The Mac Pro has a specific hard drive for sale in the Apple Store for $549.00. The drive has the following specs:

  • Serial ATA
  • 3GB per second
  • 7200 RPM

Amazon has a hard drive with the same specs for $169.99.

The only difference I can tell is that the Apple hard drive label says it has "Apple HDD Firmware". What exactly is the benefit of this firmware and is there something I am missing that make up for the price difference in these two drives?

Update: My initial comparison between the two drive was unfair. Apparently 2TB drives that are 3 GB/S and 7200 RPM are quiet a bit more than $169.99. Dell has a 2 TB SATA Caviar Black from Western Digital that is $319.99, which is closer to Apple's price.

  • Where do you see 3GB/sec on the Amazon drive? Link to the Mac Pro one? – Josh K Feb 28 '10 at 16:37
  • I'd like to add more links but am being prevented by the sites anti-spam feature. Looks like the amazon drive is 5400 RPM. Any ideas on what the Apple HDD Firmware does? – Michael Shnitzer Feb 28 '10 at 16:43
  • 4
    It's apple, you're paying for the... appleness. That's not neccesarily a bad thing, you know it'll work fine, and probably work for a long time. A tad too expensive for I, though :P – Phoshi Feb 28 '10 at 16:48

Ususall they are stock drives (I know folks who have replaced drives in MacBoo/Pro and I have replaced iMac drives). This link also suggests this is possible with the Mac/Pro.

I personally once had a problem with replacing a drive in a Lenovo laptop, because there Lenovo used a Hitachi drive with a specific BIOS extension (in that case a drive bios to handle phyiscal shock situations), but I never heard of such a thing with Apple, and I have followed the Apple support forums for months last year.

In any case, jump over to the Apple Support forum ... folks there are very helpful about such questions.

With the original drive you may just pay for a sticker or a bit of extra quality assurance. I know of one maker of SSDs who sells the very same drive with an "Apple ready" sticker for a few extra bucks.

(Also about your update: The Apple drive could very likely be a Caviar Black, they put those in the upscale iMacs too).


There isn't any difference.

I have replaced a lot of stock Apple drives with standard OEM drives - the only thing is Apple buys them in bulk and there is a little Apple logo on the sticker.

I have not noticed any other sort of difference.

  • Just the formatting. Been dealing with it since the days of Mac IIcx and the premium on "Mac" SCSI drives was just too much to bear. – Fiasco Labs Nov 20 '12 at 18:30

The firmware is usually a custom version, which won't ever change without the blessing of Apple Engineering (Sun Microsystems does much the same thing).

For example, the following update applied to Apple-branded drives only (although retail drives could have probably used it, the updater checked for the presence of the Apple-specific firmware first):



Though I can't be 100% sure, it looks to me like one of the features of "Apple'd" drive is some sort of quiet mode - the head makes much less noise comparing to exactly same drive directly from manufacturer. I suspect this would also affect performance, but cannot confirm this.


I can tell you for a fact that you will have problems with non apple drives. The apple firmware to which they refer is to do with temperature sensing. Early imacs used an external sensor glued to the body shell of the hard drive. On later models apple used the internal sensor of apple drives and exited it through spare pins on the drive. No problem so far. However on the very latest drives from about 2013 onwards the sensing was still inside the drive but exited the drive in the firmware data stream. A replacement non apple drive will not have this feature. If the drive looks identical , one way around it is to swap the PCB from the original drive ( providing that the PCB is not at fault) and fitting it to the new non apple drive. There are also a few in line adapter that fool the mac in to thinking that it has an original drive but by the time you add the cost on to the purchased drive you may as well buy from apple. Peter

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