Previous 1 2 Next 23 Replies Latest reply: Jun 16, 2014 11:47 PM by leatine
christos77 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Hi All,


I am fairly new to this community but from I have seen so far there is a lot of knowledge contained in these threats.


I have a MacBook (unibody late 2008) with the following specifications:


Hardware Overview:


  Model Name:          MacBook

  Model Identifier:          MacBook5,1

  Processor Name:          Intel Core 2 Duo

  Processor Speed:          2 GHz

  Number of Processors:          1

  Total Number of Cores:          2

  L2 Cache:          3 MB

  Memory:          2 GB

  Bus Speed:          1.07 GHz

  Boot ROM Version:          MB51.007D.B03

  SMC Version (system):          1.32f8

  Serial Number (system):          W8******1AQ

  Hardware UUID: ******

  Sudden Motion Sensor:

  State:          Enabled



After installing Lion a few weeks ago everything has significantly slowed down I feel that a revamp boosting RAM and memory would help. I currently have 2GB RAM (2 x 1GB) and 160GB hard drive. Hard drive details below:


NVidia MCP79 AHCI:


  Vendor:          NVidia

  Product:          MCP79 AHCI

  Link Speed:          3 Gigabit

  Negotiated Link Speed:          1.5 Gigabit

  Description:          AHCI Version 1.20 Supported




  Capacity:          160.04 GB (160,041,885,696 bytes)

  Model:          FUJITSU MHZ2160BH FFS G1               

  Revision:          0081008C

  Serial Number:                  K64******N6T

  Native Command Queuing:          Yes

  Queue Depth:          32

  Removable Media:          No

  Detachable Drive:          No

  BSD Name:          disk0

  Medium Type:          Rotational

  Partition Map Type:          GPT (GUID Partition Table)

  S.M.A.R.T. status:          Verified



  Capacity:          209.7 MB (209,715,200 bytes)

  BSD Name:          disk0s1

  Content:          EFI

Macintosh HD:

  Capacity:          159.18 GB (159,182,127,104 bytes)

  Available:          16.87 GB (16,865,333,248 bytes)

  Writable:          Yes

  File System:          Journaled HFS+

  BSD Name:          disk0s2

  Mount Point:          /

  Content:          Apple_HFS

Recovery HD:

  Capacity:          650 MB (650,002,432 bytes)

  BSD Name:          disk0s3

  Content:          Apple_Boot


I have done some research on line and I have the following questions:



1) What is the maximum RAM my mac can take without causing problems. Apple mentions that the maximum RAM is 4GB (2 x 2GB) but I have seen mentioned in threats that up to 8GB have been installed.


2) The RAM quoted in the specs from apple is DDR3 PC3-8500/DDR3-1066. Could I use a faster chip such as DDR3 PC3-10600/DDR3-1333 or is this upgrade not advisable.


Hard Drive

1) Is there a limit to the maximum capacity re hard drive. The maximum apple used to offer this model was 320GB. I would ideally would like to go up to 500GB to 1TB.


2) The specs of my existing drive are: 160GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive. Could I get a faster disk, say 7200 rpm to increase performance and will this have any significant impact on battery life and heat?


Further more any recommendations in terms of any of the above welcome.


A lot of information but I wanted to offer all the info needed for meaningful advice.


Thanks in advance.


<Edited By Host>

MacBook, iOS 5.1, Unibody late 2008
  • MicBook Level 1 Level 1 (90 points)

    According to the information you provided, here's your MacBook's full specifications:


    MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008) - Technical Specifications




    (1) Officially It says it 'supports up to 4GB'. So play safe — install 2 x 2GB RAM. You may go here: as they generally have some model-specific advice beyond Apple's official suggestion. (6GB in your case) However, some other users suggest that 8GB RAM may work while some say it only recognises 6GB out of 8GB.


    (2) To the best of my knowledge, if you install 1333MHz RAM in your MacBook (officially supports 1066MHz), your RAM will just run at the speed of the bus (i.e. 1066MHz) unless the bus is faster than the RAM speed which is not the case here.


    Hard Drive

    (1) You can install a 500GB hard drive in your MacBook without any problems. If you can find one, you can install a 1TB hard drive, too.


    (2) Generally, there will be negligible decrease in battery life or increase in heat. So it might get warmer and the battery life may be reduced as much as 10-15 minutes.


    You may go for an SSD instead of HD for significantly faster performance. If so, do a fresh install of OS X Lion instead of cloning the system onto it.


    Hope it helps.

  • BGreg Level 6 Level 6 (17,500 points)

    While 2GB is the minimum for Lion, a number of people have reported poor performance, which was fixed by going to 4GB.


    Ram you can install up to 8GB in your MacBook 5,1. See selector . Memory will only run at the speed of the architecture, so there is no value to installing faster memory.


    Hard drive, you can install anything that is a 2.5" case format with serial ATA (SATA) interface. If you want speed, and have money, buy an SSD. One source is

  • christos77 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks a million guys. After considering your suggestions I think I will go with the 8GB 1066 option for RAM and 750GB 5400 option for HDD. SSD would be great but still too expensive for me. I started ordering the different pieces I will need for this but I would appreciate any recommendations re HDD make. WD, Seagate and Hitachi are the major names I saw in my searches.


    I will let you know how I get on.



  • christos77 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    New HDD now in. I ended up with a WD 750GB, 7,200rpm drive from ebuyer in the UK for £66. It arrived in two days and I installed it on morning while having my coffee before work (it took 10 mins). Well done Apple.


    Since then i noticed that programs load slightly faster than before. I can feel the disk rotating a bit more than before under my left hand when typing but starting to get used to it now. Difference from before is minimal.


    100% satisfied so far. Waiting for the RAM.


    PS: It took a couple of hours to clone my old HDD before swapping them round.

  • christos77 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    RAM arrived today as well and after 10 mins was installed as well. RAM was from OWC, 8GB (2 x 4GB) and I can confirm that it recognises all 8GB of them. Marked increase in booting up speed and now apps launch so much faster.


    Overall I spend around £150 (including tools and SATA external hard drive enclosure) and I feel that I extended the life of my macbook by about 3-4 years.


    Thanks for the advise guys, all in all a very pleasant experience. For those who are toying with the idea I would say go for it but make sure you do your homework first.

  • KNWBagheera Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I have the same MB as you. Upgraded to 8GB RAM and added a 500GB 7200RPM drive about a year ago... runs very very well. I may consider an SSD for it when the prices drop down where it is reasonable.


    The 8GBS of ram makes a huge difference over 4GB as some program like Aperture will crank it up to 5GBs at points.




  • K3ARN3Y Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Christos77,


    Firstly, I would just like to thank you very much for opening this post! I have exactly the same Mac as yourself, and have found it brilliant! On reading this post I upgraded myself to the 8gb of RAM which I have found invaluable! Progs are now opening in secs, rather than minutes!


    I would now like to make the move and upgrade my hard drive and I was wondering if you could confirm if the link below is the drive you installed. On reading the reviews I see it has some issues with certain firmware and would like to make sure it is fully compatible before I make the purchase!




    Once again thank you, I had been contemplating the upgrades, but heard of issues, so after reading this I was confident my money would not be wasted.




  • christos77 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi K,


    The link you provided is the one I ended up using. Not a single issue since installing it. To be honest I forgot I had even done it. I cannot see me having to change my MB now. If I do upgrade to a new one it will be a choice rather out of necessity. Good upgradings.



  • K3ARN3Y Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Cheer dude, and forgetting back so quicky :) much appreciated!



  • Scott777 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    hi mate


    great work with the thread, i also have an early 09 macbook unibody 5.1


    its only got the original 2 x 1gb RAM


    i am going to upgrade to 4 or 8gb


    OWC have 8Gb pretty cheap, although i will need them to ship it to australia


    is this the ram u used?



    also, what version of mac OS are u running, i have snow leopard, will this be an issue?



  • christos77 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Scott,


    That is the same memory as I used. The item number from the invoice I got from them was OWC8566DDR3S8GP which matches to the link you included in your threat.


    I do not think you will have any problems with Leopard. I have been running Mountain Lion (10.8.2) for a few months now with no issues whatsoever.



  • Patricia Henwood Level 3 Level 3 (930 points)

    Hi Christos77,


    I also have a late 2008 13 inch unibody MacBook - mine has the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a 250GB Toshiba hard drive.  At the beginning of January I upgraded my RAM from the original 2GB to 8GB from OWC and it made an enormous difference to the functionality of my machine.  In fact, it turned it from being almost unusable to working in a reasonable way. 


    The recent death of my Time Capsule has prompted me to re-think my setup and, basically, what I need is a drive with greater capacity than my original Toshiba 250GB that the MacBook shipped with.  I'm currently working with only 11.65GB of Available disk space so I need to do something pretty quickly.


    I've been researching over the past couple of days and decided that my need for storage is greater than my need for speed so I've decided to replace my existing HDD with a new HDD instead of going down the OWC 'Data Doubler' route. 


    I, too, thought that the 750GB WD Scorpio Black 7200 rpm drive would be the best (and most cost-effective) solution but I've read reports from some users that it was either noisy and/or hot.  However, none of these comments came from users with a late 2008 MacBook.


    I would be very grateful if you could confirm that, after almost twelve months, you're still happy with your WD Scorpio Black drive in your late 2008 MacBook?


    One last question ... when you now check the Serial ATA details in the  System  Report, does it still show your new WD hard drive having a 'Negotiated Link Speed' of 1.5 GB or is it now SATA 2 (i.e. 3GB)?


    Many thanks for your help.





    BTW I've been running OS X 10.7.x on my system since it came out - no problems at all with it - am thinking of upgrading to 10.8 because I've read that it takes a little less space and is more efficient in memory management - but will have to check a few more things first before I decide to do that!


    Message was edited by: Patricia Henwood to add OS details

  • christos77 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Tricia,


    It is true that there is a slight increase in the noise but to be honest unless you will not notice it unless you listen out for it in complete silence. I have had no issues with overheating.


    Negotiated Linked Speed showing as 3 Gigabit. I have also been using 10.8 since it came out without any issues what so ever.


    Hope this helps.



  • Patricia Henwood Level 3 Level 3 (930 points)

    Hi Christos,


    Thank you so much for replying.  I ordered two WD 7,200 rpm 750GB Scorpio Black drives from OWC on Thursday (together with their Express USB enclosure and toolkit) so, if their FedEx courier delivery is as fast as it was when they sent me the RAM, I should have everything on Monday.


    I currently have a SuperDuper backup (bootable clone) on an external hard drive.  Am I correct in assuming that before I replace my original Toshiba 250GB hard drive with the new 750GB Scorpio drive I should put the 750GB drive in the external enclosure and connect it to the MacBook and format it?  Otherwise, I imagine that I won't be able to start up the MacBook with the new drive.


    I felt it was sensible to get the second Scorpio Black because, after my Time Capsule died last weekend, I was left with only one external backup drive and, as the existing HDD in my MacBook is only 250GB, it really wasn't sufficient for my backup purposes.


    It's very interesting that your Negotiated Link Speed now shows 3GB - I was assuming that there was some hardware limitation in our version of the MacBook that limited it to 1.5GB but that's obviously not the case.  Good, too, to hear that you have no problems running 10.8 - think I'll upgrade to 10.8 as soon as I have the new HDDs sorted.


    Once again, many thanks for your response.




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