mod my early 2008 MBP or just upgrade to new Retina MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by macizzy, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. macizzy macrumors newbie

    Feb 13, 2014
    I currently have an early-2008 15" MBP (4,1) with 200GB @ 7200 rpm HDD, 4 GB RAM, 2.6 GHz processor, & anti-glare screen. I'm currently running Lion 10.7.5, but want to upgrade to Mavericks 10.9. I love my MBP, but I have outgrown my 200 GB & need to upgrade storage ASAP at the very least. The majority of the work I do is teaching online via Blackboard, editing on Photoshop, Dreamweaver, PowerPoint, Excel, & other web design apps, so storage & quicker loading are very much in demand.

    As I am at a crossroads, I wanted to ask all of you for your wise opinions: do I mod my current MBP to get 2-3 years more out of it or just upgrade to a new model?

    1) Obviously, cost is the first deciding factor. I have the money to spend on getting a new 15" MBP, but with the SSD upgrade to 1 TB I would want to add, it would be 3x the cost of modding my current MBP, so I am not 100% convinced I HAVE to spend it. Thoughts?

    2) I've done some research & decided that if modding, I would go towards swapping out my current HDD into an external enclosure & keep as back-up, then install a SSD in its place. My current drive slot is only SATA @ 1.5 GB, so I don't think I would benefit as much from the 6 GB/s SSDs out there (if I understood it correctly), so a 3 GB/s is enough. Looking up my serial number, etc. lead me to a 480 GB SSD at 3 GB/s as the best fit for my computer, mainly the OWC Mercury Electra . I also have an empty ExpressCard 32 slot that I was thinking about putting a 64GB or 128 GB SSD into in the future as well. Would it be worth the cost getting the 1TB Samsung Evo instead, even though it is 6 GB/s, other than the extra storage capacity?

    3)The Retina screens are undeniably gorgeous, but I'm not sure how much more eye-strain I would get compared to the anti-glare screen, given the many continuous hours I sometimes end up teaching online.

    4) I read that the new MBP are currently not user-upgradeable, so that is also a bit concerning. I think OWC is rumored to come out with eSATA upgrades or something, but not sure I'd like to be stuck with my factory upgrades only. Can anyone confirm/deny?

    So, thanks in advance for your comments, suggestions, etc! If I forgot to add any info that might be pertinent, please let me know!
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd go for the rMBP over the upgrades, at this point you're not buying yourself too much time by upgrading the 2009 MBP. The adobe apps you mention you use will benefit from the newer hardware.

    Instead of spending a lot of money on the 1TB SSD, get an inexpensive external drive to compliment the rMBP.

    As for the upgradeability of the rMBP, that is a bone of contention with a number of people. It's something you'll need to wrap your head around before spending money.

    How many times had you upgraded your 2009 MBP - take that answer and work it into the decision matrix for the rMBP.

    I'd give high odds that OWC will come out with a storage upgrade on the newer rMBPs since they already did this of the older ones.
  3. Idefix macrumors 6502a

    Jul 10, 2012
    2 scenarios:

    1. Apple refurbished has a 2012 15" MBP hi-res anti-glare on hand (rare, may sell out fast) but it has a 500 GB at 5400 rpm and only 4 GB RAM.

    This is what I have and I love the matte screen--can't stand glossy. I got 8 GB RAM from OWC for cheap (system-pulls when people upgraded to 16) and I'll put an SSD in when prices come down. Samsung 840 evo 480 GB is now $325 at Amazon.

    You'll notice that there's a rMBP for only $50 more with 8 GB RAM but only a 256 GB SSD (flash storage.) And it's glossy, glossy.

    2. Put a 256 SSD in the early-2008 MBP and move your current 200 GB to the optical drive bay. This will tide you over for awhile.

    Note: it all comes down to how much you hate glossy. Once the 2012 hi-res anti-glare are gone, who knows whether Apple will ever come back to matte...
  4. Zyiros macrumors member


    Jan 23, 2014
  5. Silon macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2013

    Keep in mind the new MacBooks have USB3, which greatly improves workflow with external harddrives.
  6. themumu macrumors 6502a


    Feb 13, 2011
    As Idefix mentioned, a refurbished classic MBP is a sensible middle ground between the high price and inflexibility of the new retinas and the low gains of upgrading your existing 2008 MBP. I did just that at the end of last year, and my laptop was also early 2008.

    I actually got an SSD for it back in 2012, and was happy with it, but I don't quite baby my laptop, so I had this nasty feeling that it's going to physically fall apart soon (it had a very tough life). Still re-sold it for $400 (without the SSD) :D

    Buying the lowest end refurbished cMBP and upgrading it with a third party SSD and RAM cost me only half of what a new rMBP with a large enough SSD would have cost. Somebody even bought my original 4GB RAM that I no longer needed for $40 on eBay so it was not wasted.
  7. Joelist macrumors member

    Jan 28, 2014
    Actually I would also just get the new model and use an external drive if you really need such a huge amount of storage. The new CPU/GPU plus the massively faster memory (PCIe smokes all the SATA types in performance) means you have a VERY high performance machine. And you can connect an external drive via either USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt, or even use a wireless unit like the Airport Time Capsule, as the new MBP also has much faster WiFi.

    The Retina display is very nice and in fact reduces eye strain because the high resolution reduces the amount of eye refocusing. Don't worry about the "glossy" because it really doesn't show up even in sunlight.
  8. mneblett macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    I put an SSD and 8GB RAM in my late 2008 MBP, and it became a much more responsive machine. My wife is currently using it and seems pretty happy.

    While you can upgrade your 2008's storage and RAM, you can't upgrade the CPU or the peripheral bus connections. Those were the things that pushed me over the edge to buy a late 2013 rMBP.

    My software demands are closer to yours than my wife's, so the additional processing power (with a lot of RAM -- I run Win 8.1 in a virtual machine) is a plus. Just as important to me was getting USB 3, Thunderbolt/miniDisplayPort and HDMI ports, and 802.11ac (3 antenna) wifi -- connections that move a lot more data per unit time.

    If money is tight(ish), I'd suggest a late '2013 refurb.

    And FWIW, non-glossy screens are not the "best" screen -- they are a "different" screen choice. Some of us like the glossy screen. Some don't, but the ONLY opinion you should trust is your own -- you *have* to eyeball both to know which works better for you.
  9. macizzy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 13, 2014
    Thanks for the suggestions!

    Hi everyone. Thank you for your feedback. It is a huge benefit to have a sounding board like this forum. After doing so much research & thinking about it for so long, it is easy to get stuck.

    I hadn't even thought about the option of rMBP! What a genius idea. I am now leaning heavily towards getting a rMBP 2012 & installing a SSD, while keeping the original HDD in an external enclosure. I'll probably look into swapping out the optic drive at a later time.

    So, if anyone is in the market for a very good condition early-2008 MBP, let me know!

    I'll write an update once I have purchased & finished the mods to my (new-to-me) rMBP!
  10. themumu macrumors 6502a


    Feb 13, 2011

    You'll confuse some people if you keep saying rMBP for refurbished. That acronym usually means retina MBP ;)
  11. Wicked1 macrumors 68040


    Apr 13, 2009
    New Jersey
    correct me if I am wrong but in the MBA and rMBP none of them are ram upgradeable, only the SSD and those are way too much money besides the limited vendors who make ssd sticks for the new models?

    If this were the case I am trying to determine if I would even really need 16GB in the rMBP 13 Ultimate, or just go for 8GB, or get a 13" MBA Ultimate with 1.7/8GB/512GB? I am not sure I can justify the rMBP 13" only because I really do not need high powered systems, basically do web browsing, email, some photo editing, and minor video editing.

Share This Page