Buying a New Mac - Seeking Advice

If this topic is not appropriate, I leave it to the moderator to delete it. Since so many of you are extremely tech savvy, I trust you will be able to offer useful suggestions.

I need to buy a new laptop and am debating between two choices 16-in MacBook Pro: one is 512GB SSD storage and the other 1TB SSD Storage. My question is if the extra $200 are worth it? An external hard drive is $200 or more, so may be it is worth it. On the other hand, not having too much space pushes me to use an external hard drive and develop a system for backups and reduces the stress if I need to suddenly start working only from my external hard drive.

My current DT database is 50GB and growing. I have other databases, but use an external hard drive to store them. In addition to DT, I also use Scrivener, but these databases are not large. Something that takes a lot of space are videos I need to record. I use Quicktime Player and store the vides in an external hard drive as well as in Dropbox. The Apple store person told me that the videos will be processed much faster than on my current computer which is such great news. Occasionally, I need to download software that takes space (e.g. Parallels).

Edit 1: I am adding one more question. Should I buy AppleCare+? If so, which one? I do not think I have ever bought AppleCare (or may be once), but I never needed it in the past. However, with my current computer, I had a swollen battery twice.

Edit 2: It turns out I cannot use my current Dell external monitor. Does anyone have recommendations for external monitors for MacBook Pro M1?

My current laptop is mid-2015. The battery is swollen – for the second time – and when I went to the Apple store yesterday, I was told I should invest my money into buying a new laptop. I will need to go for the 16" since I need a larger screen, but the question is which one to buy? Obviously, the cheaper the better. What I would like is to be able to use the computer given my needs for as long as possible.

Thank you in advance.

Buy as much as you can, esp disk space. You will have the machine a long time and it is not upgradable.


Not inappropriate at all :slight_smile:

I agree with @rmschne on this. Get as much as you can comfortably afford.
However, if you do feel you would slack on your backups with too large an internal drive and you couldn’t afford an additional external, I’d opt for the smaller internal and get a good external drive.


I have only 1 recommendation for your new Laptop: do not take a 500 GB SSD, take at least 1 TB.
You mentioned a swollen battery in you current Laptop. A damaged battery can ignite or explode, I would be very careful with it.

Edit: sorry BLUEFROG, this reply was not for you. Unfortunately I do not know how to correct it


Currently on the lookout for a good one to store my massive and ever growing DT libraries! Any suggested brands or specific models? Looking for something I can keep plugged in and keep permanent access to DT libraries.


I have used Western Digital drives for years. Switched from Seagate many years ago.


I asked this question several months ago. Check this thread: Recommendations for External Hard Drive

People gave great suggestions.

1 Like

No worries! :slight_smile:

Thank you @Anna_123 . You got a great thread going! I have just asked about a drive I have in mind.

1 Like

People are smart and nice here. What can be better?


I agree: push yourself to buy the larger SSD. I make 2 volumes on mine: one for my current activities, the other for an archive that I rarely change. This means I don’t have to back up the whole 1TB every time and it makes me do housekeeping on the current volume. In the future, if I need more space, I can move the archive to an external disk.


I am using two external hard drives now Samsung and WD, each 2TB. Is that what you mean by good external drive?

Those sound pretty good to me :slight_smile:

1 Like

I work in TV/Film and we can generate TBs of data in one day.
I’ve seen different hard drive companies go from being the relied-upon trusted provider to persona non grata a few times.
Currently Samsung T5 2TB drives are popular for moving smaller amounts of data around and pretty reliable. I think what’s in the supply channels is the last of the T5s as T7 are what’s being made now.
The upshot for us is fewer points of failure between the storage media and the cable. Some of the T7 drives have a thumbprint sensor security device which is an annoyance and a possible problem in any sneaker-net. Lacie Rugged drives are still popular but the longer something is popular, the greater chance of running into someone who’s been burned by a bad drive and you can never tell if it was operator error or mechanical failure. (Please don’t carry your bus powered drives around with the cable plugged in, just don’t)

Conclusions I’ve been able to draw

  • a good brand of drive to buy today is not guaranteed to be a good brand to buy a year from now
  • you don’t have to read DriveNerd Monthly but it is worth it to check in with an expert to see what people are using if you’re planning to start a new archive on a new drive
  • fancy new tech has no place on a storage device of valuable data. Let other people test out new tech, don’t test it out on your precious data.
  • the least reliable drive is the one that’s just come out that no one has used for more than a month.
  • the usual backup maxims always apply - data doesn’t really exist if it isn’t backed up on to a MINIMUM of two places, two geographic locations and two kinds of devices (external drive and cloud on top of your working copy)
  • you’re not really backed up if you haven’t tested restoring from your backup and confirmed no data loss.

Perhaps checking the latest Backblaze report helps, too. They use tons of disks and thus have fairly reliable statistics on failure of them.


My recommendation is buy as much as you can comfortably afford. I went with the 16" Intel last year, with 64GB of RAM and 2TB of disk. I have about 600GB free now. This boils down to how you intend to use your system. As one person mentioned, buy as much as you can now because you cannot easily upgrade things later.

For backup strategies, and there are a lot of them, I have a 4TB SanDisk Portable SSD drive that I have formatted as a boot drive - whenever the OS is upgraded I make a new copy of my boot partition using ChronoSync (ChronoSync | Premier Mac Backup and Sync App). I also have a second 4TB WD External spindle disk and have ChronoSync perform weekly backups to that. Lastly I use the BackBlaze service ( that continually backs up all changes. There is an option to maintain file versions forever, which is handy to me.

I buy AppleCare+ for everything and it has saved me once so far.

On the use of DropBox - good service BUT it isn’t a backup service as much as it is a mirroring service. What is meant there is, if you delete it on your local drive the deletion is sync’d to DB as well. Depending on your account type you might be able to save multiple versions for an extended period of time.

I’m not familiar yet with monitor options for the M1 as I’m waiting for a 2nd or 3rd generation of Apple silicon before I leave my Intel Mac.


Thanks for all this. I bought a larger RAM since I know I will reach a point when I will want to install software but won’t be to do so because I would run out of storage.

I am really leaning toward getting AppleCare+ now because of the batteries. I have used a Mac since around 2004, and have rarely needed any repairs. Whenever I needed them, they were not that expensive.

1 Like

Are you making sure you are getting adequate ventilation under the laptop?

The Mac laptop will not be upgradable in terms of storage and RAM
I would advise:
Lots of RAM — as much as you can afford
If you will be moving your laptop around a lot then go for more storage (SSD) on the laptop
If the laptop is 90% desktop bound (using an external monitor) then a Thunderbolt connector (TB4) to an external SSD (not a spinning hard drive) is the way to go. This will be plenty fast for DT3 use. TB4 transfer will be faster than a SSD drive enclosure can provide. External SSD storage is much cheaper than Apple internal SSD. Lots of video encoding would however mandate use of on board SSD storage.
Backup is essential - either an external hard drive (as it is backup it does not need to be fast - and spinning drives are very cheap).
Offsite backup is essential - I use Backblaze. This will backup all storage on the laptop and any attached non network storage.
Remember that iCloud storage is not a backup strategy.
Regarding Apple care - I have not bothered and have never needed it. You will have 2yrs warranty if in Europe anyway. Swollen batteries are not too common and the cost of battery replacement anyway would be less than AppleCare. Make a small spreadsheet using Numbers and work out the relevant costs — it is your money anyway!


I had something similar offered by the vendor of my iPad. The one time I’d have needed it (in about 20 years of using Apple products), the conditions were so warped that I never bothered to look at this kind of “warranty” again.

1 Like