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Why I Bought A MacBook Pro Retina Mid-2015 Model In 2018

The end of an era.

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I had one of my little electronics-inspired freak outs this morning. They arrive from time to time, usually invited by my cutting of corners and going for a cheaper model at the expense of performance. I push my devices hard. I use them all day long. My laptop, phone(s), and cameras are the tools of my trade. When they don’t function seamlessly neither do I …

Alright, so I have a confession to make. I got pissed off in the spring of 2017 about my PC laptops going clunky and malfunctioning in under a year that I went out to Best Buy and bought a MacBook Air. It was on sale for a price that’s actually less than what they are selling for now, and it was by far the best dollar/performance ratio available.

Yes, as long-term readers of this blog should mockingly be pointing out, I talked crap about MacBooks and the people who buy them for years. I viewed them as paying for a logo …

Anyway, this morning is when I knew that I couldn’t go on another day with such a slight amount of storage.

I’m not sure if I didn’t know what I was talking about then or if things have changed. By 2017 equivalent PC laptops cost just about as much as a MacBook, so the choice is a matter of preference … not status.

Do you know what else? That MacBook Air was the best computer I’ve ever used. I grew to love the operating system and just everything about it.

Well, except for the fact that 128 gigs of internal storage and 8 gigs of ram are hard to work with if you’re driving it hard … and especially if you’re working in video. I took a gamble going cheap and I knew almost right off that I was going to need and upgrade.

However, this didn’t damper how much I enjoyed this machine. It functioned well. I was the idiot who didn’t buy enough power. So I ate it for more than a year and half — the longest run that I’ve had with a laptop since my first dinosaur of a Dell in 2004.

I will show photos of my laptop graveyard soon.

Anyway, this morning is when I knew that I couldn’t go on another day with such a slight amount of storage. Even though I keep all large files — videos and images — on external drives and only use the laptop for its processor, keyboard, and screen, it is still a challenge to keep everything inside of such a small package. (I should probably remind myself here that I may be getting spoiled: for an extended amount of time I worked on a laptop with 4 gigs — yes 4 gigs! — of storage). At least monthly I would start a day of work and find warning messages that I’m running out of space and need to delete files in order to stay operational.

So that’s how I spent my morning …


The MacBook Air was never meant to be a main computer — it is a lightweight, thin ultra-portable netbook. It’s lack of storage and ram meant that my workflow was regularly being obstructed. I always tell people to get more of a device than what you believe you will need … and then I always do just the opposite. So I told myself that if Best Buy had a deal on MacBook Pros that I would buy one.

I checked.

They did.

$300 off. Not bad.

Cheaper than anywhere else.

I pushed the button.

The machine that I purchased may seem a little odd. It’s the mid-2015 MacBook Pro. Why would I want a computer that’s multiple generations away from what’s currently trending?

Because that’s what’s better for my current needs.

The mid-2015 MacBook Pro is the last of the old model MacBooks. It doesn’t have that silly touch bar and it still has a variety of ports. The MacBook models which came after this merely have ports for USB-C — the same type of port that most phones now use. While USB-C is the future, we’re not — I’m not — there yet. All of my drives and other cables are USB 3, the old thunderbolt, or are SD cards. While I can get adapters for everything … do I want to? I may be a little old school: I think being able to actually plug things directly into your computer was a pretty neat innovation — pretty neat, intuitive, and easy. Octopussing my laptop with dongles and adapters is probably not the way forward. I will adapt to USB-C along with everyone else, but there is little point in going in early just to annoy myself. The change is still a year or two off — roughly my projected use time for a laptop.

Anyway, just because the model of this MacBook Pro is from 2015 doesn’t mean that the computer is old — it was actually manufactured in June … hardly two months ago.

The specs on the mid-2015 MacBook were also still competitive with all but the new 2018 version. That 32 gigs of ram and six core processor would me nice … But at 2X the cost, maybe not that nice. Someday. For now, 16 gigs of ram would serve my purposes adequately.

Where I’m probably going to invite mockery is the fact that the computer that I just purchased only has a 250 gig hard drive.

Wasn’t a small hard drive the reason why you upgraded to begin with!?!

Well, yes, but laptops don’t yet come with the hard drive capacity to meet my needs. For what I do, 1 TB is puny … as is 2 TB. I travel with a stack of 4 TB external hard drives and end up filling one up every six months or so. This means that if I did pay out the extra $500 or so for a 1 TB drive I would still need to actively be rotating out the data and relying primarily on external drives so what’s the point?

250 gigs gives me enough leeway to stave off the overflow warnings.

The mid-2015 MacBook Pro has become a classic — the last of an era — that people are still buying up. An act which, in the middle of 2018, is also a big f’ck you to Apple.

However, when the cost of 1 TB SSDs come down a little or I find a good deal I will probably buy one and slap it in. It would be nice to be able to edit videos in-house. The mid-2015 MacBook Pro was also the last MacBook that is easily user-upgradable. I.e. you can still crack the thing open and hack it to be what you want.

Ports galore. Ports galore. Ports galore. This machine is loaded with ports. There are two USB 3 ports, two thunderbolt ports, and HDMI port, an SD car slot, and a headphone jack. The thing is like an electronic pin cushion — I can stick just about anything in it. The versatility of this computer is beyond anything I’ve worked with yet. However, it was apparently too user friendly for Apple, and whatever engineer that came up with such a good idea was probably sacked long ago.

The mid-2015 MacBook Pro has become a classic — the last of an era — that people are still buying up. An act which, in the middle of 2018, is also a big f’ck you to Apple.

How dare you try to drive the direction of the market by inconveniencing me? How dare you take away the ports that I use and depend on? How dare you try to inhibit the user to repair and upgrade the hardware that they purchased for themselves, further increasing reliance on the technological priesthood who derives power from a population who views electronics as something magical that they cannot understand?

I may end up trying to keep this laptop longer than my usual cycle.

Filed under: Digital Nomad, Electronics, Technology

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3703 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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