Deciding between chip options for used MacBook Pro

I’m getting a “new” laptop, primarily for internet use. I’m weighing some used options from Other World Computing (macbook pro 2020 with either an 2.0 Ghz i5 or 2.3 GHz i7 chip) vs something refurb from Apple (m1 or m2 chips).

Is there a significant difference in these chips, given that I’m not going to be using this machine for either gaming or video editing?

I like the OWC options – they come with more ram and a larger hard drive for less than Apple’s refurb options. I’ve purchased from OWC before and I’m happy with what I have.

My current machine is a MBP 2015 with a 3.1Ghz i7.

For those who will ask… I’m keeping the current machine, but it will be used for offline layout purposes (it’s running High Sierra to support an older layout program that I don’t want to replace)

If I was making a similar decision, I would go with Apple processors because it is clear Apple is devoting fewer and fewer resources to Intel processors. New macOS features and macOS updates will be available further into the future for Apple silicon.


I’d go for the Apple silicon option. You’re just getting way more bang for your buck. And less heat/noise.

Also, as @Halfsmoke points out, this is where Apple is putting its effort. This is the future.

Apple has a refurb M2 8/10 MBA with 16GB/1TB for $1549 right now. And if you need more RAM/storage there’s 24/2TB for $2089. Not dirt cheap, but definitely good value.‑core-cpu-and-10‑core-gpu-space-gray‑core-cpu-and-10‑core-gpu-silver


With the assumptions that raw performance is not a critical factor and that the budget is very tight, I think the most important factors to consider for the used Mac options you listed are the following:

  • Storage - Apple continues to charge unreasonable amounts for storage, so if drive size is critical, the OWC options clearly are superior. Unless you have good Internet access or you require very little storage space, I don’t recommend any of Apple’s 256 GB SSD options.
  • Battery - Battery life on Apple’s 2020 Intel machines is good, but it is much better on M1/M2 laptops. If you spend a lot of time unplugged, the Apple options are clearly better.
  • Lifecycle - Nothing official, but if you’re looking at 2020 Intel machines vs 2020 M1 machines, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple ends up supporting the M1 machines a little longer with macOS updates than the Intel machines, but who knows?
  • Warranty - OWC offers a 90 day warranty by default, whereas Apple offers a one year warranty on its refurbished computers.

If you have some budget flexibility, I’d try for an M1 Air with 16 GB RAM and at least 512 GB storage, but if the budget is very tight, and you need storage, OWC does have some attractive Intel MBP pricing, including 1 TB SSD options.

(If you’re talking about routine web browsing and office productivity tasks, I find that most users notice little or no difference in performance between the M1 and M2 models. FWIW, I continue to be surprised at how little difference there is in routine web browsing performance between even older Intel Macs and Apple Silicon Macs, assuming a reasonable ad blocker. I spend most of my time on an M1 Air and on an SSD-upgraded i7 mid-2012 MBP. Obviously, the M1 feels faster the old i7, but it is only very rarely that I feel like I am waiting for the i7 when browsing.)

PS. Updated to add: I agree with @Simon’s remark about heat and noise. An M-class Apple machine is much quieter and runs much cooler than a comparable Intel machine.