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Storage Beast

June 24, 2009 | Computers

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Unibody MacBook Pro + MCE OptiBay + Seagate Momentus 500GB drive = 768 GB of useable hard drive space.

I bit the bullet and purchased the MCE OptiBay and a big fat hard drive for my MacBook Pro. I needed more space to allow my penchant for virtual machines to grow as well as keep my ever expanding music library with me instead of having it live only at home.

Though its been worth it, it could be better. Installation was a bit odd as the hard drive carrier from MCE didn’t fully fit as a replacement to the internal DVD bay. I had to put a spacer in there with the assembly to limit its side to side movement because they only provided mount points for 1 of the 3 mounting screws. Look at step #12 of ifixit.com’s teardown. The two screws circled in orange are not accounted for in the OptiBay assembly, leaving the bay to possibly move side to side. This was pretty disappointing but not a deal breaker since I was able to securely rig it in there with a little spacer. If I were smart I would have waited to do the install so that I could document little grievances like this, but, alas, I didn’t. There’s plenty of pics of the actual assembly out there, so that’s OK.

The next disappointment came when actually mounting the DVD drive in the supplied external case. Yeah, it slid right in and snapped together just fine, mounted right away, but the front of the case is wide open and will require me finding a case for the case so that it stays clean and I should also find a hard case for it since the case is very flimsy and provides absolutely no support for the DVD drive’s internals. The case flexes and if pressed enough would damage the DVD drive. It provides no protection from pressure or dust. 1 extra piece on the assembly would have gone a long way to protect the drive. Again, not a deal breaker, but certainly a disappointment. It did, however, go together easily and work as expected.

The flimsy MCE USB External DVD drive case

That said, the extra space as well as the extra speed gains are well worth it. I now travel with my music library. I also have the space to grow with my expanding photo library. I also have a space to keep and run my VMs from. I’m seeing at least a 40% increase in performance on my virtual machines. According to my employer its almost as fast as his Mac Pro tower. There’s nice swap space for Photoshop and Illustrator as well.

There’s been a minor decrease in battery life and a negligible difference in temperature. I’m rarely away from power for long, I have a laptop for portability, not really for prolonged sessions away from power. The MacBook Pro is already a lap-scorcher as far as temperature goes, so the added heat hasn’t been noticed if its really there at all.

All in all, for what I wanted its been good. It could be better, but if the package was put together with these kinds of deficiencies to begin with there’s probably little hope of anything being done to make it better. I think the most comforting part of this is that even with the extra fiddling to secure the OptiBay in the computer the install still took only about a half hour. The Unibody MacBook Pro is super easy to work on. Unlike my PowerBook that took 4 hours to do a hard drive replacement. I’m sure glad THOSE days are over.

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  • Be glad you can’t replace a PB/MBP hard drive fast, it’s not a skill born in happiness.

    Corey, June 25, 2009 7:39 am | permalink

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