2012 Macbook Pro 15" Worth it?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by reno55, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. reno55 macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2006
    I am in the market for a new MacBook Pro 15" to replace my 2009. I mainly use this for basic internet, MS Office and when I travel to be able to play movies from it to hotel TV through HDMI (which my 2009 does not carry sound through HDMI).

    I have seen a lot of decent deals for 2012 MacBook Pro's with decent processors but I am hesitant due to it being a 2012.

    I would like to be able to run Sierra and is a 2012 able to have the ram upgraded?

    Any insight?
  2. sman789 Customer Support


    Dec 25, 2007
    Richmond, VA
    What are the prices for that model? Are you looking strictly at 15" for your use cases? Apple Refurb retina MacBooks are well priced and can do what you need (you'll need a HDMI dongle ;/) but it won't have a 15" screen and you won't be able to upgrade RAM down the road.

    If you're only doing those simple tasks though, the included 8GB is more than enough.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'd put more $$$ into the deal, and get a 2015 15". They're still in the active product lineup, a full complement of ports, and can be found at good prices if you shop around.

    Going from a 2009 to a 2012 isn't a "big enough jump forward", so to speak...
  4. Bart Kela, Jan 24, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017

    Bart Kela Suspended

    Bart Kela

    Oct 12, 2016
    Personally, I don't think it is worth it unless you receive it for free.

    It's a 2012 unit, it is five years old which is pretty old for a notebook computer. It has five years of wear on ALL components, but most notably the hard drive (which is probably a conventional rotational model) and the battery. You'd be wise to figure in replacement costs for both in the next couple of years.

    I don't know the specs of the particular unit you are considering, but another thing to consider is the LCD backlight. The old cold-cathode fluorescent backlights suffer from the same basic problem with fluorescent lighting technology: fluorescent lights emit less light over time. If this unit uses the old cold-cathode fluorescent backlight, the screen brightness is probably pretty dim, even if you crank it up all the way. When I recycled it in 2014, the screen brightness of my MacBook 2007 was pretty feeble.

    LED backlights are more stable over time compared to the older technology. Again, that's another replacement cost that you may wish to factor in if the unit you are considering has the old tech.

    If you replace the rotational hard drive with an SSD, it'll be quicker than the day that it was first turned on, but everything else is going to be the same. It likely doesn't have 802.11ac WiFi network and for sure, even with a brand-new battery, it will not have the runtime as a recent system.

    In a way, it's like buying an old car. Sure, it'll get you from Point A to Point B today, but how much tread is left of the tires? New battery? Timing chain replacement? New hoses? Brakes? Shocks? Car stereo? It's not going to get better gas mileage than the day it rolled off the manufacturing line.

    For sure, I would not look at the purchase price of a 2012 computer as the total cost of ownership over the next three years. Trust me, I've put in plenty of extra dollars into my reliable Mac mini server 2010, but the last modification was 2-3 years ago and it is unlikely that I'd spend another dime on it.

    Whether or not it is "worth it" is your call. We all value money differently and personally, I wouldn't do what you are planning on.

    Anyhow, good luck with your decision.
  5. jjhoekstra macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2009
    I write this on a 2012 MBP. Provided that it has SSD and the battery is ok, I would say: if the price is right, go for it! My MBP handles Safari and everything else I throw at it ( FinalCut, large spreadsheets, multi-agent financial simulations) with ease. The backlight is LED-based, so no worries in that area and it is very silent, also when working hard. I had a new battery after two years, so based on that I would check the state of the battery as a new one costs real money. And I have a couple of dead pixels on the screen. But they are very stable and able machines. And with a bit of luck they will last for many more years.
    I feel no pressure at all to buy a new one. Imagine having only usb-3 ports, yuck! (and a company which measures battery-life for a PRO-laptop by measuring how long one can watch video!!)
  6. smirking macrumors 65816


    Aug 31, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    I echo this. Today is the first time I'm typing on anything other than my 2012 MBP. I just got my 15" Touchbar MBP yesterday, but I upgraded not because my 2012 was too slow. I upgraded because I've been dying to get my hands on a 5K monitor and the 2016 was the first MBP designed with 5K in mind.

    That said, having an SSD is the key. Put an SSD in just about any Mac in recent history and the speed boost will be impressive. It's also true that there's a greater likelihood that something's going to break. The nice thing about that is that the mid-2012 is among the last (the last?) truly user-repairable MBP. My wireless card died last year. I spent $45 on eBay for a replacement card and a cable and fixed it. I needed a new battery. I found an open box with only 1 charge cycle on it from OWC for $75. (You could get it for much less on eBay, but you're rolling the dice on buying a dud).

    If it's a good price and especially if you're comfortable with doing your own repairs, I'd have no qualms about getting one. I'm a Web developer and a photographer. I use more demanding programs than most people and have dev servers running on my 2012 MBP. I'll never say no to more speed or more RAM, but it did fine. I've never held onto a computer much less a laptop computer in my professional life as long as I held on to my 2012 because it never saddled me with the pressure to upgrade because it was getting too slow.
  7. organicCPU macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2016
    Officially not supported, but you could put in 16 GB of RAM, not just 8. To replace the HDD with a SSD is a must have.
  8. smirking macrumors 65816


    Aug 31, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    The RAM upgrade is pretty easy to do too. I'm baffled as to why Apple insists that 8GB is the max in that machine. The 2012 even uses regular (but tiny) Philips screws.
  9. organicCPU macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2016
    When I was at the Genius Bar to get some video card testings done, they told me that the memory controller isn't capable of running 16 GB. Therefore they won't run all necessary diagnostics.
    I'm doing with 16 GB since about 5 years and the one and only App that ever had occasional problems with that setup was Adobe Photoshop. As soon as I'll have some time and supported 2 x 4GB RAM, I'll give 8 GB a chance. My bet is, that it won't make any difference at all, except less performance.
  10. smirking macrumors 65816


    Aug 31, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    If that's true, then I'd expect that the likely more utilitarian tests run by TechTool Pro would also not be able to run diagnostics on all 16GB, but it does that just fine.

    Maybe it's actually a battery life thing just like the current limit of 16GB. The battery life on my 2012 MBP is pretty crummy. I've always assumed that it was only because I had a lot of CPU intensive stuff running all the time... Sometimes a VM, a dev server, and Photoshop at the same time.

    I also have a 2010 MBP (now in my wife's hands) that I left at 8GB. It was able to fulfill the expected time on battery.
  11. organicCPU macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2016
    It was more some kind of company policy that said 'we don't support 16 GB, that's why we don't touch it for diagnosis'. Other way round, they would have done the tests, if I'd swapped out memory to supported 2 x 4 GB and went in again.
    Nevertheless, the GUI front-end rember and memtest directly started from single-user mode didn't complain about the 16 GB. AHT didn't like my (trimmed) third party SSD, but didn't complain about memory as well. I believe, there's no real technical reason, not to go with 16 GB on a 2012 MBP.
    Battery life felt quite good for a maxed out 2,7 GHz Antiglare Widescreen setup doing a lot with the dedicated 1 GB NVIDIA, though I haven't done a stop-watch test and I'm plugged in most of the time. When I read the specs from different SSDs, there was quite a huge difference in energy consumption. But after all that years System Report counts just 33 cycles and states a 'Good' condition. Sure, batteries are getting worse after time by nature. Unfortunately one can't exchange batteries so easily anymore after several years like in former days.
  12. ocnitsa macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2011
    You could go with the mid 2012 retina MBP...get the 16 GB ram (its soldered on), the dedicated GPU, and the i7 CPU. I use it daily and it still feels fast. I do light gaming via bootcamp, too. I hear what people are saying though...it's a trade off between price and wear on components.
  13. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Pre retina you can, but not on the rMBP.

    I have a 2012 rMBP and its going strong, but it is going on 5 years old. I'm not sure how much they're selling but I do think they're reaching their functional EOL. I think putting the money towards a newer model may be a better option.
  14. Woodstockie macrumors member


    Aug 12, 2015
    I have a 2012 MBP 13" with 2 SSD's (1TB for MacOS + 256GB Win10) and 16GB RAM. Bought last year from eBay because I needed the disk space and didn't want to pay too much for a more recent rMBP with 1TB. My needs are not much; mostly office things, internet + email, pictures and some editing, video + editing, iTunes (apps and iPhone) and it works fine for me. Just installed Sierra and it runs fine (wake from sleep is awfully slow though compared to El Cap). My plan is to keep it for a good amount of years. Also still have a 24" iMac late 2008 and works fine as well. I guess I am not really a power user.

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