Maxing out your White 2009 2010 MacBook for Performance and Longevity

Even in the later half of 2016, the 2009 & 2010 white MacBook can be a fantastic laptop if upgraded with modern parts.   Here's the deal.

I am responsible for maintaining a small fleet of these MacBooks, and have found that it is very easy to upgrade these MacBooks to perform in a manner competitive with a new, $1000+ laptop.

2009-2010 "A1342" white MacBook

The upgrades I typically perform on these MacBooks are Memory, Storage, and Battery.  Depending on your needs, this can typically cost from $25 to $125 if you buy and install the parts yourself.   This is a great way to get another 3 or more years out of your MacBook.

Let me be clear:  I am talking about the white plastic unibody polycarbonate MacBook from 2009 and 2010, as exactly pictured above.  Check out "About this Mac" under the Apple menu of your Mac to verify that you have a "Late 2009" or "Mid-2010" MacBook.

Here are the details of the upgrade parts I usually use:

Memory Upgrade: Typically about $35 ($25 - $35 depending on your budget)
  • 8 GB RAM - $35 (Recommended)
  • 4 GB RAM - $25 (Cheaper option, for those on a budget)
The MacBook was typically delivered with 2 GB of memory.  Today, 2 GB of memory is below the minimum amount of memory recommended for the smooth operation of modern Mac software.  I recommend upgrading the MacBook's memory to 8 GB of memory.  If your budget is tight, I recommend upgrading to 4 GB of memory, at a cost of about $25.

The MacBook only likes specific memory chips, namely PC3-8500 DDR3 SO-DIMMs.  That sounds complicated, so I'll make it easy:  I have had excellent results with RAM from Amazon, such as these: 8 GB Memory Kit, 4 GB Memory Kit.

SSD Solid State Drive Upgrade: Typically $70 ($45 - $125, depending on your needs and budget)
  • 250 GB SSD - $70 (Recommend for most)
  • 500 GB SSD - $120 (Recommend for those low on space)
The MacBook was typically delivered with a 250 GB hard disk drive.  Today, laptop hard disk drives are near-obsolete.  Instead, modern laptops are delivered with much faster "solid state disk" (SSD).  I advise upgrading the MacBook's hard disk drive with a 250 GB SSD, at a cost of about $65.

If you are using more than 200 GB of hard drive space now, you may want to upgrade to a 500 GB SSD.

I have had good experiences with most (but not all) SSDs.  I have had issues with the very cheapest SSD, so I recommend staying away from the "bottom of the bargain bin".  I have been very happy with the SanDisk II SSDs, which has good price, performance, and reliability.

New fast 240 GB SSD (top) versus old, slow 250 GB Hard Drive (bottom)

Battery Upgrade: Typically $35 (only if your Mac's current battery bothers you)

Many MacBooks have a 5+ year old battery.  If your battery is OK, or if you always use your MacBook plugged in, then I wouldn't replace the battery.  If your battery is no longer holding a reasonable charge AND you use the MacBook while disconnected from the wall, then I would replace the battery.

Make sure you get the right battery, such as this one for the White MacBook 2009-2010

Tools and stuff

When upgrading the memory and hard drive, one needs some tools to do the work.  In particular I  use the following tools, which can be found for under $2 each:
  • Phillips "00" (small) head screwdriver - for removing the back of the computer and the hard drive
  • Torx "T6" head screwdriver - for removing the hard drive mounting pins
  • Tri-wing screw driver - for removing the battery.  This is often included with the purchase of a new battery.

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