Buying a Macbook Pro

Buying a Macbook Pro…Was It A Good Decision?

Derek Travel Gear 116 Comments

Buying a Macbook Pro

Yes, it was.


My Macbook Pro works. Simple as that.

It’s efficient, stable and it’s infinitely more user-friendly than any other laptop I’ve ever owned, which includes an HP, a couple of Acer machines and a Sony Vaio. And my Macbook is also incredibly fun to use, something that, for someone who spends as much time online as I do, makes a major difference. When everything looks and works perfectly, tackling a list of 50 ‘Things to Do’ each day, regardless of how boring or uninspiring each task may be, is a complete breeze, an enjoyable breeze actually.

The Macbook I settled on, after three weeks of research and ten lengthy visits to the Apple Store, is the 13.3” inch Macbook Pro with Retina. It has 500 GB of memory, 8 GB of RAM and a 3.0 Ghz dual-core i7 processor. I bought it refurbished directly from Apple’s online store for $1650 USD, a price tag that definitely comes with a painful sting, but when compared to buying a Macbook Pro with Retina, non-refurbished version (which goes for $2199), the $1650 actually looks quite attractive. That’s how I justified it anyway!

I am clearly aware that I could have bought a Windows laptop with the same or better specifications for less money but still, no Windows laptop that I have tested (and I tested dozens during my research), comes even close to the feel of the Macbook. The Macbook is just such a smooth, impressively fine-tuned machine that I actually get excited to turn it on each day, especially considering that it only takes a half of a second to wake it up from its sleep mode. And all of this makes it worth dishing out some extra money for, at least to me.

With that said, I still stand by my earlier claims that my previous laptop, the Acer Aspire Timeline-X AS1830T-6651, is almost as good as it gets when it comes to travel laptops, for most people. The power, speed, weight and price of the Acer are all more than ideal, creating what can only be considered an undeniably impressive package. But for me, these days, I need something a bit more powerful, a bit more ‘professional’, a bit, well, smoother and, in all honesty, enjoyable to use.

And that’s exactly what I landed with my Macbook.

I turn it on and it does everything it should in a way that allows me to get more done in a shorter period of time and to enjoy getting that stuff done as well. Based on that alone, buying a Macbook Pro was a wise work decision for me and I really am quite happy that I made the change.

But I haven’t been fully converted yet. I still prefer my Android phone over an iPhone!

What do you think? Is it Mac or Windows for you? Care to share why you prefer one over the other?

Since 1999 I've been traveling and living around the world nonstop. Sign up below for personal stories, real advice and useful updates from my adventures. Only good stuff, no nonsense.

Are you ready to earn money and travel?

How to Work on a Cruise Ship and Travel eBooksClick above and get started!

Comments 116

  1. Mariaam Scott

    A query.
    I intend to buy MAC book Pro 13″ 2015 version, however I have heard that we need to shell additional money for software installations, after buying the laptop.
    Is it true?
    I need help on the details as I have always used Windows PC and Dell core i7 laptop. I am worried about extra expenses surprises.

  2. Earl Hall

    I have been agonizing over this decision for three weeks. I have both a Macbook Air and a Macbook Pro 13 Retina display and will return one. Just when i think I have made a decision I reconsider. The weight and battery life of the Air is very enticing. I really can’t see big difference in the displays. I think there must be something wrong with my eyes. The Pro has 8mg of memory and the HDMI port (I know I can get dongle for the Air), as well as the updated touchpad. There is a $350 dollar difference for me. It isn’t the money, I just like the Air for its battery and it weight, but then…
    So anyway, my name is also Earl, and having been unable to make my own decision I take this article by another Earl as a cosmic sign.

  3. Bill Gryani

    It was the biggest mistake I did in buying MaC pro 15 Inch. Not good value for money , parts very expensive , and bad service . No reliable method to send your complaints through Apple website , when I did , I didn’t get any feedback . I bought the computer Sep. 2012 , Sep. 2014 exactly start to give problems , when I sent it to the authorised service provider they returned it back after one month , they changed a defective part , they didn’t charge me because it was manufacturing problem, at the end of October I sent it again to the service because of the bad performance , In Nov. the call me to take it , (second day I return it back because of the same problems ) , finally they call me that I need to change the hard drive ??? I am waiting may be I will receive it in 2016 , the computer is disaster the service is tragedy , it is was the worst computer in my professional life . Doesn’t worth the money I paid for it .

  4. EetuG

    I bought MacBook pro mid 2012 in year 2012 and it was worth it. Still works fine and intel core i5 and 500gb hard drive still is good. And MacBook Pro have best design.

  5. Rodolfo

    Hello Earl!

    As a photographer i obviously prefer a mac than a windows. All my life i used windows, but after using a mac for the first time, oh man, that was freaking awesome! It’s all better, faster, easier, etc. buuut… the price is fucking high. I’m gonna change my mac this mont for a 13″ i7 with 1tb to work but also to surf on web and have fun. I’m brazilian, so as you must know i will not buy here cause it’s the price of a soul euaheuaheu Really enjoyed your blog, keep with the good work and good luck!

  6. Lou

    Hi Earl,
    Thanks for such a well balanced and informative article. Thanks also for inviting people to share comments and for responding to so many of them.

    I am about to make the switch from PC to Mac. I’ve used PCs for many years, but a few weeks ago, my 18 month old Asus laptop stopped working. That (and my dislike of Windows 8) sent me to the Apple Store. I’m torn, however, between getting a 13″ MacBook Air (i7 Haswell cpu, 8 GB ram, 256 PCIe SSD) or a 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display (i5 Haswell cpu, 8 GB ram, 256 PCIe SSD). Either would meet all my needs. My angst is about the Retina Display. Although it looks awesome, I have seen posts on discussion boards that imply that many people have had problems with image retention (“ghosting”) on their retina displays and have subsequently had to bring them back to get a new screen, sometimes more than once. Have you encounter this? You’ve had yours for a while now, and have probably interacted with many other people with MBPs with retina screens. Do you still recommend them?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Lou – I haven’t had that problem with mine and I still love my retina version. And I actually haven’t met anyone else that had that problem who has the same machine or even the newer version.

  7. ONA

    My friend purchased a new , shiny , pretty Macbook Pro about a year ago . It looks pretty but it is not worth it. My old laptop hp is still working fine ( 8 years old) without any problems and after many many hours of heavily usage , no issues .She has had numerous issues with her Macbook Pro. Also it gets super hot. So no thanks…I am pretty happy with my new to me (used) Thinkpad . Macbooks cannot handle even a few drops of liquid on them ……..literally……………………My thinkpad has spill resistant keyboard and feels much better to type ……..better software compatibility, much easier and cheaper upgrades and a lot of money saved!!!!!!!

    1. Denim

      You are right on with your comment. I think Macbook is way overpriced. For an i7, 8GB RAM, and 500GB, you can get a Windows laptop for $700 brand new (not refurb).

  8. Foqrul

    Lately, I’ve thought of purchasing a new macbook for my work which will put an end to the long relationship with windows. Your review helps me a lot to get one step closer to buyng my first macbook.

  9. Ashinnabash

    I used to think that macbooks are way too much money for just a computer 2199 for a laptop when I could buy a car for that or even pay down on a house! But after about a month on using this macbook at my job I fell in love. I must get one. Any Windows laptop rite now is not even in the subject for buying ESPECIALLY windows 8 you can see in windows 8 they’re trying to become user friendly a little like apple but pretty annoying. Apple in my opinion has the best user interface they can’t please everyone but that doesn’t stop them from trying they sure pleased me. 🙂

  10. Shruthi


    Thanks for replying. But, what if it gives any trouble in the future? Do they provide any additional support for the refurbished items? Say, free troubleshooting every time we take our macbook pro with issues to the Apple store?

  11. Shruthi

    Hi Earl,

    Was just wondering if you found the refurbished macbook perfectly fine? What’s the difference between the Refurbished and a new macbook pro? Thanks!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Shruthi – My refurbished mac has been excellent. Generally, a refurbished mac is one that was sent back due to a problem but they fix the problem and make sure the laptop looks and works just like new. And that’s it…a perfectly good computer for a cheaper price.

  12. Marshall

    my HP has fallen apart and has been sent back to HP several times and the parts don’t line up right at all. WHen I question HP they tell me good enough? Really? I boght a MBA as a test pc so far as advertised. I’m still a Androind/Chrome dude with home PC with major files etc on a custome PC but really using the cloud to back up all pictures and devices along with dropbox for stuff I neeed at a anap of a finger. I’m hoping that this one laptop will fit into my echo system seemlessly as i’m ot changing the rest. so far so good………

  13. Debbie

    Thanks for this post, I really appreciate all the feedback on this. I have had my MacBook Pro for about 3-4 years after always having Dell Laptops.

    The things that I like about the MacBook Pro
    TECHNICAL SUPPORT at Apple ROCKS!! I have had to deal with technical support with Dell and what a nightmare…not once but several times. The resolution time is so fast with Apple. There were times with Dell support that the issue was referred back to many times. Extremely irritating to have to call Dell over and over to try to get some help. However I do have to say that Dell was extremely good about replacing my laptop when they couldn’t resolve the issue it just took forever.

    MacBook Pro I have only had one problem and that was when I had to buy a new battery. Considering how hard I work my MacBook I think that is very impressive.

    MacBook Pro has never gotten a virus. My Dell laptop I had to keep expensive Norton Security top of the line on it to keep the virus’ off. You should have seen the cleanup time involved with the laptop.

    The only thing I do not like about the MacBook Pro is that I liked the way windows handled my pictures. It was a lot easier to keep my photos organized.

    Any how that is my two cents. For older people who are not as technologically savvy as younger people a Mac product is a lot less frustrating.

  14. Joakim Brättemark

    When I was to buy my first computer in the late 90:s I was into gaming and wanted a large portion of various software and didn’t feel comfortable choosing a Mac. I got an IPhone in 2010 and an IPad in 2012, great products ! For computer I have always had PC:s For me they suit my budget better. I work my much with Pro Tools creating music even thou Apple have always been a musicians favorite I think when it comes to creating music you’ll do just as fine with a PC. The real issue for me was to get 8 GB ram because I stream lots of data in real time. So a Samsung laptop did the job for me, I think it’s model name is V3 and the buttons and keyboard design are really close to a Mac Book. Fell free to visit my My Space page. One of the songs is actually made on a friends Mac 🙂

  15. James

    if you seek for a performance, who would consider buying macbook? Both CPU n GPU on mac are shit. It’s just a waste of money. Just for a design, thats all

  16. Erik

    I was almost certain that I was going to get a windows machine because I just didn’t want to learn a new operating system and because of the price tag. However, I ended up getting a macbook pro! A big reason was the anti virus software that you don’t have to install. If I’m gonna have my laptop for approx 5-10 yrs, that’s $500-1000 in savings right there! Not to mention the exceptional build quality, great warranty and CS, and overall quality. I totally understand the argument against a Mac, but in my opinion a Mac is the way to go

  17. Shelley

    I JUST made the switch as well to a Mac Book Pro. i bought the 13.3 inch screen with no retina display- again for cost reasons. Best move I ever made. I was so turned off by windows 8, that while trying to find a laptop with Windows 7, the prices were more expensive than a Mac. I guess Microsoft knows everyone wants 7 still!
    So I bought a Mac. And I love it. It does everything it is supposed to do.
    I also love my iphone. LOVE IT!

  18. Morten B. N.

    Hey Earl.
    It’s nice to read that others have had the same happy feeling, after switching over to Mac.
    I myself bought a Macbook Pro 13″ mid 2012 a couple of months ago, and I have never been so happy about using a computer -when daily stuff needs to be done.
    The only downside about the Mac, is the lack of freedom when it comes to tinkering with the software. You have to search long and hard to find info about commands and such, on the internet (maybe I just didn’t look hard enough).

    Therefore I do still own a PC, as a secondary and gaming machine.

  19. Nerd

    I have been using Windows laptops for a while now and have decided to switch over to a Mac.Some of my friends told me that not all the applications(other than games) which work fine on Windows laptop work on a Macbook. Is that true?

  20. Johnny Witt

    I like a Mac because they are TOUGH. To wit, my Family Mac has been dropped numerous times on hard surfaces, jumped on & sat on by my kids, and EVEN PISSED ON!
    Yes, my 4 year old when he was 3 actually saw fit to whip it out and pissed all over my open MacBook Pro when I left the room. The thing is still going strong as I type this now.

  21. Katy

    Looks like someone drank the Apple Kool-Aid.
    Just kidding (but not really :))
    I’m glad you enjoy the computer…Personally I will always favor a PC, but that is just me.

  22. Brad

    Once you go Mac, you never go back. People that haven’t owned one wouldn’t understand. If Mac was terrible and overpriced, the company would have gone out of business years ago, still one of the largest ones in the the world, and still climbing! Converted from PC to Mac after taking a video editing course. Now I get work done Mac instead of working on my PC.

    1. Dave

      I went straight back to PC after one MacBook Pro – expensive piece of kit that was unusable within 12 months due to the spinning beachball of doom. As for my iPhone, it never even made phone calls or texts reliably. Never going back to Apple again, they just don’t work.

  23. Global Nomads

    We’ve seen it happening with Macs a few times in poor countries. Perhaps they look just too good and shiny to resist for thieves. A crappy and dusty noname laptop with a few missing keys attracts no one.

    Travel and business don’t fit together so well, that is why we keep them them separate and don’t do any business. We gave our businesses up when we left Finland in 2004 to travel the world. Thanks to that we have now the luxury of having endless amount of time for doing nothing useful and no urge to be efficient.

    For you the Mac is probably best solution; with your travel style the risks of losing it is not that high and computer will not get exposed to hostile environmental conditions. When we were still in business, we used top-notch equipment too. Don’t let it out of your sight!

  24. Global Nomads

    Generally speaking carrying around expensive hardware around attracts unwanted attention and invites thieves. That makes Macs are no good for travelling. Showing off in a clean and safe office environment is another story. On the road the cheapest possible junk works the best and it is way less annoying when it gets stuck with sand in a desert or wet from humidity in a jungle.

    1. Wandering Earl

      @Global Nomads – I tend to think that’s more of a myth than reality. There really are very few times that I’m going to pull out my Macbook on a local bus or at a train station or in the middle of the street. I use my laptop in my hotel room or in a cafe with wifi, which are usually clean and safe places. And if you’re trying to grow a business while being on the road, the cheapest junk is not the best as I need something that I can count on every single day. It’s not about showing off, it’s about getting things done efficiently with the limited time I have while traveling.

  25. SleeplessInKL

    Hey Earl! You forgot to mention how crisp and clear the Retina display is! Switching back to ‘normal’ displays makes it feel…so weird.

    If you really think about it, a Mac (without Retina) is not that expensive if you consider the cost of the software that already comes pre-bundled with it. I love how, with a new Mac, you can just start using it straightaway without having to worry about installing the normal stuff you use on a daily basis or having to install drivers for other hardware.

    Best of all, no BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) for Macs! 😉

    As for the phone, stick with your Android. The iPhone just doesn’t cut it!


  26. Maxine

    Couldn’t agree more Earl. I’ve recently got a 13 inch Macbook Air and it’s the best computer I’ve ever owned – everything just works 🙂

    Shame on you though Earl, it’s time to jump on the iPhone bandwagon 😉

  27. Sam @

    Love windows but preferring Macs lately well apple products!
    I despise Acer laptops with every bone in my body, one problem after another.
    Would love to try out a Mac as my newt laptop as I’m not sure it would do all the same things I like to do on a Windows computer.. ?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sam – It’s always interesting to hear different experiences. I’ve had two Acer machines and never had a problem, loved them both and found them to be far better than my much pricier Sony Vaio!

  28. Clare Appleyard

    LOVE, love, love my MacBook. Converted from PC about 20 months ago after I drowned my last PC laptop in tea and insurance paid out cash. Topped up the claim with about $200 and got a MacBook Pro 13″ and have not looked back. Fast, efficient, smooth and easy to use. Starts up and shuts down super-fast. Have dropped it twice and it still works perfectly. Unfortunately it’s only a 320GB harddrive with 4GB ram, but it’s good enough for what I do.

  29. Daniel

    I just bought an IMac based on some reviews on internet (including Earl’s) and hope to get started soon because the transformation from windows to OS X lion does not go as smooth as I thought it would go. What a difference it is! (navigate, pages, numbers, …). I hope I will not regret my decision….

  30. Megan

    I feel the same way about my MacBook Pro. It’s just so dang pleasant to use. And, I actually just made the switch from Android to iPhone earlier today. It’s taking some getting used to, and the customization limitations are already irritating, but fingers crossed it was a good choice!

  31. Yvonne

    Hey Earl – I’ve been more than happy with Mac for a while, but recently went from Macbook to Macbook Air, and boy is this ever light. We’re going to be taking next year off to backpack in Asia (although I don’t think we’ll be able to hit all the countries you have!) and the key for us as been keeping things light. We figure between my Air and iPad, the two of us will be connected. There are still some compatibility issues we run across at times, but I think there is now almost always a Mac version for software. BTW – was intrigued by your trip to Mexico… we’ve been living here for three years now and love it so glad to see you had a good experience.

  32. Jon @MrMIlitaryMoney

    My wife and I had both had the same MacBooks for four years now. Hers a bit older and finally needs to be replaced. It still works fine but the hard drives and memory are older specification and are starting to struggle with multitasking. Mine still works great but I have to rely on external hard drives for storage.

  33. Tish

    I got my first Mac back in 2005 (Powerbook G4) which I still have in my closet. Works fine just needed and update to keep up with all the new websites and programs that have come out. So I got a MacBook Pro last February (2012) and I’ll never buy a Windows again. Eight years strong as a mac user!

    I have an Android phone…easier to customized. But I own 3 ipods (well 2 now, cause an ex won’t return my original ipod) but Mac’s are some of the best products ever. I had that Powerbook G4 from 2005-2012. And still a good computer…

  34. Jennifer

    Im interested in buying a mac book, but they do come with a hefty price tag and im not sure whether its just apple lover hype or whether they are truely faster and work better than other laptops that have a higher spec. I’d like to borrow one for a week to try it out really!! I’m currently using a HP i5 – ive had it for probably 4 years but its become pretty sluggish recently.

  35. Chris

    I recently acquired an Acer Aspire S7 and can’t wait to get on the road with it! Battery life aside (3-5hrs), it’s a speedy, lightweight ultrabook with touch screen to boot. It’s lighter than some tablets!

  36. Gerd

    Sorry, but Apple nowadays is all about design, a lifestyle product and way too expensive. And MacOS, well, don’t get me started… Apple is just an evil, overrated company 😀
    But I don’t like Windows either and switched to Linux long time ago. It offers everything I need and I got a stable system for free. The only reason I sometimes still have to use Windows (XP) is audio processing. Unfortunately there is still no software for linux that can compete with Wavelab or Ableton Live. But for everything else, it is perfect. It’s fast, stable, reliable and easy to use. Even for me, and I’m definitely NOT a computer-geek.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Gerd – For me, my Apple is perfect and that’s the most important thing. Clearly, based on the comments of this post, there is no one ‘right’ answer as many people feel very strongly about this debate, regardless which one they prefer. But as long as a person is happy with their decision, that’s all that matters!

    1. Meagan

      LOL. My HP died on the first day so I took it back and bought a Mac cause the stores were out of the HP. Love the Mac, but would have also loved the HP if it had worked. I guess everything you buy there could be a chance of having a dud.

  37. Jason Eyermann

    I’ve recently bought the 15″ macbook pro. Except i didn’t get the retina version in order to save some money. You have a very quick computer, but the speed would really only be used if you did something like video editing. Otherwise I thought the mac air would have been many times better for a traveller. My other little issue with taking my mac anywhere, I feel that if people see the big apple logo on the back they will more likely try to steal it as they will know that it is worth alot of money. So i normally reluctantly take a PC. Maybe i’m just being paranoid.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jason – I am starting to do more video editing, which is why I went with the faster computer. And I can understand your hesitation with taking the laptop with you on your travels but these days, even Macs are common enough in most parts of the world where it doesn’t stand out as much. At least that’s what I hope for 🙂

  38. Cheryl

    Good choice Earl on the Mac. Neither Mac or PC offer all options. Pick what fits into your needs, find that comfort and voila you find yourself enjoying the product and assurance you made a good choice. Plus Apple apps are great, they are always improving their apps and introducing new cutting edge ones (which are not on pc). oh and my mac works, I don’t work on fixing it 🙂

Leave a Reply to Denim Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *