Upgrade whole laptop or get SSD?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by feare, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. feare macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2011
    I have the base mid '09 13" macbook pro (2.26 C2D, 2GB RAM).

    The computer will occasionally freeze up doing pretty routine things, animations (especially in lion) tend to be extremely choppy especially on my 24" display, and work in photoshop/Finale/xcode can be laggy and difficult, almost impossible with a couple other apps open. These are mostly the things that come to mind.

    I'm going to college this fall, and I'm looking to upgrade my computer.

    I'm considering two options
    1. Buying a small 120GB SSD to replace the HDD (160GB)
    2. Selling this laptop to a friend for $600-700 and then buying the i7 13" w/ money earned over the summer as well as the student discount.

    If I sell the laptop for 700, I'd only have to spend $700 on the MBP.

  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Try upgrading the RAM first. 2GB gets cramped pretty easily, and it sounds like that may be the root of your problems. You could also get the SSD, which would help quite a bit.
  3. ddehr026 macrumors 6502

    May 1, 2010
    yeah sounds like not enough ram problem. I would upgrade to 4gb and save the money you were going to spend on the new comp to party! :)
  4. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Or not run beta software (Lion). What was wrong with Snow Leopard?
  5. al2o3cr macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2009
    To help decide, I highly recommend you figure out exactly which part of the system is lagging (memory, disk or CPU). The quickest way to look at that is to grab some kind of system monitor that you can keep an eye on while working. I've been using MeneMeters (free) for years and am pretty happy with it; I've also heard lots of good reviews of iStatMenus ($16), but haven't personally tried it.

    Essentially, you set up the meters where you can watch them (I use a set of all-graphical options, so I get a tiny memory pie chart, a set of network arrows, CPU load bars and disk lights; YMMV) and note what's happening when your machine starts to "bog down". That'll give you a sense of what's gumming up the works: a full memory graph means you need more RAM, maxed-out CPUs mean you need more speed, and constant disk activity (when there's plenty of free memory) means you're waiting for the HDD.

    Note that this isn't entirely foolproof; I *think* the meters may stop updating when the OS beachballs, but they'll be a decent guide before you start spending money.
  6. adrian1480 macrumors 6502

    Sep 2, 2010
    upgrade to 4GB of ram and add SSD.

    watch as your computer transforms into something you never thought it could be.
  7. feare thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2011
    Sounds like this is what I'll try.

    Can someone explain what exactly boosting the processor does compared to boosting RAM? I can understand why getting more RAM is important... I know I don't have enough. Also, what about graphics? I'm sure there has been major updates to the graphics seen 09, and what (if any) effect would this have in making an application like PS run smoother?

    I'm just looking to get a seamless work environment.


    just noticed the above post, I will give it a read! :)

    To blueroom: Same problems in SL... just currently on Lion. Developing some apps for release when it launches.
  8. ddehr026 macrumors 6502

    May 1, 2010
    Interesting I think I'll check that out too!
  9. stonegammage macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2010

    Hey man, I have an iMac, and am soon to get a MBP.

    Apple products are built to freakin last and that they do!

    I understand your concern, I would upgrade your RAM. I had to do that on this one a while back, and now I can run practically everything on this computer without any complaint at all.

    I would very much also recommend that you purchase an external drive, and SSD would be nice. That is what I want in my MBP.

    You will be amazed how much some RAM and some clearance of your HDD will get you. Good luck on this and good luck at College!
  10. feare thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2011
    Holy cow!

    RAM has dropped in price by 1/2 since I last was looking to buy some. Thank god I waited -_-

    Is 8GB overkill? :rolleyes: The price for it is what I thought I was going to spend on the 4GB. I can get 4GB of RAM + an 80GB (I don't need much space, I try and keep music/videos on a separate hdd) SDD for $200.

    Before I commit to anything I'll do what al2o3cr said to see if the CPU is the problem.. although I've always noticed that I don't have enough RAM. So I doubt it is.
  11. brendu macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2009
    I have the same 13"mbp as you and I recently maxed the RAM at 8GB and threw in a SSD and its like a whole new machine. I never lag or see the spinning beachball. It is very fast and responsive. I highly recommend the upgrades.
  12. solaris7 macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2008
    I am in the same boat, could someone tell me which SSD (120-128GB) has the best cost/performance ratio in the market right now?
  13. Cyberheart macrumors member


    Mar 14, 2011
    i say just upgrade too much of a headache for now
  14. brendu macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2009
    I would recommend what I went with. OWC Mercury Extreme Pro.
  15. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
  16. vincenz macrumors 601


    Oct 20, 2008
    A mbp like that shouldn't lag so much. But then again you're running beta Lion. You need to upgrade your ram badly. Then get either an SSD or 7200 rpm hard drive. You don't need a whole brand new computer for the things you're doing. Best put the money towards student loans.
  17. tcador macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    SSD + at least 4GB ram and it will be transformed.
  18. Nghia Nguyen macrumors member

    Nghia Nguyen

    Apr 11, 2010
    I highly recommend Intel X25-M SSD.
    I'd say that again, because I can't recommend it enough.

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