How to best upgrade my 2006 MacBook Pro?
February 23, 2015 8:57 PM   Subscribe

I have a 2006 MacBook Pro and can no longer upgrade the OS. What do I need to do to get it to run Yosemite?

My laptop is working fine and I have no plans to buy a new computer unless I absolutely have to. However, I can no longer upgrade the OS, which is starting to be a problem.

I’m running OS X 10.6.8, processor is 2 GHz Intel Core Duo, and memory is 1.5 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM. My hard drive capacity is 79.68 GB with 38.76 GB available storage.

I’d like to update to Yosemite and it looks like I need 2 GB of memory and 8 GB of available storage.

Soooo, if I buy some memory from Crucial I’ll be able to install it myself and everything will be dandy, right? When I enter my model I get these recommendations.

Would the 2GB DDR2 PC2-5300 Unbuffered NON-ECC 1.8V 256Meg x 64
cut it?

Here’s the underside of my laptop and here's where I assume I switch out the memory (please correct me if I am wrong).

Also, I have Microsoft Office:Mac 2011 and do not want to have to buy an upgrade. Will I be able to achieve my goals with the Crucial memory upgrade or do I need to do something else? If so, what would that be?

posted by fozzie_bear to Technology (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Information on the Piker-Alpha bootloader. Good luck.
posted by unliteral at 9:02 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

You will not be happy with only 2GB of RAM and Yosemite, or even 3GB, which is the most your machine can take. You really need a later model. I'd try to find a used Mac with better specs than yours.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:30 PM on February 23, 2015 [7 favorites]

Your computer is not supported to run Yosemite. How to Upgrade to Yosemite.

As unilateral implies; there are hacks to do it anyway. I certainly wouldn't advise it.
posted by fief at 9:43 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's not just the memory and storage, but also the lack of a supported GPU as well as 64-bit EFI that makes your MacBook Pro incapable of upgrading to OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or later.

What's your motivation of upgrading to OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)? Perhaps we can try solving your problems without having to upgrade to Yosemite?

(By the way, I've used Microsoft Office 2011 on Yosemite [with a newer Mac, though] and the software works fine.)
posted by applesurf at 9:59 PM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

I’m running OS X 10.6.8, processor is 2 GHz Intel Core Duo, and memory is 1.5 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM. My hard drive capacity is 79.68 GB with 38.76 GB available storage.

You don't want to install a newer OS on this machine. I'm speaking from experience with lots of similar hardware. The newer/later versions of OSX, starting with lion, either sucked(lion), or were optimized for SSDs and newer hardware.

That model truly, not just spec sheet as with some macs, maxes out at 2gb of ram. I wouldn't spend money on(now overpriced) DDR2.

Note that the core duo "yonah" CPU in these machines is not a 64 bit chip. There is no way to install yosemite, or even mavericks, since it has a 64 bit kernel. There is no hack for this, the above solutions mentioned are for the weird 32 bit EFI/64 bit CPU machines. This sort of hackery worked on imacs with socketed CPUs you could swap. The CPU is soldered in on the macbook pro.

My laptop is working fine and I have no plans to buy a new computer unless I absolutely have to.

This machine is worth ~$150 or so. For another $150, you could get a much newer mac that will officially run yosemite and be a lot nicer(2010 unibody white macbook, 2009 13in macbook pro, hell i've seen several 2009 15 inchers go for that much).

I not only think this machine isn't worth upgrading hardware wise from a monetary standpoint, but it's also impossible to do what you want with it.

For what it's worth, i still use a 2007 imac as my desktop. I'm fine with it. If it does what you want, keep using it as it is. But know that your upgrade path, at this point, is "buy a new machine". That doesn't have to be a wildly expensive machine though. 3-400 will get you something that will be great for another 3-4 years at least, especially if you buy the newest used machine you can find(2011 macbook pro 13s are getting quite cheap, for instance).
posted by emptythought at 10:17 PM on February 23, 2015 [8 favorites]

Just chiming in to say that the 2009 13in macbook pro mentioned above does NOT play nicely with Yosemite. I just updated my son's 2009 15in pro (2g memory) to Yosemite and just try having a PDF open while Safari is running. I dare you.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:39 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

You can’t run Yosemite on a Core Duo based Mac. Yosemite requires a 64-bit CPU and yours is 32-bit only.

Scrounge a memory upgrade from eBay (just search for the specs you got from the Crucial website) by all means, and even stick an SSD in the thing (it'll run both faster and cooler), but you’re not going to get Yosemite on that machine I’m afraid.
posted by pharm at 4:31 AM on February 24, 2015

I just updated my son's 2009 15in pro (2g memory) to Yosemite

I have a 2009 15” Pro and I occasionally run Yosemite on it from an external drive. It runs acceptably—with 8 GB of RAM. On a 2006 machine I would be checking my backups on a daily basis and prepping for an upgrade, no matter what the operating system.
posted by bcwinters at 4:59 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

At the risk of sounding abrupt, you're running a near 10 year old laptop.

It's the time....
posted by tgrundke at 7:09 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Agreeing with everyone else in this thread. Snow Leopard is the best OS for your machine. If you need something that requires a newer version of the Mac OS, you require a newer machine.
posted by Oktober at 7:53 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't try to run a recent version of OS X with under 4 GB ram. 8 is safer.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2015

Agreeing with all of the above: it simply won't work on your hardware.

FWIW, I spent part of last week trying to upgrade my son's Core 2 Duo iMac to Yosemite, and even after reading up on the various hacks and trying increasingly more radical approaches (including repartitioning the HD into two partitions and attempting the install from the second one), I couldn't get it to run the Yosemite installer at all. Long story short: my son's iMac is staying on 10.6.8, and we're OK with that.

Although people have installed Yosemite on several older Core 2 Duo models (that's Core 2 Duos, not Core Duos), the C2Ds that are really viable choices are the earliest Mac Pros: Mac Pro 1,1 and Mac Pro 2,1. These machines are good candidates because a) you can upgrade the RAM well beyond 4GB, and b) you can swap out video cards as necessary to find ones with more 10.10 friendly drivers.

Unfortunately, as others have said your MBP is really not able to go down this path. That's OK, because with the limited RAM you have, the resulting machine would be very frustrating to use.
posted by mosk at 9:22 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Something to consider would be moving over to a hybrid ssd/spinning disk drive, or even a pure ssd. I put in a hybrid into an old core2duo iMac and it really made a huge difference in overall perceived performance - to the point where instead of giving the machine away or trashing it we're actively using it again.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:11 AM on February 24, 2015

Yeah, a 120Gb Samsung EVO SSD is £60 and will make a huge difference to the perceived speed of your laptop. It won’t solve the memory issues though.
posted by pharm at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2015

As a fellow owner of a Core Duo MBP, I'm gonna pile right on with everybody else: that's not an officially supported model for Yosemite (or even Mavericks) and if you need the new OS, you need new hardware. I'm holding out for new MacBook Air models so I can upgrade and hand my current Air over to my wife. After that we'll retire the old MBP completely.

OTOH my current MBA is the 2010 Core 2 Duo model, with only 2GB RAM, and I have Yosemite running on it. There's a lot of improvement in memory management (seemingly inherited from iOS), evidenced by the fact that you actually get memory back when you quit apps (it will even remove swap files without needing a restart). While Mac OS X will make use of more RAM if you have it, I think Yosemite is actually better in 2GB than any version before it. I wouldn't willingly buy a new Mac with anything less than 8GB now, but Yosemite does in fact work just fine in 2GB.

The bad news is that there are some serious bugs in some low level services in Yosemite and I'm forced to completely reboot about once a week for one reason or another to clear up hung and stuck processes with weird side effects. That didn't happen with Mavericks.
posted by fedward at 10:31 AM on February 24, 2015

Simply put, that Mac can't run Yosemite because the CPU is too old.
Get a newer Mac.
posted by w0mbat at 10:41 AM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I say this every time it comes up, but Lion (10.7.x) and older no longer receive security updates from Apple. It is not safe to use a computer without security updates on the Internet.
posted by cnc at 11:44 AM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

cnc is right.

The answer to your question is: buy a new(er) Mac that can run Yosemite stat, because every day you keep this old Mac around is another day you risk getting hacked via some website that installs a banking trojan and empties your bank account next time you log on to your online banking website.

If you want to try and keep the old laptop around either a) never ever connect it to the internet or b) Install a supported version of Linux (32 bit Ubuntu ought to work) which will at least get you something with security updates.
posted by pharm at 12:18 PM on February 24, 2015

it looks like Yosemite would not run in your laptop even if you upgraded your memory. If you wanted to extend the lifetime of your laptop, why not dual boot Linux Mint. For basic tasks its a great os and will give you a much needed speed boost.
posted by radsqd at 1:22 PM on February 24, 2015

I just updated my son's 2009 15in pro (2g memory) to Yosemite and just try having a PDF open while Safari is running.

If you buy a 4gb of ram kit that computer will run yosemite excellently. My 2007 machine runs yosemite fine, but it was optioned out for 4gb of ram back then.

The bare minimum requirements for yosemite should have really been 4gb of ram, and it really only wasn't because apple was selling macbook airs with 2gb as recently as 2011(a stupid decision on their part imo, but hey, i'm not emperor of the universe).

I posted this as a reply instead of memailing you because the OP, when they're replacing their machine, should not purchase a machine that only comes with 2gb of ram even if it's very new. The macbook air vaguely cheats with its fast SSD, but friends dont let friends buy machines with less than 4gb of ram in 2015.

For what it's worth, also, my friend has a 2011 air with 4gb of ram and it's imperceptibly slower than my 2012 pro with an SSD and 8gb of ram even when you really start dumping stuff on it and opening huge apps.

Also, 128gb SSDs are thirty freaking dollars now. i have one of those sitting on my desk. $30! If you buy a machine without an SSD, you owe it to yourself to buy an SSD for $30-50. #1 future proofing upgrade at this point, and #1 performance boost. I'd rather have an SSD than 8gb of ram.

Sorry if that got a bit far afield, but it's stuff that both you and the OP should keep in mind.
posted by emptythought at 2:03 PM on February 24, 2015

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