Previous 1 2 Next 16 Replies Latest reply: Mar 30, 2011 11:34 AM by Pngwyn
Pngwyn Level 1 (0 points)
Sooo after much consideration I am heavily leaning towards replacing my optical drive with another HD or SSD and was hoping for some input.

For a while I was considering getting an external HD, but I hardly EVER use my DVD drive. Also, external DVD-RW drives are generally smaller in dimensions than external HDs, logically wouldn't it be better to carry an external DVD-rw drive than an external HD?

My biggest concern is needing to burn DVDs, but I haven't actually needed to since I graduated college last year. Most of my work is in Final Cut/Maya/3DMax/After Effects/Photoshop, so the extra HD would be really lovely, but I'm just having a hard time pulling the trigger.

Are there any downsides to this operation besides losing the DVD drive? To those who have replaced your optical drive, were you happy with your decision? Is it weird having a slot in your computer that basically leads to nothing? I am a bit OCD so another thing that has me reluctant is going into a brand new expensive laptop and modifying it..

I am getting closer and closer to pulling the trigger, I just want to make 100% sure I'm making the right decision before I give it the green light.

EDIT: Also would installing a 2nd drive make it RAID0 so the performance essentially is doubled? Sorry I'm incredibly noob here trying to figure out lingo and workings of stuff that is way above my head at this time! Trying to learn!

Macbook Pro 2011, Mac OS X (10.6.7), 2.3 Ghz 17" 8 GB RAM
  • Showbizz Level 1 (40 points)
    I recently replaced my Superdrive with an additional HDD. I didn't spend too much time over the decision, I just figured that I use my HDD a lot more than I used my DVD player and I noticed that I was buying my software online via download anyway. The final straw came when I was running into big time storage issues converting video, etc. So after watching videos on YouTube and on the various sites that sell the conversion kits and reading the various discussions on the issue, I felt confident in cracking open the back of my MBP. I decided on the Momentus XT for my main drive and I relegated the Hitachi 7200rpm that came with my MBP to the media bay.

    And you know what? It was pretty darn easy to do and once the new drive was installed, my Mac picked it up right away and I've never been happier. A couple of things I want to point out and this is my experience..

    1. SSD vs HDD. I personally did not see the need to spend $1000 on an SSD drive when I really needed storage. So that is your decision. Most people place the SSD in the main HDD location and use it for the OS and programs. The spare drive is used for storage, ie. iTunes, movie and video editing files, etc. I have seen some discussion that the SATA connection to the Superdrive is not as fast, but you need to check that out on your own.

    2. Battery life. I don't see any real reduction in battery life. The Hitachi, when mounted, only spins up when I need it. So, I suppose that if I was running both drives then it would impact battery life, but the same would happen if I was running the DVD for a movie or copying files so its a non-sequitur.

    3. I found a whole slew of companies selling an adaptor for the Superdrive slot, I chose this guy on ebay at MEWNX:IT . For $30 bucks including shipping it was a great deal. The item fit perfectly, the holes lined up and it was the cheapest I found that wasn't coming from South Korea!

    4. Installation was very easy. If you have the dexterity to turn a screwdriver you can swap out the superdrive for the HDD. Just make sure you have the right sized screwdrivers and most important that THEY ARE MAGNETIZED! Also, make a couple of run throughs on watching the videos.

    5. I use an external DVD if I need to install something on my computer. Think about it, all you need is a 4G thumbdrive and you have effectively replaced the storage capacity of a DVD. Also, what do you find you do more, slid a DVD into your computer or plug in an external HD that you bought to store stuff on?

    6. Dont worry about voiding the warranty. Unless you spill coffee in the machine as you are trying to replace the drive, you can always pull out the drive and re-install your Superdrive before taking the computer for service.

    Oh BTW, there are companies out there that will also sell you (or include it in the purchase of the Optibay adaptor) a kit that allows you to keep your Superdrive that you pull out that turns it into an external drive.

    I say DO IT! In the end it's much better to have 1.5TB max storage possibility.
  • Pngwyn Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks, I'm still thinking! I most likely will take it out and get a case for it. Seems like the perfect option. If anyone else has input that would also be appreciated!

    Also I'm wondering if a reformat is mandatory/recommended when installing a new HD? I just got my new MBP today and I don't know if I should start installing programs or wait a bit until I have decided.
  • Germany_chris Level 1 (35 points)
    I have the ebay "Optibay" also.. I went the other way though..I have a 120gb SSD in the main drive bay as the boot drive and a 60gb SSD in the Optibay..yes you can raid you 2 HD's if you desire but SSD really eliminates that need..I say all that but I will probably RAID 0 my two SSD's just to see.
  • Gadget Doctor Level 1 (5 points)
    I just completed moving my SSD and Optibay from my last MBP to the current one.

    Until I moved the SSD into the new i7 2.2 it felt slower than the Core 2 Duo it was replacing. You just can't understand what a good SSD does to a Mac till you try it.

    One note, I can't get the Superdrive from my new mac to work in the external case that was originally supplied to me with the Optibay kit over a year ago. I've checked that the superdrive does work in a Lenovo laptop, and that a Lenovo DVD works in the Optibay kit so I can't figure out what's wrong but as I own a laptop repair business (PCs only) I've got dozens of external DVDs lying around
  • Pngwyn Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for the reply. I have been considering SSD's, but the price point and the small disk space is warding me off.

    I have had a lot of people tell me SSDs are more of a indulgence than a necessity, since it doesn't hugely effect how fast programs run once they're open, mostly just load/boot times.
  • Gadget Doctor Level 1 (5 points)
    It's night and day.

    As far as I'm concerned it should be two drives instead of the pointless DVD. Huge cheap spinning drive and a small SSD for boot.

    The other alternative, which I did test, was a Seagate hybrid drive with 4gb cache flash. It was pretty good in the Mac.
  • Pngwyn Level 1 (0 points)
    Yeah I was considering a hybrid, but if I have 2 open HD slots, I might as well just use the 7200RPM stock with a SSD, no?
  • Gadget Doctor Level 1 (5 points)
    Hybrid only worth considering if you don't go for the two drives and the SSD.
  • Showbizz Level 1 (40 points)
    I'm sure that the SSD's are much faster than standard HDD, to this there is no argument. However, two 512G SSDs will set you back $2200 (on ebay) where a Seagate Momentus XT hybrid (for the main HDD) and another 750G 7200RPM drive is less than $300! You are only going to get a third of the total storage in SSD for about twice the price of the two 7200RPM drives. This space gets eaten up very quickly.

    So no offense to Gadget Doctor, but I would rather sit for an extra 20 seconds when I boot up (every two weeks or so) in exchange for massive storage possibilities. See in my case I travel a lot and I loathe to carry around an external HDD. I would jettison that second 60G SDD for a bigger HDD for storage. I do like the strategy of having a 128GB SSD at your main drive for the OS and all your programs and putting as big a HDD in the Superbay slot---say 750G.

    Now back to the question that Pngwyn put out...we both agree that you need to get rid of the DVD drive and replace it with a HDD and you will never look back. What you do with the two spots available is up to your storage needs.
  • Gadget Doctor Level 1 (5 points)
    I won't argue much with the above, I've repeatedly told people here in Israel that the hybrid drives are 80% as good as SSDs for a fraction of the cost per GB. (Warning, 80% is a number plucked out of the air.)

    For me, however, the SSD is not just about boot. I fire up Parallels two or three times a day (because my Israeli banks for example don't support Mac with their websites!) and this takes a fraction of the time. Literally 5s versus 45s. If I leave the thing running with 2Gig of RAM everything else takes a hit.

    But I'm not starry eyed about SSD from a data security point of view. I had one of the early Kingston "value" models that totally crapped out on me. In fact I sent 14 back to Kingston as I was a distributor and when the first one failed completely and with no warning, I sent back all of them. Now I have a 256Gb SuperTalent drive (long story) and it is mid level I think regarding speed. So, every night, I SuperDuper to a partition on the internal HDD. That has saved my bacon a few times. The 750Gb drive that came with the new machine has replaced my 500 Seagate and I can see it is slower especially when opening iPhoto (I have 60Gb of pics on the HDD) but it's liveable.

    And, as a distributor for Kingston (dropped now in favour of Dane-Elec) I know what level of RMA there is on USB flash memory and you should never rely on those things. Kingston is one of the best, but when you sell 1000s you do notice how many fail. Haven't been with Dane-Elec enough time but we are expecting lower RMA. We haven't sold enough SSDs to know what the real fail rate is for us, but more and more of the laptops we sell are coming with them now.
  • Pngwyn Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for all the informative replies!

    I really can't justify the price difference for speed boost for an SSD right now, perhaps in the future when the price settles a little. I may still consider the Momentus XT, but that is going to take some thought. I really need at least 250GB of space for applications and Boot Camp on my HD, and that seems like it'll run me quite a bit if I go for an SSD.

    At this point I almost feel like an external HD encasement might be a better choice for me right now since you can swap HD types as needed, and I am pretty uncertain to what I really want/need.
  • Pngwyn Level 1 (0 points)
    After more research I am thinking about just getting one of those optibays, replace the main HD with the Momentus XT, and throw the 500gb 7200RPM stock drive into the optibay.

    Does that seem like a sound choice?

    My main concern is malfunctions that wouldn't have occurred with the stock drive, I am always very paranoid when it comes to taking apart brand new things, and doing away with stock parts.
  • Showbizz Level 1 (40 points)
    Well you are describing my exact setup. I purchased the XT and installed it as my first drive, moved the Hitachi OEM to the Superdrive slot. Some words to the wise:

    I purchased the XT after reading all the reviews, etc. I bought it on Amazon for $99. You can find it elsewhere for the same price. Brand new, the big difference is is usually only comes with the box only, no manuals, etc, but it is brand new with the same 5 year warranty.

    You will find plenty of discussion on these forums and on the Seagate forums about problems with the XT and there are those that are convinced it has greater problems with the MBP. You will read about problems with clicking sounds, loud fans, no waking from sleep (I think this is the most frequent complaint), problems with installation, etc. While I found many of these same issues were being experienced by people who didn't have the Momentus XT, most of these issues by people who had the XT were tied to the old firmware (SD23 or earlier). After SD24 there have been far fewer complaints, albeit some seem to still be having issues.

    I can tell you from my experience I have not had a single issue with my drive and it has performed flawlessly and as expected right from the start.

    From experience, these HD's, and not just Seagate, can go bad, that is why people should back up their HDs. Fortunately as a Mac owner you have no excuse to not do this with such an awesome backup program as Time Machine.

    Now, I do believe that the XT is the best of both worlds right now. As far as performance goes, my boot time is faster and programs and small files that I open regularly open blazingly fast. I didn't really buy the HD expecting miracles, I just figured it would be the best choice for me. I was looking for the HD space really.

    You shouldn't have a problem with taking about your mac once watch one of the multitude of demonstration videos out there on how to chance out the SuperDrive. I know that MBP's are gorgeous machines that are really works of art, but in the end they are just computers and computers are built and can be taken apart. You have to be careful to keep track of all your screws and be delicate with the SATA connections for the superdrive when you disconnect them. Other than that it really isn't that difficult or scary. IMHO.
  • Pngwyn Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks so much. You've been more help than I could have asked for.

    Yeah I was kinda nervous about the XT because of this thread in specific: Momentus-XT-please-come-in/td-p/59455/page/27

    Quite a long thread on the multiple negatives and bugs that are coming from their XTs, a lot of them in MBP, but hopefully it is a firmware issue like you said and will not effect my new MBP.

    When you say these HD's can go bad, what do you mean exactly? Doesn't every HD go bad eventually, or are these more likely to fail in under a year? I really don't want to have to crack open my computer a second time if I can avoid it.
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