Choices, Choices, Choices!
December 18, 2012 3:53 PM   Subscribe

[MAC FILTER - Follow Up] Upgrade the HDD and RAM? Buy a new-but-used MBP? By New MBP? What would you do? Intermittent Flurries Inside

This is a follow-up to this question.

Having done a fair amount of research on the SSDs available for my mid-2009MBP 17, I find myself at the cross-roads-of-decision!

I use my MBP all day for work and in the evenings for entertainment. It's on ALL the time and gets 7-15 hours of use 5-6 days a week--editing video, photoshopping, coding, NetFlix marathons--you know the deal.

I love my 17 inch screen when it's not plugged into my even bigger 24-inch screen at work.

So I see three options:
1. Upgrade the existing MBP's RAM to 8Gb and HDD to SSD--Thinking the OWC Mercury Electra 3G because the according to the OWC rep the 6G drives get downclocked to 1.5 by my MBP5,2 (Mid-2009) SATA2 Connection!
Cost: ~$650


2. Sell the Current MBP (for about $800-1000) and buy referb Late-2011 MBP17, max the RAM and swap the drive for a 6G HDD.
Total Cost: ~$1800


3. Throw caution to the wind and buy a new MBP15--upgrade the RAM and HDD to SSD after the fact--and admit defeat and suffer the smaller screen while traveling--which I expect to do much more of in the coming year.
Total Cost: ~$2700 (Retina) Could be ~$1900 assuming I sell the 17MBP rather than give it to Mrs. FuzzyDog for her next laptop..assuming she wants it.

What I am after is the biggest bang for the buck. Thoughts?
posted by Fuzzy Dog to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're travelling and planning on working on the plane, the 17 inch machine will be way too big...
posted by mr_roboto at 3:56 PM on December 18, 2012

You can't upgrade components in the retina models. The HD/SSD and RAM are glued in.
posted by griphus at 3:59 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would not buy the 17inch model unless you are never planning on taking it anywhere, as mr_roboto mentions.

griphus is also correct that upgrading components in the newer models of retina mbp laptops will be difficult if not impossible. However, I believe that you will be best served by this option if you are editing video on it. The newer chipsets in these laptops are much faster and will do good things for your process including reducing encoding times.

An SSD would help with that kind of thing in your 2009 macbook pro but I don't think it would come close in terms of speeding up the computationally intensive work you do.

So, my recommendation is to wait until you can afford something from the current generation with the amount of RAM and disk space you need. Retina or otherwise, the newest CPUs and chipsets will be best.
posted by TimeDoctor at 5:44 PM on December 18, 2012

My work machine is an early 2010 15" MBP i7 that I use as much as you do. It's maxed out with 8GB of RAM, which I was always hitting the limits of. Getting an SSD improved things so much... I'm really happy with it.

If you like your current 17" MBP, I vote for just adding as much ram as it can support (probably 8GB), which is pretty inexpensive as long as you buy it from anywhere but Apple. Then upgrade the SSD. This should keep you going happily for a good while. But yeah, the 17" is a heavy beast for travelling. I hate taking my 15" anywhere. If I was travelling a lot, I'd probably use that as justification to get an Air as a secondary machine.

But as everyone else has says, when buying a new mac laptop, you need to buy the absolute best Mac you can afford, as unfortunately the MBPs have gone the same way as the Airs -- that is, completely not upgradable after purchase. Boo, hiss.
posted by cgg at 7:13 PM on December 18, 2012

Be advised, the Retina MBP that came out mid-year are not user-serviceable. AT. ALL. The SSD and RAM are soldered onto the logic board. An acquaintance who works for an Apple Store described the hour-long procedure they were taught to do a battery replacement. It involved an apron and goggles. And an hour. You're not upgrading this.

That said, DAMN THIS BABY IS FAST AND SEXY. Upgrades to older macs with more RAM and SSD can get you a lot. I had a late-2008 Macbook that I had upgraded to 8GB+SSD; it kept up with most things, and is still a really nice laptop. But when I put it next to the new one, it just does not compare.

So, think of it this way: let's be conservative on your usage, 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. We're talking something you will be spending 1800 hours a year with. Minimum. It's your livelihood, your entertainment source. Treat yourself. Go all out. Prorate it over a year, and you're looking at $2/hour or less. Throw in a few external drives for backup, too.
posted by jraenar at 12:30 AM on December 19, 2012

Alternate #1 path = Max out the RAM to 8GB, upgrade to a larger HDD if you need the space, but replace the DVD drive with an SSD, put the system on it, and boot from there. This way the SSD doesn't have to be too large (i.e. expensive). Pick up an external case for the DVD drive for those times when you need it.

You're already looking at OWC; they should have all the gear you need, and a video walkthrough of the process. Seconding the need for the SATA2 connection on this machine.

I did this on my mid-2009 13" MBP about a year ago; still very happy with it.
posted by omnidrew at 7:39 AM on December 19, 2012

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