Time for a new laptop?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Pomme, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. Pomme macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2004
    Hi guys,

    I've appreciated the advice I've gotten on here for the last few years. My iBook G4 is just over three years old. It's been a very durable computer, and I've worked it hard the last few years. I probably use the computer for six hours a day minimum, mostly for small things -- internet, Word, photos, that sort -- but also occasionally for InDesign work. Next year is going to be a very work-intensive year; I'll be using the laptop for normal school work, but also in my work as the editor for a weekly newspaper. That means more InDesign and occasional Photoshop.

    I've had some problems this last year. I lost a hard drive very abruptly in December. I've had a few other small bugs -- the internal mic never functioned properly, for instance. My warranty expired a few months ago, and now the hard drive (possibly?) is acting up again. The computer started freezing a few weeks ago. When I go to turn it on, sometimes it doesn't respond at all. Other times, I'll get to either the window with the Apple logo or the spinning wheel, or a picture of a file folder with a blinking question mark. And about half of the time, it turns on just fine and works from anywhere to a few minutes to a few days. I took the computer up to the Apple store today, and the Genius guessed that it was slowly working its way towards another hard drive failure.

    Here's my question: the Genius told me that with most laptops, they've got 7 years before they're totally obsolete, but most get anywhere from 4 to 6 six years of solid running time. Do I replace the hard drive and try to get another year out of this puppy? I'll be a student until the end of May, so I was sort of planning to buy a new laptop with my student discount just before graduating. My father, on the other hand, is encouraging me to buy now: essentially, to go into the next year with a new warranty, a reliable and fast computer, and no worries about failure during an inoportune time (read: finals (as has been the case with both hard drive problems, incidentally)).

    My iBook has a 40 GB harddrive, of which about 3 GB are free right now. (It's getting harder and harder to accomplish work right now. If I'm typing in Word, the computer can spit out about three words, sometimes a sentence, before hitching, giving me the spiral wheel, and making me wait a few minutes.) I'm looking at a mid-level MacBook; not top of the line, but not bare bones, either. Thoughts? Advice? Should I wait to buy, or should I make the plunge?
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    That's a big no no with Tiger and later versions of OS X.... Several of us have found that our Macs behave very chaotically with <5GB of free space, and even show benefit in getting >10 or >12 GB free... at least some of your problems are likely to be caused by this.
  3. Pomme thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2004
    Now that I'm at home (I've been away for several months) the plan has been to move a lot of data over to the external hard drive. Hopefully that will help a bit; I appreciate the tip about keeping space open. I'm running the same OS that came with the computer in June 2004, if that helps clarify the situation at all.

    I meant to ask in the original post: if I do replace the hard drive, and go through a third party, will upping the size of the hard drive buy me some more time? I'm torn right now. Being up at the Apple Store today was enticing -- the MacBooks are beautiful (though I'm sad to have seen the 12" go). But I know that the longer I can make this guy last, the longer a new computer will keep working, too.
  4. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    If you could hold out until Leopard, it would really be beneficial for you. Get a good harddrive, and then when you buy a new macbook, or macbook pro, see if you can use the same harddrive.
  5. Stevenup7002 macrumors member

    May 22, 2007
    Clonmel, Ireland
    I say you should buy it now, before the discount ends, the sooner the better :D

  6. Nick012 macrumors regular

    Apr 28, 2007
    Don't forget that if you buy now you get a free iPod! Which you can either eBay (and save some extra cash) or use as an MP3 player/external HD.
  7. Pomme thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2004
    Thanks, guys. I have to admit, the iPod (and possibly printer) deal is weighing pretty heavily in this decision. If I wait until next summer's promotion, depending on how fellowship applications work out, I probably won't be eligible!

    I've been reading up on Leopard here, and the consensus in some threads seems to be that waiting until October isn't necessarily the best idea. Is it really going to be so revolutionary that I'll have to have it? I'm more interested in getting the best machine for my money, and it doesn't sound like there are going to be hardware updates for the MacBook at that time. Thoughts?

    I guess I'm most interested in knowing -- those of you with iBooks (or similiar), how long have you gotten out of your machine? I bought mine mid-2004. I don't want to kick the poor boy until his time is up.
  8. neven macrumors 6502a

    Oct 10, 2006
    Portland, OR
    We still use a 2001 iBook for surfing, email, and music. The battery is dead so we have to keep it plugged in, but it's a perfectly usable machine.

    You probably won't *need* Leopard right away. Do you qualify for a student discount? That brings the price down quite a bit.
  9. spjonesi macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2006
    2.5 years out of a 1.2ghz 1.256gb ram and now 120gb hdd (badly upgraded by me). As I said in another thread, I've ordered my new MBP, and when it gets here, I'll be turning this one into a digital picture frame (though the 120gb hdd goes to the AppleTV that I have) with the 40 gb drive. As far as I am concerned this computer owes me nothing.

  10. Mr. B macrumors regular

    Dec 25, 2005
    I was having a similiar problem. My ibook was acting up and running slow.

    I deleted everything I could get rid of, did a few disk utility clean ups along with some onyx cache cleaning, bought some more ram, a new battery, and an external hardrive. (cost me around 400$ and the hardrive will be able to move onto the next computer as well.)

    My ibook now runs *quite* fast.

    I use the external hardrive as a scratch disk and photoshop runs at a impressive speed, able to let me use complex brushes at large size at 8.5" x 11" at 300 dpi.

    If your hardrive is going to melt, then it's not worth it, however, I recommend to try and fix up your computer first. It may still have quite a bit of life in it.

    (edit: My ibook is early 2004 G4 14" 1.2 ghz 60 hardrive)
  11. CmdrLaForge macrumors 601


    Feb 26, 2003
    around the world
    This is a difficult question and only you can really answer it. From what I hear that you do with the Mac you don't necessarly need a new one. I guess I would exchange the hard drive and wait.
  12. Tom B. macrumors 65816

    Tom B.

    Mar 22, 2006
    I have a PowerBook 12" (867MHz, 640MB RAM, 40GBHD) that still works fine and has had no major problems. And it's 4.5 years old! I think you can expect at least 5 years of usage from all Apple laptops. I plan to upgrade the RAM to 1152MB and get a new battery to help it last a bit longer.
    I'll probably buy a MacBook sometime before Christmas, hopefully there'll be updates by then.
  13. mr_matalino macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2005
    Get a new computer now with the ipod, sell the ipod, use the funds to buy 10.5 when it comes out and you're still up by about $100... Think of the productivity you'll have in school...
  14. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    If you upgrade the hard drive and the ram it should be a lot more capable. The problem is that the ibooks aren't as easily upgradeable as the macbooks.
  15. Pomme thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2004
    Thanks again for all the advice, guys. I'm starting (perhaps foolishly, I know; it's so hard to resist once I start down this road) to lean towards buying a new one. I'm probably going to get a slight break on it because of some soon-to-be-resolved customer service qualms; I'm hoping to have about $130 worth of credit (in return for a mysteriously misplaced third-party battery lost during a repair) to put towards the machine. With the free iPod, and with the possibility of selling the iBook, it seems like it could be pretty reasonable.

    I'm totally clueless about how much I could get for this machine, though. The harddrive doesn't display any actual problems after diagnostics, and was put in in December. The computer was bought in June 2004 and has been very gently used -- it's very clean, though there are a few tiny scratches on the cover. There is the matter of the battery; it only holds about 1.5-2 hours of charge, and didn't come with the machine originally. (I'd bought a third-party, extended life battery, but when I shipped the computer to Apple earlier this year for repairs, it came back with a very dirty, heavily used battery; mine was gone. I still have the battery that came with the computer originally, though.) 40 GB hard drive, combo drive, built in Airport Extreme, 1.07 GHz, 512 MB RAM. The magnetic hook closure is starting to go -- it sometimes takes a little finagling to get the computer to click shut. The keyboard was replaced in December, when the hard drive failed.

    I've done a little searching on eBay, and the range is pretty baffling. Anyone have any sort of idea how much I could expect to get for my trusty old fella?

    Again -- you guys are great. I love this forum; it's been a godsend when problems have cropped up over the last few years.
  16. mkgm1 macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2007
    Sorry, I'm afraid I have no idea how much it's worth. I do know, however, that eBay has a pretty nifty option that allows you to search through completed listings and you might be able to find out using that.

    If you were on a Windows machine, I'd recommend doing a clean format and reinstalling your OS until you get your new Macbook... I don't know if that would be as necessary/effective on a Mac though.
  17. violet macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2007
    buy at credible websites

    I think you can buy a new one at credible websites,but i am sorry i don't know where are these websites.But if you want to buy batteries,i can recommend two websites to you.
  18. Willis macrumors 68020


    Apr 23, 2006
    Beds, UK
  19. Pomme thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2004
    What a fantastic site! Thanks for the heads up. It's pricing me at about $410. If I got between $300 and $400 I'd be a happy camper. I know that with a little bit of upgrading, it'll be a great little machine for a few more years -- I'm just irrationally wary of trying it myself.

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