Has anyone done research on optimal ownership time between upgrades?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by donato, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. donato Suspended

    Jun 3, 2008
    Does anyone know the optimal time for ownership (more or less) for a mbp? I generally keep things 4/5 years, but am wondering if this is actually the most cost-effective method- not to mention having a pretty old computer that last year. Has anyone crunched the numbers as far as % of value generally lost in the first, second, third year etc.? It would be pretty interesting!
  2. v654321 macrumors member

    Aug 6, 2011
    Vilvoorde, Belgium
    Treat your machine well so they stay in good condition.

    Don't treat them as they are porcelain, they are in the end still tools to get work done.

    The depreciation cost is very steady year over year, however once you hit the 4 to 5 year mark, chances of you selling them for a good sum are very low. You quickly go to 50% after the 4 year mark.

    Buy whenever you need something new and sell as is. But those that treat their tools with a bit of respect (while not skimping on actually using them) get an equal sum back when they sell them with minimal losses.

    In the end not a single piece of technology yields a ROI that is positive. But compared to anything else out there, it's still the best technology investment you can do.

    I factor in that my machines lose about 15 to 18% of value each year, but that's because I use them as well.
  3. tinnyms3 macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2013
    It's always supply and demand that determines prices. As Apple becomes bigger and more people own their products whether new/refurb/used, demand will drop and so will resale value. I can already see that resale value is not as good as even 2 years ago. And with tech moving at faster and faster pace, nothing is predictable. Right now, I would say it's more like 20% yearly drop, and it is pretty linear, unlike something like cars, where it's a curve. I'd be interested in seeing some real stats as well.
  4. Mac.User macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2013
    There will be no good numbers. It depends to much on what the use case is.

    For some people keeping the machine till it dies makes the most sense, for others ever 2-3 years as the higher performance gives them more return on accomplishing work.

    You will never find a use case that fits EVERY user as you also can not predict the cost of the machine they will be getting rid of the old machine for. What a 15in MBP could be need for right now, in 4 years a 13in Air could accomplish, and will cost a lot less then a new 15in Pro.

    I hate when people talk about resale value. I buy a machine to DO WORK, I keep them until Apple care runs out then I start to think about a new one. By that point I'm more likely to sell it to a friends kid for a few buck. Otherwise I just use it as a test machine for my work.
  5. orangezorki macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    FWIW, treating any electronic product as an investment is a bit mis guided - they are more of a business expense, whether that be for your job of the business of life. There is always the possibly that you will drop and smash it (hope not!) or that the next model will have such a revolutionary new feature that nobody will want the old ones.

    Ultimately, it depends on the user. Sometimes a seemingly small spec bump suddenly puts the computer into the 'want' category. For example, if I am to use a laptop as my main computer, I want all my main files to be kept internally, and I have a 300GB+ music library. When you figure in room for expansion, a bootcamp partition and other files even last year's 750GB max seems a bit small. So, for me this year's small bump has made it reasonable to fork out for a maxed out Haswell 15"rMBP.
  6. bniu macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2010
    Also kind of depends on which models you buy. Take a 2010 17" MBP vs a 2011 17" MBP and compare it to today's top of the line 15" rMBP with all features maxed out.

    RAM: The 2010 model only goes up to 8GB, 2011 model will take 16GB aftermarket and for all we know, it could possibly take 32GB one day if such ram modules were ever made. The 2013 rMBP takes 16GB max and cannot be upgraded.

    Storage: 2010 model is SATA II, 2011 model is SATA III, 2013 rMBP is PCI-E. All of them can be upgraded to 1TB, but SATA II is just SLOW, SATA III is not too shabby still.

    Graphics: 2010 models are hampered with just 512MB, 2011 models come with 1GB, 2013 model comes with 2GB but also has to drive way more pixels.

    Ports: 2010 model is stuck with mDP and USB 2.0. 2011 model at least has thunderbolt.

    CPU: 2010 model is dual core, 2011 model is quad core, 2013 is still quad core.

    As you can see, the 2011 models were insanely overpowered and even in 2013, their performance is still competitive, especially with all of their latent features being utilized, whereas the 2010 models have less than competitive performance.
  7. Xerotech macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2011
    The iPhone used to have a very nice resale value. As the person stated above, the more saturated the market the less the product has value. More and more people are buying macbooks. :p
    Generally, I find 3 years the best time to resell and to never buy an 'alpha' product. Never be the first to adopt a product, look how the rMBP dropped $200 in price.
  8. john123 macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    I agree with this, although not as the poster meant it. You can't talk about "upgrading every cycle" or "upgrading every 3 years" as if they are static things. There is no single price. If you do your homework and are patient, you can pay significantly less than most people for your new machine, and if you do your homework and are patient, you can fetch significantly more for a used machine than market price.

    I've been crunching these numbers for about a decade now. I know that I've made upgrading with every revision extremely cost economical for me. But I also know that's highly contingent upon good execution.


    I respectfully disagree with this poster. True, in the long run, you are not going to make money flipping computers, but it also does not need to be a standard sunk cost or business expense.
  9. donato thread starter Suspended

    Jun 3, 2008
    Thanks for the answers. It sheds some light. I certainly wasn't talking about "an investment". That's ridiculous. I was looking more for an optimal selling point, but as stated, the products themselves change too much to have a consistent rating in that regard. In any case, it was worth a shot and an argument (to me). Thanks for playing.
  10. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    My usual upgrade plan sees me buy a new iMac every 18 months or so. My current rMBP is not yet a year old but I will try to buy aaa new one in the next 6 months or so. Money is tight due to my forthcoming wedding so the iMac May have to be kept longer. I always buy top spec and am super careful with my Macs. Keep them clean buy the best spec you can and you should realise the best secondhand price. I also buy AppleCare on all my products which helps a lot with re sake too

Share This Page