Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Sell your MacBook

Upgrading 2009 Dual Core MacBook Pro


I have a 2009 15” Dual Core 3.0 gz MacBook Pro with 8GB DRAM, and a 1TB Samsung SSD, running OS X 10.11.6.

It runs fine, but,
i. it can’t upgrade to the latest OS from Apple, which leaves me vulnerable to security gaps,
ii. 8GB DRAM is no longer adequate for my needs,
iii. the latest software I use requires at least 10.12.

Is it possible to replace the motherboard within my MacBookPro with a refurbished quad core board that has either 16GB DRAM or 32 GB DRAM and upgrade the OS?
If not, do you sell any refurbished quad-core MacBook Pros with 16-32GB DRAM that can run ?



  • Hi David! Thanks for the post!

    Unfortunately your 2009 machine is not capable of housing a quad-core board, so an upgrade is not an option.

    If you are looking for a similar form-factor machine with upgradeable HD and RAM (so that you can use your current HD), then the mid 2012 is the only real choice -- it is the only expandable laptop that can go to the current OS (Mojave) and beyond. Technically you could use a quad-core 2011, but those only take up to High Sierra, and I would highly advise against 2011s because they have notoriously bad GPUs and they are therefore very risky to use.

    A 2012 will take 16GB RAM, but not 32GB. In fact, only in 2017 or so did Apple start offering 32GB configurations. And you have to buy them with 32GB, because newer MacBooks are not expandable.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd recommend the mid 2015 15" Pro, which comes with up to a 2.8GHZ quad i7, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD (this is actually what I use as my personal laptop). You can get these for $700-$800, and they represent a HUGE performance boost over a mid 2012, which will run you about $500. The mid 2015 is the final MacBook before Apple moved to the USB-C form-factor and removed all the other ports.

    Unfortunately I don't often get machines this new, but is a great refurbisher that has newer material.

    Hope that helps!


  • Understood. Can either the 2012 or mid-2015's you describe take an eGPU with Thunderbolt 3?

  • I'm not very familiar with those, but I don't think either will. 2012 has Thunderbolt 1, and mid 2015 has Thunderbolt 2. I believe it's only machines produced in the last couple years that can handle those.

  • FYI

    Apple recalls older 15-inch MacBook Pros because the batteries could catch fire

  • Only if they show symptoms. I think the recall was 2015-2017

  • I'd recommend the mid 2015 15" Pro, which comes with up to a 2.8GHZ quad i7, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD (this is actually what I use as my personal laptop). You can get these for $700-$800,

    Where can I get one?
    Also, is there any way to upgrade my OS on my 2009 machine from 10.11.6 to 10.12?

  • Unfortunately a 2009 is stuck at El Capitan, and Sierra is not supported.

    You can find that model 2015 on eBay. Otherwise I would try


  • I'm seeing ~$1,200-$1,500 for mid-2015 16GB DRAM ~500GB SSD.
    Is there any way to verify the integrity of the EFI on my 2009 MacBook Pro?
    Apple doesn't appear to let me reinstall it.

  • I may have gotten a good deal on my 2015, being in the business and all. But there are 2.2 and 2.5GHZ versions as well, which are cheaper but basically the same machine. The 2.8GHZ has a premium on it due to being top of the line.

    I'm curious why you suspect a problem with the firmware? It's generally not something you re-install on a Mac, or that there are issues with. You could probably dig up an old bootable ASD (Apple system diagnostic) DVD for that machine, but they were never particularly accurate or helpful.

  • edited August 2019

    In 2015, someone hacked into our network. My roommate's Linux laptop was infected with a rootkit virus and the disk was corrupted. My LinkedIn account was hacked and sensitive data which was only on my Mac was posted to my account.

    Ever since then, I assumed my Mac is compromised.
    I run Cylance, ClamAV, MalwareBytes, etc. which report that my machine is clean. Avast, Sophos, don't find anything, either.

    That could mean that my Mac is clean. Or, that very professional hackers have comprised my machine and I can't detect it. I believe I need to run OS X 10.12 or higher for better detection.

  • Interesting. Of the tens of thousands of Macs I've repaired and sold, I've never witnessed one that was affected in such a way. Not to say it COULDN'T happen. Mac antivirus software pretty much doesn't exist because Macs are more secure and the bad guys just don't tend to go after them. Ironically Apple itself is the primary entity you have to worry about locking a MacBook and making it unusable.

    In any case, since your 2009 doesn't meet your requirements, you might as well get $200 for it on eBay and jump for that 2015. 2009 to 2015 represents a fairly mindblowing upgrade, so I think you will be happy.

  • I had this error twice in the past two days on my 2009 MacBookPro:

    panic(cpu 0 caller 0xffffff7f83402bc9): "GPU Panic: [] 3 3 1f a8 61 0 0 3 : NVRM[1/2:0:0]: Read Error 0x00610210: CFG 0xffffffff 0xffffffff 0xffffffff, BAR0 0xe4000000 0xffffff912035c000 0x096380c1, D0, P2/4\n"@/Library/Caches/

    How do I determine what's wrong?
    Any guess whether it is repairable (e.g. - replacement motherboard?)

  • edited October 2019

    Sorry for the delay — I just noticed your post.

    Kernel panics are hard to interpret, and what they state usually doesn’t point to the exact problem, so I don’t even bother.

    To rule out the OS, try booting from another OS install on an external drive. If you never get the error, you know your specific OS install is at fault. If you do get the error with another OS, you know it’s NOT the OS.

    From the hardware side, the most likely culprit is usually RAM. Make sure both modules are fully seated and not popped out at an angle. Try booting with one module out, see if there’s a difference, and if not try with the other out. It’s a matter of process of elimination — disconnect components to rule them out. If all you have left is the board and it still crashes, you know it’s the board.

    While you’re inside the machine, it can’t hurt to blow out any dust and see if anything looks unusual. Shake it out and makes sure a loose screw is not rolling around and shorting the board.

    Let me know how it goes!


  • Thanks for your feedback.

    The 'panic' happened twice, but it hasn't happened since. The days it happened were very hot (e.g. - 100 degrees). The battery expanded and pushed against the track pad.
    Could this be related or the cause of the panics?

  • Hmmm...I wouldn’t normally associate battery issues with kernel panics, but definitely get rid of the swollen battery — it will only get worse and cause more problems, It can shatter your trackpad and warp the laptop’s case, and it is also a fire hazard.

  • Can you recommend a battery?

  • This is my current battery:

    Order detailsOrdered on December 3, 2015 (11 items)
    Lizone® NEW Laptop Battery for Apple MacBook Pro 15" inch A1286 (Only for Mid 2009 2010 version) Apple A1321 020-6380-A 020-6766-B 661-5211 661-5476 L

  • Unfortunately there are no reliable battery vendors anymore due to trade issues, and also Apple convincing homeland security to consider all legit 3rd party batteries counterfeit and block them at the border. Best way is to search eBay for “new A1286 2009 OEM battery” and go with a top rated seller. Should cost $30-$40.

  • I replaced the battery. :smile:
    My Mac is crashing about once / week.
    Here's an excerpt of the stack trace:

    panic(cpu 1 caller 0xffffff7f945f8bc9): "GPU Panic: [] 3 3 1f a8 61 0 0 3 : NVRM[1/2:0:0]: Read Error 0x00610210: CFG 0xffffffff 0xffffffff 0xffffffff, BAR0 0xe4000000 0xffffff913156a000 0x096380c1, D0, P2/4\n"@/Library/Caches/

    Today, I ran the Apple Hardware Test: there were no problems detected in either the basic test or the extended test.

    Ay ideas?

  • Hello!

    I wouldn't associate kernel panics with the battery. You could always remove the battery if you wanted to rule it out.

    Diagnositcs, etc., are generally not going to help, because crashes are something that happen outside the system, so the system usually doesn't have the ability to detect the cause.

    Could be software or hardware. In terms of software, first verify that your drive is not out of space. You can also boot to a different volume with a different OS install and see if crashes persist...if they do, it's not the OS install (hardware), and if they don't, then it is the OS install. It's only happening once a week, so I would pay attention to what you are doing and what the conditions are when it crashes, because that might have something to do with it.

    In terms of hardware, RAM is the biggest cause of crashes. Not just bad RAM, but bad slots. You can test the slots/RAM by powering on with one slot empty, test for symptoms, then with the other slot empty, test for symptoms, etc. Your machine did not come with 8GB RAM, which means the RAM is very likely 3rd party, and 3rd party RAM can definitely be touchy.

    Beyond that, you have a very old computer, and years of heat, dust, etc., may have simply caused the board to be unreliable. Make sure to blow it out with compressed air -- I've seen machines with a whole 1/4" layer of dust on the board, and that can definitely short them out.



  • When I get a 2015 quad-core MacBookPro with 16 GB DRAM, can I remove the 1TB Samsung SSD from my old MacBookPro, install it in the 2015 MacBookPro and upgrade to the newest OS X version?

  • No, Retinas use a different form factor SSD and are not compatible with 2.5" SATA like your current machine has. What you can do is back up your old machine with Time Machine and do a restore on the new machine, or even just put the old drive in an external enclosure, plug it into the 2015, and point the setup wizard to it to bring the data over. However, given the history of crashes you have been experiencing, I would strongly advise a 100% clean install on the new machine and manually bringing everything over. You don't want to bring over potentially problematic residue onto your new laptop.

  • Here's what I think is the best solution -- put your old drive in a 2.5" USB enclosure like I mentioned, put a clean install of Catalina on the 2015, then manually migrate your data over. Once you are confident that you've moved everything over, wipe the external drive, and you can then use it as a Time Machine backup drive going forward.

  • edited November 2019

    Understood. There's no noticeable pattern to the crashes. Sometimes, It will crash while I'm entering data in a form on a browser. Sometimes, when I'm reading a web page, Sometimes, it will crash when I am not even touching it. Perhaps the battery expanding/contracting due to changes in ambient temperature has loosened electrical connections to the GPU on the motherboard. It's curious, it's always the same panic. Does this panic indicate GPU memory?

  • I keep getting emails (from my own email address) from hackers. Could these crashes be caused by a compromised system?

  • No, emails like those wouldn't cause this kind of crash.

    It's really an endless rabbit hole trying to interpret kernel panics and know what to do about them. It's just not worth it -- you won't find anything conclusive, and it will only succeed in taking up your time. Best thing you can do is get yourself to a fresh install of the OS, and preferably a different computer as well.

  • edited November 2019

    Apple had me do COMMAND + OPTION + P + R to reset the NRAM and my Mac hasn't crashed in 4 days. Could replacing the battery left my NRAM in a funky state?

  • Removing battery and power will generally reset the PRAM in itself because the computer loses means of maintaining PRAM settings. Resetting PRAM and SMC is never a bad idea, but no, I wouldn’t generally associate either with permanently fixing problems that are causing crashes.

  • @davidlaxer said:

    I'd recommend the mid 2015 15" Pro, which comes with up to a 2.8GHZ quad i7, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD (this is actually what I use as my personal laptop). You can get these for $700-$800,

    Where can I get one?
    Also, is there any way to upgrade my OS on my 2009 machine from 10.11.6 to 10.12?

    This machine easily can update to Mac OS Catalina

  • edited January 2020

    How do I upgrade from 10.11.6 to Catalina?

    The App Updater:

    This version of macOS 10.15.2 cannot be installed on this computer.

    btw - since the PRAM refresh my Mac has been stable for 53 days.

Sign In or Register to comment.