Friend and client for updated Late 2011 Macbook Pro
A friend of mine requested my service for a complete upgrade (and replacement of coffee soaked keyboard) including memory, SSD, Extreme Airport card and activation of Handoff/Continuity as well as replacement of optical drive for mass storage hard drive.
iFixit states 750GB upgrade potential for the unibody Macbook dual drive upgrade. Realistically, any SATA 2.5 inch drive no taller than 9.5mm should be accepted but see "My Advice" section below.
The dis-assembly was a cake walk and re-installation no problem. I purchased a 2 TB drive to put in the new caddie Upon booting, OSX told me it could not initialize the drive. Furthermore when attempting to format the device....nothing. I removed it and using software to format it from my PC ahead of time, reinstalled into the Macbook Pro and... OSX was still unable to do anything with it.
It was at this time I started with the Google-Fu and stumbled across a dark corner of a Mac forum where the users began to discuss an issue that was found in all 2011 Macbook Pro's . The SATA ports were rated for the new SATA III revision (always has and will be backward compatible per official spec) but many were reporting complete failure to read SATA III (6 Gb/s) drives such as current SSD's at all. Eventually Apple quietly issued a EFI fix, but guess what? For only the main drive port! Alas, if you own a 2011 Macbook Pro 15", under no circumstance can you install a SATA III drive in the dual drive caddie to replace the optical drive. Some have reported rare instances where 13" and 17" are okay and possibly first run or last run 15" but the consensus is: Only SATA II (3 Gb/s) drive will be recognized using the optical SATA port.
I verified the caddie was okay with a junk spare drive and just drew up the RMA request for returning the shiny 2 TB 2.5" drive and will be purchasing 1 TB to my dismay. Unfortunately, SATA II drives for laptops grew no larger than this before the switch to SATA III. Under normal circumstances, all SATA drives and revisions are backward and frontward compatible with one another meaning that any revision drive will run in any revision port. The only potential drawback is total throughput. This is not the case with the 2011 Macbook Pro optical drive port.
I received some of this information from another company that sells these caddies. My suggestion is that iFixit post some of the compatibility information for themselves on their site. Unfortunately, Apple, ever concerned of their image as "it just works", never allowed this to be known accept by those who ran across it, so expect no info from them directly. Below is the blurb from the other site warning of this issue:
MAIN BAY: A 6G SSD may be utilized in main bay (move drive or second SSD into Optical Bay*) for reliable SATA Revision 3.0 6Gb/s performance in excess of 500MB/s.
(Model ID MacBookPro8,3) models. After successfully applying this update, your Boot ROM Version will be: MBP81.0047.B1E.
OPTICAL BAY: The optical bay interface may either be SATA Revision 2.0 3Gb/s (300MB/s max) OR SATA Revision 3.0 6Gb/s. There is no way to specify/order this data interface with Apple, but you can confirm what interface version your optical bay offers by using 'About this Mac, More Info, Serial-ATA' info display.
Testing has demonstrated that Apple factory hardware does not reliably support a 6G (6Gb/s) Solid State Drive or Hard Disk Drive in the optical bay of 2011 MacBook Pros (ModeI ID8,1; 8,2; 8,3). If your bundle comes with a 6G drive, you should ONLY install that drive in the main drive bay and utilize the it to re-task your existing drive or install a new 3G SSD or HDD in the optical bay. PRE-2011 models can utilize a 6G drive in the optical bay, but will do so at a reduced 3G (3Gb/s) speed.
MacBook Pro 13" models: Apple does not support the use of 6Gb/s drives in the optical bay. While we have observed a high rate of success using SATA 3.0 6Gb/s drives in Apple 13" bays where 6Gb/s link is present, some systems may not operate properly with this setup. For guaranteed reliability/compatibility, we suggest 6Gb/s drives be used in the main drive bay only, and 3Gb/s hard drives or SSDs be used in the optical bay when a two-drive configuration is desired. We cannot guarantee proper or successful 6Gb/s drive operation in the Apple MacBook Pro 13" optical bay.