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Upgrading components of MBP (mid 2009) - which setup to choose?

Hello everyone,

After much time, I am finally thinking of upgrading the RAM and HDD of my Mid 2009 MacBook Pro (I have listed the current specs of the laptop below). My hard drive is failing so I figured this would be the time to finally make some upgrades. Before I start purchasing hardware, I have a few questions that I'm hoping I can get some assistance with.

I am leaning towards getting a Samsung 850 EVO 250GB. Now I am not sure if this will be enough or if I should opt for a higher capacity or if any more than 250gb will be a waste?
What would be the optimal way to set up my SSD. I have heard that it is wise to use the SSD for the OS and applications only and to use some other method for the storage of files/folders. What options are recommended?

Some background: My usage is about 10% general browsing, 20% collegework, 20-30% downloading and watching movies, and about 45% painting in Photoshop.

Now I am concerned about being able to run Photoshop because some files can get pretty big in terms of size and I'm worried that might cause wear to the SSD so I am not sure what is the best way to set up the SSD relative to my Photoshop usage.
For me to change out the hard drive and put in the SSD, are there any special tools that I need or cable that I should replace?
Does Mavericks have TRIM enabled? If not, what third party programs should I look at?
I am upgrading the RAM to the maximum allowed which is 8gb and have narrowed it down to the two brands below. Why is there are price difference and are they both the same? Which one should I go with?
OWC
Crucial
And finally, is there anything else I should keep in mind or look into or just general suggestions/advice from those who have gone through this?


Model Name: MacBook Pro
Model Identifier: MacBookPro5,3
Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
Processor Speed: 2.8 GHz
Number of Processors: 1
Total Number of Cores: 2
L2 Cache: 6 MB
Memory: 4 GB
Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz
Boot ROM Version: MBP53.00AC.B03
SMC Version (system): 1.48f2
Hardware UUID: 866DCB7F-1F5A-5F0D-83F3-AB66EE8F9E30
Sudden Motion Sensor:
State: Enabled

Sorry for the long post, I just want to make sure I get everything correct before I start with the upgrades. Thank you in advance.
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  1. Best answer
    Your priority should be on the SSD, that will give you the best performance boost for the dollar. A 250GB Samsung EVO costs less than $100, you can get a 500 GB Samsung EVO for around $160. If you are close to using your current hard drive space it might be worth it to get the 500 GB SSD and save up to upgrade the RAM later if you are not able to do both at the same time.

    But for about $200 you can do the 500 GB SSD and the 8GB of RAM. OWC is more expensive because they are more Mac specific, but Crucial will work perfectly as well. I would have no issues buying the Crucial upgrade.
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