2017 MacBook Pro 13 non-TB Review

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by project_2501, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. project_2501, Jul 16, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018

    project_2501 macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017
    This is my review for the 2017 MacBook Pro 13 non-TB - it will be updated again to reflect any changed opinion after weeks / months of use.

    I am a technology professional - and use the MacBook for several tasks:
    • browsing, emailing
    • programming - sometimes pretty intense CPU and memory workloads such as text mining analytics, raytracing calculations
    • teaching classes, meet up tutorials, presentations at conferences for others - including using the laptop at those sessions
    • earning a living as an author of technology books - designing illustrations and editing images
    • photography hobby
    • watching programmes / films - BBC player, youtube, Netflix etc

    I've never been a fan of Windows since the 1990s (yes I'm that old). My first laptop was a Dell 8600, after having owned some desktop PCs. Inevitably I used Linux on the PCs as Windows just was not the easy or reliable option for coding, technical writing or learning about tech. The Dell laptop, however, like most laptops then and now, was too proprietary for Linux and didn't run things like graphics and power management successfully.

    I had kept away from Apple due to it's extremely proprietary image and practises.

    After getting too old to deal with graphics drivers, terrible fonts, devices that didn't work, poor power management from Linux, carrying around a power cable and a mouse (because the PC laptops had terrible trackpads) .. I decided to save up for a MacBook...

    MacBook Pro 2015 13
    I ended up with the 2015 MacBook Pro 13. The bigger 15inch models were more suited to my workload - esp with the GPU for GPGPU coding - but sadly I was never going to carry it around. I needed something I wouldn't think twice about carrying in my bag, and something that wasn't so conspicuous in public. I work a lot in cafes. So I compromised and went for the 13.

    Think of the 13 and 15 like the Fujifilm XT100 and a Nikon D4 .. the bigger one is clearly more powerful but you somehow always end up carrying the smaller one with you .. and actually using it.

    I loved the rMBP13 ... it had:
    • amazing battery life - initially reporting 14 hours remaining at the start of some days (I never needed very high screen brightness)
    • *excellent* trackpad that is a dream to use - goodbye to the mouse I always carried around, I could even do illustrations and graphic design with the trackpad .. it's *that* good.
    • the IPS (not cheap TN) screen is a joy to use, and realistic for photography and design, apple seem to put some effort into tuning / calibrating the things too so they're not bad out of the box
    • they keyboard was a joy, I wasn't sure how I'd like the rounded rectangle chiclet keys having come from a cheapo Dell keyboard and a solid Thinpad keyboard .. but I loved it. Quiet, comfortable and a joy to use for long periods of work. And quiet at night too. The backlight was also very thoughtful of apple .. shows they actually try to empathise with their users. ... user-centric design.
    • lots of ports in one workhorse - SD card, USB, HDMI, DisplayPort .. and I used them all. I could understand the lack of a VGA port after years and years of being out of date... seriously the VGA port is terrible for two devices communicating their mutual capabilities.. hence the well known projector hell.
    • INCASE ICON with TaensorLite case was brilliant. Snug, protected from occasional jabs and scratches and great for putting inside a bigger bag with other stuff like sports kit. The rubber edges saved my laptop from the worst corner impact a few times. Brilliant!
    • 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM was great for never working about storage (text analytics, data mining, music, videos, virtual machines and OS ISOs..) and the 16GB was great for working with multiple apps. I only ever needed more the 16GB RAM for one project and I rented a Google virtual server with about 250GB RAM for a week !
    • Solid build, great balance, never felt cheap or compromised in its build quality. Opening the lid by just pushing up on the lip without needing to hold the laptop down shows perfect engineering.
    • Using it in clamshell mode at home with an Apple keyboard and touchpad (bluetooth) and an NEC 4K colour-accurate display at 60HZ over DisplayPort .. worked a treat! (initially the MacOS versions didn't like this in clamshell mode and wouldn't work on bootup)
    • Mac OS is good. It has a UNIX core which is useful to navigate and have things like Anaconda Python installed. But for more involved work I use a Linux virtual machine as too much of the MACOS is proprietary and not meant to be messed with. They don't exactly encourage you to edit stuff in /etc... The balance is ok though. For example, I can edit /etc/fstab to ensure my NTFS USB thumb drive works in write enabled mode. In some sense, I am willing to have a less open MacOS in return for good apps like Affinity Designer, and a Ui that works .. great typeface rendering, for example, is a luxury in Linux land.

    So I loved it. I could see why it was called a Pro. You really could do all kinds of moderately and very demanding jobs with it.

    What didn't I like?
    • The MacBook Pro 13's don't come with dedicated GPU. I'm not a gamer but I do want to drive a professional NEC 4K display at 60Hz (or more!). The Intel Iris 6100 with the MBP13 was advertised as being able to do this. But in fact it *barely* does it. Window management wasn't smooth - you could tell it was straining. Full-screen display of streamed videos was stuttered or slow. Horrible. My ancient Dell 8600 had a dedicated NVIDIA Geforce GPU and worked a charm for its time.
    • I'd have liked CUDA support for NVIDIA GPUs .. but this is NVIDIA only. Sadly much of machine learning coding is done with CUDA not OpenCL. Google's virtual servers with CUDA are expensive! I'm not betting on Metal 2...
    • No support for eventual eGPU.

    MacBook Pro 13 non-TB 2017
    I was 95% happy with the 2015 MBP13 2015. So why did I sell it and get a new MacBook Pro 2017?

    I will be entering a period of less financial luxury so I took the chance to get a device now that would maximally last the next few years. My wife's 2011 iMac is going really well even today.

    The new 2017 MacBook Pro 13 2017 offered:
    • better / faster support for 4K fixing all those annoying video issues.
    • a new kind of keyboard.

    Here are my experiences after a week of solid use:
    • Yes - the new Intel Iris Pro 640 fixes the 4K display performance issues. Videos at full screen from player and Netflix play fine so far. VLC playing local video files always worked well but now feels smoother .. maybe it is not dropping frames anymore or has time to do better video-processing for each frame .. or maybe take advantage of hardware acceleration (but the old laptop was supposed to have h/w decode too)?
    • It is lighter and smaller .. right now it feels too small and light! This happens everytime I have a new laptop .. I can't believe how much more efficient technology is getting. Do you know how much more powerful and capable my Nexus 5X smartphone is compared to my first BBC Micro?
    • I haven't been able to get a case for it. There are reports with photo evidence that say the ICON INCASE with Taensorlite for this specific laptop is actually not a snug fit and the laptop rattles around. This is a shame. I have asked INCASE twice and they have not replied. Interestingly the Apple Stores in London and the online store seem to be out of stock .. so maybe INCASE are fixing this ... I may as well keep the case I had for my 2015 MBP .. it worked and has the same loose spacing and rattle. I've ordered a rubberised case from IDOO for my new MacBook and hope it fits more snugly as a result. It will also protect it from dirty and unsafe offices and cafes. Seriously, why would I not invest in protecting my £1800 laptop!!
    • The keyboard. I tried the keyboard on the 12" MacBooks in the shop and hated them. No way could I use them for 5 mins never mind hours. They felt like a toy and a pretty unergonomic one too. What was apple thinking? Maybe they were OK for the 12" MacBooks which were meant to be portable email and web consumption devices .. like iPads with keyboards? Certainly not for devices where you actually create stuff? I tried the keyboards on the 2016 MBPros in the stores too .. and they keys were bigger which helped a tiny bit but not much. So I was worried about the kayboard on my new MBP13 2017. The verdict so far after a week of solid use. I don't like it but it's something I can and will have to tolerate. The 2017 keys seem to be slightly better than the 2016. The full size helps. The travel isn't. there. And this makes your hands very very tired. You need travel and feedback. Apple knows this - thats why they built a fake one into the trackpads .. force touch or whatever it's called. Did the laptops need to be so thin? No, not for the target audience of professional users. They keyboard is also *noisy* .. annoyingly noisy. It'll wake up anyone who's asleep in the house. Grrr!
    • The fan turns on and is noisy too. There is only one fan on the non-touchbar model. When it is off - the device is silent. When it is on but not stressed it is not noticeable at all. But when it is on .. it is noticeable. I understand apple have cheaper fans than the 2015 models which had asymmetric designs to minimise audible noise.
    • The wifi on the non-TB version seems weaker too. This is a perception and not an objective test. I see the circling / buffering thing more with this laptop compared to the 2015 when used for the same tasks in the same place with the same networking and internet. I'm told the non-TB uses a cheaper 2x2 MIMO down from the 2015 3x3.
    • The CPU is a 2.3GHz i5 processor compared to my 2015 2.9Ghz i5. I didn't go for the i7 then as I was told that it would burn through the battery faster and shorten my battery life. Battery life is more important to me. It seems to me that a better idea for a portable device is to have a larger range from base frequency to turbo boost .. so the 2.3Ghz can go much higher if needed .. subject to cooling of course. My overall impression is that the Kaby Lake 2.3Ghz i5 gives a faster, smoother and snappier experience than the 2.9Ghz i5 from 2015. ...
    • .. however the smaller thermal envelope for this laptop and CPU means it can't sustain high loads for long .. and one cooling fan (vs 2 in the touchbar mode) compounds this. See the notebookcheck reviews of the TB and non-TB models to see actual experimental evidence of the effect of throttling. So far I haven't run hours of CPU intensive loads but will report back when I do soon.
    • The laptop gets hot on my lap whereas the 2015 model didn't seem to. Not sure why. It's not worryingly hot but it is hot and I didn't get anything noticeable on my 2015. Maybe the bigger device had more cooling.

    To TB or not to TB
    I spent a good while working out whether to get the non-touchbar model or the touchbar. The non-TB is cheaper and marketed as entry level. The TB has higher CPU and GPU specs .. apparently.

    However, some have reasoned that the higher CPU options are just the same CPU clocked faster. The i7 is not actually a different architecture (thanks Intel for confusing us) .. it is the same but clocked faster. There are no extra pipelines, no extra l2/l3 cache .. no other discernible difference. Check out the Intel Ark CPU specs if you wan to see for yourself.

    The same for the GPU. The Intel Iris 640 and 650 are no different in architecture except for base clock speed. No extra compute elements, or cores. No extra bandwidth. No extra API support or more hw codecs.

    Now here's the kicker .. the higher specs will burn through your battery faster. That's physically true. And the TB models have 2 fans to cope with the higher thermal envelope too. But the TB models have a smaller battery. Yes - you read that right. The TB models have a smaller battery than the npn-TB models.

    So combining the higher frequency components and a smaller battery... battery life is reduced by a massive 25% compared to the TB MBP13 2017 according to notebookcheck. See the real tests here: https://www.notebookcheck.net/Apple...017-i5-without-Touch-Bar-Review.234282.0.html

    That's a big deal. Battery life is important to me and this made my decision to go for the non-TB model.

    What about the touchbar? I tried it in the shops. I didn't like it for 3 reasons. The build quality is poor - looks like a glued on bit of plastic in an otherwise seamlessly machined aluminium device. Yuk. It's an extra thing to go wrong or get hacked. And - this is pretty big - you can't work efficiently looking up and down at 2 screens!! Apple have lost their focus on user experience and testing. How did this get past all the "good idea but" checks? I am loving the real physical function keys .. and the Escape key is pretty essential for coders and others I'm sure too. I like being able to adjust volume or brightness with 1-press .. not 2-presses with are required if you're using the TB to first get it into the right context to show the controls you want.

    Overall Impression
    • The new MacBook Pro 13 2016 is fast as you would expect for any current model when released. It solved my 4K performance issues.
    • I can put up with the fan noise which is moderately annoying. I haven't yet put it under big CPU loads yet so I will update when I do.
    • I don't like the keyboard. It's not a total disaster but you should have higher expectations from an expensive "pro" machine .. and especially after years of apple delivering great keyboards and usable laptops. I feel sad that I now have to live with this for the next few years.

    I'll update this review after a month or so.. and again in about 6 months time.

    Update 1
    • Magsafe. So useful and a genuine safety feature. Made plugging in easy and a pleasure. 2016/2017 doesn't have this. Already I've scraped the metal on metal trying to plug a cable in. And yes I actually saw spark plugging in the monitor using a DP-to-TB3 cable.

    Update 2
    • I can watch a 1080p HD video on my smartphone nexus 5x, jumping back and forth along the timeline with no problem at all. But if I do this on my new Baby Lake 16GB RAM MacBook Pro 13 with Intel Iris 640 .. why does my fan spin up like crazy and the whole thing feel like its being stressed in a totally unfair way?

    Update 3

    • I've noticed that the daily insertion of power and DisplayPort cables into the 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt3 ports creates sparking. Every time I do it it happens, and I need to plug/unplug daily as I take my laptop on the road and bring it back to dock with the external 4K monitor and Apple power supply. The sparking is visible in normal lighting. This can't be good....

    Update 4

    • I'm returning the macbook for a replacement. I can't have a premium pro £1800 laptop which sparks at the ports, has hardware screen glitches, and stresses with heat and fans when I watching YouTube HD. Interestingly the UPS drop-off doesn't give receipts ... contrary to what Apple advises.

    Update 5

    • I finally received the replacement MacBook. This one doesn't have screen glitches. It still fires up the fans for things like youtube (esp jumping about the timeline) which is disappointing but the overall fall firing up seems less than the previous one. My best guess is the first one had a hardware fault causing both overheating, screen glitching, and lots of high loud fan.
    • My first laptop took a long time to arrive and the UPS status showed it delayed at several locations around the globe (Shanghai, Khazakhstan, Germany) and also some messing about with customs .. perhaps this damaged the device?

    Update 6
    • After a few more weeks, I'm now finding the device restarts all by itself. Kernel panic and then restarts. You lose all your work in progress. I've looked at the kernel panic logs and report-back-to-apple messages and the best I can make out is that it is related to the Intel GPU. It always happens when the external 4k monitor is connected. Also the laptops is always hot when this happens so there may be a connection. No specific correlation with any apps that I can find, and I'm not doing anything stressful when this happens .. web work.

    Update 7
    • Keybaord issues are increasing. Some keys don't register randomly. The letter E gets stuck. There is no significant dirt or dust as I am meticulous about keeping this expensive laptop clean and safe.

    Update 8
    • MacOS High Sierra introduces new and serious bugs:
    • Regular OS crashes, losing anything you're working on. "Restarted due to a problem". Happens about every 3 days now. Haven't had this happen so badly since Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 ! Made me discover Linux ...
    • Desktop freezes and everything including keybaord shortcuts and pointer is unresponsive. This lasts for about 10 seconds. Almost every day.
    • UI glitches - eg window decorations not drawn properly. Maybe Metal2, maybe poor Intel GPU driver?

    Update 9
    • In clamshell mode, the overheating at the top right of the keyboard has started to loosen the glue around the display panel at the bottom right.

    Update 10
    • Apple online support sent me to Covent Garden for a genius appointment. All they did was push the keys and run a software diagnostic test (boot up and press D) which I could have done myself, (and did). Disappointing.
    • After call where I was on hold for almost all of 59 minutes, the Apple Customer Service Rep in Ireland then sent me to Wimbledon to get it looked at properly. I wanted assurances that they were going to do more than just poke the keys and run the same diagnostic test. I was very adamant. They couldn't give me any reassurances. I trusted them and wen on the long inconvenient and costly journey. Guess what - they pressed the buttons and ran the same boot-press-D test and nothing more. This is despite me emailing them before hand to check they could do meaningful tests. No reply. They did apologise in written afterwards. They are Stormfront and they say that Apple often mistakenly sends people to them assuming their Service Centre is as resources as their Retail function (it's not).
    • I have tried my best to follow Apple's processes and it's been a waste of time and money, and aggravation too. The practically useless Customer Service Rep can't offer useful suggestion, not assurances. I suggested I video the problem when it occurs (I have recordings) and asked her to confirm that this would be enough to prove the fault. She said she couldn't do that in writing. So I'm trying to help .. but they're being extremely knuckle headed.
    • I had suggested Analogic in Kingston. They are an approved Repair Centre and I have use them before. They actually have a lab and equipment and do tests and repairs. They told me that over the years they have seen Apple device quality fall sharply and also cutbacks on the quality of support staff so it has become a purely bureaucratic process for managing demand.

    Update 11
    • Really poor service again. Last Friday on call with. Apple Customer Service. Got cut off. They didn't ring back. Emailed CSR to arrange a call today. No reply. Rang her. She knew about my email but didn't reply. Got cut off AGAIN. She did promise to ring back of that happened. An hour later... No ring back and I can't get through. Tim Cook, are you aware this is what Apple feels like to customers?

    Update 12 - 10/10/2017

    • Moving to a daily update on this. It's been at least 2 weeks since I raised the issue.
    • Yesterday, Apple Customer Service Rep promised to call back in case we got disconnected (seems to happen a lot). She didn't.
    • Today I tried calling 4 times. Now the number disconnects straight away.

    Update 13 - 10/10/2017

    Update 14 - 10/10/2017

    • They emailed to say they tried to contact me by phone. But I never get a missed call. Keeps happening even though I gave them my number several times. Funny because the very first call was from then to me. I keep telling them to fix it.. but they are not interested it seems.

    Update 15 - 11/10/2017

    • So my customer service rep seems to be avoiding me now. I have tried calling her yesterday and today after the last call dropped (and she promised to call back if that happened, because it happened before).
    • So far I have tried 20, yes twenty, times today.
    • The calls get dropped mysteriously. Go to weird beeping noises then get dropped. Once to voicemails.
    • They've assigned another agent who I also can't get through to.
    • They keep emailing me (automated) to say they tried to contact me but I never get a missed call. I keep telling them they must be using a wrong number but they keep ignoring this. They did call be at the very beginning. So I assume its a tactic.

    Update 16 - 11/10/2017
    • On the advice of a helpful comment I have submitted a complaint to the Better Business Bureau.

    Update 17 - 12/10/2017
    • After yesterdays 22 calls trying to get to the Apple Customer Service Representative, I finally got through today on the 3rd attempt. He denied he was allocated to my case, despite sending me an email, and acted upset as he wanted a different customer of his to call.
    • We spent minutes arguing consumer law. In the end, and I don't know why based on two previous wasted visits, I agreed to take the laptop to the Covent Garden store again. Again!

    Update 18 - 14/10/2017

    • using the Mac Fan Control utility I can show fan speed over 5000 from just watching youtube.
    • not sure about reported temps, they jump to 90C sometimes, and the laptop feels hot to touch

    Update 19 - 14/10/2017
    • On the advice of forum members I reset the SMC.
    • Sadly this hasn't improved the overheating.
    • Here is a screenshot of streaming BBC iplayer and using the web (not intensively either, just google docs), and after about 15 mins we have CPU temperatures about 90 degrees C !!

    Update 20 - 18/10/17
    • Back to covent garden store for genius appointment. I showed them the videos, screenshots of fan speed and temperature.
    • They are taking it in to replace, to quote:
      • "Replacement Display Assembly,
      • Top Case,
      • Logic Board, and
      • Heat Sink under warranty. Re-apply thermal paste."
    • They admit the display panel glue gets damaged by the overheating, and noted it in writing.
    • Heat sink is not normally under warranty (!) but they won't charge me.
    • 10 days to turn around.

    Update 21 - 24/10/17
    • Apple finally replied to my complaint via the Better Business Bureau - which they've committed to doing as part of being a member.
    • They didn't apologise for anything at all - the broken promises (eg sending me to Wimbledon on the assurance they could test the device properly), the poor customer service experience (eg 22 calls to get through in one day).
    • They refused a refund.

    Update 22 -27/10/2017
    • The genius at Apple Store Covent Garden said my laptop should take 7-10 days. He encouraged me to check in on progress. Teh store doesn't have a phone number but he said they'd respond to emails to coventgarden@apple.com
    • Seven days was 25th and I'd heard nothing so I emailed.
    • Today is the 27th and still no reply.
    • This is again demonstrating the quality of Apple customer experience and suport.

    Update 23 - 27/10/17

    • During this entire painful lengthy saga Apple keep emailing me to say they tried to call me.
    • But I never get a missed call. So they must be calling the wrong number.
    • I keep telling them that, and confirming the number to call. But they seem to ignore it. I've done this over four times. They still ignore it.
    • Thing is, the very very first time a call wasn't up with a Customer Support rep .. they did call me so they do have the correct number.

    Update 24 - 28/10/2017 - Returned from Repair but NOT FIXED!
    • I got the Macbook Pro back from Covern Garden Apple Store today from repairs.
    • They replaced heatsink, motherboard, display enclosure, topcase (keyboard) with battery - that's almost the whole laptop, leaving only the bottom case as the original.
    • They assured me they did stress test the laptop as they had previously agreed to do (see pic)

    • Took it home, Watched BBC iPlayer (UK catchup TV), and no other apps running except the Macs Fan Control. Full screen on the external 4k display. Overheats and fans go crazy again at 7191 rpm !!!


    Update 25 - 30/11/2017
    • Spoke with the assigned Apple Customer Support person. (took 3 tries to get through by phone).
    • She said that someone from Engineering had emailed me a while back. This is categorically false.
    • This folks, is the Apple customer experience.
    • I again stated that what I wanted is a full refund, and to stop wasting their and my time (3 expensive trips, 10 days without laptop, almost entire laptop replaced at huge cost to them). They suggested I help Engineering find the issue. I don't want to be an unpaid Apple Engineer doing their job for them.
    • I asked her to promise me she would pursue the refund route, not just the repair route. She only promised to "discuss" it.

    Update 26 - 31/10/2017

    • Yesterday the Apple customer support rep on this long case promised to update me by the end of today, and also promised to discuss the refund route internal.
    • I heard nothing so rang up. She had not done anything and needed time to review the notes.
    • The conversation was back to square 1 as if none of the weeks of testing and travel and providing evidence of the issues had happened. Extremely frustrating.
    • She had not done anything about the refund - despite her promise yesterday to "discuss" it at least. So she lied to me - I can't call it anything else.
    • She said she can't open the link to the videos on the web - that's not my problem, broken internet access to this forum and youtube is theirs. Why should it be an excuse?
    • I had to call 3 times to get through. So when she finally suggested I speak with a technical senior person I wanted to be sure he called. I was assured he would ring in 5 mins. I said I'd ring her back if it didn't happen.
    • It didn't happen. And I can't get through to either of them. 24 calls later... still no success.


    Update 27 - 31/10/2017 - Beyond Max RPM
    • Here is the fan apparently breaking past the 7200 maximum speed!
    • Fans sound like a rocket!
    • Just watching BBC iplayer on a 4K60hz external display
    • Yet apple still not admitting something is wrong


    Update 28 - 01/11/2017

    • Yesterday I used the Twitter @applesupport to ask how I could complain about the handling of my case, and in particular about the person assigned to my case, who has proven herself to be incompetent and in cases lying or saying things which proved false (see previous updates for specifics).
    • They raised a new Case ID and gave me a number to follow up on. So today I did.
    • Initially I got a very enthusiastic person happy to help, and acknowledging the problems with the 2017, and recommending I get a 2015 15" model. However after he came back off hold his tone changed. My complaint case was to be handled by ... the same rep.
    • This is ridiculous - how can a complaint about a customer service rep be handled by ... the same rep! That is not independent review of complaints. I must say I am flabbergasted. The person on the call agreed this was crazy but said he had to follow what he was told to do.
    • In the end I managed to get a new person to talk to and she has raised the new case as a complaint to the previous support rep's manager. (Yes, the case was not a complaint even though twitter support said it was!).

    Update - 29 03/11/2017
    • This week I spoke to four Apple people:
      • the main customer service rep
      • a new customer service person abut the complaint I raised about this cases handling (eg the lies, see above to evidence)
      • finally a technical person from engineering who only offered to repeat what was already done
      • and someone from "executive liaison" who, according to the first email, is looking at the case as a result of my letter to Tim Cook.
    • After the usual many calls and voicemails I finally spoke to this executive liaison yesterday, who apologised for all that has happened. Yes, a public apology - and therefore an acknowledgment that what has happened is wrong, with Apple culpable. He promised to get back to me today.
    • Today didn't get a call from him at 2pm as promised, so I rang him. Voicemail. We talked later. All he could suggest was taking it into a store again.
    • I expressed extreme frustration. Why? Several reasons:
      • I have been on 3 journeys already to Apple centres already - at huge expense to myself as well as loss of time and business.
      • Every time I have very strenuously sought assurance that they would actually recreate the scenario that causes the problem. Every time I have been given that assurance, And every time they have proved to have lied to me.
      • This "executive liaison" could no understand why I might be less than keen to do it again a fourth time.
      • I found it particularly rude that he kept talking over me.
    • So again Apple's process has cost everyone - me and them - lots of time and money - and no progress.
    • I asked the rep who was handling the complain for an update - because she promised to do that earlier in the week, I have not had they yet.
    • Also useful was someone else who has posted evidence of the same poor thermal design [link].

    Update 30 3/11/2017 - legal
    • I asked Apple for a legal "subject access request" which under EU law requires them to pass to me everything they have related to me, within 40 days.
    • I am hoping to get some insight into why they have wasted weeks, spent expensive man-hours, ended up lying to me, not responded to my requests for update, and the formal complaint I've raised against the primary customer support person.
    • I've also asked for a copy of any phone recordings.

    Update 31 6/11/2016 - clarifications
    It seem quite a few people are confused about some of the issues. So here is some clarification which I hope is super clear.

    1. This is not Chrome related.
    This happens with Safari and Chrome. It also happens with other basic tasks like running a VM in the latest version of VMWare Fusion, for example. It even happens during the wipe-and-install-from-USB OS installation process.

    2. This is not Flash related.
    See above.

    3. It's not just about disliking the noise - it's about actual damage.
    Yes the noise is extremely disruptive. But the more urgent issue is the fact that the overheating causes damage. It damages the keyboard. It wears out the fan faster than it should. It reduces battery life. And right now most urgently it damages the display panel when used in clamshell mode (most of the time). Apple have confirmed this is an issue, and thats why they replaced the display panel. Let me repeat, it's not just about noise.

    4. Thin-ness and lightness is not an excuse.
    Yes the laptop is thin and light. But if it can't carry out it primary functions - which as a pro laptop it is designed for - then it is a failed design. A piece of paper is thin - but it can't compute. This is not a fashion accessory or an email-machine. This pro laptop is meant to run workloads common for developers, creative professionals, .. and watching Netflix, iplayer, youtube at fullscreen .. or even running a VM is not something new in the industry that should stretch a pro computer costing £1800.

    5. Comparisons to other computers ARE valid.
    If a 3 year old cheap £500 Lenovo Thinkpad can do these tasks without overheating or damaging itself, then that is a valid comparison of these computers. It says something about the faulty thermal design of the MacBook Pro 2017 nTB. A more convincing comparison is with the MacBook Pro 13 2015 - which did not have any of these issues. It has a less advanced CPU, less advanced GPU, less power-efficient according to Intel, yet it could play Netflix on a 4k display full screen without any problems. It could run VMs. Lots of them. So something went backwards compared to the 2015 MBPro. And it wasn't the price - an nTB cost me £1800, a maxed out 2015 rMBP13 cost me £1600. Yes, my £280 Android smartphone can play youtube and Netflix and abc iplayer at full HD (1080p) without a fan or overheating such that it gets damaged. The comparison is valid because whatever hardware and software design Google did in that Nexus 5X phone - works. Yet Apple didn't get t right for the MacBook Pro 2017 nTB.

    6. Apple is NOT helping.
    If Apple was helping, this case would not still be open weeks later. I would not be spending hundreds of minutes on calls, dozens on trying to get through, recording that what the Apple staff have told me turns out to be false (aka lies), raising a formal complaint, and being made to go on three wasted journeys to Apple centres, losing the laptop for 10 days while they replace parts which I told them would be a waste of time and money - and it was. I would not have spoken to over 8 different people at Apple. And when I speak to them, when I get through after 20-30 attempts, it's as if we're back to square one. Even a letter to Tim Cook's inbox triggered an 'executive liaison' person to get involved - but he was rude and spoke over me, and could not understand why repeated the process a fourth time was not acceptable. If that's helping .. I'd hate to know what it feels like when they're not helping.

    7. It's about a warranty time-bomb.
    Once the warranty runs out - I'll have those expenses to deal with. It cost Apple over £700 to do the last set of replacement parts - and that didn't fix the issue. I don't want to reach that point. I don't want to be replacing the entire keyboard every 3 months. I don't to be replacing the display panel every 3 months.

    Update 32 - 6/11/2017 - Another Letter to Tim Cook

    Here's is yet another letter to Tim Cook (one of my previous ones did trigger an action).


    Attached is a log and audit trail of an extremely poorly handled support case.

    Highlights you should be worried about - because they say a lot about how Apple is actually operating - include:

    • a long case lasting weeks, involving at least 8 Apple staff at various stages
    • hard evidence of overheating problems with the 2017 MBP nTB - for basic tasks like Netflix on a 4K display (normal Netflix not 4K movies), running VMs, even installing the OS
    • hard evidence of physical damage as a result of overheating - damage to the display panel in clamshell mode, which Apple acknowledged when they replaced that panel
    • evidence of hundreds of minutes talking to Apple staff with no progress
    • evidence of falsehood told to me by Apple staff - repeatedly - some call this lying.
    • 3 wasted journeys to Apple centres - despite assurances they would undertake meaningful tests (they lied, they didn't)
    • a letter of apology from Apple Wimbledon - which in effect admits culpability and is evidence I can use
    • an "executive liaison" person who talks over me rudely, and doesn't understand why I don't want to go through your failed process a FOURTH, wasting my time and at expense to me
    • a formal complaint against an Apple Customer Support person (which I have had no update about despite asking)
    • a legal request for information you hold about me (a Subject Access request, under the EU and UK Data Protection Act) .. because I'm trying to establish why Apple really aren't fixing this issue for me, because your staff clearly aren't

    I've been sharing progress, or lack of, on this case widely on social media. You will see that it has turned a few people away from buying the MacBook Pro 2017 nTB - quite rightly as the thermal design and keyboard issues are widespread, and not isolated to individual cases.

    Tim - I like Apple, I like the MacOS, I loved my 2015 MacBook Pro - best workhorse I ever had. It saddens me that Apple is behaving like this.

    So I'm writing to you again, as nobody else in Apple seems empowered to resolve this issue. A win-win is for me to get a full refund which I want to use to buy a 2015 MacBook Pro - there's one of the returns store right now.


    Update 33 6/11/2017 - "Science is Opinion"

    Spoke with the "executive liaison" person again.

    • He is asserting that any video evidence of a problem is only opinion.
    • He is asserting that my records of Apple staff lying to me are only opinion. Evidence includes a letter of apology from Apple Wimbledon (culpability).
    • He was unable to reassure me that Apple staff would even try to recreate the scenario. Before they did reassure me and that turned out to be a lie. I guess in some ways that might be seen as an improvement - but not for the customer. So why would I go again .. a fourth time?
    • I asked him to write to them, copying me in, asking them to recreate the scenario that causes the problem. He refused.
    • This is actually dangerous. Apple can wilfully ignore and avoid any genuine issues - and declare there are no issues.
    We're seeing the real face of Apple Inc. - Evidence Distortion Field on maximum.

    Update 34 - 6/11/2017

    • More video evidence of the heat and fan issue. This time there is no streaming video, only Affinity Photo (from the official Apple App Store). There is no intensive image processing happening. Yet the fan is at maximum, and heat is rising.
    • video 1
    • video 2
    • To be clear, is is from today, after Apple replaced most parts of the laptop (motherboard, keyboard, display panel, battery, heatsink, thermal paste).
    • This again confirms the issue is a design fault, not a faulty part.
    Update 35 - 9/11/2017 - Keyboard Failing .. Again
    • Yesterday, the keyboard started to have problems again. Again around the top left, around the letter E, but also around the spacebar this time. The ESC key has been occasionally non-responsive for about 2 weeks. This seems to correlate to when the laptop is hot (overheating under basic tasks is a key theme of this thread).
    • This is the keyboard that Apple recently replaced as part of the warranty.
    • The evidence that the 2017 MacBook Pro design itself is faulty continues to mount.

    Update 36 - 9/11/2017 - Turbo Boost
    • A few people have Kindly suggested that Turbo Boost is the problem. The CPU will speed up for a brief period to accommodate demanding tasks, and then slow back down again. The theory is fine. My 2015 rMBPro did that too.
    • I tried the Turbo Boost Switcher tool recommended by several people to turn off Turbo Boost. Having observed the effects with it on and off over 2 full days of working my day I conclude that it helps a bit. But not enough to fix the problem.
    • Here is the fan at max (actually over the 7200 rpm limit) with BBC iplayer in chrome, and google gmail, drive, docs, Tweetdeck, and an openprocessing.org sketch tabs in Safari. None of that is particularly unusual of taxing, especially for a pro machine. Remember, the MacBook Pros are supposed to be more capable than a mere Chromebook for web based working.

    • It seems the issue is deeper than disabling Turbo Boost can fix.
    • Even if disabling Turbo Boost could fix the issue, it would be unsatisfactory with respect to Apple's design of the 2017 MacBook Pro nTB. We shouldn't have to fix the problem by disabling a key feature of the CPU. And .. it all worked fine on the 2015 rMBP 13.
    Update 37 - 10/11/2017
    • The Apple "executive liaison" person at Apple has refused a refund because he says there is no hardware fault.
    • In contrast I spent 1.5 hours with the Lead Genius at Apple Covent Gard today and below is an exact copy of their assessment.
    • I discussed at length with the Lead Genius that he should make sure he worded his report carefully as the non-technical "executive liaison" would simplistically be seeking a "yes/no" to a hardware fault.
    • Extremely disappointed with Apple. What next? Small claims court?

    Problem Description/Diagnosis
    Issue: Customer reports multiple issues that occur with Mac during common everyday tasks: 1) Mac runs too hot when in clamshell mode, 2) When Mac is run in clamshell mode it gets hot to the point that the display is damaged, 3) keys intermittently do not respond, 4) fans spin at full speed,

    These issues were present with the customer's original Mac, that Mac was replaced within 14 days of purchase. This Mac (the replacement) has been repaired for the same issues and the customer reports the issues have persisted.

    Customer is understandably concerned as the Mac should not run hot or with fans at full speed when doing simple tasks like streaming video.

    Typically, when a Mac is doing something simple, it should run silently.

    Steps to Reproduce: MRI passed.
    Cooling System Diagnostic passed.
    Graphics and display test passed.

    Issues not verifiable at Genius Bar as we do not have access to the same technology and environmental factors, such as the facility to run the Mac for an extended period of time in clamshell mode while connected to a 4K display.

    Customer has provided verifiable evidence of thermal/cooling issues. Customer provided photos showing fan spinning at more than 7000rpm, and videos showing the Mac with fans audibly spinning at full speed.

    Customer offered to leave Mac for further testing, but as the technology and environmental factors are not available to test the Mac in the same conditions as the issues occur we have recommended this is not necessary. Lead Genius confirmed Mac should not be left for testing for these reasons.

    Cosmetic Condition: As new.

    Proposed Resolution: Refer back to executive relations.

    Update 38 - 20/11/2017

    • Having taken advice from Citizens Advice about my legal options including legal proceeding in a Small Claims Court, I have written a formal letter to Apple UK by recorded delivery (their Uxbridge address), and also copied to the "executive liaison". This is the first step on such legal routes.
    • The "executive liaison" response included the following:
    You will no longer receive a response from Apple should you continue to contact me or any other Apple departments via e-mail of telephone in respect of this matter.
    • I am led to believe that this may not be legal as in the UK this may "restrict my consumer rights", and I suspect will help my case as the judge will want to see the full history of efforts made by each side to resolve the issue.
    Update 39 - 20/11/2017 - 100 degrees C !

    • Here is more evidence of overheating with relatively moderate tasks. Transcoding a very short video of length 2m 56 seconds pushes the fans to max and the CPU to 100 degrees C. That's the maximum intended by Intel for these CPUs. This is with the MacBook Pro running on it's own, without a power cable so battery only, and with no external 4k display connected.
    • The problem is that reaching such limits for very minor tasks will damage the laptop and shorten it's life considerably.
    • Screenshots below confirm only Safari (gmail, google drive, google doc), and VLC running to do the transcoding. Note VLC caused no problems with my MacBook Pro 2015, nor with my cheaper ThinkPad.


    Update 40 - 21/11/2017 - Subject Access Request shows Apple lies

    • Today I received the data Apple hold about me, a right I have under the Data Protection Act, using a procedure called a Subject Access Request (SAR).​
    • I am still going through the content but already I have found that Apple have internally lied about me.​
    • The "executive liaison" has stated in internal notes that I used "offensive language". This is blatantly false. I expressed my frustration after months of extremely poor, costly and unproductive support, with the words "Do you understand why I am upset?" which I repeated several times, as he talked over me rudely and would not answer. That is not, under any definition, "offensive language".​
    • The Data Protection Act also allows me to get copies of the phone recordings, which I will do. It will add weight to my legal case.​
    • I'll post more interesting info as I trawl through the data.

    Update 41 - 23/11/2017 More Keyboard Failures
    • So the ESC key is starting to fail. Which is ironic because I got the nTB model because it has a real ESC key - almost a necessity if you're a coder.
    • Today the CONTROL key seems to be stuck on the on position. They itself doesn't seem stuck but it telling the laptop that it is constantly pressed. This means left/single mouse clicks register a right clicks. A right pain.
    • Yet more actual video evidence .. not "opinion" which is what Apple's "executive liaison" called it.

    Update 42 - 30/11/2017 Retina MBP 15" 2015
    • The 2017 nTB is so unfit for work now with it's intermittently failing keyboard that I borrowed some money to get a 2015 (retina) MacBook Pro 15", new from John Lewis. It was £200 cheaper than the same spec new ones still available on Apple's website, and John Lewis offer a 2 year warranty vs Apple's 1 year warranty.
    • In the several days I've been using it as my main work machine, it has never overheated, never spun up its fans to full, and the keyboard is a joy - something I took for granted before the 2017 disaster. The only thing I miss is the larger trackpad, smaller lighter portable size, and the faster GPU of the nTB for video on a 4K display fullscreen. On balance, this one should last me 5 years I hope. My wife's approx 5 year old iMac is still going strong.
    • I'm still working towards a refund for the 2017 nTB.

    Update 42 - 01/12/2017 Escape Key
    • One of the key reasons I got a nTB model of the 2017 MacBook Pro was the real ESCAPE key. Like many professionals, I need a real Escape key.
    • People have told me I should have selected a more expensive model - but they don't have a real Escape key, so are inferior if you need one.
    • It is supremely ironic and deeply tragicomic that .. the Escape key is failing.
    • #BadLuckBrian

    Update 43 - 05/12/2017 - Bailiffs!

    • Today I issued apple with the final and formal Letter Before Court Action letter.
    • I've been helped hugely by Citizens Advice Bureau and Consumer Advice in the UK.
    • Interestingly, I discussed the possibility of Apple not complying with the ruling. They suggested that the next step then is a bailiff turning up at an Apple premises in the UK and taking assets. The possibility of that happening is certainly interesting to envisage.

    Update 44 - 11/01/2018
    • Today I issued apple with formal court action.
    • I have been advised that Apple is likely to ignore the legal judgement if it is not in their favour, in which case the next step is "enforcement" and bailiffs.

    Update 45 - 08/02/2018
    • Apple have employed SCS Law to defend them. Today I received a letter telling me they dispute the claim.
    • Specifically they say that no Apple employee has ever written to me confirming the problems .. which is off because I have an email from them saying just that. It also turned up in the legal Subject Access Request so they do know about it. I hope SCS Law take a look at the evidence collated in this thread which Apple's staff also confirms din writing as being "verifiable evidence".

    Update 46 - The Law Won

    Apple lost the case
    . The law found
    • Extremely poor customer service.
    • Evidence of Apple staff lying or being incompetent.
    • Acknowledgement of mounting evidence (in other places and cases) of a fundamental design fault with the 2016/2017 MBPs. A known wider issues can help individual cases.
    • Validation of my evidence.
    • Inadequacy of Apple testing - deliberate or incompetence.
    • Customer (me) going above and beyond to work with Apple to resolve issue, at significant cost to myself.
  2. supermars macrumors newbie


    Dec 1, 2015
  3. meboy macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2012
    My thoughts exactly but oddly missing any talk of no more MagSafe and other ports.

    USB c only is still a joke and will be for some time.
    MagSafe was sooooo much better for plugging in.
  4. asoksevil macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2010
    Taipei, Taiwan
    Great review.

    I am actually quite torn between the NTB i5 and i7. I've seen benchmarks where under sustained CPU tasks, the i7 will throttle at around 3.6 GHz (way off the maximum of 4.0 GHz) but I have no idea about the i5.

    Could you please download Intel Power Gadget https://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/intel-power-gadget-20, and try heaven benchmark https://benchmark.unigine.com/heaven and http://osxdaily.com/2012/10/02/stress-test-mac-cpu/ and see how it performs for at least 30 minutes?

    I'm thinking on getting a NTB i7, 256 GB SSD 8 GB RAM that compared tot he TB i5, 8 GB and 256 GB SSD are fairly similar in pricing but given what you said, I will most likely get the NTB.
  5. meboy macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2012
    Don't waste money on the NTB i7. Get the base i5. Use that money for ram or storage.
  6. Jamalogo10 macrumors member


    Jun 13, 2017

    versus my


    is 7-9% worth $200. Maybe not now but in the long run say 4-5 years down the line, its an extra selling point. So maybe you make back $80 additional dollars. I think its worth it. These are not bargain bin machines make them last as long as possible, although I will say 16gb of ram is a huge step up in something you can't upgrade later.
  7. project_2501 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017
    Yes I forgot to mention magsafe. Really sad it's gone.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 16, 2017 ---
    See the notebookcheck reviews - they run such load tests. For me i7 not worth it
  8. NathanD macrumors member

    May 15, 2017
    Thank you for your review. What about the battery on the 2015 rMBP vs 2017 nTB? Some people say it's better on the new model and others say it's worse.
  9. project_2501 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017
    In my own experience so far it is worse.

    Physically the battery capacity is smaller.

    But some say the new Kaby Lake chips are more efficient. Maybe but not enough to give me the same battery life I used to get with the 2015.

    When new, my 2015 used to give me 14 hours remaining!! This new 2017 gives me 8 .. for the same use. You milage will vary.

    Imagine though, the more efficient Kaby Lake in a 2015 chassis with proper keys, huge battery, ports ... dream machine!
  10. project_2501 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017

    That 7-9% will only fun for a few seconds until the CPU is throttled back.

    This is the key con of modern mobile CPUs.
  11. project_2501 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017
    update 2

    I can watch a 1080p HD video on my smartphone nexus 5x, jumping back and forth along the timeline with no problem at all. But if I do this on my new Baby Lake 16GB RAM MacBook Pro 13 with Intel Iris 640 .. why does my fan spin up like crazy and the whole thing feel like its being stressed in a totally unfair way?
  12. ipeemyself macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2017
    How big of a problem is the fan? I ordered a 2017 nTB and am debating returning it for a 2015 15 inch MBP after reading all these issues regarding the fan.
  13. project_2501 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017
    I personally don't like it for three reasons:

    • I never had the problem with my MBP13 2015
    • The sound is annoying - as many have reported
    • And it shouldn't happen! My smartphone can play HD youtube (exact same ones tested) and it doesn't struggle or have a fan!
  14. ipeemyself macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2017
    Is it tolerable?? Sucks cause the 2017 nTB MBP was my dream laptop and now I'm questioning purchasing it..
  15. project_2501 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017
    I will have to live with it because of better 4K display performance
  16. ipeemyself macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2017
    Does your fan only act up when connected to your 4K display? Also, looking back at your purchase, do you regret not purchasing the 13 inch with touch bar just for the extra fan or do you think you made the right decision. Asking this cause I'm thinking of switching to the touch bar version for the extra fan, but I'm not a huge fan of the touch bar for the same reasons as you...
  17. project_2501 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017
    no it happens when watching youtube HD videos with no 4K connected

    if you read the review at the top you'll see that I didn't go for the TB because it has a smaller battery and has a higher clocked CPU and GPU to drain that smaller battery faster .. see linked notebookcheck testing to confirm this .. 25% difference in battery in favour of the nonTB
  18. ipeemyself, Jul 19, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017

    ipeemyself macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2017
    So in your case, having better battery life is worth it over the fan issues, correct?
  19. DarkSel macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2012
    Are you using Safari to watch the video? Because Chrome uses the VP9 codec, which is not hardware accelerated on OS X. Thus, it uses more CPU time, causing the fans to spin up.
  20. muratura macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2017
    Hi @ipeemyself ,
    Just a quick question, how are the fans when watching videos(1080p x264 and x265) in iTunes or in VLC? I watch a lot of videos when commuting and was just wandering how the noise/heat/battery life are on this machine... :)
  21. asoksevil macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2010
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I need to see actual numbers of the sustained load before I pull the trigger. More RAM won't be needed as I don't even think 8 GB will be fully used. Storage, while 128 GB seems pretty small, I got plenty of external disks for my must keep documents.
  22. project_2501 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017
    But it was fine on my 2015 macbook and on my cheapo ThinkPad .. and my smartphone with no fan... For £1800 you'd expect it to play YouTube...
    --- Post Merged, Jul 20, 2017 ---
    The review has a link to experiments showing the drop in performance for sustained loads.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 20, 2017 ---
    Last night using VLC and the fans were on full. No other tasks running. 1080p h264 video.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 20, 2017 ---
    For me yes
  23. DarkSel macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2012
    Well first your MacBook doesn't have a fan, so it makes sense that you hear nothing. Both the Thinkpad and Smartphone can use hardware acceleration for VP9.

    I suggest you use Safari if you want proper hardware acceleration and no fan noise.
  24. project_2501 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2017
    Thanks for the suggestion. I meant my 2015 MBP 13 with Chrome.
  25. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    Im not a fan of the TB, so classic version for me.

    On windows, you should try 10.. I'n most areas its surpassed MacOS now, i just don't do myopic hate or love when it comes to products.

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