Advice for Macbook/macOS newbie...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by TrickyTreeRed, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. TrickyTreeRed, Aug 18, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017

    TrickyTreeRed macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2017
    Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
    Hi all!

    I'm looking to replace my five-year old Toshiba Satellite (which is beginning to give up the ghost) and am thinking about purchasing my first macOS laptop device.

    I've never really used macOS before, just a few times to surf the net and send a few emails - so I consider myself a Macbook rookie.

    So here's the question... What Macbook would you recommend?

    I use my computer for word processing, spreadsheets, emails, social networking, streaming some videos and sports, and normal Internet activity. I'm not heavily into creating video or photography, but occasionally I have to do some quick and basic editing - mostly for website postings and YouTube. But this is something I would like to learn more about.

    My primary worry is... 'What if I don't like the macOS and want to go back to Windows?' Because of this, I don't want to spend a tonne of money in case I have to sell the computer.

    I can get a new, sealed in box MBA for $1,000 CDN (about $775 USD). It has the 1.6Ghz processor, 8Gb of RAM and the 256 SSD hard drive. I'm not sure if there is any warranty left as I would purchase this from a private seller. But it is an unused computer.

    In Canada, a new MBA with a 256 SSD drive goes for $1,449 at the local Apple store while the base Macbook with a 256GB drive goes for $1,779 and the 13" MBP, with a 256GB drive, goes for $1,979. Plus 12% in taxes of course! I have checked the refurbished section on the Canadian Apple website, but the cupboard is a little bare right now!

    I just purchased a 10.5" IPad Pro, which I'm really enjoying, but use a Android phone (BlackBerry DTEK60) As the BlackBerry is a current model and a fantastic phone (seriously!), I'm not planning on replacing it for at least another year.

    Anyway, thank you for reading my long-winded post and I look forward to your responses.
  2. Fishrrman macrumors Pentium


    Feb 20, 2009
    My opinion only, but...

    I don't think a MacBook Air is going to "be enough" to give you a good impression of the Mac. It's too underpowered.

    I wouldn't recommend a MacBook, either.

    At the very least, get a base model MacBook Pro 13".

    Do you have access to Apple factory-refurbished products in Canada?
    If you do, a refurbished 2015 MacBook Pro 13" might be a good place to start.
    It remains a very capable Mac, with a full complement of ports and a keyboard that many feel is superior to the one used on the 2016/17 models.
  3. TrickyTreeRed thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2017
    Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
    Thank you very for your response. I'm hitting the local Apple Store this afternoon to play around on said machines.

    The Canadian Apple website does have a refurbished sales section and I check it frequently. Currently, there's a base 2016 Pro model available for about $1,700. A Air with 256gb hard drive goes $400 less.
  4. dangerfish macrumors 6502

    Aug 28, 2007
    I have to disagree with Fishrrmann,

    The MBA is a GREAT computer. I've owned 3 of them since they launched. At one point I swapped out for a MBP years ago because at the time, the MBP had better battery life. But I went back to the MBA for portability. I founded and run a medical device start up and the MBA was my main computer for most that time. I recently moved to the new MBP but I wouldn't not call the MBA underpowered for your needs.
  5. TrickyTreeRed thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2017
    Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
    Thank you for your thoughts. Great perspective!

    After visiting the Apple Store, I'm still pondering my decision. Both were really good IMO.

    I preferred the MBA's keyboard - the MBP's was very loud. Annoying almost. However the MBP blew away the Air's speakers. Some of the best I've heard on a computer. Crisp and clear.

    When it came to the displays, I did not notice much of a difference. This I put down to the really bright lighting at the store. I could tell the MBP's had a higher resolution, but it was minimal.

    As for the performance, again I could tell the MBP was more responsive than the MBA but both were plenty quick.

    But I've realized I really need a 15 inch screen - which leaves me with the MPB. As this will be my only computer I don't think a 13 inch model will suffice. The 13 inch screens seem tiny compared to what I have now.
  6. techwarrior macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2009
    I switched to Mac in 2010, and was worried about a few PC apps... bought VM Fusion and migrated my old PC to a VM, then never used it. There are a plethora of apps for the Mac, most PC apps have Mac equivalents (or better). If you like the iPad experience, you will love the Mac, many similarities so you will start at a familiar place. Most who take the Mac plunge never go back to PC, but if you finding yourself with PC envy, just give it time, or install Windows in Boot Camp partition and you can use both (one at a time of course). Windows tends to run well on Mac hardware.

    If you want to dip your toes in the waters, go used and\or go with a Mac Mini desktop. When you feel comfortable, spend a bit more and get what you really want. Macofalltrades, OWC (, or even eBay offer older models for pretty low prices. Stay with 2011 or 2012 or later to get most of the new OS functionality. But, beware that some of the newer models are not upgradable (soldered memory). Also look for used Macs on Gazelle's eBay store.

    MBA is a great little machine, though not terribly powerful nor much storage. You should be able to do all you state above with no issues. Given it's svelt size and weight, it is ultra portable if that is meaningful to you. MBP is clearly a better machine, but at a price. None of your activities are intensive from the sounds of it, so besides the bigger screen, MBP will not give you a whole lot more useful power.

    If you typically use the machine at a desk, consider connecting a 24 or 27 inch monitor. With a Thunderbolt 2 or 3 dock or adapter, you can connect external displays while at your desk. This would be great for video editing, even 15 inch displays are a bit lacking for that kind of task.
  7. appleofmyibook macrumors member


    May 31, 2016
    Such a predicament. I'm not heavy into the editing but really needed a 15 inch screen for my main computer. The other screens are just too small. It's a very expensive preference as I could only get the 15 inch. I know it's expensive but at least you can guarantee you won't need to replace it for a while and it really is just a stunning machine. A lot of people that move to it hate the keyboard at first then end up falling in love with it. I don't regret it for a second I got it when it was first announced and it still feels brand new and is hella quick.
  8. TrickyTreeRed thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2017
    Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
    Thank you for your great advice. I like your idea about hooking up an external monitor. I had not really thought about doing that and it would allow me to get away with purchasing a 13 inch MBP.

    Unless a smoking deal arises on a MBA, I am leaning to either a late 2016 or 2017 MBP. It just make more sense from a long-term perspective.
    Thanks! It looks like I'll buy a stand alone 15 inch MBP or dock a 13 inch unit to a monitor. Given the almost $1,000 difference in price, the larger monitor option has strong appeal - I'll save some money this way.
  9. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    I say get the MBA. If you don't like macOS, you can just install Windows on it. If you love it, you can just add an external screen to it for any major video editing jobs.
  10. Toutou macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2015
    Prague, Czech Republic
    I say get the MBP for the screen! 13" or 15" is up to you.
  11. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Yes. One of the problems with Apple's current range is that you have to buy an expensive Quad i7 + GPU to get a 15" screen. People who just want a nice big screen for web surfing or wordprocessing need not apply...

    You might want to keep your eye out for a used/refurbished or even new 2015 model 15" Retina MBP (they were being sold new until a few months ago). They had the Air-stye keyboard and weren't quite as thin as the current MBPs.

    Also, bear in mind that you can run Windows on a Mac - either as a virtual machine using Parallels/Fusion/Virtualbox, or on "bare metal" via BootCamp. The former is handy if you find yourself occasionally needing a bit of windows-only software, the latter if you want the full performance of your hardware in Windows. I wouldn't deliberately buy a Mac to use as a Windows machine, but the fallback is there if you need it.

    ...however, give Mac a chance. Switching OS, whether it is Windows to Mac, Mac to Windows, Windows to Linux etc. is always frustrating to start with.
  12. Aston441 macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2014
    Get the one you like the most. Ignore the price.

    I bought the highest end MBA 6 years ago and it's still working perfectly fine, dual booting windows for when I need that.

    You won't care how much you paid six years from now.

    It will have paid for itself by then in lack of frustration.

    Having a MBA, I day do NOT get a MBA now. The screen resolution is too low. When I got my MBA, retina Macs didn't exist yet. I would never buy such a low resolution screen today.

    Get the one you want, ignore the price.

    You might still be using it in 2027.
  13. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    For your needs, I believe that any retina MBP from the late 2013's on would work for you. Yes, the 2017 model is faster, and if you have the cash that's the one to get. But they aren't THAT much faster unless you are really beating on it. I'm typing this on a late 2013 15 inch and I still think of it as my "new" laptop...and I expect it to work for me for another 2-4 years, unless I manage to dump red wine into the keyboard like I did my "old" laptop! (which is still running for my daughter after a keyboard replacement.)

    The 13 inchers work a little better on an airplane and are a bit lighter. I don't use a separate monitor with mine so I prefer the 15 inch, and I don't travel as much as some.
  14. TrickyTreeRed thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2017
    Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
    Good call about running Windows if needed! I forgot one can do that on a Mac.

    I am scouring Craigslist for potential bargains and have set up an alert through Plenty of 13" models but slim pickings (for now) on the 15" front.
  15. TrickyTreeRed thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2017
    Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
    If I win the lottery, I will not hesitate to ignore the price. Until then I have set myself a budget and have already raised it well beyond my initial $1,200 CDN limit.

    For me, a computer is a tool or instrument. I'm not really much of a tech person.
  16. TrickyTreeRed thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2017
    Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
    Great advice! You're quite right - I don't need the latest with the fasted chips.

    I see similarities in computers to motorbikes. I once owned a Honda VFR800. It was a wonderful technological tour de force but I never used all it's power. I'm now much happier on an air cooled Triumph cruiser. It puts a smile on my face every time I ride it.
  17. Saturn007 macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2010
    There is a huge difference in the screens. Once you get used to a Retina Display, the MacBook Air looks "shabby" in comparison.

    Tilt the screen even a small amount and the colors wash out. Videos, photos, web pages all look worse.

    Scroll through a Safari text-rich web page on the MacBook Air and you'll see the text shimmering or flickering in and out on the screen! That does NOT happen with a MacBook Pro or MacBook with a Retina display.

    The MBP's screen is brighter and more colorful.

    That silver bezel around the MBA's screen is large and distracting, too. It's quite dated looking. It "screams" out that you are looking through a porthole at a computer screen, whereas a black thin border more or less vanishes from sight and creates a more immersive experience all around.

    For sure, it has a keyboard that more like; a nice complement of ports, although one still needs dongles for HDMI and Ethernet. So, the need dongle critique of the MB and MBPs is somewhat misplaced.

    Given that you want a 15" screen, that rules out the MBA as you've determined. OTOH, many of us went from a 15" to a 13", even MacBook Air and found it more than large enough -- and appreciated greatly the much lighter weight and portability!
  18. TrickyTreeRed thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2017
    Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
    After a month or so, I still have not made a final decision. And my current laptop has miraculously made a recovery in performance. I'm patiently scouring Craigslist, Kijiji and eBay for new or slightly used models as I refuse to pay $3,000 CDN plus taxes on a computer. Almost snagged a MacBook Pro last week, new in the box, but I was about 10 minutes too late!

    A 15-inch screen is a must. This will be my main computer and I'm not worried about portability. If I travel, my iPad Pro will be my primary companion.

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