Maintaining a mid-2012 macbook?
September 28, 2019 9:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm the lucky recipient of an older mac, not as old as previous questions though (mid 2012). What can I do to keep it running well and get the most out of it as a 32 bit machine when increasingly programs are 64 bit?

Stats are as follows:
Processor: 2.5Ghz intel core i5
Memory: 4GB 1600 Mhz DDR3
Graphics: Intel HB Graphics 4000 1536 MB

It runs webpages and online games on sites such as kongregates well, but I'd like to know what I can do to optimise it for casual use for hopefully a few more years!
posted by Braeburn to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
That’s a 64 bit CPU, although the version of OSX on it might be 32-bit only.

The thing that would worry me would be security: Those machines no longer get security paths from Apple I believe. You could switch to firefox as your web browser, which would at least prevent drive-by hacks from internet ads. Personally I’d install whatever version of Linux was easiest (Ubuntu probably) and just use that instead.

Hardware wise, the best upgrade for that machine would be to replace the HD with an SSD & to see if you could upgrade the memory, if possible. I can’t remember whether the latter was still possible on those Macs - if you could tell us the model id then we’d be able to say for certain.
posted by pharm at 10:48 AM on September 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

It should run the upcoming version of macOS, Catalina.
posted by Seeking Direction at 11:02 AM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Assuming this is a 13" MacBook Pro, which fits those specs, it is definitely 64 bit and can run the latest version of MacOS, currently 10.14, so security updates are not a problem and won't be for a few years yet.

Agree with pharm that upgrading RAM (16GB max) and fitting an SSD would be well worthwhile. The latter will improve performance dramatically and the HD interface is SATA 3, so it will get good value from any decent SSD. If you don't intend to use an SSD then maybe don't upgrade the system software though.
posted by mewsic at 11:07 AM on September 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah, it's a 64-bit CPU. nthing max RAM + a decently-sized SSD, both of which are easy upgrades and will have a massive effect on everyday use. (The size matters because you don't want to run too low on disk space.) It's actually in a much better position than the 2011s in terms of Mac OS updates.
posted by holgate at 11:29 AM on September 28, 2019

IIRC Mojave & Catalina only support the MacBook Pros from 2012. The 2012 MacBooks (non Pro) are not supported. So we need to know which it is to give best advice.
posted by pharm at 12:17 PM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thank-you so much for your answers so far. This is currently running Mojave 10.14.6, and it's the 13inch macbook pro from then.
posted by Braeburn at 2:55 PM on September 28, 2019

You have gold. I roll with a 2012 and all the OS updates work just fine. You will want to upgrade the RAM to 16mb and you can get 2 SSD into it if you want to ditch the dvd drive. Be sure to have the main SSD be the larger SSD if you are using iCloud storage due to iCloud only want to use the main drive to sync.

I went the more premium route of OWC to get an upgrade kit specific to my machine. But there are plenty of articles about people juicing their 2012 machines. The 2012 is completely DIY upgradable which is why people still pick them up.

I do all the things including heavy use of Adobe Acrobat and photoshop. The only thing that with no retina screen on that model maybe an issue. I love my 2012 i7.
posted by jadepearl at 3:51 PM on September 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Max out the RAM and get a SSD, and that’s a perfectly capable machine!
posted by vitout at 5:09 PM on September 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have a mid-2014 and the only reason I'm finally going to give in and upgrade is that my keyboard is now busted (I'm currently typing 'i's by dint of keybinding the left opening bracket to 'i') and putting several hundred dollars into a machine that old doesn't seem to make sense. (Basically you and I have some of the last really good designs in terms of ports and keyboards and the like.)
posted by praemunire at 5:46 PM on September 28, 2019

Yep. Add an SSD and even without the memory upgrade it will seem zippier. Bonus, the 2012 models are not nearly as hard to pull off the upgrade as the older ones were - far fewer screws to swap out.

My wife is using a similar-age MacBook, I used it for work up until mid 2017 before replacing it with a newer model. You should have no trouble updating it to the latest 64 bit OS.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:37 PM on September 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have the same machine and I was under the impression that the RAM can't be changed because it's soldered to motherboard or somesuch.
posted by Triumphant Muzak at 11:14 PM on September 28, 2019

Here is the iFixit repair guide for a Mid-2012 MacBook Pro 13". That's got (good, clear) guides for replacing anything you could want.

I have the same laptop and it's my daily driver. Swapping the hard drive out for an SSD was simple and cheap, and afterwards I kicked myself for not having done it sooner. The RAM upgrade is also easy but will lead to less of a dramatic difference. This was the last model of MacBook Pro that had components that are easy to replace, so you've been lucky.
posted by spielzebub at 4:28 AM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

FWIW, I had a late-2011 13" macbook until last week. It stopped getting automatic OS updates to the latest OS, but when I called Apple support, they were able to get around this and get the latest version installed. So if yours isn't updating, you might try that.
posted by benbenson at 9:41 AM on September 29, 2019

Buy a cheap toolkit from iFixit so that you have exactly the right screwdrivers and such, and also for the plastic spudger (for loosening those flat connectors without tearing them clean off the cable ends). It really isn't a difficult upgrade. You'll be glad you did!

Consider a totally-clean install before simply accepting the installer's offer to copy back all of your files from the now-external HDD (if you know what you're doing). If you're like me, you have many years and many laptops' worth of now-useless stuff accumulating in your System folder.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:30 AM on September 30, 2019

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