How Photographers Can Buy a Working Macbook Pro for Just $22

MacBook Pro computers have been the industry standard laptop for many years now. These machines usually cost a small fortune but can be found much cheaper if you're willing to do a bit of detective work.

We all know Apple products come at a premium, and for some photographers, those price points are just too high. The good news is that with a little bit of Internet sleuthing and some basic computer repair skills, it is possible to get a MacBook Pro laptop for very little money.

This is exactly what technologist Luke Miani does when he hits eBay in search of a working Apple laptop at a rock-bottom price. The laptop he finds is a MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) model that he paid just $22 for. The video goes on to show Miani testing the machine, installing a hard drive, and updating the operating system to get the laptop back to life. Minus the odd surface scratch, it really is hard to believe this MacBook has been around for 13 years.

In the second half of this video, Miani shows us how we can personally take advantage of eBay's search filters to find similar bargains and what exactly we should be looking out for in a listing on the auction site. I really like Miani's tips for hunting out these machines, and a quick look myself found a few candidates at similar price points.

The video does not shy away from the fact this machine is well over 10 years old and shows that for many applications, it is still more than usable. While such an old machine may struggle with some of the more memory-intensive tasks of a photographer in 2023, I do think you may be surprised by how much a laptop bought for $22 is still capable of. The main take-home here is that there are decent laptops out there that could be bought for very little and added to your arsenal of photo gear. One important point that isn't mentioned in the video is that these older laptops mostly come with various USB, HDMI, and memory card slots that are often missing from newer machines but are still more than useful for photographers on the go. I personally love the idea of having a cheap dedicated laptop for doing some light editing while on location and at a price point that not only doesn't break the bank but also wouldn't be the end of the world if it got damaged or stolen.

Would you consider buying such an old laptop for your photography work? Is anyone still using older tech in this way? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Paul Parker's picture

Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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I have a 2015 MacBook pro and its barely usable for anything because its so slow at this point. I suppose if you are willing to figure out how to downgrade it to an OS from 10+ years ago, track down software from that era, and be willing to function without any modern anything working properly its an option, but realistically speaking, there is a reason it is $22. Not everyone can afford a brand new mac but something like this is ridiculous.

I have a Lenovo Y510P from 2013 and it works just fine. Of course something newer would be faster, but it's fine for backing up camera cards, some photo post processing, and of course internet surfing. I'm running windows 10 and using recent software.

I'm still using a 2015 MBP. Yes, it's not lightning fast, but it's no slouch and certainly not unusable. It also runs the lastest versions of the Adobe Creative Suite.

I'm a graphic designer. and whilst I use a work-issued Windows PC in the office, my humble MBP was perfectly capable when I was working from home during the numerous covid lockdowns, and nothing has changed since then.

I would suggest opening it up, clean out the dust, and replacing the thermal paste. Then wipe the SSD and do a clean install. A new, and faster M2 SSD can help speed things up as well - although I don't think it's worth spending money on TBH.

But yes, whilst it is getting long in the tooth, and I am looking to replace it soon, it's definitely not "barely usable".

I'd argue its a tremendous slouch. To each his her or her own though but those old Intel Macbook Pros just don't cut it anymore. Sure I could clean it out and try to optimize it as much as possible but at the end of the day I'm still on a decade-old CPU with on board graphics. Fortunately, I've long since upgraded so can compare the difference which is night and day.

Gotcha. Mine's the whizzier model with the added discrete gpu, which no doubt helps a bit.

The thing that winds me up the most about this machine though is the fan noise. Whilst it was a well-regarded machine for many years, apparently fan noise is a known issue. Seriously, sometimes I think it might actually take off and hover above the desk.

Ah yeah, I wanted that one but 2015 "Ryan" couldn't afford it. ;) Though, I still suspect it would struggle with most everyday tasks that don't use the GPU. I'm spoiled at this point on M2 Max so the idea of using that thing for editing again sounds like quite a chore.

I'm writing this on a 2015 MBP that works perfectly well with Photoshop and the like.

I believe an old Mac would work well as a home server for archiving family photos, videos and media collections. That's pretty much how I use my 2009 Mac Pro 4,1.

Industry standard .... I think not. Being popular doesn't make something a "standard".

Based on my experience in publishing, I'm going to agree with the author. Although there's not a governing body for ALL of photography and design, workflows will often dictate that everyone's on a similar system. For print publications it's vital for text flows not to jump between MacOS and Windows. A potential flaw with buying a decade-old Mac is finding usable software to purchase. Although I have Affinity Photo working on one I just set up for my wife to use.