"Where to find "old" Macs?" or another "Mac vs PC story"

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by FrenchKheldar, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. FrenchKheldar macrumors member

    May 1, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Alright, here is my little story of looking for a 15" laptop below $1000. This is basically the specs that a friend of mine gave me for his new laptop, as his old Toshiba is about to die... He doesn't particularly care about gaming but will use the laptop for basic scientific computing, engineering (Matlab), programming, writing papers, etc...
    He gives me a hard time about my cult of Mac, and looking at his needs, I was not even looking at the current lineup since I knew there was no such 15" laptop under $1000...
    So we went over the usual suspects, Dell, HP, Sony (who finally gave in with a sub-$1000 machine), Toshiba, etc...
    No matter the brand, it comes down to this (actual specs from the Dell Studio):

    Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T5800 (2.00GHz/800Mhz FSB/2MB cache)
    (add about $125 for P8400 (2.20GHz/1066Mhz FSB/3MB cache) )

    15.4" WLED display (1280x800)

    3GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 800MHz (which sucks cause if you upgrade to the faster proc with the faster FSB, you can't put RAM that takes real advantage of it)

    320GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)
    (add $75 for a 250GB 7200 RPM drive)

    Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
    (add $75 for ATI HD 3450)

    SuperDrive equivalent

    Wifi with n protocol

    No Bluetooth (I don't think my friend cares)

    Small 56 Whr battery


    Most sport some crappy glossy design for the case, including the keyboard(!) that my friend had tested on a HP Pavilion dvXXXX and that he didn't like.

    Total: about $750 for the base model, slightly above $1000 for the faster proc, faster drive and dedicated graphics.

    That sounds like a pretty good deal, and tonight I was still feeling that once again, Apple was missing something in its lineup. I don't think these are crappy machines, they're just much more mainstream than some of what Apple offers. And then I had a look at the Wikipedia page for the MBP... I looked at the evolution of specs, and lo and behold, the Mid-2007 models had almost better specs than all the ones above !:

    - 15", matte or glossy, LCD, 1440 × 900 with LED backlight (higher rez than the Dell)
    - dedicated graphics (Geforce 8600M GT)
    - smaller 120GB 5400 RPM drive, but my friend doesn't care too much about disk space, and I can always install him a cheap 7200 RPM drive even though it would void the warranty (but more on this later)
    - 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo Merom (T7500), 800 MHz FSB, 4MB L2 cache
    - 2GB of 667 MHz RAM, kind of sucks but easily upgradable now or down the road
    - Wifi with n protocol
    - Superdrive
    - Bluetooth
    - DVI

    So I'm like sweet ! This MacBook Pro has been out for almost a year and a half now, I gotta be able to find some sweet deals online and maybe push my friend to the Light side :)

    Result: NADA ! There are many vendors online who are still selling this machine for well over $1500, one random example:

    Reality check, you can get this year MBP for much less, and it will spank last year model !

    Checked on ebay, not much there

    So right now, I have two conclusions from this little story:
    - I wish Apple or some of its resellers would have some reasonably priced 1-to-2 year-old models, because in some instances, such models are still completely competitive with respect to the current "mainstream" offering by other manufacturers.
    - I guess this doesn't happen because : 1. Apple make sure to clear all his stocks before moving to a new model (of course this makes sense from a business perspective) 2. these Apple products are really good and thus retain a high value on the after-market. I'm just wary to recommend to a friend to hunt for his new computer on eBay, without any warranty, with all the risks that it involves...

    Do you have any advice for me and my friend? Do you know any reseller of older macs with at least a minimal warranty? Would you not hesitate to hunt on eBay for a used laptop that has possibly seen a lot over more than a year (note that I would be less worried if I would be buying a desktop)?

    I think in the end this is a testimonial of how much Apple can live on the edge of the technology (on the other hand, I'm still waiting for that MacMini update) which is a good thing for us geeks, but can be intimidating to a more mainstream audience who has trouble understanding the higher price point of the Apple offering...
  2. FrenchKheldar thread starter macrumors member

    May 1, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    After more digging on google, going by serial number and looking past the first couple pages of results, I can find stuff like this:

    Anybody has ever bought anything from this website? Do you think it's safe? Can I trust the fact that they say it's still under warranty?

    Also the price chart there
    shows how sought-after these MBPs are !!!
  3. Brien macrumors 68030


    Aug 11, 2008
    A big part of it is that Macs retain their resale vale extremely well; you have to go back at least 2-3 generations for a lower-budget machine. Heck a PBG4 can still command prices in the $800+ range easily, and those machines are pushing 5 years old.

    Your best bet is something like MacMall. You probably won't find a MacBook Pro in the $1000 range there, but there's always craigslist or eBay, but I'd be careful - and make sure it has AppleCare and that it's included in the price - Apple lets you transfer the ownership (once) so if the seller is the only owner than can transfer it to you. If the machine is older than 3 years, you're out of luck, but I don't think you would want a 3 year old laptop anyway.

    Hope that helps, I'm sure others have suggestions as well.
  4. FrenchKheldar thread starter macrumors member

    May 1, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    After reading your comment, I rechecked the resale value of my PB G4, and you're right, it's still easily above $500, even without any warranty (mine expired in May). Simply amazing !
    My beloved PB is still going strong though, especially with a brand new drive and a new screen (thanks Apple Care !!!), only when Snow Leopard will be out will I be disappointed of not being completely up-to-date... But since it was my first Mac ever, I doubt I'll ever try to resell it !
  5. fiercetiger224 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 27, 2004
    Go here: Mac of All Trades

    There's a couple of Macbook Pros under $1000. Check the notebook sections. I think they're 1st gen models, but still fast and can run Windows.
  6. FrenchKheldar thread starter macrumors member

    May 1, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks for the link, using that line of thought, I found a couple of similar websites that I missed during my first research... Still amazed at the values of these "old" Macs. They're barely cheaper than the refurbished ones currently in the Apple store...

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