Installing An SSD In A 2009 Mac Pro

Solid State Drives (or SSDs) are all the rage these days. Because they are non-mechanical the access times are much faster and the theory is that they are more resilient than their "spinny" hard drive counterparts. They are, however, quite a bit more expensive so when Apple released Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) I decided to bite the bullet and install just an 80GB drive in my Mac Pro. As a system drive, this should be plenty large assuming I'm smart about where I put my large applications and multimedia. (Large assumption, I know.)

I did no research on what the best SSD was. No performance comparisons. No reviews. Nada. I went to my local Best Buy and picked up what they had. (Yay for instant gratification!) Introducing the Intel 320 Series SSD. At least it has the installation kit included.

They weren't kidding! And when your kit include a "Speed Demon" sticker, you know you've got something special. That baby oughta knock a few milliseconds off the seek times!

But seriously, that's a pretty good kit. Power connecter, SATA connector, USB transfer connector, a 2.5" to 3.5" drive adapter, screws, screwdriver, documentation, a utility disk and a rubber sleeve for the drive. You won't need everything here.

However... You will probably need something they did not include -- 3.5" to 5.25" drive rails.

"Why?" you may be asking yourself. Well here's the rub and the reason I'm posting this information in the first place. While you can mount the drive onto the 2.5" to 3.5" adapter ...

... and you can, in turn, mount that onto one of the super-cool hard drive "trays" ...

... the problem is that the SATA connector will not be in the correct position to match up with the connector on the motherboard when you try to slide the tray into position. It's not even close.

Once I got to this point, I looked online to see if there was a simple solution to this problem. I was shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you!) at what I saw. If you don't use the 3.5" bracket, you can attach one side of the drive to the tray (the connector side) and things line up. Securing the other side of the drive involved electrical tape, velcro or zip ties. (Duct tape would have been a more acceptable option as any Red Green fan knows.) Granted, there are no spinning platters to cause vibrations, but this still seemed wrong to me.

I decided to see what I could do to install the drive in the 5.25" bay where the "Superdrive" lives.

To do this, I needed to convert that 3.5" bracket to 5.25". Because I did not have the foresight that you do to find a handy how-to article like this, I did not prepare the parts I would need ahead of time.

To Crazy Tom's Closet of Forgotten Tech!

Booyah! An old fan controller from my PC building days. Scavenge those rails, attach them to the 3.5" caddy and I'm back in business.

Mounting the drive at this point was pretty straightforward. Particularly considering that Apple provides cool screws on the 5.25" caddy just in case someone wants to mount something in it.

Assuming you've gotten this far, buttoning things up should be a breeze. I will, therefore, fall victim to my inherent laziness and not document that part of the process.

So is it worth it? Seems to be. You be the judge. Here's what I've got...

And here's a quick video I recorded from a cold boot to a usable desktop.

I'll let you decide on where to start and end the timer. I'll call it about a minute from the time I hit the power button. Your milage may vary.

Hope you found this useful, educational and/or entertaining. As usual, feel free to leave me comments here, on Twitter and now on Google+.