Oldest MBP with longest life expectancy in Apple ecosystem

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by sgtaylor5, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. sgtaylor5 macrumors member


    Aug 6, 2017
    Cheney, WA, USA
    I use a laptop in my one-man computer repair business for the following:

    Postbox for Gmail
    Acorn (image editing)
    TeamViewer for client remote access
    configuring routers onsite​

    My laptop needs are light. I want a system I do not have to tweak, that I can just use and not think about. Mac OS X fits that bill perfectly. It looks like it's a lot more efficient than Windows is: Mac OS X Lion runs cooler on my MacBook (2007) than Vista or 7 would on the same hardware. That's what got me interested in the first place. Also the keyboard is much better.

    For a long time, I've been obsessive about tweaking and experimenting; that's how I learn Windows. I have a Windows 10 Pro desktop for NTFS hard drive recovery and other Windows utilities, so I'm covered and I can tweak there if need be.

    I usually purchase or recondition used laptops; I don't buy new. I'm currently looking at 13 inch 2012 MacBook Pro because that is the last year Mac laptops can be upgraded easily. Is this too old for long term use? If I have to buy newer based on your recommendations, I will. MacBook Air is another option, but thinness/lightness is not a major consideration.

    I've seen that Mac OS is on the back burner for development, and it doesn't have as many features as Windows 10. That's a plus for me; the hardware will last longer on a Mac because it's not stressed as much, and is the main reason I'm thinking Mac, and not Microsoft. I'm also not going to be running the newest version of Mac OS; I can monitor developments in the software space and can upgrade accordingly.

    I don't want to have to buy a $1000 computer just so it can last 6 or 7 years. I don't have the money for that and AppleCare. If I can fix it myself, so much the better.

    Thank you for any insights.
  2. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    In my opinion, your post is full of misinformation. Windows is barely less efficient then macOS (if you ran Windows on your 2007 mac laptop, the differences in temp are most likely due to low quality Windows drivers that Apple provides), macOS certainly isn't on "back burner" compared to Windows 10 nor is it more tolerant to older hardware than Windows. And even though you can replace storage on the 2012 model, it doesn't mean that you can "fix it". Its still an integrated laptop with multiple points of failure and the chances that its one of the replaceable parts that will fail is very slim.

    The 2012 MBP was a good laptop and its still relevant today (after all, the CPU performance has stagnated over the last few years, so you won't be loosing that much compared to modern computers there). But I wouldn't spend too much money on it — its still a very old machine for which you can't get support. As to longevity: this is all in the cards and boils down to mere luck.
  3. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Land of the Unexpected
    Agree Windows is more efficient than macOS, as it's designed to run on much lower level hardware. Apple's perspective for the desktop OS is simply different to Microsoft's which may give the impression of a lack of development, if anything Apple is moving too fast with macOS.

    Personally I wouldn't invest any significant money into a Notebook so old as stated just down to luck if it runs for any length of time, and for business related use I don't do luck...


  4. sgtaylor5 thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 6, 2017
    Cheney, WA, USA
    OK, so what's the laptop I should get if not the 2012?
  5. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Frankly, whatever you want. Your goal seems to be getting maximal utility by spending least money. So just have a look on the deals you can get and buy the cheapest machine with reasonable hardware. But don't rely on it lasting 6 years. The majority of laptops, no matter what brand are likely to suffer a hardware failure before that.
  6. sgtaylor5, Aug 7, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017

    sgtaylor5 thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 6, 2017
    Cheney, WA, USA
    Thanks. I am fairly sure if I get Ivy Bridge or later, I'll do OK. Definitely going to stick with looking for 8 Gb of RAM and an SSD in whatever Mac laptop I get. I've run Windows, Linux and (admittedly older copies of) Mac OS. I'm liking the Mac environment the best. Preview does the work of three different pieces of software on Windows (PDF reader, image viewer, and scanner software, and it even will sign PDF's). I can drag an attachment to Evernote and it will make a new note on the Mac, and it won't in Windows. Postbox will use the system address books on the Mac, and I'd have non-synced Postbox address books on Windows (the extensions to do this in Windows are very clunky).

    The real sticking point has been accounting software. Linux is just a non-starter. The Mac version of QuickBooks has a better implementation of the features I use regularly than the same QuickBooks year in Windows. The "QuickBooks company file" file size is half that of the same file size in Windows.

    I had recently taken apart a friend's 2013 iMac to clone it to an SSD, and recreate his Windows 10 work environment in VMware Fusion. He was quite happy with the results, and I was impressed with the general build quality of the iMac and especially the motherboard, among other things. He gave me his old MacBook and I was hooked in short order. If I ran Windows 7 and the same software on a Dell Latitude E6400, for instance, the fans would be running far more often than they have on this MacBook.

    The last straw for Windows 10 was the Creators Edition and my trusty 2011 Dell Latitude E6220. The Creators Edition decided it didn't like my trackpad drivers, and nothing I could do would let them activate again. There should be some kind of fallback, but no.

    I have worked on recent MacBook Airs for clients, and they were very snappy for the hardware they were running on. Now, it might have been the PCIe SSD that made it massively faster, where I'm running a normal SATA SSD in this MacBook.
  7. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    High Sierra (come this fall) will be a significant quality of life improvement in this area. The new Apple filesystem is designed for latency, meaning very fast response times and minimal FS overhead.
  8. elf69 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2016
    Cornwall UK
    I was using a 2010 macbook (not pro) with 240GB SSD and 8GB ram (will take 16GB) and a 2nd HDD in optical bay.

    This machine was amazing for its age and specs.
    The keyboard failed and I and replacing it at some point.

    recommended the machine to friends who where windows users and are amazed at how good they are (with SSD fitted)

    I cant wait get my 2010 macbook working again. Using a 2012 macbook air right now for work which is also great machine.

    I use my machine for similar to OP as I work for a independent computer repair shop
  9. dingclancy23 macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2015
    Are you looking for an unboxed 2012? I. Think you will be fine with whatever laptop specs you get. But I'd bet money on some other component breaking first before the processor not catching up. MacOS is still very fast on my 2011 MacBook Air. I have it now with Yosemite though because there are no meaningful features in the latest OS to bother me to upgrade.

    Your battery will probably die first, and after a couple of expensive replacements and trips to the repair shop, you'd think of buying new.

    I just got a base MBP 2017 to replace the 2011 MBA. 6 years! I think my next purchase will be 2023.
  10. DTKblaster macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2012
    I've just come of a 2012 rMBP 15", and loved it to bits. I'm now on the 2017 15", and it really isn't much different. I think that was a sweet spot in recent hardware development due to it being the first laptop with a high DPI display, 22nm 3D transistor ivy bridge processor and one of the first 28nm graphics cards (nvidia kepler). It also was the first with USB3 and HDMI.

    Now I certainly wouldn't buy any old laptop with a graphics card if you intend for it to last a long time, I was on my 3rd logic board after 5 years (replaced for free in the extended repair program). Even the AMD cards from the prior generation and the nvidia 8000 series before that had a high rate of failure.

    I would recommend the 13 inch model of the 2012 or later rMBP as the oldest modern mac to get, as it doesn't have a dedicated GPU and came with 8gb RAM minimum. It is also still possible to get the battery replaced (including topcase/keyboard/track pad) by apple for $200 for maybe another half a year, if you wish. Older macs used USB2 and spinning disc storage by default (bah).
  11. Frankfurt macrumors 6502


    Dec 4, 2016
    Just replaced a Late 2008 13" MacBook with a 2017 15" MacBook Pro. The 2008 is running El Capitan, had a battery exchanged, upgraded RAM (from 2-8GB) and a SSD in replacement of a the original HDD. It is still running as a stationary in my home. Only reason to update for me was wanting a (larger) Retina display and more battery life (the 2008 runs for maybe 2 1/2 hours).

    I would buy new with the specs you need and ride that one out as long as you can.

    I am hoping the new 2017 will serve at least 6 years.
  12. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    This is exactly why I jumped on the mid-2012 13" back in 2012. I knew they'd all move to SSDs and more-difficult-to-upgrade-or-mod-or-repair internal hardware layouts later. I'm also fully expecting to use High Sierra on it later this year.

    That being said, this laptop would have been a better buy five years ago than it is today. My argument centers on keeping it secure as long as possible, and the older the computer is, the sooner it won't support the latest (and, theoretically, most secure) operating system.

    For me, then, the EOL concern is mostly driven by software, not hardware. I don't think hardware is, or ever will be, a problem with the mid-2012s. I wonder what I'll do with mine once it stops receiving macOS updates, however.
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed.
    NO computer ANYWHERE can satisfy your criteria:
    "I want a system I do not have to tweak, that I can just use and not think about."

    ALL computers, even Macs, require some "tweaking" and need some thought to keep properly maintained and running.

    Some require considerably more than others.
    That's where the Mac OS can help.
    But within the past several years, even the Mac OS has been getting "overloaded", and thus running into problems here and there.

    OP also wrote:
    "I don't want to have to buy a $1000 computer just so it can last 6 or 7 years. I don't have the money for that and AppleCare. If I can fix it myself, so much the better."

    ANY new Mac laptop you buy is going to over $1,000 -- most WAY over.
    And "6 or 7 years" is about all you can reasonably expect from ANY of them.
    And with today's MacBook Pro's, there isn't really anything you can do to "fix it yourself". Even the hard drives are soldered into place.

    All that said, I still recommend the Mac.
    It's just "easier".
    Not "perfect", but easier.

    I wouldn't recommend a 2012 [non retina] MacBook Pro, even though they have proven to be sturdy computers (for those who bought them new).
    But an already-seven-year-old Mac is just getting to be "too old". Pretty soon the latest Apple OS's aren't going to run on it any more (that's a fault of Apple, constantly "obsoleting" equipment that ain't really that old).

    If you want a MacBook that's going to "last 6-7 years", buy something new (or "recent/refurbished").
    That will be the best use of your money.

    For "longevity", Apple seems to have a better track record (at least with their laptops) if you buy "entry-level to midrange". Apple's high-end GPU's are often quite flaky over the passage of time.
  14. PBG4 Dude macrumors 68030

    PBG4 Dude

    Jul 6, 2007
    If you don't need a Retina display, you should check out the MacBook Air. Easily the best price/performance in the portable Mac lineup, IMHO. They last for years as well.
  15. sgtaylor5, Aug 7, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017

    sgtaylor5 thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 6, 2017
    Cheney, WA, USA
    The main difference between Windows and the Mac OS is that by default you can see all the folders that Windows uses to run itself. On the Mac OS those folders are by default hidden and that's really what I meant - there's not the blatant temptation to tweak. Oh, and no Registry on the Mac OS.

    Customize it? I certainly will! But I only had to do it for about a couple of weeks on this current MacBook and then I stopped. I didn't have to do anything after that.

    Entry-level to mid-range - I really like that idea, because I certainly don't need a dedicated GPU for what I do. I also can appreciate Apple pulling the rug out from under me WRT OS support. I think I'm hearing 2015 or later; is that right?
  16. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    Explain what you're asking with this.

    High Sierra is, as far as I've heard, supporting the mid-2010 and newer MB Pros.

    Whether a mid-2012 MB Pro will keep supporting the OS to 10.14 or 10.15 (or even later), I don't know.
  17. sgtaylor5 thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 6, 2017
    Cheney, WA, USA
    For the moment, a 2012 MBP is supported by High Sierra, and that's a good thing. I'm really glad that the 2010 is supported as well; that fact just gives any machine I purchase more life.

    What I'm looking for: If I were getting a [insert year here] MBP or for that matter an MBA of similar functionality (and the screen resolution doesn't matter for my use), then for the expected life of the [year] machine I wouldn't have to worry about not having the option of being able to upgrade the OS.

    I may upgrade the OS, I may not, but it would be nice to have the flexibility.

    Question is:
    is there a consensus of the cutoff year? Like 2014 is OK for a 5 - 6 year OS life, but 2012 is pushing it.

    Windows 10 is practically demanding I upgrade my hardware to keep running Windows 10 - that's where I'm coming from:

    My post 6 above:
  18. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    Have you considered jumping on the deals for the 2015 MacBook Air with the 1.6 GHz i5? It's pretty easy to find them in the $750-800 range, and sometimes for significantly less. It's only a 128 GB SSD, and the screen is nowhere near as nice as other current models, but it's a brand new system with a SSD for less money than most used MacBook Pros without a warranty.

    I would not be surprised if the 2012 MBP was supported for another 4-5 years because it was sold new by Apple until like 6-ish months ago, and even as recently as 2 weeks ago they were selling the 2012 MBP Uni as a refurb. It is possible they could designate the 2012 Retina as 'vintage' before they designate the 2012 Uni as 'vintage'!
  19. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    Gotcha --

    I'd base it on my past experiences. My 15" 2007 MBP, which shipped with 10.4 (I think), ran up to 10.9 Mavericks, which was released in late 2013 -- so it ran a current OS for 7 years.

    If the same holds true for my mid-2012, which shipped with 10.8 Mountain Lion, doing the basic math to say that it'll support 5 upgrades of the OS means it'll run at least 10.13 (some features already in 10.12, like unlocking the laptop via the Apple Watch, aren't officially supported) and possibly even higher. In terms of calendar time, if it's like my earlier one was, it might be current for 7 years.

    **** Note: Apple cuts off parts supply for repairs at, I believe, 7 years. That's when they move a product from 'Obsolete' to 'Vintage'. There's other discussion about the exact product lifetimes, and I could easily be wrong, too.

    One thing you wouldn't have to worry about, though, is a new OS update breaking what you already have. The option to update to an unsupported OS simply won't be available. You won't be presented with the option when you go to the App Store to download the new OS. Unlike what happened when you tried to upgrade to Win10, Apple's not going to send out an update that'll break the same hardware they made themselves.
  20. HippyRabbitFish macrumors member


    Mar 22, 2013
    Huntsville, AL
    For your needs, a 2012 will probably do the trick. No discrete graphics, and the RAM/storage are user-serviceable. Battery too, just not according to Apple.

    I'm a musician and use mine for recording/production/mixing. While I have it on Sierra, I'm not so attached to it that I wouldn't step backwards if needed for performance improvement. The platform is stable, and should remain stable for a while.

    RAM and storage options are solid should you ever need to replace what you have, and there are even third-party battery manufacturers, so if the battery dies, you can replace it yourself much more cheaply than literally ANY more recent MacBook, Pro or Air or non-Pro.

    I was one of the beneficiaries of one of the recent certified refurbished mid-2012 13" 2.5 i5 MacBook Pro machines.

    This is my first Mac, and while I could have gotten a newer one, or bought a used one more inexpensively, I opted for Apple's refurb because of their quality. I opted for AppleCare+, too. Crazy to spend over $800 plus another $300 for AppleCare+ when I could have had an entry-level 2017 13" MBP, but the reliability and serviceability of the non-Retina 2012 sold me on this model, in particular. I dropped 16GB and an OWC Extreme Pro 6G 480GB SSD into it, and it feels like it could handle almost anything my Skylake i7 PC notebook could handle.

    With AppleCare+ coverage, official support for the non-Retina 2012 models might last longer than some would otherwise expect, probably because they were sold "new" as recently as 2016.

    I'm expecting to make use of this machine for a decade, if at all possible. For music production, I am certain I can work within its limits, once I hit any. And if I do, it will probably mean I'm justifying the purchase of a desktop Mac for a semi-permanent studio setup.

    I hope my experience helps. Different use case, obviously, but clearly you want a rugged machine that isn't going to die anytime soon, and if something goes wrong, you stand a chance of a DIY repair.
  21. sgtaylor5 thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 6, 2017
    Cheney, WA, USA
    Thank you all for your comments, I do believe I know what I'm going to do. More research to determine if I can tell when a MBP was made, and look for a 2012 MBP produced in 2016, if possible.
  22. teknikal90 macrumors 68030


    Jan 28, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    youre working in the computer industry. would be beneficial for you to keep up with the latest tech so you can serve your clients better.

    else the types of clients you'll be relevant to will be the types that don't have the money to pay you a decent living.

    You yourself will struggle to find a 2012 macbook built in 2016. Let alone finding paying clients with a 2012 macbook that needs your help. Would be far more efficient for them to buy a new 2018 macbook air, for example.
  23. NT1440 macrumors G4


    May 18, 2008
    I updated my sisters 2009 13" Macbook Pro to an SSD hard drive. It's faster than it's ever been. Literally faster than new (which should be expected going from a mechanical drive to an SSD).
  24. wwooden macrumors 68000


    Jul 26, 2004
    Burlington, VT
    You could look at the 2012 cMBP 15", with dedicated graphics. Apple didn't increase the RAM speed through 2015, and they used the same GPU in the retina MBP, so I expect 2012 to age well, as well as a retina model. This is the computer I have and it's very user upgrade able. I put an SSD in and it feels as fast as any of the 2013-2015 MBP. I will eventually upgrade to 16gb of RAM, and could even replace the battery once it no longer holds a decent charge.

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