I’ve just completed the the upgrade from the stock 5400 RPM hard drive in my mid–2009 13″ MacBook Pro to a brand-spanking new 500GB Western Digital Scorpio Black running at 7200 RPM. I also took the opportunity to treat this install as a fresh start, and am porting over only my data – time machine […]
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Upgrading my MacBook Pro’s Hard Drive (and Rolling Back to EFI 1.6)

I’ve just completed the the upgrade from the stock 5400 RPM hard drive in my mid–2009 13″ MacBook Pro to a brand-spanking new 500GB Western Digital Scorpio Black running at 7200 RPM. I also took the opportunity to treat this install as a fresh start, and am porting over only my data – time machine backups of yore be damned.

Preparing for this move took a little bit of planning, but the biggest obstacle I encountered was actually an Apple firmware update I’d installed months and months ago. Basically, it seems as though mid–2009 MacBook Pros can access SATA hard drives at 3Gbps, but only if you upgrade to EFI 1.7. Unfortunately, Apple seems to have mucked something up with this update, and many users have reported issues with 3 Gbps hard drives (like my new WD Scorpio Black) functioning much, much slower than they should. The only workaround for this seems to be to manually downgrade to EFI 1.6 (which maxes out at 1.5 Gbps) – if you can find the downgrade tool, that is. After a couple of hours of hunting, I finally found a link to the file on MacRumors. This post by robaroo, was particularly useful. I then followed the official HDD upgrade guide from Apple to install my new WD Scorpio Black.

The thing to remember now is that I now have to be very careful to ignore the EFI 1.7 update that will forever appear in Software Update. I plan to go into more detail about the merits of an upgrade to a 7200 RPM drive, but for now, I’ll continue to set things up. Jumping from 160GB to 500GB on my main machine is just delicious. This MacBook Pro is three years old, but it feels like a new machine.

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