Buying a Used MacBook Pro 15"

MacDude205100

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Feb 9, 2016
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Hi,

I am going to be in the market for a used MBP 15" this summer. I'm looking to spend less than $1200. I'd ideally like a 2011 or newer, and I'm fine with non retina. I know a lot of these machines have graphics card recalls and issues. Which years should I avoid? Do ones with discrete graphics have higher rates of logic board failure? It's not going to be used for anything serious, so anything 2011 or newer should be fine.
 

Samuelsan2001

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Oct 24, 2013
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Don't buy a 2011 it's that simple a 2012 early 2013 (including retina) also have discrete GPU's that have issues although currently not nearly as widespread as the 2011.

A late 2013 retina without the dGPU, may well be your best bet for a 15 inch, they come up on eBay at that price.
 
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JTToft

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The only vintage around that time that isn't affected by the issues is the Mid 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro. That's a solid computer all-round.
Otherwise, as mentioned, you have to go all the way up to Late 2013 (which is the first really fantastic Retina MacBook Pro that brought a lot of new features over the Early 2013).
 
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JTToft

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throAU

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The only vintage around that time that isn't affected by the issues is the Mid 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro. That's a solid computer all-round.
Otherwise, as mentioned, you have to go all the way up to Late 2013 (which is the first really fantastic Retina MacBook Pro that brought a lot of new features over the Early 2013).
Apple have extended their GPU repair program to cover 2012 MBP, and ALSO 2012 and 2013 Retina MBP, according to when i checked the repair program page today.

But yeah, i'd avoid the 15" machines with discrete GPU if you can. They're prone to GPU failure.

If you're wanting a machine that vintage, play it safe and buy a 13" machine without discrete GPU.


edit:
$1500 on a 4 year old machine is nuts. Buy a new macbook air, unless you're comparing against the high spec GPU in the 2011 machine, the new MBA's GPU is probably faster.
 
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JTToft

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Apple have extended their GPU repair program to cover 2012 MBP, and ALSO 2012 and 2013 Retina MBP, according to when i checked the repair program page today.
- Nope. 2012 non-Retina isn't covered (and thus not affected). Neither is Late 2013 Retina. It's been the same six models since the inception of the programme early last year:

http://www.apple.com/support/macbookpro-videoissues/

Affected Models
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch Early 2011)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012)
  • MacBook Pro (17-inch Early 2011)
  • MacBook Pro (17-inch Late 2011)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15 inch, Early 2013)
 

MacDude205100

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Original poster
Feb 9, 2016
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Eastern U.S.
Thanks for the advice guys. I'm actually pretty confused as to what to do. This would be a secondary machine, my main machine is a Mac mini with a nice desktop setup. In the future I'm going to buy a Mac Pro (probably 3-4 years). But I need a machine to take when traveling or on the go. I need at least a 13" screen and preferably at least 512 GB so I can take my stuff with me. It seems like the 15" machines are bad news, at least used ones. What would you recommend I do?
 

throAU

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Feb 13, 2012
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- Nope. 2012 non-Retina isn't covered (and thus not affected). Neither is Late 2013 Retina. It's been the same six models since the inception of the programme early last year:

http://www.apple.com/support/macbookpro-videoissues/
Ah my mistake. New some retina models had been affected, only saw it in passing assumed it was inclusive up to those.

If you're considering a 15" machine that old, i already made my suggestion - get a 13" macbook air (or retina macbook pro) as new as you can.

It will out perform the old 15" machine in almost everything other than rendering video. It will be lighter, boot way faster, support Metal, have OS X support for longer, etc.
 

tubeexperience

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Feb 17, 2016
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Don't get the 2011 MacBook Pro! EVER!

It's the worst laptop I've ever had.

It's my first Apple laptop and it may well be my last.
 
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Samuelsan2001

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Oct 24, 2013
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Thanks for the advice guys. I'm actually pretty confused as to what to do. This would be a secondary machine, my main machine is a Mac mini with a nice desktop setup. In the future I'm going to buy a Mac Pro (probably 3-4 years). But I need a machine to take when traveling or on the go. I need at least a 13" screen and preferably at least 512 GB so I can take my stuff with me. It seems like the 15" machines are bad news, at least used ones. What would you recommend I do?
The 15 inch models late 2013 onwards come in a configuration without the dGPU the IRIS pro graphics are pretty damn good for integrated graphics and you show no indication of needing that graphical power so that would be where I was looking.

Ebay have a fair number in your price range but SSD size tends to 256gb.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=macbook+pro+15&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1311.R-1.TR12.TRC2.A0.H0.Xmacbook+pro+15+2013+.TRS0&_nkw=macbook+pro+15+retina+late+2013&_sacat=0

As for a 13 inch that may be your best bet a 512 13 inch would be far more portable and it sounds like it would be easily powerful enough for your mobile uses.
 
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MacDude205100

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The 13" seems like the better choice for my budget and needs. But my concern with it is the smaller screen size, not the dual core instead of quad core. Has anyone had both at some point and chose one over the other? I'd be curious to hear which screen size people prefer and why.
 

Closingracer

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Jul 13, 2010
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Why do you need a 15 inch? A 13 inch will do the work and not that much smaller imo. I have a 17 inch windows laptop which has basically become a gaming only machine and using my 13 inch all the time. I don't notice the difference really in terms of basic stuff IMHO
[doublepost=1460995311][/doublepost]
The 13" seems like the better choice for my budget and needs. But my concern with it is the smaller screen size, not the dual core instead of quad core. Has anyone had both at some point and chose one over the other? I'd be curious to hear which screen size people prefer and why.


I would love the 15 inch but that price tag at $1,999 put it way above my price range. For $1,300 I got the base model with the 256GB SSD and love it. I thought myself the 13 inch would be to small with my limited experience with a 15 inch windows laptop I tried out before I bought my current 17 inch Windows laptop. TBH I am happy with the 13 inch and would buy it again.
 

MacDude205100

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 9, 2016
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Eastern U.S.
Why do you need a 15 inch? A 13 inch will do the work and not that much smaller imo. I have a 17 inch windows laptop which has basically become a gaming only machine and using my 13 inch all the time. I don't notice the difference really in terms of basic stuff IMHO
[doublepost=1460995311][/doublepost]



I would love the 15 inch but that price tag at $1,999 put it way above my price range. For $1,300 I got the base model with the 256GB SSD and love it. I thought myself the 13 inch would be to small with my limited experience with a 15 inch windows laptop I tried out before I bought my current 17 inch Windows laptop. TBH I am happy with the 13 inch and would buy it again.
Thanks for the opinion!
 

Queen6

macrumors 604
As other members have suggested look at the 13" Retina MacBook you will be pleasantly surprised. Avoid the 15" with dGPU as they are literally time bombs. If you really want a 15" look at the reputable Windows OEM`s sinking so much into a used portable frankly makes no sense irrespective of the OS.

As for the 2011 MBP, only worth thinking about if someones paying you to take it off their hands :p

FWIW I own 12" 13" 15" Retina`s & 15" cMBP`s

Q-6
[doublepost=1461012161][/doublepost]
Does the MacBook retina have a backlit keyboard at $1300?
Yes

Q-6
 

khabboub

macrumors member
Mar 30, 2014
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Tampa
like other have said, if you really want a "cheap" 15 inch macbook pro, get the Late 2013 model. those macbook are pretty reliable.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=macbook+pro+15&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1311.R-1.TR12.TRC2.A0.H0.Xmacbook+pro+15+2013+.TRS0&_nkw=macbook+pro+15+retina+late+2013&_sacat=0&afsrc=1&rmvSB=true

if you are lucky you can snag one for less than 1200. they are pretty similar to the current MacBook pros that are available.

i always tell people to get the 15 as oppose to the 13. especially with the retina models, the 15 is so light and portable, and you get to use so much screen.
 

throAU

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Feb 13, 2012
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Perth, Western Australia
The 13" seems like the better choice for my budget and needs. But my concern with it is the smaller screen size, not the dual core instead of quad core. Has anyone had both at some point and chose one over the other? I'd be curious to hear which screen size people prefer and why.
I've had both 15 and 13 (see sig) and prefer the 13. Retina does help because you're not stuck with 1280x800 anymore.

Hmm my sig isn't currently showing. Anyway I own a 15" 2011 with the high end GPU and it's currently broken with the GPU issue. Even before that I preferred the 13 inch form factor.

I bought the 15 originally to be a desktop replacement but fact is even the high end GPU in them is pretty crap and by no means desktop class.
 

JTToft

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Apr 27, 2010
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Looks like the 13" is the best. Can you scale the resolution to get more screen real estate? Does this make things too small?
- You can. Up to an effective 1680x1050 by default. Whether it makes things too small depends on your preferences and eyesight. I know quite a lot of people switch around resolutions as needed, most keeping the standard effective 1280x800 for general use.
 
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throAU

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- You can. Up to an effective 1680x1050 by default. Whether it makes things too small depends on your preferences and eyesight. I know quite a lot of people switch around resolutions as needed, most keeping the standard effective 1280x800 for general use.
Yup. I run the default unless I'm trying to multitask with multiple windows on screen a lot. 1680x1050 effective res works well.
 

Fozziebear40

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Apr 14, 2008
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I'm glad I found this thread. I have a 9 1/2 year old MacBook Pro 2.33 (late 2006) 15" still going strong (though slowly) but the battery only runs for 5 minutes and the screen isn't that bright now.

I have to run Snow Leopard (not emulated) so the last that run SL with a Thunderbolt port are the early 2011 models. Looking at the benchmarks I was all set to get a 15" one of those but this thread has made me stop.

Would I still be okay to go ahead and get the 13" model with just Intel HD3000 graphics?
 

Samuelsan2001

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Oct 24, 2013
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I'm glad I found this thread. I have a 9 1/2 year old MacBook Pro 2.33 (late 2006) 15" still going strong (though slowly) but the battery only runs for 5 minutes and the screen isn't that bright now.

I have to run Snow Leopard (not emulated) so the last that run SL with a Thunderbolt port are the early 2011 models. Looking at the benchmarks I was all set to get a 15" one of those but this thread has made me stop.

Would I still be okay to go ahead and get the 13" model with just Intel HD3000 graphics?
Yes it will be fine but to be honest if you are running software that needs snow leopard I would look at moving on. A 5 year old laptop is just putting money into something that has no support and may last a short amount of time, at that point it's usually worth changing or upgrading software and having a new computer that will last 3-5 years no problem.
 
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