Which MacBook Pro Has Been the Most Resilient? (G.O.A.T)

Vesuvio Cat

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 30, 2010
196
37
I've owned exactly two MacBook Pros. My first MacBook Pro was a 15" I bought when I finished my Peace Corps service in 2008 (thanks, resettling allowance!). The second MacBook Pro is the late 2013 15" that I went all-in on (16 GB RAM, i7, 512 GB SSD), and which I still use. The only thing (very noticeably) suffering is the battery life. The glass screen is also a bit dinged up and beaten, though this MacBook Pro has been with me on humanitarian deployments to Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Madagascar, and Malawi.

Which MacBook Pro is famous for having been the most resilient? Who is still using a MacBook Pro (regularly) from more than 7, 8, or 9 years ago? After all, one of the reasons we dish out $2500+ is because of the argument that "they'll last forever."
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
21,542
7,801
CT
I've had my 2010 since well, 2010. It's showing it's age now and in desperate need to be retired. Best thing about it is the keyboard and useful ports.
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2018
1,369
908
Thailand
I just swapped out a 2011 17” because it keeps eating fans (3 in 12 months). It still works ok (after fan replacements) but it’s not reliable enough for work.

My parents still (occasionally) use my 2007 17”.
 

_Kiki_

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2017
841
253
13" 2011-2012 one of the best, simple, no dgpu, upgradable memory and HDD, also replaceable battery and keyboard, solid screen - no problems with coating
 

meson

macrumors regular
Apr 29, 2014
156
51
I would go with the 2012 cMBP.

I've been missing mine dearly since my daughter spilled some soap on the keyboard and killed it. At the current price of them, I'm likely to replace it with another sometime in the spring. Frankly I don't want to spend the time on a complete dismantle to replace the top case, when I can find a refurbished one for about twice the price of the top case alone. With an SSD in the optical bay, and USB 3 ports, I find it useful and at times feeling more snappy than the newer retina machines, and it seems poised to have continuous support for some time into the future. Oh, and the ability to swap drives and upgrade the RAM at a reasonable price mean a lot!

My first Mac was a 12" G4 PowerBook, which was a fantastic machine. I followed it up with a 2008 MacBook (That machine with Snow Leopard booted quickly and felt almost as snappy as a modern machine with SSD.). Then came my 13" 2012 cMBP in about 2014. Last year I had a 13" mid-2017 MBP non-Touch Bar from my employer. Frankly I found myself using my 2012 machine more often. I hated the keyboard. After changing employers I am on a mid 2014 MBP, much better than the '17 model, but I still prefer the port selection of the 2012 machine.

I enjoy retina, but I don't see it as being so beneficial that it is worth taxing the hardware to drive a gazillion pixels. USB-C and requiring dongles for everything was an absolute pain in the rear.
 
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leman

macrumors G3
Oct 14, 2008
9,964
4,550
I've purchased and maintained well over 150 Macs in the last 10 years and I don't think that there is one particular model that stands out in reliability (positively or negatively). We've had less than 10% failures within two years of ownership, which is as good as it gets with computers. People like to talk smack about the 2016+ model for example, but so far, we didn't have any real issues with them. Except one laptop with very minor sticky key problem — when we brought it to the service centre, we could replicate it — but they replaced the keyboard under warranty anyway.

After all, one of the reasons we dish out $2500+ is because of the argument that "they'll last forever."
I always though that this reasoning is quite silly. I am willing to pay a lot of money for a Mac simply because its the best tool for me to do what I want to do. Convenience and flexibility are well worth the premium price for me (which is not even that premium considering that spread over three years, a monthly cost of a $4000 laptop is comparable for a mid-range dinner for two in the place where I live).

Not to mention that in corporate environment, Macs end up considerably cheaper for us. The higher initial purchase cost are more than balanced out by reduced need for maintenance and the increased productivity of our users.
 
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Sterkenburg

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2016
386
329
Out of those I handled personally, I had the best luck with a mid-2009 17”, which lasted me ~8 years (by then it had become too dated for serious work, but I kept it around as a home computer for a while since it just refused to die).

However, everyone’s answer will depend on their personal experience/luck with their own machines.
 

TazExprez

macrumors regular
Feb 4, 2010
116
6
New York
I still use my very first Mac, a base 2010 MBP 13, and my second Mac, a base 2011 Mini. Both were only upgraded to 8GB RAM. I am thinking of upgrading both to SSDs this year. I am also considering getting a base 2018 MBP 15 this year.
 

fuchsdh

macrumors 65816
Jun 19, 2014
1,325
654
I would go with the 2012 cMBP.

I've been missing mine dearly since my daughter spilled some soap on the keyboard and killed it. At the current price of them, I'm likely to replace it with another sometime in the spring. Frankly I don't want to spend the time on a complete dismantle to replace the top case, when I can find a refurbished one for about twice the price of the top case alone. With an SSD in the optical bay, and USB 3 ports, I find it useful and at times feeling more snappy than the newer retina machines, and it seems poised to have continuous support for some time into the future. Oh, and the ability to swap drives and upgrade the RAM at a reasonable price mean a lot!

My first Mac was a 12" G4 PowerBook, which was a fantastic machine. I followed it up with a 2008 MacBook (That machine with Snow Leopard booted quickly and felt almost as snappy as a modern machine with SSD.). Then came my 13" 2012 cMBP in about 2014. Last year I had a 13" mid-2017 MBP non-Touch Bar from my employer. Frankly I found myself using my 2012 machine more often. I hated the keyboard. After changing employers I am on a mid 2014 MBP, much better than the '17 model, but I still prefer the port selection of the 2012 machine.

I enjoy retina, but I don't see it as being so beneficial that it is worth taxing the hardware to drive a gazillion pixels. USB-C and requiring dongles for everything was an absolute pain in the rear.
I mean, you realize this is crazy, right?
 

meson

macrumors regular
Apr 29, 2014
156
51
No, it's not crazy. I'm the one sitting behind the keyboard, and it's very true.

It may be something unique to the group of software packages I use, but it is what it is.
 

nerowolfe19

macrumors member
Aug 16, 2018
93
34
My 2012 15" rMBP has been on the receiving end of inordinate misuse (literally beaten with a stick), and is still going strong. Extremely reliable all things considered. $60 DIY battery replacement is the only post ownership charge incurred in addition to an extended applecare warranty that I never had to use.
 

Vesuvio Cat

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 30, 2010
196
37
I do miss the matte screens. My first MacBook Pro (2008) was the last generation to have the matte screen. Just loved being able to avoid the glare.
 

Falhófnir

macrumors 68040
Aug 19, 2017
3,475
3,863
From a physical robustness PoV I think the unibody generation (2008-2012) have the reputation of being absolute tanks, though there was the problem with the later 15 and 17 inchers cooking themselves.
 

fuchsdh

macrumors 65816
Jun 19, 2014
1,325
654
No, it's not crazy. I'm the one sitting behind the keyboard, and it's very true.

It may be something unique to the group of software packages I use, but it is what it is.
Frankly I simply don't believe it. Your processor, graphics, memory, and SSD are all going to be much faster. I know of apps that don't particularly take advantage of added horsepower especially well, but even then they wouldn't actually be slower. Especially if you're keeping your OS updated, there's no way outside of bias that you could be having a faster experience in actuality.
 

840quadra

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 1, 2005
8,091
3,383
Twin Cities Minnesota
I would have to say that my late 2008 Unibody MBP has been amazing. Ordered it the day Steve Jobs introduced it, replacing an aging iBook G4 I had been using prior to that. Not exactly fast anymore, but has handled drops, kids, even water spills like a champ!
 

gollum

macrumors regular
Jan 29, 2007
146
21
MI
I would have to say that my late 2008 Unibody MBP has been amazing. Ordered it the day Steve Jobs introduced it, replacing an aging iBook G4 I had been using prior to that. Not exactly fast anymore, but has handled drops, kids, even water spills like a champ!
My 15" bought new in January 2009 has been my only computer until last week when I bought a rMBA.
The only thing replaced outside of swelling battery was the optical drive while it was still under AC warranty.
I'm amazed to this day how much use I've gotten out of it and how well it stills performs.
The main downside so far is if a iWorks document created on it is edited at all on my iPad or rMBA, it won't open anymore on the MBP. I have to export it out of the iPad/rMBA as an Office doc then save again as a iWork.
 
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Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
7,750
354
In my imagination
All flavors of the 17", but special accommodation needs to be given to the 2010 17" MBP with Thunderbolt. It in many ways was the strongest, and longest lasting of the any Apple laptop. Even after almost a decade, there are folks out there using it and getting serious work done.

An SSD and external TBolt drive and you barely notice the difference.
SD Card, 3x USB2, TBolt, FW800, Ethernet (IIRC), MiniDisplay Port, ExpressCard 34 ... I mean ... the thing ate up whatever you threw at it.

Oh, and MATTE display.

The only downside that could be said these days was that it was heavy and the GFX power even then was pathetic, but that was the nature of Apple portables.
 

puma1552

Suspended
Nov 20, 2008
5,559
1,917
Not because I just bought one, but I'm surprised nobody has yet said the mid-2015 models, because there are lots of articles floating around the internet about how that was the pinnacle of MBPs, and lots of forum posts indicating the same.
 

mikzn

macrumors 65816
Sep 2, 2013
1,432
705
Vancouver
I'm gonna go with the mid 2012 - i7 - upgradable to SSD and memory to 16g - can still stand in there with any new MBP's if the SSD is updated to a new version of SSD

Just an awesome machine - fast and rugged and robust - best value I have ever had in a MBP purchase.

Still using mine as a personal / back up and it is no slouch
 

vaugha

macrumors 6502a
Nov 3, 2011
529
155
I'm still rockin' my 2012 retina mbp for 6.5 years w/o any issues or repairs. Very reliable. Still on the original battery from 2012 and at 90% capacity.