Were there any parts left over when you were done?
December 9, 2008 3:57 PM   Subscribe

So how hard is it really to swap out the Superdrive in a MacBook?

I've looked through the step-by-step procedure at fastmac.com, and I think I have a handle on the process, but I'd like to hear from someone who's actually done it, and who doesn't do it for a living.

How'd it go? Were you able to disassemble and reassemble with no major hitches? What should I look out for?

Many thanks!
posted by DandyRandy to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
MacBook? Simple, very very simple. I've done it many times. Rough steps

- turn macbook over
- remove battery
- unscrew a few screws
- pop out the thing that holds the drive in
- pop the drive out [this can be tough if the little tab isn't readily accessible but there's no reason that should be the case]
- replace all the stuff, may have to fiddle a little
- presto!

MacBook Pro, not easy at all. Have a pro do it.
posted by jessamyn at 4:25 PM on December 9, 2008

jessamyn: I think DandyRandy is referring to the CD/DVD drive, not the hard drive.
posted by zsazsa at 4:31 PM on December 9, 2008

Ack! Sorry about that, getting all the way to taking the top off the thing is simple. Sorry to not know about the rest.
posted by jessamyn at 4:45 PM on December 9, 2008

I recently disassemled a 12" G4 Powerbook 1.33 GHz unit to remove and repair the superdrive.

I have a lot of experience taking apart electronic crap. I was not at all at ease at the beginning, but it turned out OK and I was able to perform it.

Here are some useful hints:

Get the disassembly instructions from FixMyMac.com. Have them on an adjacent notebook so you can consult them while you are doing it.

Get some small plastic bags for screws and related pieces as you disassemble.

Find a large, well lit work surface. Get a flashlight and a magnifying glass. Get all necessary tools (mostly screwdriver bits, but you can also use a small orangewood stick like ladies use to maintain their cuticles. It is used to gently pry without marring surfaces.)

Allocate sufficient time to do the job. Sequester kids, mate, and pets.

Ideally, do it on a floor type that won't eat dropped screws. Wood is best. I use a dishtowel on the work surface to protect my computer parts. You can worry about static a lot, but in reality, unless you are in a real static-y place, just try to minimize your static buildup and if you need to discharge, touch the metal screws on a nearby light switch.

I use colored Sharpies to mark specific length screws as I remove them. I use small bag labels to note the contents of a bag if it is not self evident.

Concentrate on being deliberate and slow. No matter how long you take, it'll be quicker than shipping it to Cupertino. If something won't come off, figure out why. If something won't go back together, don't force it but try and reason out how it fits and secures.

Don't lose screws. If you drop one on the floor, the flashlight is the most useful way to find it. Shine it almost horizontally across the floor and put your head right down there with it. A screw will cast a large shadow if the light is oblique enough. (My best trick!)

You can do this. It went together once and recent Macs are relatively devoid of internal adhesive strips and irreplacable shielding.

Good luck!

(O... mine works perfectly. I also had to disassemble the superdrive and remove a CD.)
posted by FauxScot at 5:14 PM on December 9, 2008

I'm not sure why you don't want to hear from someone who does this for a living. Do you think we'd give you incorrect advice?

The MacBook isn't an overly-difficult model when compared to other models like the iBook G3s and iBook G4s. However, you will need to have some familiarity with notebook innards and have a methodology in place before you begin. Here's what I recommend to people when I train them:

1) First, have good guides. If you're lucky enough to have Apple's Take-Aparts from Service Source, excellent. If not, you can get most (non-Apple-authored) take-apart guides from iFixit. I do not recommend doing this repair without a take-apart to follow unless you've done a few of this model before and have steps memorized.

2) Get a cheap ice-cube tray. Readily available at any Dollar Store.

3) When you start your take-apart, have plenty of space on your table or work area. When you put a part aside after removing it, put it in a "chronological" order. If Step 2 is to remove the RAM L-shaped door, then it should be in "spot 2" in your assembly line. This makes it easy to reverse your steps when you're putting it back together.

4) Similarly with the ice-cube tray. Each "grouping" of screws (one group per step) should reside in its own ice cube well. Don't mix up the screws from different steps or you'll have a very hard time figuring out which screws go where during re-assembly, even with a take-apart. Note that some steps have differently-sized screws: 12mm & 14mm, for example.

5) The tools you should have are: a plastic black stick tool or similar, a T6 and T8 driver (preferably magnetic), and a 00 philips driver (preferably magnetic), and a plastic rectangle similar to a credit card (I sometime use a CC, actually) for separating the top case from the bottom case.

Go slow and meticulously. Double-check your steps from the take-apart. Everything has a place and purpose (except those silly cosmetic screws on one side of the MacBook), and you should be fine. Good luck.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 5:31 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I did this for a friend in return for a 6-pack. I followed the instructions and had no problems.

mrbarrett.com's suggestions are great, I wish I had done the ice cube tray bit...
posted by schyler523 at 5:43 PM on December 9, 2008

Dittoing mrbarrett.com but you may need more than one ice tray! Or masking tape.

I've stripped down my Mac (not a MacBook) several times, using masking tape to stick the screws to the iFixit guide I'd printed out (no ice trays required.) The iFixit guides are really good - don't try without one. The Mac worked fine after my fixes each time, giving me a warm glow of accomplishment. And no, there were no bits left over.
posted by anadem at 8:17 PM on December 9, 2008

I'm not sure why you don't want to hear from someone who does this for a living. Do you think we'd give you incorrect advice?

Sorry, Mr. Barrett, no offense intended - it's just that someone who does this sort of thing all the time has more educated hands than a newbie, and the steps may feel more natural and obvious to them than to a novice. The potential obstacles might be fresher in the memory of someone who only recently done it for the first time. I appreciate your hints and tricks - they make me feel confident as I dive in!
posted by DandyRandy at 8:17 PM on December 9, 2008

Ice cube tray! It's brilliant enough that it makes me feel dumb to not have thought about that the last time my screws staged a daring escape into the jungles of carpet pile. Sorry to derail.
posted by averyoldworld at 7:32 AM on December 10, 2008

can I just add my condolences to fauxscott...if there is one beast of a job its a optical drive replacement in a 12" PBG4.

a thing of nightmares for me.
posted by ShawnString at 1:52 PM on December 10, 2008

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