My 100th Post & Sally's New Computer

What better way to celebrate my 100th post (that’s 100 posts in the two years since I switched to WordPress ~ 4 posts a month) than to announce the purchase of Sally’s new computer, an “Early 2011″ 13″ MacBook Pro! It took a lot of convincing but I finally wore her down with specs, comparisons, and financial analyses until she gave up and told me to just buy the damn thing. She will be replacing a 13” White MacBook which has begun to become long in the tooth.

Back in 2006 Sally needed  a laptop to use at SNHU. Apple had started migrating over to Intel and I convinced her to switch to a Mac because it would make her life easier and she’d be able to run Windows if she needed it for school. Apple had just released the newly designed Intel MacBook to replace the PowerPC iBook as its consumer laptop. It featured a 13″ widescreen glossy display, a 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo two core CPU, 512 MB memory, a 60 GB hard drive, and a Combo CD-RW / DVD drive. It was a great machine when we bought it, but I did something the I told myself I’d never do – I bought a first run Apple product.

Unfortunately there tend to be issues with the first runs of Apple’s newly designed products. There are kinks that need to be worked out and it’s usually best to wait a couple of months. We didn’t. We bought Sally’s MacBook a couple of days after it was available in stores. It worked fine for a while, but over time issues began to appear. The palm rests yellowed and became dingy, the trackpad button stopped clicking all the way, the case chipped and creaked, the screen developed pressure spots, and CDs had trouble ejecting. As the years wore on the MacBook felt slower and slower despite a hard drive upgrade to 320 GB, a memory upgrade to the max 2 GB, and repeated OS reinstalls, cleanings, and optimizations. By mid-last year the AirPort wireless had stopped working and we had to buy a USB dongle. Her MacBook still has issues with wireless and internet connectivity. In addition, it can’t run anything beyond Mac OS 10.6, which was obsoleted this summer. Six years is a phenomenal amount of use to get out of a laptop, but it’s time to upgrade.

We considered getting a MacBook Air due to its small size, light weight, and the current model’s strong performance but ultimately gave up on it due to the small 64 GB SSD and low maximum memory ceiling of 4 GB for the model that was within our budget. Sally didn’t want another plastic MacBook (which was good, since Apple just discontinued it) – she wanted something strong that would last a long time : a 13″ MacBook Pro fit the bill. We looked on eBay for older 2008 models (the same specs as my MacBook Pro, which still runs great) but the prices were between $600 and $800 for something that was four years old. After a chance browsing of the MacMall website, I came across an excellent deal. They were selling the previous generation 13″ MacBook Pro, new in box, for a 20% discount. This was the one.

The MacBook Pro is the top-end configuration of the “Early 2011” model, which includes a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, 4 GB memory, a 500 GB hard drive, Thunderbolt, a DVD-burning SuperDrive, and Mac OS 10.7 Lion.  It’s 13 months old but it is new, unopened, and carries a full 1 year Apple warranty.  It is stock that was never sold that is now available for a 20% discount. At $1,219, it is about 15% faster than the current entry level MacBook but costs only $20 more. Everything else is the same – hard drive, memory, graphics, screen, optical drive, case.  It includes enhanced AirPort antennas which provide better wireless performance, an SDXC card so Sally can put her pictures on it without an adapter, a backlit keyboard for working in low light, and a maximum of 16 GB of memory. From a performance perspective, it benchmarks at almost three times faster than her outgoing MacBook and twice as fast as my MacBook Pro. It should provide her with at least another six years of internet browsing and OS compatibility and it’s been a long time coming.

As for her MacBook, it will become my new web server. While it isn’t great for web browsing, it will be just fine for web serving. It is about 3x faster than my current PowerBook G4 running Mac OS 10.4 and can hold twice the memory which should make my website a bit quicker. The MacBook Pro should be here by mid week, along with a free (as in after rebate) copy of Parallels 7 for running Windows on your Mac. It may be a year old, but its still new and is actually faster than what we could get from Apple for the same price. Not a bad deal.

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