Should I buy refurbished early 2011 MBP or refurbished late 2011?

XMizer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 7, 2012
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0
So the late 2011 13" MBP refurbished models just came out recently, which I assume the late 2011 15" MBP refurbished models are coming out soon.

I'm thinking about buying the 15" MBP but I don't know if I should just buy the early 2011 refurbished model (at $1359) or get the late 2011 refurbished model. Are the upgrades on the late 2011 worth it? Also, I don't know what the price of the late 2011 refurbished is going to be but I assume it's going to be around $1530 (unless I'm mistaken) which means I'll be paying around $200 more than the early MBP model.

I haven't bought a laptop in years and this will be my first Mac, so I'm kinda outdated. All advice and comments appreciated.

Thanks
 
Last edited:

BreakGuy

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Nov 23, 2009
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Apple updated the MacBook Pros with faster processors (CPUs) across the board, along with higher capacity hard drives and better graphics processors (GPUs) on some models with no change in pricing.

The late 2011 refurbished models may not be any different in price, and you may even see the early 2011 refurbished models drop slightly in price. Until they've become available, it's hard to to say what's the best. But a general rule of thumb (so I've been told) is to buy the latest technology where you can afford to.
 

ml.sail1

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2010
148
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Pittsburgh
It depends on what model you are planning on getting. If you’re planning on the lower end 15” then you should definitely go with the LATE 2011 as it has a significantly better GPU. The -late 2011 lower end model- has the same GPU as the -early 2011 high end model- with a lesser amount of GPU memory.
 

XMizer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 7, 2012
31
0
Thanks for the response guys.

I'm planning on getting the lower end model whether I'm getting the early or late 2011 refurbished models.

I'm just wondering if it's worth the extra $200 to get the late 2011 model (it seems like the only improvements is the GPU from 2.0ghz to 2.2ghz and an improved graphics card).
 

teknikal90

macrumors 68040
Jan 28, 2008
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If you're set on getting the low end, then yes the late 2011 is a significant upgrade
The difference in processor speed isn't substantial between the low end and the high end, and the low end late 2011 gets the same (but lower clocked) gpu than its high end counterpart - easily fixed in boot camp
The low end early 2011 however, has a very mediocre gpu
 

pscraig

macrumors member
Apr 9, 2008
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0
I sold my Early 2011 2.0 15" to buy a Late 2011 2.2 15"-the difference in GPU is substantial. The GPU in the Early 2011 15" (Radeon 6490M/256MB) did barely better in some aspects that the integrated graphics. All depends on what you are running. With the Late 2011 model (Radeon 6750M/512MB) it is actually useful for some gaming and substantially faster when using the discrete GPU.

I would look for a refurbished Early 2011 2.2GHz since it comes with the same speed 2.2GHz CPU as the Late 2011 entry level model, and has the same Radeon 6750M but with 1GB of video memory. This is what I really wanted, but needed the hi-res screen.
 

jwksmith

macrumors member
Apr 27, 2008
33
1
Calgary
The big advantage to the early 2011 is you can run Snow Leopard if you want. This gives you access to Rosetta so you can run Power PC apps. I have an early 2011 MBP 15 and really value the ability to run both SL and Lion. I still find SL to be better ( more refined ) although I dual boot to both.
 

theSeb

macrumors 604
Aug 10, 2010
6,963
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The big advantage to the early 2011 is you can run Snow Leopard if you want. This gives you access to Rosetta so you can run Power PC apps. I have an early 2011 MBP 15 and really value the ability to run both SL and Lion. I still find SL to be better ( more refined ) although I dual boot to both.
Why would someone new to macs need Rosetta or power pc apps?
 

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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I didn't see any late '11 MBPs in the refurb store for 15" MBPs. They must have already sold the inventory off.
 

Mr. Retrofire

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Mar 2, 2010
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Should I buy refurbished early 2011 MBP or refurbished late 2011?
Early-2011 is the best choice. The 100 or 200 MHz more (Late-2011) do not mean higher performance in real applications.

On Early-2011 models you can:
- use Snow Leopard or Lion
- use Windows XP SP3, Vista or Windows 7 SP1 via Boot Camp or VMware Fusion/Parallels
- use Internet Recovery within Lion (requires a firmware update); yes that is true
- use all apps which are optimized for Snow Leopard & Sandy Bridge (x264 encoder (in HandBrake, for example))
- use up to 32 GB RAM (current limit: 16 GB)

On Late-2011 models you can:
- NOT use Snow Leopard (VM solutions excluded)
- NOT use Windows XP SP3 or Vista via Boot Camp

So the advantage of the Late-2011 models is pretty small.
 

squeakr

macrumors 68000
Apr 22, 2010
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The big advantage to the early 2011 is you can run Snow Leopard if you want. This gives you access to Rosetta so you can run Power PC apps. I have an early 2011 MBP 15 and really value the ability to run both SL and Lion. I still find SL to be better ( more refined ) although I dual boot to both.
As long as you can get the SL disc, with a late enough version, it can be run on the Late 2011 MBPs as well. Several here have gotten in on their late 2011.
 

balk

macrumors member
Mar 5, 2008
67
1
On Late-2011 models you can:
- NOT use Snow Leopard (VM solutions excluded)
- NOT use Windows XP SP3 or Vista via Boot Camp

So the advantage of the Late-2011 models is pretty small.
I've read topics proving otherwise albeit a little bit more work than the standard 'pop in DVD'.
 

Mr. Retrofire

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Mar 2, 2010
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I've read topics proving otherwise albeit a little bit more work than the standard 'pop in DVD'.
Try GeekBench on a Late-2011 MBP with SL! SL runs, but is very slow. So you cannot use Snow Leopard on the Late-2011 MBPs for real work. Even Snow Leopard within a VM is faster (Mac mini, similar hardware).

dimoe said:
I had no display-problems (24'' Dell-Display) with Snow-Leopard on my MacMini (2011)

But I stopped it after two days, because it was to slow:
Geekbench (32 bit) with SnowLeopard: 1700
Geekbench (32 bit) with Lion: 6700

Now I have a virtual Leopard for my Rosetta Stuff
Geekbench (32 bit): 4.800
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3209335?start=255&tstart=0
 

thermodynamic

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May 3, 2009
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My two cents:

The early-2011 has Snow Leopard. Lion (late-2011) is a CPU hog and all of those reports of battery life plummeting because of Lion are worthwhile.

The newer CPU speeds are meaningless if Apple hasn't addressed the underlying power problem that plagued the early-2011 models - and they haven't. (the reason the 17" MBP outperforms the same 15" sibling despite having identical hardware is because the 15" MBP is slowing down due to lack of power. The 17"'s internal battery barely provides enough and the 15"'s smaller battery cannot cope. The AC supply's wattage is so low that the thing gets to scalding hot temperatures when the MBP is plugged in and used.

Benchmarks:
http://www.macworld.com/article/157893/2011/02/2011macbookpro_benchmarks.html
(note the 17"'s better performance)

I always wondered why, until I stumbled on this:

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review...-GHz-quad-core-glare-type-screen.50346.0.html
(a-throttling-we-will-go...)

With proper AC adapters, these things would make actual full use of the CPU. But if the 2.2GHz didn't go all the way at turbo, 2.4GHz certainly won't go all the way either.

The late-2011 at the store also has an unevenly-lit keyboard. Far worse than my early-2011's. Apple needs to get a professional manufacturing company to do the work for a $2500 laptop or else they seem content to look like mud, by advertising a polished prim unit and selling something that looks slopped together. For $2500, people expect better results.

To say nothing of overheating and how some bloke replaced the thermal grease and got cooling down to acceptable levels:

http://my2011macbookpro.com/replacing-thermal-paste-on-the-cpu-and-gpu-results/
(that's page 2. Page 1 has the real shocker - of how unprofessional the application of the thermal paste was... my first early-2011 I exchanged because of these issues (keyboard, 101C when doing 3D rendering or compiling), but the second one fared far better (90C, which was lower than even my 17" 2009 MBP!, and a near-consistent keyboard backlight. The display issue is minor by comparison, but something with Apple or the companies it contacts to in order to do the work is amiss. )

Get one that works, and make exchanges if you must. And always get the extended warranty. Even under the best manufacturing conditions, problems can happen. The level of degree of complaints, and number of people complaining online, but I did read recently Apple has been investigating its suppliers, which is a very good sign.

----------

Early-2011 is the best choice. The 100 or 200 MHz more (Late-2011) do not mean higher performance in real applications.

On Early-2011 models you can:
- use Snow Leopard or Lion
- use Windows XP SP3, Vista or Windows 7 SP1 via Boot Camp or VMware Fusion/Parallels
- use Internet Recovery within Lion (requires a firmware update); yes that is true
- use all apps which are optimized for Snow Leopard & Sandy Bridge (x264 encoder (in HandBrake, for example))
- use up to 32 GB RAM (current limit: 16 GB)

On Late-2011 models you can:
- NOT use Snow Leopard (VM solutions excluded)
- NOT use Windows XP SP3 or Vista via Boot Camp

So the advantage of the Late-2011 models is pretty small.
Pity that people blindly think "newer is better" - but (if sellers still trust the online auction systems and buyers and their purported integrity) online auction and selling services would be a great place to find early-2011 units. Especially if AppleCare is included, where the warranty can be transferred.

Once a early-2011 MBP owner applies the latest firmware, does SL become unusable? That's the only factor I can think of as to why early-2011 and late-2011 would be SL-unfriendly...
 

squeakr

macrumors 68000
Apr 22, 2010
1,603
1
I read your linked posts and nowhere does it say that the throttling is caused by the battery. Everything I have read speculates the 17 performs better than the 15 due to the case spacing. With the larger spacing, the 17 is able spread out components on the logic board allowing the MBP to stay cooler longer than the 15 and thus perform better as it doesn't get throttled sooner. To me it only makes sense that the battery sizing would come into play if they are running the systems down to 0 life during the tests while plugged in, since the system can run empty while plugged in tells me that the throttling is not effectively an issue on the system, otherwise the throttling would not let the system drain itself completely.

The Late 2011's can run SL so that is not a point for either side.
 

Mr. Retrofire

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Mar 2, 2010
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Pity that people blindly think "newer is better" - but (if sellers still trust the online auction systems and buyers and their purported integrity) online auction and selling services would be a great place to find early-2011 units. Especially if AppleCare is included, where the warranty can be transferred.
Why not from the Apple Store?

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac
(available in many countries; choose your language first)

Once a early-2011 MBP owner applies the latest firmware, does SL become unusable?
No. That was also my fear. Snow Leopard boots (DVD, FW800, USB and internal HDD) after all firmware updates. The latest firmware update adds a few things, like Internet Recovery.
 

Fastball32

macrumors member
Nov 17, 2011
69
0
Another important thing to consider is the SATA ports.

The Late 2011 MacBook Pro's all have SATA-3 6GB/S connections.
The Early 2011 MBP's have widely variable SATA-3 connections: MBP 13" has both HDD & Optical Drive SATA-3's, the MBP 15" only has the HDD as Sata-3 and not the optical, and the MBP 17" has NO SATA-3 connections.

SATA-3 vs SATA-2 is roughly double the transfer rates, so if you upgrade the SSD to a SATA-3, then you will notice improved boot up times.
This upgrade is much more noticeable than the slight CPU increase of the late 2011.

http://www.macperformanceguide.com chronicles these discrepancies at length.
 

ml.sail1

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2010
148
0
Pittsburgh
Another important thing to consider is the SATA ports.

The Late 2011 MacBook Pro's all have SATA-3 6GB/S connections.
The Early 2011 MBP's have widely variable SATA-3 connections: MBP 13" has both HDD & Optical Drive SATA-3's, the MBP 15" only has the HDD as Sata-3 and not the optical, and the MBP 17" has NO SATA-3 connections.

SATA-3 vs SATA-2 is roughly double the transfer rates, so if you upgrade the SSD to a SATA-3, then you will notice improved boot up times.
This upgrade is much more noticeable than the slight CPU increase of the late 2011.
That isn’t completely true. I have an early 2011 15” MBP and it has SATA 3 6Gbps on BOTH the HDD and ODD ports.
 

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squeakr

macrumors 68000
Apr 22, 2010
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Also it is rumored that even if you have SATA3 on both the Optical port can't officially utilize it. It still has issues and the recommendations from OWC and others are to not put a SATA3 on the Optical. All of the Early MBPs had SATA3 on the HDD bay, it was the Optical bay that was hit or miss.
 

ml.sail1

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2010
148
0
Pittsburgh
The "Negotiated Link Speed" is 3 GBit/s, NOT 6 GBit/s.
Negotiated is what is being used, and seeing as how i am using the standard HDD that came with my MBP, it is only using the 3 Gbps speed. The port, however, is a 6Gbps port, so if I were to buy and install an “oh so expensive” SATA 3 SSD, it would show as 6Gbps under the negotiated link speed.

Both ports are SATA 3 6gbps
 

Steve.P.JobsFan

macrumors 6502a
Jan 27, 2010
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Columbus
Early or Late 2011 13"?

This thread is my question too. As you all know, I'm buying a MacBook Pro. I really want to get the Early 2011 13", since it's only $929, and I can save me some money. But, I really want to have a Late 2011 model, since it'd be newer. But, I don't really want to spend all my extra cash I've saved on a Late 2011. Is it worth the couple of hundred extra bucks for me to get a 13" MBP that's from Late 2011?
 

ml.sail1

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2010
148
0
Pittsburgh
For the 13 inch you really wouldn’t see any difference between the early and late 2011 save for the larger HDD. Not a big deal IMO though.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
66,806
33,774
Boston
This thread is my question too. As you all know, I'm buying a MacBook Pro. I really want to get the Early 2011 13", since it's only $929,
I think for the 13" MBP, its a good deal. As the other poster mentioned there's really not all that much different.
 
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