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Is buying a used MacBook Pro Mid 2012 a good idea?

beta2k

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 9, 2020
21
4
I need a new MacBook Pro and due to my budget I would like to buy a used one. I mainly need it for usual office work and also for music production (Ableton Live and Logic, etc.) Inititally someone told me, that I should buy one with an i7 and preferably Retina display (16GB RAM and SSD preferable). My budget is limited to €900, but it doesn't hurt, when it's cheaper.

Another friend told me, that I should definitely go with a non Retina one because there I can still change parts like RAM on my own. This is not possible anymore with the Retina MBPs. So I did another round of searches at a local (Austrian) website where most people offer used hardware and found the following MBP for only €530:

- MacBook Pro 13" Mid 2012,
- i7 CPU 2,9 GHz
- 16GB Ram, 1TB SSD
- Battery has 236 cycles
source: https://www.willhaben.at/iad/kaufen...ro-13-mid-2012-i7-1tb-ssd-16gb-ram-388729545/

My questions are:

1) The laptop above is rally very cheap (at least it seems cheap to me). Is there anything I miss?
2) Initially I was skeptical about the (Mid) 2012 models, because they already have ~8 years on their shoulder, so maybe not the best idea to buy them? Any experience from other people who bought used (Mid) 2012 models?
3) Or should I go for something much newer?
 

Cookie18

macrumors 6502
Sep 11, 2014
486
495
France
I have a 2012 MacBook Pro, albeit with the i5. You should in no way think about spending that much money on one. As a secondary/back up device for myself it is fine but it isn't quick enough to do regular work these days, never mind the type of work you want to do.

That one also isn't particularly cheap, during normal times you could get one of those and upgrade it yourself to that spec for maybe 400 euros total.

Do they have the Apple refurb store in Austria? Here in France you can get a base 2019 MacBook Pro for 1129 euros on the refurb store. I'm pretty sure you can find them cheaper elsewhere too.
 
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James_C

macrumors 68020
Sep 13, 2002
2,198
688
Bristol, UK
I agree with @Cookie18 i would not recommend buying that Mac, even if you did not plan on using Logic. It is not good value. Try looking at Apple’s refurbish store , you can save a little money. I have used the refurb store before and apart from the fact in came in a brown box, you would not know it came from the refurb store.
 

beta2k

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 9, 2020
21
4
I am not sure about "isn't quick enough", because until my current Mid 2012 i5 broke down, I could do my work just fine. I upgraded it to 16GB RAM and an SSD though. And I think with an i7 CPU (instead of an i5) it will be just fine. However, good to know that it seems a bit overpriced.

I will check out if there is a refurb store here.

But what about the new models, where battery and RAM cannot be changed on my own anymore? In my opinion that's a big disadvantage.

In the meantime I also read these threads and people seem quite positive about buying a mid 2012 one these days which seems quite contrary to your opinions?

I am welcoming other replies. Thanks to everyone!
 

Cookie18

macrumors 6502
Sep 11, 2014
486
495
France
I am not sure about "isn't quick enough", because until my current Mid 2012 i5 broke down, I could do my work just fine. I upgraded it to 16GB RAM and an SSD though. And I think with an i7 CPU (instead of an i5) it will be just fine. However, good to know that it seems a bit overpriced.

I will check out if there is a refurb store here.

But what about the new models, where battery and RAM cannot be changed on my own anymore? In my opinion that's a big disadvantage.

In the meantime I also read these threads and people seem quite positive about buying a mid 2012 one these days which seems quite contrary to your opinions?

I am welcoming other replies. Thanks to everyone!

The whole point of buying a 2012 in 2020 is that they are dirt cheap, what you linked is not that. The idea is that you find one for €200-300, put a €30 SSD in it plus €40 of RAM and you’ve got yourself a good computer for basic web browsing, word docs etc. But that’s a €270-€370 computer. At €530 the point of getting one goes straight out of the window.

Also, you can’t upgrade the 2012 past 16GB of RAM so it is also an essentially non-upgradeable computer because you’re buying it maxed out. You don’t have any upgrade path with it.

Since you said your work has been fine on the 2012 i5 you would be better served buying almost any other Mac from the last 3-4 years. A MacBook Air with 16GB of RAM would even be considerably better than a 2012 MacBook Pro.

How much RAM do you actually use while working?
 

beta2k

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 9, 2020
21
4
The whole point of buying a 2012 in 2020 is that they are dirt cheap, what you linked is not that. The idea is that you find one for €200-300, put a €30 SSD in it plus €40 of RAM and you’ve got yourself a good computer for basic web browsing, word docs etc. But that’s a €270-€370 computer. At €530 the point of getting one goes straight out of the window.

Also, you can’t upgrade the 2012 past 16GB of RAM so it is also an essentially non-upgradeable computer because you’re buying it maxed out. You don’t have any upgrade path with it.

Since you said your work has been fine on the 2012 i5 you would be better served buying almost any other Mac from the last 3-4 years. A MacBook Air with 16GB of RAM would even be considerably better than a 2012 MacBook Pro.

How much RAM do you actually use while working?

Thanks for your reply!

How can I see how much RAM I actually use? When producing music with Ableton Live or Logic, surely the more RAM the better makes sense. What I meant is that 16 GB RAM should be fine for me. No need for an upgrade path to 32 GB, IMO.
 

Cookie18

macrumors 6502
Sep 11, 2014
486
495
France
Thanks for your reply!

How can I see how much RAM I actually use? When producing music with Ableton Live or Logic, surely the more RAM the better makes sense. What I meant is that 16 GB RAM should be fine for me. No need for an upgrade path to 32 GB, IMO.

There’s an app called “Memory Diag” in the Mac App Store. It will put a live number of how much RAM you have available in your menu bar on the top right.

If you click it you will see your memory pressure, cache etc.

Add up the free memory and the cache to get a rough idea of how much memory you aren’t using while working.
 

beta2k

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 9, 2020
21
4
Thanks, I don't want this to turn into a "give me feedback on used macbooks", but I just found this one for €790.

"Macbook Pro 15 "mid 2015 for sale. I no longer use it because I bought an iMac.

Specs:
15.4-inch Retina Display
Quad-Core Intel Core i7 Processor
Intel Iris Pro 1.5GB
16GB RAM
256GB PCIe-based SDD (very fast SSD, 1.2GB write speed, 1.7GB read speed) Two Thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20 Gbps ) Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps) HDMI port, 3.5 mm headphone jack, SDXC card slot."

Is this okayish?
 

James_C

macrumors 68020
Sep 13, 2002
2,198
688
Bristol, UK
A 2012 MacBook Pro can only be upgraded to Catalina. Apple will probably release security updates for a while. I sympathise with the fact that modern Mac portables are not user upgradable, unfortunately the ones that can be upgraded are now vintage. Don’t get me wrong I love older Macs. I have a 2003 G4 IMac that i still use, but not for day to day work. Yes you can still use a 2012 MacBook Pro, but will soon find that it will not be able to run the latest software, and it will be much slower than a more modern machine.
 

Cookie18

macrumors 6502
Sep 11, 2014
486
495
France
Thanks, I don't want this to turn into a "give me feedback on used macbooks", but I just found this one for €790.

"Macbook Pro 15 "mid 2015 for sale. I no longer use it because I bought an iMac.

Specs:
15.4-inch Retina Display
Quad-Core Intel Core i7 Processor
Intel Iris Pro 1.5GB
16GB RAM
256GB PCIe-based SDD (very fast SSD, 1.2GB write speed, 1.7GB read speed) Two Thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20 Gbps ) Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps) HDMI port, 3.5 mm headphone jack, SDXC card slot."

Is this okayish?

I’ll have to double check the prices but that looks like a much much better computer. Do you know which i7 it has?

Edit: I checked prices and it seems like a fair price depending on the condition.
 

James_C

macrumors 68020
Sep 13, 2002
2,198
688
Bristol, UK
Thanks, I don't want this to turn into a "give me feedback on used macbooks", but I just found this one for €790.

"Macbook Pro 15 "mid 2015 for sale. I no longer use it because I bought an iMac.

Specs:
15.4-inch Retina Display
Quad-Core Intel Core i7 Processor
Intel Iris Pro 1.5GB
16GB RAM
256GB PCIe-based SDD (very fast SSD, 1.2GB write speed, 1.7GB read speed) Two Thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20 Gbps ) Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps) HDMI port, 3.5 mm headphone jack, SDXC card slot."

Is this okayish?

Much better, however the SSD is much smaller than you are currently using.
 
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beta2k

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 9, 2020
21
4
Much better, however the SSD is much smaller than you are currently using.

Thanks. Currently I also "only" have a 256GB SSD.

One more thing: I just looked through the new MacBook Pros with 13" display (https://www.apple.com/at/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro) and saw that they all have the i5 and not i7. It's a quad-core and 8th gen (for the cheaper ones), but how do they fare? I would have guessed that they have an i7. Are these i5s good?
 

Cookie18

macrumors 6502
Sep 11, 2014
486
495
France
Thanks. Currently I also "only" have a 256GB SSD.

One more thing: I just looked through the new MacBook Pros with 13" display (https://www.apple.com/at/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro) and saw that they all have the i5 and not i7. It's a quad-core and 8th gen (for the cheaper ones), but how do they fare? I would have guessed that they have an i7. Are these i5s good?

They are actually really good, they’re a big step up from the dual cores they had until just over a year ago.

The base model has a single core speed roughly 40% faster than the 2012 MacBook Pro with the i5 that you were using. Multi core is just over 300% quicker.
 

beta2k

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 9, 2020
21
4
They are actually really good, they’re a big step up from the dual cores they had until just over a year ago.

The base model has a single core speed roughly 40% faster than the 2012 MacBook Pro with the i5 that you were using. Multi core is just over 300% quicker.

that sounds good. a pity that delivery time here in vienna currently seems to be 3-4 weeks :/
 

beta2k

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 9, 2020
21
4
I’ll have to double check the prices but that looks like a much much better computer. Do you know which i7 it has?

Edit: I checked prices and it seems like a fair price depending on the condition.

1597828701006.png


what do you think?
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
14,226
264
Lard
I have recently bought a mid-2012 15.4 inch MacBook Pro with the Nvidia 650M graphics processor but only 512 MB of video RAM. It was refurbished, sold by Newegg, and it was a reasonable deal at around US$500, since the battery didn't need to be replaced, and since a 1 TB SSD and 16 GB of RAM are inexpensive now.

It was worth it to me because my projects from my previous such, similar machine were not otherwise available. The performance is quite good, even with Catalina. I can run my photographic and design software without a problem.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
May 20, 2010
3,712
833
Los Angeles, CA
I need a new MacBook Pro and due to my budget I would like to buy a used one. I mainly need it for usual office work and also for music production (Ableton Live and Logic, etc.) Inititally someone told me, that I should buy one with an i7 and preferably Retina display (16GB RAM and SSD preferable). My budget is limited to €900, but it doesn't hurt, when it's cheaper.

Another friend told me, that I should definitely go with a non Retina one because there I can still change parts like RAM on my own. This is not possible anymore with the Retina MBPs. So I did another round of searches at a local (Austrian) website where most people offer used hardware and found the following MBP for only €530:

- MacBook Pro 13" Mid 2012,
- i7 CPU 2,9 GHz
- 16GB Ram, 1TB SSD
- Battery has 236 cycles
source: https://www.willhaben.at/iad/kaufen...ro-13-mid-2012-i7-1tb-ssd-16gb-ram-388729545/

My questions are:

1) The laptop above is rally very cheap (at least it seems cheap to me). Is there anything I miss?
2) Initially I was skeptical about the (Mid) 2012 models, because they already have ~8 years on their shoulder, so maybe not the best idea to buy them? Any experience from other people who bought used (Mid) 2012 models?
3) Or should I go for something much newer?

They're not bad computers, but they're capped (at least in terms of macOS releases) to the current-but-soon-to-be-one-behind-current macOS release, namely Catalina and if you have any hardware component break down, you're totally on your own (no Apple retail store will be able to help you). I'd only get one if you're needing that specific model for any particular reason (maybe you want to make alternate Ivy Bridge drivers?). Otherwise, the oldest Mac I'd get would be something from 2015 (if 13" MacBook Pro) or from Late 2013/Mid 2014 (if 15" MacBook Pro). I wouldn't get anything between 2016 or 2019 (excluding the 16" MacBook Pro) due to the dreaded butterfly keyboard among other nonsenses.

Others have mentioned the Apple Certified Refurbished Mac section of the Apple Online Store. I can't second this wholeheartedly enough. Right now, they only seem to have the two-port variant of the 2020 13" MacBook Pro, but that Mac will still run rings about the Mid 2012 model you've listed there.
 
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beta2k

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 9, 2020
21
4
Thanks for the detailed reply @Yebubbleman! We ended up buying an MBP Mid-2014 15" with a 2.5Ghz i7, 16 GB Ram and 256 SSD for €800. So that lines up with what you have recommended! Works like a charm.
 
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Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
May 20, 2010
3,712
833
Los Angeles, CA
Thanks for the detailed reply @Yebubbleman! We ended up buying an MBP Mid-2014 15" with a 2.5Ghz i7, 16 GB Ram and 256 SSD for €800. So that lines up with what you have recommended! Works like a charm.

That's awesome! That same configuration was my primary machine up until recently (now it's basically just an archive that lives in a closet). They're very good machines. Plus, you can still upgrade the internal SSD on those (albeit your options are pretty much limited to OWC drives) if ever you want more storage!
 
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