is it worth buying the newest macbook?

To give context, I am currently a sophomore in college working term time at a small hedge fund that my friends & I began over the summer, and consequently, spend a relatively decent amount of time on excel on a regular basis. I also frequently travel down to see my girlfriend (6-hour bus commute) and often work on the road.

That said, my existing setup is comprised of two computers: a 2018 MacBook pro (that I use for all daily consumption: classes, news, youtube, facetime, iMessage, etc), and an old Surface Pro (that I link to a monitor) for excel and work.

I've been thinking about upgrading to the newest Macbook Pro: I love the changes they've made to it, especially the M1 chip. I love the keyboard too, the overall design is super sexy, and the inter-Apple functionality is great. I've also heard that the new Macbook is way faster than previous ones, and the fan rarely goes off so it stays cool. Simultaneously, though, I also want to have a mobile laptop with excel shortcuts for when I'm traveling. My Surface Pro is quite bulky and heavy so I always avoid bringing it with me when I go places - I end up working on models with clunky Macbook shortcuts, which not only disturbs my workflow but also makes it weird when I transition back to my normal setup. 

I'm just curious to hear everyone's opinions on this - does it make sense for me to invest in the newest Macbook Pro and buy a ~mid-tier windows computer with excel shortcuts, or would most people recommend I just buy a high-quality windows laptop that I use for both my work and daily computer?

I'm sorry if this seems somewhat arbitrary/silly - I've just been pretty conflicted, and my parents keep telling me to hurry up and decide so I can take advantage of Black Friday deals. 

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Comments (36)

Dec 3, 2021 - 12:03pm

I'm a fan of Apple but it's useless for ML too. Can't run anything on it. I literally have to SSH into an AWS box just to run anything on it.

Note this is due to the M1 chip architecture. I'm sure there will be more adoption with tooling but it's not there yet.

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Nov 17, 2021 - 2:00pm

It's not stupid - this is partially why Apple is a multi trillion dollar company. Their products are so cool, sleek, etc. that you will make sub par productivity decisions just to have them. I'm half kidding - but when it comes to excel, that's the case (even though there are plenty of good options - bootcamp, etc.) 

I would get a windows laptop - spend some money, get a really nice power/thin/sleek one - and simplify your life for a little while. Since you seem very serious about the hedge fund, modeling, etc. that is probably going to cause you the least amount of headaches (and maybe you can write it off!). 

I'm going to have to do the same thing here soon - my work laptop, a Lenovo, will be off limits for personal use. Thus I'll be in the market for a laptop again after many years of avoiding it. I don't model heavily in my personal life, so I'm hoping to end up with a Mac or the Ipad Pro (new one). 

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Nov 18, 2021 - 2:39am

Problem is that Bootcamp doesn't work on the newer macbooks currently because of the M1 processors being ARM architecture. Parallels is the only way, but if you want to do that then probably best to go for 32gb ram at least (my Macbook consistently uses 12+ gbs of ram, even when I only have few tabs in chrome open).

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Nov 17, 2021 - 2:15pm

Get a Dell XPS. Was in a similar position as you and still a college student but going into IB. Unless you really need the power, an XPS is plenty enough for school and Microsoft Office apps. It's better to get used to windows and excel shortcuts now so your more used to it on the job. It will save you time. You're not going to see a mac in the office.

Nov 17, 2021 - 3:40pm

I would recommend getting a Windows laptop from Best Buy as you can get really good insurance for 2 years that covers everything.

I bought a Lenovo Yoga from them 3 years ago, but it finally died. Now I have a Lenovo Legion that I recently purchased and really like it so far.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Nov 18, 2021 - 9:20am

Right? I bought a 1k laptop in 2014 for grad school that's still going, granted, I've been treating it more like a portable desktop. I dont move it unless I have to, but it still gets games of league on low settings lmao. Great for excel with the built in number pad

Nov 18, 2021 - 12:09pm

Yeah maybe I could have gotten it fixed, but keyboard stopped working for some reason. I couldn't use a usb keyboard either.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 3, 2021 - 4:02pm

I did pretty much the same. Firm gave me a reimbursement allowance for a laptop, and I decided to go one step further. If $1,500 of it is "free", I can afford another $800 out of pocket for something with real horsepower that covers personal and professional that'll last at least 3 years then repeat the cycle.

  • 1
Nov 17, 2021 - 4:27pm

No. You don't need it.

Interested in health tech, consulting, and entrepreneurship.

Nov 17, 2021 - 10:47pm

Note that M1 is ARM-based and that running Windows things on a Mac will be more difficult for a few years ... e.g., can no longer dual boot into Windows, and if you run it in a VM via Parallels you have to use the ARM version of Windows which is still experimental. Also, software that is not available for ARM has to be emulated, which can hurt performance.

Just saying.

Dec 3, 2021 - 5:07pm

Exactly this. I have an M1 Mac and am currently building my own custom solution to the problem, which is super annoying. I'm a software engineer and running some proprietary stuff with custom video streaming platforms and that tech is straight up incompatible. 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
Nov 17, 2021 - 11:49pm

Absolutely not. Excel for macOS is shit. Lots of plugins don't work. It's slow. 

If you want it for personal use, then sure. I actually love my M1 MacBook Pro. But I would never use it for financial modeling, making slide decks, or anything else that the industry requires.

Currently: future neurologist, current psychotherapist Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)
  • 2
Nov 18, 2021 - 9:36am

On the contrary, I'm a huge Apple fan. All of my tech is on Apple - laptop, phone, watch, tablet, AirPods, HomePod. What you're saying isn't true - the two versions used to actually be different. There were features on one that aren't present on the other. And of course- you can't do VB macros on macOS because, well, it's VB. The move to Office 365 helped fix a lot of these issues, but in the years prior to that, I remember struggling immensely to work with the macOS version of Office. Pivot tables/charts didn't used to exist on macOS Excel, for example :(  I had to switch laptops when I started my MBA because my MacBook Pro wasn't cutting it and I was tired of having to use Parallels/Boot Camp. Office is also known to be a memory hog on Mac vs. Windows.

Currently: future neurologist, current psychotherapist Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)
  • 3
  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Nov 20, 2021 - 7:18pm

Do you really work in IB if you are asking this question? I use macbook as my personal laptop, but it is the 2018 one so it has windows bootcamp. When you have worked in IB, you know how much time the shortcuts save you. The most basic shortcuts, Alt + other keys don't work on excel for mac. If you have used the shortcuts and plugins, it becomes annoying to have to manually click on the tabs to do the most basic stuff. Also, the basic functionality of a software being same doesn't imply that the entire software is identical.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't buy the new macbook though, but make sure to buy the highest end if you are going to run parallels for mac, which you likely will.

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Nov 18, 2021 - 12:57am

Hell yea man, think different, be unique with that macbook, iPhone, airpods and apple watch. Make sure to take notes on your iPad in class to really stand out. No one else will be like you, "one of a kind" they'll say. People will ask for your perspective that only your "outside the box" mindset can bring to the table. Consooooooooooooooooooom!

Nov 18, 2021 - 2:35am

I was thinking the same thing and decided not to buy cause from my experience Apple products are actually getting worse, not better. I have a 2019 MacBook now and sometimes I get sticky keys (the keys get stuck and I can't type properly), and several times the monitor was completely black while the laptop is working and there is no way to turn it on (there is a special reboot solution that has to be used), plus battery is acting weird - sometimes it show like 20% and then the laptop switches off in a couple of minutes without warning and doesn't turn back on until I plug in the laptop, and the laptop overheats sometimes and gets noisy. I remember I had a MacBook back in like 2011 and I used it for ~5 years and it was much better and didn't have such issues.

Nov 18, 2021 - 2:57am

same experience with the screen, battery, and especially the god dam keyboard (i cannot emphasize how much i HATE the butterfly keyboard; i love playing typeracer and i swear to god ive losted so many times cuz of this dogshit) - thing is i heard the newer one resolved so many of the problems with the previous 2017-2020 models (updated keyboard, m1 chip which resolves battery and speed issues); thats why i was so excited about it but i think after reading everyones comments, the cumulative advantage of just getting more fluid with excel shortcuts & money saved probably outweighs the marginal satisfaction i get out of buying the new mac. thank you to everyone for their opinions 

Nov 18, 2021 - 3:44am

If you're going into finance I highly suggest getting a non-Mac such as a thinkpad or something. Being fluent in windows excel and all the other Microsoft office products is pretty crucial and will only help you when you get into the working world considering it's very likely you'll be given a non-Mac as your work machine.

  • 1
Nov 18, 2021 - 10:54am

Echo many comments here. M1 mac is mind-blowing, but I think you'd regret going mac over pc if you want to work in finance. Personally I use Lenovo x1 carbon and love it





  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Nov 18, 2021 - 12:42pm

If you can afford both a Macbook Pro AND a midrange (~$1000) Windows laptop, it's very nice having work and personal life separate. You obviously can't do much in Excel with a Mac, but I actively hate doing anything personal on Windows. If you are a Mac person you will probably feel the same way.

Nov 19, 2021 - 6:21am

Best Buy lets you buy a laptop and return it after 7-10 days (I think). This could be a good way to grab a Lenovo or Dell and try it out and then return if you don't like it.

What do you call an economist who forecasts? Wrong!
Nov 24, 2021 - 3:44pm

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