Time to update or buy new?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by metrowarrior79, Apr 29, 2014.

  1. metrowarrior79 macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2009
    I have a unibody MacBook (late 2008) that currently has the original 250GB hard drive and has been upgraded to 4GB of RAM (the max I thought I could add at the time). The hard drive only has about 18GB of free memory remaining and the computer has been running slow as of late, as well as the battery needs replacing. Cosmetically, the computer and screen are in excellent shape for a 5 year old computer.

    I have read that this computer will actually take 8GB of RAM, but I am not 100% that this is accurate (I know some about macs but am no expert in any form or fashion). So my question is, if possible, should I upgrade the RAM to 8GB and add a 480GB SSD from crucial as well as having the battery replaced? Or am I better off just buying a new MacBook? Total cost for upgrades would be roughly $425.

    I mainly use my computer for internet, email, some word and excel stuff, and iPhoto. I really notice the slowness of my current machine when using iPhoto, it really lags when iPhoto is open.

    So anyway, is it worth the $425 for upgrades or should I put that money towards a new MacBook and sell the old one? What do you think?
  2. MTL18, Apr 29, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014

    MTL18 macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    I am in a near identical situation to you.

    Laptop sells around my area for $400.00, and the wanted upgrades (240SSD + 8GB RAM + shipping + tax + exchange rate) take me to around 350 Canadian.

    With the refurb store, it wouldn't cost much more to get a new laptop, such as an 11.6 inch MacBook air.

    With after-market SSD upgrades available for the Air, it is really a question of how a 4GB RAM Haswell performs compared to an 8GB (your computer can handle 8) Core-2-Duo combo, and if the added cost is worth it.

    If anyone has experience/insight, it would be helpful.

    My plan (before today), was to buy a 120GB SSD from OWC as well as a data-doubler bracket. Run the OS/applications off of the SSD, and use the original HDD for storage. This can be done for under $150 (shipping + taxes included). This is the cheapest option, however, I have concerns with putting money into 6 year old computers because I have no idea how much longer more serious parts (logic board) have left.

    With regards to iPhoto - from what I have read, your particular problem of iPhoto is unlikely from RAM. I'd be willing to bet that larger photos being loaded simultaneously from a 5200RPM HDD is causing lag/slowdowns. Just a guess!
  3. metrowarrior79 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 2, 2009
    Same here with regards to how much longer the computer will last. If I could get another couple of years out of it by upgrading I think it would be worth it.

    In regards to iPhoto, so would upgrading to a SSD dramatically decrease lag?
  4. rapicell macrumors regular

    Mar 20, 2013
    Part of that slow down is from the HDD itself, it's old and also too full, thus read/write speeds are affected. Upgrading the ram and HDD to and SSD would show improvement, but how long are you likely going to keep this laptop if you spend the money to upgrade it?

    If you're not planning to keep it long, save your money and put it towards a newer macbook
  5. brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    From what I know, a Unibody Macbook (2008) can take 8GB. This is a limitation imposed by the 9400m GPU. Mid and Late 2009 white macbooks can also take 8GB, while 2010 White Macbooks can take 16GB because they have a nVidia 320m.

    I wouldn't install an expensive SATAIII SSD with 500GB. Install a 250GB one and use external drives for mass storage. I think 8GB + a 250GB SSD will cost you around $300, which is way cheaper than a brand new Macbook with 250GB SSD and 8GB RAM.
  6. MTL18 macrumors regular

    Jan 25, 2013
    Yes. I don't believe you would be running out of RAM with iPhoto. You can check this in system log and understand your RAM usage when iPhoto is opening. I suspect your nearly full 5200RPM HDD is the bottleneck...and it is not expensive to replace (in smaller sizes).
  7. gooser macrumors 6502a

    Jul 4, 2013
    i can think of three reasons to upgrade. but only if these reasons are important to you.
    1. you need rosetta on 10.6 to run some older applications.
    2. you need a built in optical drive.
    3. you like the looks of a white computer.

    if none of these reasons are important then buy new. you should still be able to get a decent price for your macbook when selling.
  8. Burning Radio macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2009
    In the same boat here.

    I have a late 2008 unibody Macbook (5,1) and I'm starting to feel like either an upgrade or a new computer is in my near future.

    The Macbook runs well for being as old as it is! I have 4 GB (which is fine at the moment for me most of the time, unless I'm working a lot on Photoshop) I also upgraded the 250 GB drive to a 1 TB several years ago. However, I bought a 5400rpm 1TB drive rather than a 7200rpm and now I'm starting to realize that it's the bottleneck of my system and the reason I'm noticing the slowdown in everyday tasks.

    I've been looking at SSD to replace my hard drive with yet adding $500 to a 6 year old computer seems a bit ridiculous and I would still have half of the space I do now.

    The other thing I have noticed being very outdated is my GPU. The built-in 9400M with just 256MB isn't enough to play simple games like SimCity or The Sims very well. Not to mention Photoshop/Adobe getting a bit sluggish.

    This MacBook has gotten me through my undergrad degree years of school and I'm starting to move on to starting a career. I would like to purchase Windows and Office (because office on PC is far better than Macs. Sorry, business major here) to use for work and productivity but I don't want to give up my Mac. However, I also don't want to slow down my system by piling an entirely different OS onto the HDD.

    So I'm nearing a crossroads. Is my Macbook worth that investment (like the OP said, $400-$500)?

    How much will the other outdated components bottleneck the system once a SSD is installed? Will it negate all of the benefits of a SSD?

    Will installing Windows on my 6 year old computer be a bad idea in terms of performance?

    XBench attached:
    XBench 5-4-14.jpg
  9. comda macrumors 6502a


    Mar 15, 2011
    I see your dilemma. I'm using a late 2007 MacBook that too has been upgraded. It's running 4 gb ram, and a 750gb hard disk drive.... Since your out of storage I'd defiantly suggest a bigger drive but do you really need a ssd? Their awesome yes but still really expensive. My 750 gb sea gate barracuda drive cost me $69. And the 4gb ram cost me a total of 60 bucks last year. Second. Use a program like I stats pro and monitor your memory and CPU usage. Adding ram is a great idea but not always the fix in a slow machine. Obviously the 5400rpm drive is one part of the issue but I found resetting my pram and using cleanmy Mac and repairing disk permissions. Obviously if the ram meter is running high then yeh add more ram, otherwise see what other issues slow down the machine. Good luck.
  10. Alkaid macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2013
    I think it really depends on what other options you can look at honestly.

    I've got a year older unit than yours (mid-2007) and it runs fairly sluggish as of late as well. (750gb, 4gb RAM (system only recognizes 3 of that))

    The biggest issue I can see if that with only 18GB free of space on your HD, that's the major bottleneck. If you can get an inexpensive external drive and transfer all of the files you'd like to keep (but have no need for) that should really help your performance by freeing up a lot of needed space.

    If the machine is still serving you well and you'd rather keep using it, you could also just replace the HD and bump up the RAM and you should get at least a performance boost if not more.

    If you think you've about used up all the options you've got for this Macbook, you could put at least the RAM or a smaller HD into the machine and try to sell it, while putting aside the rest of the funds towards a new machine.

    Eventually, that's my general plan as well for my machine. Before we get any new machine refreshes, I'm planning on purchasing the mid-2012/13 machine (the only one you can still upgrade) and maxing out the RAM and HD space if possible. (Yeah for 16GB RAM upgrades)

    Not sure of your specific machine's needs or performance but I do wish you luck on your decision; these older Macbooks always surprise me with what they can still do. (even rapidly heading towards 6-7+ years of life)

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