I bought an 8 year old MacBook…should you?

So, after my 2013 MacBook Pro died unceremoniously about a month ago, I was left with a quandary; buy new or put in the money to repair the old one?

Now, obviously this is the biggest first world problem ever, and yes, obviously I could just buy a PC, but look, I like the Mac OS. It works for me, and I’m used to it, and I’d like to stay in the Apple ecosystem. So; to buy new or to refurb? Refurbing is obviously the cheaper option, but for myself, it was still going to be about a $700 cost to repair a 5 year old laptop, which is a high cost.

Then, of course, there was the cost of buying a new one.

Needless to say, buying a new one is also an expensive proposition. Mac’s have always been expensive, but apparently in the 5 years I was using mine computers in general have gotten quite expensive. Now, this is also to say nothing of the fact that the new Mac line up is expected to be out sometime later this year, so even if I was willing to shell or $3000 for a new laptop, I’d just be getting one that would be yesterday’s news in a few short months. But I need a laptop in the meantime; I’m out in a rural centre right now, and all our resident teaching is through the computer.

So, long story short; I bought a 2010 MacBook from eBay.

Now, this feels a little bit like the beginning of a possible horror story…or at the very least a click bait YouTube video: “I bought a 2010 MacBook and you WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!!”

Seriously though, every review I could find on the 2009-2011 unibody white MacBooks always read like someone clearly looking for failure. No, this laptop won’t stream Fortnite in 4K, or edit terabytes of video, duh. But does it work for everyday use?

I’m going to say definitely.

So firstly; I paid $292 CAD with tax and customs and shipping included for a 2010 MacBook white, that had been upgraded to 4gb of RAM and 120gb of SSD storage. The base model sold in 2010 came with 2gb RAM and a 320gb or 500gb hard drive; I elected for the upgrade in RAM and solid state drive because I knew that those two upgrades would give me my best shot at getting a truly functional device. If you’re particularly tech savvy you can do those upgrades yourself (the SSD size can be made much larger and the RAM can possibly be increased to 8 or 16gb), but I’m only middling so these specs worked for me.

The computer itself weighs 4.7 lbs and is 13 inches wide; not ultra portable, by today’s standards, but not unruly by any means. It was also upgraded to High Sierra, a newer version of the OS then it would have been originally.

As for performance? Honestly, it’s excellent. The keyboard is springy and super user friendly; the boot time on the machine is slow, taking about 1 minute to boot, but after that everything is super fast. Web browsing is smooth and very fast, and I’ve been able to comfortably run 10-15 tabs in safari at a time. The computer synced easily with my gmail account, and streaming video is smooth and doesn’t lag at all. The one I bought came with Microsoft Office 2011, which is perfectly functional, and could be upgraded if needed. The trackpad is excellent, and the speakers give clear sound.

Obviously, some modern comforts are lost. AirDrop is present, and works from Mac to Mac, but not from phone/iPad to Mac. The screen resolution can’t hold up to a new Retina monitor, but I can’t say the difference is too noticeable to the naked eye. And notably, as a Mac it was never going to be a gaming PC to begin with.

But overall, honestly? I really, really like this laptop. I’ve bought $300 laptops before and they’re universally garbage, little more then plastic paperweights within 6 months. This thing is an actual functional MacBook, in 2018, for the low cost of $300, and that cannot be beat.


I’ve linked the listing to the computer here. Obviously, this kind of laptop won’t work for everyone. If you need ultra-portability, or the ability to edit high quality video, or serious PC gaming, then this isn’t the laptop for you. But if you’re a light to medium general user on a budget or broke college student whose looking for a MacBook to drag around to class or keep in your room; write essays, take notes, stream video and listen to music, this thing is an great option for an unbeatable price!

One thought on “I bought an 8 year old MacBook…should you?

  1. Buying laptops is so stressful! (Very #firstworldproblems šŸ™ˆ) I just splurged on a Surfacebook before starting medical school, but I spent a lot of time debating and took 4 trips to Best Buy over it. It’s like, you can get an okay device for a reasonable price that will probably die on you in a few years. Or you can spend a ridiculous amount on a great device. I settled for less specs on a Surfacebook so it was slightly less ridiculous. I think you made a great choice with the used MacBook! Now that your dedicated studying time is over this is an amazing deal that will serve you perfectly for your current needs.

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