Something time to upgrade!? (cheapskate edition)

TLDR: Should I replace an old macbook pro power supply or buy an old mac mini?

The machine in question

I’ve been using my wife’s old MBP as a sort of server machine. I can’t recall the exact specs since it won’t power on right now, but I believe it’s a early/mid 2013, running 10.15.7 (Catalina) which I believe is the latest OS it can run. I believe it is a 4-core i7, 2.3Ghz intel with 16GB of RAM but could have been 8. 256GB SSD I’m pretty sure.

It died last week. Or at least, the magsafe charger LED isn’t lit up anymore. The computer shows the low-battery / plug-me-in screen when trying to power on, so I’m pretty sure it’s just the power cord has gone kaput. I’m pretty sure it’s the original cord that came with it.

Use cases

  • TIme Machine backup destination for two computers, via an external drive.
  • Making additional backup drives accessible on the network
  • Content caching
  • Running rules
  • Syncing photos from my Canon camera via their handy sync tool
  • Moving files around with Syncthing (also running on the laptop)
  • Tinkering around with umbrelOS.

The Decision

So all that to ask: should I spend the $60-$80 to get a new power cord and see if that fixes it, or jump up to the next tier and get an old mac mini? According to ebay / backmarket, $125-$150 will get me something comparable I think. Part of me just kind of wants a mac mini. And I should say, $150 is really the upper limit of what I can/should spend right now. Under $100 would be ideal.
Other than the time machine backups, I can really live without this stuff, and worst case I could just set a reminder to plug in the TM drive every so often. I guess I just liked having a tinker box.

If you’re anywhere near an Apple Store, take it there. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s the charger/cord or not. You could probably go to a computer repair place if Apple isn’t possible.


OWC sells MagSafe chargers for $40.

1 Like

Having used mac Minis as servers for 14 years, I can certainly recommend it considering part of you wants one! Accessing it with Screen Sharing means it doesn’t need a keyboard, mouse, or display, which keeps it compact and convenient, much more so than an MBP.

I would definitely recommend a Mac Mini, I’ve had 4 now, but I would try and stretch to the newest one you can, If you get one that’s Intel, you’re going to be left behind soon by macOS and i’d always recommend that a supported OS is used


+1 to what @geoffaire said. At this point I would not even think about getting an Intel Mac. You can probably find a used M1 Mac Mini for ~$300-400 on eBay/Craigslist that will last you many years.

1 Like

Try checking some local thrift stores. I regularly find old Magsafe chargers for a couple bucks at the one near me.

1 Like

Totally agree with you here, this is just such an unnecessary purchase in my life right now, I’d feel a little irresponsible going over budget in this case.
Maybe I just need something else to “break” so I can justify under this purchase :thinking: