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2011 MacBook Pro: Will Apple Fix the 6G SATA Bugs?

I have credible reports that not only do SATA III 6G issues still exist with some 2011 MacBook Pros, but that units functioning properly can become flaky over time.

I’ve written extensively on the 6G SATA problems with Apple’s 2011 MacBook Pro:

Other World Computing (OWC) has been testing 2011 MacBook Pro models extensively. See MacBook Pro 2011 Models and SATA 3.0 (6.0Gb/s) – Update – 5/27/201 at OWC. In summary:

  • 13" – 100% no issues with 6Gbp/s SSD in any bay that has 6Gbp/s available
  • 15" – 100% no issues with 6Gbp/s SSD in main bay, no-go with 6Gbp/s SSD in optical bay.
  • 17" – Hit or Miss for main bay with 6Gbp/s SSD, no-go with 6Gbp/s SSD in optical bay.

Silence from Apple on this issue is deafening. I’ve heard nothing about the 17" model that Apple exchanged for me— nothing. Nor have I seen any official statement from Apple on the issue. The frustration from MacBook Pro users continues.

Apple has a responsibility to make a statement, if nothing more than the cop-out of “Apple does not endorse or approve the use of 6 Gbps SATA III drives in the 2011 MacBook Pro”. Of course, the Intel motherboard used in the 2011 MPB inherently supports 6G SATA III, so that would be an interesting tack, but at least a clear statement of intent.

The 2011 MacBook Pro is clearly a lemon with regard to 6G SATA, with variation unit by unit. Some units shows a 6G connection in the optical bay, some show 3G, what’s up with THAT? Some unit showing 6G in the optical bay will not work at all with a 6G drive!

In the main drive bay, some units work properly with 6G, some do not, in either, both, or neither drive bay. It’s a crap shoot.

My own 17" MacBook Pro (the one Apple replaced my original one with) is working fine so far with the OWC 240GB 6G SSD in the usual drive bay. My 17" MBP shows a 3GB SATA connection in the optical bay. A friend’s 17" MBP continues to give him trouble, even with a replacement unit.

Buying advice

My advice is to choose one of the following approaches:

  • Call or write Apple customer service and ask what Apple’s official policy is on the use of 6 Gbps SATA III drives is.
  • Skip the 2011 17" MacBook Pro entirely if you don’t need a new one now. Or wait several months hoping the issues will be resolved by Apple with hardware or firmware changes.
  • Consider a 15" model instead of 17" model.
  • Demand a replacement or refund if your 2011 MBP does not work with a SATA 6G drive. Insist that the MBP work properly.
  • Get a 6G SSD and test carefully in your MacBook Pro; return it should it not behave properly (you can use DiskTester to test the entire volume to graph the behavior). Note that some brands will not function at all, while my recommended SSD (OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD) will function, but might see impaired performance.
  • Consider a 3G SSD, like the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro series. So far, there are no known issues with 3G drives in the 2011 MacBook Pro, and a 3G drive performs well enough for all but the most demanding jobs.
  • Stick with Apple’s SSD choices (all 3G and not particularly fast). Yes, you can reward Apple for these problems by spending your money with them. That bites, but it is a practical approach.
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