Price Advice Does it still worth getting MBP late 2011 17 inche? Or should I just buy MBP 15 inche with Ratina

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by binknon7, May 10, 2016.


What do you think?

  1. MBP late 2011 17 inche

    3 vote(s)
  2. New MBP with Ratina

    20 vote(s)
  1. binknon7 macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2013
    hi, my question has been asked many times but most of them are pretty old now. I used my MBP early 2011 13 inche for a while now and looking to upgrade. Then I see my friends MBP 17 it's pretty awesome. I know the Ratina MacBook are great too. So as for 2016, do you guys think it will worth getting MBP late 2011 17 inche?

    Thank you!
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Avoid the 15"/17" 2011s like the plague due to the Radeon issue.

    You might as well wait for WWDC to see if they update the rMBPs.
  3. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    In my opinion they are not worth the cost for 5 year old tech with USB 2 no HDMI, no thunderbolt 2, n wireless (no ac wireless), old Bluetooth standard, etc etc etc not to mention the screen not being a patch on the retina and the 15 inch retina being much smaller and about half the weight. Any 15 inch retina from late 2013 onwards will be a vast improvement on the 2011 17 inch unless you absolutely must have a bigger screen.

    Also the 2011 15 and 17 inch machines have a fault with the GPU that turns your computer into a brick, Apple will fix it until the end of 2016 but the fixes often fail within months.

    All in all its a poor choice to spend your money on.
  4. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I've had an Early 2011 17" since, well, early 2011. I put a 250GB SSD in it about 3 years ago (*essential* upgrade - far more impact that an incrementally faster CPU), chucked out the optical drive and put the old 750GB HD in the optical slot, so I've got 1TB of storage in total - I'm about to replace the 250GB with a 500GB that I have spare, so there will be more storage than you can fit in a modern rMBP.

    Its a great machine in many ways and I have no complaints in terms of "getting stuff done" - it runs rings around my "work" 2010 MBP 13" so it's been shuttling between home and work for the last couple of years. I'd expect a new rMBP to be faster but not "night and day".

    ...RAM is officially user-upgradeable, main HD is officially user-upgradeable (the OptiBay trick for a second HD isn't official, and a bit trickier to perform but not rocket science) and it still has an Ethernet port and an ExpressCard slot.

    ...the screen is pretty good - its not retina but does have a higher pixel density than the non-retina 13"/15" so it's certainly not fuzzy and, like it or not, 17" is still bigger than 15".

    Mostly what Samualsan2001 already said above.

    - no USB 3. I've been using a Caldigit ExpressCard USB3 adapter, but that isn't supported by El Cap. so I'm stuck on Mavericks for the moment. You could also add USB3 via Thunderbolt (but the cheaper TB-to-USB3 dongles

    - no Thunderbolt2 isn't an issue for me - what IS an issue is only having one TB1 port which is also the only external display connections. I mostly run an external display which rules out using cheaper Thunderbolt drives that don't have a daisy-chain port. I'd like to run dual external displays - the GPU is quite capable of that but you can only achieve it by buying at least 2 Thunderbolt devices. rMBP has 2xThunderbolt AND a HDMI.

    - it was amazingly thin and light in its day, and makes comparable 17" quad-i7 PCs look like bricks, but having recently lugged it through airports etc on a trip (London Heathrow feels like you're crossing the Atlantic on foot) I was really, really lusting after a rMBP.

    - the GPU issue is the deal breaker: mine failed last year and was fixed without fuss. 1 failure after 4 years daily use & fixed for free isn't the end of the world, so I'm not too upset, but - since its not clear that the 'fix' is anything other than another roll of the dice - I wouldn't touch a second-hand one with a bargepole unless it was really, really cheap.

    Shame, because the other 'cons' are all tolerable and it would still make a great workhorse if you didn't insist on the bleeding edge.

    I'm hoping mine lasts until the new models come out...
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Agreed, OP, with the dGPU on the those models failing, I'd not put any money towards that model.

    Even if the Radeon issue was present, I'd say buy new over 5 year old technology.
  6. foobarbaz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2007
    If your eyesight is okay, get the Retina and scale down the display. The Retinas are much, much, much more pleasant machines.

    But don't get a new one today. Buy used or wait till WWDC. The Retinas also have (essentially) 3 year old tech by now. The next one will be *two* CPU generations ahead.
  7. Pearl Wisdom macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2009
    I have an early 2011 17", and a few months ago got a new 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2014) for $1600. No problems with the 2011 GPU, and my friend with an early 2011 15" has not had GPU problems either, after years of heavy use. So not clear how common the GPU problem really is. If you get the 2011, you will want to have an SSD and probably at least 8GB of RAM. Nice that it is easier to do user upgrades and repairs with the 2011 model. The 2014 Retina is nice, a little faster, lighter than the 17", and the screen is nicer. If the money is a big issue, then the 2011 could be a good choice, but otherwise you might find a good deal on an older 15" Retina.
  8. Macyourdayy macrumors 6502


    Sep 9, 2011
    I've finally SSD'd my 17" (1GB) and also put in 16GB of 1600 ram. Just for laughs I put the SSD in the optibay (as there is no shock protection in the optibay), and it seems to be fine, reporting a 6GB link with no crashing or instability. So far I've had no hint of GPU or logic board issues, and several genius tests over the years have come back clean. While I'd love a retina display, the extremely high cost of storage in the retinas, lack of reliable upgrade options and my lack of desire to spend 80% of my time housekeeping storage makes the late 2011 17" (I find displays less than 1910x1200 on OS X claustrophobic and irritating) the best portable option for me (running FCP, Lightroom, etc). Bluetooth 4 and usb3 are also possible and I might go down that road at some stage, but apart from some of the chrome, Snow Leopard was the peak of OS X for me, so that probably says more than I should (and that FCP X was a huge slap in the face of production houses that spent millions on equipment and training that ended up driving amazing Mac acceptance and adoption in Wintel dominated environments).
    Your mileage may vary, but it depends on what you run and how far you need to carry it every day. Starting with the 1.4GHz 17" PowerBook, I took them to work and non backpacking holidays for ten years. I would suggest an ipad and/or 13" retina for extensive travelling (I stupidly got the 13" Air and the screen sucks), but otherwise a 15 or 17" i7 will do just about everything unless you need more than two screens. While the 13" retina is a great portable and travelling machine, once you start upgrading, you might as well go for a mid range 15 as non standard 13's are ridiculously overpriced.
    I paid $2500 (new) for the 17 four years ago and now around $390 for 16G ram, 1TB SSD and 1TB spinner and it's almost as powerful as a rMBP (1200-1300 Geekbench multi core I think). When the 2TB SSD's get cheaper, I'll replace the spinner. How much is 2-3TB going to cost you on rMBP? Trick question.
    Good luck.
  9. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Unfortunately, the GPU failure comes out of the blue. Mine was fine for 4 years - then it was about a week between the first symptoms appearing (display glitches, freezing) and total bricking. Fortunately, I live close to a major independent Apple dealer and it was fixed, for free, within a few days. I wouldn't worry if you're an existing owner and had had 4 years out of it - but I wouldn't "buy in" to it at this stage, with the free repair deal coming to an end.

    ...which is a crying shame since, as you say, how else do you fit 3TB+ of storage in a MacBook Pro?
  10. OcelotWreak macrumors member


    Jul 20, 2011
    I recently SSD'd my 2011 17" (1GB) and it made a startling difference in speed to open apps and save files, etc. So if you can find a 17" 2011 MBP at a very cheap price and can consider throwing another $$$ in for a SSD, then you can have a still very capable MBP with a lovely big screen.

    I have always enjoyed the larger real estate of the 17" screen (for my eyesight working on multiple docs) and feel that the keyboard is better than later machines, but that may simply be my habits of usage and kybrd feel. I had early screen glitches that went away after several years, oddly enough, so I'm letting sleeping GPU dogs lie (knock on wood) until a new premium model comes out that is compelling to buy. Otherwise, I may just stick with the 17" as a carry-around laptop when I need one away from home and spring for a 27" all in one giant screen iMac as my every day desktop Mac. Your milage may vary, depending on how much you really need a movable laptop with a bigger screen.

    The other 'older tech' disadvantages as noted above may be show-stoppers for you (not for me), but otherwise the 17" was and still is a good work horse. I still love mine! One potential show-stopper might be how much longer this 2011 MBP will be supported by Apple's latest OS? El Cap runs fine, but who knows if the next version of OS X will be supported on it.
  11. MrGIS macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2010
    Ontario Canada
    I'd avoid the 2011 models, the primary reason being they are USB 2 only. The non retina pros included USB 3 in 2012, and if you don't want or need retina,and can find one in good shape, they are still worth having in my opinion. I purchased a refurb from Apple in early 2015 (to my knowledge they are no longer available from Apple), and have since added 16 GB of RAM, a 512 SSD, and a 2TB HDD. That kind of internal storage capacity just isn't possible with the newer models, and performance is still pretty darn good even by today's standards.
  12. KenaiAndrews macrumors newbie


    Nov 30, 2014
    Toronto, Canada
    The short answer is: It's not worth getting a 2011 MBP at this point unless you can score a major steal of a price. The long answer: As the proud owner of a 17-inch early 2011 MacBook Pro, I pretty much agree with the others here, I still love mine. It's still a workhorse for me, even without a SSD, but I bought it beefed up with 8GB RAM and the 2.3 gHZ CPU and the top AMD DGPU. For the first two years or so, computing was like thrill of downhill skiing. But alas, Father Time has caught up, even though performance is still pretty good. The fact that I didn't feel the need to put in a SSD until now is a good indicator of the power this thing had. Haven't had the GPU issue flare up, but not a heavy gamer. Used my Apple Care though as the webcam was DOA on arrival. Got a new free motherboard and screen after one year so it's a really a 2012 Macbook Pro lol. 2000 plus battery cycles @ 60% and counting!
  13. McScooby macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2005
    The Paps of Glenn Close, Scotland.
    Absolutely love the 17", absolutely despise the issues with the gfx card, all plain sailing for 3 years, then will be onto my 3rd logic board at the w/e, I even tried not to use it which is not what a computer should be, hopefully this one'll go to make it a 4th before dec, avoid, avoid, avoid, only reason to buy cheap is to then punt it to some unsuspecting at a higher price, I'm just too nice to do that!
  14. Macyourdayy macrumors 6502


    Sep 9, 2011
    Sorry to hear about about the crash. I've been dreading that possibility for years, but so far there are no signs on mine.
    I remember seeing yoo toobs on fixing the apparently crappy heatsink mounting/goo situation on the Unibodies, but it looks scary as pretty much everything needs dismantling. The speed and reliabilty results after though are amazing as the CPUs aren't throttled by overheating and it seems to have some bearing on the GPU situation as the heat damage is minimised.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 3, 2016 ---
    I'm glad yours was a good performer as mine was a dog - slower than my Cube running 10.4. Years of bitching to Apple were fruitless, but eventually replacing the original drive (with another 5400) resulted in a 50% I/O increase (45/50MB to 90/95MB). Now with the Sandisk II plus and 16gig ram, it performs as well as you imagine, so more upgrading might surprise you pleasantly. Having 2-4TB storage on hand isn't bad either.
  15. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Might try that after I've got a replacement... :)

    Certainly fitting the SSD to mine about 3 years ago turned it into a new machine - but I think that's true of anything with spinning rust - its the seek time that does it, not the seldom-achieved transfer speed.
  16. Vivian125 macrumors 6502


    May 19, 2017
    Even My old Macbook Pro 13” 2009 is still usable how much more the 2010/2011 models of course it is. The only problem is that, their screen is so dull and looks cheap compared to the newer one like 2016 Macbook with touchbar. And lacks of bluetooth 4.0, as well as not getting updated. But for Microsoft word and browsing is still usable still much faster than 2014 Windows laptop even it is 4gb ram
  17. bc0508 macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2012
    Avoid the 2011 17 mine GPU issue last year paid to have it fixed with apple 500 dollar repair. It went out again a couple weeks ago. I am very frustrated since it was good performance.

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