The Joy Of Owning An Eight-Year-Old MacBook

The Joy of Owning an Eight-Year-Old MacBook

During last week's Apple event, Phil Schiller called people who own computers that are more than five years old "sad." That was a silly thing to say, Phil!

My MacBook Pro is eight years old. That's it right up there. Looks like a MacBook right? But then you look a little closer, and you'll notice a few dings -- a pretty normal thing for a laptop that's almost as old as Twitter.

The Joy of Owning an Eight-Year-Old MacBook

Then, you look even closer and realise that the display isn't sitting so straight on the still sleek unibody design.

The Joy of Owning an Eight-Year-Old MacBook

Then, you open it up, and holy shit what happened here?

The Joy of Owning an Eight-Year-Old MacBook

I'll tell you what happened. I love my MacBook too much! I love it so much that sometimes I think it's better at balancing on fire escapes than it actually is and it goes tumbling all the way down to the ground. After that incident, it felt like the machine was getting slower, but I couldn't afford to part with it just yet. I loved it. Also, new MacBooks are very expensive.

So I did some research that led me to max out the RAM, install a solid state hard drive, and wow did I love my ancient MacBook that suddenly felt like a brand new MacBook. I kept loving it too hard, though. One day I picked it up by the display and squeezed a little too hard -- think Lennie in Of Mice and Men -- and I cracked the glass on the screen.

The Joy of Owning an Eight-Year-Old MacBook

Still committed to keeping this machine alive, I bought some special tools so that I could install a new pane of glass on my beloved MacBook. Let's just say I fucked that one up pretty bad and ended up ripping the glass off completely which lent the computer a rather attractive cyborg sort of look.

The Joy of Owning an Eight-Year-Old MacBook

Are there downsides to owning a MacBook for eight years? Sure, there are. My battery life is approximately 19 seconds long, although I do plan on replacing that next. The Superdrive stopped working years ago, and I want to take it out to make the whole thing lighter. That said, the computer will still do everything I want to do without melting down. I'm writing this blog post on my eight-year-old MacBook, and I even edited these photos in RAW format using my eight-year-old MacBook.

But do you know what's truly a shitty thing? In recent years, Apple's started to solder more and more guts onto the logic board so it's getting damn near impossible to repair them easily by themselves. Maybe Phil Schiller is sad for people like me who feel capable of fixing their own computers, since that keeps a few hundred dollars out of Apple's coffers every time we find a way to hack a solution. I won't have that option when my MacBook finally dies, and then I'll be the sad one.

The Joy of Owning an Eight-Year-Old MacBook

In the meantime, I find great joy in using my freakishly old MacBook. We've been through a lot together, and even when I hugged it to hard, I knew the MacBook would keep powering on. Your company built a good machine, Phil. So please stop making fun of it.

Also: Quick And Easy Macbook Repairs That'll Save You A Small Fortune



    I have one of the first uni body Mac Book Pros from Mid 2008. Still going strong. In way better condition than that one though...

      i know right

      the least he couldve done was to clean it and put a screen protector on it if he couldnt repair the glass

      but how else is he gunna have edgy clickbait articles generating ad revenue for underpaid tech bloggers who cant afford to replace a 5 year old laptop

    My eight year old Dell M4400 is still going strong and is in way better condition than this guy's MacBook. For someone who professes to love it so much, he sure treats it like shit. The first thing I did when I bought it was swap out the HDD for an SSD, which involve3d undoing two screws and pulling out a drawer on the side of the machine. My DVD drive still works and because it has a removable battery, changing that would take exactly two seconds.

    But you know what? I don't love it - it is big and heavy and old and slow and stupid. It hasn't been good enough for me to use as a workstation for at least five of those eight years, even though it is a much more powerful machine than any MacBook, which is why I gave it to my bandmate, who only uses it to get online.

    Now I buy a new laptop every year, while my "old" one is still a current model and still worth good money. It actually works out cheaper for me than replacing them every two or three years and giving the old one away.

      Much more powerful machine than any MacBook? Hmmm sounds like you don't know too much about computers. What are the specs?

      Last edited 28/03/16 5:50 pm

        >Tells someone they don't know much about computers, doesn't know how to look up max specs when given brand and model
        "Intel® Core™2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme, and Core 2 Quad Extreme Edition processors"
        " up to 32GB system memory .... DDR3 1,866MHz"
        "with up to 2GB of dedicated video memory"

        So no, it's not more powerful than ANY Macbook, but if you're going to be an ass don't be a lazy ass

          I had already and without a doubt can say a lot of MacBooks are more powerful than that. Was interested to see what the OP would say.

            Which MacBook or MAcBook Pro has Quadro graphics? Macs are pro-sumer level machines, at best, and nowhere near good enough for professional graphics use, particularly 3D. I should know, I struggle with a MacPro every day at work, even though my PC laptop at home is faster for 90% of the things I use the Mac for, as well as being a lot more reliable.

              You struggle with a mac pro every day at work? Dude Mac Pro's are practically made for professional graphics and video editing, unsure how you are struggling with it, unless you're doing some hectic studio level work. But even studios use Mac Pro's fairly often, Pixar uses them to do their graphics!

        macbooks havent been made for like 5 years. its not hard to believe

        even macbook pros from a few years ago probably had the same processors as non "pro" standard pc laptops

        Last edited 28/03/16 10:12 pm

        It has Quadro graphics, which makes it far more powerful than any MacBook. The lowliest Quadro card is better for real work than the most powerful GeForce or Radeon card (for laptops, at least). The rest of the specs would be similar - Core2Quad, 8Gb RAM - although it does have DisplayPort out as well as an eSATA port for connecting external storage.

          The biggest difference between a geforce and quadro is actually the drivers. there are drivers out there hacked to make your GeForce graphics card behave like a quadro.

    We just had the logic board in my partner's five-year-old MBP15 replaced, free of charge, without hassle. I'm actually a devout Windows user (I run W10 full-time on my 2015 MBP13), but damn, hats off to Apple for the customer service. I really wouldn't expect to ever be treated as well by Microsoft, Samsung, HP, Lenovo, etc.

      they have a 5 year warranty option?

      in any case you can find replacement parts from aliexpress pretty cheap anyway

        My Macbook is 2 years out of warranty and the graphics card failed. Would have cost $950 to fix as it was fused with the main circuit board. Took it into Apple the other week and they fixed it for free. Wasn't even expecting it.

          So strange hearing complete opposite experience
          What exactly is the official policy

            The official policy is that I should have paid for a repair, but they can use they're judgement every now and then like most manufacturers.

            They initially quoted me $950, but I said I'd prefer to leave it I didn't have the cash. He came back a few minutes later and said he could waive it. Pretty nice of him.

            Good though, cause if they hadn't of covered it I probably would have just bought a cheap pc instead. But an experience like that kind of makes me feel like I'd consider buying a mac again next time.

            Although I don't think I would have got that offer at a 3rd party Mac repair store.

            Last edited 01/04/16 1:47 pm

              Good point. It probably didn't cost them $800 to fix it. He probably found spare parts at the back that were 5 years old and worthless anyway. Cheap write-off to gain goodwill

              That being said if you ever encounter this issue in the future. Consider eBay/aliexpress for spare parts. I've repaired so many laptops at a fraction of the cost this way. If you can handle it a screw driver and YouTube videos, you can diy, otherwise providing the part for a pro to do is still only gunna cost you a few hundred bucks vs almost a grand. And always buy popular models regardless of the brand for better support and more common parts. It's worth the premium in the end

              Last edited 02/04/16 9:42 am

                In the case of my partner's macbook, it was a known problem that Apple had committed to resolving for free if the symptoms matched the problem. Ours did, so they followed through on the commitment. Pretty damn good.

                I just bought a Dell XPS 15, and although I love it, I'm fairly sure I'll be out in the cold if anything ever goes wrong with it outside of Warranty time, even if it's a known problem.

      WHAT WHAT WHAT!??!!? My $2500 MacBook Pro from 2010 after 2 and a bit years decided to become a machine that crashes every 2 seconds (specifically using apps like Chrome and occasionally Safari when it felt like it). Took it into Apple shop with crash reports etc and was told "Sorry you're out of warranty and the GPU is attached to the Logic board so would have to replace that. Quote for that is $850 EX GST. But I can show you our new range of MacBook's"

      Was pretty frustrating that a $2500 machine only 2 1/2 years old required a repair 1/3 the original cost. I was quite happy to have to fork out $300.

      Still got it sitting in a storage box, which reminds me that it needs to be chucked out.

      Last edited 29/03/16 1:52 am

        Put Ubuntu or Kubuntu onto it and run the open source nouveau display drivers. I have a mid-2010 macbook with the same dead GPU but some reason the open source drivers seem to avoid the issue. It can only play a few (mostly 2d)games, but considering they wanted me to fork up $1400 for a repair I went and bought an $1800 Win10 Acer instead. Far superior performance for an extra few hundred.

          Awesome! Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely be giving that a shot considering I was now just thinking of throwing it away.

            He probably got lucky and they found spare parts at the back vs having to order them in. They gained goodwill at the cost of some fixed cost labour and spare parts that have been sitting idle for half a decade that isn't even worth the storage cost let alone $800. You can also go to aliexpress or eBay and find the spare part yourself. And fix it diy with some ifixit or YouTube videos. It's all just a bunch of screws and latches

              I had a search around online for a replacement logic board and it is roughly AUD$450. Probably a bit much for me to have a punt on trying to repair myself.

              If I bought it and ended up not getting it working, I'm not prepared to piss away $450 on something that I will most likely not be able to re-sell, don't know many people in the market for a MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2010 I7 model Logic Board.

              When my MacBook was having trouble, I picked up a Toshiba R700 second hand for $150 and it's been simply bulletproof. Pretty poor that a $150 computer has put a $2500 one to complete shame.

                you can take that $450 board and go to a repair shop and pay them $100 labour to get it fixed. still cheaper than apple

                Anyway, this is why i hate buying macbooks and stick to PCs. I know some ppl cant avoid it due to the software they need, but usually theyre using it for professional reasons and deriving an income, in which case its a cost of doing business

                If youre a student, unless its tied to a course you are doing, theres really no financial reason to go with a mac

                That R700 is one of my favourite notebooks. First one since the Vaio Z that was built with really solid engineering around portability and structural integrity

                I think its one of the first to use a honeycomb weave under the wristrests to reduce flex and strengthen rigidity if you dropped it. Also it took about 2-3 years before someone came along that was more bang for buck in terms of portability, power and cost

                  You literally hit every nail on the head there. I only got the MacBook for my studies at the time as I was tied to Final Cut Pro. Now those days are well and truly over using Avid, Adobe suite etc I have no reason to own a Mac. Also having the ability to dual boot into Apple OS if I absolutely need.

                  I didn't know much about the R700 when I got it, but I quickly came to appreciate it's power and portability as well as reliability. Still gets used for basic photo and video editing while out and about and is unreal while traveling being so light. Chucked an SSD in it so it flies. Only thing I'd think about is replacing the battery as it's probably had it's day.

                  Have to have a hard think about repairing the MacBook...

                  Time to write off the macbook I think. Just flog it on eBay. Someone will give you $100 for it

                You could say that about anything though. My friend had Ferrari Modena that broke down so does that mean my $3000 VX Commodore at the time put it to complete shame?

                It doesn't matter what piece of technology you purchase, ALL products have a fail rate. Anecdotes about how your $150 machine is more reliable than your $2500 machine mean nothing. You would need to a much larger sample size than 1 to make an accurate claim.

                  Except for the fact that the problem with the MacBook was a "known issue" and there was a statement from Apple about the problem and they repaired a number of the MacBooks free of charge.....not mine though
                  My issue was that I took it to Apple had it looked at before the "known issue" was discovered. In my desperation to have a semi working computer I replaced the hard drive with a SSD (so instead of waiting 3 minutes for it to reboot after crashing, it was 10 seconds) Then when I returned it to the Apple store to sort out the now 'known issue' because I had opened up the computer my warranty was void. Even though I had the information from when I first brought it in before hard drive swap, the hundreds of error logs I had and even put back in the original hard drive. The best they could do was "I can show you our great new line of MacBooks to purchase"

                  Spoke to Apple on the phone to see if they could offer guidance, some lovely lady from California and she said it's up to the local Apple store to organise repairs and warranty.

                  Ah well guess it sucks to be you. Still anecdotal. I've only gone into the apple for an out of warranty iPhone with a dodgy Bluetooth connection and they swapped it out for a reco on the spot and didn't charge a cent. Had MacBooks since 2008 and never had any hardware failures so can't comment on the service there. I have upgrade SSDs and ram myself and they are very easy to work on. There's a great site called ifixit that has tutorials on how to replace components so you could just purchase the part yourself if your good with a screwdriver.

        The difference in this case was that it was a known problem with that build run / generation, and Apple had committed to resolving it if the symptoms lined up. They did. I think that in other circumstances, we'd be as fked as you were.

          Frustratingly there was a known problem with my build/generation. I didn't know about it though until it was too late. The mistake I made was when I was having problems, I picked up an SSD and swapped that into the MacBook in an attempt to speed up boot (the MacBook was crashing so it was less annoying when it booted back up instantly). But because I'd cracked open the case and replaced the hard drive I had voided any warranty claims.

    I'm still using an Early 2008 24-inch iMac. It's been looked after extremely well, unlike Adam's battered macbook. I've maxed out the RAM, put in a 1TB HDD and even gave the internals a good clean because the CPU fan and CPU+GPU heatsinks had dust blockages. Ran whisper quiet again. I still need to put in an SSD though. Maybe a Samsung 850 evo 500GB. I was going for the SanDisk Ultra II 480GB but I've read reviews on Amazon of users having issues with that particularly capacity.

    You can upgrade the Hard drive to an SSD, replace the battery from apple and it's like a new computer!

    Just be sure if it's the model with the temperature sensor on the HD to follow a step by step guide or it will shutdown every hour or so because it thinks it's overheating.

    Could probably wipe the cobwebs off while you're upgrading it.

    Yup, I too would still be using my old white 2008 MacBook had it not been nicked.

    Also, maybe someone could tell Phil that people who judge others based on the newness of their computers are the saddest dorks of all? Or is that just part of Apple's "planned obsolescence" business model?

    I still use a Macbook 3,1 (second last of the white ones) as my work computer. I run windows 10 on it now since Apple stopped supporting it at osx 10.7. It runs fantastic except for the scrolling on the track pad not working. Still years of life in it yet as fast as I'm concerned.

    Pretty stupid to say it's sad to have a PC over 5 years old. I think it's much sadder to fall for this consumer bs programming that makes us believe we have to have the latest. My 13 inch MBP is a 2011 with barely a scratch, 8 GB ram, i5 cpu and a Samsung ssd. Boots everything I use it for in an instance, still get about 4 hours off a charge. Can't see me needing to upgrade for another few years yet.

    Last edited 28/03/16 5:57 pm

      Yeap totally agree. 2011 MacBook Air for me and still runs perfectly fine.
      Does everything I need it to do. Still a damn fine and fast machine.

        I said goodbye to my '11 Air recently. Poor thing lost consciousness couldn't be revived. Power surge is the most likely cause. Old wiring in the house. Anyway she's gone to computer heaven and the new girl has moved in - a 2015 MacBook Pro. Craps all over the old machine.

          Yeah just bought the wife a new MacBook Pro and I have to say I am a little envious.
          If we do end up going ahead with a BYOD policy at work I think I would upgrade to the MBP.

          Last edited 29/03/16 9:52 pm

            One of the advantages of being self employed - I can get any device I want :)

              Hahah you suck. :P
              Man the SOE build at work kills me.
              I lose so much time battling with it.

          I guess it depends what you do with it. Other than a nicer display nothing I use has any lag to load so whenever I've checked them out in the Apple Store there's been no reason to upgrade. If anything if I wanted to upgrade I'd sell mine for 4-500 on gumtree and pick up one a couple of years old and only spend a few hundred on the upgrade.

            The display is the biggest appeal. I use my machine for work and play and the difference from an Air is quite significant. Much more pleasant especially for spreadsheets and reading long text documents.

            If Apple made a HiDPI Air then I would have bought that. The MacBook was a consideration but it is only 12" and I couldn't go for something with so few ports.

            Last edited 30/03/16 8:00 am

    We're still using a 2006 Core2duo MacBook (unibody plastic black) as a TV server. Maxed out the RAM and placed an SSD in there, and she's still good.

    To Phil's credit though, he did mention 'PCs', which might rule out old Macs?

    I think the SSD is literally the only part I can replace in my current ultrabook. Not because everything is soldered in, but the bastards at Lenovo have an approved hardware list in the BIOS. Unapproved? Wont post. Had to wait 8 months for Intel to fix the drivers on a god awful wireless network card rather than just swap it out for one that had no issues for $40 because the superior card wasn't on the approved list.

    Nothing is improvable these days, and repairability is following out the window.

    It's almost been a complete moot point to upgrade computer components past 2010 if you already had a decent capacity of RAM and an SSD. In fact, the only things that have really improved recently have been LCDs, IO, GPUs and maybe PCIE SSDs. If you bought a quad core Razer Blade with Thunderbolt 3 then I could see running that device for over a decade. Really the only thing that pushes me to upgrade laptops is GPU performance.

    I also have one of these 2008 Unibody MacBooks and if it wasn't for an odd charging bug that's either the battery or PSU and piss poor battery life, it'd likely be my laptop to this day. Right now I'm using a Surface Pro 4 and RDP into my PC for prosumer work. My next device will almost certainly be a 12" x86 tablet with TB3. External PCI devices will fill any needs I have for performance and I don't see CPU performance having any big jumps past 2017 bar Graphene chips or the replacement of electrons.

    I have a Macbook from the same era, the unibody aluminium Macbook, before they came with the "Pro" suffix.

    I too, have maxed out the ram, installed an SSD, and have now also replaced the battery. Running El Capitan now.

    I tell you what, it's a piece of shit.

    Things just don't work properly. Things that you would expect to just work, don't. I'm not entirely convinced it's a hardware problem, I think a lot of it has to do with how finicky OSX is, but my god the hardware isn't helping much. I'm trying to use it as a computer to play some music off in my garage, but it's hopeless at that, it almost all out refuses to play music off my shared drive, and when it does think it feels like connecting, it'll drop out next time you start up the computer again... But that doesn't really matter, because once you start playing music, the fan gets so loud, there's no point in having the music going anyway.

    So, what should be a very simple task for a low end computer, it can't handle.

      Funny, I have that exact same MacBook (unibody aluminium, 2008, not Pro, model A1278) and OS X El Capitan works just fine on it!

      Mine has a Samsung 840 EVO and 4GB of RAM, plus a new battery. It works fine on OS X El Capitan. Fast even. I've also got Ubuntu Linux which works fast too.

      What guides did you follow (if any) to upgrade it? Are all of the RAM sticks the same? Is the SSD old? Did you install TRIM Enabler? Where did you buy the parts?

      I followed these guides:

        No, I doubt the RAM is the same, and yes the SSD is old. No, I'm not going to replace them. It should work fine, my desktop with an even older SSD works great. Never even heard of TRIM enabler, let alone installed it (shouldn't that be in OSX???).

    I loved my macbook, had used it all the way through school and was using it uni, but it had really started to slow down. I was considering upgrading to an SSD an had already upgraded the ram, because it was a good little laptop. But then it caught fire while I was using it. It was never quite the same after that.

    Computers older than 5 years aren't necessarily sad, but that one is. $20 for a replacement glass and a hairdryer to completely remove the damaged piece are all that's needed to make it indistinguishable from a machine purchased in 2013. Show a little bit of pride at least!

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