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Mini-PCIe eSATA Card mod in 17in MacBook Pro
By Guy Kuo
Posted: July 18th, 2013

(FYI: Some models may not have a mini-PCIe Airport card slot, which is required for this mod.)

MacBook Pro 17 Aluminum ESATA via mini PCIE Hack

Mike, Here's a fun one. I use a venerable 17 inch Macbook Pro C2D Aluminum as a media server running OSX 10.7.5. Up until now, it was connected to a Sans Digital 8 bay port multiplier tower via a Sonnet Tempo Pro Express Card's two ESATA ports. All 8 drive bays are populated mostly with 4 TB drives and I was running out of storage space. Also, backing up 4TB drives via Firewire 800 was super SLOW.

After reading the Mac Mini eSata hacks on your site (swapping the mini-PCIe Airport card for eSATA card - article links below-Mike.), I decided to doing the same with a MacBook Pro 17 inch Aluminum. I happily report that the Commell MPX-3132 Mini-PCI Express (mini-PCIe) Serial ATA RAID Card (available from Global American) + the SIL 3132 RAID driver works in a MacBook Pro 17 Aluminum's Airport slot.
(SI changed their site and past driver page links are now redirected to www.siliconimage.com/support/, so you have to select the "Sil3132" menu option to see the driver/download listing.)

Finder single drive to drive file copies using 4TB Seagates measures about 97 MByte / sec file copy speeds writing to a MPX3132 connected drive.

The MPX3132 even works with the Sonnet Tempo Express eSata card simultaneously connected.

I also verified the MPX-3132 handles the Sans Digital tower's port multiplication and sees all attached drives.

The MPX3132 also works with OWC's Voyager Q dock via eSATA. I can eject, power down and remount other drives in the dock without rebooting. (I had previously tried the internal MacBook Pro SATA connector, but although that somewhat works, the internal native SATA port won't detect drive mount/unmount without rebooting.)

The MPX3132 connected drives appear in the system report as SCSI devices.

Obviously, this isn't something one would do to a laptop that is still used as a portable, but if you have one running as a media server this is a great solution for adding another two port multiplier eSATA ports.

Attached are two install picts.

minipcie in mbp17

mbp esata mod

Previous Articles on Mini-PCIe eSATA card Mods/Swaps:

I'm wondering if anyone has found a mac compatible (w/drivers) USB 3.0 Mini-PCIe card for modding a (mini-PCIe slot) older Mini or iMac. Question came up back in April - found one (NEC based) but only windows drivers. Or an 802.11ac card with OS X drivers, although there's already 802.11ac USB adapters w/mac drivers.
(I still have a couple 1st Gen Apple TVs (one I upgraded internal HD) but never swapped the Airport card for a graphics card w/1080P support.)

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