Find me my next computer
November 21, 2016 10:02 AM   Subscribe

I need help replacing my 2009 Macbook Pro.

My 2009 13-inch Macbook Pro is getting increasingly temperamental. Two years ago it needed a new battery and charge port; ~six months ago my family member who serves as my tech support put a new SSD in it and updated it to El Capitan because it was unusably slow. Since then I've had to restore the hard drive after a malfunction several times, and this latest time the restoration is proving troublesome. While I could probably bring it back to life once again, I think 7 years is pretty good service and, as I really need a reliable laptop for school, it's time to replace it.

I'm not super confident about making the best choice, so please help me find the best laptop for my needs. My budget is £800-£1k.

My main priority is RELIABILITY. I would like my next computer to last as long as this one if not longer, and to not require a whole lot of troubleshooting.

I use my laptop mainly for drawing and image editing using a Wacom tablet and Clip Studio Paint/Manga Studio. I would like it to have a really good screen and enough power to support Adobe CC programmes (Photoshop, InDesign).

Other than that I mainly just do internet-based stuff and the occasional bit of word processing. I want it to be fast, powerful, have decent storage, and did I mention, reliable. I'm not a gamer.

I walk in to university and travel by public transport a lot so would prefer it to have good battery life and not be immensely heavy, but I can cope with it being not the most lightweight machine on earth (I have lugged the heavy old 2009 MBP around for 7 years, after all).

I've been assuming that I'll replace this Macbook Pro with another one, as I love the one I have, and have my family member who knows about macs to offer in-house support; but I don't want to spend Mac prices if there's another computer which will do what I want at a lower price point, and I am willing to re-adapt to Windows if that's my best option.

If I do stick with a macbook: which year and model would be best? Where can I purchase it from? Is ebay an option?

Basically, point me to the best possible laptop that I can buy for <£1000 and tell me, if you can, where to buy it. (Sorry for the UK difficulty level). <£900 would be even better.

Thank you in advance!
posted by mymbleth to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
> reliable, fast, powerful, decent storage, great screen, and cheap

On what are you willing to compromise? Because you can get all those things but it won't be cheap. Some of things you want are just at odds with other things. For example: a solid state drive will really make it "faster" (peppier - quick boot time, quick loading) and will probably make it more reliable (no moving parts compared to a regular hard drive) but it will cost a lot more to get a high capacity drive if you wanted to do hold a bunch of photos or music files.

I recommend the new entry level Macbook Pro. It's fast, powerful, has a great screen and should be reliable, especially if you get Applecare. 256 GB is a decent but not great amount of storage, but likely will suit you pretty well. It's a bit more than your budget, but I doubt you'll find anything as well made for less. Dell's comparable XPS 13 is only $50 less, so not worth the hassle of switching to Windows.
posted by bluecore at 10:25 AM on November 21, 2016

> reliable, fast, powerful, decent storage, great screen, and cheap

On what are you willing to compromise?

It's worse than that, because some of those things bind together pretty tightly. Nobody makes a machine with a great panel and cheaps out on the other components.

Honestly I'd decide on the minimum screen panel quality that's acceptable to me, and the rest will kinda fall into place.

When I looked for my sister in March, an HP Pavillion at (I think) about £800 was the best I could find.
posted by Leon at 10:34 AM on November 21, 2016

Any new machine you buy with an SSD is going to be MUCH faster than the machine you have, so that's not a huge consideration. If I'm you, I look at a refurbished, year or two old Mac with a warranty. Not sure if Apple sells refurb Macs in the UK, but I'd go that route if I could. Apple's refurbs in the US have the same warranty as a new computer. Given that a one year warranty isn't very long, I'd spring for a longer warranty.

One consideration is that many PCs have touch screens, where you could draw directly on the screen, rather than on a separate device. If you consider that at all, look at the Surface Pro line (and not the Surface Book, which has had reliability issues).
posted by cnc at 10:53 AM on November 21, 2016

You can still probably get a bit for trade-in on your current mac.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:53 AM on November 21, 2016

I asked similar in 2015 and the difference with an SSD is mind blowing. I got the Air and I love it.
posted by TravellingCari at 11:28 AM on November 21, 2016

Best answer: Like cnc above, I usually recommend Apple-refurbished Macs for their warranty. It looks like the UK selection is currently extremely limited, however: only one model is available as of this post, and the scant 128GB of storage makes it difficult to recommend.

If you can find a 2015 MacBook Pro elsewhere at a discount now that the new models are out, that seems like the sweet spot for a future-proof Mac laptop at a reasonable price point.
posted by impiri at 11:35 AM on November 21, 2016

folks, the question says (iiuc) that the current machine has an ssd. so a new computer with an ssd won't be faster just because it has an ssd.
posted by andrewcooke at 12:47 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

folks, the question says (iiuc) that the current machine has an ssd. so a new computer with an ssd won't be faster just because it has an ssd.

The 2009 MBPs were bottlenecked by the SATA controller so real world performance was limited to around 180-190 MB/sec for reads. (Basically it was officially capable of SATA2 but ran at SATA1 speeds because of the optical drive.) The 2016s are using a PCI-e SSD and are benchmarking closer to 400 MB/sec.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:20 PM on November 21, 2016

Best answer: My recommendation would be to look into secondhand 2014 or 2015 macbook pros - they're very capable machines, and will last longer than a comparably priced new PC.
posted by motdiem2 at 2:04 PM on November 22, 2016

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