MacBook Advice for Work, Play and Development

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by SkyRom, Dec 17, 2018.


What's the best all-purpose laptop for the next 3-5 years?

  1. 2018 MacBook Air 13 (Goldilocks?)

    1 vote(s)
  2. 2018 MacBook Pro 13 (Goldilocks at prom?)

    0 vote(s)
  3. 2018 MacBook Pro 15 Vega 20 (Thanos in a laptop?)

    0 vote(s)
  4. Wait for MacBook 12" update (A12X Bionic in 2019?!)

    1 vote(s)
  5. Wait for 2019 MacBook Pro update (I'm not feelin' so good Mr. Cook)

    0 vote(s)
  6. 2015 MacBook Pro Retina Refurb (ports! chiclets! Steve!)

    2 vote(s)
  7. 2018 Lenovo X1 Carbon Thinkpad (Perfection? And a nub)

    0 vote(s)
  8. 2018 Lenovo X1 Yoga 3rd Gen (LTE 2-in-1!)

    1 vote(s)
  9. 2018 Asus ZenBook Pro 15 (The Future?)

    0 vote(s)
  10. 2018 Dell XPS 13-15 (Dude, ur gettin no bezels)

    0 vote(s)
  11. 2018 MS Surface Anything (The Mothership)

    0 vote(s)
  12. 2018 iPad Pro 12.9" LTE (Fight it, run from it... destiny still arrives.)

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. SkyRom, Dec 17, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018

    SkyRom macrumors newbie


    Dec 17, 2018
    This is my first post here. I'm in what my dad calls "The Decision Forest" where I can't make up my mind on what I want to do. I tend to over-research things, and I like checking up on new technology from various companies even if I'm not using their products. Thank you for your time and advice on this issue :)

    1. Highly proficient in Windows, Mac and Linux.
    2. Typing speed (avg. 130, peak above 160 wpm) doesn't really diminish whether using standalone Cherry MX keyboard, chiclet-style laptops or butterfly mechanism on newer MB's.
    3. Extremely limited experience in creative apps so I have no inherent bias towards Logic Pro, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, GarageBand, Premiere, etc.
    4. Highly proficient in MS Office.
    5. Decent with Python, HTML5, C++, VB, Flash, ArcGiS/Google Earth Pro, WordPress

    Current Sitch:
    1. 2017 iMac 4.2ghz i7, 64gb 2400 DDR4 RAM, Radeon Pro 580 8gb, 1TB SSD, 250gb partitioned for Windows 10 Pro in bootcamp, 750 to Mac OS, with additional Dell 34" WQHD or whatever is right below 4k resolution.
    Setup 2018.jpeg
    2. Primary Uses: Work, specifically...MS Office, Google Earth, Acrobat, Photo importing, Financial charts/stock market crawls, Video conferencing, Web. No video editing, programming or resource-intensive work tasks at the moment, other than maybe the live market data.

    Market Knowledge:
    I'm familiar with classes and differences in all Macs (thanks to MacRumors!) and YouTube. Fairly familiar with most benchmarks and limitations of existing designs, thermals, etc. Because of this I'll put more specific questions in that section...

    Typical Laptop Use:
    1. Couch + iMessage + light browsing = winning
    2. Travel 'replacement' for desktop. I travel 2-5x a month and this will go with me.

    Must Haves:
    1. 512+ GB storage
    2. WQHD or better display
    3. 9 hours or better battery life (actual, not claimed)

    1. LTE (cmon' Apple...)
    2. Touch ID with no Touch Bar (cmon' Apple...)
    3. Fair Price. I don't mind paying a lot for a solid machine, but for example, I couldn't justify paying $6000+ for the iMac Pro when I could buy 3 'very good' iMac's for less with after-market RAM upgrades. (cmon' Apple...)
    4. I like iMessage and the Apple ecosystem but realistically I'm not married to it. Now that I'm not active duty I can actually check my phone like a regular human being, so, while convenient, it isn't essential.

    If I were to describe the "Holy Grail" laptop for me right now, it would be a 13.3"-16" 4K+ screen, fingerprint sensor with no Touch Bar, 1TB+ blazing-fast SSD, 12+ hours of battery life, an SD card reader and 2+ USB-C's on opposite sides, a decent webcam and with LTE and maybe a 2-in-1 touchscreen, detachable tablet-mode or 'screen-in-touchpad' feature like the Asus Zenbook Pro. Or, it would just be a 7"-10" iPhone XS Max with a detachable bluetooth keyboard/trackpad and 2 USB-C ports running a hybrid of iOS and Mac OS. The closest things I've seen to this are:

    1. Lenovo X1 Carbon, Yoga or Tablet. All have great features, durability, battery life, similar power, and can be nearly "maxed" for less than a base model MacBook Pro 15" none perfect, and obviously no Mac ecosystem.
    Thinkpad X1 Yoga pic.png
    2. 2017 13.3" MacBook Pro without Touch Bar (if it were updated to 8th-gen Intel I'd probably be sold)
    3. 2018 MacBook Air. Decent keyboard, Touch ID, function-row, excellent battery life, probably perfect for 90% of tasks I'm "currently" doing.
    4. 2018 MacBook Pro 15" with Vega 20 card
    MacBook Pro 15.png
    5. 2018 Asus Zenbook Pro 15" w/screen in touchpad. This feels like the future to me. It's like they tried to make the 2015 MacBook Pro Retina 15" and added the most innovative feature I've seen in years. Apple should perfect this, as they already have the biggest/best touchpads, the best App Store to support it, and the best excuse to do it (people want real escape keys back). If it wasn't a $4000 Windows laptop I would buy this just for the attempted innovation.
    Asus ZenBook Pro 15.png

    Future Uses:
    1. Video Podcasting. The primary reason I'm posting here is for advice on getting the "right" laptop for podcast development. It seems the computer industry moves faster than audio-visual equipment, and I'm torn on finding the perfect mix of "semi-professional" output quality and "ease-of-use/learning curve".
    2. I need relational database support. I was going to settle and just swap over to Windows and use Access, but I think my needs are exceeding Excel/Access territory. Alternatively if there's any way to learn/create solid forms and a decent database with FileMaker, I'm open to considering that now that it's owned by Apple.
    3. Audio source/interface integration. This is where a lot of my more specific questions come in...

    Questions, Comments, Concerns, Gripes, Suggestions, Theories, Complaints, Ideas:

    1. What is the best semi-professional way to get clear audio/video recordings from a source to a finished product? When I look into audio interfaces and mixers, most of them seem to use XLR cables from dynamic/condenser mics feeding into an amplifier or directly into a computer with USB 2.0 or (in rare cases) USB 3.1 or (even more rare) Thunderbolt 2 or (almost non-existent) USB-C. I believe (but could be very wrong?) that the best method is to get a clean audio/video recording without effects/enhancement into the laptop/computer and then *after that* do editing in software i.e. Final Cut Pro/Premiere/etc. Is this correct? And if so, what's the best way to do it? A 2015 MacBook Pro Retina due to ports? A 2018 MacBook Pro due to render times? A Windows machine?

    2. What is an actual accurate battery life estimate for the 2018 MacBook Pro 2.9 i9/32gb RAM builds with each video card? I've heard numbers ranging from 5 hours to 10:45 on some sites. I realize max brightness/CPU/GPU rendering/WiFi syncing will smash a laptop battery. So for my question, let's assume, equal conditions, 75% (or across models, say, 270-300 nits) brightness, mixed web browsing and document editing, and let's say for giggles you edited in Final Cut Pro for an hour and rendered one 10 minute source video into a 1080p FHD h.264 product for your site. What is that? 9 hours? 11? 4? 6?

    3. Does battery life change with 8gb vs. 16gb vs. 32gb in any meaningful, measurable way? Would it impact anything other than video editing? (not using a laptop for gaming, after all, I'm a professional lol.)

    4. Will the no-Touch Bar 13" Pro be updated soon? Spring? Never? Same question for 12" MacBook

    5. What are the best apps for podcasting/video development? Is there a 'suite' or is it more of a hodgepodge of whatever works for the specific job? I need to be able to frame out written formats/ideas and import all the video/audio mentioned in Question 1.

    6. [edit] What is the best physical equipment for amateur/semi-pro video podcasting? Rode? Sennheiser? Neumann? Electro Voice? Open to suggestions on mics, audio interfaces, mixers, video cameras, professional lighting, whatever you think would help.

    7. Is there any chance the iPad Pro could do 90% of these things?!

    Final Jeopardy!

    1. If you had no desktop and had to do everything I described for the next 5 years on one machine, what company/model/laptop/build/cost would you choose, and why?
    2. If you were going to do all the heavier lifting on your already-excellent 2017 iMac and intended to use the laptop just for browsing, shopping, chatting, school work and nothing more intense than MS Word/Excel, same question. What would you choose, and why?

    I'll throw up a poll and let you vote on up to three options...

    If you read some or all of this, thank you again for your time and I appreciate your opinion. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, and I look forward to your advice.

    -Steve W.
  2. Construct macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2010
    I'll skip straight to your last two Final Jeopardy questions:

    1. I'd pick the 2018 15" MBP and call it good. It's a very capable machine that approaches the iMac Pro in some benchmarks. Well, as close as a laptop can get, anyway. Tether to an iPhone for LTE on the go, and you're golden. No need to make things more complex.

    2. I'd definitely pick a Macbook or Macbook Air model for the light work. The smaller, the better. Currently I'd take the Macbook over the Macbook Air for this reason, unless you really expect to start using the dual ports or extra CPU power. The little Macbook is just a perfect size to toss in a travel bag and forget about it until you need it.
  3. SkyRom thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 17, 2018
    Thanks for your response! I appreciate it, and it's pretty in-line with a lot of my thinking. One of the things that makes me hesitant about certain models (MacBook, 2017 MacBook Pro 13 w/o Touch Bar) is the Class-Action-Lawsuit version of the Butterfly keyboard. I've typed a good bit on both kinds, and I like the quieter and slightly more durable feel of the 2018 MBP compared to the MB/2017 MBP. Specifically regarding the 12" MacBook, I keep thinking it needs to evolve one more time to be ready for primetime.

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