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Early 2011 Model: A1278 / 2.3 GHz i5 or 2.7 GHz i7 processor

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Which SATA Cable is best for A1278 Early 2011?

So I have this Macbook Pro Early 2011 13" A1278. I want to upgrade it to an SSD.

I cloned the HDD to the SSD, all seemed good, but would get the prohibitive (circle crossed out) logo when trying to boot.
Attempts to clean install onto the SSD have failed.
I have read up on this and it seems these Macs won't run SATA 3 SSDs with SATA 2 cables, which is very strange. I have installed many SSDs into Windows PCs with SATA 2 controllers and never had any issues.
So either the cable is faulty, incompatible, or both. People have recommended to get the 2012 cable which is wider. But I want to double check that it would fit or if any modifications are needed? And how do I know which cables are actually SATA 3 or SATA 2? The sellers never clarify that in their listings.

Also curious... if you were to install an SSD (SATA 3) into one of the 2009 models that don't support SATA 3, what would happen? A windows machine would work perfectly fine, but from what I've read the Macs won't.

PS... I have tested the SSD in another PC, works just fine.

Thanks you!

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You are so right in Windows desktops the standard SATA cable spec was good enough to run either SATA II (3.0Gbps) or SATA III (6.0Gbps) drives. But laptops is very different! Even Windows systems have had SATA cable issues. Unlike a desktop here we are running custom ribbon cables which are very thin!

The flat nature of the cable limits shielding from the neighboring wires and to add to it these wires are not even wires they are copper foils which can bend but just like a paperclip bending a bit much can cause it to fatigue weakening it so the signals don’t travel cleanly.

While today we have moved past SATA the early years of SATA had its ups and downs! Intel had issues within its chip set and the manufacturing of the cables used acid to etch away the excess copper and the foils where on the thin size on some (to thin) later better means of manufacturing came and the foils where made thicker. But the issue of creasing the cable then became more of an issue.

I know it’s a lot here! But it explains the why you need a cable that is spec’ed for SATA III use.

Here’s a good writeup on another issue where the insulation of the cable gets damaged Your Hard Drive Cable Is A Ticking Time Bomb and to add to this the 15” systems have two plastic clips which hold the bottom cover away from the cables but if they are broken or missing a good bang on the cover can damage the cable where it crosses the optical drive! I place a piece of foam mounting tape along the corner of the optical drive to give the cable a better chance of not being damaged.

And lastly I use a BIC pen ink straw (empty) to help me form the bends as you don’t want the bends to exceed the radius of the straw which then damages the foils.

Here’s the needed cable MacBook Pro 13" Unibody (Early 2011-Late 2011) Hard Drive Cable

MacBook Pro 13" Unibody (Early 2011-Late 2011) Hard Drive Cable Görseli


MacBook Pro 13" Unibody (Early 2011-Late 2011) Hard Drive Cable


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Thank you so much! Even in windows laptops with SATA II I haven't had issues... Like you said it's probably the thinness of the cable in the MacBook.

Just to clarify, would you recommend the cable you linked, or the 2012 wide cable? And if I put the part number into eBay, would that still get me a SATA III cable?


2011 cable:

2012 cable, which claims it works in 2011 model:

Thank you so much.


@yotoprules OK, lets get you a better source! You have a great one in the UK! TheBookYard They even have recovered cables if you need something cheaper and yes they do test them MacBook Pro 13" Early/Late 2011 HD Cable I get worried on whats sold on eBay as I've been stung a few to many times.

As far as the 2012 cable it was a redesign and the drive frame also had alterations to allow it to fit. So unless you are eager to put a grinding wheel into your system I would hold off on that.


I got a new sata cable, it seemed to install faster, but then it said "could not open file" and the drive disappeared again. Apple really screwed this up didn't they. Gonna have to try the 2012 cable. The thing that confuses me is even the source you linked states the 2012 cable will work just fine on the 2011 MacBook Pro, but lots of sources say it will, others say it won't, so I'm just lost here.


@yotoprules - If you look at the frame it’s different between the 2011 models and the 2012 there is a tab that sits near the cable on the ‘11 models and not on the ‘12. The ‘12 cable sits where this tab is located.

As I explained you could make it work but you need to grind the tab down and then you need to worry about the metal crumbs! It’s not worth the risk!

Are you assuming the issue is the cable and not the drive? A file level error is a drive error, while the root cause could have been the cable the corruption is now within the file. Again, that’s if the system is booting up which you implied it is, it just can’t load a file.


The drive is 100% fine, I've tested it with h2testw on my PC. I'm currently trying (and failing) to install MacOS onto it. It errors out, and when I check disk utility, the SSD has disappeared.

I'm currently trying a different brand of SSD, maybe it's a compatibility issue. But I have used this brand on a couple slightly newer Macs without issue. It's gotten further but seems to have gotten stuck at an apple logo with a progress bar. Don't know if it's stuck or just taking a very long time.


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