Macbook 2013-2015 SSD Upgrades

Background

As of High Sierra, it is possible to replace the stock SSD in a 2013-2015 MBP (and MBA) with an NVMe drive with the aid of a M.2 adapter produced by a Chinese company called Sintech (various adapters available, example in Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CWWAENG). This has resulted in a lot of questions and mixed reports of functionality/compatibility. This thread at macrumors has accumulated over 140 pages and is STILL actively being posted to about it. Apple of course has been silent on the matter, leading me to believe that this NVMe support is not exactly a supported feature.

My goal is to record my own experiences in my personal upgrade as well as to consolidate the more potentially useful tidbits from the macrumors thread.

The Macbook Pro 2014

My original MBP 2014 came with a 128gb SSD, which my need for space quickly surpassed the capacity of. I had been lugging around portables and experimenting with low profile options like the Nifty Drive (which was a novel idea, but SD is too slow/unreliable for anything important). When I had heard about the NVMe option, I became interested. Reading the reports online, I found out that the 2013-2014 Macs had issues with waking up from sleep. I also read that the Samsung EVO 960 was energy hungry, but one of the fastest, so I picked one of those up along with the Sintech adapter above.

Performance was fantastic and the drive had few compatibility issues that weren’t expected. (Background: 2013-2014 Macbooks have sleep/wakeup issues and need to have their deep sleep disabled. See below for more.) My battery life was cut in half and I had to do things like disable the indexer and dropbox and switch back to safari, but those are things that anyone who needed more battery life should be doing anyway. Windows needed some little tweaks done during the install, but they were all known issues that someone already had a fix for. Linux ran excellently on it, and other than occasional kernel panics on boot in osx, it was stable as a rock once it got going.

The Macbook Pro 2015

My girlfriend has a Mac Mini 2011 that she’s been using as her main computer. Recently it’s had issues and she’s been grumbling about it. I decided that we could all use something a little better than what we had, so I got a 2015 MBP 15″ from ebay and swapped my hard drive into that and gave her the 2014. The 2015 had a 256gb drive, and she was replacing a desktop anyway, so she has an external drive anyway, so it’s not like she needed quite as much space on the internal drive.

I spent about a week with it and was having a terrible time. I’d frequently see crashes during partition level operations like formats and resizing for bootcamp. The battery drain was less, but still bad, and there was about a 40% chance I would see kernel panics on startup. I managed to get Windows installed by hand (as opposed to Bootcamp, because it wasn’t working).

I decided to try the ADATA SGX SX8200 Pro because quite a few people said it was a lot more stable and it’s been fantastic. I put the EVO 960 in my gaming computer to help with load times on games. It’s a good drive but maybe not the best one for a Mac.

Time Tested

I forgot to publish this post for a while now, so this allows me to talk about how it’s been working. It’s been a few months and still the drive is stable and I’m happy with the performance. Battery drain is noticeable, though not substantial, and my MBP happy marches onward.


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