Ever since I have quit my job in late 2017, I don’t have any notebook computer with me. This sounds a little bit inconvenient and I have been thinking of getting my next mobile platform for quite a while.
Coming from an enterprise banking IT environment, Windows notebooks from IBM (Now Lenovo), Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Acer were some of those major brands that I used before. No matter which brand I used, they shared a common scene that all ran extremely slow after few years of use. 😱
On the other hand, my 7 years old iMac desktop that was upgraded from OS X Lion to High Sierra (Sorry, no Mojave due to firmware limitation), still handles its work nicely. From day-to-day personal use to video processing with iMovie, there was no sign of slow down.
So is it hardware issue that caused them to work so poorly?
Definitely not! What I believed is the better optimisation work of the MacOS and the other supporting software.
So my plan is to get an Apple notebook computer.
New 2018 Macbook Air or Macbook Pro running the latest 8th generation Intel i5 processors are very attractive. However, at price tags of US $1399/US $1799 for a reasonably configured (8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD at the minimum) platform, I found them hard to justify!
As Apple hardware and MacOS are highly optimised, getting a reasonably configured second-hand or refurbished Macbook Air/Pro may also be a good choice to support my blogging and upcoming application development needs (Yes, I planned to take up MacOS and iOS programming shortly).
Before diving into the second-hand or refurbished markets, let’s outline my expected configuration:
- Macbook Air or Macbook Pro
- A maximum display size of 13-inch
- Not too heavy for mobile use
- Intel i5 processor
- Able to run the latest Mojave MacOS
- Memory size of 8 to 16 GB
- SSD storage of 256 GB at a minimum
My search started with the local second-hand markets in Hong Kong and the Facebook Marketplace. My observation on those commonly available items was;
- Under configured hardware: 4 GB memory; 128 GB SSD
- Older generation hardware: majority are those early 2015 Macbook Pro that didn’t equip with USB-C ports
- Power Cycle Count of slightly around 300, ie. nearly 30% of the expected battery life
- Relatively high price tag: typically around USD 1,000 for an early 2015 Macbook Pro with 2.9 GHz i5 processor, 8 GB memory and 512 GB SSD
With such an un-satisfactory result, I switched to the Apple authorised Refurbished market in Hong Kong.
After few weeks of waiting, something got my attention: A Macbook Pro with the following configuration was out in the available stock:
- 13-inch, June 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports Macbook Pro
- 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 processor
- 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3 memory
- 512 GB SSD
- Non Touch-bar model (Better choice as Touch-bar is not that easy to use)
- Space Gray finish (My favourite!)
Given a discount of around 15% off and knowing that such a fully configured Macbook Pro is sometimes quite hard to find, I immediately made the order and the machine was available in two working days.
Let’s take a look at what I have got.
With 16 GB memory, this should meet most of my application development needs with Xcode.
Similarly, 512 GB SSD will provide sufficient permanent storage. In case further permanent storage is required, external USB mass storage can be used.
As this is a refurbished Macbook Pro, the Power Cycle Count is extremely low as compared to those second-hand Apple Macbook Air/Macbook Pro.
Since the machine came with only two USB-C ports and connecting other peripheral devices may be a little bit harder, I have bought a HyperDrive GN28N USB-C Hub to provide two USB-C ports, two USB-3.1 ports, a HDMI display port and a Gigabit Ethernet adapter. This will allow me to support nearly all the existing devices I have.
Next, upgraded the Operating System to MacOS Mojave and enable the Dark Mode support.
Finally, installed Xcode 10.1 and the additional support tools to facilitate my upcoming application development works.
Recent Macbook Pro models are equipped with NVMExpress SSD, so I/O performance is expected to be much better than traditional SATA SSD drive. As verified with the installed Blackmagic Disk Speed Test App, the Read/Write performance of my Macbook Pro is around 2400/1979 MB/s, nearly four times better than my 2011 desktop iMac installed with an external Thunderbolt 1 SATA SSD drive.
Now everything is in place and I can start making use of my notebook. In fact, the past few posts were actually prepared with my Macbook Pro while in I’m travelling in Taiwan.
What do yo think? Is my refurbished Macbook Pro a good choice?
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Categories: Information Technology