Last year, I was passing Cash Converters, and I thought I’d pop in and have a look. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just being nosy.
Amongst the laptops, though, I spotted a Macbook Pro for £20. No battery, no charger and no guarantee. So I figured for £20, it was worth a risk to see if I could get it going.
1 day later, and the delivery of a battery and charger from Amazon, I was able to switch it on.
It’s a 2007 MacBook Pro 3,1 (A1226 Santa Rosa), 15″ with a 2.4 GHz T7700 Core 2 Duo processor and an 8 Speed Dual Layer slot-loading SuperDrive, 2GB RAM and a 160GB HDD. Full Specs
Turning it on was a success as the machine began to boot. However, the first surprise was very quickly encountered.
Yup, that’s a Windows 10 boot screen that proceeded to boot into Windows 10. The resolution wasn’t great on it, probably due to not having the drivers for it. Now, whilst the Intel Macs have always been able to boot into Windows, Apple has controlled the Windows versions that can be installed. The maximum Windows version for this MBP is Windows 7 (32 Bit), so to see 64 Bit Windows 10 Pro was a surprise. The previous owner must have jumped through some hoops to get this on. Anyway, I wasn’t interested in running Windows on it. I wanted macOS.
So following a guide on iFixit, the HDD came out and was replaced with a 1TB SSD I had spare. I upgraded one of the 1 GB RAM sticks to a 2GB one to take it to its official limit. You can take it up to 6, but I haven’t tried this yet. I forgot to take photos of this process, but it is well documented on iFixit.
Once I got MacOS 10.11 El Capitan (maximum OS it will take), everything appeared to be ok, apart from a couple of small niggles. Firstly when doing anything in Finder, the SuperDrive would make noises like it was trying to read a disc and failing and then trying to eject a disc and failing, so it would make any actions have a delay.
I tried to put a disc in, but I could not get one very far into the slot, and it wouldn’t pick up. I figured it was a problem with the SuperDrive, and the worst case was it was broken, so my opening it up couldn’t make it any more unusable. So the MBP got opened up again, and the SuperDrive was removed. On taking the cover off came Surprise 2. A copied disc of Windows 10. I also noticed a small bar at the front, sticking up that looked like it had been bent back into the drive.
With gentle persuasion from a pair of pliers, the bar was straightened and could freely pop up and down again.
Once rebooted, the SuperDrive worked as expected, even writing a MacOS 9 disc for another project.
The other niggle was the fans. They would quickly ramp up to full speed at temps I wouldn’t have expected them to. This was another easy fix, downgrade the OS to macOS 10.10 Yosemite. Everything now runs as expected.
So my theory on what happened was the previous owner hacked on Windows 10, for whatever reason. Windows 10 lacked the drivers for the display, but also to control the SuperDrive, meaning they couldn’t read or eject the Windows 10 install disc. As it is a slot loader, there was no manual override for the eject (no hole to poke a paper clip into), so they attempted to remove it manually without realizing that there was a bar to stop you from loading a second disc. This action bent that bar so it couldn’t pop down on eject. Then having an MBP they couldn’t use or reinstall macOS on, they removed the battery and charger and disposed of it at Cash Converters… Of course, this is all speculation.