mac laptop recommendation?

I’m a Windows user running Scrivener on a desktop computer. I would like to be more portable with Scrivener, so am considering getting my first Mac, a laptop. My thought is that since I’m getting a new device for portability, and specifically for Scrivener, I want the benefit of some of the advantages Scrivener offers on the Mac.

Anyway, I’m a cheapskate and I don’t want to shell out $1000 for a new Macbook Air. So I’m looking for recommendations for devices I could pick up used that would easily handle Scrivener but that I might be able to get somewhere in the $300-400 range.

Any thoughts about specific Mac machines/years/models would be appreciated.


Any Mac that will run OS X 10.6 or newer will be able to run the latest version of Scrivener. “Easily” is really going to depend on the nature of your work. A machine that would be fine for a text-only novel might struggle if you give it a couple hundred images and a couple thousand PDF research documents.


Katherine, thanks for the information–sorry for my delayed response.

I’m astonishingly ignorant about Mac machines, OS’s, etc. I understand what you say about OS X 10.6 being a minimum requirement, but I don’t know how to translate that into some possible Mac models to start keeping an eye out for.

The nature of my work is a novel, somewhere in the 80-100,000-word range. Between the text and my research materials, I’ll have very few images (15-20, tops) and very few, if any, PDFs.

I’m looking for a Mac laptop that will run Scrivener smoothly. That’s really about my only requirement. If I end up really liking the Mac, I’ll eventually step up, but right now I’m just looking for an inexpensive machine on which to Scriven, so to speak. I think screen-wise, anything 11" or up would work for me. So any recommendations about specific Mac machines/years/models would be appreciated.

For instance, I’ve just been looking at a tantalizingly cheap 2009 Macbook. Advertised specs are: MacBook 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2GB/ 160GB/ SuperDrive/ Airport/ BT Mid 2009. With OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Would something like that likely do the job?


Oh sure, something like that would be fine.

The first generation of Intel-based Macs came out in 2006/2007. Many of those are still quite capable, so something 2 years newer shouldn’t pose any problems at all.


Basically it should do the job, but 2GB RAM is very little and can slow the machine down. If I bought a machine like that I would at least double the RAM (I use a 2009 Macbook but have had 8GB Ram installed). Another thing I’d make sure is that the hard disk is in good shape.

Thanks, folks. That’s all very good to hear. I’m now looking at a “refurbished Late 2009 MacBook with a 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 4 GB DDR3, 128 GB SSD Drive, OS X 10.11 El Capitan.” Asking price is $250, which, if the thing works as advertised, seems a pretty fair price for a capable writing machine.

All other things being equal, does the fact that the drive is an SSD raise any concerns?

All else being equal, I’d expect an SSD to be more reliable, not less. No moving parts.


Thanks, Katherine. That’s what I was thinking, too. I don’t know if it’s standard equipment or a replacement. If standard, I wonder if that does away with the fan. In any case, $250 seems a reasonable gamble.

If the SSD is original, I’d be leery of it. Back in 2009, consumer-grade (aka affordable) SSDs still had limited number of writes they could perform before the media started to go bad.

Now, if the refurbishment includes a replaced/new SSD, that’s probably a good thing.

Thanks, Devin. I’ll be wary of that. I’m not opposed to doing a little tinkering myself–e.g., putting in a new SSD or more memory. I don’t know how easy those old Macbooks are to tinker with, though. Still researching…