More cost effective to buy what you need & upgrade more often vs. buy a more powerful "future proof"

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Luba, Mar 30, 2018.

  1. Luba macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2009
    Do you think it's more cost effective to buy what you need which probably means upgrading more often vs. buy a significantly more powerful MacBook that's "future proof" which would mean buying a MacBook less often?
  2. SteveJUAE macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2015
    Land of Smiles
    Given the cost of repairs on newer gens all your best laid plans go out the window if you have any major issue post AC/AC+

    The other problem is simply over specing. Many will tell you how much they managed to do on a MacBook and for most owners by far who are not professional waiting a few seconds more or even mins is not really a monetary concern just a nice to have the latest and greatest.

    Sure there are other niceties like screen size but this are easy solved by external monitors and other peripherals

    Minimum spec you can live with on an open box or refurb unit and swap out every 30 months is a sure thing, otherwise it's risk vs savings, for those who are working on a budget
  3. Cristim74 macrumors member


    Aug 27, 2016
    Bucharest, Romania
    Unfortunately the range of MacBooks Pro is not so large so that you could buy an entry level or a high end machine.

    But to be on topic, I would not keep a machine more than 4 years. By that time the hardware advances are quite significant and you can still bet something by selling the old hardware. But that's just me.
  4. nigelbb macrumors 65816

    Dec 22, 2012
    The MBP has changed very little over the last 4-5 years in terms of fundamentals like screen, processor performance, RAM or SSD. The incidentals are USB-C & touch bar are of little consideration for many purchasers. There will be a bump in performance when the Coffee Lake 6-core CPUs are introduced.
  5. BiscottiGelato macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2011
    And then there's how much Apple charges for higher specs. Maybe there's merit in just buying what you need and upgrade more often?

    That said on the flip side, if these machines are really less reliable than before (I don't think anybody have real stats), then resale might go lower and that'd make future proofing more sound...

  6. BananaX macrumors regular


    May 24, 2017
    Buy what I need, and sale when I need to buy the new 'what I need' Mac. Nothing is future proof. Configuring a future proof Mac can be very expensive, and it can be a waste of money if you never fully make use of it. For example, had a 2011 iMac with 16G ram, and my usage never pass 8G. puffff
  7. jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    Attempting to "Future Proof" is a fool's errand, IMHO. My work type changes often, and I have yet to see anyone predict the advances in hardware correctly for more than 18 months or so. In fact, I now find the amount of computer power I need in a laptop going down because the computer power I need for my work exceeded what laptops can provide. So a lot of my workload is now in the cloud.
  8. Fishrrman, Apr 1, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018

    Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I don't use or need my Macs to make a living.
    Nor do I run really intensive apps most of the time.

    ... For most of my Mac-buying days (31+ years now) I've been satisfied with the "base-model" Macs. If I needed more RAM, bought that later. Same with the hard drive.

    ... When I bought my late-2012 Mini, I decided to spend a little more for the 2.6ghz i7 instead of the base model CPU. It really wasn't much more $$$, and I knew that couldn't be upgraded later.

    It paid off. The 2012 Mini is still a competent performer today, and I see no need to replace it right now. Perhaps not even if Apple finally decides to release an updated Mini in 2018...
  9. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    I think cost-effective is to get the minimum acceptable spec for the purposes you need and then buy addons as needed. Need more storage? Buy an external hard drive. Need GPU power? Get an eGPU. Then if the keyboard fails, etc you can get a new laptop and keep the peripherals constant. So, I think the most cost-effective setup right now if you're thinking 15" is a 13" nTB and an eGPU.
  10. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    In the past, technology advanced so fast it was best to purchase what you needed and upgrade in 2 - 3 years. That is where I adopted the 3 year update for my work related hardware.

    Everytime I think that we have finally reached the point of diminishing returns and I'll go ahead and purchase best of the best and hope for 5-7 years, I end up purchasing best of the best and still replacing at the three year mark.

    I do not believe we have quite hit that mark yet, so I'd say get what you need and update more often.
  11. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    A faster computer does not have a higher life expectancy, nor is it guaranteed to run future software better. Few years down the road, all CPUs will have AVX-512, faster caches, faster RAM and possibly some AI acceleration built in — making them superior for the contemporary software. Buy a faster computer if you need it NOW, not because you want to keep it longer.
  12. nigelbb macrumors 65816

    Dec 22, 2012
    I disagree. We reached that point years ago. There is fundamentally no difference in capacity or performance between a 2013 15" rMBP & the 2018 version. Max SSD is still 1TB. Max RAM is still 16GB. Fastest CPU is no faster (actually slower in single threaded performance).
  13. rosyapple, Apr 6, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2018

    rosyapple macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2018
    I'm (or was) the kind who future proofs. I'm currently writing on a 2010 Macbook Air with 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD running the latest Mac OS. I use this as my main laptop for school. I also do light / medium work Photoshop, code, do web design and write articles / papers using this laptop. For heavy Photoshop work, I normally use my desktop.

    My experience with Apple hardware is that as long as I use SSD, the hardware can last for a very long time and still very much usable. I have a 2009 iMac at home as well as a 2015 iMac, and my partner uses the 2009 iMac to play World of Warcraft. My previous mac laptops and desktops have lasted about 5 - 7 years, give or take.

    The one and only time I ever bought a Windows laptop, it died in less than two years.

    I want to buy a new laptop, but after hearing horror stories about the keyboards on the latest Mac laptops, I'm afraid to take the plunge. I think Apple's hardware quality has gone down the drain. My MacBook Air keyboard has specks of dust and pasta sauces on it and it still works. I can't imagine how the new MacBook keyboard will fare. I also love the feeling of my current keyboard too much.

    I've never bought any AppleCare, ever. That's how good old Apple hardware was.

    Now, if I buy a new Mac laptop, I'm not sure. I might be forced to buy AppleCare due to the lower quality hardware.
  14. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    With the exception of storage, there is really no need for "future proofing" these days. For instance, I have a 6 year old laptop that does everything I throw at it. Granted, my needs may be less strenuous then others. I run photoshop (light usage), lightroom, and connectivity tools, accessing servers and desktops. Still its as fast as the day I bought.

    As files get larger, the need for storage is really the only wild card imo. Of course cloud storage helps offset this.

    For my next laptop, I'll be looking to just get the base model, and I fully expect it to last many years. No need to upgrade the components, because I don't think its needed. YMMV however
  15. The Mercurian macrumors 68000

    Mar 17, 2012
    I used to buy top spec. But that has gotten too expensive. If I buy another one it will like be mid range with only particular specs maxxed if needed. CPU processing power is important for me, but having 6 core is more important than a .3Ghz frequency boost, so I'll likely get the cheapest one with 6 cores (assuming there isn't only one most expensive one with 6 cores)
  16. sputnikBA macrumors 6502

    Jan 2, 2018
    All of that said, there are key transitional points where you do have to ask the same question. And the answer may not be what you usually think it is:

    Eg do you really want to buy snow and dual and quad cores, when we are so close to potentially getting hardware that has quads and hexacores instead?

    And if this switch to ARM is real in a few years, then we have no idea what the “long term” value of a device looks like (no one outside of Apple will tell you their plans), but during the ppc-Intel switch there were Macs still being sold in 2005-2006 that never got major OS updates beyond that years leopard (which was pretty bad imo).
  17. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    Buy what you need and upgrade more often seems to win out if you are willing to either buy or sell on the used market. Otherwise if you plan to keep/recycle the old machine it seems to come out better to (lightly) future-proof*.

    *I've done well by buying one-tier better than I needed wherever the marginal performance gain was greater than the marginal cost and aftermarket upgrades would not be possible.

    Expanding on this: G4/G5s were all discontinued by mid 2006. Leopard was released late 2007 and officially supported until mid 2011. That makes 5-years of support Apple's worst-case in recent memory. Since the rumors say an ARM transition is 2020 at the earliest I wouldn't worry about long term value for another year.
  18. millerj123 macrumors 65816

    Mar 6, 2008
    With what used to be the Apple tax on RAM and hard drives, I'd get the best CPU I could afford, but their lowest tier RAM and hard drive. Down the road, I'd max out RAM and upgrade the drive.

    That doesn't seem possible anymore, so I may have to look elsewhere for my next laptops.
  19. smbu2000 macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2014
    The max storage size has increased as you can up to 2TB starting with the 2006 MBP models. It is expensive though.
  20. puma1552 macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    I buy a top spec BTO once every 8-10 years for around $3k. Has worked out really well, and I plan to do the same when Apple fixes the MBP problems, probably 2019? That said I won't be splurging for a 2TB drive, honestly 512 or 1TB is plenty so the next machine will be maxed out other than the SSD.
  21. Luba thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2009
    What are the MBP problems? I’m planning on getting a new MBP this year, especially if there will be updated MBPs.
  22. puma1552 macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    Lots of problems with the keyboard, which is a $500+ repair because it necessitates an entire topcase replacement. If you can wait, wait. Maybe the issues will be sorted out with the 2018 release, but 2019 is more likely. There are other issues like the loss of MagSafe, and Jony Ive "hears us" on the MBP complaints so we might see a redesign in 2019, but if I had to guess probably not until 2020 with the release of ARM chips replacing Intel. There may be an emergency keyboard redesign before that time though, so I would at least wait for that and I wouldn't buy until the keyboard is fixed.
  23. Luba thread starter macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2009
    I’d be very happy to buy/sell more often if the process was easier. I need to look into Apple’s trade-in program. I understand I won’t be getting top dollar, but that’s okay since it should be easy and hassle-free. Is it hassle-free or does Apple want all kinds of information, photocopy of your license etc. And how much of hit would you say you would take vs doing the work and selling it on your own? 10%? 15%?

    I need to look into how to prepare my MBP for sale. I use FileVault … is it as simple as deactivating iTunes (we’re only allowed 5 Macs per iTunes account), logging out of my Apple ID on the MBP, and re-formatting the MBP using the Recovery partition?
  24. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    More like 30% for anything young enough to still be sold as a refurb. For older macs the trade in offer quickly drops to only a pittance.

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