How to: MacBook Pro Retina SSD Storage Replacement and Upgrade


Instructions at the end of the page.


MacBook Pro’s SSD is easily exchangeable for a bigger and faster model. Three options exist at the moment:

  • a used or new original SSD from Apple (expensive, rare)
  • a replica from OWC or Transcend (relatively expensive, not the fastest option)
  • use of a standard SSD (good value, very fast)

We show you suitable combinations of MacBook, adapter and SSD and tell you some things about it. You do not have to be afraid: the little plugs only adapt the pins mechanically. Apple tries to keep a bit incompatibility as always, to avoid cheap storage. This you can avoid by using an adapter: controller, protocol and SSD storage stay untouched. The use is simple: Just plug them between the socket and the SSD. Together with an adapter, a M.2 SSD is exactly the same size as Apple’s original SSD. No further changes are needed, and everything is reversible if necessary.




MacBook Pro Retina Mid 2014, Early 2015, Mid 2015

Suitable SSDs

Please check twice if you have a 2013 model! The difference between Late 2013 and Early 2013 is important! The models built Early 2013 do support SATA SSDs, for which you please use the table further down.

If you decide to use the Kingston SSD with adapter, you will also get a speed increase!

HyperX PredatorPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link   
240 GB1551400/600M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 240 GB
480 GB3001400/1000M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 480 GB
960 GB4901350/1000M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 960 GB

OWC AuraPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
240 GB-712/301not necessaryn/a
480 GB500763/446not necessaryOWC 480 GB
960 GB680763/446not necessaryn/a





MacBook Pro Retina Late 2013

Suitable SSDs

Please check twice if you have a 2013 model! The difference between Late 2013 and Early 2013 is important! The models built Early 2013 do support SATA SSDs, for which you please use the table further down.

If you decide to use the Kingston SSD with adapter, you will also get a speed increase!

HyperX PredatorPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link   
240 GB1551400/600M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 240 GB
480 GB3001400/1000M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 480 GB
960 GB4901350/1000M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 960 GB

OWC AuraPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
240 GB-712/301not necessaryn/a
480 GB500763/446not necessaryOWC 480 GB
960 GB680763/446not necessaryn/a


Users of MacBook 2013 and younger do have now an excellent opportunity to upgrade their machines with Kingston SSDs. They are relatively cheap and deliver excellent speed.



MacBook Pro Retina Mid 2012, Early 2013

Suitable SSDs

We mention it again: Users of 2013 models should check twice if they got an Early or a Late 2013 machine. The difference lies in the mechanical adapter necessary as well as in the type of SSD.

The situation is further complicated by Apple’s choice to make the SSDs in this model rather wide than long. This gives you two options: You can use a M.2 to MacBook Pro 2012 adapter or a mSATA to MacBook Pro 2012 adapter. The speed delivered by matching SSDs is the same, as both base on SATA. The key difference is the maximal size of usable storage. As M.2 SSDs are only allowed to be 60mm long in this case, the biggest available model is 500 GB. If you are searching for more capacity than that, you have to choose the mSATA adapter and a mSATA SSD. In the following tables you can find matching combinations.

SSDs 250 GBPrice US-ยงSpeed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
Transcend MTS600110560/300M.2 to Retina 2012,3Transcend 256 GB
Samsung Evo 85095540/520mSATA auf Retina 2012,3Samsung 250 GB
Kingston SMS200115520mSATA auf Retina 2012,3Kingston 240 GB
OWC Aura130500/500not necessaryOWC 240 GB

SSDs 500 GBPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
Transcend MTS600220560/310M.2 to Retina 2012,3Transcend 512 GB
Samsung Evo 850170540/520mSATA auf Retina 2012,3Samsung 500 GB
Kingston SMS200240520mSATA auf Retina 2012,3Kingston 480 GB
OWC Aura220500/500not necessaryOWC 480 GB
Transcend JetDrive 720/725280500/430not necessaryTranscend 480 GB

SSDs 1 TBPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
Samsung Evo 850310540/520mSATA auf Retina 2012,3Samsung 1 TB
OWC Aura400560/480not necessaryOWC 1 TB
Transcend JetDrive 720/725450500/430not necessaryTranscend 960 GB

Again, solutions with adapters allow for a cost effective upgrade. Devices made by OWC and Transcend come without the need for an adapter piece, are therefore more expensive tough.

If you decide to buy the Transcend JetDrive please notice that they differentiate between 13″ MacBook (JetDrive 720) and 15″ model (JetDrive 725).





Instruction for Upgrading your MacBook Pro Retina

Not only is a backup a basic obligation when upgrading your Mac, it should be an everyday task to help prevent loss of your important data. If you are exchaning a still functioning SSD for a new one, a bit of preparation makes the life a lot easier.

Always important:

Unplug the device and remove the power supply!

We don’t wanna get in contact with electricity and safety is always first.


Option 1: Data Migration via Internet Recovery und Time Machine Backup

OS X Utilities

This Option is the easiest, but you’ll need a fast internet connection, a bit of patience and a new Mac that is capable of Internet Recovery. Is your machine from 2009 or older, this option does not exist for you. Users of 2010 and 2011 Mac can update their Firmware first. Newer Macs are all capable of Internet Recovery.

If you decide for this option, you just fit the new SSD like in the instructions below and then start the Mac white holding cmd + alt + R. Internet Recovery starts and you can install macOS on your newly installed SSD. After that, you get your data back via your Time Machine backup.









Option 2: Bootable macOS und Time Machine

OS X Bootlaufwerke

If your Mac is too old for Internet Recovery or your internet connection is way to slow it can be more helpful to make a bootable medium, like a USB Stick or SD card first. With that, you can download everything first and when you start installing, the installer starts immediately from the bootable medium.

If you have a bootable USB stick for example, you plug it in, after you installed your new SSD. When you switch it on for the first time, press the alt-key. This shortcut lists all your possible boot devices. Choose your installation medium. Before you start installing macOS, it can be necessary to format the drive first via Disk Utility.

During the installation of macOS you will get the chance to play back your saved data from Time Machine.






Option 3: Clone your drive first

Disc Utility

This option is for all those who want to invest the time for copying date before changing the drive. When you would like to do that, please be aware that you will need an external USB enclosure for your M.2 SSD (or other format that you decide to buy).

After connecting it to the Mac you need to first format it via Disc Utility. You find it in Programs > Utilities > Disk Utility. The correct format is “Mac OS Extended Journaled”.

Then, you can clone your internal SSD 1:1 onto the external new one, which will soon change places. Programs for this task are Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper.










Instructions for assembling a new SSD in a MacBook Pro Retina

First thing you do before accessing the internal SSD is removing all the screws from the underside of the MacBook. Don’t be too afraid: they are only a few and it really is easy. You will need the following two screwdrivers for the upgrade process:

The good thing is, that the adapters mentioned above should come with these two screw drivers. So you can start right away. The Pentalobe one for the external screws looks like a five point star, the Torx one for the SSD like a six point star.

Tip: Make a little drawing on paper to remember the screws positions on the MacBook. They may have different lengths, and this makes it easer to build everything back together.

After you removed all the screws, just take the backplate off. you will now see the inner construction of the machine. The fist step to do is to disconnect the battery. Pull up the connector on the right side and don’t get fooled by Apple’s warnings.


Replace your old SSD drive for the new one.

The actual SSD change is more than simple: unscrew the one screw holding in the original SSD place.

Just use the Torx screwdriver and then pull the original SSD carefully out of its socket.

Perfect! You can now use it otherwise. Now assemble the adapter: push it into the socket parallel to the logicboard. If it is positioned correctly, push it in with a little bit of force, until it connects fully with the metal part (see pictures).

Now insert the new M.2 SSD under a 45 degree angle and push it down. The little gap at the end of the drive should fit perfectly over the screw’s socket. Refit the screw.

Done! Don’t forget to reconnect the battery before you put the bottom plate back on again. Screw on the Pentalobe screws. They should go in easily and only at the end tighten. If they go in heavily, remove them and try to fit them with a bit of an angle.

The pictures above show a MacBook Pro Retina 13″ Mid 2013 – 2015. If you own a 15″ model, you will find the SSD below the left fan. Als instructions are exactly the same though, as the SSD drive is identical.

If you own a 2012 or Early 2013 model, you will find the SSD below the trackpad. Here is a video for those models:





First Boot, Formatting the new SSD

Not is the time to boot your MacBook for the first time and format the new drive (unless you have cloned the data before, see above). So you start the machine and while the chime sounds, you press alt + cmd + R for Internet Recovery or just alt if you have prepared a bootable drive to start from. In any case, you will find yourself in the menu for the OS X/macOS Utilities. The fist option to choose is the Disk Utiliy:

There you can find the new drive. Click on it on the left side and then choose “Erase”. If you have an older Mac it looks like this:

Newer machines do show the following design:

For a name you can use the classic “Macintosh HD”. Filesystem must be “macOS Extended (Journaled) and scheme should be “GUID Partition Map”. After a short period of time, the formatting should be done.

Now the new drive is usable. Close Disk Utility and begin installation of OS X or macOS or recover your data via a Time Machine backup.

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