There are a lot of words you can use to describe a MacBook, but “budget” isn’t one of them. It is true for the price and also for the overall user experience. While it’s not for everyone, here’s why some of us continue to buy shiny Apple-branded hunks of aluminum.
A solid macOS experience
macOS isn’t perfect, but it’s still the best desktop operating system I’ve ever used. It takes the reliability and security of UNIX and makes it easy to use and virtually foolproof. If your workflow is compatible with the macOS platform (and it probably is), the operating system blends into the background and just lets you continue.
It’s easy to take some of the more basic included features, like Time Machine or Spotlight, for granted, but they never let me down. Some features, like the Control Center and Monterey’s new “Erase All Content and Settings” option, have been removed directly from iOS and still manage to feel right at home on the desktop.
You can dig deeper with Automator or Apple Script if you want. Every day I use a simple right click option to resize images for posting on this website. Shortcuts allow you to access some of these options using drag and drop coding blocks. If you’re comfortable using a command line, Terminal is by far the fastest way to get to work.
Apple’s security might be a bit overzealous for some tastes, but this gives me the confidence not to run any antivirus software. An iOS-like permissions system lets you control which apps can access your data or write to certain folders, while System Integrity Protection fully protects system files and prevents own processes from falling victim to code injection.
macOS has matured into a seriously productive platform. Apps like Safari are optimized with battery drain in mind, while Apple Notes is now arguably better than note-taking giants like Evernote (even more so when you consider that Apple Notes is completely free to use).
There’s always the Hackintosh route, but I don’t want the hassle of setting up hardware and patching installers. In terms of laptops, your Hackintosh options are even more limited, and Apple’s move to its own ARM-based architecture may spell the end of the practice altogether. The price you pay for a MacBook buys you a ticket to use what is arguably the best operating system for a wide range of users.
Others would classify some of these pros as cons, and no operating system is perfect or immune to security issues. macOS doesn’t do it all, and it’s not necessarily a platform that’s going to please tweakers and hackers. Games are notoriously unstable on a Mac, and we don’t recommend buying even the latest MacBook Pro if gaming is your number one priority. But overall, it’s still my OS of choice.
MacBooks are reliable
My previous MacBook lasted almost ten years. It’s a 2012 MacBook Pro Retina with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of solid-state storage. If I had known it would get nine years of service, I might have opted for a more capable model then. Which is why I bought a higher-end 16-inch MacBook Pro to replace it in November 2021.
While the user experience did diminish a bit at the end of its life, the damn thing still refuses to die. There’s no support for the latest version of macOS, but that didn’t stop me from handling it on a daily basis until just a few weeks ago. I replaced the battery, as well as the touchpad (which was covered by AppleCare) after a whiteboard fell on it (yes, really).
While Apple has made a few missteps in previous models, it’s not uncommon to find old MacBooks that still perform just fine a decade or more later. The dreaded “butterfly keyboard” and disappointing thermal performance on previous-generation Intel MacBook Pro models are flaws in a rock-solid line of laptops.
Some of those bugs were design flaws. Many criticized the “DongleBook Pro” when Apple decided to go with USB-C and ditch the SD card slots and HDMI ports. But that’s changed with the new generation of machines, and the only thing they’re really missing is USB-A connectivity. Even MagSafe is back, much to the delight of anyone who has ever stumbled across their laptop charger.
There are four MacBooks in my house, three of them are a decade old and none are ready to recycle yet. I’ve never had another laptop come close to it, and I’m convinced Apple’s penchant for build quality has a lot to do with it.
Software support goes on and on
Like the iPhone, Apple does a good job of backing up its Mac hardware with years of free upgrades. My latest MacBook Pro received seven major operating system updates, from Mountain Lion in 2012 to Catalina in 2019.
Even when a model is no longer supported by new OS updates, you’ll still get a year’s worth of security patches. Sometimes Apple even issues security patches for machines outside of this window. In November 2020, High Sierra received a security patch even though it was three years behind the most recent version. Catalina also got an update when Monterey launched in 2021.
Since Apple hardware tends to last, there is a dedicated community of software developers who produce patches that allow you to install unsupported versions of macOS on older hardware. This provides the latest versions of apps like Safari and lets you communicate with new versions of iOS and iPadOS, though it requires a little more maintenance than a Mac that’s still on Apple’s radar.
If you decide to go this route because your Mac no longer receives macOS updates, you should investigate how your current model will handle the new version before jumping in. If not, a lightweight Linux distro can get years more service out of your Mac (and Linux it is reaching Apple Silicon models, as Apple’s bootloader doesn’t reject unsigned kernels).
you can always sell them
While the price of entry is high, so is the resale value compared to comparable Windows laptops. Apple hardware has its value, partly because of its build quality and reliability, but also because the machines have an appeal that most Windows vendors seem to miss. Is this the “cult of Apple” at work?
Whether this reputation is justified or not, it’s a given that your MacBook will still fetch a good price even years after Apple classifies it as a “classic.” It’s best to ignore the company’s own trade-in options, as there are plenty of second-hand buyers who will take your MacBook off your hands.
As of November 2021, models like the aforementioned decade-old Retina MacBook Pro still sell for around $150 to $400 on eBay in good condition. That seems crazy for a machine that no longer receives software updates, at a time when Apple is moving to a completely different system architecture.
By looking at this phenomenon from a short-term perspective, it can give anyone thinking about trying out a MacBook a piece of mind. This is particularly true of Apple Silicon models, which may be the most “future-proof” computers on the market right now.
Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean too expensive
Ask yourself: are the new Apple Silicon MacBooks really that expensive? While it’s true that you can buy comparable Windows laptops and save $1000 or more, you can’t necessarily match the performance and efficiency right now.
The MacBook Air M1 will do just about anything the average user would want a laptop to do, and it’s blazingly fast thanks to Apple’s work optimizing the software to accommodate the new hardware. Not only does it fly at web browsing and light video editing, it does so without becoming a radiator, and battery life is unmatched on any comparable Windows machine.
If you don’t need Windows (and there are plenty of legitimate reasons to opt for Microsoft’s operating system), macOS might be the best option. Apple is providing something you literally can’t get anywhere else (at least right now) and charging a premium for it. While the entry price may be higher than the alternative, you are getting a unique user experience.
Now, check out the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with their M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. As of this writing, these are the most powerful laptops in the world, and that’s reflected in the price. Not only do you get unmatched performance per watt, you get one of the best displays, impressive speakers, and a keyboard that’s as good as any in a solid metal chassis.
We’ll have to wait and see what Intel’s Alder Lake laptop CPUs look like when they hit the market in 2022, but even if they overtake Apple (and it’s a good thing for everyone if they do), the M1 Max and M1 Pro will still be among the best. most powerful and efficient laptops on the market. And they will continue to be a joy to use.
And then there is the ecosystem
If you already use Apple products like the iPhone, a Mac fits comfortably into your life. You’re already “stuck” in the Apple ecosystem, and the seamless way Apple devices blend together will draw you in even more.
You can transfer apps like Safari and Reminders between your Mac and iPhone, or just copy something on one device and paste it on the other. As soon as you’ve taken a photo on your iPhone, it will appear in the Photos app on your Mac, without any intervention on your part. You can reply to texts and iMessages right on your Mac, as well as receive phone calls or FaceTime calls.
If you have an Apple Watch, your Mac automatically unlocks when you open the lid. You can AirPlay your iPhone screen to your Mac to view your videos on a bigger, brighter screen. Shortcut recipes can now be shared across devices, and you can set up Do Not Disturb on everything using Focus from a single device.
Your iCloud storage is also shared across your devices, so you can store your Mac desktop and documents in iCloud along with your photos and device backups. Apps can share files seamlessly, allowing you to work in apps like GarageBand or iMovie, no matter what device you have.
These comforts become so natural that it’s hard to think of an escape. Android and Windows are not developed together in the same way that macOS and iOS are. If only Windows Phone had been successful all those years ago, who knows how the Microsoft ecosystem might be driving things right now.
There is no perfect computer
MacBooks aren’t perfect. They’re among the least repairable computers you can buy, and Apple’s imposing approach isn’t for everyone. macOS arguably has fewer free software solutions available than Windows and, as mentioned before, is far from being a gamer’s platform. And we haven’t even mentioned the notch.
But I still spent thousands of dollars on a new MacBook Pro, and I don’t regret it one bit. If you’re interested in making the MacBook jump yourself, take a look at our recommended MacBooks for school, work, and general use.