Installing a 500 GB HD in a 17″ Macbook Pro

26 Jul

Here is how I replace my 160 GB hard drive with a Hitachi 500GB 2.5″ HD in my 17″ Macbook Pro. There are several sites and even video’s on the web that outline how to do this but to complement my post on how I moved both my HFS (OS X) and NTFS (Vista) partitions to a new hard drive I thought I would also post pictures of my install. My Macbook is less than a month away from being out of warrantee so I decided to go ahead and save the $80 or so that Apple charges to install a 320G drive and do it on my own with a 500G drive. This was actually a really easy project so don’t be put off by the steps as I’ve just detailed the steps and included pictures. Total time was about :30 minutes from start to finish.

Important: Installing this new hard drive was an intermediary step between my initial backup and restore of my data. Look a the “Restoring OS X and Boot Camp Partitions to a new hard drive” post for backing up your data to prepare this hard drive for installation and also for restoring. If you follow these steps when you install this HD you will have a bootable OS X partition just as you had before and will be ready for restoring your boot camp partition if you had one.  Also last but not least this process will void your Apple warranty so keep this in mind.  Apple will do a hard drive upgrade for you for $80, so if you are inclined to take this route there are other options for you to pursue.

Tools Required:

1 #00 Phillips Head Screwdriver

1 T6 size Torx Screwdriver (Star shaped head)

1 non-metalic driver to assist with lifting tape and connectors

1 multi-compartment case to hold several of the lilliputian screws used to piece this notebook together.

Note: A grounding pad would be a wise idea. I don’t have one in these pictures but what you don’t see is the grounding strap I used to be on the safe side since I didn’t want to risk doing any damage to the internal components.

Step One:
Remove the battery from the bottom of your MacBook Pro. I’m assuming you know how to do this. Just pull back on the two battery release tabs on the underside of your MacBook Pro.

Step Two:
Remove four Philip head screws that hold the cover for the memory in place.


Step Three:

Turn the MacBook Pro 180 degrees around to access three Phillips head screws. These are at an angle so keep this in mind when you put them back in so as not to strip the screw holes.


Step Four:

Remove the two Torx Screws just above the memory. You can see I removed my memory during this install just to play it safe.


Step Five:

Remove four Phillips head screws across the bottom near the hinge that attaches the LCD screen.  Below are the two of the four screws on the left

Below are the two remaining screws on the right

Step Six:

Remove four screws on both sides of the notebook

Below is the left side of the notebook where the magnetic power adapter fits

Below is a picture of the other side of the notebook where the DVI connector is located.

There is also two screws on the back of the hinge that need to be removed as well.

Step Seven:

Turn your notebook over and open the lid. You can start to remove the top portion of the keyboard by starting at the hinge and gently lifting and moving your way down the sides toward the front of the notebook. I included pictures to show how this will look as you remove it.

Another shot of the other side with the top cover coming off.

Gently lift the bottom of the keyboard assembly up. If you lift the keyboard assembly strait up you will exceed the length of the ribbon cable inside so lift gently.  You must remove the ribbon cable connecting the keyboard assembly to the motherboard as indicated here.  If there is tape holding down the connector just use a non-metallic screwdriver to work the tape off the circuit board then gently pull up on the connector and it should come off. Don’t worry it will pop back in by applying a little pressure.


Step Eight:

Remove the hard drive ribbon cable that connects to the motherboard


If there is a ribbon cable over your current HD just lift up on the tape to free it from the drive you will be replacing. Also, to the right of the drive is a bracket holding the drive in place. You must remove this assembly by unscrewing the two Torx screws holding it down.


The tape at the top portion of the drive wraps to the back of the drive and across the drive ribbon cable. You need to lift this tape up and out of the way in order for you to remove the ribbon cable that connects the motherboard to the hard drive. Gently lift up on the right side of the drive to remove it from its housing.


Step Nine:

Once you remove the drive from the laptop you will need to remove the rubber grommets and screws that allows the hard drive to sit snugly and quietly in the notebook and move these to the new hard drive.

Below is a picture of the right side of the SATA drive the connector is on the right of the picture.

Below is a picture of the left side of the drive.  The connector is on the left of the picture

Step Ten:

The silver colored screws that you put on your new hard drive fit into the black rubber grommets in the hard drive bay of your notebook. Just slide the hard drive into these holes, reconnect the ribbon cable and lower the hard drive into it’s new home. Put the hard drive bracket back in place to secure the unit.


Note: There is a size difference between the original 9mm 160GB (left) and the 12.5mm 500GB (right) drives but the new 500GB drive fit perfectly in the 17″ Macbook Pro case.  Some visitors have asked about 15.4″ cases but everything I have read online says there is not enough height in the 15.4″ MBP drive bay to accommodate the 12mm drives.

Below is a picture of the newly installed drive.  As you can see there is enough room for the additional height of the 500GB 12mm drive.

Just place the ribbon connectors back over your new hard drive and reconnect the hard drive ribbon cable back to the motherboard.

The drive ribbon cable easily connects back onto the circuit board located immediately below the left cooling fan.

Step Eleven:

Reconnect the Keyboard assembly back onto the Motherboard.  Remember that you can’t stand the keyboard assembly straight up so you will have to hold the keyboard at a slight angle while you connect the ribbon cable back to the bottom portion of the notebook.


Lower the top assembly back down and put your screws back in reverse order to patch things up.

2 Responses to Installing a 500 GB HD in a 17″ Macbook Pro



August 26th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

How is this holding up? Is this drive still working well for you since installing?


Cary Brown

August 27th, 2008 at 1:04 am

The drive is holding up great and is very quiet. My concern given the tight space of the 12mm drive vs. 9mm drive was the airflow and heating but I haven’t noticed any out of the ordinary overheating occurring. All of these drives have an airflow inlet at the top of the drive but the performance has been great and having the additional space has certainly changed my productivity now that all my files are local instead of remote.

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