Best Way to Sell a New MacBook Pro?
February 23, 2021 5:39 AM   Subscribe

I need to buy a new MacBook Pro next week. How do I sell it in a few months when the new 2021 MacBook Pro models come out?

Here are the details:

• I am buying a new MacBook Pro next week: an M1 with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB hard drive. Price is still TBD, but likely $1700ish.

• This morning, I read that the new 2021 versions will have HDMI, SD Card slots, and a significant processor upgrade. Release date is still TBD, but probably May/June/July. No details on cost.

• I won’t be able to wait until summer or fall to buy the new 2021 MacBook Pro. I need to have a new one next week for a new job I’m starting as a 1099er.

• But I don’t want to be left with an instantly obsolete model barely 90 days after I bought it. I am going to want to upgrade. But this is all coming out of my pocket since I’m working 1099. I don’t want to take a total bath here.

Here’s my question: what’s the best way to sell a barely 90-day MacBook Pro and still get the most dollar value?

Two caveats:

1. Yes, I know about planned obsolescence. These machines lose value faster than a new car.

2. And yes, I know you shouldn’t put too much faith in the rumor sites. I’ve often counseled people who’ve asked me to not wait and to buy what you need right now. But this feels different. We are talking about a significant upgrade, and I want to plan accordingly.

Any advice would be most helpful. Thanks!
posted by zooropa to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve sold on eBay with good luck. There are scam buyers, but I’ve sold 8 or so laptops on there over the last 20 years including one in 2020. eBay will likely
Be your best price. There is also the Facebook thing, but I know nothing about that market. Craigslist will be less money. will be less, but be low risk which may be worth something to you.

Also double check apple’s refurb selection if you have not bought yet to see if there is any m1 MacBooks there yet. Maybe a good deal to help reduce depreciation.
posted by creiszhanson at 5:49 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

I've been eying these too but to replace an older intel mbp. By many accounts current M1 macs are faster than basically everything else out there at this moment, and this won't change. The most likely situation based on rumors I've seen is that the new releases will replace the upper MBP line, which are currently intels, and the ones you are considering buying now will remain on sale (because it corresponds to the lower tier MBP), so it should hold its resale value as much as can be expected rather than be instantly obsoleted. If you want to be really sure, consider just buying an MBA now -- they aren't so very different than the current M1 MBPs, and are unlikely to get an upgrade in the immediate future.

(I think you should also be prepared for the scenario where you look at the new macs in July through the lens of reality and realize what you have is great, and you don't actually need to upgrade...)
posted by advil at 5:51 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

It will be hard to do this without taking a bath.

Do you have to buy a *new* MacBook Pro? Could you get a high quality used MBP for the 90ish days?
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:51 AM on February 23 [11 favorites]

Are you working remotely? If so, maybe you should buy a $699 Mac mini. The cheapest M1 models are still plenty powerful.

Plug in a display, keyboard, and mouse, and you're off to the races. If you don't have those, they are inexpensive, and will be able to be used with your MBP when you get it.
posted by vitout at 6:27 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

Refurbished MacBook Pro. Apple just put up M1 models on the refurb program in the last couple of days. They should save you about 15%
posted by blob at 6:28 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]

If you _know_ you are going to upgrade, I'd buy a refurb from Apple. You might not get that exact spec, but for 90 days, I'd settle. You may get a better percent of your money back if you settles for an Intel based one, but really, who knows?
posted by advicepig at 6:31 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]

If you're near a university, you might be able to find a student that would jump on a nearly new Macbook without the hassle of dealing with scammers on eBay.

That said, unless you're extremely CPU-bound, I don't think you're going to be left instantly obsolete when the next generation comes out. I do fairly computationally intense stuff and one of my main computers has a three generations old i7 and is still fine for most things. Depending on whether your 1099 contract is indefinite, it may not be worth taking a bath selling a computer.
posted by Candleman at 6:56 AM on February 23

Can you rent one for the same or less and charge it off your taxes more effectively? (I know nothing about US taxes, just spitballing.)
posted by warriorqueen at 7:03 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

eBay and Craigslist. I had two new MacBook Airs and sold one on each. I've been selling on eBay for 20+ years, and had never received as many scam contacts as during that MacBook listing, though. So be careful, and don't take anyone up on offers of instant VenMo if you overnight FedEx it to Grenada.
posted by MonsieurBon at 7:34 AM on February 23

You only have an option to buy the 13" M1 right now, so if Apple only releases 14" and 16" M1 MBPs, your model will (may?) still be in demand. Heck, people were still seeking out 2015 MBPs last year.

You may able to take a business loss when you sell the laptop (this is not tax advice)

Apple Trade-In is probably the safest option, you can estimate the trade-in value by plugging in your serial number.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:38 AM on February 23

I’m not in the hardware side of the business, so I don’t know any inside info to relate anyway, but don’t not take anything that shows up in MacRumors as definitive. They are just this side of the dude ranting down at your local bus stop. I know the source they used is popular for these kinds of stories, but Kuo is often wrong.

In other words, I wouldn’t take it as gospel that HDMI/SD card ports are coming back.
posted by sideshow at 8:17 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

Even the rumor sites aren't claiming that Apple is going to rev the same M1 MBP that they released in December 2020 six months later in 2021. What they appear to be claiming (in your link) is that Apple is going to release new M1 MBPs (with larger screens) that have the features you mentioned, in which case the 13" M1 MBP that you are thinking about buying won't be "obsolete" it will just be another machine in the line.

If you want a larger screen for what you do, consider getting a refurbed larger screen MBP for cheap and waiting for the M1s later in the year. The used machine won't lose as much resale value if you want to flip it later.

If you absolutely must have an M1 right now (and I can see why, they are great machines) consider the Air, instead. If you decide (and can afford) to keep it you'll have a lighter, smaller machine to carry around and a larger, heavier machine with a larger screen for your more serious work. Note that the Air performs almost identically to the current 13" M1 MBP for most tasks, up to and including photo and video editing. It has one less core and a few other differences, but it's still a ton of machine (even in the base config) for around $1,000.

TL;DR: This is about screen size, not just ports.
posted by The Bellman at 8:37 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I totally get the desire for more built in ports! But I don't think a small thunderbolt/USB-C dongle is too bad of a price to pay going forwards, depending on how you're planning on using it.

If you're really dead set on upgrading later, why not go for the MacBook Air now instead? The 8 GPU core version literally has the same base speed as the Pro, unless you're planning to do long term CPU/GPU heavy usage then it does slow down a bit. It'll save a few hundred that you can then put towards a pro later (or for dongles!) and it has a normal keyboard to boot. The screen isn't as bright as the Pro, but it much better than the old Air displays...
posted by rambling wanderlust at 8:48 AM on February 23

I'm not sure why you think it will be "obsolete." I've gotten ~five years of life out of my last two MBPs. You can buy a USB-C mini-dock/hub to give you the input options you need. If the current MBP is good enough to work with in the short-term (i.e., isn't actually inadequate for whatever more computing-intensive tasks you're using it for), why isn't it good enough to use for three or so years?
posted by praemunire at 11:09 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

You could consider a MacBook Air with the specs you mentioned. It’s nearly identical to the MBP, a smidge cheaper, and in constant demand.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 6:07 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]

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