Buying the older stuff?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by GanChan, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. GanChan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2005
    I'm reconciled to the fact that any Apple products I purchase in the future will probably be of the, um, semi-vintage variety (due to budgetary constraints). With that in mind, what are oldest-era Macs and Macbooks that would you consider usable for everyday office tasks and Web browsing?

    From my own experience: I actually nursed a 2004 iBook well into this decade, before it just got so far behind (and so unsupported) that it couldn't do much of anything. I'm a fan of the Macbook Air (pre-butterfly). My 2013 Mac Mini is still performing well.
  2. iluvmacs99, Apr 22, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019

    iluvmacs99 macrumors member

    Apr 9, 2019
    I think you're not alone in this. I too will be relegated into buying used Apple products in the future as well. I have a 2011 Mac Mini and a 2014 Macbook Air that I both bought during the good times when I was still making good living and owning the best equipment like fast RAID drives, a nice display and a fast professional router that allowed me to do my job well as well as 2 PC laptops (one was given to me by my deceased uncle as part of his will). But after I became obsolete and got pushed out of my last job, I had to be retrained into a new career which now barely pay, I considered, a proper living wage and while I'm ok with the bills, I no longer have the excess income left for those discretionary spending I used to enjoy. In the past decades, I could just walk into the Apple store extremely confident, chat with the geniuses and then walk out with bags of goodies. Nowadays, I just walk in to the store, look at the prices knowingly that I could not afford them all and then just leave.

    It is at this moment that I actually started researching on how I could stretch the life of my macs and considering buying used macs to just get me by and at least make me feel I can still buy a Mac as I had never considered buying anything used in my life. Why would I? I was making the big bucks and spent on $100 meals easily!

    Anyhow, the research I did on Macs and by speaking with a lot of people in the Macworld locally and visiting several used Mac stores selling used macs taught me a lesson. There is a booming business selling used Macs and used Macs are useful for many things even in 2019! Even those vintage Macs like the PowerMacs even as some people are still buying them I suppose to keep running their older software in 2019, though now the PowerMac G5 is really dirt cheap. Most of these people say they don't need to use their Macs to go online, web browse, online banking and trading as their iPhones/Android phones do just fine and they prefer that! But for those office tasks; accounting, finance, video and audio editing and printing stuff to the laser printer or inkjet then they would use the Mac.

    Here's what I found are the oldest Macs that people would consider buying today in 2019. The Macs need to run El-Capitan and have at least 4Gb of Ram. But I think soon El-Capitan will lose support, so the minimal support would be Sierra if you plan to web browse and log on to secured sites that need minimum El-Capitan or Sierra. Personally, I'm not too worried about web browsing as my free Windows 10 laptop will allow me to access government secured sites for income assistance.

    I think your 2013 Mac Mini is more than adequate. If you are looking for a laptop and don't mind slightly underpowered CPU, the Macbook 2010 white is a good candidate. Affordable and upgradable to keep up with the times. They are cheap by today's standards and they can run Sierra and High Sierra.
  3. eRondeau macrumors 65816


    Mar 3, 2004
    Canada's South Coast
    With the possible exception of their ultra-high-end Pro machines Apple has never marketed based on "specs". This is the most significant difference between the corporate ideologies of Apple vs. PC manufacturers. PC's have always been sold based on improved specs -- "Last year's was 3.6GHz, now it's 3.7GHz!" Whereas Apple has always marketed themselves based on their great user experience which transcends the spec sheet. If you're a PC user who spends your life chasing improved specs, great -- but you'll never be happy because something new will always be 0.1 better. However if you're an Apple user who values a great user experience over all else then you'll always be happy. It is possible to have a consistently great UX with a Mac that's several years (or even a decade, in my case) old. My newest Mac is a late-2012 that still feels brand-new, fast, and powerful every time I switch it on.
  4. iluvmacs99 macrumors member

    Apr 9, 2019
    That's true and is what the Macs and the older Macs in general is so appealing. The Apple experience factor and Apple software allows anyone to run older vintage Macs and be just as productive as those who own the latest Macs and PCs. Outside of the gaming, 4K and 1080p HD quality encoding, higher audiophile audio editing and audio bouncing and high intensity programming, most people do not really need the latest Macs. In fact, the late 2012 or even the 2011 Mac Minis are good enough and powerful enough for most usage purposes. Even the older 2006-2009 Macs are usable as well as the early Macs if you are not relying on using the web much. My sister is using the 2nd gen Mac Mini 2007 still working with Illustrator. She just upgraded to a 3rd gen refurb Mac Mini so she could use some latest software, but she preferred the 2nd gen more than 3rd gen Mini. Not everyone wants to keep upgrading to the latest specs. That's largely a myth created by PC makers and Apple to get you to buy a new computer every once in awhile by getting you to upgrade to the latest OS, make the computer run slower and then forces you to planned obsolescence!
  5. Christine1234 macrumors regular


    Mar 2, 2011
    Snowflake, AZ
    My 2005 G5 was my workhorse until several months ago when it could no longer get You Tube. If that is not important to you, G5's are excellent, well-made machines. My current computer is a 2009 iMac. It does everything I need, and you can pick one up pretty inexpensively. Mine was $100, with a SATA hard drive and El Capitan installed.
  6. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
  7. pika2000 macrumors 601

    Jun 22, 2007
    Anything Haswell onward should be fine, so 2013 or newer I think.
    I have a 2013 MacBook Pro and it still performs like a champ. If you are buying a desktop Mac, make sure it has SSD or you upgrade it to SSD. Imo with SSD, any computers in the last 10 years or so are good enough for daily tasks. The major bottleneck is the spinning platter hard drive. I pick Haswell as the minimum due to its battery life. Anything older than Haswell (sandy bridge and older) don’t have good battery life, that’s if you’re looking for a laptop.
  8. oldmacs macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2010
    Probably 2008/2009 era Macs which can run High Sierra with SSDs and enough ram.

    The MacBook Pro Mid 2012 is still great but truly needs an SSD!
  9. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    For laptop's I'll defer to pika2000's suggestion of 2013 and newer.

    For iMacs I'd suggest 2009 is the oldest still usable, and 2010 the oldest still worth buying.

    2007-2008 are still in use, but being slow and ram limited SSD upgrade are essential rather than just recommended.
    2009 is more capable with much higher RAM potential, but I personally couldn't go back to using Core2Duo with MacOS.
    2010 1st gen Core i# are more than capable of email/internet/iWork type stuff and can also run Sierra/H.S..
    2011 21.5" models have excellent performance/value and are relatively upgradable, but probably won't last any longer than a 2010 since neither will run Mojave. Also the 27" 6970M should be avoided due to GPU failures.
    2012 will run the latest OS (Mojave). Because of the last used prices also tend to be higher. The redesign also left 21.5" models with non-upgradable RAM and very low 5400rpm HDDs standard, but at least with added USB 3.0 external SSDs become a practical option.
  10. Nbd1790 macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2017
    New York
    Depending on your exact budget, I'd have to tell you to go with a 2013/2014 MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air (same model year). These are great machines, already equipped with an SSD and much lighter than the 2012 and earlier MBP's. You can probably pick up these models moderately equipped somewhere in the range of $450-$700 depending on specs. If you move toward the higher configurations, you'll be getting closer to $800-$900, but the price is well worth the premium IMO. If you have a very low budget (ballpark a few hundred bucks) the 2012 is going to be the sweet spot for performance and price. As others have mentioned, just make sure you put an SSD in it.

    Only downside of choosing a 2012 model is it may not have support for that much longer from Apple, and after adding an SSD, Apple will refuse to repair any of its issues because there are after market parts in it. Hope that helps guide your decision.

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9 April 22, 2019