Need help choosing Macbook Pro to last for >4/5 years

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Necrotique, May 30, 2012.

  1. Necrotique macrumors member

    May 30, 2012
    Long time reader, first time poster (obviously) so apologies in advance if I'm posting in the wrong area/forum.

    Just looking for some advice on what to purchase at the moment of the Macbook Pro variety.
    I currently use a 13" i7 1.7GHz air with 4GB RAM but find it stutters a little under intensive web-browsing/ video-watching. This is a problem as I run a from-home IT repair business and like to keep up with the latest news and releases, much to the detriment of my cap limit.

    Also, the fans get crazy loud with even just 3 or so youtube/embedded videos playing, which is a pain if I have a headache, or are staying up watching videos in bed while the wife's asleep.

    I'd also like a slightly higher resolution, as then I can show the font at a large size and not have it look terrible. Currently, it's very crisp, but if I zoom in so it's not so small as to hurt my eyes it makes most pages not fit.

    I was thinking of getting an i7 2.4GHz 15" late 2011 model w/ 1GB VRAM and had a few questions and concerns:

    1. I was going to go with the hi-res matte screen as here in Australia it's often sunny, and I can't hop on in the morning with the sun assaulting my eyes. Aside from the obvious resolution benefits, is it worth getting the matte screen and does it effect quality of image? This is important to me as I watch the latest tutorials/ how-to's on the products I repair and need to see detail in the schematics and components.

    2. Is the battery life respectable? At most with my Air, I get about 4 hours tops with my Optus USB Broadband program running and about 12 tabs open in Chrome. I know it varies from person to person, but if anyone has used it under the same parameters I'd be using it for then I'd love to hear your consensus.

    3. Do the fans go crazy? Will they "rev up" under slight provocation? I know this was also a problem with my old 2010 13" Macbook Pro.

    4. Will it be future-proof for my current stated needs? The most I'd play on it game-wise would be Muffin Knight, and tower-defense apps so that shouldn't be a problem. I'd like it to be able to still run browsers and their embedded programs in 4 or so years, and it will be a primary computer during that period as I'll likely be moving to Tasmania and will be setting up in our first house.

    5. I was planning on using my current 500GB Seagate Momentus Hybrid HDD for the "video storage" drive, while I'd use a 512GB SSD (undecided on brand as of now but am shopping around) for the booting and applications disk. Would this be fine for speeds with the specified model? I've always had great speeds using both in conjunction but was wondering if there are any known issues.

    Before I get attacked about not waiting for the newest model, it's for a few reasons.
    In my business I've noticed that a few of the more wily business owners and even original users will start selling their "old" macbooks before the new ones are released, as they want to get the new one as soon as it's out.
    This means there are massive opportunities for me to save up to 60% of the original RRP cost if I buy them online, especially from overseas.
    Also, I'm not sure I'd like Retina-display as the hi-res model I'd be getting would already be sufficient for me and my eyesight.
    I also do not like the thin form of my Macbook Air and it's less-than-impressive battery life (I have to charge it 2-3 times a day with the work I do, and it sometimes lasts for less than 3 hours with a new battery while watching online videos in their natural, non-fullscreen mode)
    I've heard they will try to make the new 'Pro line thin in form, similar to the Macbook Airs, and I don't think I'd like this, basing this on the argument of the small performance increase compared to the current generation, and the fact that you can only fit so much battery and ventilation into a small form.

    In short, there are bargains out there at the moment where I can buy the top-end model with a terrible HDD and just put my own in as well as a 2nd SSD in place of the optical drive.
    I do not need a grandiose new model and would rather pay ~$1300 - $1600AU for one of these current models from a few months back than wait a week for a new one which I may not like anyway, and which would be more expensive, and which would not have immediate ways of opening it up and altering/repairing it.

    In all, I just need to know if this would suit my needs.

    Cheers in advance and thankyou :)
  2. heisenberg123 macrumors 603


    Oct 31, 2010
    Hamilton, Ontario

    just read the begining, even with the current model you can expierence fan noise with flash videos if thats a big problem im not sure of a good solution
  3. Necrotique thread starter macrumors member

    May 30, 2012
    Cheers for the reply :)

    It might be a problem, but I've noticed that Hyrbids and SSDs reduce overall noise a fair bit so it might sounds less "mechanical" if that makes any sense.

    Would there be any danger in using SMCfancontrol to underspeed the fans to reduce noise output? I'd assume that running videos in browsers wouldn't ruin the system too much/at all.

    Also, would using the Safari browser be better/ optimized to Intel's hardware in comparison to Chrome?
  4. Necrotique, May 30, 2012
    Last edited: May 30, 2012

    Necrotique thread starter macrumors member

    May 30, 2012
    Also, I have a left-over brand-new early-2011 battery for a 13" macbook pro. Are these cross-compatible with the new 15" or limited to the intended 13"?

    Edit: Well now I'm in a pickle... I thought that the current 15" 1GB VRAM model had purchasable aftermarket caddies, but when I search by model (MD322LL/A) it says there are none; only for the early-2011 version. This is a disappointment as I could definitely use the VRAM increase in the long-run.
    If anyone knows of anywhere that supplies caddies suitable to this model, please let me know, as this will influence my decision greatly.
    Also, I need to be able to replace the battery myself (I have all the tools) every 1.5-2 years under heavy use.
  5. Callumbear845 macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2011

    Any optical drive caddy from the early 2011 MBP will work fine in the late 2011 model. There were no physical differences between the computers. Just different chips substituted in.
  6. macmastersam macrumors 6502a

    Sep 14, 2011
    Essex, england
    Get a 15" pro if you want it, or think that it won't be too big or heavy for you. Otherwise just get the 13" pro. Whatever you get, add In your SSD and get some more RAM for it, (not apple RAM :D) and you are good to go!
  7. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Being in IT support, you should know how unlikely it is for any computer to be viable 5 years from now.
  8. mfuchs88 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2011
    Well with the new SSD technology and the low cost of RAM, a quad core computer could easily last 5 years once you throw in a few upgrades after a few years. At least in my opinion, but I could be wrong. I imagine a quad core i7 with 16GB of RAM and an SATA III SSD would be plenty fast for normal use 5 years down the road. Maybe not for heavy graphic or video work, but it should be fine for near everything else.
  9. MovieCutter macrumors 68040


    May 3, 2005
    Washington, DC
    Then why are all the computers in my office aside from in my editing bays 5 year old Dells running Windows XP?
  10. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Your usage requirements are extremely low. I guess a was over generalizing things. If you're just running office apps or remote workstations, 5 years may be fine. OP mentioned intensive web browsing which would be a poor experience on an old machine.
  11. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Even though it seems like the rumored features of the new models may not be for you, I think it would still be worth waiting for them to come out, especially since it's only a couple of weeks away.

    It won't be hard to find 2011 models after that, they should actually be going even cheaper than they are right now.
  12. MovieCutter macrumors 68040


    May 3, 2005
    Washington, DC
    No wonder all the girls who work in marketing are complaining that Facebook doesn't load fast enough. Glad us editors get 12-core Mac Pros.
  13. Necrotique thread starter macrumors member

    May 30, 2012
    Alrighty, I s'pose I'll try to resist the 60% off ones for now in hopes that resellers will lower to similar prices.
  14. SDAVE macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2007
    God damn that's a lot of questions.

    Just get something. Nothing lasts forever. It's just a stupid machine.
  15. jtcedinburgh macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2010
    I'd say buy what you need now with plenty ram and storage and a good CPU (e.g. the i7 quad you speak of). Then, think seriously about selling it on at around 2.5 to 3 years for approximately 50% of the purchase price.

    That's what I've done with my late 2009 13" MBP C2D - bought for £850ish, sold for £600ish (excluding the SSD which I'm keeping). Which represents an *EXCEPTIONALLY* cheap TCO for any computer of approx. £100/year. OK, so I added Applecare which has only six months or so remaining, but that's not really entering into the equation as it's more or less worthless now anyway.

    I'd fully expect £1500 (i.e. £1250 ex VAT) spent on a new MBP to retain a value of at least £800 at 3 years, which is still over 50% of new rrp. A little over £200 per year for a top-end laptop, and the chance to 'trade-up' to the latest-and-greatest at that point - seems like a good deal to me.
  16. davidg4781 macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    About a week ago I bought a 2010 13" MBP to replace my 2006 MacBook. The only reason I did so was because I wanted Lion and Mountain Lion.

    That said, I was pretty much able to do anything online I wanted, with however many tabs I needed open, but the fans did run at full speed most of the time.

    With my 2010 MBP, I don't think the fans have ever gone above 3k rpm, and that's with playing some seemingly fairly intensive games.

    I think aside from Apple keeping you out of a newer version of OS X, you should be fine with whatever you decide to buy. I think in the past MBAs had lower powered CPUs and I remember Steve saying they throttled back the GPU to help save battery and keep heat down. Getting a MBP should help a lot in those areas.
  17. PAPO macrumors 6502

    Aug 24, 2009
    you will never expect 5 years out of a 2nd hand machine, if you want it to last 5 years wait for the new ones and get the best 15" you can, even then it may JUST make 5 years
  18. jtcedinburgh macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2010
    Hmmmm... my previous laptop, a Blackbook 2.0GHz C2D, was (give or take) almost as quick as the Macbook Pro 2.26GHz C2D is (or was, before I went SSD). That machine was purchased new in winter 2006, and I would strongly argue that it will be quite capable of performing 95% of any users' requirements at this point in time (albeit not as 'snappily' as on a current MBP).

    So, six years is quite realistic from a new machine. It could go on a lot longer, depending on your own requirements of that machine; if you're doing mainly web surfing and a bit of email and word processing, the occasional game, you're probably good for a while to come. After all, nobody is forcing you (yet) to upgrade to Mountain Lion (or indeed Lion) and it is generally with OS upgrades that older machines start to show their age. If you stick with a previous but not too distant OS (e.g. Snow Leopard) you'll be fine for a while yet. IME.
  19. cookiesnfooty macrumors 6502


    Jul 1, 2009
    With a Mac I find these machines even old can still perform quite well, this is not like Windows where age shows it. Aside from gaming many laptops can perform day to day work tasks.

    The biggest hardware problem I always found was the HDD, over time that degrades and slows the overall machine (Windows freezing up drove me insane). If you replace the machine with an SSD you can bring any machine to life a little, so 5 years is believable the biggest hurdle will be man's desire for something better as once a person believe's a product can not do the job you want it can't.

    Enjoy whichever purchase you go for, I have a 13" Macbook I use for call out's and intend to get a 15/17" (depends on changes to new models) for home.
  20. proximo macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2011
    I have a late 2007 MBP (17", 2.4Ghz C2D, 6GB memory) that I use every day, all day, for web browsing, streaming video, Java development and even at times running a single VM. Every major release of OS X seems to make it feel a bit slower but it's still completely adequate for what I do. Push come to shove I could easily make do with this for another year or two if the hardware holds out. I don't plan to, though. Assuming they don't screw up the redesign and do away with the 17", I'll have a new one as soon as the 2012s are available.
  21. Necrotique thread starter macrumors member

    May 30, 2012
    By not lasting 5 years do you mean the HDD or the logic board itself?
    I assume you mean the practical use of it. I've used my old C2D build for most things and only ever upgraded RAM by 2GB and the HDD to a SSD.

    The way I see it, the current 15" model would serve my purposes perfectly, and already has after-market parts/guides available for it.
    I'd hate to buy a new one for the cheapest price (I never get direct "Apple" upgrades) and find out no-one knows how to alter it yet.
    That's my main fear as I need a decent sub $3000AU portable workhorse.

    Is the difference between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge really that profound?

    As a final question, is there anyone with the build I'm proposing?

    *Optical bay - 500GB Seagate Momentus Hybrid
    *HDD bay - 512GB SSD with 6GB/s capabilities
    *i7 2.5GHz quad
    *16GB RAM
    *hi-res screen (matte or glossy)

    If so, please let me know how it handles various uses and how the battery holds up.
  22. theSeb, May 31, 2012
    Last edited: May 31, 2012

    theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Intensive web browsing, eh?

    Sounds to me like you need a 12 core Mac Pro with 64 GB of RAM at least. I would also throw in 2 x OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD in RAID 0. You want to make sure that everything renders and scrolls smoothly, so get an NVIDIA GT580 flashed graphics card from MacVidCards.

    Don't forget about backups!! You don't want to lose any of your intensive web browsing history if your primary storage fails. I would recommend getting 4 x 3 TB (at least) enterprise grade hard drives and run them in RAID. I would not rely on software RAID though. It's far too flaky and could fail any time during the intensive web browsing backup. I recommend a proper hardware RAID card from a firm like ARECA and running everything in RAID 5.

    Just to be doubly (triply?) sure, I would also get an external direct attached storage box, such as the Areca ARC-8040 8-Bays 6Gb/s SAS to SAS RAID subsystem. This way you can do another back up of all of your internals and take it offsite, just in case of a fire during your intensive web browsing.

    I would also suggest at least 2 x 27" monitors, if you can't afford 2 x 30" monitors. Really, I think you deserve the 30" monitors.

    The nice thing is that the Mac Pro has dual gigabit ethernet ports. So, see which companies in your area offer proper business leased internet lines and then get a good smart / managed switch and connect to it via link aggregation (IEEE 802.3ad). This way your internet browsing experience will be fully maximised. Why wait?

    This configuration will ensure that you're "future-proofed" for the next 5 years of intensive (and quiet) web browsing. Make sure to include a UPS as well, just in case the power goes down during the intensive web browsing.
  23. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    I would still wait, as the current 15" will drop in price when the new one is released.

    As for your proposed configuration: I would not put a momentus in the optibay for 2 reasons.
    1. It's a waste to use a momentus as a data storage drive since the drive doesn't write cache (unless you've got it just laying around)
    2. Because its still a mechanical drive, you'll have to worry about not having a SMS on the drive. The best place for a mechanical drive is in the stock location.
  24. JMS803 macrumors member

    Aug 9, 2010
    wait a week until WWDC to see what apple rolls out. Rumors are rumors, there still isn't any solid evidence (leaks) of what the final design is.

    With that machine you spec'd you can get 5 years easily. I'm still running a 2.4ghz C2D Macbook Pro from 2007 it's held up fine since then. Is it comparable to the modern quad I7 MBP's? Hell no, but it does what it needs to do fine enough. Still, I'm excited to see what updates to the MBP/MBA line are on there way.
  25. Necrotique thread starter macrumors member

    May 30, 2012
    Just don't want it sounding like a jet taking off whenever I have 20+ tabs open.

    I'll see what the coming week holds.

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