In late 2010 I got my hands on a 11 inch Macbook Air with a 64 GB hard drive. A great machine, thin as paper and incredibly portable – the best laptop i’ve ever owned. With one serious downfall. The built in Solid State Hard Drive although incredibly fast is far too small and means the Air cannot be used as a fully functional laptop.
As the ‘out of disk space errors began appearing’ I did a Google search and found the 240 GB OWC Mercury Aura Pro memory upgrade for just under $600 AUD. There are 3 models including a 128GB, 240GB and a 512 GB.
This must be an extremely popular upgrade as it took 3 weeks for stock, and another couple of days for shipping.
I’ll be honest I was a little nervous opening my Mac and taking out its parts, mainly because I bricked (stuffed) an iPod Nano the previous night attempting to install Linux. But the install was simple, here are some photos:
This is it. All that comes in the box (larger one) is the SSD, paper, brochure, screwdriver. No instructions 🙂 which is fine as long as you make sure to watch the videos on the OWC website before the installation. Also at this point make sure you have saved all your documents to an external HDD, and even more important make sure you have the RECOVERY USB KEY THAT CAME WITH YOUR MACBOOK AIR!!!!!
By this point (removing from the box), make sure you have removed any electro static from your body. Im not 100% sure how to do this, so I washed my hands and lifted my feet from the floor under my desk 🙂
OWC provide a screwdriver (star shaped) to remove the 10 screws from the base of the Macbook Air. There are 2 longer screws at the back in the centre towards the screen. Dont loose these and put them in a safe place.
Gently remove the cover to expose lots of black squares. The Toshiba 64GB SSD drive is located just above the two portrait orientated squares in the middle.
But here is where I got unstuck. Using the only screwdriver that OWC provided, I began removing the main screw which holds the old hard drive to the motherboard. Im trying to turn the screw, but the tool keeps slipping. Then I realise im grinding down the thread of the screw. This could be disaster if I break the screw. I then realise that OWC forgot to send me the second screw driver, a Torx Style T6 as described on their website. By this point im very annoyed!!!
Zipped down to the local electronics store, I pick up a tool kit for $20 to make up for the missing OWC part. The screwdriver I was after was the Torx T5.
Carefully unscrew the the old chip, and once the screw has been removed, lift the chip from the screw end, and when at around 50 degrees, gently pull the chip out of the slot.
Get the new chip, and follow the previous step in reverse. Ensure the shape of the pins match those of the connector slot. Or see photo above.
Place the holding screw back into the SSD. This will ensure everything sits nice and tight.
Put the base back onto the bottom, and secure everything back together. Now it is time to boot for the first time.
Plug in the USB Key that was supplied with you Macbook Air. It contains OSX operating system and iLife, as well as utilities to prepare the new drive.
I couldnt find any instructions for preparing the drive from OWC, so here we go.
Boot up your Macbook with the USB key plugged in, it will take a couple of minutes to load so dont panic.
The first screen you will see is one asking you to select your languae, followed by the Install Mac OSX pictured above. Click continue.
Now it will ask which drive you want to install to. Remember that the drive that we just installed came empty and unpartitioned and therefore wont show up. Dont panic!
Click on the utilities menu, then Disk Utility…
Now be a little careful here. On the left hand side you will see several drives, the one we are interested in is the 240 OWC Mercury, click it. On the right hand area of the window, click on Partition tab.
Now we will enable the drive. On the drop down box below Volume Scheme, select 1 Partition (or more if you know what this means). Then on the right box give it a name. Make sure format is MAC OS Extended (Journeled). The Size from memory is automatically calculated and is the remaining space on the HDD. Mine was 240.06 GB.
Click apply, wait around 30 seconds while the progress bar completes. Once completed you can now press the Red Circle at the top left of the screen to close the window.
Now you will see the new drive. Click it as the install location, press install.
Wait half and hour and your done.
In conclusion the best addition to the Macbook Air if you have the basic entry level 11 inch. Prepare yourself with the right tools in case OWC forget to send them to you 👿 . The installation is easy if you are patient and gentle and the result is the smallest and most compact laptop that looks great, and has enough space for everyday use at home or at work.