Used MacBook Pro 13 Suggestions

I'm looking to buy a used Macbook (13 inch) for development work and documentation etc, mostly browser and command line stuff nothing serious. But it needs to have a Retina display. I could go M1 MacBook air brand new, but for my use case I was thinking of spending much less since I'll be very sparingly used. Facebook ads are IMO very overpriced casue of the name. But is there any suggestion for which model i should go for and what should I be paying for it

My current list has the following Either a Early 2015 or a Late 2016 model, but I don't know how much I should be paying for them.

Comments

  • Are you looking at the 13" for portability or is it going to be hooked up to an external monitor?

    Otherwise, consider getting a 15" or 16" MBP as the extra screen real estate for development is worthwhile.

  • What kind of dev work? Why 2015, 2016 models? 2015, I can understand you don't want the USB-C dongle book situation. 2016, the butterfly keyboard mess….

  • The Retina display really shows its power at the command line!

  • better to have more computing power always isn't it. else you end up like Howard stark

  • I would go with the Early 2015 model because of the following reasons:

    • You said that what you want to do is "nothing serious" so it seems like you're just dipping your toes into development on Macs, better to go with the cheaper option and if you decide it's something you want to continue with then upgrade again in 1-2 years
    • MBPs after the 2015 model came with that new horrible butterfly keyboard that malfunctions easily
    • Touch Bar is a gimmick
    • The 2015 model should have USB-A and a HDMI port, this means you don't need adapters, easier to plug into an external monitor if you're out and about and don't have an adapter
    • The 2015 model should have an SD card port (funnily enough there are rumours Apple is bringing this back in their new MBPs)
    • 2016 13" MBP also has the flexgate issue where the screen cable is not long enough so becomes detached or something ridiculous

    Not sure about the price you should be paying though. Cover your butt and buy the 2015, I would.

  • I’ll outline some observations I’ve made in the last 18 months regarding the second-hand 13” MacBook Pro market, but keep in mind I’ll be primarily referring to eBay in this post, as it is very hard to get a good deal as a buyer on Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, etc…

    • The early 2015 models tend to sell for $500-$700 in auctions or Buy It Now listings (depending on the condition, specs, and whether it includes the MagSafe 2 charger). The fourth generation MacBook Pros (i.e. the ones with USB-C ports and the butterfly keyboards) command a price premium of about $250-$350 when compared to the early 2015 model. The cheapest fully functional late 2016 MacBook Pro I have ever seen sold on eBay was a Touch Bar variant with 16GB RAM for $699 (+ postage), and it was only sold last week! However, it had no USB-C charger, a couple of dents on the display housing, plus the screen’s anti-reflective coating was starting to come off.

    • The most common early 2015 MacBook Pro is the base model (i5 5257U @ 2.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD), as this was sold from March 2015 to June 2017. You will see different variants with (marginally) more powerful processors and higher SSD capacities, but it is rare to find a variant with 16GB RAM, as this was only a build-to-order option.

    • The late 2016 model has more reliability issues than the early 2015 model, and this is something to consider if you’re going to hold onto your MacBook for a while. The keyboard replacement program has ended for some late 2016 computers, Flexgate was back in the news this week after Apple quietly extended the program duration, and a battery replacement program I was not even aware of until I checked the Apple website today. However, both the early 2015 and late 2016 models suffer from Staingate, where the anti-reflective coating will wear away, creating a stained effect on your display. I don’t have a link to this program (which lasts four years from the original purchase date), because Apple does not want to publicise it for some reason…

    • The oldest early 2015 models are approaching six years old, so may need to factor in the cost of replacing the battery. The introduction of the retina MacBook Pros in late 2012 saw Apple revise the MacBook Pro design so that the battery was glued into the laptop with very strong adhesive (instead of screws), so it is very difficult to service the battery yourself. If you go through an Apple Store or AASP to replace the battery, you will probably need to fork out $289. Since Apple uses very strong adhesive, they replace the entire top case when doing a battery replacement, not just the battery, which means you will get a new keyboard (and likely a new trackpad as well).

    • Another point to consider is the fact that the early 2015 MacBook Pros may not get operating system updates for as long as the late 2016 MacBook Pros, due to the early 2015 MacBook Pros coming out 18 months earlier, as well as using 5th generation Intel processors vs 6th generation Intel processors in the late 2016 models.

    • I think the early 2015 MacBook Pro is the only MacBook Pro model to have a Force Touch trackpad. A random fact, but the more you know!

    I personally wouldn’t purchase a fourth generation MacBook Pro, due to the price premium, too many reliability issues, plus I am excited about the rumoured 14” MacBook Pro that may be released later this year.