Buying a Used 2009 Macbook on Ebay For Today's Use?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by bobbype0, Mar 25, 2018.

  1. bobbype0 macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2018

    I'm not sure if i'm allowed to post this or not. But if not, remove the link.

    I'm curious but has anyone here bought a used macbook on ebay and thus 2009 model or and use it today? And if so, is it okay? For example, if you are planning to stream/web browse and download movies, would the 2009 macbook be okay for that? Also if you were to stream through sites such as sports or tv shows... i mean the ones that are free and not netflix etc, do those work?

    How would a used 2009 macbook be compared to say a chromebook or a cheap windows computer? Again the purpose would be to stream sports, tv shows through those free streaming sites, download movies and other files etc and web browse.

    I watched video on youtube about people talking about a 200 dollar used macbook and its actually not that bad using it today. But are there incompatability issues?

  2. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    It would be at the limit. I had a 2010 Mac mini that had a 2.4GHz C2D and Nvidia iGPU, and streaming things like HD were just barely playable (would lose a few frames in full-screen). You'd probably want to put in an SSD to help it along, and 8GB RAM wouldn't be a bad idea either.
  3. EugW, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

    EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    That's a decent price for that model, assuming it is in good condition, but it has an ancient spinning hard drive in it. It will be very, very slow for OS navigation. The first thing you'll want to do is remove the hard drive and install an SSD in it. Any old SSD will do.

    That machine is probably OK for TV streaming depending upon the site, and will be fine for downloaded h.264 720p/1080p movies. That machine has 4 GB RAM which while not ideal, is sufficient for that type of usage and light Office and surfing too.

    Yes again that is probably OK, but you'd want to stick to 720p (which is appropriate with that screen). Netflix is also fine, but for Safari you'd need to install Silverlight. I can't remember if Chrome works with Netflix without Silverlight on that model, but I seem to remember Chrome needed Silverlight too. (More modern machines don't require Silverlight.)

    Just be aware though that outside of Netflix, some of these sites suck in general, esp. on macOS. I get issues even on my 2017 Core i5-7600 iMac with some crappy sites. I find a lot of them actually work better on an iPad with their dedicated apps.

    You won't get any Windows computer that will be as functional new for that price, but you might find one on Kijiji or eBay. Also, for some sites, the programmers seem to do better with Windows than they do for macOS for some reason, even if they're just running out of a browser. Dunno why. But like I said, sometimes the best is actually an iPad.

    Chromebook may or may not be more problematic. If the site works with Chrome then great, but if it doesn't, then you might have a problem as there is no guarantee the site would have a Chrome OS app.

    There is a weird bug with that model that is limited to High Sierra that causes very occasional h.264 videos to be glitchy.

    However, for 99% of stuff it doesn't happen, and it only happens in High Sierra. There is no such problem in Sierra or El Capitan.


    Note also that for general surfing, if you hit a website that is particularly heavy on multimedia or which has a lot of ads, the machine may bog down. Usually it's fine, but it can get annoying if you're used to faster machines, although if you use an ad blocker it helps greatly. It's amazing/horrifying just how resource heavy some ads can be.

    Note: My experience is that I own a 2009 2.26 GHz MacBook Pro with basically the same specs as that model, except now with SSD and 8 GB RAM. Running with SSD and 4 GB RAM was OK too, but running with HD and 4 GB sucked.
  4. bobbype0 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2018
    Hi there thanks for the response.

    First off, i bought a brand new acer chromebook 14 for around 300 dollars and it has 4gb ram and 32gb ssd. It seems to have around 22gb free when i got it. I also am buying a 64gb usb drive and would try to connect an external hard drive for more space.

    The thing is i knew a chromebook was limited but i want another laptop mainly to stream through sites that are free sites... thus not like netflix, etc. I tried this with chromebook and it does work. The screen is also very nice. What i find annoying is you cannot have many windows showing like on windows with tabs etc. I never had a macbook. Always windows.

    So when i saw this macbook on ebay and the review from this sell is 100% and every macbook buyer from his is happy about it, i wonder if i should return my chromebook and get this used macbook instead. Thoughts? My first thoughts were hey i could get a macbook... i never had one. The other thing is its an actual OS. However, my purpose of a second computer is to basically stream sports, tv shows and movies... but i would be streaming them from those free sites... like legit sites etc. Thus a windows and the chromebook i have, has no issues with it.

    But if i get this used macbook, would the quality be bad? You mention this is an old hard drive and you could make it faster with ssd. I have an old samsung 250gb ssd drive that i could use in place of it. I also have extra ram but not sure how to put it in etc. But you are telling me if i buy this laptop... and have a 250gb ssd and another 4gb ram, then this computer would be pretty good? Since i dont have to spend more money buying another ssd?

    The thing is would the video/streaming be good on this 2009 macbook though? Like imaging me streaming say sports or tv shows through those free sites. What about youtube? Is the video quality going to be okay? Or is the quality of the video going to worst or much worst than say an asus laptop from 2011 etc.

    Because right now im wondering if i should get this or not and return my chromebook. The acer 14 chromebook does look very nice and stylish though. However, isn't this macbook heavy at like 4.7 lbs? I was surprised at this because i always thought 13.3 laptops were much lighter. The chromebook i have is 3.7lbs and very light for a 14 inch laptop. Also these chromebooks apparently have lot of battery as well. So if thats the case, what do you all say? Keep my chromebook or return it and get this used macbook? The other reason why i got chromebook was because i heard very few viruses on it. And because i will be visiting sites to stream where they might have viruses, isn't chromebook better?
    --- Post Merged, Mar 25, 2018 ---
    Another question. But i had thought macbook you couldn't just add an ssd or ram to it. So those old macbooks you could? For example the macbook air and pros etc, isn't if you buy the laptop with 128gb ssd, you cannot upgrade it to a 256gb ssd if you try to replace it yourself? But those old macbooks you could?

    Because if you could, wouldn't a 2009 macbook with those specs and 250gb ssd... and could you even upgrade ram to 8gb... make it a pretty fast computer or not? Or because the processor is very weak, then its still a slower computer?
  5. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    If the Chromebook and your Windows machine work, then just keep them.

    There are only two memory slots. If you have 4 GB, it's 2x2. You'd have to remove both to install 8 GB, and to do that, you'd need 2x4.

    It will work, but remember this a Core 2 Duo from 9 years ago, so it's some sites might be an issue, and also, the screen quality isn't great. It's mediocre.

    The MacBook is heavy, and it will have bad battery life.

    Those old Macs are very easy to work on.

    Yes, the CPU is weak. Strong enough for video streaming, but still weak. Actually, the video decoding works mainly because of the GPU. It has a GeForce 9400M, which has hardware h.264 decode.\

    The OS is rich though. I prefer 10.12 Sierra to both Windows 10 and Chrome OS.

    Ironically those old Core 2 Duo Macs run Chrome OS quite well though. :D

    I have a 2008 aluminum MacBook and 2009 MacBook Pro running 10.13 High Sierra, but my 2008 white MacBook can't run it. The last version it can run is 10.7 Lion, so instead I just run Chrome OS on that one.
  6. bobbype0 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2018
    Hi there thanks for the info.

    Well i got the chromebook solely for streaming/web browsing. But the issue is i would be streaming through those free sites and thus very possibly you can get virus etc. I thought about getting a windows computer at first but the issue is i didnt want to spend so much since this laptop is mainly streaming/web browsing. I thought about the acer 349 dollar laptop with i3 processor but it was a bit heavy. Also even even though the chromebook will be used inside almost always, i liked that it has long battery etc. Thus if i wanted to bring it to my bed, well i could watch for a while.

    So this macbook is very heavy? Its 4.7lbs right? The seller mentions new battery installed. So its still going to be bad? i already have extra ram and ssd because i had laptops that broke and thus i have those parts etc. So i could upgrade it to ssd and 8gb ram. But based on what i want to do with it... which is streaming through those free sites and web browsing, the acer 14 chromebook is probably best?

    Here is the link to the acer 14 i got

    So the processor i got for this chromebook is much better than this macbook one right?
    --- Post Merged, Mar 25, 2018 ---
    When you say they run chrome OS well... well wouldn't that be same as using the Chrome OS?

    So on that macbook that you use chrome OS, what do you do on that computer mostly? I assume web browse but do you stream much since the video quality isn't that good?

    Thus if the video quality display of the used macbook is bad, then i would definitely avoid it. Because im wondering should i have gotten that used 200 dollar macbook as oppose to this 300 dollar chromebook.
  7. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    If it's got a new battery, it's most likely third party. And they are hit and miss.

    Furthermore, the battery life on those things was never great to begin with.

    Not really. That Celeron is also a really slow CPU. Maybe a bit faster but not by a huge amount.

    However, Chrome is much less taxing on CPUs than macOS is.

    Yes. On that one 2008 white MacBook I run CloudReady Chrome OS on it.

    It's just a guest computer for email, surfing. And very occasional Netflix when I'm too lazy to get up and go to the other room to get my iPad.

    That Chromebook has a 1080p IPS screen. Way better than what the 2009 white MacBook has. The Chromebook also has 802.11ac WiFi.
  8. bobbype0 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2018
    Hey there yes i know it has that 1080p. I like it because when i have lot of tabs up, i want to be able to view it in small letters etc. Thats another reason i got it because well its mainly for streaming/watching video.

    So based on what i described, you say keep the chromebook then right? And if i didn't buy the chromebook, you would still suggest the chromebook as well? That mean i pay a bit over 100 dollars more for it as oppose to macbook and also little more because i ordered a usb stick for it as well.
  9. Jack Neill macrumors regular

    Jack Neill

    Sep 13, 2015
    San Antonio Texas
    I have a MB 5,2 (Early 2009). It is running 10.13.3 with 8GB ram and a SSD, works great for everything I do with it like Photos and iTunes and light Safari stuff. Got to watch what SSD you get though because the SandForce controller doesn't play nice with the Nvidia chipset and it will force it to Sata I and not II.
  10. hipsheik macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2008
    I have a MB 5,2. With El Capitan and 8GB ram and SSD.

    Runs great.

    I need a non LED backlit macbook to avoid eye strain, and I'm so glad the 2009 model runs El Capitan.
  11. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    I have a 2009 15" MacBook Pro with the 2.8GHz C2D and it struggles a bit when using VLC to play movies on my external monitor. I can get some frame skipping if I am doing other stuff on the computer.
  12. covisio macrumors 6502


    Aug 22, 2007
    I bought a 2010 MacBook from ebay for 185 GB Pounds last year. I spent £50 on 8GB ram and £50 on a 256Gb SSD, so £285 in total. It's running High Sierra without issue. I would strongly recommend the SSD, it makes a big difference to everyday usability.
    I watch Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube (on the built-in screen), it works fine. I don't use it with an external screen, I haven't tried it so can't comment on the performance of that.
    For web browsing and the supplied Apple apps, it all works fine. It's not great with iMovie, the screen size and the graphics processing ability are not up to the job for that sort of thing. Nor can you realistically run the latest Adobe Creative Suite apps.
    For me the 2009/2010 MacBooks represent the cheapest viable way into Mac portable ownership today, if you really want a Mac portable.
    That said, I spent £285 all in and the new iPad has come out at £319, I guess if the choice was given to me today I might have gone for the iPad. Not as versatile as the MacBook perhaps but ultimately faster and would see me through the next 4-5 years, which the MacBook will almost certainly not do.
  13. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    I can’t use an iPad for productive work. The interface just doesn’t work well for a lot of applications.
  14. Zoodle macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2014
    This is my late-2008 MacBook upgrade story...

    I have a MacBook 5,1 (13-inch Aluminum unibody late 2008) which has a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU.
    In February 2017 I upgraded its memory to 8GB with two Crucial CT2C4G3S1067MCEU 4GB 1067 MHz DDR3 RAM and replaced the hard disk with a Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD. The RAM was £80 and the SSD was £151 from Amazon. I packed out the SSD with 2mm foam pads because it is thinner than the old hard disk.
    I run patches at startup to get the system to boot macOS Sierra and/or High Sierra. This is done using the patch tool and installation instructions found at
    The patch script results in a slightly less tidy startup screen but there is no other impact on operation.
    I also needed to update the boot firmware version to see the full 8GB RAM.
    I have an external DV+TOSLINK to HDMI adapter for viewing 720p/1080i movies using VLC and BBC iPlayer for viewing TV programmes on hotel TVs while on vacation. This worked flawlessly even before the upgrade.

    I am very happy indeed with the lively performance of the RAM and SSD upgrades.
  15. EugW, Apr 3, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018

    EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    If you use HFS+, the startup screen is the same as before. The text startup only happens if you use an APFS boot disk.

Share This Page