Help buying a MackBook. Which option is the best for the price? Budget decision

bustinya

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Nov 7, 2012
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Hi, I'm helping my sister decide on a new laptop and she's decided that she wants it to be Apple-made. Her budget ranges from 500 to 700 but she might be willing to go all the way to 800 if it's really worth it. At that price, we're looking for a used computer. Currently, we've been using Amazon as the buying site but I've checked Newegg too.

A little bit about what she'd be using it for and the requirements that I've identified:

-Normal office work (no real need of performance)
-Video editing (need of performance. I understand a video card would come in handy but I think she can manage with integrated graphics due to the budget)
-MacBook Air is what she'd prefer but if somebody finds a MacBook Pro option that could be worth it, please do share!

What I've suggested:

-SSD (128 or 256). She could keep all her pictures, old files and not-in-current-use files in an external HDD. A 128GB kind of cuts short but if she really does only keep her current files and programs, I think she can make do with an external 1TB HDD for idle projects and such.
-RAM: 4GB kind of cuts short too. I've suggested 8GB for future-proofing too but there's also the alternative of getting a 4GB one and upgrading to 8GB in the long run. However, I've been told that recent MacB Airs have RAM welded into the motherboard.

Option 1: Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch Laptop MD760LL/B, 1.4 GHz Intel i5 Dual Core Processor (Early 2014)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00746Z6RK/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used

Pros: Like-new options are available and can be found right in the budget range at $650. Includes an SSD. 2014 edition not too old.
Cons: 4GB RAM (apparently welded into the motherboard. Please confirm if upgrade is not possible). 128GB SSD is a bit tight.

Option 2: Apple MacBook Air MJVE2LL/A 13-inch Laptop (1.6 GHz Intel Core i5,4GB RAM,128 GB SSD Hard Drive, Mac OS X)
http://www.amazon.com/Apple-MacBook-MJVE2LL-13-inch-Laptop/dp/B00VJ1P7TS?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=ox_sc_sfl_title_1&smid=A3IALHIDXPAMP3

Pretty much the same as option one but this one is Early-2015 and the price goes up by more the $100. There's an upgrade in the CPU but is it worth it?

Option 3: Apple 13.3" MacBook Air dual-core Intel Core i7 2.0GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB Flash Storage, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Mac OS X Lion
http://www.amazon.com/Apple-MacBook-dual-core-Storage-Graphics/dp/B008GV6QV2?ie=UTF8&keywords=macbook%20air&qid=1461293428&ref_=sr_1_1&refinements=p_n_size_browse-bin%3A3545275011%2Cp_n_feature_five_browse-bin%3A7817224011&s=pc&sr=1-1

Pros: If I recall correctly, an i7 is a great boost for rendering videos over an i5 (correct me if I'm wrong). So there's an upgrade in the CPU and RAM goes up to 8GB. SSD goes up to 256.
Cons: Price goes up to 740. It's a 2012 model.

Questions:

1. The options I've looked at on Newegg are all refurbished. Are refurbished MacBooks any good? I haven't heard anything appealing from buying refurbished laptops.
2. Is a 2012 model really that bad? What would the main differences from the 2014 and 2015 models aside from main hardware components be (If OS can be updated)?
3. How true is it that MacBook Airs cannot have RAM changes? I've heard that earlier models (such as the 2012 one) were not welded and therefore they could be upgraded. Confirm?


So, what is your opinion? Thank you for reading through all of this!

Edit: I know it's something hard to do, getting a MacBook with the budget there is and I've already tried to change her mind on Windows but she won't budge.
 

mrmez

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Aug 15, 2006
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Why are they crap?

Because they can use less powerful hardware to run a more efficient, more secure UNIX based OS, which you'll also get free upgrades for life?
Or because they use glass and aluminium instead of plastic, like a child's toy.

I guess IBM are wrong to deploy ~1,900 macs per week, citing only 5% of users need IT support compared to 40% of PC users.


If she's set on an Air, try test one, even just to check it out physically. As always, I'd get the fastest I can afford. Like many laptops, you can't upgrade (pretty much) anything, so make sure you buy one that will see you through a few years, since they do tend to last awhile.
We've got 1 Air at work. 13" 2011 i5 1.7 4Gb.
I wouldn't like to do a lot of editing on it, esp on a 13" screen, but for every day stuff it's great. The build quality is amazing as always, battery life is still great, and it's still thinner and lighter than most new stuff i've used.
 

Ari3l

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May 6, 2014
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Why get a powerful budget work/gaming laptop (http://www.amazon.com/Acer-E5-573G-15-6-Inch-GeForce-Windows/dp/B012IBOCRU/ref=sr_1_5?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1461297230&sr=1-5&keywords=gaming+laptop) or (http://www.amazon.com/Dell-Inspiron-i7559-763BLK-Full-HD-GeForce/dp/B015PYYDMQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1461297368&sr=1-2&keywords=Inspiron+i7559)

When you can get a crappy MacBook.
 

mrmez

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Aug 15, 2006
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Why are they crap?

Because they can use less powerful hardware to run a more efficient, more secure UNIX based OS, which you'll also get free upgrades for life?
Or because they use glass and aluminium instead of plastic, like a child's toy.

I guess IBM are wrong to deploy ~1,900 macs per week, citing only 5% of users need IT support compared to 40% of PC users.


If she's set on an Air, try test one, even just to check it out physically. As always, I'd get the fastest I can afford. Like many laptops, you can't upgrade (pretty much) anything, so make sure you buy one that will see you through a few years, since they do tend to last awhile.
We've got 1 Air at work. 13" 2011 i5 1.7 4Gb.
I wouldn't like to do a lot of editing on it, esp on a 13" screen, but for every day stuff it's great. The build quality is amazing as always, battery life is still great, and it's still thinner and lighter than most new stuff i've used.
 

captaincharisma

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Oct 13, 2004
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less powerful hardware runs programs more efficiently and more secure? and you accuse us for talking crap?

 

mrmez

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Aug 15, 2006
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Wuut?
I might need to break that sentence down to dot points so it makes sense to you...

-Mac OS is less resource hungry than Windows.
Given the lower overhead to run the OS, there are more resources available for apps. Our oldest macs have 2Gb ram, and still run fine on the latest OS.

-Mac OS, being UNIX based, is more secure and stable.
Think back to when you did those comp science units at uni.

Also, don't be so sensitive... "accuse us for talking crap". Where's the accusation?
The question was, "WHY are they crap?" Because they cost more? That's a pretty dumb argument. I can spend $50,000 on a Ford and get more power than a Ferrari. Therefor Ferraris are crap.
The car analogy sounds totally ridiculous, but it suddenly makes sense when you apply it to computers.
 
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