• This topic has 38 replies, 18 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by jkomo.
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  • Any MacBook experts in
  • Premier Icon jkomo
    Free Member

    Son needs one for college, if I give him mine and buy a new one, is it easy to transfer my stuff over like it is on an iPhone.
    Or do I buy second hand for him, and if so any recommendations as a quick look reveals £500 gets you 5 year old one.
    He needs a half decent spec- i5 or something to run some specialist software.

    Premier Icon hols2
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    He needs a half decent spec- i5 or something to run some specialist software.

    If it were me, I’d find out more about the specialist software before spending any money. “i5” by itself doesn’t mean very much – a whole lot of different CPUs with different capabilities are called “i5”. Checking out the minimum spec needed for the software and comfortably exceeding that is generally a good idea, especially how much RAM is needed seeing as modern laptops are often not upgradeable.

    Also, is the software Mac only, available for Windows or Linux, recommended for one platform over another? Not limiting yourself to Macbooks gives a lot more options and upgradeability if the software is cross-platform.

    Premier Icon prettygreenparrot
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    Transfer is very easy. There’s a ‘migration assistant’.

    You will want to check out which machines will be supported by Big Sur (bottom of the page) when it releases if you’re looking second hand. Big Sur might not be of interest, but it gives an indication of which MacBooks are considered over the hill.

    Best thing? See if he can wait until the new MacBook Pro ARM-based machines release maybe next spring. Get yourself one of those, hand your old one to him. Alternatively, get one of the really nice new 16” MacBook Pros.

    It would be wise to find out what ‘specialist software’ to prepare. Though as was pointed out you will want to know the minimum RAM required and go higher if possible. A MacBook with 16GB RAM should be fine for most things. Though if it’s video editing your needs for RAM and CPU may be higher than most

    But as to compatibility, there should be no problem. If there is a program that won’t run on MacOS that he needs just use a VM. I ran Windows 10 doing software development, Linux Mint and MacOS Mojave fine on MacOS Catalina with Parallels on a 2017 15” MacBook Pro.

    Premier Icon hols2
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    But as to compatibility, there should be no problem. If there is a program that won’t run on MacOS that he needs just use a VM. I ran Windows 10 doing software development, Linux Mint and MacOS Mojave fine on MacOS Catalina with Parallels on a 2017 15” MacBook Pro.

    I use some specialist software for work that is only available on Windows. I got a Macbook back in 2012 thinking I could run Parallels for the Windows stuff. It was a horrible experience, I wouldn’t recommend it for software you need to use frequently. One of the most annoying things was the carriage return in the Mac OS is different to Windows and the software I use requires setting up control files in a text editor. The carriage return problem caused constant hassles with that. Tiny little issues like that can turn into major hassles. So I ended up just running Windows in Bootcamp and haven’t fired up the Mac OS in years. It works fine, but the Mac keyboard is a constant PITA for running Windows. I could have gotten a much better spec Windows machine for the amount that the MacBook, Parallels license, and Windows license cost. Point is, find out what you need first and buy that. If you need to run Windows to get your work done, buy a pro-level Windows machine. If you need to run Mac OS, buy a Mac. If you need to run both, Bootcamp works much better than VMs IME, but either way is a ballache and you need a much larger SDD either way.

    Premier Icon Superficial
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    As above, it depends what software he’s going to be using. MacBooks are IMO better than Windows machines for a lot of types of software dev. As above, I wouldn’t buy a macbook in order to run predominantly Windows software though.

    The issue about ARM machines is sticky too. If he needs even slightly obscure software it may take time to be ported to ARM and the wait will be annoying.

    Premier Icon spacemonkey
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    Yep, you need to clarify exactly what software he’ll be running and by all means post it on here.

    That £500 may well get him a decent secondhand i5 13″ or an Air. IMO I’d lay off the 16″ for now unless he really really needs the power and is happy carting around a £2500+ device that weights a fair bit. I had one for a few weeks and it was fantastic, but it also had it drawbacks.

    Not enough is known about the ARM models right now. They’ll prob need 1-2 years to bed in too.

    Premier Icon jkomo
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    Wow thanks for the replies. The software is something to do with stage lighting and music stuff. I think it is available on windows, but I thought it’s the kind of thing Mac does better. Purely my own prejudice cos I find windows laptops just slow down and break.
    I think I’ll treat myself and drop mine down to him.
    He will be working a lot at home (COs c19) so something nice to use.

    Premier Icon the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    Do a Time Machine back-up to an external drive before you try and migrate any files.

    Every Mac owner should do a Time Machine back-up anyway – is great – and has saved my arse on many an occassion!

    And we all know you really need a new one! 🙂

    Premier Icon hols2
    Free Member

    The software is something to do with stage lighting and music stuff.

    Artsy people generally like the pretty graphics of the Mac OS, so the software is probably optimized for Macs. If Macs are the standard thing in the industry, that’s what you should get (after checking, obviously).

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Free Member

    Artsy people generally like the pretty graphics of the Mac OS

    Not wishing to get into an argument, and you are right about artsy types, but the aesthetics is one of the things I hate about MacOS! W10 is beautiful with the regular Bing pictures of the day, and the themes that came with W7 had some brilliant art in the wallpapers.

    Premier Icon hols2
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    W10 is beautiful with the regular Bing pictures of the day, and the themes that came with W7 had some brilliant art in the wallpapers.

    I set mine up so they look pretty much like Win95. Why change a good thing? Just a pity there isn’t a Win3.1 theme pack, I’d go for that.

    Premier Icon jam-bo
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    if he’s a student, I’d be getting him to ‘buy’ it. educational discount is ~15-20%, free set of airpods and discounted apple care.

    Premier Icon austen
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    Just to reply @hols2, I agree that parallels in 2012 was pretty crap, but I’m now running some pretty hefty modelling software through it on a 2 year old MacBook Pro and it works seamlessly.  The processing power and integration is light years ahead of where it was back then,

    I’ve not found the niggles with keyboard etc, but it may not be a thing that happens with my software.  MacBooks are worth the money for me as they last 5yrs+ without significantly slowing down and much more reliable.

    Premier Icon hols2
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    MacBooks are worth the money for me as they last 5yrs+ without significantly slowing down and much more reliable.

    If you buy a decent quality Windows machine (which will cost nearly as much as an equivalent Macbook), you’ll find they last just as well and are often much more upgradeable. On top of that, Windows has much better backwards compatibility than MacOS, so even quite old machines can still run the latest OS. Cheap Windows laptops are a completely different thing, the low-end ones suck.

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    Windows has much better backwards compatibility than MacOS

    Is that true? My wife’s 2012 MacBook Air has just been updated to the latest Mac OS, it still runs beautifully.

    Meanwhile, my work PC has unfortunately been updated from ‘Designed for Windows 7’ to Windows 10 and it’s now almost unusably slow. This may not be a fair comparison, I suppose.

    Artsy people generally like the pretty graphics of the Mac OS

    I am not an artsy person at all really. I still like Mac OS?

    Premier Icon prettygreenparrot
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    @spacemonkey

    I’d lay off the 16″ for now unless he really really needs the power and is happy carting around a £2500+ device that weights a fair bit.

    I wouldn’t give that one to the son. Keep that, give him your old one.

    And the ‘use the educational discount’ is spot-on.

    Premier Icon hols2
    Free Member

    Windows has much better backwards compatibility than MacOS

    Is that true? My wife’s 2012 MacBook Air has just been updated to the latest Mac OS, it still runs beautifully.

    I’m running Win 10 on a PC, scanners, printers, and software that were purchased back in the WinXP era, i.e. pre-Intel Macs. Try running anything modern on a Mac that old.

    And, in a couple of years, all the Mac software will have to be recompiled for ARM chips, so any hardware or software more than a few years old will be orphaned too.

    The hardware and software I use for my job is moderately expensive and I don’t have a budget to replace it all. Windows backwards compatibility is a godsend for situations like that. Otherwise, I’d have to keep an old PC running XP just to run that legacy stuff.

    Premier Icon Sandwich
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    I’m running Win 10 on a PC, scanners, printers, and software that were purchased back in the WinXP era, i.e. pre-Intel Macs. Try running anything modern on a Mac that old.

    How much of that PC is original parts? It’s only a good example if the original motherboard, processor, disc and RAM are there. For comparison I’m working with a 2009 vintage iMac currently but it has an SSD and more RAM to allow it to function in a sprightly manner. It’s 2 versions of the OS behind though and will be retired shortly as it will be dodgy using it for financial work after the jump to Big Sur.

    Premier Icon Superficial
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    Windows backwards compatibility is a godsend for situations like that.

    You know that Mac OS apps are compatible for all Intel-based (since 2006) Macs, right? I’m sure there are some instances where people want more than 14 years of software backwards-compatibility, but is that really a consideration for home users?

    Premier Icon hols2
    Free Member

    How much of that PC is original parts?

    It’s a Core Duo 2 with 4 GB RAM. Can’t remember the rest of the specs, it’s at work and I’m WFH. I got it from a friend who left the country. His wife worked in IT and built it up, it was a pretty solid machine back in 2006. She was utterly paranoid about data security so insisted on taking the HDD with her. I put in a new 7200 RPM HDD, installed WinXP, then upgraded that to Win7 and finally Win10. It’s not fast, but it chugs along just fine for what it’s intended for – scanning forms and converting the data into Excel outputs. It runs a specialist OCR type program that is a bit pricey and is licensed for a single machine. I haven’t tried upgrading the MB, video, or RAM because I’m scared of disabling the license. Eventually that machine will die, so I’ll try swapping the HDD to a different machine, but that’s the cause of considerable anxiety. I’m hoping that the activation isn’t based on hardware.

    I cannot imagine any Mac that old still being able to run the newer versions of Mac OS.

    Premier Icon hols2
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    You know that Mac OS apps are compatible for all Intel-based (since 2006) Macs, right?

    As I understand it, you cannot upgrade the older machines to the latest versions of Mac OS. Will be happy to be wrong about that, seeing as I have a 2012 Macbook Pro that hasn’t been updated in several years.

    Premier Icon hols2
    Free Member

    You know that Mac OS apps are compatible for all Intel-based (since 2006) Macs, right?

    Well, I went and checked and it turns out my 2012 Macbook Pro cannot run Catalina. Apparently, Catalina will not run 32 bit apps, so perfectly good Mac hardware is being orphaned at about 8 years of age, whereas Windows stuff seems to still be working at twice the age.

    Premier Icon Superficial
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    Why haven’t you updated it for several years? As it happens, 2012 is the cutoff for the next big update (Big Sur). So your MBP won’t accept that, but it’ll still officially update to Catalina. There are 3rd party patches to update pre-2012 machines to Catalina if you want the extra features.

    It’s not completely analogous to Windows, though, since MacOS updates are iterative with new features being added each release (which is roughly yearly). The core system doesn’t change a great deal, so computers running, say, Mac OS El Capitan are fundamentally the same as current models. It’s not like the huge leap between Windows versions that happen only every 5-10 years or whatever. There are also still security updates for older machines that can’t accept the latest OS.

    Premier Icon hols2
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    Why haven’t you updated it for several years?

    I run Windows in Bootcamp.

    It’s not like the huge leap between Windows versions that happen only every 5-10 years or whatever.

    I’m guessing you haven’t used Windows for at least as long as I haven’t updated my Macbook. It’s given incremental updates every 6 months.

    Premier Icon Superficial
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    I use Windows sometimes at work but don’t use it recreationally.

    What I was saying is that Windows updates are like tiny bumps every few months, with massive updates every few years. Whereas MacOS updates are a bit more ‘linear’ with moderately big updates yearly and security/bug fixes more frequently.

    The point is that apps don’t suddenly just stop working when you do the yearly Mac OS updates.

    Premier Icon slowoldman
    Full Member

    Well, I went and checked and it turns out my 2012 Macbook Pro cannot run Catalina.

    I run Catalina on a mid 2012 MacBook Pro.

    Apparently, Catalina will not run 32 bit apps

    I thought the reason for 64bit was to do away with 32bit software. I suppose there are some old bits of software than haven’t been updated to 64bit though.

    Premier Icon hols2
    Free Member

    I run Catalina on a mid 2012 MacBook Pro.

    Mine is the early 2012 version, just missed the cutoff, I think.

    Windows updates are like tiny bumps every few months, with massive updates every few years

    Those massive updates stopped when Win10 was introduced. Updates are every 6 months now. Windows will not be going up to 11, it’s stuck at 10 forever.

    Premier Icon Cougar
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    I think it is available on windows, but I thought it’s the kind of thing Mac does better.

    Stop “thinking” and find out. If you’re right, get him a Mac; if you’re wrong, don’t.

    Purely my own prejudice cos I find windows laptops just slow down and break.

    You’re absolutely correct. It’s purely your own prejudice.

    Premier Icon johnnystorm
    Full Member

    Old job used to give us the cheapest tat and I bought a Macbook for home use as Windows was rubbish.

    New job actually spends a few quid on IT kit and Win 10 on a half decent machine I find preferable to my Macbook.

    If buying another machine for home I’d just get myself another Chromebook.

    /drifting off topic

    Premier Icon baboonz
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    As others have said, find out what software will be used. Universities many times tend to offer software suites to be isntalled in private pcs or to use remotely. From my experience, Apple systems had little support with these (unless you go down the parallels route), and most software packages worked only on Windows, or had only Windows license.

    Premier Icon John_Key
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    In regards to parallels, I have been running that on my 16″ MBP which has a I9 and 32GB of ram and run some geological modelling software on it. It goes really well, but not quite as well as the HP workstation with two 12-core Xeon processors and 128GB of ram.

    I was genuinely impressed with how well the MacBook copes with parallels as my earlier experience wasn’t great

    Premier Icon sharkbait
    Free Member

    Stop “thinking” and find out. If you’re right, get him a Mac; if you’re wrong, don’t.

    Daughter had just started uni and her old MacBook was too tired (battery), heavy and the speakers had stopped working.
    Obvious replacement was a MacBook Air which she would have loved.
    I looked at them and the Dell XPS 13 which turned out to be the same price but was lighter, faster, smaller, bigger and better screen, more ports, better keyboard and much better battery life.

    I didn’t get the MacBook Air!

    Premier Icon bigrich
    Free Member

    I’m very disappointed with my new macbook pro. It’s expensive, heavy and a bit clunky

    I think I liked the air I had best. I still use my 6 year old iMac.

    I like the touchbar thing though.

    Premier Icon Flaperon
    Free Member

    The software is something to do with stage lighting and music stuff.

    You really need to find out what the software is before buying the computer. Much of the software (ETC / Strand / Zero88 etc) was Windows only just a few years ago.

    Premier Icon jkomo
    Free Member

    Okay guys I’ll try and find out a bit more. Since we’ve been discussing this, my eldest wants a new windows laptop for uni. Someone mentioned earlier finding one with a metal case, does anyone have a recommendation for a well built windows one?

    Premier Icon sharkbait
    Free Member

    Take a look at the Dell XPS 13 range.
    They do a student discount also.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Full Member

    does anyone have a recommendation for a well built windows one?

    For build quality, Lenovo are hard to beat.

    When I was subbing in IT a few years ago our entire estate was Lenovo, laptops of T410-T420-T430 vintage. The bulk of repairs I had were moving parts – HDDs and fans, the occasional keyboard or trackpad. Mostly the rest was various user errors: new screen because they’d slammed it shut with a pen on the keyboard, that sort of thing. Actual electronic failure was as close to non-existent as made no odds and we had hundreds out there. Oh, and Lenovo make the service manuals freely available (on the T-series at least, not sure about the others).

    I still have my T420, build date of 11/11, it was declared obsolete by IT a couple of years ago and replaced with a Dell which is frankly toilet.* I stuck 8GB of RAM and an SSD in it, clean install of W10, and it flies.

    (* – I like Dell generally, it’s this particular model which isn’t fit for purpose.)

    Premier Icon jkomo
    Free Member

    Cheers Cougar.
    Thanks Sharkbait

    Will check those out.

    Premier Icon jkomo
    Free Member

    Okay, I picked up the MacBook Pro 13 today. Within an hour all my stuff was on it. Incredible really.
    Meanwhile the boy has ordered a posh HP that does fancy things allowing you to annotate pdfs which is good for uni apparently.
    Youngest is now resetting my old Mac.

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