- The 2012 MacBook Pro I bought almost six years ago was the most powerful model I could buy, and it still runs perfectly well.
- However, the new and improved features and design on the newer MacBook Pros made me feel like I was missing out.
- It was difficult to justify buying a new laptop, which made me realize that buying the newest and most powerful model isn’t always the best idea if you want to keep up with new features.
Last year, I faced a conundrum. My 2012 MacBook Pro was still so good that I found it hard to justify buying a newer model.
I bought the most powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro back in 2012 because I knew its Core i7 processor would keep up for several more years than a MacBook Pro with a less-powerful Core i5 processor.
The concept is called “future-proofing.” Basically, I buy a device that’s way more powerful than necessary for my current needs in anticipation for the future, when operating systems and apps will require more horsepower.
My plan worked. My nearly-six-year-old laptop is still running smoothly for its age, especially after I replaced its slow, old hard drive with a more modern and fast SSD drive. I also upgraded its RAM from 4 GB to 16 GB. In the most practical sense, I had no need to spend a couple thousand dollars on a new laptop. In fact, I could probably squeeze another few years out of my trusty 2012 MacBook Pro.
But future-proofing meant I was missing out on the new and improved features found in newer models. I didn't really want my five-year-old MacBook Pro anymore, even though it still runs so well.
In the end, I upgraded, but I didn't go for the newest, most powerful model.
Here's why I chose the MacBook model I did, and why I upgraded even though my 2012 MacBook Pro still runs perfectly well:
I upgraded to a refurbished MacBook Pro that was a year-old at the time I bought it.
I went with a refurbished 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i7 and 16 GB of RAM, considered "last year's" model among Apple's newer 2017 lineup at the time I bought it.
The powerful Core i7 processor in the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro will last me several years, just as the i7 did on my 2012 MacBook Pro. That means I'll probably face a similar conundrum down the line when Apple introduces great new features that make my 2016 model feel old. But at least I didn't pay for a brand-new 2017 model - I saved myself $450 by going with a refurbished laptop.
Plus, one of my requirements for a laptop is a 15-inch display, and Apple doesn't offer its 15-inch MacBook Pro with anything less than a Core i7 processor. So I didn't have much of a choice unless I was willing to compromise on screen size, which I clearly wasn't.
You can read my review of the refurbished 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro here.
One of the biggest reasons I upgraded was because my 2012 MacBook Pro was a hulking beast.
The mid-2012 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro looks and feels like a brick compared to pretty much every model that came after it. It's almost an inch thick and weighs a little less than 6 pounds. Back in the day, that was fine for traveling, as it was pretty normal for a 15-inch laptop to be so big and heavy. Today, however, it's no fun packing and carrying around such a heavy machine.
Compare it with today's sleek, slender, and lightweight MacBook Pro.
The 2016 model of Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro is just under 0.60 inches thick, and it's about three entire pounds lighter than my old 2012 MacBook Pro. It's still no featherweight, but it's a lot more portable.
The screen on my old 2012 MacBook Pro is awful by today's standards.
My MacBook Pro was the model right before Apple introduced its sharper and clearer Retina displays for its MacBook Pros. That means my old MacBook Pro has a 900p resolution, which looks positively blunt compared with Apple's sharper 1600p Retina display.
Apple's Retina displays also output much better color than the older, non-Retina displays. After using a Retina MacBook Pro for a while, I came back to my non-Retina model and found the colors washed out and lacking contrast.
At the end of the day, my old MacBook Pro's display is fine, but the more recent model's Retina display is very nice. Seeing as I use computers a lot for work and play, a screen upgrade was worth it.
The new MacBook Pros have better battery life.
When Apple released the 2012 MacBook Pro, it touted a seven-hour battery life, which was great back then. Now, the new model boasts a 10-hour battery life. Another good reason to upgrade.
My old MacBook Pro doesn't have the latest USB standard, called USB-C.
USB-C is still in its early days, and adopters are experiencing the growing pains of switching over to the latest and greatest USB standard. For many, it means using adapters to plug in devices that use legacy USB standards.
However, USB-C is undeniably the future, and it has several benefits over conventional USB. For one, I could use one USB-C adapter to plug in multiple devices, including a monitor, the MacBook Pro's power supply, accessories like SD memory cards, and legacy USB devices like a mouse, keyboard, or external hard drive.
That's great, because instead of having several cables sticking out of my MacBook Pro for all my accessories and peripherals, I could have a single USB-C connection. That makes it easier to plug a computer into a workstation at a desk or unplug it when you need to go portable.
I love the new MacBook Pros' gigantic trackpads compared to the tiny trackpads on the 2012 model.
The newer MacBook Pro's giant trackpad is great for gestures and general usage. It makes the one on my old model feel tiny and limited.
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Having Touch ID was a major draw.
Using my fingerprint to unlock the new MacBook Pro is bliss. It's easier and faster than typing in my password every time I want to unlock my laptop from sleep.
Still, I prefer the keyboard on my old MacBook Pro.
The keys on my old MacBook Pro have a lot of travel, and typing feels good and satisfying.
By contrast, the keys on the newer MacBook Pro have extremely shallow travel, which makes typing feel less comfortable. It's almost like typing on a solid surface.
It's not a huge deal - I adapted to the new style - but they're still not as comfortable as my old MacBook Pro's keys.
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Apple ditched the MagSafe power connector on the newer models, which is a huge shame.
If it weren't for Apple's magnetic MagSafe power connector, my old MacBook Pro would surely be dead by now. There have been several occasions when I've accidentally tripped on its power cord and the whole laptop was saved from a desk-level drop because the power connector easily disconnected from the charging port.
Now, as Apple's latest MacBook Pros use USB-C for charging, the cable no longer attaches magnetically. In the few days I spent with a 2016 MacBook Pro with USB-C, I tripped on the power connector, and the laptop came crashing to the ground. Thankfully, it was only from couch height onto a carpet that softened the blow. On a different occasion, I dropped a USB-C MacBook Pro review unit from the same couch and it bent the USB-C connector. That wouldn't have happened with the good old MagSafe chargers.