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Need Advice on buying a MacBook Pro

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January 8, 2013 1:42:26 AM

I am a freshman in College. I am looking for a laptop to replace my 2008 MacBook Air. I really like Apple computers, and am not considering a Windows laptop. I am interested in getting a MacBook Pro which should give me a speed upgrade from my old MacBook Air. I want something that will last me a couple years without becoming obsolete. The computer in mind is a 2009 unibody MacBook Pro 2.4GHz with 2GB RAM. I know it's old, but it's an Apple and it probably is better than my Air. Can anybody give me advice if buying this computer is a good idea, or maybe looking for something else is a bit wiser?

Thanks guys in advance!
a b D Laptop
January 8, 2013 1:58:00 AM

The best advice on buying a mac, especially for a college student. who needs to use real software. Because its school. or needs to save money. Because its school. Is......drum roll please....

DON'T!

I can't even imagine spending money on a laptop with 2GB of memory, considering how cheap memory is. Never mind on a 3 yearold laptop, that is only one year newer than your current. The OS limits are horrible but why pile on hardware that was outdated when the laptop was released?
January 8, 2013 2:05:10 AM

Of course everyone is gonna tell you not to on here cause its a mac.. But i mean if you are taking class's were you work on music or something like that. I would go with the mac all day, it comes with all the software you are gonna need for school. That is just me i would go mac for school and only school.
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January 8, 2013 2:06:48 AM

unksol said:
The best advice on buying a mac, especially for a college student. who needs to use real software. Because its school. or needs to save money. Because its school. Is......drum roll please....

DON'T!

I can't even imagine spending money on a laptop with 2GB of memory, considering how cheap memory is. Never mind on a 3 yearold laptop, that is only one year newer than your current. The OS limits are horrible but why pile on hardware that was outdated when the laptop was released?

I agree Macs can be overpriced, but I still don't think I can find a quality laptop with good specs in my price range. There isn't many laptops that aren't cheaply built under $500. Even an older MacBook should last longer than a cheap PC.
January 8, 2013 2:17:39 AM

Here's some advice- 2009 mbp is fine. Are you talking about a 13, 15, or 17? the 13's are still core 2 duo- not awful but I think battery life is shorter. I wouldn't buy a MBP13 compared to a MBA13. or even an MBA11, provided you have an external monitor to use at home where you do most of your work. a 15 or 17 start off with an i5 dual core and the option is an i7 quad core. my previous work MBP had a i7 quad before and it is plenty fast (I made these 2 changes too)

You're going to want to make 2 changes:

1. upgrade to 8GB of RAM. Should cost about $40 or less. I think the 2009 unibody macs already use DDR3. if not, I would pass as DDR2 RAM is getting expensive.

2. upgrade to an SSD. Take the existing HDD and put it in an enclosure for media storage, or better yet, for Time Machine backups. 256GB if you can afford. Agility 4 SSD's are often in the $150 range for 256GB. It's not the absolute fastest but it is worlds better than a HDD.

actually, no matter what option you choose, I'd set money aside for these 2 upgrades. unibody macs are very easy to open up. with my older MBP, I spent $29 at Microcenter for 8GB of DDR3 1333 and $99 for a 128GB SSD. I use it for work so my storage needs are not that much. I used the 500GB drive that it came with for media storage, mp3s and movies and stuff, and I kept a 320GB ext HDD for Time Machine backups.

edit: just took a look- I guess the very first unibodies carried a c2d for the 15s. I would see if a 2010 with an i5 is available in your price range. That said, the 2 upgrades will still make a 2009 or 2010 MBP more than viable for school.
January 8, 2013 2:17:59 AM

Hi, The MBP 5,1 have the "Penryn" core2duo processors. I find they can still work pretty well as long as you aren't doing any heavy duty gaming or video editing. The thing I'd look out for is the video card. These laptops came with either a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M or both a 9400m and a NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT with 512 MB of ram. I find the useful longevity of a laptop can be tied to how good the video card is. The 9400m was pretty weak, good enough for Google Earth and the like but if you want to do any 3d work it wasn't up to much. The 9600m GT is a lot more powerful card.

I have the model before this, the MBP 4,1 with Penryn but with the 8600m GT. That computer still is very functional (I've put a new hard drive in it, just did a 4 hour non-stop multi track recording session with it no problem).

It always depends on price. I might see if you can get a bit more ram, 2 gigs is look'n a little thin these days.
a b D Laptop
January 8, 2013 5:27:14 AM

RAM for Macs is dirt cheap nowadays (as long as you don't get it from Apple). Buy the cheapest MacBook Pro that you can afford, with the appropriate specification and minimal RAM, and upgrade it with memory from Crucial. That way you won't pay a premium as the seller tries to recoup the excessive price that he paid Apple for the RAM.
January 8, 2013 10:21:51 AM

Thanks for your help everyone. But is it really necessary to upgrade an already outdated machine, or is it better to just save up for something newer? I have $500 to spend, but will quickly run out of money if I do more than one upgrade.
a c 200 D Laptop
January 8, 2013 10:30:12 AM

rjackowens said:
I am a freshman in College. I am looking for a laptop to replace my 2008 MacBook Air. I really like Apple computers, and am not considering a Windows laptop. I am interested in getting a MacBook Pro which should give me a speed upgrade from my old MacBook Air. I want something that will last me a couple years without becoming obsolete. The computer in mind is a 2009 unibody MacBook Pro 2.4GHz with 2GB RAM. I know it's old, but it's an Apple and it probably is better than my Air. Can anybody give me advice if buying this computer is a good idea, or maybe looking for something else is a bit wiser?

Thanks guys in advance!

If you can find one of these, in good shape for $500 (I think I saw deeper in the thread as your budget), then go for it. I would recommend you bump up the memory to 4GB as well.

Good luck!
a b D Laptop
January 8, 2013 11:04:54 AM

I'm not suggesting an upgrade would be necessary. But 4GB from crucial would cost you $30. So if you want 4GB (which I would say was a good idea) and you can get a 2GB model for $50 less than a 4GB one then the economics are obvious.
January 8, 2013 8:36:47 PM

rjackowens said:
Thanks for your help everyone. But is it really necessary to upgrade an already outdated machine, or is it better to just save up for something newer? I have $500 to spend, but will quickly run out of money if I do more than one upgrade.


I've been down this path, just not with an MBP. I can tell you this- if you're not going to play any 3D games on it, I'd rather have the SSD than the extra RAM because it really makes such a huge difference every day. But that extra RAM (8GB of DDR3) might only cost $30 so I'd try to find a way to get it. you don't need high performance RAM, DDR3 1333 is fine. 1066 might even be fine.

In my opinion, I just wouldn't get a notebook anymore without an SSD and ones with SSD's start out at a higher pricepoint. so just for me, I'd rather have a slightly older machine with an SSD than a brand new machine with a HDD. The difference is just that dramatic in the perception of performance. I'm sure others will disagree but that is my opinion coming from someone that lives and dies by the performance of my MBP for a living. Put it this way, my company just updated all engineers with new MBP retina 15's with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD to make sure we are never hampered by the performance of our hardware.

If you're patient you can find 120GB SSDs under $100. late last year, I bought a pair of Vertex 3's 120GB for $55 each after $20 rebate.
January 9, 2013 12:57:58 AM

rjackowens said:
I am a freshman in College. I am looking for a laptop to replace my 2008 MacBook Air. I really like Apple computers, and am not considering a Windows laptop. I am interested in getting a MacBook Pro which should give me a speed upgrade from my old MacBook Air. I want something that will last me a couple years without becoming obsolete. The computer in mind is a 2009 unibody MacBook Pro 2.4GHz with 2GB RAM. I know it's old, but it's an Apple and it probably is better than my Air. Can anybody give me advice if buying this computer is a good idea, or maybe looking for something else is a bit wiser?

Thanks guys in advance!
Try saving up more money and buy at least a 2010-2011 model.Not that much difference than you MBA.
!