My MacBook Pro is of early 2008 vintage. The general construction is solid and I found it to be fine as a general purpose laptop with one gripe — it was slooow. The login process could take minutes. Some years ago I upgraded the RAM to the maximum of 4 GiB which helped. However successive OS upgrades had led to more and more soupiness.
Last week I replaced the disk with an SSD and the transformation has been dramatic. It is now as responsive as the other computing devices I use.
I have always been inclined to make do and mend rather than buy this years model all the time. The technology of the case, keyboard, battery/power and display have not moved on that much over the years, except for retina which I class as nice to have rather than essential. CPUs have got faster but I only see that as an occasional bottleneck when I transcode audio. Here are the main things I've done to keep the MacBook going.
The RAM was upgraded to 4 GiB from its original 2 GiB, cost £24. That is the maximum
for my model.
In 2013 I paid for the DVD to upgrade to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, £12. That is the only OS upgrade which Apple have charged for and I am now on 10.11.4 El Capitan. It is only with Windows 10 that Microsoft are undertaking to do free upgrades.
Last year my video started to fail. This was a known problem
which Apple would have fixed in an extension to the warranty but only till 2012. So I fixed it myself in one of my more daunting electronics repairs. I removed the circuit board and baked it in the oven for 7½ minutes
. It’s been fine since.
One application I would heartily recommend is Macs Fan Control
from CrystalIdea. It avoids running the fans flat out all the time. Another useful link for older Macs is https://github.com/upekkha/AppleHardwareTest
. Current Macs can boot into diagnostics but on older ones you are meant to have the original DVD. Mine was missing because I had bought it from a former employer. I was able to run AHT to confirm my video problem.
I bought a Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500 GB for £100 on eBay (new, 250 GB would have been adequate). Then another £10 for an adapter to mount it externally while I copied the contents of the old 200 GB HDD. That was all quite easy using SuperDuper
as described in a CNET article