Reddit breaks down the math on how the new MacBook Pro saves them money

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
Following an initial claim that the fully-loaded new MacBook Pro will save Reddit money and engineering time, the company has broken down the figures to show when the shift will pay off.

MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro


Just as Uber and Twitter have been giving their engineers fully-loaded M1 Max MacBook Pro models, so has Reddit. Now Reddit staff engineer Jameson Williams has detailed how the company came to its conclusion -- and why the new machines make such a difference.

Writing on Reddit's engineering blog, Williams repeats his original tweet before expanding on the point that, "engineering hours are much more expensive than laptops."

"The basic premise of the tweet was to weigh the up-front cost of buying some new laptops, alongside the opportunity cost of not doing so," he writes. "To start, I estimated that an average Android engineer spends 45 minutes waiting on builds each day."

"We observed that the new 2021 M1 Max MacBook finished a clean build of our Android repo in half the time of a 2019 Intel i9 MacBook [Pro]," he continued. "That means an Android developer could save about 22 minutes of build time every day."

Williams does stress how it's close to impossible to really estimate the cost of a software engineer over the length of a project. "Let me be upfront: I honestly don't know what this is at Reddit," he says.

However, he says he used common estimate of $150 per hour for a software engineer -- based not just on salary, but also "recruiting, office leases, support staff," and much more.

Reddit's calculation of the costs of moving to new MacBook Pro, or staying with existing equipment. (Source: Reddit)
Reddit's calculation of the costs of moving to new MacBook Pro, or staying with existing equipment. (Source: Reddit)


Then there's the cost of the new MacBook Pro. "As for the up-front cost, Apple.com offers the M1 Max MacBook for $3,299 before tax, shipping," says Williams. "Factoring in shipping, taxes, etc., let's call it $3,500 to get a round number. So if you buy nine (that's about an average team size), that's $31.5k. The question becomes: how long does it take to recoup $31.5k?

According to Williams, "we can see a pretty immediate break-even point," which for this fictional team of nine, "would happen after three months."

In Williams's full piece, he addresses criticisms he's received, including accusations that he is "shilling for Apple."

"So, hey, let's be clear," he responds. "The fact of the matter is that I shill for Reddit."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member
    “shilling for Apple...” is the most common response here on AppleInsider when something positive about Apple is published.
    scstrrfjas99Fidonet127Beats
  • Reply 2 of 39
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,432member
    lkrupp said:
    “shilling for Apple...” is the most common response here on AppleInsider when something positive about Apple is published.
    Bitching about people saying something negative, before they’ve even said it. The most common post by @lkrupp ;

    muthuk_vanalingamlkruppJapheyneoncatcrowleymobirdwilliamlondonviclauyycrezwitsWgkrueger
  • Reply 3 of 39
    A real-world example of 45 minutes waiting for builds cut in half, translated to a 3 month payback on buying a new M1 laptop.  That’s powerful validation of the SoC and system engineering that went into this machine.
    Alex_Vwilliamlondonbaconstangviclauyycnarwhalrezwitsjas99tmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 39
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,432member
    Interesting article that highlights how an ‘expensive’ machine may actually be cheaper. 3 months is actually a pretty quick payback period. Of course, it depends on how you use the machine. 

    The other consideration is the usable lifespan. Macs tend to be supported by Apple and remain usable longer. My daughter took my 8 year old MBA to college and it worked well for her until the LCD screen died. Even if you are a power user that needs the performance, this means the devices will have a higher resale value when you need to upgrade.

    Finally, I’ll add reliability. In general I’ve found Apple hardware to be very reliable (except the keyboard on my last MBP.) The OS tends to be more trouble free as well and the problems that do arise are easier to fix. Less time spent trouble shooting devices is a huge value to me.
    Alex_VF_Kent_Dmuthuk_vanalingamchiabaconstangviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 39
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 276member
    willett said:
    A real-world example of 45 minutes waiting for builds cut in half, translated to a 3 month payback on buying a new M1 laptop.  That’s powerful validation of the SoC and system engineering that went into this machine.
    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    williamlondonGeorgeBMactyler82command_fanonconformistwatto_cobraavon b7
  • Reply 6 of 39
    MBA M1 new is the most expensive Mac Laptop I've bough since my 1400cs (I buy an Apple refurb store unit every 5 years).  The amount of time saved over my i5 MBP is stunning.  Sometimes I open the Applications folder, -A then -O just to show doubters how capable these new models are.  
    mangakattenrezwitswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 39
    IreneW said:

    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    Not so much doing nothing else but trying to do something else but really looking over your shoulder to see if it compiles or throws a piston...
    williamlondonMplsPapplguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 39
    Funny. I can’t even do a password reset on Monterey using the latest MacBook Pro I just purchased last night.  I have to have this program be able to work using safari and it fails to do so. I’ll try a different web browser but will be returning it tomorrow if I cagey something as simple as this to work. I have to go back to Movoje on my old computer in order to rest it.

    Stupid is the best word to use for sousing simple 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 39
    IreneW said:
    willett said:
    A real-world example of 45 minutes waiting for builds cut in half, translated to a 3 month payback on buying a new M1 laptop.  That’s powerful validation of the SoC and system engineering that went into this machine.
    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    While what you said is true, it is a short-sighted one and misses the bigger picture. It should be looked at in the context in which it was made. It was an attempt at quantifying a benefit which is a qualitative one. The takeaway should not be that people using the computer were wasting time earlier (which they can do even with a faster machine). It should be that the more responsive machine saves time on a daily basis & in-turn money for the owner of the machine. And that the additional cost of the machine pays for itself in a short period of time (not for all users, but for the right audience - in this case developers who have demanding tasks to be done using the machine).
    edited November 25 baconstangwilliamlondonMplsPrundhvidwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 10 of 39
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,094member
    MplsP said:
    lkrupp said:
    “shilling for Apple...” is the most common response here on AppleInsider when something positive about Apple is published.
    Bitching about people saying something negative, before they’ve even said it. The most common post by @lkrupp ;

    I'd be very unsurprised if there are far more of his bilious negativity then there are of people saying "shilling for Apple".  This is a largely Apple-positive board.
    muthuk_vanalingambaconstangTRAGwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 39
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,397member
    IreneW said:
    willett said:
    A real-world example of 45 minutes waiting for builds cut in half, translated to a 3 month payback on buying a new M1 laptop.  That’s powerful validation of the SoC and system engineering that went into this machine.
    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    Well if they're using Gradle and related tools to compile builds (typical for Android apps), chances are they don't play well with other things running on the system and so they won't be able to do much else on that machine while compiling.  Speaking from experience where I had choppy audio in a meeting the other day while running a build on my MBP.  Never had that experience with Xcode before.

    One big problem is that, while Android Studio does have a native Apple Silicon version, the compiler and other low level tools it relies on are still Intel.

    EDIT: The Java development tools support Apple Silicon, but not the NDK and other tools which don't come as part of Android Studio.
    edited November 25 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 39
    IreneW said:
    willett said:
    A real-world example of 45 minutes waiting for builds cut in half, translated to a 3 month payback on buying a new M1 laptop.  That’s powerful validation of the SoC and system engineering that went into this machine.
    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    Of course they could do the laundry or cook but those 45 minutes is the total of so small chunks that they can't even initiate their home jobs ! Doomed machines those M1 Max Macs are, they don't even leave you a reasonable laundry time !
    edited November 25 williamlondonviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 39
    Fred257 said:
    Funny. I can’t even do a password reset on Monterey using the latest MacBook Pro I just purchased last night.  I have to have this program be able to work using safari and it fails to do so. I’ll try a different web browser but will be returning it tomorrow if I cagey something as simple as this to work. I have to go back to Movoje on my old computer in order to rest it.

    Stupid is the best word to use for sousing simple 
    Do you think you could rephrase that in English?
    auxiobaconstangMplsPtokyojimuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 39
    IreneW said:
    willett said:
    A real-world example of 45 minutes waiting for builds cut in half, translated to a 3 month payback on buying a new M1 laptop.  That’s powerful validation of the SoC and system engineering that went into this machine.
    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    Bathroom breaks...
    williamlondonrezwitswatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 39
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 276member
    IreneW said:
    willett said:
    A real-world example of 45 minutes waiting for builds cut in half, translated to a 3 month payback on buying a new M1 laptop.  That’s powerful validation of the SoC and system engineering that went into this machine.
    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    While what you said is true, it is a short-sighted one and misses the bigger picture. It should be looked at in the context in which it was made. It was an attempt at quantifying a benefit which is a qualitative one. The takeaway should not be that people using the computer were wasting time earlier (which they can do even with a faster machine). It should be that the more responsive machine saves time on a daily basis & in-turn money for the owner of the machine. And that the additional cost of the machine pays for itself in a short period of time (not for all users, but for the right audience - in this case developers who have demanding tasks to be done using the machine).
    Note that I'm not saying their developers should not get their new shiny toys -- they should, and it is likely a great economic decision, because happy engineers produce better code and tend to stay employed.

    Retention saves a lot of mone.Developers idling while compiling, not so much. Sounds more like code monkeys in a factory.
    williamlondoncommand_fwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 39
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,432member
    jpellino said:
    IreneW said:

    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    Not so much doing nothing else but trying to do something else but really looking over your shoulder to see if it compiles or throws a piston...
    I don't have 20 minute complies to worry about, but the bigger problem for me is programs like CAD software or MS Word that take forever to load. I end up going and checking my email and getting distracted by other stuff in the mean time. ADD's a bitch!
    GeorgeBMaccommand_fwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 39
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,685member
    MplsP said:
    jpellino said:
    IreneW said:

    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    Not so much doing nothing else but trying to do something else but really looking over your shoulder to see if it compiles or throws a piston...
    I don't have 20 minute complies to worry about, but the bigger problem for me is programs like CAD software or MS Word that take forever to load. I end up going and checking my email and getting distracted by other stuff in the mean time. ADD's a bitch!
    Yep, these are the real saving but harder to quantify. It's those tasks that speed up to the point they don't give you a chance to lose focus on the task at hand. Might only be a fraction of a second but the focus shift even to something else productive will still cost you a minute in the round trip. a couple of those an hour and the machine is paid off in under 6 months. 
    command_fwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 39
    IreneW said:

    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    Of course they could do the laundry or cook but those 45 minutes is the total of so small chunks that they can't even initiate their home jobs ! Doomed machines those M1 Max Macs are, they don't even leave you a reasonable laundry time !
    If you need 45 minutes to do laundry, you are doing it wrong :)
    baconstangMplsPwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 39
    IreneW said:
    willett said:
    A real-world example of 45 minutes waiting for builds cut in half, translated to a 3 month payback on buying a new M1 laptop.  That’s powerful validation of the SoC and system engineering that went into this machine.
    Well, let's just say that if their engineers are spending 45 minutes per day, just waiting far a compilation to finish, doing nothing else, they are doing it wrong.

    Even if they cut that in half.
    While what you said is true, it is a short-sighted one and misses the bigger picture. It should be looked at in the context in which it was made. It was an attempt at quantifying a benefit which is a qualitative one. The takeaway should not be that people using the computer were wasting time earlier (which they can do even with a faster machine). It should be that the more responsive machine saves time on a daily basis & in-turn money for the owner of the machine. And that the additional cost of the machine pays for itself in a short period of time (not for all users, but for the right audience - in this case developers who have demanding tasks to be done using the machine).
    Actually the big benefit, IMHO, is FOCUS being MODED, and doing 2 days in 1 day.

    Let's say you have a guy he ends up doing 2 builds a day? at 60 minutes, one before lunch and one after lunch.

    Where as on certain projects, you can be 100% focused and do say 4 "quick" builds in one day, and run tests even.  And like others have said only feel like going to the bathroom or getting a quick drink or snack, and go right back to work, cause stuff is done.

    Heck back in the day we smoked cigarettes cause of the extra 7-10 minutes of time something took to "run", for whatever "batch" we took 20 minutes setting up.  If we would have had computers at this speed, I mean we had 3 Macs, that we would setup Photoshop Rips and rotates, each machine we would open launch keystroke etc Quickeys heck I would have NEVER smoked cigs...

    Laters...
    baconstangwilliamlondondws-2watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 39
    Oh I had an after thought later tonight.

    Here is something that is HUGE that I dictated to myself a few years ago, that with the M1 is for REAL.

    There is this "Aptitude Factor."  What is this Aptitude Factor?

    When a human being is given a chance to do something on a computer, this is where the MacUsers and iOS users of the future are gonna shine, and I am so glad I remembered this, here it is:

    Let's say you have 10 people and 5 have Macs and 5 have Intel PCs.

    If there is a project or some kind of, launch a program do this do that, if on a Mac the task would take
    5 minutes.  But on the Intel the task would take 20 minutes, and they have to wait and watch and interact, (you can even scale this down), to 1 minute on the Mac and 4 minutes on the PC, (there is also an age factor), but we'll keep things simple (but the older a person is the even more less likely).

    I would just guestimate taking into procrastinating, 4 out of 5 Mac users would click click click, and get the task done in 5 minutes.  Where as the PC users if faced with something that would take 20 minutes, maybe 2 out of 5 would sit there for the 20 minutes.

    Now you can scale this up even the other way and say 15 minutes versus 60 minutes.

    If something takes someone 60 minutes to do on a PC you're gonna get 1 out of 5, even if it's their WORK!  They'll procrastinate and be like "I'll get to it, I'll get to it". Because it's a hard core 60 minutes they have to sit and work STRAIGHT!

    If they only need to take 15 minutes on a Mac, you'd probably get about 3 out 5 Mac users at 15 minutes, click click click DONE.

    It's so HUGE... Productivity!!
    watto_cobra
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