Unibody v older MacBook Pro - which to buy?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by PermaHeretic, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. PermaHeretic macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2013
    #1
    Hi
    I hope I'm not duplicating here, but I can't find a thread that covers my particular dilemma.

    I'm wanting to buy a secondhand MacBook Pro, but I am not keen on the non-replacable battery issue with the unibody models. I spend significant periods in my van, offgrid, and would ideally like the option to buy a spare battery so I can write for longer in the van before needing power.

    I'm also wary of the 'having to go to Apple' when the battery packs up. Since I'll be buying secondhand, this might turn out to be quite soon. I'm not going to find out how useless the battery is until I've bought it, and batteries are not usually under warranty.

    And I'm nervous of stories of bulging batteries...

    BUT... pre-unibody models are getting older and older. Am I wise to buy a 2007 or early 2008 Macbook Pro, or will I be buying something that is about to wear out?

    Are the non-removable batteries so much better that it's still more cost effective to pay Apple periodically than to buy replacements for the older version myself.

    Are the new keyboards and other specs of the 2009 unibodies so much better that I'd be silly to go for the older Mac just for the removable battery?

    Also are other aspects of the earlier models more mendable and upgradable such as makes it worth buying an older model even if it does wear out sooner?

    Is there an optimum model you can recommend?

    Would be most grateful as it's doing my head in!

    Cathy
     
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #2
    If you're just writing, wouldn't buying a new MacBook Air 13" give you more than enough battery life? You would need several batteries for an older MacBook Pro to match the battery life of the current 13" Air.
     
  3. PermaHeretic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 26, 2013
    #3
    I like to have several documents open and am used to my lovely great big iMac. Plus I do all sorts of other things at home - InDesign etc, Actually I'm 80/20 in favour of the 17" at the moment. 13" never crossed my mind.
     
  4. noodle654 macrumors 68020

    noodle654

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    Never Ender
    #4
    I would avoid the 2007/08 MBP completely...this coming from an owner up until 2 years ago. While the technology is fine, the problem is with the GPU...which is a ticking time bomb to be honest. I went through 3 replacement LBs before I sold it. I would honestly get a Unibody build, say late 2008 (MBP 5,1) as they have a removable battery. I think it was Mid 2009 (MBP 6,1) where they had non removable batteries.
     
  5. PermaHeretic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 26, 2013
    #5
    Thanks, that's really useful. That's quite a specific time-frame... i guess there's more chance of finding a 15" than 17". Back to eBay again!
     
  6. Swampus macrumors 6502

    Swampus

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    Jun 20, 2013
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    Winterfell
    #6
    You could stick a solar panel on your roof and get a 12V MBP car charger (read reviews on Amazon to get a good one, but they're not expensive).

    Depending on how much you plan to use it between engine starts, probably best to get a dedicated 12V battery for the solar panel. Car batteries really aren't meant to be drained that much between recharge cycles. Maybe go with a golf cart type of battery. Two 6V golf cart batteries wired in series would work just as well. You'd also have the extra advantage of being able to jump yourself if ever needed.

    If you drive your van daily, you could do pretty much the same thing without the solar panel. You could have the extra battery charged by your van's alternator, but otherwise isolated (via diode) from the rest of your electrical system.
     
  7. PermaHeretic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 26, 2013
    #7
    Yes I do all that. It just doesn't always work out - especially in cloudy weather. I have spare batteries for phone and camera and it works nicely. Doubles length of time before I have to drive.
     
  8. Swampus macrumors 6502

    Swampus

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    #8
    :) I suspected that you did, but wasn't sure.
     
  9. PermaHeretic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 26, 2013
    #9
    You have got me thinking though. I might be better simply to have more than one leisure battery. (Really I want a milk float, they've got loads.)

    But there is still the issue of bulging/expanding batteries, reliance on Apple, etc... But I'd be happy to go with the unibody if everyone warned me against the older ones... I don't like choice!

    ----------

    Is this one?

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/APPLE-MAC...omputing_Apple_Laptops_ET&hash=item1e7d92866f
     
  10. noodle654 macrumors 68020

    noodle654

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    Never Ender
    #10
    I don't think Apple released a unibody MBP 17" with a removable battery, I think the Late 2008 17" was the only one with a unremovable battery, then the whole line changed in mid 2009 to unremovable batteries. If you are considering the removable late 2008 unibody 15", you might be able to get 5 hours...but realistically it's more like 3.5-4.

    Having an unremovable battery isn't really a problem, because in reality it is very much removable as it is one unit (it isn't glued in place and impossible to remove). You can buy spares and just install them (kind of a pain, perhaps 5-10 minutes?) and be up and running. They are the same price too as the removable ones, look at iFixit, yet offer much better running times.

    ----------

    That does have a removable battery, however it has the Nvidia 8600GT...which I would avoid, personally.
     
  11. PermaHeretic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 26, 2013
    #11
    Thanks, that's useful to know. So... I'm either going for a 2009 17", an extra leisure battery and a car charger, then watching out for strange swellings, then replacing it myself (I saw iFixit's instructions - looks awful, but probably isn't any worse than flat-pack furniture or a motorbike gearbox). Or a 15" late 2008, with removable-but-doesn't-last-very-long battery. Good, that's narrowed things down a bit.
     
  12. qtx43 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    #13
    You probably won't agree but... 649 euros (almost $900) is a ridiculous price for a 6 year old laptop. Macs do retain resale value better than most, but at some point it becomes absurd, and buyers are kidding themselves. It's really not worth that much.

    If you need to save a few bucks, buy a refurbished one. It's got a warranty. Apple has made great strides in battery life, and you're kidding yourself that you won't be dependent on Apple. At some point, something's going to break or wear out and you can't fix it yourself. Buy a 6 year old computer and you're *more* likely to have to get it fixed, not less.
     
  13. PermaHeretic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 26, 2013
    #14
    No. Yes. I do agree. Anything that narrows down my choice is welcome!

    Some of them on ebay have got 6 moths warranty.
     
  14. fs454 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles / Boston
    #15
    Honestly, I'd go test out a 13" Macbook Air in the store before you commit to buying - modern hardware, an SSD and a 14-15 hour battery are a far better choice over a definitely aging large screen laptop.

    Since you hadn't considered a 13" before, go try the 13" air out for 15 minutes or so in the store, you may end up finding the screen plenty usable. It's got the same amount of real estate as the 15" MBPs of that era which run the same resolution.
     
  15. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

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    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #16
    You do realize, there is a set of unibody MacBooks that have removable batteries. Try the Late 2008 15" MacBook Pros... have a great GPU and have nice expand ability.
     

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