Just my thoughts on the MacBook Pro 2008-16

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

  1. dark knight macrumors regular

    Oct 28, 2008
    Just my thoughts on the evolution of the MacBook Pro

    I’ve so far owned and made constant use of all three unibody MacBook Pros.

    The 2008 unibody was fine bar apparently no regard for cooling. The fans were very noisy and ineffective in trying to cool it down. I’m sure the same person designed the original Time Capsule. The HDD meant that it was pretty slow, the power button was fragile and the batteries inflated. I did love the fact that the screen was covered in glass. An ok laptop but not great.

    The 2012 unibody was, and remains, an iconic piece of design. The cooling was so much better. No more burnt knees or blazing fans. When the fans did kick in they were much quieter. The move from HDD to SSD was a major performance boost. The retina screen was just amazing and something you can never downgrade from. The new selection of ports and an SD card reader made more sense and the speakers were a marked upgrade. If there was a downside, it was that the screen was very delicate with zero scratch resistance. I have the same scratches from the keyboard and the same delamination that others have. I had the screen replaced for the delamination. Additionally, to make the machine thinner, the design of MagSafe port was clearly compromised and the connector often fell out. Overall though, this laptop is just stunning.

    The 2016 version is, in my view, a disappointment. And that’s a sad thing to admit. The only improvement is that the components are several generations newer. The CPU, the RAM and the GPU all operate a little quicker and so make everything a little snappier. So nice work from Intel, AMD and Samsung. Apple’s design, however, seems to have been singularly focused on size and weight reduction.

    The good: I get the Thunderbolt 3 ports but don’t think that throwing in an SD Card reader and MagSafe port would have been an extravagance. One advantage of the new setup is that now the power supply is modular. One fewer thing to have to replace when Apple’s non-existent strain relief gives up. Thunderbolt 3 gives me hope for a compatible eGPU to speed up editing in Premiere and Resolve. That alone would make the 2016 machine worth buying in my opinion. The cooling has been improved again. The system pushes more air with quieter fans and is a really solid improvement. Great ! The screen is marginally brighter and the keys leak less light.

    The bad: Did any rMBP owner really have ‘must be thinner’ at the top of their wish list? No. It’s not a feat of engineering to make a laptop thinner if all you did was remove useful things. Though I did have to buy all the dongles, I forgive the port situation, which could optimistically be described as forward-thinking. I can just about deal with the non-upgradable RAM or SSD, so long as they don’t break. The keyboard is, as some people say, ‘fast’. Though honestly its halfway to typing on an iPad, there is very little feedback. The screen is now even more delicate. There is essentially no clearance between the screen and keyboard when shut. Apple managed to get a gossamer-thin piece of paper in there for packaging. Radtech, however, have had a devil of a time getting one of their ScreenSavrz in there (they have a new version that only covers the keyboard). Just when it was needed most. Clearly the touch bar is going to need some time to mature though to date it has made changing the brightness or the volume a three-step process instead of one. Wake the touch bar, select a function, adjust. Also, mine seems fuzzy and indistinct. It certainly does not have the same clarity as the main screen. The text on the function keys looks a little fuzzy but when displaying images, such as tabs in safari, its looks really mushy. Is this just mine? I’ve not heard anyone else mention this.

    Small annoyances: I had to disable the automatic boot, its so annoying. The touch ID is a welcome addition though more than half the time the system still asks for my user password. The trackpad is huge and I’ve yet to find a use for the extra space. Whilst the speakers do have more bass, its an odd, boxey sounding bass. Moving between MacBook Pros I actually prefer the cleaner sound of the 2012. The 2016 is as clear and three dimensional in its stereo image as before though the newly added lower end sounds odd and unnatural. Alas there are no system controls to EQ it out.

    In all, if they gave the 2015 rMBP Thunderbolt 3 there would be very little reason to look at the 2016 model. I love Apple and I don’t wish to jump on the bandwagon of attacking a new machine though they do seem to have lost the plot recently :/

    A few quick benchmarks. 2012 2.3GHz 8GB RAM GT650M 1GB vs 2016 2.9GHz 16GB RAM Radeon Pro 460 4GB
    (there might have been more but Premiere CC 2017 crashed the system twice whilst rendering. ‘CATERR’ catastrophic error.)

    Davinci Resolve: Generate Optimised Media (4k h.264 to Prores 422 Half Res over USB3)
    2012: 39 mins (user cpu 33%, 6GB RAM, 3GB Swap)
    2016: 14m 58 secs (user cpu 45%, 14GB RAM, 50MB Swap)
    I don’t think USB3 was the bottle neck as read and write speeds topped out at 30MBps and 20MBps respectively.

    Davinci Resolve: Play 4k h.264 clip (either no grade or with curves and Film Convert)
    2012: USB3: jumps around from 4-23 fps (unusable, you must transcode first)
    2016: USB3: continuous playback though it lurches. Internal SSD: perfect

    Premiere CC 2017: Render 15 mins of 4k h.264 (highlights, shadows, exposure, curves, Kodak 5218 LUT)
    2012: 13mins 18secs (user cpu 50%, 5.5GB RAM 850MB Swap, over USB3)
    2016: 9 mins (user cpu 70%, 13GB RAM 0MB Swap, either USB3 or Internal SSD)

    Premiere CC 2017: Play 4k h.264 clip over USB3 (no grade)
    2012: Full res, no dropped frames
    2016: Full res, no dropped frames

    Premiere CC 2017: Play 4k clip (highlights, shadows, exposure, Kodak 5218 LUT, curves, either USB3 or Internal SSD)
    2012: dropped frames even at 1/8 resolution
    2016: can just manage no dropped frames at 1/2 resolution
  2. dark knight thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 28, 2008
  3. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I think you forgot to add the new display (which is a major technological advancement) as well as a vastly improved cooling system to your list. As far as thinner goes.... I for once am very happy about it, because it means more comfort when carrying it around, and I also think its really impressive that they were able to reduce the volume this much without making any compromises in performance.
  4. dark knight thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 28, 2008
    Fair enough :) Thanks for your thoughts.
    The screen is really nice. Though I do really feel that it needs more protection.

    I agree with you on the cooling. I mentioned that above. It improves on the already quite good cooling of the previous model. That really is helpful. Nice work.

    As for being thinner, of course some people do have this at the top of their list of wants. I think, however, in this case, that more MacBook Pro owners would have opted for more performance than reduced thickness. I think its fair to say that Apple already offer quite a few very thin laptops. Surely one model should focus performance to some degree? Its really only the GPU that most people feel is bit weak. Everything else is quite understandable.
  5. fs454 macrumors 68000

    Dec 7, 2007
    Los Angeles / Boston

    I agree, if they'd designed the 2016 chassis with the same thickness as the 2012-2015, no one would have bat an eye and the battery could have been a little more dense. I do appreciate the weight and feel of the new one though regardless. It's very noticeably lighter.
  6. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    Curious what you mean by 'Performance', what could they have put in it that would make it faster? The GPU is very good for the use of the machine, it's possibly a little weak for gaming but that's not really a problem. CPU/RAM/SSD are super fast, as are the I/Os. Sure they could stick Xeons, and faster GPUs but this would impact battery life significantly. For most people, a laptop should be portable, and portable means being able to use it for more than an hour without the need to plug in. Apple have balanced this machine very well in my opinion, and I think a higher 'performance' model would lead to a machine you need to keep plugged in all the time, aka iMac.
  7. dark knight thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 28, 2008
    I totally agree with you. I guess I was just hoping that the 4 1/2 years since my Mid-2012 Retina MacBook Pro would have brought more noticeable improvements. Its difficult not to look over at what Razer have crammed into their machines. Though, no doubt they are not as refined as an Apple. They probably are hotter, noisier, and have reduced battery life. Mmm. I can't deal with Windows either.

    I think Apple should have gone the Razer Core route. If they had released an external GPU for those who needed it, and some new cinema displays full of useful ports while they were at it, I think they'd have got it totally right.
  8. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

    Apr 11, 2014
    My main issue is ports.

    I need 2 USB, an HDMI, and an SD card slot.

    I use those features almost daily on my late 2013 rMBP...
  9. dark knight thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 28, 2008
    yeah. wouldn't a new Thunderbolt 3 Cinema Display with all those ports on have been amazing :)
  10. tbobmccoy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2007
    Austin, TX
  11. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

    Apr 11, 2014

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