In every other way, I don’t think the “pro” is appropriate. It’s a full size consumer MacBook. Here is the steps back I’ll take by giving Apple $3,000+ of my dollars and selling my current machine for around $1200:
- No Magsafe
- No SD port
- No ethernet (I still use a dongle every day to get ethernet on my notebook)
- No USB-A
- Less battery life
- Losing physical buttons on the top of the keyboard
- a keyboard that has proven to be inadequate for a professional use case
- No charge indicator on the power supply
- I’ll need to buy a Thunderbolt 3 dock for home & work
If the machine was significantly faster with more RAM, I’d be more excited but at this point, I’m not looking forward to my current computer dying suddenly and being forced to upgrade.
In March of 2014, I wrote this when I purchased my late-2013 MacBook Pro:
When you look at the 3rd party GeekBench stats comparing the top end MBP vs MBA, the multi-core points are pretty amazing. 14,600 points versus 5,600. The single core is not as much of a difference with 3,700 versus 2,969 but the top end MBP with 4 cores and hyper threading will make a nice difference in number crunching and mobile RAW photo editing. You can see additional CPU comparisons here between both top-end model chips.
I’m really excited to have a brand new notebook with 10 hour battery life and a gorgeous retina display. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with all of that power though :)
Eventually, I found a use for my late-2013 MacBook Pro both in my workflow and in life in general. I grew accustomed to the size and as my work went from photos shot in RAW on an Olympus E-PL2 and eventually an OMD-1 to 4K Videos and 200 uploaded a year to YouTube, the MacBook Pro really grew with me. 4.5 years after purchase, it continued to serve me every day without complaint. The only issue I had with this machine was over-heating in 2013. A month before the warranty was up, Apple replaced the logic board and it worked very well after that.
I still completely agree with what I wrote in in January about the current MacBook Pro models.
Why did I upgrade?
I was pretty clear about the upgrade path in my last line which was the significant speed boost and additional RAM. These two items are what caused me to upgrade. The Late-2013 MacBook Pro was not a slouch. It did force me to wait some time but not in a meaningful way. It was tolerable.
I’d like to cite the GeekBench scores first which aren’t 100% representable to reality but they do serve a good baseline for the purpose of this article. It turns out, my old laptop is reporting slightly higher scores than it did when I published that article in 2014
- Late-2013 MacBook Pro, Core i7 2.6Ghz, 4186 and 14088
- Mid-2018 MacBook Pro, Core i9 2.9Ghz, 5335 and 22432
- Mid 2017 MacBook Pro, Core i7 3.1Ghz, 4630 and 15542
When I wrote the article in January, I was comparing my machine against the current fastest one a 450 point increase in single-core and 1500 point increase in multi-core. I just didn’t see a reason to spend the extra money for a machine with identical memory and a similar graphics card without the ports and keyboard I already loved. The Mid-2018 MacBook Pro changed that for me.
An increase of 1200 points in single-core and 8,344 point increase in multi-core.That’s huge! The RAM doubled to 32GB and increased in speed (1600Mhz DDR3 to 2400Mhz DDR4) and the SSD became significantly faster in really an un-measureable way but I’d estimate a 4-5x increase in speed even in random read/write tests due to apple striping together two different SSD modules together in RAID 0 with the T2 chip’s on the fly encryption which allows for even more speed. When you combine the larger Thunderbolt 3 ecosystem, improved keyboard and TrueTone display, the GPU improvements (doubling of VRAM and a higher clock speed) were just icing on the cake.
To close out on my January 2018 thoughts, there are still downsides to the new MacBook Pro design which likely won’t change for another 2 years. 4.5 years is the longest I had ever owned a MacBook Pro and I was able to sell it for $800 (which is actually lower than average on eBay). $800 on a laptop that cost $2500 almost 5 years after it was released is impressive. I am not bummed about letting it go and I think, despite the design short-comings, the new MacBook Pro is a huge upgrade in many ways so long as you are okay with Dongle-Life and the loss of MagSafe.
Here’s a bit of unboxing-porn for you:
The MacBook Pro I ordered arrived and then I went out of town for two weeks so I’ve now had a real full month with the machine. It’s funny though how in the past, a lot of my computing was inspired by the machine itself, the machine had a more substantial role in my technological life from how I approached it meaning the machine inspired the use, not the use being the highlight. Does that make sense? The machine, if it’s serving its purpose these days really fades into just being there. It’s not that I’m any less of a tech-geek than I was but I now have to get more done and just need a machine that will do its job and serve my needs. If it’s fast and does things without fussing, I’ll be happy.
The 2018 MacBook Pro paired with the CalDigit TS3 Plus Dock is amazing. This laptop requires you use it with a dock or at least I do. Here’s what’s plugged into my dock at work:
- USB-A to charge my helmet & GoPro at work
- Two Lightning cables (iPhone + iPad)
- DisplayPort (to my 4K 24” monitor)
- Keyboard (USB-A)
- Mouse (USB-A Dongle)
Without the dock, it would be impossible to work with the new MacBook without going to Bluetooth peripherals, a Thunderbolt to DisplayPort/Ethernet/USB-A Dongle which would occupy all 4 ports along with the power port. I get to my desk and plug in just one Thunderbolt cable into my MacBook Pro and everything comes alive. This wasn’t possible on my 2013 MacBook Pro. I occupied all of the left side ports every time I needed to move, it was an exercise to unplug everything.
With Dongle-Life out of the way way, the battery life is also impressive. I had a 12 hour long beer tasting on Saturday night. I was just taking notes in TextEdit with WiFi and Bluetooth turned off. I left with 50% battery remaining thanks to Energy Saver putting the computer to sleep every 5 minutes and while turning off Bluetooth meant I lost AppleWatch Unlocking, with TouchID, I could unlock the MacBook pro just as fast. While taking notes initially, battery life showed 15 hours of time remaining. Impressive. No way I could write for a straight 15 hours.
Under heavy load (transcoding Video), the battery life drops to 1 hour and 41 minutes. That’s to be expected. You have everything running at maximum.
The speed, it’s faster than my iMac 5K by 5,000 points on GeekBench Multi-Core. That shows in day to day usage but the iMac with the better Radeon 395X card does slightly edge out the MacBook Pro. Once Video Transcoding / Lightroom Analysis completes, the MacBook Pro is much faster than the iMac 5K due to I/O, RAM and CPU speed. it’s a speed demon. If my iMac 5K had an SSD, the difference would be a little less. I think the I/O speed Apple has done in the last year of its machines is the biggest reason to upgrade if you’re dealing with large files
The keyboard travel, you get used to pretty quickly. No complaints from me now that I’m used to it.
The TouchBar is unnecessary. I’ve already changed the setting in System Preferences that locks the Touch Bar to always showing control buttons as opposed to collapsing them. I don’t need any of the custom things that it shows me on a per application basis. I find the Touch Bar screen changing per-app to be distracting and most of the shortcuts are available via keyboard shortcuts I’ve been using for 2 decades. The annoying thing was that when I wanted to quickly mute something or adjust brightness, it was 2 taps, one to expand the buttons and another to tap the desired shortcut. Now with persistent functions, that is no longer an issue. The final annoying thing about the Touch bar, the Escape button is not just above the tilde key. It’s between Tilde and Numeral 1 so accessing escape from muscle memory doesn’t work. Oh and I used to rest my fingers on the function keys when reading…this has lead me to quickly turn my brightness off to 0% before I have a chance to realize what I’m doing. A lot of these annoyances will fade with time. I don’t see the touch bar as a step back in design, only a unilateral change that really doesn’t benefit me over the traditional function keys.
The larger trackpad doesn’t have any false clicks and for that, I have no complaints. It’s just larger but I’m still only using the center over it for navigation. I do have tap to click disabled though so that could be why I have no issues with it.
The iSight camera is still very low-res which is annoying
I like MacBook Pro is engraved below the display now. My Retina MacBook Pro lacked this and I missed it.
I miss the Light up apple logo and I miss the light up charge indicator on the cable. I miss the SD slot but I grabbed a cheap USB-C dock that has USB-A and SD so at least i can get by if I have to.
After my old MacBook Pro sold, I packed it up and gave it a solid cleaning after wiping the Operating System. It does feel like old technology now. The small trackpad, stiff keyboard, larger display bezel and lack of true-tone is just odd to hold. I definitely could not go back to the old one which is a good thing.
I thought in this article bout touching on the fact that my maxed out MacBook Pro in 2014 was $2500 and the new one was a smidge under $4,000. That increase is offensive. Technology is supposed to get more affordable. I’m glad I’m in a place in my life where I can afford a $4,000 machine. The majority of people worldwide can’t especially when you factor in Apple’s locality adjustments for the stronger US-Dollar we’ve had. People in Brazil are paying double what we do for the same machines. It’s truly troubling that Apple can’t meet an affordable price point with these. I have only a small complaint with this because of my means to afford this machine. It doesn’t make the price increases right.
So, that’s that. New machine, I love it! There are things I miss about the old one but I wouldn’t want to go back. The other day I was editing photos in Lightroom and I had Windows 10 in Parallels in the background. I was able to commit 6 CPU cores to it and 8GB of RAM and even plugged into a 4K display, everything just kept working quickly. The fan was going mad but the machine was chugging along. This is something impossible on my last machine. I love the future.