Upgrade or Replace?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by shuffles, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. shuffles macrumors 6502

    shuffles

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Location:
    dublin, ireland
    #1
    Hi,

    My partner has a 2009 MacBook. Not 100% sure of the specs (think there's 2GB RAM, Core2Duo etc) but it was the original aluminium (before it became the Pro). Her laptop is really slow, she can't even watch YouTube videos as the version of flash is out of date. In order to get basic tasks like flash to operate, she needs to update the OS (currently using Leopard) but she's been advised that if she does so her MacBook will slow right down (I experienced something similar on a 2007 iMac).

    Would it be best to upgrade the MacBook - RAM, change the HDD to a SSD (if possible) or are we better off buying a new Mac?

    It looks absolutely perfect but then again it is over 5 1/2 years old. It still turn on relatively fast (the odd spinning beach ball every now and again) Are we fighting a losing battle trying to upgrade i.e. in a year or so will it be completely useless? She's an interior designer so uses CAD (not currently possible on this Mac) amongst other programs.

    If upgrading, I was thinking of the 11" MacBook Air.

    What would the best solution be?
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #2
    Personally, if she's running cad and other design software, the 11" MBA is a poor choice imo given the small screen.

    I'd opt for a 15" MBP, the more powerful CPU/GPU will her better then the ULV processor/GPU that a re in the MBA.
     
  3. shuffles thread starter macrumors 6502

    shuffles

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Location:
    dublin, ireland
    #3
    15" is out of the budget unfortunately. If she needs a new one, I'll be getting it as a Christmas present. Would a 13" Retina do the job? Would upgrading her current MacBook be a waste of time?
     
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #4
    If it is aluminum, then it must be a MacBook Pro because the regular MacBook was plastic.

    I had a 2008 15" MBP and upgraded to a 2011 13" MBA. It was a huge upgrade for me, with a CPU 2x faster and the SSD about 10x faster than the old machine. The current models are even faster. The screen had the same number of pixels, so I had the same amount of workspace although it was smaller.

    However I upgraded to a 2013 11" MBA later and it is by far the nicest computer I've ever owned (going all the way back to my Apple ][ in 1978). Yes the screen is smaller, but there's just something very cool about having so much power in such a small package. It's amazing for travel.

    I also do CAD, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro and other advanced software. I use a large external monitor when needed. I retired a few years ago however, so I don't really need to use the built-in screen for things like CAD on a daily basis anymore.

    I just got a 13" MBA for a family member and had it side by side with my 11" MBA last week while setting it up. It seemed really big, heavy and clunky to me. I was surprised, since I remember how thin and elegant my 13" MBA seemed when I got it in 2011. :)

    But the choice is very personal and I think you really should bring her into the decision. It would be a shame to spend a bunch of money on a gift and end up with the wrong model.

    I would not even consider upgrading the old machine. Her battery probably has one foot in the grave. The battery on my 2008 MBP went completely dead about a year ago. These old machines were great in their day, but nowhere near the performance of even the bottom of the line MBA today.
     
  5. shuffles thread starter macrumors 6502

    shuffles

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Location:
    dublin, ireland
    #5
    Hi Boyd01,

    Thanks for the info. She loves the 11" Air. I think it's the fact that it's so portable. She recently purchased a Retina iPad Mini (Gold) and uses it everyday. Her MacBook has gone by the wayside as it needs to be upgraded. That's why an 11" Air had sprung to mind. Full OS in a small package that she could bring with her alongside her iPad. She usually brings her iPad when meeting clients as it allows her to show concepts, take photos for future use etc so I thought an 11" Air would be a good portable substitute when she needed to actually get some work done.

    I personally always thought bigger was better in terms of screen size but for her, I think smaller works best. She said herself that she doesn't know how she used to live with her iPad. It's so portable it's now an extension of her arm.

    Did CAD work on your Air? It's not something she dabbles in much. I'd hate to get her a machine that potentially gimped her productivity because of the size.

    It's an aluminium MacBook she own (not a Pro). Shortly after she purchased it Apple came out and said that her version was a Pro in every shape and form and so added 'Pro' to the name.
     
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #6
    Sounds like she is a good candidate for the 11" model. It is a very powerful Mac, so it can run CAD or any other software that you throw at it. I am still using old CAD software (VectorWorks 2008) since it does all I need and I don't want to spend the $$$ to upgrade as I only do occasional consulting jobs these days.

    You can identify what model she currently has on this site. Knowing that might help with recommendations/comparisons. http://www.everymac.com
     
  7. RedCroissant Suspended

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    #7
    Shuffles,

    For one thing, Snow Leopard is great and works fine on 2 GB of RAM. So you should first upgrade to Snow Leopard.

    Then, upgrade the RAM to 8 GB. Regardless if it’s the 2.0 GHz or 2.4GHZ model of the Macbook, 8 GB RAM is the max. Also, upgrading the RAM is easy and should take someone fairly handy less than 15 minutes to do.

    And no, upgrading a 5.5 year old Macbook is NOT useless. Not at all.

    I still have an iBook G3 (500 MHZ, 384MB RAM running Tiger), and an iBook G4 (1.2 GHz, 1.25GB RAM, running Leopard) and they’re great. Sure there are some things that they can’t do, but the G4 does everything except flash. I can even stream my iTunes library to my Apple TV from it and it works just fine.

    Anyway, Flash is easy to update once you upgrade the operating system.

    The best solution in my opinion would be to upgrade the RAM (which can be done for less than $100 from OWC www.macsales.com).

    SSDs are fairly inexpensive now and one to replace the stock 250GB HDD should cost no more than $200.

    All in all, you could. have a computer that feels new and much more powerful for considerably less than you would spend on a new Macbook Air would would feel about as powerful as your current machine.
     
  8. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #8
    I just can't agree with the upgrade advice. I suppose it's mostly a personal thing though. I continued using my 2008 MBP for awhile (2.4ghz core2duo) but finally gave up when the battery died. Before that, I was using it to rip my large DVD collection since the MBA doesn't have a DVD drive. However when I finally got an external drive for the MBA I found that a TV show taking about 70 minutes to rip on the old MBP only took 15 minutes on the MBA.

    Aside from that, I don't like sinking money into old computers, because things keep failing on them. Just using your prices above, $200 for an SSD, $100 for RAM and I think you will be buying a battery for $150 pretty soon. If you are still running 10.5 on the old machine, you need to buy the 10.6 upgrade from Apple, which was $25 the last time I did this. So that's $475. You can get a base model refurb 11" MBA for $770 from apple. And you end up with a machine that is much faster, thinner and a battery that runs all day - plus a warranty.

    I have several old Macs, including a Powerbook G4 and PowerMac G4. They sit in the attic and gather dust, along with a Dell Core2Duo tower. I am just not the kind of person that enjoys tinkering with old consumer electronics. :)
     
  9. RedCroissant Suspended

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    #9
    Boyd01,

    You make great points. I was offering that advice based on the OP’s desire not to spend too much money. The HDD upgrade to an SSD is recommended but not required as adding 8GB RAM would do more for her computing experience than the SSD swap.

    I don’t see it as sinking money into old computers because if something is handling all of your needs and the only thing the computer needs to keep doing that is a small upgrade, then that’s a good investment. There’s no reason why that macbook shouldn’t last anther 5 years and still be a viable laptop at that point. Of course it might go the route of PPC Macs to the extent that it can’t do certain things at that point, but the money saved over a replacement when the current machine still has plenty of life in it makes a replacement later that much better.

    And the MBA is a nice laptop, but I wouldn’t settle for anything less than a 13”, 8GB RAM and 256 GB SSD. otherwise the 11” MBA has a lower resolution than her iPad, no optical drive, no ethernet port for unreliable wireless areas, it’s not user upgradeable or repairable, and over all I think the MBA is not a smart buy.

    And if you have those machines just collecting dust, I will gladly take them. Yes, I am serious bc I love PPC Macs and am very good with them. If I could only have my PowerMac G5 (PM G5 quad, 16GB RAM, 2 x 1TB HDDS RAIDED, running Leopard and being awesome with a 23” cinema display, BT and WiFi) back I would be super happy. .
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #10
    Like I said, it comes down to personal tastes. If you think a computer can have a useful 10 year lifespan, then buying a new one today means you will be all set until 2024 - that argument works both ways. ;)

    I have the 11" i7/8gb/512gb MBA. It is a really versatile, powerful computer. There are inexpensive thunderbolt and USB gigabit ethernet adapters that work quite well if you need them. The 802.11ac wifi on the MBA is really fast though - I get more than 60MB/sec with disk speed test connecting to a local server. I get over 100MB/sec with the ethernet adapter, but most of the time it isn't worth the effort.

    I have an inexpensive external optical drive that I only use for ripping DVD's. Have never missed having an internal. Any shortcomings of the screen are easily compensated for by the incredible portability and long battery life on the MBA.

    But we all must make out own decisions and what is right for me may not be right for you. It sounds perfect for what the OP has told us though. You know, some people just get a lot of pleasure out of having new stuff too. :D

    I have really owned them all… my first mac was the 512k "Fat Mac" in 1985 and have bought hundreds over the years for myself, my family and business. I liked them all, but a time comes to move on. Or at least, it does for me. :)
     
  11. RedCroissant Suspended

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    #11
    I definitely think that a good/great computer can have a useful lifespan of 10 years. Sometimes more. my iBook G3 for example is still great even though I don’t use it as much now since I have the G4. The only reason that I upgraded from my 20” iMac G5 was the need for flash support for online school and the ability to run a newer design software. I might even end up selling my new iMac and downgrade to a 2010 model.

    Oh, I don’t mind using the adapters for thunderbolt. I just don’t think it makes sense to go from a macbook with everything included in the case to something that’s lighter and more portable when normal uses mighty require an external optical drive or either of the adapters to be carried along with the MBA. Because if an optical drive is pretty much a necessity, then keeping a computer with the optical drive already in it makes sense. But then again, the superdrive could be taken out of that MB and made into an external one for the MBA if they decide to go that route.

    My new iMac has AC but sadly I don’t have an AC router and never use the AC capabilities. I also don’t know what the network situation is in Ireland in order to make any claims as to the necessity of that capability. My 2009 Apple wireless extreme base station is still working well enough to handle the load from 2 iMacs, 2 iPhone 3GSsssss, iPad 1, 2 iBooks (G3 and G4), an AppleTV and my PS3.

    It’s true that the MBA sounds perfect if they’re willing to make that initial payment. The only problem is that the i7 configuration that you have is starting at $1649. That’s crazy to me considering that they could even decide to replace their current MB with a 13” MBP dual i5 that is still upgradeable and just as powerful. In fact, the 13-inch non retina MBP that is still upgradeable only costs 1,049 right now at Best Buy. 16GB RAM kit would only cost $150, a SSD to match the 500GB HDD (a 480GB SSD from OWC) would only cost $249. So the non-retina with 16GB RAM, 480GB SSD and superdrive along with familiar and included I/O would come out to ~ $1,563.84 including taxes (according to CA prices).

    Anyway, it might not sound like it but I agree with you for the most part. I just prefer to get machines that I am able to work on as opposed to the newer line of apple products that are not user upgradeable/repairable.
     
  12. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #12
    I built my own computers for 15 years before switching to all-Apple products and never looked back.

    That being said, I do appreciate the relative user-serviceability of the Air. If you have the right screwdrivers and replacement parts you can easily replace the battery, SSD, and fan, which seem like the components that are most likely to fail.

    I also appreciate that it's easy to upgrade/repair the Mac Mini, which is one reason I bought it vs. an iMac. With that one, the RAM is easily changed/upgraded, as is the hard drive, and the fan is easy to replace.

    I would have to think harder about getting something like an iMac or retina MBP which are harder to maintain.

    I have also "upgraded" many of my Apple products by selling them on Craigslist and buying new models, or newer used models. I bought a 2010 11" MBA right when it came out for $1000, then a few months ago I sold it for (I believe) $475. And I bought the newest model for $850 at Best Buy. So I "upgraded" my laptop for $375... doubled the RAM, SSD, processor speed, and battery life, and got USB 3, ac wifi, and Thunderbolt to boot. I don't think you can beat that scenario if they MBA were as ugpradeable/maintainable as a typical PC laptop.
     
  13. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    #13
    If she's on her original battery, this is simple: REPLACE, cuz that sucker alone costs $200 bux.
     

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