A really long post about the MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by aevan, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. aevan, Dec 4, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016

    aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    Ok, so I love writing. It's a good practice for me, I like doing it, this is a loooooong post. I'm not really expecting anyone to read it, but there it is - my thoughts on the new MacBook Pro. It's like a review, only I'm not a reviewer, I'm just a guy posting on a forum. So, here goes....

    There has been a lot of discussion what a professional is and what a pro computer should be like. The answer, of course, is not a simple one. First of all, the ‘pro’ can mean anything. There is a Playstation Pro, for example, and I’m not sure many professionals use it for their work :) Second, even for professional tools, their usefulness depends on the profession itself.

    So, a pro computer can be anything. In the Apple world it means ‘premium’ more than anything else. And premium means expensive. People like to say “a Pro machine should have this thing that I want” but what they usually mean is “I payed a lot of money for it, so it better do anything I want”. People also equate price with performance. This is a quick way to get disappointed.

    The thing is, with these MacBook Pros, you’re actually paying for comfort. And you’re paying a lot of money for small comfort gains. This is why they are “professional”, really. Because, in professional work, even small gains go a long way.

    Imagine a professional athlete buying expensive running shoes that cost 3x the price of average, good running shoes. Would you say that athlete is wrong to do so? The more expensive shoes offer the same thing as the average ones, but they are a bit more comfortable. They are a bit more pleasant to use. Hey, maybe they are just better looking - whatever gets that athlete to feel better using them, it’s worth it. And the athlete doesn’t care whether they are getting the best deal. They don’t care you can get “something just as good for half the money”. They don’t want the best value - they want the shoes that will feel the best - because they are going to use them for something that’s most important to them.

    So, I could get the same i7 computer for half the money. Or one with the better GPU. The thing is, I am not really looking for the best deal. Or the most performance for the money, as long as the performance is good for my work. For something that is so important to me, I am looking for something I like the most. Something I love using. I’m looking for the greatest comfort and least annoyance. I never saw a Dell I loved. Or a HP. I want the nicest computer. The one that feels the best. I don't care if there is a faster GPU in a computer I don't enjoy using. Because work is hard as it is, right?

    So what is a pro computer? If you’re a true professional, it’s the one that not only gets the job done, but is also the one you are most comfortable working on. I remember a friend who is a professional 3D modeler answering a question about what hardware upgrade is most important for serious 3D work. CPU? GPU? RAM? He gave it some thought and then said: the mouse.

    Think about it - your work is where you need to be at your best - so whatever helps is worth it. Of course, all the comfort in the world won’t help you if your work requires something completely different than what's offered. And no shame in not being able to afford something. But don’t compare computers meant for work based on performance per dollar, because it’s not only about performance.

    Again, this is all very personal. And you’re welcome to choose whatever computer you feel is the best. And perhaps you enjoy performance the most. But most people I know, that work 12 hours a day on their computers, always prefer comfort and ease of use to maximizing specs. Sure, there are some jobs where even that 1% speed equates more profit, no argument there. But for most work, we've passed that treshold where computers are slow and underpowered. So it's about comfort and quality and the little things that just may push you a little bit further towards your best work.

    For me, this is worth the price. And if you don't agree with this, then the argument is over. There is nothing I say that can change how you feel about the MBP. Yes, the next year's Dell will probably have a much faster GPU. I just don't care.

    Anyway, I got my stock MBP, the one with 2.7Ghz CPU, Radeon Pro 455 and 512Gb SSD. And I just love it. It just may be the best computer I've used. But it's not the fastest computer I've used. Here are my thoughts.

    Things I love:

    The screen - it’s bright, it’s sharp, the colors are amazing.

    The keyboard. Boy, the things I read about it are crazy. Some people claim their precision dropped down with this keyboard. Others claimed it felt cheap. Some mentioned how loud it is. I heard some people were having hand pains from typing on it. For me, it’s one of the best keyboards I have used. It’s a pleasure to type on, it feels premium, I love it. That’s all I have to say about that.

    The Touch Bar. Is it something you must have? No, probably not. But as I tried to explain, it’s not about having only what gets the job done, it’s about enjoying working on the computer the most. And the Touch Bar makes the computer more enjoyable. It’s about the placement. It’s close, it’s convenient. I love how it shows my favorites in Safari. Or how Fantastical offers me to change calendars on it. Or how I can go through my work email with ease, tapping Archive, Flag or Delete on it. I love the brightness sliders, the volume sliders. It’s fun and enjoyable. If it’s a gimmick, it’s one that brings a smile to my face. Even when I’m working late at night. You can't put a price on that.

    The trackpad. It’s really great, I prefer the Force Touch to a regular click and the size makes it much more usable. It’s not just something I use when I don’t have a mouse, it’s something I often prefer to the mouse, which is a first for me. And I have an MX Master, so, that’s one good trackpad.

    The speakers are also great and loud, which is cool.

    Speaking of sound, one thing that is also great is that while the speakers are loud, the fans are quiet. The fans kick in later than on my previous MBP, and when they do - they are definitely quieter.

    The temperatures are great. I have the 2.7Ghz CPU and the 455 Radeon - and the GPU rarely goes above 65 degrees, it’s around 55 in Photoshop, the CPU is mostly around 50 degrees - I glance at iStat Menus on occasion. I don’t really play games on my Mac, but I have a few, so I ran Diablo 3 half an hour and the GPU didn’t hit 70 degrees, then I ran Tomb Raider in the benchmark mode several times, for around 20 minutes, and it got around to 70. Also I read the computer almost doesn’t throttle even under heavy loads. This makes it faster than any previous MacBook Pro - even if benchmarks show minor gains.

    Performance is great. I don’t notice any UI lag, the computer feels smooth. It’s not very scientific, but there are a lot of benchmarks out there. The most important thing for me is Photoshop which, of course, works great, and large brushes lag noticeably less than on my previous 2013 MBP.

    Now, about the ports. My dongle “hell”, as some people call it, consists of attaching one Apple USB-C to Digital video adapter, that also has an USB-A port (to which I plugged the Wacom Intuos dongle) to the power cable. I just keep it there. So all I do is plug that one cable in the Mac and I get my Wacom and power, and I can attach HDMI to it if I need. I use a BT MX Master mouse as I said and that’s it. It’s fine. I like the fact there are four ports instead of just 2 USB ports on the previous one. And I really like how you can charge it from either side, or plug in a monitor from either side.

    One thing I dislike about the ports is the fact it’s hard to pull things out of them. They are too firm for my taste. I guess that will get a bit better with time.

    As for the things that are not so great: The battery life. I’m sad to say it’s not amazing. It’s not really bad either. I got around 4 hours of Photoshop. I think it’s what I’ve been getting on my previous MBP. Still, that one was marketed with 8 hours and this one with 10. I’m guessing light work might give me more than the previous one, but heavy work is the same, maybe even less. It’s fine. It’s much better when using the Intel GPU. I wish it was more, but I don't care so much.

    Also, I have to mention - I had a small amount of graphical corruption that some people report. It happened only once, in Pages, that was running full screen. It was only on that desktop, a few bright red lines on the top of the screen. I swiped back to the previous one and it wasn’t there, then I returned, it was still there, got out of the full screen mode and it was gone. Couldn’t get it to return, even with heavy use of the GPU. It seems like a software glitch to me, to be honest. I am monitoring the situation, but so far so good.

    So, that's it. Love it. It's the computer for me.
  2. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    congrats on your new machine. Glad you are loving it! thanks of the write up, hope its useful for those who do not own one.
  3. Flow39 macrumors 68000


    Sep 7, 2014
    At the Apple Store
    Awesome write up. I really like the athlete shoes analogy, it works really well with this.
  4. MrMuetze macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2013
    Interesting post about your experience with the MBP so far :) I am enjoying a new 15 inch MBP too and I want to ask you a little question: do the fans on your machine actually turn off during low loads/temperatures or are they always at a minimum of around 2000 rpm? I've read somewhere that the 13 inch models and previous retina MBP actually turn off their fans and I couldn't observe this behavior yet. There are no background processes running and the temps are low. I tried to reset my SMC, but that didn't change a thing. So I'm just trying to confirm a thing here to not waste more time on this issue ^^ Maybe 15 inch models differ from 13 inch models in that case?

    Best regards,
  5. WhiteWhaleHolyGrail macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2016
    My 15 inch MBP's fans are always on even at idle - you cannot hear them unless you press your ear to the keyboard however.
  6. RobinInOR macrumors 6502a


    Sep 14, 2014
    Read it all the way through; your writing is very easy to read. Glad you're enjoying the new machine. I agree - if you can't smile while using the laptop, what's the point? I'm loving my 13", waiting patiently for the next software release that will most likely fix the few problems I have. In the meantime I know how to minimize their appearance, but that's no big deal - I've been getting around software glitches for 30 years.
  7. rocknblogger macrumors 68020


    Apr 2, 2011
    New Jersey
    Sorry but you're wrong about athletic shoes. There's a lot of research and science that go into the best athletic footwear. A more appropriate comparison would be fashion sneakers like those made by Bill Blass or Nautica or one of many other fashion houses. But shoes designed specifically for running, or cleats for both football and baseball or basketball shoes are designed to help the athlete perform better. Whether it's support or traction or one of many other functions, the more expensive "pro" type footwear can be the difference between a turned ankle or shin splints.
  8. Macalway, Dec 4, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016

    Macalway macrumors 68030

    Aug 7, 2013
    Yes thanks
    --- Post Merged, Dec 4, 2016 ---
    Yes, i'm sure he will now edit his post.
  9. aevan thread starter macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015

    I don't know anything about the running shoes, it was more an analogy to explain how you can pay a lot of money just for something that is not immediately obvious. To a layman's eye, a shoe is a shoe - they both have soles and laces and whatnot. But the 3x more expensive shoe is, as you say, designed to help the athlete perform better. To me, this actually proves my point. The MacBook Pro is not designed to have the fastest GPU, it's designed to help a professional perform better.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 4, 2016 ---
    Yes, they are always on. When people say "fans turn on" they usually mean the fans ramp up to audible levels. At around 2000rpm the fans are practically silent.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 4, 2016 ---
    They never turn off - Almost all Intel CPUs require constant cooling. On MBP, the fans are always at the minimum of around 2000rpm (that minimum depends on the Mac, bigger the fan, slower the rpm, btw). 13" models never turn off their fans, just as every other Mac, aside from MacBook - that doesn't have fans at all.

    When someone says "the fans turn on" - what they usually mean the rpm rises above the minimum level, at wich point they become more or less audible.

    So, nothing wrong with your Mac! :)
  10. MrMuetze macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2013
  11. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    Great write up. Enjoyed reading it. Reminded me of Gruber's review at Daringfireball, where he mused over how people were complaining because they were essentially paying more for "niceness", rather than pure computing power. But some people don't want "niceness". They want raw performance to bulldoze over the most demanding of tasks. A larger trackpad or thinner form factor won't let my video export any faster. They would rather wait in the sun for half an hour than wait in the shade for an hour.

    I think the athlete analogy is fine. Imagine a pair of running shoes which costs three times as much but offers better cushioning and your feet ache a little less after running. The athlete runs equally fast in both pairs. It ultimately boils down to how much extra you are willing to pay for a better user experience.
  12. jeffg819 macrumors regular

    Dec 25, 2006
    Nice write-up Aevan. I think you've captured why a lot of folks buy Apple gear. The combination of the hardware and software make for a very pleasant and productive experience. And the psychic value they attach to this far exceeds the traditional cost/benefit analysis based on specs.
  13. Hankster macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Washington DC
    Was a sprinter for eight years. Was almost fast enough to qualify for the Olympic trails in the 90s (10.3 to qualify, I ran 10.6). I also worked in a Track & Field/Shoe store in college. Yes, athletic shoes have a tremendous amount of technology and science. There was tremendous amount back in the 90s, I can't imagine in today's world.
  14. JohnnyGo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 9, 2009
    Great feedback.

    I have the same perspective when buying an Apple product: confidence that Apple will stand behind their product, refreshed to use a product that just works, happiness to use a product with small delights (the green leds to show battery level, the breathing light while suspended, now the touchbar).

    Apple does charge a premium. But it's not a luxury brand premium where a similar jacket can cost 2-3-5x what a no-brand jacket would cost. It's a 20-30% premium that gets you benefits in daily use, plus a longer longevity/usefulness (I still have iPad 1 and iPad 2s running with family members or attached to TVs). All in all I don't feel it's an Apple Tax after all. I get my money back every time.
  15. Nick11Mac macrumors 6502


    Jan 20, 2011
    Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough review! Very helpful to read. I certainly learned from it. Congratulations also on your Mac!
  16. MadDane macrumors 6502a

    Apr 5, 2015
    I enjoyed reading through your write-up. I have a BTO 15" (2.6, Radeon 460, 512GB) and I can recognise some of the things your write. I also really enjoyed your shoe analogy for what it was. I have been using mine for about two weeks now, although I haven't had the time to really put it through its paces yet. But that will come soon.

    Like you I am actually enjoying the keyboard. The only thing I dislike is the arrow keys - I much prefer the older ones where you could feel where each where. I cannot feel that right now so that is something I will need to get used to. I am also making a lot less typos now that I was the first few days.

    Anyway, I am glad you are enjoying your machine, and again, thanks for sharing :)

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