One of the best ways to improve the performance of most older laptops is to replace their hard drives with a faster SSD. An upgraded SSD for MacBook Pro models older than 2016 will go a long way in speeding up their performance by several magnitudes.
Best SSD for MacBook Pro Reviewed
Upgrading any MacBook Pro is a challenge because they’re generally difficult laptops to open and repair. However, if you know what you’re doing and want to make your older MacBook Pro fast again, we’ve handpicked the 5 best SSDs for MacBook Pros from 2011-2015 right now and reviewed them.
To avoid confusion and risk of buying the wrong product, be sure to check out our buyer’s guide after the reviews.
Best for Pre-2012 MacBook Pros
Samsung 860 Evo
Fast and Reliable
The Samsung 860 Evo is a 2.5 inch SATA III SSD with read/write speeds of 550MB/s and 520MB/s respectively.
For any MacBook Pro prior to late 2012, the Samsung 860 Evo’s reliability, warranty, speeds, and lifespan make it the best option out there.
Best for MacBook Pro 2013-2015
The Transcend JetDrive is a fast PCIe SSD for MacBook Pro models from 2013 to 2015. It offers very fast read/write speeds of 950MB/s.
If you own a MacBook Pro from 2013-2015 with a removable PCIe SSD, the Transcend JetDrive is the best upgrade you could make for it.
Samsung makes very reliable SBDs, so it’s not surprising that the Samsung 860 Evo is our top budget upgrade pick as an SSD for MacBook Pro. This is a 2.5 inch SATA III interface drive, which makes it is compatible with MacBook Pros made in 2012 and earlier.
The read and write speeds of this SSD are 550MB/s and 520MB/s respectively, which is on par with most SATA III solid state drives. This is still much faster than any stock storage system you may have in a MacBook Pro released before 2013.
We recommend the 250GB storage capacity version, as it offers great value. This is the best SSD for MacBook Pro if you don’t want to spend excessively on an older laptop yet still want a considerable performance boost.
- Great value
- Fast enough to make a considerable difference
- Extremely resilient
The Samsung 860 Pro is similar to the 860 Evo, only it uses 3D V-NAND technology for slightly faster transfer rates. The read and write speeds of this drive are 560MB/s and 530 MB/s respectively. As a 2.5-inch drive, this SSD is compatible with MacBook Pros released before 2013.
It will offer a significant upgrade over your older MacBook Pro drive thanks to its speed and reliability. Additionally, Samsung ensures that the “pro” version of their SSDs have an extremely long lifespan. This monster is rated for 150 terabytes written. This means it will likely outlast your older MacBook Pro.
With this drive, you get a 5-year warranty, migration software, a reputable brand name, and the fastest speeds possible among SATA III 2.5” SSDs.
- Faster than most SATA III SSDs
- Very reliable
- Extremely long lifespan
- Some users have had problems with the migration software
The SanDisk SSD Plus offers 480GB of storage space at a great price. It’s a 2.5 inch SATA III drive, so it is ideal for MacBook Pros made between 2011 and mid-2012.
With this drive, you get sequential read and write speeds of 535MB/s and 445MB/s respectively. It’s not as fast as the Samsung drives, but it offers a better GB per dollar ratio. SanDisk is well-known for making excellent flash-based memory, so you know you’re in safe hands with this drive of theirs. It’s reliable, shockproof, and resistant to vibration. It’s an overall great mix of value and performance improvement as an SSD for MacBook Pro.
- Great value
- Fast enough to make a considerable difference
- Not as fast as Samsung’s drives
The Transcend JetDrive is compatible with the MacBook Air 11″ & 13″ (2013 – 2017) and MacBook Pro Retina 13″ & 15″ (2013 – 2015). This is a PCI Express m.2 SSD which provides faster transfer rates than normal 2.5” Solid State Drives. The form factor makes it compatible as an SSD for MacBook Pro.
Because of its advanced interface, the drive can reach high read and write speeds of up to 950MB/s. The speed is also thanks to the advanced 3D NAND flash technology used in the drive.
We love the fact that the Transcend 480GB comes with an enclosure. This has Thunderbolt technology, so you can transfer files up to 10Gb/s. The JetDrive toolbox makes it easy to monitor the status and health of the drive.
- Very fast
- Comes with an aluminum allow enclosure
- JetDrive lets you monitor status, health, and make upgrades
- Tricky to install
OWC is well known for making SSD for MacBook Pro. The 1 terabyte Aura is no exception. It is an m.2 PCI Express SSD, which is much faster than your regular SSDs. It is compatible with the MacBook Air 11″ & 13″ (2013 – 2017) and MacBook Pro Retina 13″ & 15″ (2013 – 2015).
With this SSD for MacBook Pro, you get read and write speeds of up to 726MB/s. OWC also includes a reliable Envoy Pro enclosure that fits the older SSD in your compatible MacBook Pro. This lets the user transfer data between the two drives easily.
OWC makes fantastic products, but their products are well known to be expensive. Although much faster than 2.5” SSDs, the OWC 1TB Aura isn’t as fast as Transcend’s JetDrive.
- Massive upgrade over stock SSD for Macbook Pro
- Comes with Envoy Pro enclosure for easy transfer
- Tricky to install
Which MacBook Pro you have will determine which SSD type you want. Any MacBook Pro prior to 2013 will only be able to use the SATA III interface 2.5-inch SSDs. We’ve listed three of them in this product review article.
MacBook Pros (Retina) from 2013 to early 2016 will be compatible with the more advanced and smaller memory type, the m.2 SSD which runs through the PCIe slot instead of a SATA port. Be sure to do thorough research about which SSD type you need; you will need to know exactly which MacBook Pro you have and what kind of drive interface it uses.
Accessing the internals of any Apple product is extremely tricky, and most MacBook Pros are no exception. There is a lot that can go wrong, so we only recommend changing SSDs by yourself if you know what you’re doing.
The installation process will depend on the MacBook Pro version you have and the type of SSD available. Generally, you will need special screwdrivers to remove the underplate of the laptop to access its internals.
If you have a MacBook Pro with an m.2 type SSD, you will need to follow careful instructions of the manufacturer of the SSD you bought (Transcend or OWC) to make it work properly once it has been slotted in. OWC Aura SSDs are not factory formatted, so you will need to do that before installing it. You will also have to consider upgrading certain drivers for compatibility.
The installation of 2.5” SATA III SSDs is simpler in older MacBook Pros (before late 2012). Simply swap out the hard drive for the SSD and you’re good to go.
The read and write speeds will determine the tangible speed improvement of your MacBook Pro, but you shouldn’t concentrate too much on hard figures. The form factor and connection type determine the overall speed. For a 2.5” inch drive, there is a read/write transfer speed limit. A few MB/s extra will cost you a lot more than what it’s actually worth.
Capacity is also important as it is one of the biggest reasons to upgrade your storage, especially in an SSD for MacBook Pro Retina 2013-2015. PCIe SSDs are already expensive, but the ones designed for MacBook Pro are even more expensive, and options are few.
It is highly recommended that you get your SSD replaced by a professional, especially for an Apple laptop. Apple makes its products so that they’re extremely difficult to open and repair, with special screws that regular screwdrivers aren’t compatible with and a complex internal design.
Why can’t I use any standard NVMe PCIe SSD with my 2015-2016 MacBook Pro?
Apple is notorious for staying within its own ecosystem and making their products very difficult to access internally and repair. They use a different type of PCIe SSD system which the standard m.2 SSDs cannot fit in or are simply incompatible with. This is why the m.2 SSDs designed for MacBook Pro are so expensive.
What about an SSD for MacBook Pro 2018?
Unfortunately, the MacBook Pro 2018 comes with an SSD that is soldered on the motherboard. This makes it impossible for any regular user to replace the drive.