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I am a developer in the Linux ecosystem and I need to build an application in the Apple ecosystem but I am unfamiliar with Apple products.

What is the cheapest MacBook Pro that I can purchase to start and use for web application development? It would have to be capable of running a small Oracle database and possibly an ETL tool.

It does not have to be a new model as I have seen some ‘older’ models for a good price. If you could provide the specs and estimated cost that would help me sort things out. I have researched some articles and it seems the MacBook Pro is preferred but beyond that my knowledge is limited.

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  • Somewhat confused as to what the requirements are here. You've stated you a Mac to develop for the Apple ecosystem, but then go on to discuss a webapp using an Oracle DB. What exactly are you building here? Sidenote: What's you target? A $150 MacBook from 2008 will run the latest version with a little fiddling, and will actually feel fine day-to-day with a quick SSD upgrade, but it's really not going to be doing much. Do you have a baseline of what's acceptable using a comparable laptop from another vendor? – JMY1000 Jun 14 '18 at 9:20
  • @JMY1000 - good question. I am looking for a Mac laptop comparable to a Dell Latitude E7450, 500GB SSD, Intel i7, 8GB memory. The Oracle database is a free version (XE version). – tale852150 Jun 14 '18 at 13:53
  • Do you specifically want a MacBook Pro or would you be interested in a MacBook Air or MacBook? Would used be okay? What about Apple Refurbished (basically new)? – JMY1000 Jun 15 '18 at 17:43
  • @JMY1000 Prefer to stick with Pro but, if it is not too much trouble could you provide a suggestion for both a Air and Pro? – tale852150 Jun 15 '18 at 17:45
  • @JMY1000 and ‘yes’ I can go refurb – tale852150 Jun 15 '18 at 17:46
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Early 2011 to Mid 2012 MacBook Pro 15" non-Retina

Within the MacBook Pro line, there's two big cutoff points: the switch from a dual core in early 2011, and the introduction of the Retina line in mid 2012. For sake of rough comparison, we'll separate things out into these three categories.

Model                 | Passmark     | Cost          | RAM upgradability? | Storage upgradability?
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Latitude E7450        | 3400 - 3798  | ~$270         | Yes                | Yes
Late 2008  - Mid 2010 | 1540 - 2846  | ~$190 - $240  | Yes                | Yes
Early 2011 - Mid 2012 | 5460 - 8454  | ~$330 - $520  | Yes                | Yes
Mid 2012   - Mid 2015 | 7369 - 10202 | ~$590 - $1120 | No                 | Yes, with some SSDs

Comparing the E7450 to the MBPs, it falls into this weird gap performance-wise between the dual cores and the quad cores with the rMBPs well above what you need, since it's a newer dual core without hyperthreading. Purely for future usability, I'm going to recommend you spend the extra bit and get a lower end quad core.

Note that the performance of the rMBPs actually overlaps the standard MBPs, since they were released simultaneously with the same processors. Besides the upgraded screen and lighter weight–things that seem to be unimportant to you–the early rMBPs seem to offer little advantage, while carrying a price premium, having less I/O, and less upgradability. As such, I'm going to recommend you stay away from them.

Depending on what model you get, you'll probably want to upgrade the RAM and storage to match your reference laptop. Both of these are user serviceable on the unibody MBPs, and can be easily serviced following the appropriate iFixit guide. If you're not using the optical drive, you can also swap it out for a secondary HDD or SSD. Note that there are some issues with SATA III compatibility to be aware of, but these are general non-issues if you're careful.

Note that prices are approximate based on recent eBay sold listings. As with any complete system, finding a reasonable price on a used machine will take some patience and searching on various sites.

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  • Great info. So if I am reading you correctly, you are suggesting the third line in your table w/o the Retina display, correct? If so, is there a model number or model number range you can suggest? – tale852150 Jun 21 '18 at 22:45
  • @tale852150 Yes. EMC 2353, 2563, 2556. – JMY1000 Jun 22 '18 at 1:11
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    ok, fantastic! Thx to you I now feel I can navigate- or at least start - my adventure in the Mac ecosystem. – tale852150 Jun 22 '18 at 1:14

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