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Buying a used Macbook Pro 2012 in 2020
Old 22nd June 2020
  #1
Gear Head
 

Buying a used Macbook Pro 2012 in 2020

Hey Gearslutz,

i'm thinking of picking up a used Macbook Pro 2012 (non retina) in 15inch and an i7 processor for light music production. They usually go for about 500 bucks these days in my local area and power-wise i think they are more than capable for what i intend to do on one of these.

But it's still an eight year old machine. I'm no stranger to repairng certain things (fixed up my imac 2011 several times and resurrected it from near-death) but i'm still unsure whether this is a good investment or not.

The reason i picked the 2012 non retina model is, that it's the last Macbook Pro Model that it's easily upgradeble (RAM, HDD/SSD and most of all the battery).
I guess my question would be if you think it's wise to invest in such an old machine. Maybe some of you use one of those and can tell me, how prone they are to die nowadays or how many years (if any) i can realistically get out of one, if it's in fairly good condition.

Are there good alternatives (no windows devices, since i'm heavily invested in logic and just can't stand win10) to the macbook i picked?

Let me know if you think you can get me some perspective on that.

Thank you and cheers!
Old 23rd June 2020
  #2
Gear Addict
 

I think I have the same model at work (which I have been locked out of since March), 2012 i7, 15 inch, which I mainly use for tracking live concerts from Mackie Onyx firewire mixers and Behringer X32 mixers (over USB) using Reaper.

It has worked fine to this day but I will note:

-Yes, it's old. I do not connect it to the internet since I left it running Sierra (IIRC) so the Mackies would continue to work. I would not pay too much.

-Nice if you need Firewire and an optical drive.

-USB 2 only

-needs an SSD installed to work well

-this model I think has a serial number range recall for a bad graphics chip.

-My battery went bad last year, failed to hold a charge, then started expanding, bending some of the case before I noticed and opened it up. I bought a Newertech replacement.
Old 23rd June 2020
  #3
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimSmo View Post
....

The reason i picked the 2012 non retina model is, that it's the last Macbook Pro Model that it's easily upgradeble (RAM, HDD/SSD and most of all the battery).
I guess my question would be if you think it's wise to invest in such an old machine. ...
I bought a 2012 MacBook Pro in January 2020 to replace the 2011 MacBook Pro that I'd used every day since the late summer of 2011. At least you're not alone. I bought it through Amazon because the seller offered a 90-day replacement/refund warranty. Those are much better terms than Craigslist.
Old 23rd June 2020
  #4
Lives for gear
 
depulse's Avatar
I recently bought a 2012 i7, changed the battery, maxed out the RAM, added a 2 TB SSD and replaced the trackpad and the machine is like new. I’m running Catalina on it and can do full mixes on it and until now it has no problems handling the tasks I throw at it. I was about to invest substantially more on the new 16” Macbook, but reading about the noice problems changed my mind. The 2012 is quiet and costed in total 1/5 of what a similar 2020 model would have cost.
Old 23rd June 2020
  #5
Gear Head
 

Hey, thank you all for your input. All very good and valid points.

I didn't know about the serial number range with potential bad graphics chips, that is really good to know and something i will look into. Besides that, yeah just the fact that you CAN replace the battery, ram and ssd on the 2012 model makes this probably a safer bet than newer models.

Still i don't really know what the average lifespan of other components might be. It just would be a shame to invest 500 bucks now just to realize that the logic board fails in like 6-12 months from now. Sure you can't say that with any kind of certainty but maybe there is some rule of thumb on how long macbooks of that time usually last.

The irony is that i'm typing this on a even older macbook from 2008 which i only use for office stuff. Still works great and i usually don't tend to go easy on those things (survived my university years and a lot of traveling).

I guess if i could get another three maybe four years out of a 2012 macbook pro it seems worth it to me. Do you think that's feasible?

Thank you again!
Old 23rd June 2020
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Calagan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GLouie View Post
I think I have the same model at work (which I have been locked out of since March), 2012 i7, 15 inch, which I mainly use for tracking live concerts from Mackie Onyx firewire mixers and Behringer X32 mixers (over USB) using Reaper.

It has worked fine to this day but I will note:

-Yes, it's old. I do not connect it to the internet since I left it running Sierra (IIRC) so the Mackies would continue to work. I would not pay too much.

-Nice if you need Firewire and an optical drive.

-USB 2 only

-needs an SSD installed to work well

-this model I think has a serial number range recall for a bad graphics chip.

-My battery went bad last year, failed to hold a charge, then started expanding, bending some of the case before I noticed and opened it up. I bought a Newertech replacement.

- macbook mid-2012 are USB 3
- the 2011 versions have a very problematic graphic chip issue, but there is no such issue with the 2012 ones.
- I don't have any problem with my battery on mine.

I'm using each day since 6 years a mid-2012 15" macbook pro, i7 2,3Ghz, for mixing and playing soft synths live, mostly on Ableton Live.
It's been subject to a very intensive and daily use since I bought it.
When I'm mixing heavy sets (40-50 tracks, soft synths, plenty of plugins), I can feel the old CPU, but it's a good machine and I never had any big issue in 6 years of intensive use (and I bought it refurbished).

Go for it. Specially for 500$ (but you will need to buy an SSD)
Old 23rd June 2020
  #7
Gear Addict
 

I might have a late 2011 (USB2), but I haven't been able to get to the office since March.

One more advantage is that these have optical digital audio I/O in the mini-jacks. I've done multitrack recordings from an X32 (USB and Reaper), done a Reaper mix with a stereo out through the optical and recorded the 2 track live mix thru an optical-to-AES converter to a Sound Devices 722. It works fine, although there may be simpler ways to do this.
Old 24th June 2020
  #8
Gear Head
 

Thank you all very much for giving me some perspective on this. I'm gonna wait for a decent offer in my area then and see how much mileage i can get out of one of those 2012 macbook pros.

you all have a good one!
Old 24th June 2020
  #9
Lives for gear
 

I use that exact model every day to mix. I do hit cpu limits sometimes, but try to let my apollo x8 take some of the workload. And I got console 1 last week- since then, my plugin count has gone down significantly.

I have 2 1tb ssd’s in mine (replaced the dvd drive) and 16gb ram and it works great. I dread buying a new mac. I like that I can fix this one if needed. I broke my 2012 that I had bought used a few years ago last November when a spark blew out the graphics card (my fault), and replaced it with the same model, so that should let you know how I feel about it.
Old 26th June 2020
  #10
Gear Guru
I had an old MacBook Pro and wonderful but not very powerful the cable inside fried and I can still use the cpu externally.

Honestly decided to switch to an Asus Tuff 506, and for a little over $1k have a machine that can run lots of plugins without breaking a sweat.... pc and Mac aren’t that steep of a learning curve fwiw....wasn’t going to buy a refurbished Mac for half the money with half the performance (or less).
Old 26th June 2020
  #11
Gear Guru
I had an old MacBook Pro and wonderful but not very powerful the cable inside fried and I can still use the cpu externally.

Honestly decided to switch to an Asus Tuff 506, and for a little over $1k have a machine that can run lots of plugins without breaking a sweat.... pc and Mac aren’t that steep of a learning curve fwiw....wasn’t going to buy a refurbished Mac for half the money with half the performance (or less).
Old 26th June 2020
  #12
Lives for gear
 
uOpt's Avatar
I still use a 2012 13" macbook pro.

The thing that bothers me the most is that it cannot drive external 4k screens. 2560x1600 is the maximum.

Obviously you don't get 4-core CPUs. 16 GB RAM is still very good. I should upgrade the SSD.

It's a great workhorse with a good keyboard, but they announced this week that OSX 11.x will not have support for it. I am not sure how long into the future we will get security fixes.
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