To Fix or Replace

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by garrettsmith, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. garrettsmith macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2014
    Hello Everyone,

    This is probably an age old question here but being that I know little to nothing about computer technology I figured this was the best place to seek some answers.

    I have a Mac Book Pro 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2GB of ram. Last week the monitor stopped working and I thought it was dead. I was however happy to find out that when hooked up to an external monitor that the laptop works fine, though without a functioning screen I guess it goes from lap to desktop. I took it to the smart computer fix it department at my university and they said it was the screen and would cost about $500 to fix, easy decision there to replace it. On a whim I decided to take it to the Apple store and they said they would fix the screen, track pad (my track pad has not worked in about 2 years), and battery for $280 at their depot repair rate. This makes the decision a little bit harder.

    I am a PhD student, so strapped for cash etc... Initially the $280 sounded alright as it would not mean having to fork over money for a new computer. Then my wife and I started to think that maybe putting this money into an old computer is not really worth it because who is to say that something else might not go wrong with it in the future? Also as a student I can write off equipment for school on my taxes.

    I run your basic office programs as well as some fairly robust statistical stuff on a day-to-day basis. I used to be a graphic designer before coming back to school so occasionally I have contract work in Adobe CS 5 and use Lightroom to edit all my non professional family photographs which are 8mp RAW files from my Olympus Pen (I am by no means a professional photographer but I take a lot of pics). For all of these things my old trusty but slowly dying MBP has been great, though I am sure if I used a newer computer it would make mine look like a tortoise.

    Before anyone says anything about fixing it myself I should clarify that I am worse than useless with technology, I tried to install Bootcamp and erased my entire Harddrive.

    I was looking at maybe the MacBook Air 11" because of its portability since I bike 12 miles to school everyday and the weight savings would be great. But still I am not sure if it is worth forking over the additional cash? Daily I really just use my computer to take notes in class, read student work, write papers, and do statistics as well as check emails and read things on the internet so nothing too fancy. I also try and back everything up on an external hard drive and our university cloud service as I have heard too many horror stories about dissertation work being stolen, erased, damaged, etc... When I do have to do design/photo work I use an external monitor so screen size is not a big concern, but this is about once a month maybe. Plus if I did get an Air I could use the old MBP as a desktop to do the stuff that I would usually use an external monitor for in the first place.

    I know this has been a long thread but I have been going back and forth and nobody I know is too privy on computer related things so I figured I would seek some expert advice about the Apple Depot Repair plan and the practicality of rehabbing an older computer over just getting a new one.

    Thanks so much
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    At $500+ replacing the computer definitely makes sense. With the $280 price from Apple for fixing everything, it's a tougher call. Check with Apple, but I believe the repairs will be covered for 90 days.

    As for what to do, if the computer handles what you need it to do and you will be in a better financial situation in about a year, you might want to repair the computer and buy a new one next year.

    If you're going to be a student for a few years, you might be better off using the education discount to buy a new computer with AppleCare.
  3. garrettsmith thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2014
    I would not say that a year would put me in a better financial situations per se. Since I broke my track pad a long time ago I kind of started to realize that ole trusty would some day quit working. I have and will be doing a lot of field research in the coming year(s) so she has taken some licking but to this point has kept on ticking. So I knew this day was coming and have budgeted for it.

    My biggest fear is that I get these things fixed and in a short period of time something that is a much bigger deal goes bad. But I guess these are the risks we take.
  4. kelon111 macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2013
    Well , a Core 2 Duo based Mac is probably around 5 years old at this point. How much longer do you think until other parts like the motherboard die?

    I would say you might want to save some money and buy another computer.

    You could buy a much faster Windows based laptop for around $300 and use it until it dies or until you can afford a better one. It should outlast your Mac since your Mac is probably around 5 years old right now.
  5. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Sounds like you can get by but you are right to be concerned about other failures. Trackpad and screen failure could be caused by those components, or possibly by connections to them. You would certainly want a guarantee the repairs would work, but it's also possible they won't. Until it's torn down you don't even have a definitive answer to the fix.

    Also, the hard drive will probably fail. It's a part that wears out. Not too expensive, but you'll then be thinking hmm, maybe an SSD? but an SSD at 3gb rather than 6 in new MBPs... and now you're in another dilemma. And the battery will need to be replaced eventually as well.

    But since it works as a desktop now, why not go iPad? Light. Good for all the uses you've mentioned. And you still have the non-portable MBP. Not as much $$.
  6. kelon111 macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2013

    You want a Ph.D student to use an iPad for work? I don't know of any good statistics programs for the iPad. Do you know of any that can compete with SPSS , MATLAB , etc. ?

    The iPad is a basically a watered down computer so it may not be good enough for work purposes.
  7. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    OK, I guess I'm just different. $280 sounds like a good deal for a portable Mac he knows will do everything he wants to do, and with a new battery, too. As for the other components "dying," I don't think there's any reason to believe the logic board, connections, graphics card, etc. are likely to fail within the next few years. (Assuming decent physical care.) I agree the hard drive is getting old; it may well fail soon, or it may well last another 5 years. Of course any of these things might fail soon, but I would say they probably won't. I would admit there's an increased risk of failure with the older machine, I just think it's small.

    I know it's anecdotal, but my wife's Gateway laptop is 8 years old and shows no signs of "dying" (with original HDD). (I sorta with it would so I would have an excuse to replace it with a Mac.) My iMac is probably the same era as the OP's MacBook Pro -- Early 2008 Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz. It's my daily user machine and I see no reason why it's likely to fail anytime soon. (I have replaced the HDD with an SDD, but only for performance reasons.)

    It's a choice between spending less now, for a machine which will probably become unusable in, say, 3 years most likely due to processing requirements, vs. spending a lot more now for a machine which, IMHO, would be usable for 6-8 years. Financially, isn't it usually better to delay expenditures when feasible?

    As you can tell, I'm not in the "buy a new Mac every three years" set. :)

    I totally think an 11" MacBook Air would be wonderful for the OP, but it all depends upon other priorities for the money.

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