2011 15″ MacBook Pro & Crucial M500 SSD issues

When a tool works, I like to keep it as long as possible. About 8 years ago, I bought a 15″ MacBook Pro, and it has served me well all this time. Apple replaced the logic board a few years ago (under warranty!) because of graphics issues. Since purchasing, it’s had it’s memory upgraded, the hard drive replaced for an SSD and the optical drive swapped out with a hard drive. I replaced the SSD again for a larger 512GB model (Crucial CT512MX100SSD1) when they became cheaper. So far so good.

Recently, a friend gave me a defective MBP, which turned out to be the exact same model (A1286). Great for spares, I thought. Lo and behold, there was a whopping 960GB SSD (A Crucial ct960m500ssd1) inside. “Why not swap that into mine?”

I wish I hadn’t. While the swap was relatively easy, and the computer worked okay, it got a little sluggish over time. I upgraded macOS and it got even slower. Until I got to a point where I couldn’t even send an e-mail without getting the hated macOS “Spinning Pinwheel Of Death” (SPOD). Once every 30 seconds. Sometimes Spotify would even stop playing music, even when I didn’t even touch the machine.

I’ve had this OS install since I bought it. All the development kits, homebrew, libusb-type hacks etc; maybe something is acting up. Let’s try a clean install. Nope, still getting beachballs right after booting a VM. Different SATA cable – nope. Other memory. Oh well.

Must be all the OS upgrades, I thought. Also, I’ve been asking quite a lot from such an old machine, running a lot of programs simultaneously – even some VM’s too. “But it always worked flawlessly!”. I was seriously considering buying a new laptop, even looking at Windows machines because of the price difference. A MacBook Pro with similar storage and memory would’ve cost ±€4000, though.

Then it hit me. The problems started – gradually – about a year ago. About the same time I upgraded to the M500 SSD. Swapped back the MX100, clean install; bingo! VMWare Fusion, running Windows 10 and Windows XP simultaneously, different browsers with 4K video, some file transfers running in the background; no problem.

Since I couldn’t find anything online about this apparent incompatibility, I thought I’d share it here. What makes it even more problematic is that the drive seems to work fine; the OS installs, it boots, etc. You’ll only notice the hangs and freezes after a while. That’s what makes this so insidious.

I don’t know the root cause of the problem, and at this point I don’t care. 512GB ought to be enough for anybody 😉




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