Buying a used MBP – is Thunderbolt worth it?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by uajafd, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. uajafd macrumors newbie

    uajafd

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2015
    #1
    I'm pondering a prospect of buying myself a used 17-inch Macbook Pro, of the 2011 or 2010 variety. Main selling points to me are: screen real estate (as opposed to resolution), the possibility of a matte display, upgradeability of RAM and disks, having an ExpressCard/34 slot.

    The 2011 model would be an obvious choice, but 2010 models are more attractive price-wise, and it's possible to find ones not very battered from heavy field use.

    For my typical usages (which is software and database development), the i7 that went before Sandy Bridge is acceptable, and Sandy Bridge is quite plenty. A SSD and 16 gigabytes of RAM make the machine futureproof enough for the next few years.

    The biggest difference between 2010 and 2011 models is, apart from the chipset, of course, the Thunderbolt port. Now that this is 5 years since Thunderbolt port exists on commercially available hardware, my question is: is it worth it? The machine I'm interested in doesn't have USB3 on board and that can be remedied with a Thunderbolt adapter (ExpressCard/34 is not worth it as the bandwidth is only 1.5 Gpbs). Is there anything else I would miss dearly only because I don't happen to own a machine with Thunderbolt port?

    PS. oh well. Didn't notice there's a Buying Advice forum. Maybe move the topic there?
     
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #2
    Both of those models exhibit high rates of GPU failure, you'd be taking a big risk buying either of them at that age, the 2011 will be covered under an extended warranty until early next year (for that issue only) then that is it, you are on your own. Also the 2011 has the Core i sandybridge chipset, it is superior to the Core 2 duos in the 2010 by quite a margin.

    As to your question well if you want fast transfer speeds it'll be worth the thunderbolt if you aren't bothered it won't be, remember they make great connectors for external screens as well with mini DP to HDMI connectors.
     
  3. uajafd thread starter macrumors newbie

    uajafd

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2015
    #3
    Hm, I vaguely remember iFixit remarking on ridiculous amounts of thermal compound shoved in. Is that it?

    Also, before Sandy Bridge, there were Arrandale Core i processors. I meant those. Core 2 Duos are good to fry eggs on them, and barely for anything else, and 8 GiB RAM cap is frustrating.
     
  4. uajafd thread starter macrumors newbie

    uajafd

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2015
    #4
    Depends on transfer speed between my Mac and what else? It's not like I'm going to use external storage much/permanently (and LaCie solutions are really pricey). I was just wondering if there are actual peripherals on sale that would help the machine to not become obsolete really soon.

    1) Like an eGPU station that can drive a 4k monitor at 60 Hz.
    2) Like a USB3 hub (provided we have enough USB 3.0 interesting non-storage peripherals, like audio, LTE modems, or whatnot).
    3) Like an eSATA connector that actually works under OS X and allows connectivity to an el cheapo RAID box hosting 4-6 3.5" hard drives.
    4) Like a decent audio interface for real-time multichannel work.

    Something that really makes a Thunderbolt port indispensable. I can only think of 1) and maybe 2).


    I know also that Sandy Bridge CPUs are the first to have AES-NI, so doing crypto in hardware should allow the machines to run much more efficiently. I don't know if FileVault2/OpenSSH on OSX actually make use of them or not.
     
  5. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

    Joined:
    May 28, 2006
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #5
    2010 15"/17" uses a first gen i-series (Arrandale), not the Core 2 Duo.

    GPU issues are a fair point though.
     
  6. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #6
    The GPU problems are down to the unleaded solder cracking the GPU away from the motherboard.

    You can do thunderbolt to usb 3, gigabit ethernet , esata etc with adapters.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=thunderbolt+to+usb+3

    eGPU's are available but come in at about $600-$800 by the time you've put them together and thunderbolt 1 will not give you great performance the bandwidth isn't quite enough.

    No idea on audio stuff myself not my field.

    You seem to have all the info you need though and a good understanding of what you are getting into, you just have to make a choice. For me the advantages of the 2011 are the extended GPU warranty for another 8 months and better specs....

    I'll be honest though I'd never reccomend anyone bought a 4-5 year old laptop there are no upsides to it in my opinion, especially macs they work out expensive for outdated hardware...
     
  7. stephenquickv macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2015
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, Va
    #7

    MBP 15in mid 2010 owner here. The Graphics cards in these models are god awful to the point where sometimes 1080p 30fps is choppy. Not to mention how loud the fan is. I would avoid anything before retina 2013, Im about to make an investment into a newer macbook pro.
     
  8. Dsching Suspended

    Dsching

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    #8
    1080p 30fps will never be choppy on any macbook from 2010. Something else is wrong with your macbook.
     
  9. uajafd thread starter macrumors newbie

    uajafd

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2015
    #9
    I thought if Retina is the way to go. Nope. Nope, as in that Godzilla meme.

    Is extremely hard to repair. RAM is non-upgradeable and expensive as excrement when maxed out.
     
  10. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #10
    All the 15 inch rMBP's come with the maximum RAM 16GB as standard and have done since 2014, no thin light laptop is easy to repair and the only real upgrades available are SSD size (which can't be bought third party anyway) and the dGPU which would be almost impossible to do yourself.
     
  11. kohlson macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    #11
    There are pros and cons to this system. I just finished trading my 2011 MBP15 in at work for a 2014 model. 2011 Pros: memory upgradeable to 16GB, you can upgrade the disk pretty easily - HDD or SSD, and the 17-in screen is nice. Cons: You will need to replace the HDD, if the experience of my co-workers is any indication. These logic boards seem to have a remarkably poor reliability record. Also, these systems are a low point in I/O. That is, good compute and storage capabilities, but USB 2 is really the only thing. I can't imagine anyone is keeping up their drivers on Express slots and such. The TB ports, unless you do video, are mostly used as video ports, at least around here. Net, I don't think you will miss TB I/O, USB2 is slower but workable, but the logic board/GPU issues are problematic.
     
  12. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

    Joined:
    May 28, 2006
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #12
    *Cough* Firewire *Cough*
    *Cough* Gigabit Ethernet *Cough*

    There's more to life than USB.
     
  13. awair macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    #13
    I sold my (originally new) 2010 MBP17 to get a (refurb) 2011 MBP17.

    It was well worth the upgrade: I got Thunderbolt & an AirPlay-compatible device, which I have upgraded to 16GB.

    With an internal 480GB SSD & additional 1TB (in place of optical) this machine is a delight to use and generally faster than my 2013 MBA13, with a better and larger display.

    The only snag I have noticed is that although boot is lightning fast, it is really slow to resume, whereas my MBA is instant-on. It's actually quicker to shutdown, and restart, rather than suspend/sleep.

    And while I am missing USB3, I have added the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 2, which covers all bases.
     
  14. Pearl Wisdom macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    #14


    I have a very similar configuration, early-2011 MBP17 with 16GB memory and 500GB Samsung SSD 850 EVO. I don't have any slowness on waking from sleep. Maybe your problem is related to your replacement of the optical drive. I am running OS X 10.9.5.

    I've been happy with my 17" MBP, not using it for anything that CPU intensive usually, but I've been using it about six hours a day for several years without developing any logic board or other problems (fingers crossed). I also have a friend with the similar early-2011 15" MBP (with optional hi res display), using it about the same, and she has not developed any logic board problems either.
     

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