Buy an M1? buy a refurb? refurb the macbookpro i have?

I was going to call Leo on the “tech guy” show, but thought it would be easier to ask here.
I have an early 2011 macbookpro that I use for my ecommerce biz, and email, and just cruising the web. Its a little slower these days with certain functions, but o/w fine. 2.7 Ghz core i7, 1TB storage, spinning drive. The battery has 1700 cycles, and still going strong, LOL.
I love this machine cause it has 6 different ports (I hate port hubs) magsafe charging, and the disk drive (no laughing, i still need it occasionally. I still like to be able to travel with a laptop that has everything i need…no extra dongles, external drives, etc., needed
NOW… question is… Should i…

Option #1…Get the battery replaced, and a 500 gig SSD installed on this machine?
how much more life can i reasonably expect from this computer if I do that.
The only other down side of this machine is that it runs sierra, cant g to catalina. But so far, hasnt been a problem

Option #2…Get a refurbed late 2014/early 2015 13" macbookpro that still has most of what I want, & runs catalina. The big down side is that with 16GB ram, 500 gig SSD, intel i7 quad core…the cost is still $1000 + from a reputable refurb place, like OWC. Dont want later than early 2015, cause dont want the butterfly keyboard.

Option #3…If im going to spend over $1000…shoudl i just wait till like the spring or something, and get a macbookpro M1. Im still concerned about compatability issues, and i hate that it only has 2 thunderbolt ports.

IDK why apple is so concerned about how thin the laptop is. My 13’ 2011 macbookpro is thin enough. If u get too thin, then being too fragile becomes an issue, as far as im concerned.

Im asking here, cause Im pretty sure Leo will say get an M1.


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Not an Apple fan, so ignore me, but I would vote for option#1 (because it keeps it out of the landfill longer) IF you can withstand the fact that you can’t run the latest OS. OS issues aside, that should give you another 5 years from the hardware I’d wager.


I have to agree with PHolder. Aside from that, I would almost recommend that if the future roadmap of Apple Silicon models has become no less murky by Spring you try to eke out long enough on your current machine to better gauge the value and/or wisdom of jumping to M1 or perhaps a more fully equipped model that hasn’t been revealed yet. Option #2 in your list seems painfully unappealing with the tantalizing possibilities of further Apple Silicon models in the near-ish future (who knows, maybe the M1 MBP will be relegated to the refurb program sooner rather than later, in which case you could save a bit even through Apple’s own Certified Refurbished program (I got my iPad Pro 10.5” (2017) that way)).

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If the machine is still fast enough, I’d go for option 1. I’m a big fan of repurposing and upgrading machines. Having said that, I do have a M1 Mac Mini - that’s the geek part of me wanting the new stuff, but I also have my Windows tower, and a 2006 Mac Mini running Ubuntu Linux that I use as a server.

If you’re not a fan of port hubs/dongles/etc then Apple might not be the team for you going forward :grin:

I’ll agree with the others that sticking with your current system is probably your best bet. Making the jump to a solid state boot disk will make all the difference.

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Option1 will comfortably extend and improve the life of the machine you’re already happy with— and for a relatively small investment compared to buying another MacBook. :+1:t3:

Option 1 is a very viable option. Also if you are wanting to use Catalina, Dosdude1 makes an excellent patcher. I have a Mid-2009 Macbook Pro that I have running Catalina thinks to Dosdude1. Runs great and is only 4gb of Ram. I’m looking at updating to a newer mac here soon myself and I’m thinking the latest Intel Macbook Pro or go in on the M1.

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Also to be fair, I’m cycling my current mac down to my mother as it still is running strong.

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If the battery is still running fine, I’d just replace the hard drive with an SSD. That will make the most difference and you can get a good 500GB SSD for under $100 these days

That will keep you going for a while. The current M1 Macs are the entry level ones an equivalent to what you have won’t be released until some time next year.

With a refurb at over $1000, I’d look at new.

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It seems something’s been left out of the discussion. I would tend to go with the consensus here, and upgrade your existing Mac. However, it’s uncertain how long macOS 10.13 High Sierra will be supported. I hope you meant you’re running High Sierra; plain Sierra hasn’t been supported in more than a year.

I do not recommend running a version of macOS that isn’t receiving security updates (unless you really know what you’re doing, or don’t use the interent). High Sierra got an update on 12 Nov (along with Mojave, and Catalina on 5 Nov.). After buying that new SSD and battery, you will probably be looking at Sep 2021 as the end of support for High Sierra.

Opt #2: I’ve had good success buying/selling on the site No warranty, but less expensive.

Opt #3: If the current M1 MBA/MBP sounds good, there’s no point in waiting until spring. 2021 will see new “Pro” MacBook Pros - with 2 Thunderbolt channels (4 ports) in TBD display sizes. They will have different Apple Silicon and cost perhaps $600-1000 more at each configuration. When this will happen is unknown. Between March and August is my guess. Don’t under-estimate the difference with Big Sur/M1: check your software and peripherals for compatibility.

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Thanks for this info.
Next Question…how do I find out what years of MacBook Pro’s has what ports? I know the mid 2012 has everything I want…8 ports, the internal CD drive, magsafe charger, the old (not butterfly) keyboard and it runs catalina.
How do i find out if the 2013 and 2014 models have this? I know that they went to the butterfly keyboard in 2015, but IDK if it was early, mid or late.
Ive ruled out the M1, as I dont care how light and thin my machine is. The 2011-2015 model are just fine for me. Just 2 thunderbolt ports, and the compatibility issues are a dealbreaker for me.

I need a seller with a warrantee, Anyone know if any of the amazon sellers are reputable? Biggest problem I have w Amazon or best buy or anyone selling for someone else…is getting useful specs. When is see something that says “Mfgr…Apple”, i cant help but think that this is some idiot who doesnt know what they are selling. I know they are just filling in the boxes on a form…but all the relevant spec info is missing. Like year of mfgr., Keyboard type, ports. If they arent smart enough to know that this is relevant info, then im not sure I should buy from them. OWC’s 2012-2014 refurb stuff has been expensive and has just flown off the shelf. I want to ask Leo, who has said that all intel macbook pros are just going to plummet in price, why the old macbook pro’s are more expensive now than they were 6 months ago?

I would only buy refurbed apple from Apple.


My preferred method of finding the port configuration for different Macbook products is to is to Google as follows:
“macbook pro (specific model) specs”
This usually results in a link to the page with the specs for that model, and you will find the port configuration listed there.
The following link will get you to an Apple page with links to MBP specs:

A warning about “specific model”. Apple has a habit of naming their models not only by year, but period of year. So some. models are “Late 2011” or “Early 2012”. It does make a difference. Last week a community participant asked a question about a 2011 Macbook Air that he was connecting an external monitor to with the Mini Display Port (MDP). Turns out the “Mid 2011” MBA had a Thunderbolt port. The “Late 2010” MBA had the MDP. The actual model is listed in the “About This Mac” display found under the apple in the top left corner of the menu bar. More detailed model information is found by clicking the “System Report” on the “About This Mac” display. If you decide to buy a refurbished Mac, be sure to find out the specific model number.

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FWIW…Ive bought 2 macbook pros from an Apple super store (no longer in business) They were independent stores selling apple products. IDK if the refurbs they sold were apple refurbed, or they refurbed them.
Also 2 macbook pros from OWC, and they have been flawless so far. The 2011 & 2012 machines that I bought in 2015/2017, were cheaper then than they cost for the same machine refurbed today.

As for the apple refurbed machines…they are all 2019 and 2020, with the butterfly keyboard, with only 2 ports mostly, and still priced close to, and higher than an M1 machine. I dont get it.

Other World Computing is an independent Mac shop that has been around forever. is great for just this sort of thing.

I think they’ve finally run out of the 2015 and earlier MacBook Pros on the Apple refurb store. Haven’t seen any for a while now.

Next Question…how do I find out what years of MacBook Pro’s has what ports? I know the mid 2012 has everything I want…8 ports, the internal CD drive, magsafe charger, the old (not butterfly) keyboard and it runs catalina.
How do i find out if the 2013 and 2014 models have this? I know that they went to the butterfly keyboard in 2015, but IDK if it was early, mid or late.

The last 13" MBP with a CD drive was the 2012 I think. I have an old USB SuperDrive in the drawer but haven’t used it for years.

There are a few sites that list all the specs together.

Even I have an Early 2011 MacBook Pro 13 inch. Its running High Sierra since it was not eligible for upgrade for Mojave (a number of reasons, but that’s another geeky discussion). However it got security updates right up to June 2020. Typically Apple provides security upgrades for 3 years AFTER a machine runs an OS where the OS has not got an upgrade for 3 years…which means 2020 end is probably the last year of official Apple upgrades.

I have other machines, but I am still keeping this for another year for a couple of reasons.

  1. I suspect it will get some security upgrades for a couple of more months. I am OK without any new feature updates. as long as it works (which is should)
  2. I had upgraded the RAM to 16 GB a long time ago…if you have not , you should do it asap. It makes a lot of difference to how the computer performs
  3. I have upgraded the spinning hard disk to a 2.5 inch SSD 1 TB. 2.5 inch SSDs are not expensive and there are often sales going on . Both (2) and (3) are fairly trivial upgrades to make and you can do it yourself. However, if you are not from the “upgrade-yourself” cohort, just buy the parts off Amazon and carry it to any good local Apple repair shop and they should be able to do it themselves. The RAM should cost you around $50 and the SSD around $80. And while they are at it, ask them to clean out the machine

With (2) and (3) and the $130 of investment, you should be good for another couple of years in the same machine.

I will NOT recommend another Intel Mac, refurbished or otherwise. In another 2 years time, you should get refurbished 13 inch M1 MacBook Pros for $700-800- which should last you another 6-7 years. At that point, you can turn your current laptop into a Chromebook ( ) or an Unix Machine ( ) depending on what you prefer…

Hope this helped…I am following the same path.

The only issue is, this ignores the requirement around connectivity. But if you’re sticking with Apple you don’t have much choice, unfortunately.