2016 Macbook Pro perspective from a PC mobile workstation user

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Zigman, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. Zigman macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2012
    Hi all, having recently bought and tried a few high end Windows notebooks and a fully loaded 2016 TB MacBook Pro 15, I wanted to give you a quick comparison just in case it's helpful to anyone.

    Quick backstory - long time Mac user, got tired of the lack of MacBook Pro 15 updates and lack of innovation so I decided to get a fully loaded Windows laptop over the summer. I tried out the XPS 15, Razer Blade 2016 (w/970m), and ended up with a Lenovo P50. As much as I tried to find the right powerful laptop, just couldn't find the right balance, so I picked up a fully loaded SG 2016 MacBook Pro 15 last week.

    My main use case is heavy business apps like Excel and PowerPoint and amateur photo editing via Lightroom. I also travel a lot.

    Quick blurb on laptop experiences:

    - XPS 15 (UHD/960m/16GB/1TB): Thin but heavy, decent screen, decent power. I say decent screen because it was bright and 4K, but had horrendous backlight uniformity and could see some serious color banding. Also, it had a sub-par keyboard - the left key started "sticking" after a couple of weeks of use. Power adapter was decent size but had a loud clicking sound. Tried 2 different ones and both had the screen and clicking issue. Battery life was around 5-6 hours at best with lowest brightness.

    - Razer Blade 2016 (QHD+/16GB/970m): Size and power were main positives. A lot of power in a small form factor, but got VERY hot until gaming/benchmarking. Power adapter was compact which was great. Screen was awful, looked like they took a matte display and slapped glass on top of it, so it looked a bit weird (marbling effect on a white background) and also had bad uniformity and contrast. Worst issue was that the laptop had loud electric noice under load (coil whine). Tried two different ones and both add all these issues. I really wanted to like the Razer since it was the only Windows laptop that was on the smaller size with such power.

    - Lenovo P50 (XEON/UHD/64GB/512GB/Quadro M2000M): This is the one I still have but will soon sell. Positives include build, power, screen color gamut, price, and upgradeability. The build quality is standard Thinkpad, which is built like a tank. Compute power is insane, especially with the XEON processor and 64Gb of ram. GPU is pretty weak for such a large laptop (like a 960m). I got a great deal on it for about $2400 included 3 year onsite warranty and accidental damage. The screen has an amazing color gamut but there is a pretty large brightness shift by slightly leaning left or right, which is most noticeable when working on white background like excel and word. Battery life is MAX 5 hrs, but got worse with the latest Windows anniversary which made it like 3.5 hrs. Battery is removable and there was a recent power manager update but I haven't tested it since. Expandable is pretty awesome - slots for two m.2 and one 2" thin drive or two 2" drives. Only issue is they require special brackets which are cheap but a pain nevertheless to get. The power adapter is also HUGE, we're talking 1LB+ and massive - the laptop + power supply puts the total travel weight close to 7lbs.

    - TB Macbook Pro 15 (2.9/1TB/460): Size and build quality is absolutely awesome coming from the Windows laptops (and some older MacBook Pros). My wife bought the new TB MacBook 13 for work and when she went back to her 2013 MacBook Pro she commented on how much more modern these new MacBooks feel. Need for dongles hasn't raised any major issues yet. Screen has an great color gamut but poor uniformity, the left side is dimmer which gives a tad bluer color that the rest of the screen. I checked display units at both Best Buy and Apple store and almost all of them had sort of uniformity issue. Speed has been great no issues with either graphics or processing compared to P50. Battery is a mixed bag - sometimes it is absolutely amazing and others is drains very quickly.

    Compared to the windows laptops, the MacBook Pro has better battery life and much better form factor. In my opinion everything is a compromise, for people like me who travel a lot and need power, this is the best laptop in the market. I do believe, however, Apple should offer a thicker/heavier version which addresses people's need for ports and battery life. I also think all the MacBook Pro 15s should have more memory for the price they charge (at least on the higher end).

    Just my thoughts, if anyone has any specific questions on these laptops just let me know.
  2. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 27, 2013
    Nice write up and comparisons. That lenovo seems like a monster.

    One question? How are you managing to do Excel and Powerpoint without the 64GB ram? Seems almost impossible.
  3. JMac1996 macrumors regular


    Oct 21, 2016
    Germany, Flensburg
    Very nice. :)
    Enjoyable to read.

    Had similar experience with an older version of the Dell XPS 15, which I sold and now I went for the entry 15" MacBook Pro.
    How about the build quality of the bottom plate of your Macbook Pro?
    In my eyes they cut out too much at the bottom. Mine feels too thin and a little bit cheap.
    but other than that, I can agree. Build quality from Apple is far above the other ones.
  4. Zigman thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2012
    Thanks, the P50 is definitely a monster, very capable.

    Depends on the use case, I do notice slow down in larger Powerpoint files, but that could be the Mac version being less efficient than the PC version. Haven't gotten around to larger Excel yet, I do know the older Mac version used only 1 core, will be curious if the new 64bit versions work better. Will keep you posted!
  5. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Completely agree with a lot of your points and thank you for a refreshing thread/review. I've seen a lot of laptops come through the office, from thin Razer Blades to bulky ASUS ROGs, and they just don't come close. Oh, and a lot of DELL XPSs: the MacWhiners' laptop of choice.

    The trouble here is that a lot of people criticise based on paper specs. "Oh, well this laptop has a 4K screen, compared to your paltry...", "This one has a better graphics card and it's cheaper than your Mac". Yet these computers almost immediately falter with something as simple as the trackpad. They're not nice to live with.

    When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, which is basically using a laptop on a daily basis and carting it around, there are very few non-Apple laptops which even come close to a decent experience.
  6. Zigman thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2012
    Thanks! I didn't notice anything about the bottom, will take a look when I get back. I am traveling without my laptop.
  7. runner77 macrumors member

    Nov 9, 2016
    Thanks for the post. That reflects my experiences with the Dell as well. I am still waiting for my MBP 15", but I have no doubts that it will perform well for software engineering, as any prior MBP did an excellent job for my professional needs.
  8. shamus99 macrumors regular

    Dec 20, 2014
    Ordered the 13 touch mbp for my wife. It sounds like her workload is similar to yours. Do you think I should bump up the ram to 16?
  9. thedommer2000 macrumors member

    Sep 11, 2016
  10. Zigman thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2012
    Totally agree withe thedommer since you can't upgrade. In particular I find the mac version of MS Office much less resource efficient than the PC version.
  11. idark77 macrumors 6502


    Dec 2, 2014
  12. shamus99 macrumors regular

    Dec 20, 2014
    On a side note... my wife uses office 2007 on her pc. Which version on mac do you suggest? (shes a creature of habit)
  13. thesaint024 macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2016
    suspension waiting room
    The only mac versions of office that come close to recent PC versions is 2016. Even this is still short of the PC version. Looks like with Office 365 being multi platform, they are attempting to bring Mac up to PC level. I personally find all PC Office versions pretty similar since 2003. I am mostly referring to Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Access in order of heaviest use. YMMV.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 2, 2016 ---
    Good comment. I had a Dell XPS 13. People bitch about MBP battery claims, Dell claimed 14 for this, but in reality it only applied to the base version. I got 6 maybe 7 on light use. Little things just didn't work well, the detail and quality just weren't there. Of course it was cheaper than my MBP, but it wasn't a bargain. I personally find touchscreens on laptops useless and stopped even doing it for fun because I didn't like fingerprints all over my screen. My expectations for laptops were set by my '09 MBP. Every other laptop that I've tried or came across since just sucked in comparison, some more than others.
  14. Zigman thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2012
    I see what you mean on the quality of the bottom plate - the thinness almost give it a plastic feel. On the positive side it makes it thinner and lighter :)
  15. Trixs macrumors regular

    Mar 26, 2008
    I think he may have been a bit sarcastic there. But I could be wrong..
  16. creamz macrumors member


    Feb 2, 2015
    Trackpad? Damn! I would never go out on my then windows laptop without a wireless mouse and the people I know felt the same way but that was years ago. Not sure about the improvements they have now. I migrated to the MBP and never need a mouse ever.
  17. powerocool macrumors 6502


    Jun 5, 2007
    Felt exactly the same. At first this TB MBP didn't felt like much has changed, but after using it for a while and then go back to my 2015 Retina MBP, it really made the Retina MBP feel outdated.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 3, 2016 ---
    Office 2016
  18. CJM macrumors 65816


    May 7, 2005
    64GB of RAM - Uses it for Excel and Powerpoint. We talking about 1000 slide presentations here or what?

    But a good write up, though... I'm always interested in what it's like to actually use other manufacturer's laptops on a daily basis. I do keep looking at those Dell XPS 15s. Maybe the next version will be improved.
  19. shamus99 macrumors regular

    Dec 20, 2014

    Silly question.... not a mac or computer guy. Do I buy Office through an app store like on an ipad or do I go through Microsoft?
  20. JohnnyGo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 9, 2009
    Subscription model only. Purchase from Microsoft every year or buy discounted one year subscription cards online elsewhere.
  21. JohnnyGo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 9, 2009
    Office on Mac is definitely slower and more prone to beach balls. Depends on your setup but there are many reports saying the Windows version is faster / less resource intensive (which makes sense as both Windows and Office are produced by Microsoft)
  22. shamus99 macrumors regular

    Dec 20, 2014
    I can't buy it once off Amazon? It's only good for a year?
  23. thesaint024 macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2016
    suspension waiting room
    Full program or subscription available at MS site. Other outlets vary what they sell. Subscription still gives you a local copy but will stop full functionality if not subscribed.

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