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Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?

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Dave Gage
Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 3, 2013 at 6:15:06 pm

My Current Model and Setup:
Early 2011, MacBook Pro Quad-Core i7, 2.2 GHz 17", MacBookPro8,3
16 GB RAM, Screen: Matte Finish, 1920x1200 resolution
2 Internal HDs: 750GB 5400rpm boot drive (in the optical drive slot); 750 GB Seagate Momentus Hybrid Edit Drive (in the original boot drive slot with 6GBs connection).

I'm considering picking up a second 2011 17" MBP while they are still available in the Apple Refurb store. I haven't been as happy with a computer since my old G3 Pismo, which was rock solid for many, many years. Until Apple comes out with a new line of MBPs with similar specs to the coming Mac Pro, I believe this 2011 i7" is plenty laptop computer for what I do for at least another couple of years. I need to use the computer as a laptop or I would consider one of the 27" iMacs or wait for the new Mac Pro.

I don't see that any of the Retina display 15" models would be a step up for me. I find the lack of expandability somewhat offensive and I don't need a laptop that is wafer thin. I like the 17" vs. 15" display and since I don't use an external monitor and everything I do is 1080p or 720p, there is no advantage for me with the extra 2880 pixel screen resolution.

The advantages of this 2011 model for me are:

1. I can upgrade to 16 GB of RAM (which seems fine for what I do).

2. The CPU and GPU are plenty fast for my modest video editing needs in FCP X.

3. It can hold 2 hard drives when you remove the Optical Drive, so I don't need external drives anymore for editing, just for backing up.

4. Size and resolution of the 17" screen is good and the anti-glare matte finish on mine is very nice.

5. I can run 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, and I'm assuming, Maverick when it's released.

6. Can easily replace the 2 internal HDs with SSDs when I'm ready. With a firmware update, the boot drive slot has a 6 GB/s connection.
--

I don't see an Apple laptop out there today that can do what I need any better than this one. I doubt I'm missing anything here, but I'd be curious if anyone sees a negative to buying a 2011 model in 2013. I think with the upgradeability of this model I should be able to get at least a few more years out of it.

If my current MBP goes down, I'm fairly screwed for my business which includes screen captured online classes and FCP X editing (I can't do this with our 2009 Core 2 Duo). With another similar 17" model, which my wife would mostly use (and her 2009 Core 2 Duo MBP gets passed down to the kids), I have backup for everything I do and my wife also gets a faster laptop.

Thanks,
Dave


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Gary Huff
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 3, 2013 at 8:49:48 pm

The 17" 2011 is great because you get ExpressCard AND Thunderbolt. With the Echo Pro from Sonnet, I can have USB3 and eSATA together, or a UHS-I reader (also from Sonnet) AND eSATA. I do a lot of offload so that's idea, plus the laptop still performs well (I also did the data double deal and it's awesome).


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Dave Gage
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 12:15:19 am

Gary,

Thanks for the reply. The more I read what I wrote, the more I realized I already had the answer. For my needs, this 2-year old laptop is still the best Apple laptop out there for me. As soon as business picks up again, I'll try to grab another one.

[Gary Huff] "With the Echo Pro from Sonnet, I can have USB3 and eSATA together."
As I mentioned in a different thread, I've had horrible luck with the ExpressCard slot and eSATA and frankly, may not have much of a use for it anymore, but if I do, I will take your and Jeremy's suggestion about the Sonnet Pro card. I do completely agree that the expandability of this laptop is great which was one of the big reasons I originally bought it.

[Gary Huff] "or a UHS-I reader (also from Sonnet) AND eSATA."
I had not heard of a UHS-I reader before your post, but I just looked it up at BH Video, pretty cool. Quite a bit faster than a standard USB card reader.

Thanks again,
Dave


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Dave Gage
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 1:08:29 am

[Dave Gage] "I had not heard of a UHS-I reader before your post, but I just looked it up at BH Video"

Gary,

Your post inspired me to take a look at all the available Sonnet ExpressCards, you know to see what I might be missing, and I found this-
Sonnet 2-Port USB 3.0 ExpressCard / 34 Expansion Card
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/787213-REG/Sonnet_USB3_2PM_E34_2_Port...

I know in a thread from last week you had posted a link to a $20 USB 3 card at eBay. Are you using one of these cards, and if so, how is it working and have you tried editing via USB 3 and the ExpressCard slot? I likely wouldn't use it for editing, just backing up, but curious how well it would work and how close you get to the theoretical 5.0Gb/s per port speed.

At least for backing up, if I pick up a couple of OWC $40 USB 3 drive docks and this card, I'd be all set.

Thanks,
Dave


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Gary Huff
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 3:18:43 am

[Dave Gage] "Are you using one of these cards, and if so, how is it working and have you tried editing via USB 3 and the ExpressCard slot?"

Dave, I mostly use that for the occasional USB3 client-provided hard drive (the bane of my existence), and the Hoodman USB3 Card Reader for CF. I was able to offload an entire 32GB card in about 8 minutes that way, so it seems to be working well, though I haven't edited off it. Mostly I've been moving things to my internal spinning drive from the Data Doubler (my primary drive is a Crucial M4 512GB SSD) and a LaCie Thunderbolt drive.

The only issue is that you can't really get more than one USB3 powered device on there before OSX starts kicking off devices because the USB power adapter draws too much, so I'll probably get a USB AC adapter to give it power instead. That's the only issue I've had with it so far.

I had a no-name Rosewill eSATA card and it always gave me trouble, and then I noticed I was maxing out at 120MBps no matter what (even SSDs), so I switched to the Tempo Pro from Sonnet and it's been nothing but smooth sailing. I know an editor who bought it based on my recommendation and he's been using it with great success on his 2010 MacBook Pro 17".

I just purchased the UHS-I reader, but I haven't had any major offloading to do with it yet, so I cannot yet say how great it is (my two primary SD cards for my C100 are the Hoodman UHS-I one and the Sandisk Extreme 95MBps one). So far, what little I've done with it has worked great.


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Dave Gage
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 6:43:44 am

[Gary Huff] "Mostly I've been moving things to my internal spinning drive from the Data Doubler (my primary drive is a Crucial M4 512GB SSD) and a LaCie Thunderbolt drive."

Sorry, I didn't quite follow. Are you using the Optical Drive slot for your edit drive? I ended up putting my boot drive there because my understanding was that the Optical Drive slot will give you 3 Gbps, whereas the boot drive slot can do 6 Gbps, so I put my edit drive there for faster reads and writes.

By "primary drive" do you mean edit drive? If so, how is the SSD doing as the edit drive? That would be my next upgrade for both internal drives. Although, I'm using a hybrid drive for editing at the moment and it is really designed more as a boot drive with 8GB SSD built-in, so I could just use it as a boot drive and put in a SSD for editing. I don't think I'm getting much extra out of the SSD portion of the hybrid drive for editing. I mostly got it for the 750GB size and 7200rpm for a reasonable price.

[Gary Huff] "The only issue is that you can't really get more than one USB3 powered device on there before OSX starts kicking off devices because the USB power adapter draws too much, so I'll probably get a USB AC adapter to give it power instead."

That's good to know.

[Gary Huff] "so I switched to the Tempo Pro from Sonnet and it's been nothing but smooth sailing."

With that card and Sonnet driver, does it work as advertised, "hot-swappable"? Do you find you have to re-boot after disconnecting it? That's where I was at, otherwise with 12-24 hours the computer would crash.
--

Thanks for your help with this stuff. Maybe we should start a separate 17" MBP group. Other possible members could be Stephen Hill and Jason Jenkins. Maybe Tim can create a new forum, "Apple FCPX or Not: The Debate: 17" MBP Users". Okay, maybe not. But, it certainly is helpful discussing hardware options with similar MBP users.

Dave


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Gary Huff
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 3:12:37 pm

[Dave Gage] "
Sorry, I didn't quite follow. Are you using the Optical Drive slot for your edit drive? I ended up putting my boot drive there because my understanding was that the Optical Drive slot will give you 3 Gbps, whereas the boot drive slot can do 6 Gbps, so I put my edit drive there for faster reads and writes."


Apparently the early 2011 models have an issue with putting a SATA III drive in the optical slot (at least from what I read at OWC). So I have my SATA III Crucial M4 in the primary bay, and then an HGST 750GB drive in the optical drive slot. I rarely edit off the Crucial as I haven't been having any speed issues with the LaCie TB drive or the HGST.

[Dave Gage] " Although, I'm using a hybrid drive for editing at the moment and it is really designed more as a boot drive with 8GB SSD built-in, so I could just use it as a boot drive and put in a SSD for editing."

Do you have the 500GB Momentus or the 750GB version? I had the 500GB in a VAIO system I had before the MacBook (edited a Red One 4k feature on that beast!) and I can't say I was very impressed with it over a 7,200 RPM drive for editing. I hear the 750GB is supposed to be better.

[Dave Gage] "With that card and Sonnet driver, does it work as advertised, "hot-swappable"? Do you find you have to re-boot after disconnecting it? That's where I was at, otherwise with 12-24 hours the computer would crash."

Do you mean "hot-swappable" with the drives connected to it? If so, yes. Otherwise, the card itself should be "ejected" using the icon up in the bar before ejecting it, and if it happens to come out while working (one of the really poor flaws of ExpressCard, but it doesn't happen that often), then you're probably better off doing a power cycle of the laptop (shut down completely, re-insert card, boot up). The card only works if it is in the slot when you turn the laptop on, which is a downside, but no drivers is a plus to in my opinion, so I'll live.

The other positive is that it's made to work with the Sonnet Echo Express which I have as well. I don't use it too often because I rarely need dual ExpressCard devices on my 17", but will definitely get more use if I go for a new Haswell MacBook to add to the fleet.


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Dave Gage
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 7:20:58 pm

[Gary Huff] "Apparently the early 2011 models have an issue with putting a SATA III drive in the optical slot (at least from what I read at OWC). So I have my SATA III Crucial M4 in the primary bay, and then an HGST 750GB drive in the optical drive slot. I rarely edit off the Crucial as I haven't been having any speed issues with the LaCie TB drive or the HGST."

Okay, gotcha now. "Primary" is the boot drive slot. I think when I was originally putting this together on the phone with OWC, they kept calling it the boot drive slot which is indeed the faster slot.

[Gary Huff] "Do you have the 500GB Momentus or the 750GB version? I had the 500GB in a VAIO system I had before the MacBook (edited a Red One 4k feature on that beast!) and I can't say I was very impressed with it over a 7,200 RPM drive for editing. I hear the 750GB is supposed to be better."

Yep, I heard the same stuff you did about the older 500GB Momentus and bought the 750GB at BH Video which is evidently discontinued now, but I've had zero problems with it-
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/834410-REG/Seagate_ST750LX003_750GB_M...

[Gary Huff] "Otherwise, the card itself should be "ejected" using the icon up in the bar before ejecting it, and if it happens to come out while working (one of the really poor flaws of ExpressCard, but it doesn't happen that often), then you're probably better off doing a power cycle of the laptop (shut down completely, re-insert card, boot up). The card only works if it is in the slot when you turn the laptop on, which is a downside, but no drivers is a plus to in my opinion, so I'll live."

I tried every permutation I could think of, but if I didn't re-boot after using the eSATA card, it would ultimately hard crash within a day. Interesting, so you're not using the Sonnet driver. I think Jeremy or someone else said or implied that that's what is needed to make it actually "hot-swappable" like FireWire.

[Gary Huff] "Sonnet Echo Express"
There's a bunch of different Sonnet Echo Express's at BH. Is this the one you're referring to:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/860811-REG/Sonnet_ECHOPRO_E34_Echo_Pr...


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Gary Huff
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 7:35:12 pm

[Dave Gage] "
I tried every permutation I could think of, but if I didn't re-boot after using the eSATA card, it would ultimately hard crash within a day. Interesting, so you're not using the Sonnet driver. I think Jeremy or someone else said or implied that that's what is needed to make it actually "hot-swappable" like FireWire."


There might be a model that requires a driver, but the Tempo Pro requires no drivers, and supports multiple disks in a JBOD setup. Additionally, it's SATA III, which may be overkill for ExpressCard, but should work in the Echo Pro via Thunderbolt just fine.

[Dave Gage] "There's a bunch of different Sonnet Echo Express's at BH. Is this the one you're referring to:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/860811-REG/Sonnet_ECHOPRO_E34_Echo_Pr....."


That's exactly the one you want. There's a plain 'ole "Echo Express" (no Pro), but it's 5Gbps vs 2.5Gbps (Pro vs Non-Pro).


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Dave Gage
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 7:53:31 pm

[Gary Huff] "
There might be a model that requires a driver, but the Tempo Pro requires no drivers, and supports multiple disks in a JBOD setup. Additionally, it's SATA III, which may be overkill for ExpressCard, but should work in the Echo Pro via Thunderbolt just fine."


Cool. I'll live with the FW800 and the "crashy" eSATA card a while longer for backups, but later this year I'll hopefully buy another 17" MBP and do some of these other hardware options too.

Thanks,
Dave


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Gary Huff
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 4, 2013 at 7:56:23 pm

[Dave Gage] "I'll live with the FW800 and the "crashy" eSATA card a while longer for backups"

Are you using a generic eSATA card with the Sonnet drivers?


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Dave Gage
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 12:19:56 am

[Gary Huff] "Are you using a generic eSATA card"
Sort of. I'm using the OWC Slim eSATA ExpressCard/34 Adapter. I was prepared to buy a Sonnet card since I'd heard good things about them for a few years, but two of the phone support guys at MacSales.com said that this would be as good based on a couple of years of customer feedback, especially since I only needed one port.

[Gary Huff] "...with the Sonnet drivers?"
The first I had heard about the drivers was in the last couple of days via one of these threads. This appears to be it though-
http://www.sonnettech.com/support/kb/kb.php?cat=345&expand=&action=a3#a3

I'll give the driver a try, but I'm thinking that all along the problem may have been with the eSATA port on my OWC 2-drive RAID enclosure. Didn't you say earlier that you weren't using the driver?

Thanks,
Dave


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Gary Huff
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Jul 5, 2013 at 3:57:27 pm

[Dave Gage] "Didn't you say earlier that you weren't using the driver?"

Yes, I don't know if the slim ExpressCard version requires a driver or not. Some do, some don't (the other Sonnet SD card reader (the 21-in-1) didn't require a driver, while the UHS-I reader did. So you might need a driver with the slim-line version of the eSATA card, while the Tempo-Pro doesn't.


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Alex Donnelly
Re: Any negatives to buying another 2011 17" MBP in 2013?
on Sep 13, 2013 at 11:12:34 am

Hi

I have just joined this forum (after years of lurking about looking for solutions) to ask a question about your Mac Book Pro early 2011 If I may?

I just bought the exact same model, from the Mac store refurbished, actually appears to have been used barely at all. Brand New Condition, with Lion and all firmware updates were not done, they were available to be downloaded with update checking which I did. And after that installed an SSD in main drive bay and 16 GB ram and Mountain Lion 10.8.4.

It appears to be running well, with temperatures in tolerance, CPU 40 to 50% celcius and fan speed at 2000 rpm'sh when doing basic things, all the time until I Use Final Cut X 10.0.9 to real time preview (busy project with lots of filters etc...) Real time preview in Motion 5 or even record the screen with Quick time and sound flower. (Firefox playing an HTML 5 video).

I am aware that the Radeon graphics card will get hot after continued use in these conditions and activate the fans. The temperatures I am seeing are about 75 to 80 celcius and fan hits about 5000 rpm ish. When render or use stops it quickly cools and is quiet again. From a look about the web this is normal for a MBP 17"

What has me a bit worried is that I also use an early 2011 15" MBP with a quarter of the video memory (also radeon) for about a year now and while it reports similar temperatures in the same circumstances and even gets warmer according to at Monitor the fan does not hit the same speeds or volume as the 17". One of the bonus's of the 17 was apparently that it had better cooling with the larger frame.

I am going to go back to Lion with the original factory disk and test in that with at Monitor (the build that reads GPU and no longer works in 10.8) to specifically see what the GPU temps are and look about the web a bit more.

From what I can gather it is potentially normal behaviour (even though the 2011 15" I use is quieter and fans run lower even when the machine is running hotter) or there is an issue with the GPU that could hopefully be fixed by better application of thermal paste (really dont want to have to do that myself) or send it back which is always a pain, where would one get one of these now rare models in such good condition again without braving ebay :-)

Thanks in advance if you could comment on the normal operating behaviour of your early 2011 MBP 17".

Alex


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