Upgrading from late-2011 MBP 15? Which MBP?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jon08, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. jon08 macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    I have a late-2011 15" MBP (see my siggy for specs) and considering that it's soon turning 5 yrs old I've been considering selling it off and buying a new one -- especially since I read that these 2011 MBPs are pretty much like a time bomb due to their faulty GPUs, so I'd rather sell mine than risk the logic board failing.

    95% of the time I have it hooked to my Dell U2311h monitor, so sadly I wouldn't really be able to enjoy the benefits of the MBP retina display. I mostly use it for browsing (lots of tabs), iTunes, MS Office, some music and photo editing (nothing too hardcore), some occasional gaming etc.

    I'd like to buy something sort of "future-proof" I could easily use for the next 5 yrs and considering that these new MBPs have pretty much no options for upgrading the RAM, SSD etc, I'd go for something bigger from the start: so I've been looking at one of those options with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. However, it seems there are two options in terms of GPUs: either with integrated graphics only or with both. Is that correct? It seems that those with both GPUs can't be had for less than $2000, though, which is too expensive for my budget.

    But then again it doesn't seem to make much sense to choose the one with integrated GPU only, does it?

    What would you recommend? I think 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD are a must, esp. since my current 8GB RAM already often seem like 75-80% used (according to iStat menu) and would rather have more than less. Plus my iTunes library is 160+ GB big, so 256GB SSD is a no-no.
  2. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Pretty much everything you listed aside from gaming can EASILY be done on a computer with integrated graphics and much lower specs. So really the question becomes, how important is gaming to you? How dependent on the second GPU are the games you want to play? Therein you will find your answer, I think.
  3. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Thanks for your reply. I don't know - but somehow I'm still wary of having only integrated graphics in my laptop... it just seems like sooner or later I'll regret it at some point when it starts stuttering e.g. while watching a YouTube video in HD or a HD movie in VLC, or doing some more intensive multitasking...?
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Not really modern graphics can run 4K video on phones using arm processors and associated graphics, it really is all down to what gaming you want to do.

    Also there is expected to be a big redesign and update of rMBP's within the next 3-4 months with the possibility of Polaris graphics etc in the 15 inch machine.

    Personally if I was you I'd get get a 27 inch iMac and a small light laptop for on the go, it seems like a the increased power would be great and yours is stationary most of the time.
  5. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Have you thought of getting an elevator stand, so you can use it as a second screen?

    That's right. The integrated graphics takes a lot less power than the discrete GPU, so its used to extend battery life when you're not doing demanding graphics. If you're plugged into an external monitor, it will always be using the discrete GPU, though. The 2011 models were the same - your MBP has both integrated and discrete GPUs - but Intel's integrated graphics has improved a lot since then.

    With the stuff you're doing, its only really the gaming that might need the second GPU - or, maybe, if you have ambitions of adding an external 4k or 5k display.

    Watch that "RAM usage" - OS X will "use" spare RAM to cache files etc. - that doesn't mean you're running out. The indicators too look for are (in Activity Monitor) "Swap used" (normally 0) and "Memory pressure" (usually in the green). Personally, I think 8GB is still plenty for "general" use. However, the inability to upgrade the RAM if you do find yourself doing something a bit more RAM-heavy does make the 16GB tempting.

    I'd guess that the base 15" rMBP will be a decent upgrade from your current machine - you just have to decide how much "future proofing" you can afford.

    However - one warning - 2011 quad-i7 MBPs aren't junk (or wouldn't be, without the GPU time bomb) and the single, biggest, improvement in general performance over the last 5 years has been the introduction of SSDs. I see you've already SSD'd your MBP, so you're already enjoying a big part of that (although the rMBP SSD is faster, its the order-of-magnitude faster "seek time" of any SSD compared with a HD that makes the big difference in general use).
  6. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    i am/was in the same boat as you, except i have an iMac (mid 2011). My HDD is 500GB and is almost full.
    Yesterday i pulled the trigger on a mid 2015 15" MBP. It is a 2.5GHZ with 512GB SSD, had the DG card. Came with AppleCare until Feb of 2019 and cost me $2000 shipped.

    so if you search on eBay, you will find them. there was another one on there yesterday that had AC until Jan of 2019 and was almost the same price - same specs too. save $1000 with tax and such for a very lightly used computer
  7. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Thank you for your input, everyone.

    Honestly, I haven't done any intensive gaming at all on this current Mac so it's possible I won't be doing any in the future. But then again, I still might get into a mood when I'd want to play some Call of Duty or similar game at some point. At that point an integrated GPU would probably not do, right?

    Yes, I've been using mStand for a long time but never really felt the need for using my MBP as a second screen, though.

    Hm, I see. I do notice 'memory swap' every now and then, though (well, especially when dealing with larger PDF files etc and not restarting my MBP for a long time).

    Yeah, I see. Actually I don't have any complaints about my current MBP and could probably easily use it for another couple of years. It's just that I feel uneasy about the GPU possibly dying on me unexpectedly.

    I think I'll wait for another couple of months and see what they offer in fall. I guess prices might go down a bit when a refresh is out.
  8. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    ...in much the same position, with an early 2011 17" upgraded to SSD. Its a very capable machine, but the GPU died last year (and was quickly replaced for free - but I think that program is coming to an end).

    There might be some refurb/old stock deals on the current model - but I have this sneaking suspicion that the new models will get a price bump to leave the 12" MacBook as the cheapest (once the Air has been phased out).
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Yeah call of duty wouldn't run to well on the iGPU.

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