Got a free Early 2011 13" MacBook Pro - now what?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by BeatCrazy, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #1
    I don't have much experience with Macs of this vintage.

    Got a free MacBook Pro, Early 2011, with specs as follows (from Apple serial number info.com)
    • 2.7Ghz Sandy Bridge
    • 4GB RAM
    • Intel HD 3000 graphics
    Laptop is in good shape, and appears to take/hold a charge. Only problem: it's password locked from the prior owner.

    I would like to put an SSD in and repurpose this for my kids. I plan on keeping it up to date with the latest macOS. Do I need to hunt down a Snow Leopard disc in order to format/restore?

    Any tips on upgrading the HDD to SSD (250GB is fine) and RAM is appreciated. Meaning, I know how to pull apart and replace/update these items, I'm just looking for suggestions on which particular hardware will be a good fit for this model. I also will never use the DVD slot, so tips on re-purposing that are appreciated as well.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Orbsandoz macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2016
    #2
    --- Post Merged, Apr 25, 2018 ---
    Max out the RAM and install a SSD! Even though it is vintage, the machine can last you for another five years.... The battery is easy to replace and you could get a data doubler from OWC to replace the optical drive.
     
  3. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #3
    OK thanks :)

    What about my issue with OS and the locked/old user?
     
  4. Orbsandoz macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2016
    #4
    If you are doing a fresh install of Mac OS on a new SSD you don't have to worry about a password lock. Google is your friend at this point but ifixit is an excellent resource to start with.... Good luck!
     
  5. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #5
    Looks like this Early 2011 MacBook Pro can do internet recovery, but only if its been upgraded EFI firmware 2.3. Which is unlikely as this laptop is on a really old OS (gray linen login screen) because it's running Safari 5.1.1 when I login as Guest.
     
  6. Orbsandoz macrumors newbie

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  7. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #7
  8. Orbsandoz macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2016
    #8
    I personally have skipped High Sierra due to the new file system and issues with applications....
     
  9. jeremiah256 macrumors 65816

    jeremiah256

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    Location:
    Southern California
    #9
    Here's a thread that should help you.
     
  10. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #10
    Ah, understood.

    Well, looks like I found my first hardware issue:
    Keys r, t and y are stuck such that if you press any one, you get "rty" output.
    Same with f, g, h and v, b, n.

    So something must spilled in there, or I just have a faulty keyboard.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 25, 2018 ---
    Awesome, thanks!
    --- Post Merged, Apr 25, 2018 ---
    Welp, I couldn't get OS X Lion to recognize the bootable copy of High Sierra (even though it showed up in disc utility).

    So, I'm reinstalling Lion from the internet, and will upgrade straight to High Sierra. And I think my "stuck" keys may work now? Hard to tell... but it did let me use CMD + Opt + R, where using the "r" in Safari would alway return "RTY".

    Thanks all, this is rather fun. Laptop is in great shape, and can't beat the price. Probably could use a new MagSafe cable, as this one is showing some wear. Suggestions? Too bad there doesn't appear to be MagSafe 2 to 1 converters, as we have several of the new style around the house.
     
  11. BeatCrazy, Apr 26, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018

    BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #11
    OK, updates and success :) :)

    I followed this tip for resetting the original Admin password. Then, I was able to go in and create a new Admin for myself, and remove/delete the old user.

    As I reminder, the laptop was on 10.7.5. Trying to download newer versions of macOS would result in the error that "OS X 10.8 was required" :( Fortunately I remembered that there was a version of El Capitan in my macOS App Store Purchases history. So I logged into the App Store, and downloaded the El Capitan installer. This OS did successfully install right on top of 10.7.5. Once I got El Cap up and going, it was no issue to update to High Sierra. I assume this upgrade from 10.7.5 to 10.13.4 does some system-level changes which will allow me to go directly (back) to High Sierra via Internet Recovery, or bootable USB, when I replace the HDD.

    So, I haven't 100% decided to keep it yet. It could use a new keyboard/top case for some sometimes sticky keys, and of course needs an SSD ($65). I'd be in this machine for about $150 total (which is good!), but it looks like Best Buy will give me $314 via trade in. I don't need anything right now, but by spending ~$150, I could either have an 7 year old MacBook Pro, or ~$460 towards anything new at Best Buy. Maybe the base 2017 MacBook Pro or regular base MacBook will go on sale again for $999 that I could pick up via Best Buy.
     
  12. tpivette89 macrumors 6502

    tpivette89

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    Location:
    Newark, DE
    #12
    Install a 240GB SSD (I did a PNY from Best Buy... they are on sale right now. Walked into the store and picked one up www.bestbuy.com/site/pny-240gb-internal-sata-solid-state-drive-for-laptops/5900261.p?skuId=5900261).

    This will be for the kids? Go with 8GB of RAM... I did both the above to a late 2011 MBP and the wife and kids use it almost daily on High Sierra and it runs flawlessly. Does everything they need it to with ease. These mods are very easy to do (just a few screws to remove the bottom cover). For a little over $100 you will have a very capable machine that the family will use for years to come.
     
  13. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #13
    Yes, for the kids. And 8GB of RAM would be smart. However, since I definitely need a new keyboard/top case, that's a total expense of $200+ for keyboard/RAM/SSD. I realize that's not too much, but since Best Buy will give me $314 for it, as-is, I'm essentially dumping $500 into a 7 year old laptop, vs using $500 towards a low-end Retina MacBook or MacBook Pro (something <$1K on sale). I think the extra money towards a new computer would be a wiser choice. A shame really, as the this laptop is in wonderful shape. If I didn't have to be out the cost (and headache of replacing) a new keyboard, I would indeed just throw an SSD and RAM in it and call it a day.
     
  14. tpivette89 macrumors 6502

    tpivette89

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    #14
    That is unfortunate... while outdated, the 2011 MBP is still a capable machine for everyday tasks. However, if I had the extra $600/700 (plus what you can get for trade in) towards a newer machine, I would probably go that route, also. Have you tried taking the machine apart and cleaning the keyboard/contacts? That would maybe fix the sticking keys issue and save you the $700 towards a new machine. Especially if its just going to be used for basic use.
     
  15. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #15
    Yeah, that's basically the situation I'm in.

    I think there is a decent chance I could fix the keys. A bit more research leads me to believe there is a short in the wires that connects the key contacts. I just have to muster the motivation (and at least an hour undisturbed) to pull it apart.
     
  16. tpivette89 macrumors 6502

    tpivette89

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    Newark, DE
    #16
    I guess that's up to you whether it's worth the hour or two to pull the machine apart and attempt to fix it vs spending $700 on a new machine. Obviously, for what the intended use is for, this laptop will serve your family well vs a new one. Personally, I love to tinker, so the choice is obvious for me. However, your situation may be different.

    Let us know how it turns out.
     
  17. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #17

    Well my story with this particular laptop has come to an end.

    After reading the iFixit keyboard replacement instructions several times, I decided I didn't quite have the motivation to attempt a fix. So, I took it to Best Buy and got my $314 gift card. Maybe they'll run the 2017 Retina MacBook for $999 one day soon.

    Although the 2011 MBP felt fast enough browsing the web and for general tasks, it's actually the form factor that was the hardest to get used to. 4.5lbs felt like a real brick, since my daily driver is a 2.0lb retina MacBook, and my work laptop is the 3.0lb 2016 MacBook Pro.

    Anyways, thanks for all the great input here. If the keyboard hadn't been so glitchy, I'm 100% certain I would have held onto it until it just died or had another failure.
     
  18. cambookpro macrumors 603

    cambookpro

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #18
    I also had a 13" 2011 with keyboard issues, but the 4, R, F and V keys would just not work at all. Tried to take it apart and fix it, but it was a job too far (I'm usually not bad with Apple repairs, have replaced trackpads, fans, screens, iPhone home buttons etc, but the keyboard is very fiddly...). It now sits in a cabinet on the wall running SpamSieve to filter my mail and attached to 4TB of storage used for media and Time Machine backups - and is quite invaluable!
     
  19. TheSkywalker77 macrumors 6502a

    TheSkywalker77

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    Florida
    #19
    Not trying to snoop. But I'm wondering where you got this MacBook? o_O
     
  20. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #20
    Yep. If I didn't have a headless Mac mini already performing "server" type functions, I would absolutely repurpose the MacBook Pro as such.

    I'm not trying to be shady... someone was trying to it in trade-in at Best Buy (while I was in line) was offered $0, so I basically said "can I have it?". Seems like BB doesn't try very hard to make sure they're ID'ing the right model on trade-in.
     
  21. TheSkywalker77 macrumors 6502a

    TheSkywalker77

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    Florida
    #21
    I must say, that is a quite lucky grab.
     
  22. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #22
    Everything worked out well in the long run. BB has the 2017 base retina MacBook on sale right now for $899, so I grabbed one (looks like they're now sold out tho). So, out of pocked only $600 for a new machine, with warranty, and surely 6+ years of support.
     
  23. robvas macrumors 68030

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    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #23
    I got a free 2011 a couple months ago. People at work are always bringing in their old computers/printers/whatever instead of throwing it out. It needed a powercord but otherwise worked just fine. I gave it to co-worker who wants to learn more about Macs
     
  24. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Jul 20, 2011
    #24
    FWIW, I already have a 12" 2017 MacBook for personal use. So, one silly reason the 12" retina MacBook made more sense (if you call spending $600 making sense - ha), is because I have 3 extra 29w chargers around from when Target ran them on clearance for $24 a while back. Also got 3 of the J5Create 100w USB-C cables @ $11 from when my local Office Depot went out of business and put them on clearance.

    So, I can have lots of spots with 29w chargers around the house for this MacBook, vs. having to buy some MagSafe 1 bricks off eBay or wherever.
     

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