Recommend a Mac

Friend of the family is using an ancient Mac and it’s hosed (long malware story); needs something new. Looking at laptops. Here’s my advice – looking for the community comments on what I am suggesting…

Consider used or refurb MacBook Pro. Plenty of power and the recent ones (last 2 years or so) have been marginal improvements. (In fact, last year or so, there have been keyboard problems.) Any laptop with an SSD (no hard disk) will be a massive improvement over what she is using now. The Air is slightly thinner and lighter but unless she is on airplanes all the time, probably not worth it. Other than that, I do not know the models.

(Also, anyone have suggestions on where she should go to buy a used/refurb?)

Also, if portability is not needed, consider an iMac. Less $, giant screen.

If she doesn’t exchange files with businesses, Apple’s Pages and Numbers (free with new Mac) work well; but MS Office is the big dog and more capable.

Microsoft Office 365 Personal is $70 a year, cloud-based (automatically upgraded), and excellent. Or, $100 a year for up to six users (family plan).

Use Malwarebytes (free) — might clean up the malware.

Thoughts? TIA, y’all…

I’d have a look at .
Keyboard issues began in 2016, so a 2015 might be more reliable in that regard. (Laptops, that is.)

1 Like

Given space and portability considerations… 27" iMac is my first choice. Big screen, quiet… I upgraded the memory, spinning disks main and backup storage, older tech that meets my needs. Ergonomics superior to most portable setups…


I would look seriously at the new MacBook Air. It is not really a comprimised machine compared to the recent MacBook Pros. Take a look at @ismh’s review or listen to the nice discussion of the Air on MPU episode 472 when it comes out later today. They can be found in the Apple refurb store.


I’d ask what the friend was using the Mac for, and what kind of files they had and intend to have on the new machine.

Depending on the answer it’s very possible that an iPad or Chromebook might be the best option for some people.

1 Like

My only concern about SSD drives is that they do not fail gracefully. This is a general issue. They work just fine up until they don’t. When they die there is absolutely no recovery outside government agencies. Spinning hard drives tend to give you at least a bit of warning before they die. They make noises or get hot or other physical things you can see, notice and then do something about.

If you depend on an SSD drive then your backup strategy needs to be much more robust, to account for death of a drive mid day, or worse, near the end of the day with no backup. So multiple Time Machine backups on external drives, cloud sync if you are comfortable with cloud services and more. Think belt, suspenders, bra and a corset.

And if she needs MS Office capabilities but doesn’t want to pony up for the cost, go with LibreOffice. can produce MS Office files as outputs but open source and very stable. Been running with it or its predecessor for over 20 years now.

1 Like

I would not count on any drive to give warning before it dies. True, a spinning drive might give some warning before it dies, but it might not. Robust backup strategy regardless of what kind of drive.


I agree in principle but in practice there have always been warning signs on spinning drives. I sometimes ignored them, to my detriment, but I can’t say I’ve ever had a drive flat fail without some sign of impending doom.

True, though as @ChrisUpchurch said, all drives fail. Will advise re backup. Great point.

GREAT answers. Thank you all so much. A few things here I never would have thought of.

Failure rates of SSDs are way lower than HDD failure rates (Warning: this is only considering overall failure, there are some hidden traps with SSDs, such as UBER (not, the cars, uncorrectable bit error rate). So, why even consider rattling HDDs as being “better”? Today we have reached a point where:

  • SSDs have reached low prices
  • SSDs are a proven technology that outperforms HDDs (in my company we have several hundred laptops constantly on the move. Since switching to SSDs “failed drive” isn’t even on the failure statistics. HDDs were just not idiot-proof)
  • backup is dirt-cheap. Both off- and on-line. My SSD could die right now and not a single file will be lost. There was a time (remember ZIP drives) when backups were expensive for a private user and complicated. That’s long gone.

As for UBER: APFS sadly is lacking. I really wished Apple to adopt the ZFS file system. Without getting too technical: backup, backup, backup. And wait for APFS2. But then, still backup.