MacBook or ThinkPad, which is the best starter business laptop?

Laptop Replacement

I recently needed to replace my primary outdated Windows laptop that I use to research and write content on my https://www.financialsombrero.com blog. Below is the summary of the research I did before deciding between a MacBook and Lenovo ThinkPad.


The Apple MacOS platform 

I first started looking into the 2019 MacBook Pro and MacBook air laptops. Apple hardware has a very good reputation as a reliable tool that can outlive other Wintel laptops. Apple computers, and specifically MacBook's seem to be the staple for entrepreneurs and small business computing, especially for photography or video recording and editing tasks. 


Starbucks

Walk into any Starbucks and you will more than likely find Starbucks squatters (students, small business owners, etc.) working on their MacBook's. To be specific, the main toolset I typically see in a Starbucks includes: (i) a MacBook laptop, and (ii) Apple Air buds or Beats headsets. Perhaps I can learn from these seemingly productive entrepreneurs.


The MacOS platform is new to me, as I have been a Wintel/PC and occasional Unix/Linux user for most of my career. The new MacBook's have plenty of great features and power, probably more power than I need to write text, edit code and images. I then decided to go to the Apple store to evaluate and purchase either the 2019 MacBook Air or 2019 MacBook Pro. 


One Issue with the MacBook

The only problem with the MacBook's that I could find was the feather touch keyboard. I simply couldn't get comfortable using it. I had tested older MacBook models, and their keyboards were easier to use, at least for me. I have been using ThinkPad's for my corporate jobs for as far back as I can remember. 


The MacBook's are great machines, but if you been a ThinkPad user your entire career you might not adjust to the Apple keyboard feel right away. When I asked the employee's at the Apple store about the issue I had with the laptop, they claimed that I would get used to the keyboard in no time. They recommended that I sit down with the MacBook pro and type for a long period of time to see how I could adjust. So I took their advice and typed for nearly thirty minutes on a new MacBook pro.


After thirty minutes I still couldn't get used to the Apple keyboard. Something told me that I just needed more time on this new keyboard, and I really wanted to own this all metal work of art laptop. My time was limited that day, and so I walked away and considered looking for a lower cost MacBook Pro alternative- Remember this is a personal finance blog.


Alternate Hardware Plan- Used ThinkPad/Lenovo:

The Apple MacBook Air and MacBook pro cost between $1,000 - $1,200 dollars using an available price match from Best Buy. To be clear, costs for any new business venture are important, so selecting the correct hardware is key. I then put a plan together to see if I could buy a slightly less sleek and lower processing power ThinkPad for less than half the price of the MacBook. The next candidate was a used Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook from 2012. 


ThinkPad:

I found this freshly formatted corporate refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook listed for $400 dollars on https://Offerup.com. The seller ran a small laptop refurbishment business. He purchases retired corporate laptops on eBay in bulk. He then fixes any issues, formats, wipe's or replaces the hard drives and then loads a fresh copy of Microsoft's Windows 10 Operating System. He then resells the laptops Offerup.com and Craigslist. 


By the way, after using Offerup.com I'm not sure I ever want to use craigslist again. Selling on craigslist requires little to no actual verification, so scammers and phishers seem to contact you whenever you sell anything. Offerup.com requires verification, and it actually has a GUI from this decade- great job Offerup.com


More ThinkPad

This ThinkPad model had the touchscreen, an intel-i7 processor and nice 13.9 inch size. It's a thin 2012-13 year model, and although it wasn't as powerful as the Apple Hardware, the ThinkPad did have a solid state drive and most importantly a perfect weight and keyboard resistance for me. So this decision to buy this laptop versus the more expensive MacBook was easy.


The ThinkPad also has the very useful small buttons above the function keys, including a button for power, volume, microphone and speaker mute buttons. Not all ThinkPad's have these exact buttons in the same location, but I found this setup to be perfect. Fortunately for my budget, when I purchased this laptop through offerup.com I was able to negotiate the price down to $300 dollars. The seller asked me to meet him at a Starbucks near his residence. Yes, this Starbucks was also filled MacBook's, Beats headphones and entrepreneurs hard at work on their keyboards. Upon closer inspection however most of the "entrepreneurs" seemed to be playing video games, watching YouTube and/or reading Instagram posts.


ThinkPad Teardown:

Once I got the laptop I followed my normal pattern of removing the bottom cover to inspect the state of the hardware myself. In my opinion the best way to learn about a new computer in your possession is to disassemble it. 


The only item that needed replacement was the battery, as it didn't hold a full charge for more than one hour. I found the Lenovo replacement battery on Amazon for $150 dollars, I then found a cheaper version of this battery for my laptop for $42 dollars, but it needed to be shipped from China. Well, the $42 battery showed up on my doorstep one week later. I did a quick battery replacement and my used ThinkPad now holds a charge for around four hours. This laptop with an upgraded battery is now my main computer for https://www.financialsombrero.com


Final Cost Comparison MacBook vs ThinkPad:

As with every financialsombrero.com blogpost, cost comparison and benefit should be spelled 

out. In this case, the new MacBook Pro was $1,200 dollars plus $93 dollars tax for a total of $1,293 dollars.


The used Lenovo/ThinkPad was $300 dollars plus a $42 dollar battery for a total of $342 dollars total. This financial purchase decision is a no brainer. I found a functional used ThinkPad that cost about 1/4 the price of a new MacBook Pro. The lesson here. If you are starting a business, make sure to factor in the costs of the hardware you will need. In my case, I simply didn't need a new computer designed for video editing, so finding this used inexpensive business laptop will serve me well. I recommend pricing out several computing options before buying new and expensive hardware tools. 


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Note that I am not a financial or legal professional, nor am I licensed to sell securities, or any other financial instruments. Given this statement, I strongly recommend that you consider this blog as entertainment value. Although, I sincerely hope that I can motivate you to learn to build your own financial knowledge and wealth.