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iFixit’s Tools and MCE Optibay

I got my tools from iFixit last week, and immediately got around to putting the Optibay and my other, Intel X25-M SSD into the MacBook Pro. The toolkit, which includes a 54 bit Screwdriver set, a set of 4 metal spudgers, and 2 black sticks, is actually fairly nice. The screwdrivers are actually magnetic, contrary to what I originally thought. Using the tools for the job was a breeze. Of note, I am very happy that I finally have some spudgers on hand, as I no longer have to worry about damaging some components while trying to separate a connector with my fingernails. The spudgers work with much more precision for those kinds of tasks.

As for the actual surgery, I only needed around 10 minutes. I did end up having to open up my machine like 7 more times in the same day (and restart like 80 times), but more on that later. Putting in the Optibay is VERY easy, and even a complete novice should be able to figure it out without too much trouble. Once I got the Intel SSD in, I booted up the machine, and prepared Boot Camp Assistant so that I could finish up the easy job with an installation of Windows 7 on the Intel drive.. or so I thought.

I quickly learned that while Boot Camp Assistant would be happy to partition both drives, Macs will NOT boot up non-OS X CDs/DVDs from external drives. Damn. I open up my machine and pop the disc drive back in. At this point, I have to do several things to try and make this work. I booted up off of the OS X disc that came with the Mac and installed Snow Leopard on the Intel drive (since with only one drive I need OS X on the drive to run Boot Camp Assistant). After 30 minutes, it’s time to try Windows again. I restart the computer, hold the Option key, and there’s the Windows 7 install disc. I select that and… flashing question mark folder…

I’m going to skip talking about EVERYTHING I tried, but I did everything from PRAM resets to SMC resets to just repeatedly restarting the computer. I did permissions repairs as well. I did take out the Intel drive several times just to see if the stock SSD would allow booting from the Windows disc, and it did. Something was up with the Intel SSD. I did also attempt to update the firmware, but the machine refused to boot from the firmware update disc too. At some point, I did boot into the Windows installer, but the installer said that my Intel drive was not bootable, which was stupid because I’d clearly booted into OS X on that drive NUMEROUS times already.

At this point, I just gave up. I scheduled an Apple genius bar appointment and went to bed (at this point I’d probably spent 7 hours trying to do a simple task).

The next morning, I thought of something. I popped the Intel SSD into my girlfriend’s crappy HP laptop, and the firmware update came up without a hitch. I put the drive back into the Mac, and voila. The Windows installer came up, and my problems were solved. The HP finally did something right. I’m still a little baffled, since the Intel SSD worked fine on previous firmware on my old MBP. Maybe the SATA III interface was giving the Intel SSD problems. Either way, I now have Windows 7 up and running (in my Optibay) on this machine. For those wondering, I have all 120 GB of my stock Toshiba SSD dedicated to OS X, as my boot drive. The Intel X25-M has 110 GB toward Windows 7 (25 of which is used up already just to Windows 7 and some necessary updates/antivirus) for gaming, and about 45-50ish GB toward OS X. I have yet to find a use for that 45-50 GB, but I’ll leave it around just in case I want to play around with it. It’s always good to have a backup boot drive anyway. 85 GB is plenty to install 2-3 games at a time on.

After a nightmare of an experience, I’ve basically gotten everything figured out. The whole process should NOT take more than 2 hours or so if you take note of a couple things:

1. Do any Boot Camp hokey pokey BEFORE you install the Optibay.

2. Make sure your SSD is updated to the latest firmware, regardless of your experience with that SSD on other machines. Keep in mind your mileage may vary with different SSDs, since they all use different controllers and different firmware.

To add one last thing, I’ve noticed my temperatures coming down a lot. When I first got the machine, I was idling around 45 C. Now, it sits around 35-36 C, sometimes as low as 33 C. In Windows, my idle temperature is around 38 C, which is SIGNIFICANTLY lower than the 60 C idle I was seeing on my old C2D machine in Windows. I’m going to attribute this to the new, improved thermal management of the SNB CPU in the machine as well as the larger chassis of my 17″. My initial plans to re-thermal paste the insides seem to be pointless now, so I won’t have to worry about buying the paste and taking apart my MacBook Pro again.

Categories: Discussion, Review, Tips

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