I don't know why I can't make this decision myself.
September 16, 2010 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Special snowflake "Should I buy this used macbook pro?" question.

Current computer: I am on a 2006 ibook with a screwy keyboard and zero battery life. It runs slowish for sure, but is otherwise okay. Main problem is it is no longer portable.

The following computer is available to me:
MacBook Pro (2 - 3 years old, just running out of applecare)
Version 3.1
-Harddrive died and was replaced by Apple in late August
-battery is 6 months new
15 inch
250 GB HD
Dual Core 2.4gHz

Comes with all the collected cordage and peripheral goodies owner has for this model for $900 CDN.

I would upgrade soon (in a month or less) to a Mac Book which is in my price range. HOWEVER, in a ideal world (ie. I had more money to throw around) I would buy the 15 inch Mac Book Pro because of the screen size. I still might do that and just take the $$ hit.

Seller is my very good friend's sister. Reliable. Was going to keep using her old computer for a few more years, but got seduced in the Apple store.

P.S. She gave me the system profile which is way more info than I need. But if you tell me what thingies to look for, I can look them up.

I am mostly texty type person but I take lots of photos and do some occasional very basic sound editing.

What should I do? Is it a good deal? Will I get a couple of years out of it?
posted by typewriter to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you're willing to pay $900 I would spend a couple of bucks more and get a new one. You could get a 13 inch MacBook Pro for not much more that would do 99% of what the 15 inch can. Only difference is the screen size.
posted by eatcake at 5:47 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: Pardon my confusion -- are you saying you would buy your friend's used MacBook Pro, and then also in a few months buy a MacBook? Or is this either/or?

If the former, you could buy a brand new MBP for the price of both combined so if that's what you really want, it seems to me a false economy to buy two lesser laptops.

If the latter, I don't think the deal your friend is offering is necessarily bad, but before you do anything rash, look into refurbished MacBooks on the apple store site. I got a refurb'ed MBP and am very pleased with the purchase. Plus, I could get applecare for it, which is something which you can't do on the used laptop.
posted by contessa at 6:07 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: I have a 3,1 Santa Rosa MBP and a few weeks ago the GPU, a NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT, died...once the video card fails, you have to replace the motherboard. I checked around to see how much it would cost to fix and found it to be in the $900-$1500 range!

I was disappointed to say the least. I had just bought it used in March from CL:( It was way out of warranty, too(= [ )

Luckily, while looking further into it, I found out there was an OEM manufacturer problem with the video card. It must have been widespread, because Apple had an quietly announced an extended warranty! I took my MBP in to the Genius Bar and the guys plugs in a special hard drive that specifically checked out the GPU to see if it is covered in the extended warranty. To my great pleasure, it did! It took a week, but I got it fixed for FREE!!!!

They printed a receipt and had left on the price for everything. If I would have had to pay for the repairs from Apple it would have cost $1322.50. I'm glad the GPU died when it did, because the extended warranty runs out Nov, 17 of this year. Otherwise, I would have had to eat it.

As you can see I got really lucky! Looking back though, I would have rather bought a 13" MacBook rather than having to worry about anything for a year, three if you get Apple Care. (Sometimes you can get AC for less than retail on eBay)

In short, save up some more money and buy a new laptop.
posted by MiggySawdust at 6:14 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: contessa - I would likely buy an new or new-to-me laptop within the month. This one came up. I would like to save the money and still get the 15 inch screen by buying the used one. But undecided. I'll look at the refurbished ones too.
posted by typewriter at 6:20 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: That's a great computer, and probably has at least a couple-three more years of life in it. Until very recently I was using an identical model.

However, that price is just too high. They're currently selling on eBay/Craiglist for more like $500-$600 (here in the US, at least). I sold mine to a friend for $450 US, but it did have some wear-and-tear as I'm pretty hard on my laptops.

The current 13" MacBooks are simply an *incredible* deal: they're every bit as fast as the MacBook Pros, at least $300 cheaper, and the plastic construction, while not as purty, tends to be a lot more durable in the long run. You won't really notice the smaller screen, either: the resolution is the same as the 15" you'll be replacing, so you'll be able to fit the same layout on the screen (but everything will appear slightly smaller if you look side-by-side). Were I in your shoes I'd pay the extra few hundred bucks and get a new one.

Me, I sprung for the 13" MacBook Pro. I wanted the ability to upgrade to 8GB of RAM (the MacBook tops out at 6GB) and as I travel a lot the extra battery life made a difference. I'm not completely sure it was worth the extra $300, but I had the money at the time, so yeah.
posted by jacobian at 6:22 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: Also, a friend splurged and bought herself a 13" MBP recently and although the screen is a little smaller, I like it a lot.

In fact, I like her unibody 13" MBP better than my previous generation 15" MBP.
posted by MiggySawdust at 6:22 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: I'd get the new 13 inch.
posted by modernnomad at 6:47 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: That model in particular has problems with the GPU, as MiggySawdust mentioned. Apple has a recall for the part, but I've seen many cases that I'm pretty sure it's the GPU problem, but can't be exchanged because the test does not give a replacement code. I can tell you it's less than 20%, but I wouln't run my chances. Also, it is way too expensive at that price.

Being myself an owner of 15" Macs for the last few years, I recently switched to a 13" Macbook Pro, and bought a 24" LCD monitor for less than US$200. To me, this is the best of both worlds. I have the portability of a 13" when I'm working outside the office, and a 24" "Desktop" at the office (or home).

Disclaimer: I am an Apple Certified Macintosh Technician, and work at an Apple Authorized Reseller outside of the US.
posted by orlandop at 7:21 AM on September 17, 2010

Response by poster: I got a new macbook pro. Doing some video stuff soon. Thanks all.
posted by typewriter at 7:43 PM on October 24, 2010

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