First I have to say that you find yourself at a really unfortunate time to buy hard drives. With the flooding in Thailand hard drive prices have skyrocketed. To start with, the bare minimums are that you need a SATA drive - either SATA 3.0gbps (also called SATA II) or SATA 6.0gbps (also called SATA III) - in a 2.5" form factor.
Here's what you need to ask yourself: Would you rather have a whole lot of storage or lightning-fast speed?
If you store a lot of music or videos on your computer and you need a large capacity drive then you're going to need a standard 2.5" HDD so that you can get them in the 500GB+ range. I would recommend a 7200RPM drive, though. Your old drive is a 5400RPM drive and 7200RPM drives will be faster. I recommend the Samsung Spinpoint MP4. It's a (relatively) cheap 7200RPM 500GB drive and I don't know much about that particular drive, but the Spinpoint drives are known for being pretty quiet.
If you don't need a lot of storage space then you can get an SSD. The difference in speed between an HDD and an SSD is like night and day. If you don't mind a capacity of 64GB or 128GB then you will love an SSD. I don't have any specific experience using an SSD with OSX, but all the articles I've read says it should work and Apple offers them in some of their own machines. I recommend either the Crucial M4 or the Samsung 830. I own an M4 in a desktop system it's been incredible.
Thank you for the detailed response. Unfortunately I was forced to make a decision sooner than I anticipated. I went ahead and installed the Western Digital Scorpio Black - 500GB/7200 RPM. Bought it on Amazon for $134. I was hesitant to go with the SSD - had read scattered reports of problems with macs. I had not run into info on the Samsung on Apple forums but I will hang onto your advice for friends and family. Hopefully, this WD will last a while!
Interestingly, I haven't really noticed an increase in speed yet. My MBP has always been speedier and more responsive than any PCs at work. Thanks again!
Just want to share this story.
I have a Mid2009 Macbook Pro (MBP) - model A1278
- Got the questionmark sign by starting up the laptop
- Disk Utilities didn't reconized the HDD
- Opened the MBP, removed the HDD, put it in a External Sata drive case
- Connected the drive via USB to the MBP
- Disk was reconized by Disk Utilities after starting up with Mac OS Dvd
- Repaired disk
- Put back the disk, but still question mark sign
- Called Icentre and they told me that the cable from the Mainboard to the HDD might be defective. The SATA driver on the mainboard hardly never fail (they told me)
- Purchased a new HDD cable via Ebay (nr 821-0814-A)
- Replaced the HDD cable to the original HDD and laptop restarted.
- Due to the fault, the HDD might have damages.
- I bought the following disk: Seagate Harddisk 2.5" 500GB, SATA300, Hybrid 4GB, ST95005620AS
Yesterday after all software installations I got all the time the spinning colored wheel, but today my MBP is working fine and I hope it stays like this.
Hope this info is helpfull for others who have the same problem as I had.
Most of the time you got the questionmark sign, you software is corrupted or your HDD cable is defect.
MBP Mid2009 can go up to a max of 500Gb (is what Icentre told me and is what you can find on the internet)