Early 2011 13" MacBook Pro Upgrade to Mid-2012 (Motherboard, WiFi/BT)
Posted: August 3rd, 2015
(This 13" MBP doesn't have a discrete GPU, so isn't included in Apple's MacBook Pro Repair Extension Program for Video problems.)
"Early 2011 13" MacBook Pro Upgrade to Mid-2012 MacBook Pro
Did not find this particular "upgrade" covered earlier, so here is my experience:
Bought a bargain "Early 2011" 13" MacBook Pro for my grandson on eBay, with known power problems.
When I'd isolated the issues to the motherboard by resetting SMC, PRAM, replacing RAM and replacing DC power jack board, decided to replace the motherboard with a mid-2012 version, getting a faster processor, better Intel graphics (4000 vs 3000), and USB 3.0 in the effort.
1) Bought a used mid-2012 2.9 GHz i7 661-6589 / 820-3115-B motherboard from eBay seller for $368.58, shipped.
2) Bought a matching mid-2012 heat sink from eBay seller for $9.48, shipped.
3) Bought a mid-2012 WiFi-Bluetooth card BCM94331PCIEBT4CAX from eBay seller for $43, shipped.
After some research, and successful transplant, can confirm that these three parts are the only parts required to transform the "early 2011" to an essentially identical in all aspects except the serial number on the bottom plate "mid-2012" MacBook Pro. Of course, the original WiFi card would have still worked fine, but the newer card provides Bluetooth 4.0.
Further, EVERY connector, case opening and mounting hole matches without modification.
Although this 2.9 GHz i7 is "only" dual-core, it is a still a fast and capable processor, even by 2015 standards.
While I was at it, upgraded RAM to 16GB from NewEgg, hard drive to an Intel 320 Series 600GB SSD (eBay seller seneca_data, $150, shipped) and optical drive to the excellent Panasonic/Matsushita UJ-267 Blu-Ray reader/writer from eBay seller (laptopproducts) for $80.50, shipped. Total investment a bit less than $1000.
If you build a non-Retina 13" MacBook Pro today on Apple.com, you can get an essentially identical 13" MacBook Pro for $1999, albeit with 8GB Ram (instead of my 16GB), a bit smaller 500GB SSD (instead of my 600GB) and no Blu-Ray! The guides at ifixit (www.ifixit.com/Device/MacBook_Pro_13"_Unibody_Mid_2012) are incredible! Video of installing the UJ-267 Blu-Ray in a MacBook Pro at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipx0pPXagps.
No relationship to any of the sellers listed, but all sent perfect products, quickly, at fair prices.
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