Laptop replacement query

I’m getting ready to replace my trusty 2012-vintage MacBookPro, which is starting to have some persistent problems that no longer seem worth fixing, since it can no longer run a supported version of MacOS. I determined awhile ago that the current MacBook Air meets all my needs, but I have a question about durability.

I prefer to avoid replacing equipment as often as many people do now. Would a new MacBookPro be sufficiently more durable to justify the additional cost? Given that I need more RAM and more ports for peripherals, it’s just a few hundred dollars’ difference, but I don’t really need the added computing power. I’m also not seeing many M2 Pros for sale in the used market. Do there appear to be significant differences in durability between the Air and Pro these days? Anything else I should know?

Good lord I love my M2 MacBook Air. It’s everything I need. There are only two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, both on the left hand side - I only use one when I connect my backup drive for an occasional backup. There is a headphone jack on the back right of the machine - that’s kind of a weird place for a headphone jack, because many headphones have a long cord coming out the left ear speaker. But I never use the port myself anyway. There is also a MagSafe charging port on the back left. There is no HDMI port or SD card slot.

I got it in late July 2022. Battery health remains 100%. It’s incredibly small and light. If it ever throttles because of heat (there are no fans in the M2 MBA), I’ve never noticed it.

If you can get by without more than two USB ports, and without an HDMI, it is absolutely a fantastic machine. Build quality seems great to me.

As for how long Apple will support it with MacOS updates, none of us know the answer to that, but it should be as longs as any other M2 Mac gets updates I would think.


Durability? I assume you mean in the physical sense. I’m going to have to leave this question to others who perform all those cringe-worthy tests on computers.

Longevity? It’s always hard to say, but I would definitely look at an M2 or M3 model. Not because you necessarily need more power than an M1 (and if you don’t know, you probably don’t), but simply because Apple will probably support their latest processor for longer than two generations prior.

I realize that there is no M3 Air at this time. So by my standard, if you can’t afford to wait (which seems to be the case) you’re probably going to compare an M2 Air against an M3 Pro. The Pro will have a higher starting price, but it also has a nicer screen, a cooling fan (better performance under heavy load) and, of course, the newest processor.

I wouldn’t recommend going for the Pro or Max versions of the processor unless you have a specific need for it (e.g. more Thunderbolt ports, more RAM capacity, etc.). I would recommend maxing out the RAM (24GB for the non-Pro processor). I’d also recommend 2TB storage, if you can afford it, but if not, the base storage plus an external Thunderbolt SSD to hold big libraries (like Music, Photos and Movies).

So, with my recommendations in mind, here’s some pricing comparisons that may help:

  • 24GB RAM, minimum storage
    • M2 Air (13"): 256G storage: $1500
    • M2 Air (15"): 256G storage: $1700
    • M3 Pro (14"): 512G storage: $2000
  • 24GB RAM, 512G storage (to be a fair comparison between the Pro and Air)
    • M2 Air (13"): $1700
    • M2 Air (15"): $1900
    • M3 Pro (14"): $2000
  • 24GB RAM, 2TB storage
    • M2 Air (13"): $2300
    • M2 Air (15"): $2500
    • M3 Pro (14"): $2600

The interesting thing is that for equal storage, the 15" M2 Air is only $100 less expensive than the 14" M3 Pro. Which makes them pretty comparable.

Of course, only you know what your budget can allow.


Depending on your proclivity, another factor in the 2021+ MacBookPro redesign is they can be serviced in ways the 2016-2020 could NOT. The 2021+ is still very difficult, but at least there has been progress and that means more thought was put into how each component is built into the frame and interacts with other parts.

Most notable, is the new stretch adhesive used to attach the battery modules inside (similar to those removable wall hooks). If pulled carefully, the battery can be removed and replaced with out the use of liquid chemicals. Why Apple continues to eschew screws is baffling to many of us in the tech community, but this is a major improvement. Hopefully, this may almost eliminate the need to replace the entire top cover and keyboard just to fix a battery problem.

In my opinion, the MacBook Pro 2016-2020 (Intel) series was a poor example of design. They were (and are) riddled with defects. I would go so far as to say that any 2016-2020 owner should be given a huge trade-in discount on a new 2021+ model. Apple has done this before, such as with the PowerBook 190/5300 trade-in for a PowerBook G3. This was done to get the plague-ridden models “off the street” and perhaps clear a stockpile of PB G3s. Everyone benefited.


I don’t think there is any significant difference between MBA and MBP when it comes to durability. Both are very solid designs that hold up very well.

You mention lots of ports for peripherals. Do you need more than two TB ports (MBA)? Have you considered a hub? Do you value having ports on both sides of the machine (MBP) or is LHS good enough (MBA)?

IME, M2/M3 are so powerful (heck, even M1 was) that chances are 95% of users will be fine with a vanilla M2 or M3 for almost everything they do. And now there is actually a 14" MBP with a vanilla M3. :+1:

One thing that does IMHO support going MBP over MBA is the screen and speaker. The display is clearly superior on the MBP, both in terms of resolution (sharpness) as well as brightness. Also, if you use the built-in speakers, the MBP has the best set I’ve ever heard on a notebook. Cleary superior to the MBA.

The MBA is a great notebook. If its screen and audio are good enough, and you don’t mind just 2 TB4 on the LHS, chances are you’ll love it. If any of those items concern you, get the 14" MBP instead.

For longevity, make sure to get ≥16 GB RAM and at least 50% more than the typical storage you have used the last few years.

And once you do have your new Mac, enjoy it without regrets. If the point comes where you do need more RAM or SSD, don’t fret. Resale value is awesome for a well kept MacBook. My 2021 M1 Pro 14" will right now net me $1200 on or That means it effectively cost me $1600 for the past 24 months of use. That’s just $67/month. That’s less than I pay for my 1 Gbps fiber at home and barely more than I spend for T-mobile cell service every month. Once you realize MacBooks have such great resale value, you just get now what you need now, enjoy using it, replace it when necessary, and enjoy always having the greatest at comparably low cost. :slight_smile:

Ultimately, at the otherwise same config, the 14" MBP costs $200 more than the 13" MBA. You decide if the better screen/audio/ports are worth that or if the lighter weight and lower cost of the MBA makes more sense to you. Also, you can always get one first and later replace it with the other. Apple has a very generous 14-day no-questions-asked policy when it comes to returns. It’s solid. No shenanigans. Try them and decide yourself. No risk really. You’ll be fine wither way. :slight_smile:


After making the model decision, lurk the refurbished section of the Apple Store for a few weeks. You might find yourself a bargain.

I’m a firm believer in buying refurbished equipment from Apple. My current M1 MBP was purchased there.

1 Like

Regarding ports and hubs, see this (lengthy) discussion:

In particular some monitors behave like a hub and have USB ports that allow you connect external hard drives to a Macbook (as well as providing power and video via USB-c/Thunderbolt cable).

An observation on the Air. It doesn’t have an HDMI port, which makes it really frustrating as a machine to use for giving presentations. That’s a very strange decision on Apple’s part. Yeah, you can get a USB-C to HDMI dongle, so if that’s important to you take that into consideration.


Relatively few Macs have an HDMI port:

These Mac models have an HDMI port:

In any case, USB-c/Thunderbolt to HDMI cables are available to use instead of an HDMI to HDMI cable and adapter. But I guess that doesn’t help for lecture theatres.

Many of our lecture halls will have an HDMI USB-C adapter tethered to the projector. If you need it you can use it, if you don’t you plug in straight HDMI. But since so many people these days have USB-C the dongle is usually always left attached and people just plug that in and done.

Me, I haven’t used my HDMI port in basically forever.

IMHO I’d rather have another more versatile TB4 port than a specialized port I never use taking up lots of room. I do have a dongle. I bet others who hate having to bring the dongle love the built-in HDMI. OTOH, the built-in HDMI is IMHO still more useful than that card reader thingy.

In my recent experience, the places I need to present either provide an HDMI port or (in the case of my employer), the conference rooms connect to Microsoft Teams, so I join the same meeting as the room and use its screen sharing.

But ultimately I think it’s important to bring any adapters you might need. For a modern Mac, this would be a USB C-HDMI dongle and a USB C-C cable. In the past, I carried MDP-HDMI and MDP-VGA adapters for this purpose.

I have a rather large box of video adapter dongles, starting with the sync adapter that goes back to my old Mac CI… And having to lug a bunch of dongles just adds weight to the bag. We’re pretty much down to 2 connectors, USB-C and HDMI. That’s A Good Thing.