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My recent 2009 White MacBook restoration project
#1

On my way of starting some kind of retro Mac/PC laptop collection, I wound up with a gently used (for the most part) 2009 White MacBook from eBay. I got it delivered yesterday, and it was very clean throughout. As it was, it came with 2GB RAM, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, and a 5400rpm 250GB hard drive. Graphics are an Nvidia GeForce 9400M, and the latest OS it can run without a patch is High Sierra. Odd... kind of reminds me how 2013 MacBook Airs get Big Sur while 2013 iMacs do not.

But anyway... it was a bit of a process to restore this machine and make it semi-modern. One odd thing about this MacBook is that two screws were missing on the bottom panel. This was clearly mentioned in the description, and given how neatly kept the remainder of the machine was, this wasn't a deal breaker, and I am planning on replacing the bottom panel anyway for reasons I'll get to in a bit. It even came in a nice protective sleeve too. Another nice thing was the previous owner decorated the laptop with one of those stick on skins, which here is a abstract leaf pattern with colored birds sitting on said leafy patterns. I plan on leaving this sticker on as I won't really be using this MacBook out in public. Taking off the bottom panel is very easy, with normally eight small Philips head screws holding the case in... or rather, six as two were missing with this MacBook. A neat feature about these 2009 White MacBooks is the bottom case is covered in a rubber sleeve which helps the laptop keep a good grip on a table surface. Age hasn't been kind to it. This rubber bottom is crimped onto the metal plate around the edges, and you'd think it be pretty tightly fit. Well, it's not, or at least, no longer is. While trying to get the case taken off, I instead pulled off a portion of the rubber casing, and getting it back on over the edge of the metal plate is impossible. So now, the edges of the rubber are drooping out in spots. Sad Luckily, spare bottom cases (likely after market ones) are sold on eBay, and I am going to get one soon.

Here is what I am doing. I replaced the slow 5400rpm drive with Greta"s old 250GB SSD. I then installed El Capitan, and upgraded to High Sierra from there. Next up is the RAM. This MacBook supports up to 8GB RAM. High Sierra is running rather snappy as it is with 2GB RAM, but this is because of the SSD speeding things up. More memory intensive apps and games will start to slow things down, and I am planning on some video/audio capture experiments with this thing. I will upgrade the RAM at the same time I replace the bottom case.

Below are some photos of the unit, and some random pictures taken during the setup process. I will also provide links to Geekbench Scores, which I ran against my 2020 MBP. Spoiler: The 2009 MacBook gets smoked by the 2020 MBP.

2020 MBP score:
https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/2661672

2009 Macbook:
https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/2661689


Photos in the next post...

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#2

Here is the outer case and bottom. Very clean and well looked after, apart from the two missing screws on the bottom which you can't clearly see in the photos. There's also some scuffing around the screws so the bottom was taken off at one point. When I was looking inside during SSD installation, it appears that the HDD and RAM are original. Maybe it was just dusted out or needed a logic board replacement?
[Image: Blue-Bell-case.jpg]

[Image: Bluebell-bottomcase.jpg]

The original OS was Snow Leopard. No install discs were provided. Seller claimed the device was reset, and technically it was. All the seller did was create a new user account without setting it up all the way. That meant the original users account and personal documents were still on the disk. Sad I assume the files were copied over to a new device by the original owner, so I went ahead and deleted the old user account. I was considering keeping Snow Leopard, but without any install discs on hand, a newer Mac OS is the only option.
[Image: Blue-Bell01.jpg]
[Image: Blue-Bell02.jpg]

SSD installation picture. A bit blurry, but it does show how clean the insides are. Not that much dust was observed outside of some specks on the battery.
[Image: Blue-Bell-SSD.jpg]

Part way through the process here. I installed El Capitan and did an upgrade to High Sierra afterwards. Because Apple let the security certificates expire for the ElCap installer, I had to use the terminal to get it installed and bypass any date-related errors. It worked well. Smile
[Image: Blue-Bell-El-Cap.jpg]
[Image: Blue-Bell-El-Cap2.jpg]

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#3

Are you planning to keep the decals as it is? I presume the original owner was female based on the design lol.

[Image: cyp2pb-6.png]
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#4

(06-27-2020, 01:06 PM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  Are you planning to keep the decals as it is? I presume the original owner was female based on the design lol.
Yeah. Don't really feel like removing it since if it's been stuck on there for years, it could leave behind sticky residue and I'd have to bust out the Goo Gone. And I also like how it looks. Tongue

Judging by the folder name and profile icon of the now-gone user account, the previous owner was indeed female. And she used this until at least three years back based on the metadata of the leftover apps. Like with the iBook G3, she held on to this for quite a long time sticking with Snow Leopard and 2GB of RAM. I recall a lot of people on LowEndMac say Snow Leopard was the best version of Mac OS X, so perhaps the previous owner did so too?

I still wonder why the bottom cover was taken off. I mentioned earlier that nothing inside seemed to have been replaced. The hard drive appears to be original too, with it's small plastic pull tab still attached.

Another thing I did was use CoconutBattery. Battery capacity is still decent, hanging around 86% IIRC with around 220 charge cycles. I'll double check soon.

I wonder.... maybe the battery was replaced at some point? That would explain the bottom case removal. The battery itself appears to be a genuine Apple brand.

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#5

(06-27-2020, 06:31 PM)cpd2009 Wrote:  
(06-27-2020, 01:06 PM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  Are you planning to keep the decals as it is? I presume the original owner was female based on the design lol.
Yeah. Don't really feel like removing it since if it's been stuck on there for years, it could leave behind sticky residue and I'd have to bust out the Goo Gone. And I also like how it looks. Tongue

Judging by the folder name and profile icon of the now-gone user account, the previous owner was indeed female. And she used this until at least three years back based on the metadata of the leftover apps. Like with the iBook G3, she held on to this for quite a long time sticking with Snow Leopard and 2GB of RAM. I recall a lot of people on LowEndMac say Snow Leopard was the best version of Mac OS X, so perhaps the previous owner did so too?

I still wonder why the bottom cover was taken off. I mentioned earlier that nothing inside seemed to have been replaced. The hard drive appears to be original too, with it's small plastic pull tab still attached.

Another thing I did was use CoconutBattery. Battery capacity is still decent, hanging around 86% IIRC with around 220 charge cycles. I'll double check soon.

I wonder.... maybe the battery was replaced at some point? That would explain the bottom case removal. The battery itself appears to be a genuine Apple brand.
It's a shame that later Macs don't offer the same modularity as with the ones of yore, and it would continue to get locked down even tighter than a COVID-infested town as they transition to ARM processors. Tongue

[Image: cyp2pb-6.png]
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#6

About a month later, here is a screenshot of CoconutBattery displaying the status of the 2009 Macbook's battery...

[Image: Bluebell-batterystatus.jpg]

For a 10 year old battery, having only 229 cycles is amazing. It's not going to last nearly as long as my 2020 Macbook battery, but glad to know the 2009 Macbook battery has some life left in it yet.

And yes, the desktop image proves that it's again hot and humid in my part of the world. Make me think of cooler days....

I love foxes, especially the one in my avatar.
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#7

A new aftermarket bottom panel later, and the restoration is complete.

This is the old panel illustrating the rubber covering pulling off the sides. The cover did this when I was simply trying to pull it off to upgrade the hard drive and once it peels off the edge, it's impossible to put back on.
[Image: bluebell-bottompanel01.jpg]

Here is the new one, which really looks like a genuine Apple part at first. The embossed information on the bottom panel looks sharp and clean like an official Apple part. The weight is a bit lighter, and the metal interior appears more aftermarket quality. But it does work as a replacement part if you don't want to buy a donor Macbook.

[Image: bluebell-bottompanel03.jpg]

[Image: bluebell-bottompanel04.jpg]

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#8

And I presume you applied some new thermal compound on the processors, yes? Always comes in handy given how hot mobile chips tend to run at.

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#9

(08-30-2020, 09:08 PM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  And I presume you applied some new thermal compound on the processors, yes? Always comes in handy given how hot mobile chips tend to run at.

I haven't, sadly. I'm not that experienced in disassembling CPU cooling systems in laptops, and like with building my first PC, I kind of chicken out a bit. I worry that things won't go back together right, even if I follow an iFixit guide. It's not just MacBooks but any laptop, thanks to the use of tiny ribbon connectors.

The laptop does get warm when watching YouTube video or recording audio, but not dangerously hot to activate a full blown thermal shutdown.

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#10

(09-28-2020, 09:01 AM)cpd2009 Wrote:  
(08-30-2020, 09:08 PM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  And I presume you applied some new thermal compound on the processors, yes? Always comes in handy given how hot mobile chips tend to run at.

I haven't, sadly. I'm not that experienced in disassembling CPU cooling systems in laptops, and like with building my first PC, I kind of chicken out a bit. I worry that things won't go back together right, even if I follow an iFixit guide. It's not just MacBooks but any laptop, thanks to the use of tiny ribbon connectors.

The laptop does get warm when watching YouTube video or recording audio, but not dangerously hot to activate a full blown thermal shutdown.

Yeah I can tell that. I still remember breaking one of the ribbon cables off a laptop I was fixing years ago when I did a hard drive swap. Can't fault myself though as the laptop in question was poorly designed to begin with anyway, having to crack open the casing just to get to the drive.

[Image: cyp2pb-6.png]
[Image: bpawh5-6.png]
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