Author Topic: Should I upgrade or replace my 2011 MacBook Pro?  (Read 548 times)


  • Bristles
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Should I upgrade or replace my 2011 MacBook Pro?
« on: February 25, 2020, 08:53:30 PM »
Hoping some computer folks can help me out.  Computers just aren't my forte.

My MacBook Pro has been running super slow which is the main problem.

Secondary problems are the battery doesn't keep a charge long (but I almost always have it plugged in). The mousepad doesn't recognize a two-fingered click (but I can use a real mouse) and the screen has a crack in it (cosmetic but annoying) from the time I left it on the floor and stepped on it in the middle of the night (still mad about that).  I fear it is on its last legs.  It had a good run and has given me 8 years of solid service, far more than any PC ever had (although I still prefer my work computer for Windows - I can never find stuff on my mac).

Anyway, I either need to invest in upgrades or replace it completely.  I'm not sure if upgrades would be worth it.  Every internet search I did for upgrading a 2011 MacBook came back with articles that were a few years old, so perhaps it is past its useful life.

When I click on "About this mac" it says:

OS X El Capitan
Version 10.11.6
MacBook Pro 13", Late 2011
Processor 2.4 GHz intel Core i5
Memory 4GB 1333 MHz DDR3
Startup Disk Macintosh HD
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000 384 MB

I use it mostly for internet research and writing in Word.  No gaming or video editing.

Can anyone suggest if I should upgrade this? If so, what upgrades should I be looking at?   Or is it time to bid it goodbye and get new?

Thank you!

« Last Edit: February 25, 2020, 09:31:04 PM by red_pill »


  • Stubble
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace my 2011 MacBook Pro?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2020, 09:08:06 PM »
I used a PC with only 4gb of RAM up until very recently- and it was ok. The one single upgrade for a laptop that is VERY worth it is an SSD- physical hard drives are slow, unreliable, and get worse with age. An SSD would make the machine faster than new!

However.... 8 years is OLD for a laptop. If it were in perfect repair but old, it could make sense to upgrade- or you could buy a much nicer and newer starting point with a good screen, good touchpad, etc. The price difference would likely be minimal, or even save you money. I would personally recommend a 2015 macbook pro. The 2015 was the last year before they brought out the crazy thin keyboard that broke all the time, removed a bunch of ports, etc. Mac people I know LOVE the 2015 macbook line. I would then look for one with a decent battery according to the seller, at a good price point. It would probably be cheapest to get a 4gb RAM model with a hard drive- then, upgrade the ram if you want, certainly put in an SSD, and... enjoy the laptop. The 2015 models had non retina and retina versions- a low and high res screen. However, I think it MAY be the case that the retina models are thinner and with better battery life due to a chipset upgrade- but that is from shaky memory. You are somewhat OK with your old 2011, so getting a good condition pre-retina 2015 might just be fine for you. (They are cheaper, and I am mostly suggesting upgrading because you would have to buy too many parts to properly restore your old one, not that it cannot do what you need. That, and a newer model will give you more years of OSX upgrades)

I personally use linux/windows, and don't own a mac, so do your research, but I seriously considered buying a 2015 macbook and upgrading it before I found a great deal on my current thinkpad. Price out buying a ready to go 2015 model in comparison to buying a low end one and upgrading it- it may be worth it.


  • Bristles
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace my 2011 MacBook Pro?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2020, 09:34:11 PM »
Thank you very much.  I actually greatly prefer my windows laptop at work but they just donít last as long as the Mac did.  But from what you said, if I bought a new Mac it might not last any longer than a new pc laptop either.  I will also look into a refurbished 2015 which I have seen advertised.

Would love to hear any other suggestions!


  • Bristles
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace my 2011 MacBook Pro?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2020, 09:38:11 PM »
I have a 10+ year old MacBook. 

I've done the upgrades.  As @innkeeper77 says, the best bang for the buck is to upgrade the SDD.  Then upgrade the RAM.

The situation you're describing with the trackpad indicates that the battery is swelling.  That will eventually damage something, you'll have to get it replaced.

A WAG, but it might be around $200 for the parts if you bargin hunt and do the work yourself.

Don't do any banking on it.  That OS isn't getting security updates.  I'd install linux on it, but you'll have to be good at googling things if something goes wrong.

My suggestion to people in your predicament is usually to get a midlevel Chromebook.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace my 2011 MacBook Pro?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2020, 02:06:13 AM »
Typing this from a similar Macbook. I'm rather fond of it.

OS X Yosemite
Version 10.10.5
Macbook Pro (13-inch, Early 2011)
Processor 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5
Memory 4 GB 1333 MHz DDR3
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000 384 MB

It says to replace the battery soon (cycle count 1177). Doesn't really specify how long it has left but it's been giving me that warning for well over a year now. Trackpad is working fine so I don't seem to have the same issue as you.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace my 2011 MacBook Pro?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2020, 05:23:44 AM »
Similar situation here, with a MacBook Air 2011. It won't upgrade past High Sierra, and Netflix can't connect to it anymore. I am waiting for the 2020s to come out to see if I like them or not...I am worried about the keyboard issues post-2015, as I write from home, and use Word for Mac heavily. I would also like USB ports instead of those USB-C things that need dongles...may just end up getting a Windows system again...not sure yet.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace my 2011 MacBook Pro?
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2020, 06:28:16 AM »
My last MacBook lasted 10+ years. If you are just poking around the internet and writing on it, you don't need the latest bells and whistles.

I did replace that one with a MacBook Air, which is cheaper than a Pro, and does everything I need (which is poking around the internet and writing.)

I would, personally, be diligent about backing stuff up, and wait for it to shuffle off to the great recycling bin in the sky...


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Should I upgrade or replace my 2011 MacBook Pro?
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2020, 10:36:10 AM »
Yeah, I am in a similar place with my c.2011 MacBook Air.  It is now so old that I can no longer upgrade the OS, it will no longer function with the new version of the software my office uses for remote access, and -- the killer -- Word keeps crashing and eating my documents (I will hit "save," but the little popup box is blank, and so I can't click on anything and have no choice but to Force Quit and lose everything since the last save). 

Still, it kills me, because I use it only for travel (or for sitting in my comfy recliner instead of at the desk), so it seems silly to replace the computer for those few weeks a year when I actually need it.  But the Word issue is the stake in my little heart, because it makes no sense to lose an hour of billable time* having to re-create stuff.

*Taken from my last flight.  Partially the time of having to recreate a paragraph or sentence between saves.  But mostly because of time involved in quitting/restarting Word and recovering/resaving documents.  I finally stopped halfway through because I was getting worried that at some point it just wouldn't recover the document at all and I'd lose everything.