Replace mid-2014 MacBook Pro?
November 17, 2023 5:47 PM   Subscribe

I have a mid-2014 MacBook Pro that is running super hot all the time, both the laptop itself and the charger brick. I don't know what this means, and the question is: Should I bother finding out, or is it time to replace my laptop anyway? It's probably getting to be a security risk, right? My main priorities in life are 1) keeping it uncomplicated but also 2) frugality. Is there a simple, cheap way to keep it going or is it better to just bite the bullet now and avoid more problems down the road?
posted by HotToddy to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I just replaced a Mid-2015 MacBook Pro. I was issued a 16" M1 MBP because it was already bought: I had asked for a 13" M2 MBA. It's still a hell of an upgrade.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:09 PM on November 17

"I just replaced a Mid-2015 MacBook Pro. I was issued a 16" M1 MBP because it was already bought: I had asked for a 13" M2 MBA. It's still a hell of an upgrade."

Can you clarify what you mean when you say you were "issued" a 16" when you asked for a 13"? It sounds like you got a free upgrade? Was this through apple?
posted by fies at 6:16 PM on November 17

Sounds like they got a their new work computer that was what IT had on hand at the moment, rather than the specific model they requested.
posted by rockindata at 6:27 PM on November 17 [3 favorites]

Any chance the cooling ducts are just clogged with dust?
posted by kickingtheground at 6:42 PM on November 17

2014 Macbooks Pro can't upgrade past MacOS 11 Big Sur, but I think some security updates still come out.

Lately I lucked into a freebie early-2014 Macbook Air, and spent about $60 to replace the broken screen. I checked into resale value and it's like $80-150; not great, and mine is working well.

If I were you, I'd be saving for an upgrade and blowing the dust out with compressed air on the machine you have. Probably even open it up and scrape up junk with a plastic tool.

Now, I know you've got the MBP; great machine. A modern Macbook Air M2 is going to knock its socks off at any task. So instead of definitely going Macbook Pro to Macbook Pro, take a look at the Airs as well. Second recommendation: don't skimp on the onboard memory or storage-- there's no upgrading these laptops anymore since the whole computer is on a chip, but that's also where they get you in the wallet.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:46 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]

It’s probably time. A year ago I ordered an M2 MacBook Air and planned to trade in a 2015 MacBook Pro for credit. Then I realized the 2015 Mac was bulging by the trackpad because the battery was swelling. That meant Apple wouldn’t give me any credit for the trade-in, so I ordered a replacement battery from iFixit, and we’ve had both laptops for a year.

The 2015 is noticeably slower doing things like opening apps or running a browser with lots of tabs. It also randomly freezes up and requires a hard reset every now and then. It’s useful for us as a second laptop when we really need two, but if it were my only laptop I’d be very frustrated by it. The M2 is fantastic though.
posted by fedward at 6:57 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]

The security thing is not a small concern. Black Friday is coming up - maybe you can find a good price on a M-series MacBook Air or Pro. I have an M2 MacBook Pro for my own computer and I have an M1 Mac Studio at the office. These things are ungodly fast. (Apple designed the M-series processor, so when they're designing both the processor and the operating system that runs it they're able to make everything work together very well.)
posted by azpenguin at 7:13 PM on November 17 [3 favorites]

Yeah, it's time to replace/upgrade. You can probably eke out some more use out of it if you clean out the dust as others have said, but you're coming up on the time where you won't be getting any more updates/support, and the laptop's performance certainly isn't going to get any better any time soon. If you can afford it, bite the bullet now and get a new one before the one you have now dies on you.

Re frugality: since the new M3 Macbooks just came out, you can probably find better than usual deals on the M2 Macbooks, like this one at Best Buy. Also, check out Apple's own Refurbished Macbooks.
posted by yasaman at 7:48 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]

Last year I replaced a 2013 MacBook which had the same issues as yours with a 2017 MacBook from , it was like $300. They are refurbished and mine is still running great. It runs the second-most recent OS, but not Sonoma, which was released this fall.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:33 PM on November 17

Hey fellow mid-2014 Mac person! While I also have a Mac of that vintage, it's running fairly well (if slow) and it sounds like yours is starting to die. I'd recommend replacement. In particular, as you note, there are security concerns and repairing it is starting to tip over into a bad use of money.

In terms of replacements, I've looked carefully and agree with what has been said above: unless you have special circumstances (video editing, for example) the newer MacBook Airs are perfect.

We've successfully avoided the butterfly keyboards, the Magsafe charging cable debacle, and the wonky first generation of Apple chips. Now's the time to reap the benefits of being patient and make the upgrade.
posted by librarylis at 9:49 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]

I don't miss my Intel Macbooks. Since I got my M1, my lap only gets warm when a process is busy looping somewhere. Upgrade while they're good.
posted by credulous at 10:11 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]

MacOS 11 Big Sur already no longer gets most security updates as of September of this year. Generally only the three most recent versions of macOS get most security updates (rarely Apple releases a patch for an extra-critical vulnerability for older systems, but most go unpatched) - right now that's MacOS 14 Sonoma, MacOS 13 Ventura, and MacOS 12 Monterey.

I upgraded from a 2013 MBP to a Apple-refurbished M1 14" MBP this year and have been super pleased. If upgrade cost is a concern I would look at used and refurbished M1 and M2 models. If you're not doing anything unusually CPU/GPU-intensive, as noted above, even an M1 Air will be plenty zippy and a huge upgrade over a 2014 MBP.
posted by beryllium at 1:42 AM on November 18

Running hot is most likely dust-clogged heat exchange fins. If you have the tools (it's a special screwdriver bit) to pull open the bottom plate, a very simple thing, you can gently brush out all the crap that's accumulated in there. Then put the plate back on and it'll run a lot better. I had to do this with my 2012 MBP every 2-3 years because cats, and the symptom that it was time was always chugging because of thermal throttling, fan blowing, and excess heat even when idle.

Not to say you don't wanna upgrade, but the machine you have is probably just 10 minutes and a tiny tri-lobe screwdriver bit away from running a lot better.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:29 AM on November 18 [1 favorite]

I don't see any mention of backing that MBP up anywhere in the suggestions above. So: please, please, please, make regular backups. Time Machine is included free in the OS and you can get a USB drive for $50.

Best case scenario: If you get one that has both an older USB cable for your current laptop and a newer USB-C cable for the shiny new laptop, you can easily use it to migrate your data during setup! And then you'll have a nice drive to use for backups on the new laptop, too.
posted by bcwinters at 7:50 AM on November 18 [1 favorite]

tiny tri-lobe screwdriver
Check with iFixit [1][2] but it's five-sided or penta-lobe.

posted by k3ninho at 7:55 AM on November 18 [1 favorite]

I agree that the lack of upgrades could be a problem. The heat sounds battery related and not fixable without a battery. I swapped a battery in one and it wasnt too hard, but I would try to find a good used one out there.
posted by drowsy at 8:11 AM on November 18

I did almost the exact same thing as Jon_Evil. I replaced my 2012 MacBook with a refurbished 2017 MacBook from Back Market. I spent about $350 and it has been great so far!
posted by I_carried_a_watermelon at 8:57 AM on November 19

Response by poster: Jon_Evil and I_carried_a_watermelon, is the 2017 MacBook a particularly problem-free model or just what you both happened to get? I've decided I'm going to get something, now the question is what.
posted by HotToddy at 10:55 AM on November 19

The 2016-2019 Intel Macbooks had horrible keyboards, with lots of known issues. Search for "butterfly keyboard" for lots of discussion. The M1 (and M2, and M3) MacBooks have a great keyboard again. It's another argument for upgrading to the very much faster modern machines.

Also, battery life on the M1/M2/M3 MacBooks is insanely good. I routinely get 20 hours out of my M2 MacBook Air without recharging. Another good reason to upgrade.
posted by blob at 10:07 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

Go into activity monitor and see if anything is maxing out the CPU. I frequently have an issue with one of the bluetooth processes going out of control and using as much CPU as they can get and that will make the machine run hot. Since I don't generally need bluetooth, I'm able to just disable it and you may find some runaway process that you can also remove.
posted by willnot at 5:33 AM on November 20

As someone who upgraded from that era of macbook pro to one of the new M series models, this is probably the biggest upgrade i've ever seen out of a computer. It completely wipes even the first time i got a system with an SSD, or anything else i've experienced. They're seriously star trek, fake movie green screen computer fast/smooth/silent/cold. Everything about them is just a gigantic, ridiculous cartoon upgrade.

10 years is a perfectly fine amount of time to get out of a computer, and honestly more than the average person does. And finally, after a decade of stagnation, the new ones feel like as much of a difference as the 2014 ones did over a 2004.

I got a super fancy one, but all said and done i would have been perfectly happy with the cheapest refurb m1 macbook air with enough storage, etc. My brain was just not ready to comprehend how big of a difference even that would be.
posted by emptythought at 5:23 AM on November 24

Response by poster: Okay I ordered a 15” MacBook Air M2! You people are very persuasive.
posted by HotToddy at 8:12 AM on November 24 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: (However I did get the old one functioning better with the Activity Monitor tip—thanks!)
posted by HotToddy at 8:12 AM on November 24

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