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Which 2018 Mac is best for web development?

steveblue profile image Steve Belovarich ・2 min read

This mid-2015 MacBook Pro has been a workhorse for me but it’s time may be up! The battery service indicator appeared which means it could be pretty bad I’m thinking. It’s a 70+ step process to replace the battery so I’m opting to go pay the Apple store to fix it for $129. Otherwise I’d just DIY the battery replacement, but that’s not very Apple anymore I guess. I’m kind of expecting at the Genius Bar diagnostics reveal something more heinous is afoot. Basically the battery holds charge but upon waking the MacBook Pro screen will just do dark. The computer works fine again after plugging it in. I’m bracing for the worst. This is a four year old MacBook Pro after all. The clock is ticking.

The Mac portfolio has drastically changed over time. I’m wondering if I should go ultralight and just run with a MacBook Air or maybe I should just grab that top of the line MacBook Pro 15”? Is the 32GB of RAM really worth it when all I’m doing is running node servers and maybe a database locally? I can run the same setup on a Raspberry PI but that doesn’t mean my development machine should lack any sort of power. Sometimes I do use Photoshop and Sketch, run a dozen apps at once in the course of a day. I’ve used the Touch Bar before and honestly don’t care if I have it or not. Eventually I may get back into video production and I could just buy an external video card for when I do. I mainly just need this Mac for web development, to use as a presentation device and will be writing extensively on it.

Which Mac do you use to rock out your web development tasks? Please help!

Posted on May 3 '19 by:

steveblue profile

Steve Belovarich


full stack web engineer, creative coder, teacher, cultural critic and indie music fan.


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I don't use a Mac, but I hope you'll find my input valuable anyways. 😊

I purchased an this LG Gram in January, and love it. It's so lightweight compared to my old Lenovo W530 I have from college.

With the help of a friend, I trashed the Windows OS and loaded Ubuntu 18.04. My W530 had 17.04 for nearly 2 years. It's perfect for my development process. All I really use are the terminal, VSCode, and GIMP (and Chrome, obviously 😉). Whenever I have documents to write (rarely), I just use Google Docs.

It sounds like you may not need a Mac specifically, but if that's the preference you're sticking to, would you share why? I've never had one am curious.


I’ve used MacOS since 1999. I am comfortable in Ubuntu or Mint as well. Basically Apple gives you bash similar to Linux, but the software offerings for MacOS are much greater than Linux. I can’t stand Microsoft UX usually. Even VSCode in MacOS leaves me unfulfilled at times, especially when it comes to file management. It’s true no one needs a Mac for web development, but I am rather deep in the Apple ecosystem. iPhone, iPad, the whole shebam. I trust Apple more than say Google or Microsoft too, however still have some qualms with their latest business practices. That’s fantastic you get along well running Ubuntu. I’m kinda nerdy jealous TBH. I just have too much invested in Apple to consider moving on.


At least we can agree that Windows is terrible. It's what we have set up at work, I think because the non-software peeps use Microsoft programs. Still! If only the software devs could pick their own special set up... Also, it's your wallet and your money, you can spend it wherever you want to. :)

Are you really serious or are you just joking?

Maybe because lots of web developers run Windows especially when the stack involves .NET 🤔

If it doesn't work for you doesn't make it bad, all the web I do on any *nix env I do on windows too php/node/python it is not a problem and I often prefer to do my web dev on windows so; no its not terrible its just not your thing ¯_(ツ)_/¯

That’s great you know what works for you. That’s why I think everyone should be able to choose their own set up. ☺️

Windows is a very powerful, flexible & broad system. It works under more conditions than any other OS (many *nix) & in strange use cases & flavors (kiosks, medical, atms, large deployments for example etc). It comes with paid support for business critical systems.

To build anything substantial you need to have core skills with a bunch of operating systems. This thread is generally about Apple purchasing decisions, but Windows is critical (as is Linux/Unix & a few others). Some of the best devs I have seen use Win regardless of .net

Don't fall into the trap of liking & skilling only on a single OS, over time the balance shifts.

I prefer Linux. It’s nothing personal. ☺️

I have no preference. Rendering is nice on OSX (nix based). Consumer/Office features Win. Server Linux. Android & iOS app dev. The same people & technologies often work across all of them at different periods. They move from one to the other. All can be customized to do what you like.

You can't make IOS apps on Win well but you shouldn't build sites without testing on Win either.

More mainstream operating systems, developed by distinctly different groups would-be interesting.

I’m very familiar with how to develop and test applications. Can we move on?

This convo is about which Mac is good for web development. I didn’t really intend for it to be a convo about different platforms.


I dev on macos/ linux/ windows, and honestly there no much difference for me, i use same ide, same oh-my-zsh and etc. all my stack is the same on all OS'es, so as it does not lag, it suits me, so for me get the best hardware you can afford to get and which does not throttle on mac's


How do you use oh-my-zsh on Windows?


I would like to know as well. I ❤️ oh-my-zsh and iTerm on my Mac

Checkout WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux).


Have (many) powerbooks & macbooks & macs & phones & pads & pods & tv & watches & apps etc.

  • Watch out for old LI batteries. They expand & if the seal gets pierced they set on fire (all LI, not just Mac). Old batteries ruin machines & more.

  • New 2018MBP15 keyboard breaks very fast unfortunately. There are loads of stories out there. Took <6mths, 4 keys unusable (diy fix for now). Powercable falls out a lot. Screen veneer is peeling. Under powered. I would wait for the next iteration as these items are deal breakers for creativity/productivity.

I am not one to talk about this stuff in general as it is very hard to make good hardware, at scale too (I made a tablet, it was suboptimal) but there is a good chance these issues get in the way.

I don't really have a good suggestion (The 2015 is old, desktops are backaches, Padpro requires reskill if poss at all, MacBook keyboard is more reliable but lacks pro), I am using mbp rn.

Emoji bar is useful because I need to keep the keys in good shape. 🤣😭😩


Yeah if I get a 2018 MBP AppleCare is a must. I don’t want to have to deal with this kind of nonsense. That being said I have good way to backup if I ever do have to send it in for repairs. This will be my third personal MBP. There have been ups and downs with the product line over time for sure. Overheating in the first one, battery exploded in the second. This 2015 MBP has been so reliable! 🤑🤮


You've beat up a few it seems. 😳

If you have your backups & stuff then it works well, but it's like a stone in your shoe (the smallest sticky x key & suddenly every 20th press is insecure). If you do on-site stuff it is more likely to be an issue. Office coding shouldn't impact much (there are skins too).

A few spare keys (in advance) solves the biggest issue (the keyboard issue is mostly the hooks on the back of the keys rather than a bigger problem). A drop of dried glue on the key back will fix the 'non registration' issue (they are both related as the plastic is very fine). These two take away the deadline-no-c-key worry.

My experience compared to the 2015:

  • The LED bar is very good for basic video scrub, stuff, novelty & specific apps. Prefer a smaller one at the top of the trackpad & keep keys (faster, better, obvious). Gets hot.
  • Very quiet. Nothing moving really. Machine stays cool (mostly).
  • Very stable physically. Less slippy (big feet well balanced, less likely to flip it over or spin).
  • Nice screen/color/brightness/audio/video/fonts/render.
  • Bigger trackpad. Easier to use, more accidental cursor moves. Easy to get used to the new hw.
  • Battery/never switch off/restart/rarely stall. Reliable.
  • Fast & slow (textedit/photoshop/safari can hang but also throw gigs around with ease). Setup & tune helps a lot.
  • Less dust/cleaning needed. Better seals everywhere.
  • No more breathing light (bright light when shut, pre 2015 I think) or backlight ad (Apple logo that you could see through in sunlight). Good changes. No cable light indicator (pre magsafe).
  • Better screen hinge & trough (that gap below the screen that collect stuff). Stiff hinge.
  • Small fan vents, less dust, harder to Nintendo-blow clean.
  • No magsafe. - Plug in both sides is nice. Not nice enough for FloorMac though. Let's see on this one.
  • Stronger 'center' (the middle of the keyboard takes a lot of pressure/percussion, the old ones would dip after a while). Backlit keys now brighter & neater.
  • Low exhaust (those brown scorch marks that appear above the vents).
  • Connects, checks, downloads & notifies you of email before you have logged in (prob not mbp specific). 👀
  • Donglegate - If you accessorize a lot then it may bother. It's fast.
  • Costwise. - I find, when broken down by day/hours used/reliability Apple products are not overpriced (it hurts when you spend or like-for-like compare).
  • Siritating buttons.
  • Harder to scratch, easier to chip corners. Screen feels less likely to crack.
  • Screen scratches show but keyboard imprint no longer appears on the screen.
  • Arrow keys are bigger.

It is better overall, though the keyboard makes it more fragile than most previous models. Anyone can live with/work around broken speakers or a cracked screen but key failure is different. Replacement keys are working for me so far (it's a handful of shapes, I don't buy every key).

This stuff is obviously just my experience but I hope it is useful.


After reviewing the product line some more I’m really feeling more inclined to consider the 2018 MacBook Air. I’m not really that concerned about loosing the processing power when I can still configure an Air with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. I mean if 2013 MacBook Pro or earlier still function as a web development computer, then why shouldn’t the latest Air? eGPU are actually somewhat affordable. If I ever want to expand the graphics processing power I can pop a video card into an external enclosure that’s even more powerful or matches current MBP. I’m wondering if anyone else in the community is really happy with their 2018 MacBook Air? I’m thinking it will be way better on flights, just more portable all around (but maybe not huge difference from 13” MBP) and still handle all the web development tasks I throw at it. Yes, even Docker, running VM and the occasional Photoshop and Sketch session.

FWIW that’s why I posted in the first place. It’s hard to decide nowadays. Five years ago I would have never considered anything but a MBP, but the landscape is different now.


I've got the 2018 MBA, and also have a 2018 MBP at work. I surprisingly miss the Touch Bar on the Air, but the smaller charger and lower weight of the Air is nice to have.

Also worth noting that the Pro without the Touch Bar loses TouchID, whereas the Air has it.

Definitely don't struggle performance-wise with either of them - the Air can cope just fine with running VMs etc.


Thank you so much for confirming the Air can handle running a VM. It’s easy to be skeptical considering the previous gen were definitely very lackluster in terms of performance. MacBook Air still have Power Boost, will ramp up for performance unlike MacBook which cripple themselves in terms of performance. +1 for the MacBook Air then.

I used a 2016 MBP at work for a little over a year and I don’t miss the touch bar at all on my personal 2015 MBP. I would always hunt for the escape key on that damn Touch Bar. It’s annoyingly set in a little bit and not flush with the other keys.


I have a 2018 MacBook Air 16 GB and 256 GB space. I like it but I felt I should’ve gone for Pro since it’s at least twice as powerful and would cost only 300 bucks or so more. Go for the Pro


I'm running an Early 2011 MBP with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM and I love it! Had to replace the battery but still best computer I've ever used.

Unfortunately it's hit EOL for Apple Support and no longer receives OS updates unless I use a third party patch. Stuck on High Sierra at the moment.


My wife has a MacBook Air, 256gb 8gb ram. She’s just a masters student studying education, and she loves it. I just got the 2018 512/16/2.6 i7 2018mbp and I love it.


I've taken into account to buy a new Macbook Pro but Apple is just too expensive and does practices that I disagree with. They've dropped the specs for the new laptops and increased the price. I currently own a mid 2015 Macbook Pro and the new macbooks seem like a downgrade. I won't pay 2500$ just to match my specs and get the about same speed.

To conserve my battery's health I kept my laptop plugged in most of the time, even when I'm in bed. The battery has only 269 cycles and Maximum charge of 6836 mAh ▁▂▃▅▆▇ 78.1%.

I also own a Windows PC for gaming, with decent specs 8GB RAM, i5 and a HDD, I became comfortable using it for development as well, It does feel a bit slower than the Mac but it also has lower specs. I thought about investing in an SSD but at the moment I can live with it, and If I'm going to upgrade my laptop then there's no point.

For my next laptop I've decided to go for a Dell Precision and use it with Windows or Linux, but probably Windows. Microsoft has been doing a lot of great stuff lately and I think with Windows I may get more battery life and less headache.

At my job, I do full stack development and use a Dell Latitude with Ubuntu on it. So far I enjoy working on it. One minor nitpick, I need use an logitech mx performance mouse because the laptop's trackpad is not that great.


If your 2015 MBP only has 269 cycles then you probably leave it plugged in way too much. The batteries are designed to be cycled repeatedly and that combined with a periodic conditioning help extend the life of the battery.

The latest MBP are definitely an upgrade from 2015 IMHO. Thunderbolt 3 alone is awesome. I don’t share the same concerns others do about the ports. I will undoubtably be investing in a dock and some dongles. It’s no big deal.

Which practices do you disagree with in particular? Apple computers have always been priced at a premium, so the price tag should be no surprise. IMHO Apple does far more in response to privacy concerns than other manufacturers and is way less vulnerable to malware and other forms of attacks.


According to iStats I still have about 78% battery capacity and I can still get a decent 4-5 hours of battery time. I don't care about ports either, most of my devices have an USB port and I'll probably need a hub.

Since I don't live in the US I don't have any access to Apple care and the $2,399.00 model MPB is priced at $2,942.83 in my country.

I don't like the CULT Apple is trying to make, I don't think they're doing anything else than other companies in response to privacy concerns, they're just playing a PR game. Also, I don't think macOS is less vulnerable than other systems, this is just the illusion Apple is trying to project, see here: cvedetails.com/top-50-products.php

Here's a video that highlights the Apple practices that I disagree with: youtube.com/watch?v=LrILfIE9IB4

The main thing that makes Apple less vulnerable to malicious attacks is market share. They do go a long way to protect biometric data at the very least and supply security updates at regular velocity. Unlike Windows, the user base tends to stay up to date with the latest OS.

It’s kinda ridiculous to infer just because I use a Mac I am in a cult. You could say the same for Google fans and Microsoft.

BTW my battery was in the same state and it required service. Yours could be a ticking time bomb waiting to fail.

Less market share doesn't make a product less vulnerable. All operating systems that I've used macOS, Ubuntu and Windows delivered daily updates, my latest Windows update was done two days ago.

I didn't say that you're in a cult. Apple is trying to create this image of themselves that they're the best company there is by brainwashing their customers. You don't see people defending Lenovo, Microsoft or Dell that ferociously.

I'm ready to replace my Macbook at any moment if it fails. The only problem I had with it was a screen backlight issue, which fixed itself overnight

Actually, yes it does. Macs are much less likely to be on the receiving end of a malware attack, however exploits are definitely possible. Attacks mostly happen by phishing these days anyways, which involves email or phone. If you stick mainly to downloading apps from the App Store, your computer will never be infected.

I didn't say Ubuntu and Windows don't deliver updates. I said users of Windows systems are less likely to update. Why do we have to support legacy versions of IE if this wasn't true? Microsoft even doesn't recommend anything below IE11 but there are still lots of systems out there running old versions of IE.

Accusing a company of brainwashing sounds like a conspiracy theory. Sorry I just don't agree.

"If you stick mainly to downloading apps from the App Store, your computer will never be infected." That's a bold statement, it happened before it may happen again.

Many big corporations use Windows as their main operating system, most of the internal websites only support IE. I worked for a company which had over 200000 employees. I don't know how many of those employees worked in the R&D department but in those departments the security policies were very strict, you had to request every piece of software and IT will install it for you. Development sometimes was done on local virtual machines running Ubuntu, they were also secured and you didn't have sudo access except for mounting and installing packages.
All internal websites were designed so that they worked with IE. If I wanted to go on holiday I had to access the HR application which worked only in IE.

My guess is that there are a lot of legacy applications in the corporate world and migrating them from IE compatibility to something else is hard and costly.


I use a 2018 15” MacBook Pro and it works well. The biggest change is the I/O. I have a dock I use to connect my monitors, keyboard, etc. but they’re a bit pricey if you don’t want a donglefest.

I went 15” because at the time the 13” were all dual core only which didn’t seem like enough for running a bunch of services at once. Also the 13 only had two thunderbolt 3 ports, so if I wanted to dock I’d be limited to one side of the computer.

Now there are higher end 13-inch with quad cores and 4 thunderbolt 3 ports, so it may be worth considering if you want more portability. Obvious downside is missing screen real estate if you often use the onboard screen.

If you do go for the 15, I’d stick with 16GB of RAM. 32 is priced too high and you probably won’t need it.

Either way I wouldn’t go with an air, you’ll miss the extra cores when multitasking.


I'm dealing with this question for a long time now. I have a late 2012 MBPr, 8GB RAM.

I was looking into Dell XPS (but the Developer Edition is not available in my country, as well as the latest model is hard to find).
I'm waiting for a new MBP version to see if it has a better keyboard or not. I'm having this dilemma for a long time =/

Sometime last year I've replaced my battery through an Apple reseller, and it works great for me since then. It seems like they either cleaned up my entire Mac case or replaced it? It seemed like a brand new laptop.

Regarding Mac vs Linux
To me it's mostly a question of how productive I am now, and how quickly I can be as productive under the new setup.
Buying a Mac now seems like a gamble, and I don't have the time to deal with fixing issues. Perhaps it'll make more sense to invest into a more reliable but new OS? maybe not.
If I HAD to buy a new laptop now, I would probably go with the latest XPS 13".


Buying any computer is a gamble though. I’d rather take my chances with Apple at the Genius Bar than say any other computer manufacturer that doesn’t have as good of customer support.

There are a lot of haters out there and people really like to nitpick Apple. Their voices tend to be louder than say others who actually prefer the butterfly keyboard or whatever else. Whenever their are dramatic shifts in the design of their hardware or software people get all up in arms about it. Take Final Cut Pro X for example. I think I was the only person editing video with FCPX launched sometimes considering all the people who jumped ship and went to Premiere. There I was editing video just fine in FCP and my app was hardware accelerated while Premiere was not. People tend to do the popular thing. I’m not one of them.

I highly doubt the number of people effected by the reported issues are a majority of users. I once invested in the first MacBook Pro, knowing it was a gamble. That thing overheated all the time toward the end of the warranty. Apple was kind enough to replace the logic board and the next one still did the same thing after awhile. I have a backup for cases like this, so it’s OK.


This. Apple done right is hyper productive. There are people who buy Apple for fashion (consumer) & those who use them up to produce things. I saw the FCP/Premiere performance thing & it didn't impact me (not a video editor) though I think about learning to edit from time to time. I like that you will make you own decision without regard to hype, choosing the results focused correct option. It's what I try to aim for.

I know Apple spends a lot of time (the most?) & money thinking about the future of video (screens/flash/itunes/hwood partnerships/fcp/Apple TV/Pixar/NextOS/Disney/Adobe/cameras/FT/patents). They want to own video.

Most of the dramas are clickbait & edge cases at large scale. The keyboard issue is not massive but is happening & is basically the equivalent to bricking your machine. A bluetooth keyboard or backup is cheap insurance to get back to work.

It's not busy but there are no real positive comments.


Personally, I have been thinking about having some metal keys made, would be cool while dealing with the issue (I wrote this on an 18MBP15 <1yr with 4 switched over keys).


The new Mac Mini 2018. Perfect.
I still use my July 2012 mini, 16GB RAM, 2 TB storage SSD. Two screens.
Web server, XCode development, Video with imovies. Photoshop, Lightroom etc etc.
Web developer.. the Mini rocks.


Yes this is another option if my 2015 MBP comes back with just battery repair. I would be perfectly fine using the Mac Mini and then using the MBP just for talks, portability. 85% or more of my web development happens at one desk so it makes total sense to go with a Mac Mini. The 2018 Mac Mini is awesome IMHO having handled all the generations prior in one way or another. It is a tempting option.


I have a 2018 MBA. Web Dev doesn't require a powerplant, the spec is more than enough for the job, I have one with 16GB RAM, which is beneficial.
The battery life is excellent, thanks to the Y series CPU, but obviously we use it mostly on charger, but sometimes I just find myself coding 2 hours, without charger.


Exactly what I was trying to say in the post, TY. I run my current stack on a Raspberry PI sometimes. Not saying you should do development on a PI, but it works.

Beware leaving the Mac on a charger all the time. This is what got me in the predicament I’m in now with the 2015 MBP. Genius took one look at the diagnostics and asked “you don’t take it off the charger much do you?”. The batteries are meant to be power cycled. It helps condition them and maintain their charge over the lifespan of the battery.


I purchased the mid 2017 MBP last year that had 8gb ram, 120SSD (non touchbar) and it was ok at first while just working on basic webpage development (although the fan was on most of the time).

However, over the last couple of months it started struggling, I started using more programs, running node servers and DB's also hooked up to 2 external monitors. It decided to start crashing on my over the last couple of weeks as it was constantly out of ram and storage no matter what I closed or removed.

I decided to bite the bullet last week and upgrade to the 2018 touchbar model with 256SSD and 16gb ram. So much better! not a sound and no performance issues. Faith in Apple restored.


I bought a 4K iMac about 4 years ago and it was getting really slow. I decided to upgrade it and buy an external thunderbolt SSD as I didn’t want to risk opening it up and I was in the same situation where I couldn’t decide whether MBP or MBA would be better.


Beware of the butterfly keyboard in current MBP's. There are statistics from IT companies showing failure rates of 50%. I would stick with the 2015 MBP until this problem is fixed.


I used a 2016 MacBook Pro with 1st gen butterfly keyboard just fine at work. Apple now offers 1 day turnaround for repairs to the keyboard if they do arise. I usually don’t use it while I’m eating and I wash my hands quite frequently during the day. I think maybe the keyboard can’t handle the abuse some people throw at it, but for me it is fine. I actually like the low travel. I’m not really concerned about it TBH and I don’t think Twitter surveys constitute a form of empirical evidence.


This may be of help not exactly the answer you were looking for.


TY this guide is helpful but I may not be able to wait for the next iteration so not very concerned with how long each of the current product line has been on the market. I gots things to do! Besides the current MBP was a pretty substantial upgrade, I’m expecting the next generation to be minor version bump.


Fair enough.

In that case, I use a Mac pro at home (I used to work with C4D) and MacBook pro 13 for everything else. If I had to buy a new one probably Will go for a MacBook pro.