Is The 2016 MacBook Pro A Good Travel Laptop?

Last Updated on May 29, 2021

My poor MacBook Pro is finally starting to slow down and an upgrade may be lurking in my near future. After six phenomenal years of outstanding performance, my mid-2010 13″ unibody MacBook Pro is finally starting to reach the cusp of its useful life. I really can’t complain; six years is a great run! This is the longest I have ever held onto a laptop.

Don’t get me wrong, my laptop is by no means dead. It’s just not the most optimal device to use anymore. Actually, I came very close to putting my Mac to sleep for good last December when it really became unusable. Luckily, I managed to extend its life a whole additional year by self-upgrading from 4 gigabytes of RAM to 10GB. (That was quite the process…)

(Shout out to my wonderful boyfriend who supported me through the anxiety-provoking process of OPENING and ALTERING my $1,000 laptop. Fortunately, the installation was fairly simple and I didn’t break anything.)

The main issue is that my 2010 MacBook no longer satisfies my needs. In fact, 90% of the time, I grab my MUCH less expensive $250.00 Chromebook and PREFER using it over my Mac. Crazy, right? (I’m even blogging on it right now!)

My unibody MacBook takes ages (not exaggerating) to open and run even a single program. I seem to get by using Google Chrome and Safari with the recent RAM upgrade but using anything more demanding than that is downright painful. Microsoft Office is almost unusable. The way the operating system slows down to a crawl even when just one of those applications is open is unbelievable. Even worse, I will not consider downloading any extra software because I know the programs will be too demanding on my Mac.

I really want to use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom but right now, with this Mac, I know I can’t. It’s not an option. Not only because performance would seriously suffer but also because I have almost no storage left on my 256GB hard drive. Also, I’m spoiled with my Chromebook now! My life is increasingly becoming cloud-based and I simply love the lightweight and small form factor of my Chromebook. If I’m traveling and on the go, the Chromebook is preferred (though I definitely sacrifice the ability to do heavy-duty work.)

And this of course, then brings up the question of: which laptop will I buy?

Right now, I am a little confused about what to do. I do like the new 2016 13″ MacBook Pro without the touch bar. I think the slim design, re-designed keyboard, brighter retina screen, and lightweight are significant selling points. I’d be upgrading from a hard drive to a much faster solid-state drive combined with a great Intel processor. With 16GB of RAM and a 500GB solid-state drive, the laptop would be a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, there are downsides. I want a computer that can be my go-to everyday device. Especially if I’m on the go traveling somewhere! As a blogger, I take a lot of photos with my camera and the lack of an SD port on such a high-end computer is a huge inconvenience. I know I can buy a dongle (they all dropped in price this week, by the way!) but worrying about having to carry a dongle with me is just the slightest bit annoying. Oh, and the fact that a laptop with the specs I want costs around $2,000 is a bit unsettling…

Regarding the touch bar, I’m still deciding how I feel about it. I’m leaning more towards buying the non-touch bar version to keep the price down. Part of me worries that the Touch Bar would be a distraction when it’s time to sit down, focus, and write. While I haven’t seen it in person and would like to play around with it before making any judgment, I’m not the biggest fan of the MacBook’s appearance with a touch bar above the keys either.

On the other hand, I can buy a refurbished 2015 15″ MacBook Pro, upgrade the specs, and still buy it at the same price, IF NOT LESS. People claim the bigger screen is more comfortable and supposedly makes a big difference when editing photos and videos. The quad-core processor would be great too. I did the math and both laptops would cost around the same price (ouch) whether I buy an older refurbished 15″ MacBook Pro or a new 13″ one with the education store discount.

If I had to make a decision right now, I think I’d buy an entry-level 2016 Mac just for the sole benefit of its portability, power, newer hardware, and future resale value. It will require an annoying adapter or two but they can be thrown into a backpack along with the charger. No big deal. If you have to travel someplace, I think the benefit of the small size and weight of the new MacBook line can’t be beaten. For travelers who need a decent amount of power, it really is a great choice with its high price tag being its biggest downfall.

Now I am trying to muster up enough “courage” to commit to willfully giving up my USB and SD card slots while paying an arm and a leg for my dream computer. 🙁


  1. Art by Daniel Alfonso

    You could also upgrade your 2010 mbp with a solid state drive, since it seems like your hard drive is what’s making your programs open slowly. It’s very easy to change to a SSD (check macsales(dot)com, they have good prices and easy videos to follow). This should bring back a lot of life to your computer.

    I was considering upgrading to the 2016 15″ base model, but the processor wasn’t much better than the 2012 15″ I have now, so I just added extra memory and an SSD, and it runs better than the day I bought it. I would suggest you do the same, as most people predict apple will include a much more upgraded processor with the next year’s model with more reasonable prices.

    1. Wow, great insight! Thanks, Daniel. Hmm I actually was considering upgrading to an SSD on my Mac but I didn’t know how much of an improvement it would be. Also, I would have to somehow transfer everything right to the new drive? Is an ordinary time machine backup sufficient? (or would it be easier to replace my optical disc drive with a secondary SSD?)

      1. Art by Daniel Alfonso

        I wouldn’t bother replacing the optical disc drive with a secondary SSD, it’s more work than just replacing the hard drive. A regular time machine backup on an external hard drive is perfectly fine and it’s the smart thing to do (I didn’t make a backup because I was lazy, don’t do this). Replacing with an SSD is as simple as popping out the hard drive, putting in the ssd, and turning the computer on. I recommend reinstalling a brand new version of the operating system to freshen everything up, and from there it’s simply a matter of reconnecting the removed hard drive to the computer in order to import all of your files and settings (you’ll need an appropriate adapter for this). It’ll be a massive improvement over the hard drive, your computer will turn on in a fraction of the time and programs will open much quicker (I couldn’t get Word or Powerpoint to open without crashing until I switched to an SSD). It might sound a little complicated, but this is an easy upgrade anybody is capable of doing.

Comment Here:

The Rocky Safari