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So I've got a mid-2009 MacBook Pro 13". Integrated GPU so not a games machine but fast enough for doing .Net development in VMs. I love the little thing and wanted to give it a Christmas present so thought I'd mod it up a bit and give it a boost.

I'm thinking of swapping out the stock 5400rpm HD with a faster drive (e.g. one of these new-fangled hybrid laptop drives with 4GB RAM that spin at 7200rpm) but was wondering if any of you had tried or knew of anything else I could change/upgrade/mod to squeeze more out of my laptop. Before you answer though, please be aware that I'm not sure I can run to putting in the 8GB of RAM Apple have suggested :-(

EDIT: Is it true you can swap out the DVD burner for another drive?

Thanks in advance.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Your only "easy" options are RAM and HDD.

  • For HDD, just get a good SSD. With VMs, you need quite a bit of storage, but it's worth it.
  • For RAM, the more, the better, especially with VMs. Spend what you're able.

Software-side, you can try going native with Boot Camp (although that can get ugly quickly with conflicting software -- I prefer multiple VMs somewhat specific to projects).

If you only have a single Windows VM, remember that you can use your Boot Camp Windows installation as VM, so you get the best of two worlds. Only issue is with Windows 7 which some activation issues afaik. Windows XP works fine.

You can also try reinstalling OS X, or at least create a new, empty user account. Maybe you have too much cruft accumulated. This could speed up things quite a bit.

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I didnt' know about accumuluations of 'cruft' and consequent slow-down. will investigate further. Many thanks ;) – 5arx Jan 10 '11 at 11:15
@5arx Mac OS X is usually quite good in resisting slowing down. However, tons of background/menubar applications, Dashboard widgets, etc. might slow things down anyway. And e.g. Safari doesn't like it when your accumulate hundreds of bookmarks or never clear your browsing history. Therefore my suggestion to create a new user account, and see if things are faster there. – Daniel Beck Jan 10 '11 at 11:19
I second the SSD. If you need lots of storage, install a second HD where the optical bay is: – churnd Jan 10 '11 at 12:06
@churnd - man that would be ser-weet! 8GB RAM + 2 X 0.5/1 TB hard drives ;-) – 5arx Jan 10 '11 at 12:45

Faster drives generate more heat and drain the battery faster.

The best way to get better performance from your machine is A) more RAM, B) faster disk C) fresh OS X.

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fast enough for doing .Net development in VMs.

You could always put Windows on it via bootcamp, and lose the virtualisation layer.

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I do have the Win7 install on a bootcamp partition and do sometimes work in 'native windows' mode as well as VM'd thru Parallels. – 5arx Jan 10 '11 at 11:05

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