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upgrade Macbook Pro 2019

Should You Upgrade a MacBook Pro in 2019?

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Exactly one year ago, I updated my Mid-2012 MacBook Pro with an SSD. In this article, I want to share my thoughts on whether upgrading your old Mac is worth your time, or if you should buy a new MacBook Pro.

Let’s dive into it!

Should You Upgrade Your MacBook Pro

There are a ton of different perspectives as to whether or not you should upgrade your MacBook Pro, so in this section, I’m going to outline some of the things you’ll want to consider before making your decision.

At the end of this section, I’ll give you my answer along with some updates to the upgrade I made one year ago.

What condition is your MacBook in?

If you cringe at this question, skip on. However, if you can confidently say that it’s in good to great condition, then upgrading your MacBook Pro is definitely on the table.

broken macbook pro upgrade
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However, if your Mac has seen better days (maybe dropped or dented a bunch), then it might be better to just buy a new one.

It’s a Love-Hate Relationship

If you genuinely like using your Mac, then why wouldn’t you want to keep it? If your computer is enjoyable overall but is running a little slow, an upgrade might be all it needs to become a powerhouse again.

Budget is often the Deciding Factor

A new MacBook Pro (Check price on Amazon) will cost you anywhere from $1,000-$3,000. Whereas an upgrade might only cost you $250 and an afternoon of your time. If you’re a bit handy and want to save some money, upgrading your Mac with an SSD and some RAM is a great option.

gaming computer running windows
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Lastly, what do you use your Mac for? If you’re into gaming, 4K video editing, or processing-intensive activities, then buying a new Mac (or even a more powerful computer) might be a more realistic upgrade than upgrading your existing MacBook Pro. My Mid-2012 Mac doesn’t natively support 4K graphics, so if you want to edit video in 4K, buying a new computer makes more sense.

Would I recommend upgrading your 2012 MacBook Pro in 2019?

After one year of taking apart my Mid-2012 MacBook Pro and using it as my daily driver 99% of the time, I can confidently say it was the best decision I’ve made.

As I’m typing away on this keyboard, I think back to the original upgrade. When I bought this Mac in 2012, it had upgraded specs including a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM and a 750 GB HDD. Last year, I replaced the 8 GB RAM with 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 and swapped the mechanical and optical drives with two Samsung EVO 500 GB SSD’s. Top it off with a fresh install of macOS, and this computer has been rocking it ever since.

If I were to buy a Mac today with similar specifications, I’d be looking at $2000 or more. Instead, the RAM, SSD’s, and tools can be purchased for a fraction of the price (under $250).

What I do on my Mac with the Upgrades

I use my Mid-2012 MacBook pro every day for anywhere from 8-12 hours per day. It’s my daily driver, and I couldn’t be happier with it. I wanted to take some time to share some of the most common applications I use so that you can compare your workflow with mine and decide if this upgrade is suitable for you.

Fusion 360 on MacBook Pro
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I spend a lot of time online, so Chrome is probably my number #1 application. I realize you can use Chrome on pretty much every computer, but I’ve grown to enjoy macOS. I also use Fusion 360 for CAD modeling, Final Cut Pro X for video editing, Terminal and Atom for coding, and MS Office Suite. I’m not a gamer, so I don’t need the graphics (or Windows). That’s my Mac above. You can see the model of a robot base I drafted in Fusion 360.

Overall, this upgrade has significantly improved my Mac’s boot time (~30 seconds), and I have access to the latest OS and software without lag or delay. Not too shabby for a $250 upgrade!

Go for the Upgrade

In summary, I think the upgrade was entirely worth it, and highly recommend going for the upgrade even if you’re on the fence. If you have any questions about upgrading your old Mac, drop them in the comments section below.

And, if you enjoyed this content, be sure to share this post with a friend!

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12 comments

  1. Tim Riley

    Hi Liz,
    Great article. You’ve almost convinced me. However, my 2012 Macbook Pro has the 2.5 GHz i5 processor; not the i7. Do you still think it is worth doing the upgrade? Or should I drop the $2K for a new Macbook Pro?

    1. Liz Miller

      Tim, if you have the $2K to spend, I’d say get the new Mac. I can’t speak to the i5 processor, but I’d presume you’d see a noticeable difference by switching to an SSD with upgraded RAM. If you found value in this post, please consider sending us a coffee! Good luck! ~Liz from Learn Robotics

  2. Aurora Phillips

    Hi Liz, Thanks for this article. I searched “should I upgrade my 2012 MacBook Pro” and your was the first hit! I would like to upgrade this computer for my son. My only questions is how did you upgraded to the i7 processor. I’m not computer savvy- I’m not even sure what the processor is! Did you address that in the article? Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Liz Miller

      Hi Aurora, glad you enjoyed the post! Unfortunately, you won’t be able to upgrade the processor on the Mac. Whatever processor you bought the computer with is what you’ll have. The two things you can upgrade are RAM and swap the HDD for an SSD. I documented the upgrade, here. Good luck! ~Liz from Learn Robotics

  3. Hi Liz – Read and liked your article! My usage of mid2012 MBP is 95% similar to yours and I am tempted to upgrade. However few questions:
    a.) Is there a way to reuse the swapped out optical drive externally? i.e use it as a USB device in case I end up having to run CDs?
    b.) What do I do with the HDD and RAM that gets swapped out? Any way of resting them? Or best deal is to recycle?
    c.) What %age of the performance boost would you attribute to the use of RAID0 architecture? i.e. If I choose to have one instance of SSD and not two , will my MBP performance boost be significantly lower (assuming same daily usage pattern as yours)?

    Once again thank you for such a wonderful review for mid2012 MBP owners!

    1. Liz Miller

      Saby, thanks for dropping by. Since you enjoyed this article, please consider sending me a coffee (or two)! It helps me spend time responding individually to comments!

      Here are some answers to your questions:
      a) Yes – but it’s more cost-effective to get a USB optical drive than to find and install the macOS optical drive.
      b) Put the HDD into a USB case and use it as an additional storage drive. Sell or recycle the RAM.
      c) I never got around to adding RAID 0 to my MBP, but there are a few people who managed to get it working on Catalina and saw a bit of a speed boost ~ almost 3-4x the read/write speeds in comparison to prior tests

      Good luck with your update! ~Liz from Learn Robotics

  4. I have a mid 2014 MacBook pro the only thing i can upgrade on this is the ssd, should I do that or save my money for a newer MacBook pro, I do a lot of music production and my computer has started to lag having 2 DAWs. Thank you

    1. Liz Miller

      Fraser, it could really go either way. It depends on 1) how much money you’re willing to spend in general and 2) how much storage you need. If you want a newer machine with 1TB+ SSD, then you’ll be looking at the mid $2000s to start off. However, you can get a 1TB SSD for the 2014 MBP for about $300. As long as you don’t need the enhanced performance and graphics card for your music production, the upgrade might be a more affordable choice. Good luck! ~Liz from Learn Robotics

  5. Hi Liz,

    What are your thoughts on MacOS? My MBP is similar to yours and it’s still running OS X El Capitan. I read somewhere advice against upgrading to MacOS.

    https://lifehacker.com/how-is-your-macos-mojave-experience-on-your-older-mac-1829333329

    1. Liz Miller

      Hi Rick, great question. I’m currently running macOS Catalina (10.15.2) on a 2012-MBP with 16GB RAM, 500GB SSD, and an i7. It works great! Boot time is less than 30 seconds for me, and I don’t have problems with lag or delays. If your system has the RAM and runs an SSD, I wouldn’t be afraid to upgrade the OS. If you have stock hardware, Catalina might run slowly (especially with an HDD). Good luck on your upgrade. Keep us posted on how it goes! ~Liz

  6. Kevin B

    I saw an article somewhere that my mid-2012 MacBook Pro cannot run MS Office after the 2011 version. I already upgraded the memory to 16 GB and am considering swapping my 500 GB hard drive (which is going bad) with either a 500 GB or 1 TB SSD. Your thoughts?

    1. Liz Miller

      Kevin,
      I have the 2019 version of MS Office running on my 2012 MBP. I don’t think you should have a problem getting the new version of MS Office (this is what I have).

      As far as the hard drive goes, I recommend buying the highest-capacity drive you can afford. It doesn’t make sense to put in a lower cap drive if you’re already maxing out 500 GB with your current drive. Depending on your budget, I’d look at 1 TB and even 2 TB drives. There’s a list of the ones I have in the article above.
      Good luck!

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