How I Spent $5000 on a Computer and a Paperweight

A Bootcamp Nightmare

Travis Prol
4 min readJul 9, 2020

In March of 2020, I made a big decision and decided that I was going to attend a Software Engineering bootcamp. I knew that the one of the first things that I should do is start looking at computers that have the right specs to carry me through. I had been a PC user my entire life and was sad to see that most of these bootcamps required their students to have Apple computers. I researched what Apple had to offer, and purchased the 2019 16" Macbook Pro with an i7 processor, and 16GB of RAM for about $2800. This thing was like a spaceship.

One of the reasons I decided to go with this expensive of a model is because directly on Apple’s website, they say that it can support the built in display, and up to two 6K monitors, or up to four 4K monitors. I thought that this created a bit of flexibility in the future to add more displays if needed.


Sure enough, after I was accepted to Flatiron’s Software Engineering Bootcamp and started the pre-work, I discovered that additional monitors would be very beneficial and would make my learning experience a whole lot easier.

After some more research, I purchased two 1080p monitors, an external keyboard, and an external mouse for about $500. I was very happy with my setup that cost me about $3300 total.

ONE glass of wine + programming = magic

Now I am not the best at math. I’ll be the first to admit that. But two 1080p monitors seems like less than four 4K monitors. And it is. It also seems like less than two 6k monitors. And it is. According to Apple, this setup should have absolutely no problem running.

After a couple of weeks of working with this setup, my computer started significantly slowing down, and started heating up whenever my monitors were plugged in. I reached out to Apple and they told me that everything is fine, and that I had nothing to worry about.

Fast forward a few more weeks, and it is Monday of the second week of Mod2 at Flatiron. I go to use the TouchID on my computer, but I burn my fingers on the area above the touch bar. When I say burn, I’m not talking about anything serious, but definitely something that you would want to avoid touching.

I called up Apple again and was told to “immediately stop using the machine, and turn it off”, which makes programming a bit tricky. I spent the next 2.5 hours on the phone being transferred around to various departments and eventually ended up speaking with one of Apple’s Senior Advisors. They essentially blamed the problem on VSCode, and the gems that I had installed. It turns out my AppleCare+ was not good for much. He recommended that I do not use this computer for programming moving forward because it is not powerful enough of a machine, but that nothing bad would happen to it if I did.

Can you believe that? A $2800 computer is not powerful enough to run text files.

Gregory Dwyer, my Mod2 instructor, summed up my thoughts perfectly: “Are there any other standard computer operations we shouldn’t do on your computer apple?”

I continued to use the machine while monitoring the internal temperature to make sure that I did not go above the damage threshold.

The night before my Mod2 code challenge, my computer turned off, and would not turn back on.

After failing to get my old PC up and running for the code challenge, I had to sit out. This was the first test I have ever failed in my life.

I could only come up with two options moving forward. I either had to defer school while I sorted out this situation, something that I really did not want to do, or I could purchase another computer.

There was NO way that I was going to buy another laptop after that first disaster so I purchased a Mac Mini with an i7 processor, and 16GB of RAM for about $1700. This pushed my total to $5000. I had no choice but to look at this as an investment in myself.

So far so good with the Mac Mini! It is quick, it does not burn me, but most importantly, it works.

At the end of the day, my MacBook Pro still “technically” works. It is the best paperweight I have ever owned.



Travis Prol

Full Stack Web Developer 🧑🏻‍💻 Artists Who Code 🤓 Lets go Yanks ⚾️