I have a 15″ early 2011 MacBook Pro sitting on my desk which I use as a spare computer and as web browser while I’m working on one of the several computers and monitors at my desk. It’s also the portable computer when I need to spend overnights somewhere for work or other engagements. It’s got the stock configuration of the Intel i7-2635QM running at 2 gigahertz, 8 gigabytes of RAM, a 500 gigabyte mechanical hard drive, and a dead battery.
The machine as is works fine actually and the only thing that really impinges on this systems ability to be useful today in 2021 is that fact that it’s an Apple and for this occurrence of the MacBook Pro the last version of MacOS X that will load properly is MacOS High Sierra 10.13.6 (fully updated).
Normally a proprietary 10 year old OS written specifically for a machine type that it’s matched for usually makes the OS as well as the hardware it was made to run on obsolete, or at best case severely out of date. However in this case loading OSX High Sierra and updating it to 10.13.6 will give us a stable platform to work from. As far as the hardware is concerned the machine is more than capable of running modern programs. Additionally if you decided to make use of Apples Bootcamp software to install Windows this gives you a path to run recent programs and will make your MacBook Pro dual boot between Windows and Mac OSX and this will appeal to many who are thinking about using a laptop like this. Plus if you’re an open source OS fan you can load the latest version of Linux under the various virtualization programs available or even make your MacBook Pro Linux only, or Windows only, or any combination you think you’ll need. For a 10 year old machine the early 2011 MacBook Pro still has a lot going for it.
But let’s talk about the upgrade now. First things first, the battery is almost completely dead and no longer holds a charge so after market new battery will be the first thing I purchase. Then I will replace the 8 gigabytes of RAM with 16 gigabytes of RAM because more memory never hurts. Finally the mechanical hard drive needs to be replaced with an equivalent sized one of the SSD variety and this alone will give this MacBook Pro a breath of new life as the read speed will jump from the mechanical 100-140 MBps to the more respectable 500-550 MBps when replaced with current SATAIII solid state technology.
I really didn’t need to do any of the upgrades to keep this laptop relevant. In fact it might have been better to maybe have sold it for the $200-$300 I could possibly get for it and upgrade my daily driver but honestly it’s a nice little computer and dependable when I’m on the road. The battery, hard drive replacement, and memory upgrade ran me about $120 but I could definitely easily sell it now for $300 and it’ll keep it’s value for a little while yet. It’s definitely a little heavier than most laptops with the titanium unibody design but at least it looks nice. It’s got a dent on the right front corner from being dropped but luckily that did no other damage than the little dent.
Early 2011 MacBook Pro Intel i7-2635QM Quad Core w/ Hyper Threading 2.0 Gigahertz CPU 16 Gigabytes DDR3 SDRAM 500 Gigabyte SSD Hard Drive CD-DVD/RW, 2x USB, FaceTime Camera, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, SD Card Port, Mic + Speakers 1440x900 Native Resolution w/ Intel 3000 and AMD Radeon HD 6490M Video, WIFI, Gig Ethernet
Not a bad system now. I might list it at a ridiculous price ($400) and see if I get any bites. Don’t really want to get rid of it but if the price was right… Actually I’ve been thinking about getting a decent weighted MIDI keyboard so chances are I’ll be keeping the laptop. Plus Google Chrome is a modern browser with updates so installing that browser and using it as the default will add a measure of safety to web browsing. All in all not a bad system. Originally given to me by one of my sisters. Additionally just today I decided to load Steam on it to see if there were any good games I could play on it and though there weren’t many new titles but there were a few! I discovered a super fast little networked first person shooter called Krunker and I was killed about 5 times before I quit my initial first time session. Man that was fun. The game ran so well I just kinda kept playing. It looks like a great trainer game. I’m using the keyboard and mouse as controller but it works very well. Gonna peruse some other games for OSX on Steam as that will also help in keeping this 10 year old laptop useful.