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Every time there's a new Apple event touting $1600 monitors or $2000 laptops I'm always amazed.

People really do want this stuff, in fact they're chomping at the bit to get the "newest thing".

I've always taken the opposite approach - upgrading old stuff, and using really cheap accessories...It's the way to go.

Before I begin here's what I need tech for:

1) Programming - I've worked as a programmer for a very long time, so the hardware is pretty simple. I need a keyboard, a mouse, a laptop, and an external display. I've always used a laptop as a desktop replacement and unless I'm using some really intense cad, 3d, or number crunching software, it's fine.

2) Video Editing - I'm sort of an outlier. I use an ancient Mac for video editing. It's slow as hell, but it works.

3) Music Production - Surprisingly this is totally doable on a laptop. Yes a desktop would be better, but not by much.

4) Basic Web Stuff - Surfing, Gmail, etc.

Due to the landscape we've all found ourselves in there are three OSes to consider (the big three) - Windows, macOs, and Linux.

Windows is basically the default for about 90% of the planet, and it's fine, but...

It also kind of sucks.

macOs is good, if not better than Windows, but it comes with the Apple tax. With the Apple tax you get a unix bsd based os, tighter integration with the hardware, and audio and video "core" integration that really...just works.

Linux, for me, is basically for programming. macOs used to be but after using's kind of hard to go back. If I have a project I'm working on I want to do it on Linux - separated from any other os.

Upgrading Cheap Hardware

I was recently gifted two ancient Dell laptops - one is a 3537 Inspiron (i3) from 2014 with 4gb of rams and a 500gb hdd. The second is a e6410 Latitude (i7) from 2010 (!) with a 500gb hdd and 4gb of ram.

Both were in pristine condition - basically they'd been used as a desktop replacement with an external monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.

My macbook pro is the 2012 Frankenstein - basically the last mac that could be totally upgradeable.

So, for all of them I checked Crucial and ordered the highest amount of ram they could take and an MX500.


Mac - 16gb, 2tb Mx500 ($300 total)
Inspiron - 16gb, 1tb Mx500 ($175 total)
Latitude - 8gb, 500gb Mx500 ($150 total)


After cloning all of the old drives and installing the new ones (which thankfully worked on all of them) I got a new monitor, the Asus pa248qv for $230 (it was $200, but the pandemic came along) and set up the Inspiron to dual boot Windows and Ubuntu.


Windows/Linux on hdmi, mac on display port.

I used a cheap Logictech M100 for the Windows/Linux to avoid Bluetooth issues.


After doing a ton of programming in Linux I went back to the mac to edit video and the mouse (Logitech m557) which I thought was the greatest Bluetooth mouse ever felt...awful. It was way to heavy, sluggish, and too low profile.

I immediately got two more of the m100s and I'm glad I did. They have a perfect shape, they do the job (if you aren't gaming) and they're $10.
After dealing with Bluetooth issues on Windows/Linux I switched to a Perixx 407W which costs $18.


I also ordered a second Perixx PERIBOARD-407W. Interestingly the second is a little bit different than the first - quieter and "looser". Doesn't matter, I'll keep both.

Basically what I'm saying here is for about $930 I upgraded 3 old school laptops that work really well, even in 2022, with a (1920 x 1200) color corrected monitor.

Apple's "Tilt and height adjustable display" is $600 extra.

I also got a $20 stand to hold the macbook and it's perfect.


$930 for upgrades on 3 old school laptops (with monitor) or I could go with $600 extra on a $1600 monitor.

The Asus' accuracy is ΔE < 2, Calman Verified. It has a stand that can adjust height and tilt - for $230.

Is it as good as an Apple Studio Display?

No. But it's better than anything you can get until $500 is your price point.

Upgrading old stuff is the way to go. I know the "new shiny" is attractive, but the stuff you have will do the job...just slower, but it won't end up in a landfill as fast.

Edit (5/6/2022): After a while my Mac started to have problems with Blutetooth, and I knew it was time to go all wired (highly recommended btw).

I got a Macally USB Wired Keyboard (there are two types, one is plastic, one is metal and plastic - go for the metal version).


Basically the Macally is a copy of Apple's Magic Keyboard, but it's USB, and it's awesome. It's got the same chiclet keys, same font, etc, but it's wired so there's never any problem when you really need to edit, send an email, etc. right now.

A few weeks later, just for kicks I tried the Macally with Windows...then with Linux - both worked perfectly - I ordered 2 more instantly.

So, the Perixxes are now on a shelf and I'm trying to give them away - the difference between the Macally and the Perixx is night and day. A $36 mistake is worth it if one finally finds the perfect keyboard : )

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