Ask LH: Is It Worth Upgrading An Old MacBook Pro?

Hi Lifehacker, I have an early 2011 15″ MacBook Pro which is just about to hit its three-year anniversary. I have been thinking about upgrading it with a 500GB SSD, which will cost me about $380. I’m just not sure if it’s worth the investment, or if I’d be better off selling it on eBay and putting that money plus the $380 towards a new Retina 13″ MacBook Pro. Any thoughts? Thanks, SSD Switcher

Dear SSDS,

It’s usually recommended that a laptop be replaced every three or four years — if only to ensure it can keep up with the latest software applications. When you add expired warranties and general wear-and-tear to the mix, the recommendation definitely makes sense.

If you’ve got the cash, I’d go down the replacement route: this avoids reliability issues, saves you time and hassle and comes with that special feeling shiny new tech gives you (the Retina display really is something special).

That said, the model you want will set you back at least $1599 which is significantly more than a 500GB SSD. Selling your old MacBook will help to offset some of the cost, although the amount of money you make will obviously depend on its condition and specifications.

We’ve seen used 2011 MacBook Pros sell on eBay for anywhere between $400 and $1300, depending on the model. Take a look at sold/ended listings to get an idea of what your specific model might be worth.

You also need to consider the downgrade in screen size: two inches might not seem like much but it can make a big difference if you regularly use lots of fiddly applications at once. You might want to have a play around with one in store to make sure it fits your productivity style.

Well, that’s our two cents. If you’d prefer to keep your money in the bank and decide to do an SSD install, be sure to check our complete guide to solid strate drives. Good luck!

If any Mac owners have additional advice for SSD Switcher, fire away in the comments section below.


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