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Need expert opinion - save laptop or buy new?

Keep or scrap?

  • Keep it

    Votes: 1 50.0%
  • Scrap it

    Votes: 1 50.0%

  • Total voters
    2

mk004651

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 11, 2020
8
1
Hi guys!

Hoping to have some Mac experts weigh in on my situation. I have a 13-inch mid-2014 Macbook Pro retina with a 2.8 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, 8GB of ram, and a (special ordered) 1TB internal hard drive.

I LOVE my laptop and I have been resisting buying a new one because I don't think the new ones are that great *and* I don't want to give up my USB ports. That said, I've had a few issues lately.

For background, a year ago I spilled some water on the keyboard after which it would not turn on. I took it to a super highly reviewed expert Mac repairer in Berlin who fixed the damage for me. The laptop has been working fine since.

That said, once or twice in the past year (or two??? can't remember) I have opened the laptop from sleep and the screen has been white with fuzzy lines across it, and I've had to restart. No big deal, but... Last week I couldn't get it to turn on at all. Hit the power button and nothing happened. It was fully charged, but unplugged at the time, so I plugged it in and tried again. Laptop started up but with the question mark file folder — couldn't find the hard disk.

I rebooted in recovery mode. Still couldn't find the hard disk. Restarted. Then the hard disk showed up. Did a disk utility repair. Restarted. Seemed to be working fine. Updated my iOS to Catalina (I had still been on Mojave) yesterday. Seems to be working fine still.

My question is, are these the death throes of my hard drive? Should I buy a new laptop now assuming mine is about to die? Or could it be lingering issues from the water damage, and I should take it back to the repair guy in Berlin for a checkup? Obviously if I can make it until a new release happens next spring, that would be ideal... Opinions very welcome!
 

casperes1996

macrumors 603
Jan 26, 2014
5,612
3,444
Horsens, Denmark
Sooo - now is a pretty ***** time for this. You see, you mention next spring, but there's an alright chance that the 13" Pro will be one of the first Macs to get updated with Apple Silicon, perhaps next month. A 14" could come later, perhaps next year, but the 13" MBP is consistently called out for an early Apple Silicon transition, which seems to be starting November. So unless you do things you expect will require Intel, I would highly advice to spend as little as you can to keep yourself going until the next model is released. - If you end up with more issues on the internal drive you could try installing macOS to an external drive and see if that keeps you going - All this of course rests on the 13" MBP still being the device you'd go for if you were to get a new one. If you no longer need portability and don't find Apple Silicon that enticing, the iMacs are currently an excellent option, and the 16" MBP is a decent proposition, but of course at a higher price point and there is sort of an expiry date attached to that with Apple Silicon coming around.

Overall my judgment is to try and make do for now if it's not totally terrible to live with, and wait out for November to see if we get some juicy Apple Silicon Mac action. Like a 12" MacBook as powerful as the 13" Pro, and/or a new 13" Pro that at least in some aspects competes in performance with the entry 16".
(12" MacBook with Apple Silicon could put the Air in an awkward position if it doesn't get an immediate replacement too)

So yeah that's my take on the situation
 
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nothingtoseehere

macrumors regular
Jun 3, 2020
175
141
There are a lot of related questions, i.e. how is your budget, how is your use case, how much do you depend on your machine for making money and so on. It sounds as you would like to get one of the new Apple Silicon Macs, though.

But given that your MBP has become unreliable, you should be prepared to get a new one on short notice (and care for more frequent backups). It may be not only the SSD that starts to fail. Macs have an internal diagnostics app you may be interested to test: https://support.apple.com/de-de/guide/mac-help/mh35727/mac

If you do not have that heavy uses and if you are on a budget, a base model MBA could be interesting (maybe with a bigger SSD). It also has dual-core, a retina display and a good keyboard.
 
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mk004651

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 11, 2020
8
1
All this of course rests on the 13" MBP still being the device you'd go for if you were to get a new one. If you no longer need portability and don't find Apple Silicon that enticing, the iMacs are currently an excellent option, and the 16" MBP is a decent proposition, but of course at a higher price point and there is sort of an expiry date attached to that with Apple Silicon coming around.

Yes I'd likely be going for another 13" MBP. This is super useful info thank you! The only bummer is that I'm leaving the country November 1, so I'd have to find someone to bring it to me from the states, ack. I'm also always a bit afraid to buy the first iteration of any new technology. But I guess I'll find out soon enough if I have no choice or not (if my current laptop does, in fact, die).

Would love to see if someone out there has any opinion on whether my issues as described sound like they could be temporary blips, or if I'm likely headed for imminent doom. :O
 

mk004651

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 11, 2020
8
1
If you do not have that heavy uses and if you are on a budget, a base model MBA could be interesting (maybe with a bigger SSD). It also has dual-core, a retina display and a good keyboard.

Not necessarily on a budget, and I use my laptop daily for making money... I always went with the MBP because I do a lot of work on Photoshop, and also I wanted a huge internal hard drive to hold all the files. It's more convenient for me than having to always access an external drive. So will probably go with MBP again, but thanks for the insight (and the diagnostic link!!! Will give it a shot)
 

casperes1996

macrumors 603
Jan 26, 2014
5,612
3,444
Horsens, Denmark
Yes I'd likely be going for another 13" MBP. This is super useful info thank you! The only bummer is that I'm leaving the country November 1, so I'd have to find someone to bring it to me from the states, ack. I'm also always a bit afraid to buy the first iteration of any new technology. But I guess I'll find out soon enough if I have no choice or not (if my current laptop does, in fact, die).

Would love to see if someone out there has any opinion on whether my issues as described sound like they could be temporary blips, or if I'm likely headed for imminent doom. :O

So what @nothingtoseehere said is all pretty good info as well

I will add that even if we ignore Apple Silicon, even though I do believe it will be pretty solid even from first generation, the cost of the current models will take a dive when a new one is released and if that's just a month or so away, I don't know, I'd think it'd be a bit of a bummer time to buy new. So if you do wind up needing to go out and get a new one I think maybe looking at the refurb shop or something would be advisable.
 
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mk004651

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 11, 2020
8
1
So what @nothingtoseehere said is all pretty good info as well

I will add that even if we ignore Apple Silicon, even though I do believe it will be pretty solid even from first generation, the cost of the current models will take a dive when a new one is released and if that's just a month or so away, I don't know, I'd think it'd be a bit of a bummer time to buy new. So if you do wind up needing to go out and get a new one I think maybe looking at the refurb shop or something would be advisable.

This is an excellent point. So I think what I'll do is not make any rash moves and not purchase a new one now if my old one is still hanging on. And hopefully I will make it long enough for the next release. I appreciate your help!
 

casperes1996

macrumors 603
Jan 26, 2014
5,612
3,444
Horsens, Denmark
Not necessarily on a budget, and I use my laptop daily for making money... I always went with the MBP because I do a lot of work on Photoshop, and also I wanted a huge internal hard drive to hold all the files. It's more convenient for me than having to always access an external drive. So will probably go with MBP again, but thanks for the insight (and the diagnostic link!!! Will give it a shot)

This however puts things into some light - When you leave the country in November, is it on Holiday or will having a work machine in this period be a necessity. What will the situation be if your current machine goes completely dead while you're away with a long delivery time on getting a replacement unit?

I have bought Macs in the past at times I would normally advice not buying a new one, just because it's crucial for the wheels to keep spinning and a machine on the rocks can mean I'm unable to fulfil my function. What would your situation be like in that case? Perhaps buying at an unfortunate time is your best bet
 

casperes1996

macrumors 603
Jan 26, 2014
5,612
3,444
Horsens, Denmark
This is an excellent point. So I think what I'll do is not make any rash moves and not purchase a new one now if my old one is still hanging on. And hopefully I will make it long enough for the next release. I appreciate your help!

Always happy to help. It's a tough situation though. I'm interested in hearing what Apple Hardware Test reports if you run that as well - Even if it gives a green light and says all it's fine, it doesn't always mean there isn't an issue it can't detect, but it's at least a good first indicator of whether your issue is constant or something that you can perhaps go many months without seeing again
 

cdcastillo

macrumors 65816
Dec 22, 2007
1,409
824
The cesspit of civilization
I was (kind of am, still) in a similar situation to yours. I rely on my 2015 MBP, and the work I do on it accounts for at least half my income.

Part of this depends on me working with virtual machines and some specialized software that doesn't run on the Mac and won't run in Catalina (most if it is 32 bit) nor in subsequent OSes without a significant re-investment.

I'm hesitant to replace it with a new laptop (I'd loose the USB connections, the card reader, the trusty keyboard and more importantly, support for "old 32 bit" apps in Mojave), so I've replaced the internal drive with a bigger SSD and I'm planning to keep patching it (It hasn't failed yet) until there is no other choice.

A few months ago, around the time when I started using a new external 4K monitor, the video card started behaving funny, when running several virtual machines the fans came on like crazy and the image on both the external monitor and the laptop screen would freeze, but the laptop would keep working (I couldn't see it, but otherwise it kept working). This required reboots, after which it disappeared, at least for a while.

One day all this behavior went away without any explanation. Since then I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'll decide when the time comes. But as of right now, I'm inclined to keep it working for as long as I can.
 

mk004651

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 11, 2020
8
1
Always happy to help. It's a tough situation though. I'm interested in hearing what Apple Hardware Test reports if you run that as well - Even if it gives a green light and says all it's fine, it doesn't always mean there isn't an issue it can't detect, but it's at least a good first indicator of whether your issue is constant or something that you can perhaps go many months without seeing again

I'm going to run it tomorrow, and I'll report back!
 

mk004651

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 11, 2020
8
1
This however puts things into some light - When you leave the country in November, is it on Holiday or will having a work machine in this period be a necessity. What will the situation be if your current machine goes completely dead while you're away with a long delivery time on getting a replacement unit?

I have bought Macs in the past at times I would normally advice not buying a new one, just because it's crucial for the wheels to keep spinning and a machine on the rocks can mean I'm unable to fulfil my function. What would your situation be like in that case? Perhaps buying at an unfortunate time is your best bet

This is the biggest dilemma... I'm moving there for 6-8 months. If my computer died there I would have three choices:
1—Pay the Mac expert to revive it somehow (luckily his prices are really good)
2—Buy a new MBP in Berlin at the Apple store (it would be more expensive and not sure they'd have the new ones at the same time as the US)
3—Find someone traveling to Berlin from the US who could bring my new laptop to me

Either way I'd be screwed for at least a week, though all my work is on Dropbox so I could borrow a laptop from someone else and get by! I think it would be worth it to take the risk and wait...

If the November drop is good enough I might enact option 3 regardless of whether my current machine is still functioning.
 

mk004651

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 11, 2020
8
1
A few months ago, around the time when I started using a new external 4K monitor, the video card started behaving funny, when running several virtual machines the fans came on like crazy and the image on both the external monitor and the laptop screen would freeze, but the laptop would keep working (I couldn't see it, but otherwise it kept working). This required reboots, after which it disappeared, at least for a while.

One day all this behavior went away without any explanation. Since then I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'll decide when the time comes. But as of right now, I'm inclined to keep it working for as long as I can.

I was having crazy fan issues for awhile too! That also seem to have gone away! Computers are sort of like brains, where we only know what we know and the rest is a big mystery. But it sounds like you get the issue of being attached to the model I have and really not wanting a shiny new one. Fingers crossed for both of us.
 
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brianmowrey

macrumors 6502
Oct 5, 2020
363
105
I imagine your Berlin shop would be happy to look at it, make sure the hard drive is firmly plugged into the logic board etc. Do they sell their own refurb? If your Photoshop use is not leaning heavily on CPU, I see no reason not to shop for another 3rd gen so you aren't donating to the charity of Apple just to get adequate storage. You could even go back to the latter 2nd gen, and that way you can have two internal hard drives and bump the memory to 16gb for pennies.
 

casperes1996

macrumors 603
Jan 26, 2014
5,612
3,444
Horsens, Denmark
2—Buy a new MBP in Berlin at the Apple store (it would be more expensive and not sure they'd have the new ones at the same time as the US)

So I don't know for certain about Germany but I would assume it's not any worse than Denmark, and I can say that here we usually get Apple stuff either at the same time as the US or only like a week or so after - it's very rarely a big difference timing wise. Sometimes things like map updates and such are like big differences, but for 90% of their stuff and practically 100% of hardware it's nearly if not exactly the same time... But never mind HomePods :p
 

clueless88

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2020
100
24
How often do the SSDs in the MBPs fail? If it is only the SSD can one replace it (either one made for Apple or a regular M.2 drive with an adapter? Seems that would be more cost effective than buying another laptop. Could the ssd have loosened up in its socket, or some other loose connection? Can you run diagnostics like Crystaldisk to see if it is the SSD?
 

mk004651

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 11, 2020
8
1
How often do the SSDs in the MBPs fail? If it is only the SSD can one replace it (either one made for Apple or a regular M.2 drive with an adapter? Seems that would be more cost effective than buying another laptop. Could the ssd have loosened up in its socket, or some other loose connection? Can you run diagnostics like Crystaldisk to see if it is the SSD?

I believe replacing the hard drive would be about $500 since I have a 1TB. In that case I would prob get a new unit if the ones released in November are that exciting. But I will be having the connections checked in Berlin for sure in case it's an easy fix.....
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
20,508
7,283
If you NEED now, then BUY now.

I'd suggest a 2020 MacBook Pro (the 4-port model).
New or Apple-refurbished (do they have Apple refurbished there?).

I wouldn't worry about "ARM Macs".
Again, if you need something now, by all means get it.
Today's MacBook Pro will continue to work for years to come.

You will still have FOUR USB ports (you just need different connecting cables).
Or, you can use dongle/adapters like this:
 
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hobowankenobi

macrumors 68000
Aug 27, 2015
1,510
511
on the land line mr. smith.
So what @nothingtoseehere said is all pretty good info as well

I will add that even if we ignore Apple Silicon, even though I do believe it will be pretty solid even from first generation, the cost of the current models will take a dive when a new one is released and if that's just a month or so away, I don't know, I'd think it'd be a bit of a bummer time to buy new. So if you do wind up needing to go out and get a new one I think maybe looking at the refurb shop or something would be advisable.


I agree so strongly...if it were me, and I had to have a new/reliable machine this week, I would probably look at the used market, knowing that any machine procured in the next few weeks/months is at high risk of being devalued.

I would look for a machine that would be a bridge to a new AS Mac, likely with a 1 year life expectancy....2 years max. One that I could roll down to a family member or sell easily onece I had a new AS Mac in hand.
 
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