbook ssd
Can anyone confirm or disprove the support of NVMe drives (like the Samsung 960) by the Sintech M.2 PCIe SSD MacBook adapters for macOS Sierra and High Sierra, or would you have any information that could help me confirm or disprove this support?
Below are the results of my research so far.
"Official" MacBook SSDs
Officially supported MacBook SSDs are really expensive. For example, with the Macbook Air/Pro 2013, 2014 and 2015 models:
Equivalent PC SSDs
Globally, an officially supported MacBook SSD (PCIe M.2 AHCI with a proprietary 12+16pin connector) cost from about $1 to $2 per GB, while equivalent PC SSD (PCIe M.2 AHCI and NVMe with a key M connector) cost from about $0.4 to $1 per GB.
So standard PCIe M.2 devices seems to be up to 3x cheaper than the MacBook PCIe M.2 SSD. Plus, NVMe SSD are globally way faster.
At first for the connector, I often seen the Sintech adapter recommended to use the AHCI SSD above in a MacBook Air/Pro. The product page clearly stipules only compatible with a limited set of AHCI SSDs, but I do not see any reason for these "incompatibilities", as there is no other software/hardware standards for the PCIe M.2 AHCI models. It seems they simply give as compatible the list of the AHCI SSDs they've tested, and as incompatible the most known NVMe SSD models.
Then for the interface, what I understand from AHCI/NVMe is that it is only a controller interface, depending on the system drivers on the MacBook and not on the hardware itself.
Which seems to be consistant with:
I emailed the store which sell that adapter and problem is that macOS doesn't support 3rd party NVMe SSDs, but Windows 10 and Linux do.
-- From a Youtube comment on a upgrade video with a AHCI SSD and the Sintech adapter.
So Sintech may have given these NVMe SSD as incompatible not because of the adapter incompatibility, but because of the destination OS incompatibility.
Finally for the system, macOS now support NVMe SSDs, from unofficially OSX El Capitan (with a patch to boot) and natively macOS High Sierra (even as boot, see an article about the NVME support and a confirmation from the Hackintosh community).
I sent an email to Sintech to get more informations on their adapter. I got a reply with some references (added to this post), but no answer since.
Unfortunately, we are busy in other projects, and still can't get new system to test it.
After I created this post, I seen there is some people with the same question in other communities, waiting at the same step. I share the links there in case of some of them got a return from a test with the Sintech adapter or an other one.
On IFIXIT - MBP early 2015 SSD can upgrade with Samsung 950 pro?
Por Chumjan (02/27/2016):
I think about to upgrade. Samsung 950 pro is interesting. But i'm not sure it can use for this model.
You can buy an adapter from M.2 to MBPr or Air for about $20... (...) The REAL question is if the NVMe protocol will be a hiccup (as in, I don't personally know that answer) ... and if it'll get the full speed of the 950. In principle, I don't see why it wouldn't. And I WILL be testing this out.
[ About the patch ]. It is meant to be used on hackintosh but I think it might work on a macbook pro from 2015 with the adapter and a nvme ssd like the samsung 960/950 evo/pro. If someone tries or has tried it please let me know.
Sintech NGFF M.2 nVME SSD Adapter Card for Upgrade 2013-2015 Year Macs(Not Fit Early 2013 MacBook Pro)
Black Film Cover over Socket Pins
It comes with black file cover to prevent socket pins touching edege of MAC slot.
Card end sit on screw collumn exactly
- Card end sit on screw collumn exactly .
- Similar length as original SSD
Toal length with SSD fit extractly
- With nVME SSD,total length fits extractly,Never worry squeezed by screw
- It comes with one extra screw,screwing into collumn is very smooth.
Supported and Un-supported SSD
Supported Following nVME SSD:
- Adata NVMe SSD: SX6000, SX7000, SX8200, SX8200 Pro etc.
- Crucial NVMe SSD : P1
- HP NVMe SSD: ex920, ex950
- Intel NVMe SSD: 600p, 660p, 760p
- Samsungs NVMe SSD: 960 Evo, 970 Evo .....etc.
NVMe SSD known not to work on MacBook Pro / Air. DO NOT BUY:
- Samsung PM981
- Samsung 950 Pro
- Samsung 970 Evo Plus
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Original Apple SSD’s for the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are very expensive, especially compared to the price of standard NVMe SSD’s designed for Windows PC’s. macOS versions from Mojave and later support NVMe drives as boot device in MacBook Pro models released from late 2013 to 2015 and MacBook Air models from 2013 to 2017.
Why would I want to do this?
- Standard NVMe drives are cheaper. Much cheaper than original Apple drives.
- Many of the current NVMe drives are faster than the stock Apple drives that shipped in the MacBook Pro.
- NVMe drives are much easier to source. They can be bought everywhere online or in IT stores. Original Apple drives are almost impossible to buy new, so you’re limited to buying used drives on sites like Ebay for inflated prices.
What do I need?
- First you’ll need a suitable adapter. The SSD connector on the MacBook Pro motherboard is not a standard NVMe interface, so you need an adapter. The best adapter currently available is the Sintech NGFF M.2 nVME SSD Adapter Card. This is a full length card that holds the SSD much more securely than the short, connector-only adapters that many sellers are selling online.
- A USB memory stick of at least 8GB capacity, to use for installation of macOS on the new SSD
- A suitable NVME SSD. Note that certain SSD’s have compatibility issues with macOS – including the Samsung PM981 and the Samsung 970 EVO Plus (the original 970 EVO works fine, though). Some of the best NVMe SSD’s currently available, with tested macOS compatibility, are the Samsung 970 EVO, the Samsung 970 PRO, the Sandisk Extreme and the WD Black.
- A Pentalobe screwdriver is needed to remove the screws on the base of the MacBook Pro.
- A Torx T5 screwdriver, to remove the screw securing the SSD and slide it out of the slot.
- A MacBook Pro or MacBook Air from late 2013 onwards (not USB-C models) that has been updated to macOS Mojave or later.
Make sure that you have upgraded your Mac to Mojave or later with the original drive installed before beginning. This ensures that the EFI firmware in your Mac is updated to the latest version with NVMe support.
Also, to be safe, make a backup of your data and important files to an external drive. You can copy this back to the new drive after installing macOS.
- Create a bootable USB installer of macOS following these instructions from Apple.
- Turn the MacBook Pro face down on the desk and, using your Pentalobe screwdriver, carefully remove the screws on the bottom. Once all screws are removed, lift off the bottom plate.
- Peel up the black tape covering the battery connector and disconnect the battery from the motherboard using a plastic prying tool or your fingernail.
- With the battery nearest you, you should see the SSD at the rear of the motherboard, on the right. Using your Torx T5 screwdriver, remove the screw securing the SSD and slide the SSD from its socket.
- Fit your new SSD into the adapter, making sure that it’s fully inserted in the slot. The screw hole on the SSD should align with the one on the adapter.
- Insert the adapter and the SSD into the slot on the motherboard. It should be inserted at an angle of around 30 degrees.
- Gently screw the drive into place using the screw provided with the adapter. Be careful not to screw it in too tight as it could cause the SSD to bend. It should be screwed in firmly enough to hold it in place but not over-tightened.
- Reconnect the battery to the motherboard and replace the plastic tape.
- Replace the bottom case, putting the screws back in the same place you removed them from (they may look the same but they’re actually different sizes).
- Plug your bootable macOS installation USB into a USB port and turn on the Mac while holding the Option key. From the boot screen that appears, choose the USB drive.
- Once the USB has booted, it’s time to format the drive. Open the Disk Utility app from the menu and select your NVMe SSD in the pane to the left. Click “Erase” then select APFS as the format and “GUID Partition Map” as the scheme.
- After the drive has finished formatting, quit the Disk Utility app and select “Install macOS” from the menu. Select your freshly formatted NVMe SSD as the installation drive and macOS will be installed to the new drive.
- Once the installation finishes, the computer will boot into macOS and you can restore your old files from the backup you made before starting.
…and that’s it. You should now have a working NVMe drive in your Mac for a fraction of the cost of an original Apple drive.
NVMe drives are compatible with the following MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models
- MacBook Air 11-inch and 13-inch (Mid 2013)
- MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch (Retina, Late 2013)
- MacBook Air 11-inch and 13-inch (Early 2014)
- MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch (Retina, Mid 2014)
- MacBook Air 11-inch and 13-inch (Early 2015)
- MacBook Pro 13-inch (Retina, Early 2015)
- MacBook Pro 15-inch (Retina, Mid 2015)