Based on my personal experience, 2014 was a good year for MacBooks and it was time for a new home laptop. I scooped a refurbished one off of the Internet about a month ago. The older model can be had for around $1500 with the top specs. At the time of its creation, the top of the line MacBook had the high-bin processors and a great SSD.
- Intel Quad-core 2.8 ghz base 4ghz turbo-mode with 6MB cache (4980HQ)
- NVidia 750 Graphics
- 512 GB SSD
I was hopeful that the computer would be as good as I recalled. I remembered liking the tactile keyboard, glass trackpad, and lots of peripheral inputs (USB-2, Firewire, and SD card reader) while still retaining the aluminum body and retina display present in newer MacBooks. This is a short follow up on how I like it.
The old MacBook was heavy! I immediately noticed the slightly greater weight and thickness of this machine relative to the newer ones. That aside, mine came in great shape. No dead pixels on the screen, a strong battery, and no visible blemishes that bother me.
Out of the box, I copied the antics of MSTRKRFT and threw some eyeballs on the Apple.
The keyboard is great, backlight is clear and a warm white. I really enjoy the travel on the keyboard too. The small chicklet keys also have a great tactility to them. I didn’t realize I missed this keyboard until after a few times instinctively being able to blindly type when my laptop is perched on my couch instead of on my lap.
I like the smaller trackpad. On my machine, it still works as well as any Apple trackpad has ever worked with good gesture support and smooth tracking. The glass trackpad button has a really punchy click to it when pressed from the physical rocker that is under the surface as opposed to the haptic speaker in the new larger trackpads.
Admittedly when doing design-oriented tasks like drawing with the trackpad, it’s not as precise or easy as on the newer MacBooks.
I have not yet fully converted to USB-C. I have a bunch of peripherals that demand legacy connectors so my newer MacBook, I’m frequently stuck because I can’t find a USB-C adapter.
The USB ports still work on it and I’ve been able to seamlessly connect and program Arduino devices. I’m also having a good plug-and-lay experience with USB MIDI devices.
I really enjoy having MagSafe 2 again, there’s a certain charm to the LED on the charging plug. On my laptop, the plug itself is a little loose and comes off a more easily than on a new laptop. It’s a nit though and hasn’t given me any issues so far.
The MacBook surprises! I didn’t notice any performance stutters in audio software and anecdotally the machine is very snappy. I ran a synthetic benchmark on the processor and got the following result:
This is a higher CPU benchmark score than both my 2016 machine and the 2017 MacBook pro. In GPU benchmarks the newer Intel chips and AMD GPUs perform better (my laptop won’t even score onthe GPU-accelerated benchmark) but most of what I plan on using the laptop for is not going to take advantage of the GPU. I haven’t been able to reproduce the skipping or dropouts that I saw on my dual-core laptop and haven’t had any issues with effects in Traktor.
I’m able to play some older games (Starcraft II, Diablo 3, Hearthstone) without any issues but I don’t really intend to use this laptop for gaming.
I’m pretty happy right now with my old-school laptop and I feel that it will meet my needs. Upon first getting it, I was worried the parts would go bad and was tempted to start hunting for laptop to keep around for salvaging. Maybe the old MacBooks will be like old models of a specific van or car and people will do everything they can to keep them running.
We’ll see how long mine lasts given that I’m usually pretty tough on my things. Maybe, if I’m extra gentle, this laptop could last me a while. I may get a bumper to stretch out the life of the machine - they can be bought online for around $20.