Building the Ultimate $200 MacBook

– Hey, guys, this is Austin. You may have caught a video where I tried to game on this $200 MacBook, and it actually kind of worked, but today, we’re here with part two, where I’m going to giveit a few choice upgrades. So this is a 2009 white MacBook, outfitted with a blisteringlyfast Core 2 Duo processor, four gigabytes of RAM, and currently NVIDIAGeForce 9400M graphics. That might not sound impressive, but this guy’s actuallystill fully supported on the latest versionof MacOS High Sierra, which got me thinking, can we actually make thisa usable MacBook for 2018? Thankfully, this is backwhen Apple made MacBooks that you could kind of work on. So the first thing we seeis our 250 gig hard drive, which that guy’s definitelygotta get out of here. There’s also the optical drive, which we’re going to be replacing. The battery, it still technicallyworks in this machine, but it’s pretty old, sowe’re going to replace that. We’ve got the memory. This is not that bad looking to work on.

Now, depending on what you’re doing, normally you don’t actuallyhave to remove the battery but because we just needto swap it out anyway, it’s just going to makeit a little bit easier to get at some of theother components here. With that out of the way, now I’m going to remove the hard drive. So, even though the 250gig hard drive in here actually does work just fine, we’ve got something justa little faster in mind. Next step is to remove the optical drive. Now, while it is kindof nice to have it here, I actually want to go with RAID SSDs because you know we dopractical things on the channel. There we go. Now, we just pull this cable out, and we have one optical drive that has been freed from our MacBook. Now we’re ready to startrebuilding the $200 MacBook. So the main reason toremove the optical drive is to use an OWC data doubler. The idea here is thatinstead of being able to waste all that space on a DVD drive, which honestly, I’m never going to use, we can actually put anadditional SSD inside. The idea here is thatwe should just be able to drop it right into place, if I can flip it the correct orientation, and it should just sit likethat and give us our SSD. One of the main things thatmakes an older computer like this feel slow isthe mechanical hard drive, but we can fix that with a pair of 500 gigabyte WD blue SSDs. Now one of these by itselfwould probably be pretty quick, however, two of these in a RAID, it’s going to be a little goofy. So I think with that, wehave our first SSD installed. All I need to do is putthis bracket back in place, and we can move on to the next one. Perfect, so now we have one terabyte of SSD storage in our lowly $200 MacBook. The next step is to upgrade the memory.

So this laptop originallyshipped with two gigs of RAM, and at some point someoneupgraded it to four, however it does technicallysupport eight gigs of RAM. I’ve got to say, there’s something cool about the idea of taking a MacBook that for most people is kindof considered old and obsolete and actually giving it some love. It’s kind of weird tothink that in the future new computers reallyare not this upgradable. It’s pretty much you get what you get, and that’s all that there is to it. Now we have the fun part. This is a replacement battery. So this original battery istotally fine, but the issue is because it’s so old andit has so many cycles, while it does keep a charge, it’s going to last 20-30 minutes, and a lot of MacBooks at this age, the battery’s just completely flat, but the good thing is you can still orderreplacements off of Amazon. Now generally speaking, I don’t recommend getting third party batteries for laptops. However, in this case, you’re not going to have any luck gettingone straight from Apple, so this should actually work just fine. Alright, it is moment of truth time. Let’s plug this guy in, in case the battery isactually dead out of the box. Shows charging. (yells happily) So it should give us the disc error because there’s no OS installed, but that looks like we might actually have a working MacBook. Now comes the fun ofreplacing the keyboard. Now there’s nothingwrong with the keyboard that’s on this right now. However, it’s the older white style, whereas what we ordered hereis a set of MacBook Pro keys, which should look a little cooler.

There are a couple of waysof doing the keyboard swap, but what we did was we justremoved a bunch of the keys and swapped them out with the black ones, and if you really wantto go crazy with it, you actually can replacethe entire keyboard all in one piece,however, that requires you to basically take apartthe entire computer. If you guys caught our first video, one of the biggestproblems with this guy is that not only is the backpanel a little scratched up, but there’s also a crack inthe actual screen assembly. So while we could actuallyswap out the entire shell, that’s also a lot of work, and instead, we can just cover it up. So this is a semi-transparent shell, so first of all, it’sgoing to look a lot nicer than the scratched upbottom that we have here, but in addition to the keyboard cover, which we don’t need, becausewe have a legit keyboard now, we also have a bottom shell for it. So while maybe this isn’tthe best-looking MacBook in the world, it’s a lotbetter than it was before. But my real question iswhat exactly can you do on this MacBook in 2018? After using the MacBook for a week or so,

I’ve got to say, it’sactually surprisingly usable. For normal stuff likelistening to Spotify, writing things up in Google Docs, and juggling a few tabs,it feels downright snappy. I’ll totally admit using twoSSDs is complete overkill. So I wanted to run them both in RAID, however, the way that High Sierra actually handles RAID rightnow is a little bit buggy, so I ended up just installingthe OS to a single drive, but it still makes a huge difference. It’s so much faster. Jumping up to eight gigs of RAMalso makes a big difference. MacOS, especially themost recent versions, really do appreciate at least eight gigs. One of my big worries going into this was that the Core2 Duo justwouldn’t be able to hold up, and while yes, a processorfrom 2009 in a laptop doesn’t sound too impressive, when you actually run itthrough GeekBench, it’s not bad. It’s right up there withmodern day lower-end parts, such as Celerons and Pentiums. Now don’t get me wrong. Throw more than a fewdifferent tasks at it at once, and it will definitely start to slow down, but as long as you treatit with the respect that a 2009 MacBook deserves, you can definitely getwork done on this guy, and a big part of thatis because it is running a fully up-to-date versionof MacOS High Sierra. Sure, who knows if it’ll ever receive another major MacOS update,and some apps don’t like the Core2 Duo, but for the most part, it’s just like using a modern MacBook. You’re pretty much gettingall of the features, including iMessage and even Siri. What’s especially impressive is that even some high-endapps like Final Cut work, and I’m being serious.

You can load up some 1080p video, 4k is a little bit too muchfor the MacBook to handle, and even the most recentversion of Final Cut 10.4 is actually able to handle it pretty well. Now you will need some patience when it comes to therender side of things, but again, this is a 2009 MacBook that I bought off of Ebay for $200, and I’m editing actual HD videoinside Final Cut, so yeah. While our keyboard swapreally isn’t for anything besides show, it does still hold up today. So not only does ithave a lot more travel, but it just feels alittle bit more natural than the newer butterflyswitches in current MacBooks. I’ve also been pleasantlysurprised with the trackpad. Somehow, almost ten years later, this is still better thanmost Windows laptops. So you’re getting everything you like, including that solid tracking, you’re getting plentyof multi-touch gestures, like three fingers toswipe between spaces, and more importantly,it just feels natural, something that so manytrackpads do not get, especially when you’repaying $200 for them. Port-wise, while I do miss USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort is niceif you want to go out to an external monitor, upto 2560×1600 in resolution,

and MagSafe is stillone of my favorite ways of charging a laptop ever. Even with that fresh battery though, you shouldn’t expect 2018levels of battery life. So I’m averaging about 3-4hours with moderate usage. You can get a little bit more if you turn the screen brightness down, but it’s just kind of okay. So should you go outand load a 2009 MacBook with a terabyte of SSD storage? Probably not. But unlike a lot of our builds,this actually makes sense. Picking up a used MacBook andinvesting in some upgrades like the battery, memory,as well as an SSD, really will get you an experience that’s going to be betterthan a lot of budget laptops. Honestly, I would rather use this. So, what do you guys think about our super awesomeultimate 2009 MacBook? This has actually takena turn I didn’t expect, but it’s actually kind of cool. Anyway, let me know what you guys think, and I will catch you in the next one.

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