Replacing 2008 Macbook Advice: Air or rPro. Want vs Need

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by addictive, May 7, 2013.


What choice should I make for next Mac purchase?

  1. Macbook Air

    8 vote(s)
  2. Retina Macbook Pro

    10 vote(s)
  3. Keep your Macbook 2008 until it works no more

    14 vote(s)
  1. addictive macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    I'm considering a new Mac purchase and would like to hear from other board members to gather some more opinions and from those who can point out some things i might not have thought of. Any purchase is not immediate and I know the drill, I would wait for the Haswell line of processors to be released on new Mac products.

    First of all I own and use a late 2008 aluminium unibody Macbook. It is a truly brilliant machine, i love it. I think the design looks beautiful and the build quality is flawless. I have owned it nearly five years and I have kept it in great condition and it is barely scratched. In that time it has not gone wrong. The worst thing that has happened is the battery does not last very long now and this restricts the use of it as a mobile device. I have replaced the battery and even this second battery now last about 1 hour 40 minutes when browsing the web and using Word which is what I send the majority of my time doing on this machine as i'm a researcher. If I was to watch a dvd or use handbrake then i'm definitely getting less probably about 1 hour 15 minutes which is not enough to watch a movie or burn a dvd meaning I need a power cord to be able to do these things.

    Overtime i have upgraded from 2GB (two 1GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM to 4GB and now i have the maximum for this machine 8GB (two 4GB sticks from Crucial). I have also upgraded the 250GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive which came with my macbook to a Crucial 256GB SSD. I feel i would never want to go back to a HDD.

    For any new machine how much of an upgrade am I going to feel? I already have the 8GB of RAM and a 256 SSD installed. However, my macbook 2008 has a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Any replacement is going to have a Haswell processor.

    My macbook 2008 has NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory. I imagine regardless of which Mac i get as a replacement the graphics are going to be significantly better. I should say I do not game at all so this is not an important factor to me.

    I notice that on Apple's newer Macs the ability to upgrade the machines oneself is not possible due to the new engineering design. I understand this is down to how tightly everything is packaged together but it seems to also mean that Apple would like people to buy a new Mac more often in order to get newer technology since one can't upgrade.

    I am currently burning all my DVDs to my external hard-drives for storage and apart from using Handbrake to do this I very rarely use the optical disc drive. I made the decision (like many others) several years ago to move away from physical media. I'm creating a lot of space by selling my entire DVD and CD libraries.

    The Mac computers I am interested in all have had their optical drive removed as they've been remodelled. I am looking forward to carrying around a lighter Mac.

    One thing I wish my current Macbook would do is to hook up to a large screen TV, as far as I know this 2008 model does not allow it to HDMI. Please correct me if i'm wrong.

    The display with this model is 1280 by 800 (native). I know the Retina display is a big draw on the Macbook Pro now and from my own speculation i don't think the Air gets the Retina display until 2014 when the Air will likely get a redesign. I guess displays have moved on considerably since 2008 too.

    I am currently running OS X 10.8.3 and I've installed all the Big Cat upgrades since getting this Mac. When 10.9 gets released I will install that too. Yet there will be a time when Apple deems my hardware not powerful enough to power their new OS and at that point i'll have no choice but to upgrade. At what point is that likely? 10.10+?

    I guess it comes down to Want versus Need, does it not? I still love using this Macbook from 2008 and i've been blessed with a sturdy machine which never goes wrong. But at some point something will go wrong and it will likely not be worth getting it fixed because of its age and cost of replacing.

    In short I would like a Mac which is lighter than what I have now. I am very keen for my new Mac to have a far better battery life in order to make it a truly mobile machine which will allow me to work most of the day without being hooked up to a mains power source. The build quality is important and I would want it to last at least as long as i've had this one which is about 5 years.

    Any suggestions? Including to stick with what i've got until I truly need to replace. Also let me know how much of an improvement in performance i'm going to feel considering I already have 8GB of RAM and a SSD installed.

    Thank you.
  2. splitpea macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2009
    Among the starlings
    You'll get significant performance improvement from the CPU. You won't notice it in word processing, but on, say, JavaScript-heavy web pages, absolutely. Oh, and you'll get USB3, which will give you a huge I/O boost for peripherals.

    The air supports a higher resolution than the cMBP or the retina's default setting (1440x900 vs 1280x800). The retina can run even higher resolutions - 1680x1050, or with tweaks, 1920x1200. But things get kind of small.

    Battery life is a little exaggerated for typical use. You probably won't get all-day battery from any MacBook if you're doing any significant amount of web browsing, but 4-5 hours on a charge with a brand new battery can be had if your use is reasonably light and you keep the screen backlight low. Keep in mind that battery life *will* decline with age regardless, and that the batteries in the Air and rMBP are not replaceable.

    RAM isn't replaceable either, even with servicing, which means you're stuck with 8GB for the life of the machine (less chance of its still being usable with the latest software in 5-6 years). I've got my fingers crossed that they'll offer a 16GB BTO option in the 13" Air or rMBP in the next release, but it may just not be possible in those form factors until DDR4 becomes available for mobile - probably some time next year.

    Hope that helps!
  3. addictive thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Thank you splitpea for your comments. Helpful for sure.

    Of course any replacement I am going to get for my Macbook 2008 is going to be an upgrade on what i've been using.

    What strikes me is that whatever Mac laptop i buy next is being designed to not last as long as my current macbook has. I've almost had my macbook for 5 years and with the build quality and reliability it could last for more years, i'm certain. Yes, i've done upgrades for it and that is what bothers me about the (new) designs for the Air and rPro models. They are being engineered in such a way as to not be upgradeable and therefore have a shorter shelf life. Am i wrong? This means Apple wants us to buy their computers more often using each one for less time than before, no?

    Ideally i'd like a model which doesn't exist yet: the Retina Air, i know it could come soon but in my opinion not before mid-late 2014 (largely because Apple doesn't want to cannibalise its rPro profits).

    For mobility I might look at getting a ipad mini (maybe waiting until the Retina model comes out) and then buying a mac mini which I can (at the moment) upgrade. That might solve my issues.

    Any further thoughts?
  4. BeckyG macrumors member


    Mar 24, 2010
    Lehigh Valley, PA

    Hi there. I have the same MacBook (late 2008 13" aluminum) as you do and I've loved it as long as you have loved yours. Babied mine too, still looks flawless. I just cracked two weeks ago and bought a 27" iMac to begin a replacement process. I have too many pictures and too many papers on there.

    Regarding your TV hook-up question, I bought a mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter at the Apple store, and a HDMI cable (from Best Buy if I remember correctly). We hook the two together and plug the cable into our TV (it's a Samsung) and there are a few settings to adjust but then it works perfectly!
  5. addictive thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Hi BeckyG, i'm not quite sure i understand your words on the adapter, possibly a typo? The Macbook 2008 doesn't have a HDMI out. Do you mean mini display port to HDMI? Would this also carry audio?

    Since you have a 2008 Macbook, i'm interested in hearing why you went for an iMac, do you not need the mobility and from a performance aspect what do you find the biggest differences?

    If you considered another macbook as a replacement what would you have gone for and why?
  6. B... macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    MiniDisplay port to HDMI carries audio and video.
  7. BeckyG macrumors member


    Mar 24, 2010
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    Thank you for clarifying that. I don't know why I called it a mini HDMI... It was real early this morning...

    I was considering this for a LONG time and I came to an agreement with my husband surrounding what we now refer to as the "Two Part Plan". The iMac purchase was Part 1. Part 2 will come later this summer or fall after we digest what ever Apple introduces in the MB Air category to, ultimately, replace my beloved MacBook.

    Here is why I bought the iMac:
    In 2009, original want/need was for a) photo management b) web site c) research for M.Ed. Portability was a factor. I really didn't have a thorough understanding of the amount of storage that was available OR how much storage I was going to use over time.

    In December of 2012 I started to get errors such as "your hard drive is full and you can't save anything anymore, etc." I was very nervous. I had to delete "things". I did crazy risky stuff like move my entire iPhoto library to an external hard drive. When I took my MacBook into the Apple store (to see if they could tell me what else I could delete) and told the Genius that I did that he almost died. He said, "Put those photos right back on this MacBook as soon as you get home and keep them stored in two places!"

    I understood that I needed something with more storage but I still wanted portability and I still felt the need to "replace" the MacBook. I completely thought I wanted the MBAir (the 11") but my husband was totally against that. Hence, the Two Part Plan.

    My plan (part 1) is to have the iMac now be my "main" machine to hold all of our iPhotos, etc. and to eliminate the the iPhoto library from my MacBook (freeing up so much space) and use my MacBook as long as I can for things like vacation, classroom. I am teaching my first class this summer so I still need something that is portable. Some people say "Oh just get an iPad!" I have an iPad 2 but I still cannot commit to using that for work/school "stuff". I did get the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover and I do love it. I started to do much more with it actually, but I just prefer the MacBook.

    Part 2 - I am going to wait and see what comes out this summer/fall in terms of MBAir. My MacBook is really just fine for the time being.

    I do absolutely love this iMac though. I mean I really love it. And I went all crazy and got the 27" one. It is the least expensive model though. It is super fast and it is absolutely beautiful in my office at home! I really wish I could take it to work with me! :)
  8. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    Not on the older 2008 models
  9. AnonMac50 macrumors 65816

    Mar 24, 2010
    Not on the 2008 and 2009 models.
  10. addictive thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    So how would I hook up my Macbook 2008 to a HDTV via HDMI? Or is it not possible? I've read somewhere I need external speakers? That sounds like an epic fail.
  11. Woodcrest64 macrumors 65816


    Aug 14, 2006
    Hey addictive, I would look into getting Apple to replace your battery. Its more money obviously but the aftermarket ones aren't as good from my experience. A friend of mine ordered one off of a notebook battery website and he gets 2 to 3 hours with it where his Apple battery got him 5 hours. I believe the battery replacement from Apple is between $150 to $200.

    If you get that you could hold out for another 2 years especially considering you have an SSD and 8GB of memory in your current machine.

    Just my 2 cents ;)

    As for the HDMI and sound if its the late 2008 Macbook then you have a display port which will put sound out over HDMI. If its the early 2008 model then you will need a separate audio cable along with the HDMI.
  12. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    you can do the Mini DisplayPort to HDMI and then use your MacBooks audio out port to connect to your TV.

    ps I'm surprised you lasted so long with that MacBook "pro"... the display on that thing really, really sucks. I would just upgrade to a retina MacBook Pro and enjoy a fantastic computer
  13. addictive thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    I am on my second battery with this macbook (my first replacement battery) I found even with a new battery that the charge only lasted around three hours rather than the five you suggest. Perhaps I wasn't draining the battery which many people say you need to do and was relying too much on being hooked up to the mains?

    I could go for another battery at $129 it is a lot cheaper than buying a new Mac and as i've got 8GB Ram and a 256SSD i'm not certain i'm going to see a massive performance increase for my needs.


    I don't mind the display I have but then I don't know what i'm missing. I suppose if I started using a Retina display then I wouldn't be able to go back to what I have now.
  14. blesscheese macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    Here's my opinion:

    If you already have 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD in your MacBook, then you aren't going to notice a huge difference in performance between your current MacBook and any of the newer replacements your are thinking of.

    Yes, all the benchmarks will be better/faster, etc, but subjectively...your own interactions with it? You won't really notice any difference, esp. if the majority of what you do is browse the web and use Word.

    Your laptop is 5 years old, and you will replace it sometime. Again, based on the 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, anything less in the new laptop will be a disappointment (on a sidenote here--your upgrading of your old machine has kinda screwed you when it comes for considering a replacement. I guess the good news is, neither the MBA or the rMBP will allow you to upgrade them, so, problem solved ! :D )

    I'm a MBA user...I have a 2009 model, and I'm still happy with mine. When the time to upgrade comes, I'll be tempted by a rMBP, but, willl likely get the 13" MBA again, with max RAM and max SSD. That way, I know I can make it another 5 years, without any issues or any envy. In fact, the MBA does everything I need it to (I have a desktop to run heavy tasks), the main limiting feature now is only 2GB of RAM, which is causing me to use my desktop a little more often.

    One reason why I may buy the rMBP aging eyesight. I love my MBA 1200x800 resolution. The new MBA has 1440x900, which is looks cramped (to me) on a 13" screen. The rMBP basically gives you a 1200x800 resolution (with 2x the pixels), which is a lot easier on my eyes. But I love the portability of the MBA...
  15. addictive thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Thanks blesscheese. It is becoming clearer to me now and its interesting to see how the votes on the poll at the top of the page have changed since i first posted. The majority of voters now believe I should keep my macbook 2008 until it works no more. I guess despite WANTing a shiny new Macbook (Air or Rpro) I don't really NEED a new one. The fact I have 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD in my 2008 macbook suggests I just will not see massive performance improvements. The only two key areas I can't improve upon with my current model are increased portability (which I would love, no more optical drive and a lighter weight) and a better display.

    So I guess I'll be waiting for :apple: to release a new Macbook Air with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD and a Retina display with superior battery life. I guess this dreamed up model won't be coming for another 13 months or so at the very least :cool:

  16. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    Hey OP, I say hold out. I've got an '09 w/ upgraded RAM and SSD as well. Though tempted by the Air, I've resisted and elected to run this one into the ground.
  17. davidinva macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, USA
    I have an early 2008 MB and used a HDMI cable to our TV (Panasonic). My MB won't support audio that way, so I discovered AirParrot and bought an Apple TV. Works fine on my MY and supports audio as well as video. AP costs $10 if I remember correctly.
  18. addictive thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    I am leaning more and more to keeping the Macbook from 2008 but this evening I was in the :apple: store in London's Regent Street and had a play around with the new :apple: Macbook Pro Retina and wow, I was totally blown away by that machine. It seems like they have even improved on the design and style of the Macbook Unibody ;) - everything about it seemed wonderful, well balanced, good selection of ports and a tremendous screen. However, despite all these improvements I did feel it was a little heavy. So i moved on to look at the Macbook Airs and even though it probably would never be a purchase for me the 11 inch air is just ridiculous, beautiful and just so so light.

    I am getting more and more taken by the ipad minis and think this would be most suitable for me for my web browsing when i am on the move or wanting increased portability. I'll wait for the Retina version whenever it gets released, this year or next year.


    If I don't make a new Macbook purchase I will want to enable hooking this 2008 model up to a HDTV. Therefore would I be correct in thinking I need Mini Displayport (male v1.1) + USB (male 2.0) to HDMI (female v1.3b)? Is this the product to buy? Please advise as I'd quite like to make the purchase. Thanks in advance.
  19. metanoiac macrumors member

    Jan 21, 2012
    I smiled when I read your threat, because I have basically the same machine. Later 2008 unibody MacBook, still great condition, 8GB RAM are a charm. I didn't exchange the harddrive with an SSD, but I played with the thought more than once.

    I am also a researcher, just like you, and for my main work of typing and organizing thoughts and papers my MacBook is still a great machine. It is a pain to use pixelmator on it, but this is not my main use.

    I am still running the original battery, because I want to first see how the 2013 MBA will look like. Like you I don't expect a retina screen for the MBA this year, but I think long-term it will come. Given the improvements in screen and battery technology, it only makes marketing sense to further push the retina angle. And from the iPad I know that a retina display makes working with text so much nicer. I also hope that my MacBook will be able to update to the new OS. Thus, I most likely will spend money on a replacement battery and the new OS this year, but long-term I think I will migrate to MBA with a retina screen.

    Why not a retina MBP? I think for people who are mainly using their computer for text (with the occasional image work or movie encoding work), the MBP is overpowered. I totally love the slim design, but the Air's form factor and weight is just more appealing to me as someone who frequently carries his laptop from home to campus and to conferences. Plus a MBA is well able to power a large external display (my current MacBook does it, but you notice that it is more work), and a MBA with a 27 inch external display would be my ideal work station at the moment (side note: I am hoping that the external display will catch up with the new iMac's design).

    Considering your hardware and use situation, I think you would be able to work with your current machine for at least one more year. Your's is even in better shape than mine because of the SSD. I would closely observe how the update on the MBA looks like, and if it is not to your absolute liking, I would wait.

    Prices seem to go down a little in the first few months anyways, and this is a good timeframe to listen to the opinion and rumours around what to expect from the current and maybe next machine.

    When you buy, and I am sure you already came to the same conclusion, you probably want to max out the specs, especially on the RAM side. Being able to upgrade the RAM was a life saver (not for me, but for my MacBook), and like you I tend to use my stuff for a long time. The extra money up front comes easily back over the years of extra use.

    Good luck with your decision!
  20. addictive thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Thank you metanoiac. I'm amazed you are still getting by with your original battery, bravo. I will be buying my second replacement (third battery) for this Macbook soon.

    I agree my macbook from 2008 should be able to get me through one more year or work and play and another OS X update before :apple: decides that maybe this computer can't handle their newer OS?

    I guess i've never thought about how the upgrades i've performed have saved me money and time over the years. This is a pleasing thought and yet i've always sub-consciously known this because of the improved performance from maxing out the RAM and adding a SSD. Yet of course as other posters have stated earlier in this discussion that my upgrades to the 2008 model have hamstrung me in my attempts to buy a new Macbook because I won't see vast performance increases.:rolleyes:
  21. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    I would get the full size MBP, because it's easier to upgrade the drive yourself.

    Any newer Mac, such as MBA and rMBP will be faster (and has more battery life) than a 5 year old computer.
  22. metanoiac macrumors member

    Jan 21, 2012
    Not necessarily a bad thing :)

    And an upgrade now or in a year will be still rewarding because of better performance of the CPU and graphics. Plus design and handling rewards, as both rMBP and MBA are (much) lighter.
  23. addictive thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Exactly and this is what I have come to realise. After much thought and helpful input from board members. This Macbook will continue to run and run and that is great.

    The upgrades I have put in place have allowed the life span of this Macbook to go well into the future and not have to buy a replacement whether I like this or not. It has saved me money but it is really the reason stopping me from buying a new macbook which would be a better, lighter computer.

    If there isn't a macbook out there that I absolutely must have then it makes sense to keep using my current model. The question which gets asked over and over in the Buying Tips and Advice forum is "should I buy?" And the answer is almost always the same - buy it if you need it now. The simple answer is my macbook is functioning perfectly well and therefore I don't need a new macbook.

    The macbook I would like to buy isn't on the market at the moment. It would be a 13 inch Macbook Air with Retina, at least 512SSD and 16GBRAM. This should future proof it for a number of years allowing me to keep the macbook for a long time like I have this current one. I see that Apple has now moved into an engineering phase where their laptops are not user upgradeable. They are still letting users upgrade the desktops but not the laptops.

    Of course if the Haswell macbook Airs get a Retina screen then I'm going to have to make a decision earlier than i currently plan. I'll more likely have to check back in on this post in the summer of 2014 when :apple: release another set of new products. Perhaps at that point I'll actually be in need of a new Macbook. A lot can happen in a year.
  24. blesscheese macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    Two things:
    1. I agree, it makes sense to buy something "to grow into," i.e., something powerful enough so it won't be obsolete within a year or two after purchase.

    In the old days, the solution was easy; buy a "lower spec" machine, and upgrade it when you need to, so it grows along with you. The perfect example of this is yours! i.e., buying a 2008 13" bottom of the line MacBook, and upgrading it so that now you have an 8GB RAM and 256 GB SSD beast!

    2. This model (in #1) is DEAD now...well, pretty much, with the MBA's and rMBP's having soldered RAM, and tight spaces that make upgrading components difficult.

    In a way, this is a good thing, the Apple dream of the computer becoming more of a consumer appliance has been achieved; what is more important are the consumer features on the outside, than what is in the inside (although, maybe not the consumers dream of cheaper prices...I view my MBA as the BMW of toasters, but hey, I spend hours a day on my MBA, but use my toaster oven max once or twice a day).

    It also points out the issues and costs of upgrading vs. buying a whole new rig. By the time most people have upgraded a low end computer once, twice, or three times (more RAM once or twice, a bigger HD or SSD once or twice), it may have been more cost effective to have never upgraded the computer in the first place, and just upgraded after 3 or 4 years.

    In any event, IIRC, if your work involves doing research, surfing the web and Word documents, I don't think you will need 16GB of RAM anytime soon. The 512GB SSD is a premium now, but is available for the MBA and rMBP, so that day is here. However, I'm not expecting 16GB of RAM on the MBA or 13" rMBP this year...but, maybe I'm wrong.
  25. canman4PM macrumors 6502


    Mar 8, 2012
    Kelowna BC
    I'm in the same boat as you. I have a Late 2007 iMac, but I bought the biggest, baddest iMac they made at the time: 24", 2.8 GHz Core 2 Extreme, 4GB RAM and 1TB HDD. I bought it that way so that I could get the most amount of time out of it. My replacement also has yet to be built. I have Mountain Lion on it - mine was the oldest Mac to accept Mountain Lion when it came out last summer, so I assume that either I'm done, or I might get one more OS update this year. Even if I cannot upgrade the OS this year, I'll still be able to run a few more years before my iLife/iWork suites become problematic on this machine.

    It still runs as fresh as the day I bought it, so I am unconcerned with lagging performance: my speed when online is still limited by my internet connection, not my computer. That said, I gave the latest iMac a pretty hard eyeball when it came out with it's slimmer profile, better screen and fusion drive, but I'll be another generation or 2 (or 3) before I buy. The original computer ran around $3K CAD, as does the latest iMac, fully loaded (with 16GB RAM - I'll pay for 32GB later, when needed and cheaper than the extra $400 now).

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