Macbook vs. Chromebook?

Hello moustachio’d ones. I’d love some advice on wise computer buying practice…

Computers aren’t really buy it for life kinds of acquisitions, unfortunately…

I recently started a new job in which I will be able (and possibly required) to occasionally work from home. Awesome! Except that I am not issued a laptop as I had hoped I would be. My home computer is a Macbook from 2007 that I’ve been stringing along for a few years. It’s updated to its fullest RAM and software capacity and clean for a 7 year old machine, but still running too slowly for me to be able to work from it effectively. Lovely for MMM web surfing, but once I get into actual work, no bueno.

My new job primarily uses google docs, and for the occasional and less in-depth work I’d be doing from home, I’m thinking a chromebook might be sufficient.

Anyone have experience with a chromebook? My options are to plonk real $ into a new Macbook (oh how I want to…but frugality!), purchase a used macbook, or just buy a $199 chromebook (or even a used one?).


I’ve been really happy with my macbook for the last 7 years. I was really hoping to make it to a solid 10, but that might not happen given the new job. I like the reliability of the mac machines, but then again, I like the idea of being able to delay the purchase of a new “real” computer by a few more years. I use a mac desktop at work, no real interest in moving to a windows or linux platform, though I might be persuadable if anyone has good suggestions on that front.



If you get VPN access and remote access to your office computer via RDP, VNC, remote X or whatever is used on apple computers, everything should be sufficient which is able to run necessary clients and suits your available money.

If though you have to work “offline”, I can’t give you any advice since I have neither used ChromeBooks (which I heard are useless without proper internet) nor Apple computers.

I do remote work as well sometimes from the busses and trains when communiting or (at least in summer) from the parks. Since my office setup and tools are mostly shell enabled, I can even work from my mobile phone by just SSHing into my VMs.

But in general, the real answer massively depends on the tools you usually use, have to use and their availability for the systems you might use. And since you din’t tell what software you use, no one cann say something in this regards.

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I picked up a refurbed macbook air there 2 years ago, no issues with it (bar the usual macOS update issues) and its managed everything I’ve chucked at it so far. Including one day where I had xcode, android studio, iOS & android emulators running, expo (a react native thing), an erlang app, a rails app, an ember app, an elixir app and vim running aswell, not including chrome, hipchat ect.

So I’d recommend that route. Its a bit cheaper than a new one but they come in a like new condition. I have the 2015 macbook air with a 256gb ssd, 8gb ram and an i7.

All that said if I could get my hands on a Dell XPS 13/15 Ubuntu edition I would, I miss linux :confused:

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Word of note, if your Mac OS on it is even remotely half-updated, it underclocks the CPU based on the voltage from the battery. I.E. as the battery gets older, the computer gets slower, it is to help the battery life. Get a new battery and you may see a new gain on speed that makes it worth using again.

Otherwise I do everything over terminal or VNC, so I use a chromebook. I do have a work issued laptop, but I still don’t use it because the chromebook is better in every way I use it (especially battery life). :slight_smile:

(Mmmm tasty pixelbook that I cannot afford…)

Chromebooks are awesome if everything you do is web based though, I highly recommend. I’ve converted everyone in my family from windows/mac to chromebooks in the past few years and they love it (plus they don’t call me to repair their stuff anymore ^.^). :slight_smile:

If you have any specific questions on a chromebook (like let me find you a good one for a good price, some brands are crap), just ask. :slight_smile:

But otherwise, I’d say try getting a new battery for your laptop if the rest of it is fine.

Depends on what you want to do offline. Chromebooks support the HTML5 offline webworkers standard, so any websites that use it (which includes Google Docs and GMail) will continue to work offline and will resync when back online. Plus it supports NaCL and downloaded applications, plus Android apps, android apps work very well on modern chromebooks. :slight_smile:

So yeah, that’s another reason for +1 Chromebooks, a modern one runs Android apps too (even Microsoft Office’s full features android app works on it).

Yeah I mostly use my phone, sometimes a bluetooth keyboard with it too.


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A Chromebook is a laptop of a different breed. Instead of Windows 10 or macOS, Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome OS. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with most applications and documents living in the cloud.

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What exactly is that? My XPS 13 came with Windows, and I just installed Fedora over it.

That’s a Dell Developer Edition. Basically a laptop specifically loaded with hardware that will play nice (and Dell drivers where needed). Every dev I know that has one loves it fwiw. I’ve got one of the 17 inch precision’s running Mint.

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I remember that dark ages of Linux on laptops, but I’ve never had any of those issues on my XPS. My only factory Linux PC was a bad thing, so I went back to just installing over factory Windows.

To the original question, I’m a little surprised his Mac can’t run Google Docs. My years old tablet runs it fine. That being said, if Google Docs is the primary focus, a Chromebook should be fine. VPN/RDP would work, but that’s often out of the hands of a lowly employee.

A macbook would probably be best for a development job. You could use a Chromebook if you wanted to but keep in mind you’d be limited to “Web IDEs” for development. This could violate corporate policy since another company would be holding sensitive data (I.e. company source code) (talk to your manager and get their opinion before using Web IDEs!).

Unless they host their own web IDE.

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That’s true, AWS actually offers Cloud9 as an enterprise grade product now, in the future I don’t doubt we’ll see more companies using Web IDEs for fleets of less powerful computers. I mentioned that so anyone considering using a chromebook for work-related tasks doesn’t get in trouble for “leaking” company data though on accident still a big no-no.

I’ve been using a couple 2015 13" macbooks (i5, 8gb, 128ssd) through work for the last while, and I’ve been super happy with their performance. I think if I had to replace my personal computer, the $700-900 or so for one of these used would be a good middle ground. I would guess they probably have a good 5 years longer in them as daily drivers. Puts you at < $15 a month for decent laptop. It also has the bonus of a non-toy feeling keyboard and some useful ports.

I’m not sure a new macbook is really worth paying double for compared to that if you care about frugality. The spec isn’t a ton better, and it seems a real in-between model for features.

I’d be curious about the ubuntu-first dell laptops as well.

WAT! Are you serious? I haven’t heard that yet about the laptops.

According to the reddit thread that found it out about cell phones they tested on laptops as well and found the same results. Thus a new battery gets it fast again. :slight_smile:

Thanks, I also bought XPS 13. :slight_smile:

That’s false, if the battery health is low macOS may optimize itself to help the battery keep up however updates don’t automatically slow down old models. If you’re worried about your system’s battery an Apple Store will happily replace the battery for you for like $100ish or less in most cases.