Is this a fair price for a used Macbook Pro?
August 11, 2011 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Is this a fair price for a late-2007 17" Macbook Pro?

I'm going to be spending a fair amount of time on the road over the next few months. I do a fair amount of web design and related digital strategy-type work, using Adobe tools and the like.

I came across this posting on Craigslist, and I'd like to ask: is that a fair price for a 4-year-old Macbook Pro? It sounds fair, but I don't want to let my want/need for such a beast to override my common sense, which is why I'm asking you guys.

Thanks in advance!
posted by arkhangel to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I don't know if the price is fair, but I have the 15" version of this machine. Budget for more RAM. 2GB is no longer enough. For a price check, look at completed auctions on eBay to see what this is going for.
posted by zippy at 7:26 PM on August 11, 2011

I don't know anything about macs, but I do know a thing or two about the English language. The weird punctuation spacing, odd spelling, and lack of capitalization are setting off my Something's Not Right Here detectors. Not one of the traditional scammy-scams (with money orders and so forth), but rather, the computer is not as awesome as promised.

Proceed with caution, fair price or not.
posted by phunniemee at 7:28 PM on August 11, 2011

(Also, why does it have to go today? Is that just a poorly thought out sales pitch, or is he trying to force you into not having a whole lot of time to think about it? Hmm...)
posted by phunniemee at 7:30 PM on August 11, 2011

@phunniemee: Poorly thought out sales pitch, accompanied by non-mastery of the English language, sounds like. I spoke to the guy on the phone, and that's what comes across.

@zippy: thanks for the more RAM and eBay tips. A quick search brings up that laptop selling for around $400, so that's what I'll bid for it, assuming I decide to move forward.
posted by arkhangel at 7:46 PM on August 11, 2011

I came in to suggest that you check with Apple to make sure it's not a stolen laptop, but this page says they don't track that. I'm just sensitive because my iBook was stolen years ago and I'm still bitter. Another red flag would be if the guy didn't know the password to boot it up, I suppose.
posted by cabingirl at 8:50 PM on August 11, 2011

I'd say it's overpriced. You could get a much more powerful, new PC for cheaper. If your heart's set on a Mac, I think you should keep looking around. Or haggle, especially as the seller seems so set on getting rid of the thing.
posted by randomname25 at 8:50 PM on August 11, 2011

@randomname25: yeah; matter of fact, I'm writing this on an Acer 17" lap monster on which I've installed Ubuntu 10.10 (won it in a school contest). Main reason for going with a Mac is that I'm slightly more familiar with them than a Linux box, running the Adobe suite of software (hmph, but that is what it is), and...iMovie.

I have an 11" Macbook Air, but trying to edit stuff on a screen that small makes my eyes want to do somersaults, you know?
posted by arkhangel at 9:54 PM on August 11, 2011

Based on my experience a 4 year old MBP is worth no more than $500 (and even then, only if it's in immaculate condition, with original box, with the hard drive wiped and the newest version of Mac OS X on it). These things depreciate FAST and 4 years is ANCIENT in the computer world. Sure, he may have paid $2500 for it 4 years ago, but prices for new ones are so low now that you have to take that into consideration, too.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 11:04 PM on August 11, 2011

eBay is generally the best yardstick in my experience. I periodically look for Macs there, and once in a while, sell one (about every 3 years or so). There are just so many examples and so many customers that you can get a fast read on the mean value of the exact box, looking at completed auctions. True for just about anything on eBay, really, at least anything reasonably shippable.

If it's a lightly used, cosmetically excellent unit with box, dox and disks (and an Intel-based unit), I'd think $400 is reasonable, maybe on the low side of average. The 17" worth of screen adds something. Weak points in that era of design include the power brick, which has the fold out AC plug, a horrible design. There is an attachable cord that gets rid of that, though, so getting that part is essential. Otherwise, look forward to intermittents and a replacement at some point.

At 4 years, it'll be time for a battery soon, if it isn't already. Lots of RAM is essential. IME, 2 GB is nowhere near as good as 4, so budget $50-$100 for RAM improvement, too. It makes a world of difference.
posted by FauxScot at 5:38 AM on August 12, 2011

Depending on how portable you actually need it to be, why not try an external monitor for your Air? You can get a really great 27 incher for $200-300. I was surprised at how much I didn't miss my portability when using my external when working on design projects after I downgraded from 17" to 15" recently.

But yes, with current lower-end Macbooks hovering around $999 that really isn't a very good deal. Can you sell your Air and get a refurbished 15" of the current model?
posted by gregoryg at 1:34 PM on August 12, 2011

Also, at sale time, before handing over the money, and in a safe (public) place if possible, I would ask to run the following:

Tech Tool Deluxe, which will run a suite of hardware tests, and

Battery Health Monitor, which will tell you how much life the battery has left. Alternately, go to Apple Menu -> About This Mac -> More Info -> Hardware -> Power and look at "Battery Cycle Count" and "Condition." Batteries on this laptop are rated for ~380 cycles, after that, they tend to fail (e.g., won't power the laptop for more than an hour, or go from 25% to 0% with no warning).

Pretty much expect a four year old laptop to need a new battery, so price that into your considerations.
posted by zippy at 2:51 PM on August 13, 2011

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