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MacBook Pro 2011 Models and SATA 3.0 (6.0Gb/s) – Update – 5/27/2011

Since we first looked at a potential fix for problems with SATA 3.0 operation in the main bay of the 2011 MacBook Pros on April 15, we’ve learned much more.

It’s not so sweet at this point, but I will at least try to keep it as short as possible.

Before going any further, I do want to be clear that, while I believe the issues noted should be and will be resolved, Apple makes no advertisement—in specification or otherwise—that creates any obligation for them to fix the issues noted. Again, I do believe they will… I also believe it is in everyone’s best interest that they do fix it, with respect to the incredible performance that our SSDs unleash in these fantastic MacBook Pro 2011 models. If we’re lucky, it will be a fix handled via some software update; it would seem more likely to require a hardware adjustment, but we’ll see. FWIW, our shielding kit does make a difference for some, but not all, as there is just significant enough variability in the issue which means it ultimately needs to be resolved by Apple themselves.

Ok… To the details…

SATA 3.0 6Gb/s in the Optical Bay?

All of the 13-, 15-, and 17-inch 2011 MacBook Pros we purchased right at release shipped with SATA 3.0 6Gb/s connectivity in the main drive bay and SATA 2.0 3Gb/s connectivity in the optical bay. (Note: For the remainder of this piece – I will refer to the two connections as 6Gb/s and 3Gb/s)

Units we’ve purchased over the past month indicate that Apple seems to be changing over to having 6Gb/s connectivity in both the main drive bay and in the optical bay. That’s good news. I say “seems to,” as we’ve received multiple units with the ‘dual 6Gb/s’ setup, but after getting 17″ MacBook Pros with the dual 6Gb/s setup in multiple deliveries this month, the 17” we received earlier in this week was back to 6Gb/s in the main bay and 3Gb/s in the optical.

Bottom line, it is not a spec Apple includes (what SATA connection will be in each bay) and currently is no correlation we have found to explain why a new unit this week was different than the units received over the past couple. There is no guarantee of a new unit purchased having the 6Gb/s in the optical bay – but I can say that the odds seem fairly favorable based on units we’ve been getting and reports in the field. Also, this is only really important to you if you hope to use a 6Gb/s drive in your optical bay as enabled with our Data Doubler.

Results with SATA 3.0 6Gb/s SSD in the Main Drive Bay

Based on field reports and new units we purchased in May, use of 6Gb/s SSDs in the 17” MacBook Pro is hit or miss. It’s not our SSD (which actually fares better than some others…); it has to do with the ‘luck of the draw’ in terms of the 17” you get. All the recent 17” models we acquired were flops and we’re now waiting for replacements. The first 17” we received in February also had issues, but were resolvable with our shielding kit. Another 17” we purchased in April works as expected with no issues. Field reports also continue to vary. Apple needs to fix this; based on the issue being present in the units we received this week and last, it is not resolved in units shipping today beyond ‘hit or miss’ luck.

There are no issues at all with any of the MacBook Pro 15” and 13” 2011 Models and 6Gb/s SSD use in the main bay—rock solid reliable.

Results with SATA 3.0 6Gb/s in optical bay with an OWC Data Doubler

Apple System Profiler will show you what Link Speed capability are supported up to.

This shot is from a system with 6Gb/s in both bays

For anyone who has 3Gb/s max supported in the optical bay, the Data Doubler is still a great solution to use any 3Gb/s or 6Gb/s SSD or Hard Drive. The maximum speed will simply be limited to about 300 MB per second, but reliability is 100% in all 13”, 15”, and 17” models for using even the highest performance drive on that 3Gb/s link connection.

For MacBook Pro 13” 2011 model owners who have the dual 6Gb/s connections—score! This model works great with a 6Gb/s SSD in the optical bay. Put two of our 6G SSDs in and set up RAID 0; you can get over 1000MBs per second data rates…sustained! Freaking awesome!

The news is not so good for 15” and 17” models. While the 15” has no problem at all with 6Gb/s in the main drive bay – both the 15” and the 17” are a no-go with all the units we’ve tested here when using 6Gb/s drives in the optical bay. So if you have 6Gb/s link available in your 15” or 17” optical bay, unless this problem is fixed – those with the reliable 3Gb/s optical connectivity are actually better off.

Until/unless Apple corrects this bay issue for 6Gb/s, you are best off using a 3Gbp/s SSDs in that bay. While it’s ok to use a 6Gb/s SSD in a 3Gb/s enabled optical bay (it will work at the 3Gb/s speed just fine); the same drive will want to connect at the 6Gb/s link speed when 6Gb/s is available, and in 15” and 17” models we’ve tested so far, that’s been a no-go.

To this point, we’ve only consistently seen 13” MacBook Pros that, in addition to having the 6Gb/s in the optical bay, have been reliable using 6Gb/s SSD with that port connection.

And since will likely be asked; yes, we did direct-connection testing, Which rules out any possible effect of the Data Doubler with the 15/17” issues. It isn’t the Data Doubler product, which is fully 6Gb/s rated and A-Ok for.

In short – it’s a mixed bag.

  • 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.

Some are suggesting that 10.6.8 might fix these 6Gb/s issues. Maybe there will be an EFI update that will do it (note that the prior update did not). Otherwise, there may very well be a quiet hardware fix that is made. These MacBook Pro models all offer incredible performance capabilities and are further enabled with one of our top-performing OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSDs. We’re really looking forward to seeing the issues fully resolved so that 17” 2011 users can confidently move forward with performance boosting SSDs. Hopefully, too, both 15” and 17” 2011 MacBook Pro users can have the same performance opportunity that we’ve now seen out of the 13” MacBook Pro.

The ball is in Apple’s court. Again, they made no promises about 6Gb/s SSD options working at all in these new 2011 models… But it sure is disappointing to be choosing a 15” or 13” model instead of the flagship 17” over the lack of 6Gbp/s reliability. Here’s hoping our next update is coverage of Apple fixing this once and for all.




UPDATE 9/20/11

At this time the OWC Shielding Kit has been discontinued for sale. EFI Firmware Update 2.2 for 2011 MacBook Pro has resolved the issues and this kit is no longer necessary.

Update 5/28/13

MacBook Pro 13″ – 100% no issues with 6Gb/s SSD in main bay and in our testing observed a high rate of success using 6Gb/s SSD’s in the optical bay. Note: While it is likely a 6G SSD or HDD will run properly in the optical bay, it can not be guaranteed.

OWC Larry
the authorOWC Larry
OWC Founder & CEO
Larry O'Connor is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Illinois-based Other World Computing (OWC®). Starting as a one-man business in 1988, O'Connor has provided the leadership and vision to establish OWC as the leading provider of technology products and services today.
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  • im doing research and im getting mixed answers. I have a Macbook Pro 8,1 2.7GHz model with a 6g optic link speed. Can i or can i NOT use a 6g drive within my macbook pro 13 inch?

    • Your mixed answers are probably due to the screen size – the 13″ model never showed any problems while the more popular 15″ and 17″ models has had issues negotiating 6Gb/s in one or both bays.

      In short, for the 13-inch model, there are 100% no issues with 6Gb/s SSD in any bay that has 6Gb/s available. As long as System Profiler > Hardware > Serial-ATA shows the “Link Speed” as 6 Gigabit you can install a 6Gb/s drive in that bay.

        • I hadn’t seen that myself and apparently the Data Doubler page information is a bit more current than this two year old article.

          So apparently that line could be updated to
          * 13″ – 100% no issues with 6Gb/s SSD in main bay and in our testing observed a high rate of success using 6Gb/s SSD’s in the optical bay.

  • Is there still have problems with sata3 SSD at optibay on Macbook Pro 17″ Late 2011?Should I buy Data Doubler?
    I’m considering to buy a OWC SSD 6G.

    • SATA Revision 3.0 (6Gb/s) speeds are fully-attainable in the main drive bay. If you are using a product like our Data Doubler, we still recommend only using a SATA Revision 2.0 (3Gb/s) drive in that bay.

      • So, what is the option for a 1tb drive then? All of the new ones come with the 6gb/s by default.

        I’m already on 750gb from the stock config but I need more

  • I have a BTO 2011 15″ MBP with the upgraded Radeon 6750 and Anti-Glare HR screen. Both Serial ATA ports on my tree show a 6gb/s link available. My SSD is attached via the optical bay, negotiating at 6gb/s while my HDD is attached in the HD bay negotiating at 3g/s.

    I cannot format that SSD in this configuration to Mac OS Extended or Extended (journaled) but I can format it as a FAT32 volume. This is running off of Lion. There is either a software limitation or a hardware limitation on the optical bay tree that keeps the formatting from happening.

    I will try to format my drive externally before reinstalling in the optical bay. Hardware wise, everything specs out to work, there is just something else going on keeping the normal operation from occurring.

    • It is NOT a software limitation. The Apple OS does far more error checking/testing than Windows does when it comes to data handling. This is one of the reasons that the same Mac under Bootcamp has better data transfer rates with Windows benchmarks than Mac benchmarks. Since your HDD is 3Gb/s – you’re not losing anything moving it to the optical bay and having your 6Gb/s drive in the main drive bay where it can operate reliably. While you don’t have the Apple sudden motion spin down in the optical bay – modern 2.5″ drives all have this built into them and you can check this by the drive p/n. Either way – you’re far more likely to have a data loss event with a forced 6Gb/s drive operating in the optical than with a hdd even without sms in that same bay.

      Again – this is not s software limitation that has resulted in the bay not being reliable for 6Gb/s SATA drives.

  • i currently have a Macbook pro 2.7 Ghz early 2011 version and i was wondering how one can be absolutely sure that the optical drive can be used with a SATA 3? I have done some researching and found that my macbook’s optical bay can be linked at 6 gigabit, but could that be from the eri firmware update? Both my main bay and optical are shown with link speeds of 6 gigabits. could i be one of the few “lucky” ones that has the capabilities of using 6g in both bays?

    (here are the specs from my macbook early 2011)

    Vendor: Intel
    Product: 6 Series Chipset
    Link Speed: 6 Gigabit
    Negotiated Link Speed: 3 Gigabit
    Description: AHCI Version 1.30 Supported


    Vendor: Intel
    Product: 6 Series Chipset
    Link Speed: 6 Gigabit
    Negotiated Link Speed: 1.5 Gigabit
    Description: AHCI Version 1.30 Supported

    • After April of 2011, pretty much all of the 2011 MacBook Pros were using 6Gb/s ports for both optical and HD Bay. And this is really the root of the problem. 6Gb/s port is backwards compatible with 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s – and thus fine for the standard SATA optical drive. This connection was not tested or certified by anyone to support 6Gb/s devices.

      In testing we find that most 13″ 2011 MBPs have optical bay 6Gb/s capability that is reliable for use with a 6Gb/s SATA 3.0 SSD or HD. We are aware of at least one report of a 13″ 2011 not being reliable with 6Gb/s Hard Drive or SSD in the optical bay and can not guarantee 6Gb/s capability although advise that is the exception in our experience for 2011 13″ to encounter a problem using SATA 3.0 6Gb/s drives in the optical bay.

      The opposite is the case with both 15″ and 17″ 2011 MacBook Pro Models. Both SATA 3.0 6Gb/s hard drives and SSDs encounter problems when attempted in the optical bay when the optical bay presents a 6Gb/s link capability. It is the exception to see consistently reliable 6Gb/s operation in the optical bay of these systems. We highly recommend against such use attempt at this time and suggest using a SATA 2.0 3Gb/s drive in the bay of these systems.

      just to add for 2012…
      now – with the 2012 MacBook Pro 13″ and 15″ units – out of the gate, all 15″ models tested reliably with 6Gb/s in the optical bay. 13″ units also now show reliability with the current/latest Apple EFI update installed. We are comfortably recommending 6Gb/s drives be used in the 15″ optical bay. We are also comfortable with the expectation that 6Gb/s is now reliable in 13″ 2012 optical bay as well. Like anything, can always be exceptions – but current testing and reporting indicates 6Gb/s is now good across both bays for all 2012 models.

      In summary:
      2011 MacBook Pro 13″ = Main Bay 6Gb/s, Optical Bay 6Gb/s A-OK.
      2011 MacBook Pro 15″ & 17″ = Main Bay 6Gb/s A-OK. Optical Bay use only up to 3Gb/s for reliability, not 6Gb/s reliable/consistent.
      2012 MacBook pro 13″ & 15″ = Main Bay 6Gb/s, Optical Bay 6Gb/s A-OK.

      • Wow! Thank you very much for the fast reply Larry! Okay thank you very much for that much clarified information, my MacBook is now roaring for a new dual SSD drives. Hopefully a 240 and a 120 with raid configuration of the 6g. Thank you very much for that Larry! Cheers!

          • hi Larry et all,

            do we know what the limitation is for 2011 MBP optical drive SSD?

            i have a MacBookPro8,2 with apple SSD in HD bay and a DD with a sata 6g drive in optical bay. obviously optical bay is not working. problem is, these are the drives and mac i have.

            is it possible that a FW upgrade or new cable could fix this?

            real sad right now :(


            • The optical bay in that machine can support up to a SATA Revision 2.0 (3Gb/s) drive only (regardless of SSD or HDD).
              We’ve checked every firmware revision that Apple has released and they have made no difference.
              We have tested additional shielding and a variety of cable options to no avail.

              Bottom line is the main HDD bay can utilize a SATA Revision 3.0 (6Gb/s) drive while the optical drive is limited to a SATA Revision 2.0 (3Gb/s) drive.

              • :(

                ok, thanks for the definitive answer.

                I feel if somehow I could have the drive negotiate as sata 2, we’d be in business.

  • I have purchased a OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD for use in a 2011 MacBookPro 8,3
    Intel Core i7 2.3 GHz. It doesn’t work. I keep getting the wheel of death and the laptop crashes.
    I have done the latest firmware update, so I have Boot ROM Version: MBP81.0047.B24
    Using 10.6.8
    SSD works fine in external case but not in the laptop.
    What is the fix?


    • Our tech support can probably best assist… but that would sound like a potentially bad cable or other issue at this point with the 17″ assuming this is a main bay location installation. installation of 6G into the optical bay is not an option with any reliability and so noted for 17″ as well as 15″ 2011 models.

  • What is the boot time with Dual SSD Sata III in new 2011 MacBook 13 inch at 1000 mb speeds? I interested in fastest boot up possible?

    • Hi Joe…haven’t done such…you would have to do a RAID 0 for this…and no guarantee there would be a speed gain with the boot…incremental at best.

      • Thanks, 4k reads are probably more critical besides boot up might be longer due to loading raid drivers? If anyone has tested this let me know? Thanks!!!

  • Macbook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.2 (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1450) seems to have resolved this issue. My 2011 17″ MBP now runs rock solid on an Intel SATA III SSD. No more beach balling or occasional hangs. I even re-enabled TRIM and spotlight. Prior scenarios that would freeze the system now work very smoothly.

      • Hi All,
        With the firmware update, I can confirm success of the Data Doubler option in a MacBook Pro 8,3 (17in, 2.3Ghz, 8GB Ram). My MBP had a Link Speed: 3 Gigabit and Negotiated Link Speed: 3 Gigabit, so I purchased a 3Gb SSD and it working great, see below. Thanks OWC! When OWC offers a 750GB SSD at an affordable price, that will be the next upgrade. FYI, I have configured my SSD users to access the user accounts on the rotational HD, while also retaining a boot capability of same HD. This way I have a triple boot backup: a 96GB WinTech in the ExpressCard slot (about equal to rotational HD in speed), a OWC 240GB 3Gb DD in the optical drive and a 750GB rotational HD.
        rotational Disk Test 79.36
        Sequential 128.51
        Uncached Write 149.46 91.76 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Write 147.34 83.37 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        Uncached Read 85.16 24.92 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Read 169.33 85.10 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        Random 57.41
        Uncached Write 20.84 2.21 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Write 188.21 60.25 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        Uncached Read 97.26 0.69 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Read 163.90 30.41 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        SSD Disk Test 309.97
        Sequential 183.87
        Uncached Write 330.39 202.85 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Write 279.30 158.03 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        Uncached Read 82.04 24.01 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Read 338.09 169.92 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        Random 986.57
        Uncached Write 1494.20 158.18 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Write 532.42 170.45 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        Uncached Read 2705.22 19.17 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Read 879.24 163.15 MB/sec [256K blocks]

        • Throughout the course of testing pre and post EFI 2.2, have not experienced any issues in either bay with SATA 2.0 3Gb/s drives. Using the 3Gb/s drive in the optical bay has been a sure thing… it’s also no issue to use a SATA 3.0 6Gb/s drive in 2011 optical bays that have show support for only up to the 3 Gigabit Link speed. To this point, we have not seen any reliability with installation of SATA 3.0 6Gb/s drives into the optical bay of 15″ and 17″ models (A-OK in 13″ though) when the optical bay has had 6 Gigabit Link speed supported – which is aggravating as it is better off then to just have 3Gb/s optical bay connection in said models.

          Thank you for your info and feedback!

  • I bought a datadoubler and two 60gb SSD’s after reading this article
    I have a i5 13″ MBP, EFI frimware 2.2
    the main drive is at 6gb and link at 6gb but the optical is at 6gb link speed at 3gb
    this is after installing the raid
    I get about 495mb/s but I was REALLY hoping for the 1000mb/s ……

  • It’s a long shot, of course, but there’s a new MBP firmware update out today to support on-the-fly download and reinstall of Lion on a bland disk. Anybody tried their 6G drive on a 6G port after upgrading?

  • I have a 15″ pre- unibody Macbook Pro 3,1. I currently have replaced the original drive with the OWC 240GB 6G SSD drive. works fine

    Am looking to update the DVD bay with another SSD, however from the looks of this thread there are 2 issues:

    1. The data doubler kit does not support my model? (please confirm this is true – or can I actually do it)
    2. If I get through # 1, can I use the 3G SSD in the optical drive bay even though the main drive is the 240 GB 6G SSD? If so I’d like to go to the 480GB capacity 3G SSD drive to replace the DVD drive.



    • No, the MacBookPro3,1 models use an Ultra ATA Optical drive, not a SATA drive – so the Data Doubler will not work.

  • Good news.. My problem with Kernel Panics on my new MacBook 8,3 (MacBook Pro 17 with 2.2Ghz quad core) was NOT the 480GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD).

    I believe it to be some bad System RAM..
    First thing I bought with my new MacBook Pro 17 was a Corsair 8 GB DDR3 Laptop Memory Kit.
    Only $49 after rebate! Low price was too good to be true.

    I suffered through kernel panic’s once every fews days for several weeks.
    OS X 10.6.8 – Kernel panics
    OS X 10.7.1 – Kernel panics
    Disable third party kernel extensions – Kernel panics
    Stop using Chrome, then stop using FireFox – Kernel panics
    Stop using Parallels – Kernel panics
    Disable and disallow any Safari extensions – Kernel panics.
    3 different hard drives (including OWC 6G SSD) – Kernel panics.
    Remove Corsair 8GB 1333Mhz DDR3 “Laptop Memory Kit” RAM, then re-install original Apple RAM – NO MORE KERNEL PANICS.

    Now its too late to get a refund.
    [Refund from Corsair I mean..]

  • Hi guys, thanks for this info..
    i have macbook pro 13″ 2011 i7 (with 500gb hitachi HDD, buyer on June 2011) and put 2 SSD 60GB OCZ VERTEX 3 into main bay and opti bay.. OS X Lion 10.7.1
    but on system information i see on main bay:
    Link Speed: 6 Gigabit
    Negotiated Link Speed: 6 Gigabit
    on opti bay:
    Link Speed: 3 Gigabit
    Negotiated Link Speed: 3 Gigabit

    When i run DiskSpeedTest from AppStore on first SSD i see speed 450 read 470 write..
    When i run on second SSD i see 230 read 270 write
    when i put both SSD to raid0 (strip, 120GB summary) – i have read speed 510 and write 570 – it is good, but i buy 2 SSD for 1000 speed :)
    Tell me please how to fix OptiBay slot speed to 6G. As i understand this can be done by EFI upgrade to 2.1 version, but when i try to upgrade i receive error that this upgrade not possible on my system.. Or maybe it is because my OptiBay device (DVDROM slot TO 2.5″ SSD/HDD SLOT) no support SATA high speed? I buy first on ebay.com with 15$ price.

    P.S. sorry for English – it is not my native language.
    Thanks for your help.

  • My experience with a brand new 2.3 ghz, quad core 15″ MBP:
    Bought from online Apple store, sent to OWC to have a Mercury Extreme 6g 240G SSD installed in main bay. Got it back…beach balled till unbootable….sent it back…as per OWC…”the SSD was faulty”…they put a new SSD in…same thing…sent it back…tried a 480 gig 6g Mercury Extreme….worked for an hour…..sent back…am waiting now for a downgraded 3g SSD….will keep this forum posted.

  • Having read extensively into the issues concerning sata 3 and the 2011 17” macbook pros i am very much in two minds as to risk ordering one or not, especially living in the UK.

    I am just wondering if there have there been any further developments on this matter at all? My stock 5400rpm is killing me..

  • Well done OWC! This blog is another reason to return here for Mac expertise. As an IT pro, I appreciate your dedication to quality. Please zoom the Apple System Profiler that indicates both bays in the 13-inch system has two 6Gb data 3.0, and please add a shot of the mixed version. I can zoom my screen easily, but some others may not.

    I’m leaning toward the Mercury Pro 6G 240GB, starting with one. I’ll move the factory HD to the CD bay and enclose the CD in an external enclosure. Next step is a second 240GB Mercury Pro 6GB to go to RAID 0, and a Promise thunderbolt array.

  • Unfortunately my 2011 17″ MBP would not even partition my aftermarket SSD drive. I shielded the SATA cable but it didn’t help.

    On a whim I cut 5 pieces of foil the size of the drive bay and isolated each cable running through the bay in separate layers with 2 sheets of foil in each layer. I then wrapped the SSD drive in a layer of foil. This allowed me to partition/format the drive and install Snow Leopard.

    Almost immediately I started getting frequent beach balls and slow startups (1-5 minutes), so I added an additional layer of foil around the drive and a layer between the drive bay and the battery. I can now startup in less than 10 seconds and have not had any issues for a week. Not happy that it requires this type of hack, but ecstatic that I now have a working 6G SSD!

    • Very interesting! Mind to post a photo of how your solution look like?
      Glad that it now work perfectly for you, cheers!

  • Currently going through my dance with Apple on this will Update when I get a response… Seeing 2min lad even with the shield kit tested – and 6g owc 480Gb SSD.
    Currently it seems they feel it is aOWC SSD issue or push-back as problem, but we are going through a customer resolution step as of current since I will not sit back and accept the pay more get less statement thus-far from Apple Incorporated.
    If anyone has any options other than the Shielding please do let me know since I have reverted everything and this 17″ is practically not capable of sustaining the needed functionality moving forward if 6G support is flaky. (why did i get rid of my stable 17″ [2009] for this lemon?)
    Questions at hand are
    1.) is it a known MB issue?
    2.) is it a known FW issue on HW?
    3.) is it a known Cable issue?
    what is needed to make the 6G main drive port fucntion above 7200 RPM Sata II speeds without hanging every 2 minutes when SSD is introduced?

    • I purchased a 17″ MBP this past April and after dealing with Apple for weeks to try to get the problems with my SATA III OCZ Vertex 3 resolved (constant beach balls) they finally offered to take it back, which I accepted. Here’s how I would answer your questions based on that experience:
      1) (I assume by ‘MB’ you mean “MacBook Pro” not “motherboard”) Yes and no – it’s not known by everyone in Apple but it *is* known to some. Apple was “repairing” these machines when I purchased mine and people reported no problems after getting their machines back. When I finally reached a tier 2 tech, he said it was Apple engineering who had been collecting those machines for testing but they had all they needed so they were not accepting any more (they were apparently returning different, working laptops to people). No front line people seemed to be aware of the issue (I’m assuming they weren’t lying to me.)
      2) Doesn’t appear to be (the many helpful posts here at OWC’s website seem to confirm this).
      3) Probably the same answer as 2 (though as the helpful OWC people here will point out, cable changes/shielding have fixed the problem for some people – see e.g., David’s post above).

      At the risk of being pedantic about your final question, based on OWC’s info in these blogs and on Apple’s own options, if you get a SATA II SSD you’ll get much better performance than a 7200RPM drive in the “main drive port”, and it appears there are no problems with that. But if your question is how to get actual SATA III performance out of the main drive location, there doesn’t seem to be an answer yet. It’s hit and miss at the moment.

      Incidentally, when I returned the additional memory I had purchased from Crucial, the returns rep knew all about this issue. He said they’d had many perfectly fine SSD’s returned because Apple’s position is, “It’s works to spec with the original equipment so it must be the third party hardware you’ve installed.” I find this incredibly disappointing given all the other fantastic experiences I’ve had dealing with Apple.

      Not wishing to sound like a shill for OWC but I wish I’d found these blogs before purchasing my Vertex 3. Given their generous return policy I would have purchased one of their SSD’s so I’d have had the option to return it. (Thanks again to OWC for their work and information on this issue!) It feels wrong having this great SSD in an older desktop…

      Lastly, if you’re a registered developer (i.e., a member of one of the Apple developer programs) don’t forget that you have access to different support. You still may not get any satisfaction but it might be less frustrating than some of the obvious things you have to do when you call the general support people.

      • Oops – switching to anal-retentive mode:
        In my answer to question 3 I wasn’t implying David is an OWC employee – he was just a poster who’d had success with shielding the cable.

  • Update: aftrer an hour on the phone with apple,

    I was informed that the 2011 MBP that ship with a 750GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard drive are not capable of using SSD Drives. They lack a firmware to use SSD drives at all unless they ship with a SSD drive from the factory.

    This is outrageous!

    The technical specs clearly state :


    750GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard drive; optional 500GB 7200-rpm hard drive or 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB solid-state drive,

    There is nothing about it only working if it comes that way from the factory.

    After walking through my options I discovered that if I was to buy an official apple upgrade SSD hard drive that the Factory Authorized Service Rep or Genius Bar could flash my firmware to allow my MBP to enjoy the benifits of SSD.

    This is the first I’ve heard of it.

    Macbook pro 17″ 2011 750gb 4 (now 8)gb ram 2.2ghz

    • What is far more outrageous is that an Apple rep would give this kind of bogus information in the first place. It is simply not true that any special firmware/efi needs to be loaded onto a MacBook Pro so that it can use an SSD. That is completely bogus. Without ANY issues or ‘special SSD firmware update’ to your MacBook Pro -you can use an SSD in your MacBook Pro from Apple or from OWC that is 2.5″ Serial ATA type. This is completely independent of the 6Gb/s SATA 3.0 issue that plagues these machines. I would be shocked if you got the same answer you just got from another Apple Customer support rep or from any Apple Genius.

      Just on this info noted and to be absolutely clear:
      ‘They lack a firmware to use SSD drives at all unless they ship with a SSD drive from the factory’
      OWC Response: That is absolutely untrue/false.

      There is no firmware difference between the same Macbook Pro model when it is factory or later equipped with an apple SSD vs. if equipped with a hard drive.

      • I also found it hard to believe, making her repeat it to me several times in different ways.

        I now think the poor misinformned rep was referring to an issue (fixed by MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.7) that plauges 2009 macbook pro, but not my 17″ 2011.

        I see now that the problem is that my 17″ has problems negotiating 6g. I will continue to deal with apple on this issue, and in the meanwhile will return my 6g ssd for a 3g model.

        Thanks for your input.

      • Larry,

        I am having the same SSD drive recognition issues on my 15″ MacBook Pro 2011.

        The drive has already been sent back to OWC for “testing”, but I was wondering if this there has been any other reports on the 15″ models.

  • I am happy to report that I got lucky and ordered my custom 17inch on May 18. I took the plunge and ordered the 6g SSD 240gb version and the data doubler. I am running my 750gb 7200rpm in the doubler with the 6g running like a charm getting a solid 490 read and write speeds. the upgrade is worth every penny. I was even able to boot up lion off the external optical case with no problem. I have a 6g 6g model instead of the earlier 6g/3g model. Just wanted to give OWC a big thanks for quality upgrade options to really make my machine a quality performer for a long time to come. The new work flow is amazing with lion and the ssd upgrade. Maybe the mac gods shined down on me?

    Kind Regards

  • So I just thought I would add my two cents. I bought 8 GB of ram (which works great btw) and a 120 GB Mercury Electra Pro 6G SSD for a new 2011 MBP shipping with Lion preinstalled.

    Installed the data doubler and sad in the optical bay and it showed up fine. Noted that both optical bay and main HD bay show 6G sata ports. Then the problems started. Kernel panicked on both Super Duper and CCC. Tried to do clean install via self created recovery cd and USB sticks. Kept getting “Cannot install Max OS X” error. Even booting from Original HD recovery partition would cause instant boot to install error. Had to unplug battery and zap PRAM in order to get recovery partition to boot as it normally would. Also during an attempted recovery “clean” install of Lion to SSD. After failing the SSD would no longer show up in disk utility.

    After several hours I found this blog. I have swapped the 3G original HDD into the data doubler and put the SSD into the main HD bay. Super duper worked and it has successfully booted of the SSD in the main bay. So I will test it and see what happens. I will admit this is why I both love and hate Apple. They make such top dollar great products and then they pull BS like this.

    Also noting the fact that Lion seems to require an Internet connection to install no matter what seems kind of ridiculous unless I just missed something with all of this SSD troubleshooting.

    However as always thanks to the OWC team for good products and service.

    • Just tried putting a brand-new 2.11 firmware 120GB Vertex3 Max IOPS into the optical bay. Sometimes the drive is not recognized, doesn’t show up in Disk Utility. Same drive works great in the hard disk bay.

      This is on a 2 month old MacBook Pro 15″ with Lion, and both ports show up as 6 gbps.

      Very disappointing. Do we have any options for next steps, other than these less-than-ideal ones?

      1. Wait and hope that Apple fixes this someday
      2. Get a SATA-2 drive (works fine in optical)
      3. Wait until a new MacBook Pro is released, buy it, and hope that it fixes the problem

  • Has there been any resolution to this with Lion updates? I imagine it would require an EFI update if it could be fixed with software but I get the impression this is a hardware problem. Any recommendations? Right now I’m leaning towards waiting until they fix the hardware issue in manufacturing and then getting my MBP17″ replaced.