MacBook Pro 15" - 2015 vs 2016

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dthrys, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. dthrys macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2017

    I have a hard time deciding between the 15-inch MacBook Pro, 2015 versus 2016 (base models).

    Recently my 15-inch 2011 MacBook Pro drew its last breath. It served me well for all these years, but unable to repair it myself and the repair cost being more than € 1200, I decided it would be time to replace it.

    Now there is a big price difference first of all: € 2250 (2015) versus € 2700 (2016) for a new one, where I live. My first thought would be to go for the newest model, because it is, well, the newest one. but I would like your guys opinions as I keep having doubts in my mind.

    Now here are some things to keep in mind;

    - Design: I have a very weak spot when it comes to design. Design-wise, I would get a 2016 model in space gray right away. I like the overall design of the new model a lot more, from the new colourway to the trackpack, keyboard and smaller bezels. Pity the illuminated logo is gone though. But is the design, including it being lighter and more compact, worth the price premium? Touch bar is nice, but mostly seems like a gimmick at the moment.

    - Performance: I would use the machine for web browsing but also tasks such as photo and video editing (Photoshop -including raw editing-, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, After Effects). Playing some video games would be a plus, but not a requirement as this is not what the thing is made for. No dual-boot Windows or anything like that. Planning to connect it to my UHD screen while at home. The improved screen would be nice as I love pleasing colours and aesthetics in general, but if I were to buy the 2015 model, I probably will not even notice what I am missing unless I compare it to a newer model directly.

    - I/O: 2015 ports would be more useful as of right now, but having to buy a couple of dongles or a dock would be something I would be okay with. I would have preferred the 2016 design with the old ports, but it is not a dealbreaker per se. I am okay with waiting for better USB-C solutions to come around, as I am not a student having to carry my laptop and the dongles around daily, or something like that.

    - Battery life: not too important for me personally.

    I just cannot make a decision. When I go to one store the guy tells me I should get the new one if I want faster rendering times at video editing and such. Guy at another store tells me I would be okay with the older model. I am just afraid to make the wrong decision… I need this laptop to be my daily driver for at least five years or so, as my last one did, and this thought kind of scared me to buy a laptop labeled "2015". Because I still need it to be able to perform the previously listed tasks decently, even after a couple of years of use. I am willing to save up and spend the extra money, but only if it is worth it. Keep in mind, I have not had a new MacBook Pro or any Apple product for that matter since 2011, so I am not worrying trying to decide whether to upgrade from last-gen.

    • Which one would you guys recommend? Why?
    • When it comes down to performance solely - is the 2015 model still future-proof?
    • Is there even a noticable performance difference?
  2. Naimfan macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2003
    If you do a brief search, you'll see a number of similar threads.

    I've owned two of the 2016 models, the base and the mid-level (with 455 graphics). I've returned both in favor of the 2015 I bought the day before the 2016 models were introduced. For me, the 2015 is the superior machine.

    Neither model is "future-proof." Anyone claiming otherwise, or that one has an advantage in that respect, is not being objective. If you're going with the base model 2015, it's likely that it will outlast the 2016 simply because it does not have a discrete graphics processor - there have been a large number of people who have had issues with the graphics in the 2016.

    Performance is indistinguishable. While the SSD in the 2016 is faster, you'll never see the difference.

    For your use, get the 2015 and invest the savings.
  3. slvr_srfr, Feb 4, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017

    slvr_srfr macrumors newbie


    Oct 19, 2015
    I agree with Naimfan neither model is future-proof which led me to purchase the touch bar and non-tb variant of the 2016 but in the end returned/returning both for the 2015. Now you may be an early adopter and progressive in a sense of forward thinking of embracing new technology and changes such as with the TB and USB-C, but the way I look at it is different strokes for different folks when it comes to workflow, technology needs, and usage/budget. Let this this gen become seasoned and allow apple to work out all the bugs & kinks and hopefully in a few more years it will be in it's prime.

    My advice is to identify your needs, separate sense from nonsense, and make a decision learning to live with it rather than with doubt - these are just tools and there are more important stresses to life than these ones. You can read as many forums, watch as many youtube vids, and seek out the opinions of others, but at the end of the day it's your hard earned money and you should choose something makes sense based on an informed decision rather than impulse.
  4. zackkmac macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2008
    I went with a 2015 and have absolutely no regrets. A few months ago I was able to score a "like new" one for about $1800, and it is the top model (2.8 i7/16GB RAM/1TB PCIe SSD) with AppleCare til mid-2018. And sold my early 2013 for $1400, so it was just a $400 upgrade. Well worth it. I can not picture the 2016s being worth an additional $900+ jump in price. At the time there were no used ones really available, so I would have paid at least $2500 + tax.

    The battery life on this 2015 is awesome, on boring slow days I'll find myself on it for hours (just web browsing/video playing), then I'll look at the battery thinking it'll be close to 50%, and it'll be at like 85%. Super nice.

    This laptop is sharp, responsive, and still such a thin and lightweight machine for 2017. I tried the 2016 model out at Best Buy and I definitely appreciate the 2015's keyboard much more. Touch Bar was neat, but to me not worth more than a maybe $200 price difference. And the usefulness of the I/O ports is something I know I would miss.

    Unless you can score a great deal on a 2016, I would stick with a 2015. And shop around til you can locate one that still has a good window to add AppleCare or already has it. It is rock solid and, in my opinion, a much better bang for your buck over a 2016.
  5. ZapNZs, Feb 4, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    This is just my personal opinion.

    If it were me personally, I would buy a high-tier 2014/2015 refurb because I think the 2014/2015 15-inch MacBook Pros are quite possibly the finest time-tested-and-proven desktop replacements ever made, and now you can get them for a huge discount via Apple Refurbished (which I personally prefer over new.) The 2014/2015 MBP is a very mature platform that hammered out the biggest annoyances and QA/QC shortcomings of the 2012/2013 models (some of which, like screen flickering, were annoying as all hell.) The 2016 is a first gen of its major redesign, and I find premiere generations usually have more bugs/quirks than the minor refreshes that follow the major change. I've also noticed that it can take a year or more to identify hardware/design deficiencies that may affect the longevity of a certain computer (this was the case with the 2011 15-s, which have a poorly implemented GPU that resulted in a boatloat of them dying within several years of ownership). Subsequently, I think now is a better time than ever to buy a 2014/2015.

    For the price of the entry level 2016, you could purchase a high-tier 2015/2014 refurb with the i7-4870 & twice the hard drive size, and still have money left over to buy an AppleCare 3-yr warranty, and for one or even two quality 23-inch 1080p IPS displays (that the computer can easily drive.) You could even get a flagship 2014/2015 with a 4980HQ w/ 1TB SSD + 3 years of AppleCare for the same price as the base model 2016 (and this computer is a processing monster.)

    The performance difference in regards to the CPUs are minimal when comparing each respective tier (of which there historically have been and currently are 3 separate processor tiers.) However, a higher level tier of an older generation may outperform a lower level tier of a newer generation by a considerable margin. If you buy a refurbished flagship tier 2014/2015 (the 2014 & 2015s used the same CPUs), its CPU can be significantly more capable than the base CPU in the 2016. Here is the 4980HQ, the flagship CPU on the 2014 & 2015, and the 4870HQ, the second highest tier on the 2014 & 2015. For comparison, this is the 6700HQ, the base CPU on the 2016, and the 6820HQ, the second highest tier on the 2016. As you can see, all are exceptionally strong performers, and the 2014/2015 CPUs easily hold their own against the current generation.

    Of course, the 2016 introduces multiple GPU options, and the gains here are much more significant advancements than seen with the CPUs. Further, with the 2014/2015, you had the option of purchasing the base model WITHOUT a discrete GPU (which many people prefer given numerous Apple dGPUs have had some problems.) How much the superior graphics of the 2016 will benefit you over the 2014 or 2015 depends on the work you do: but in some cases Owners report very significant improvements. If you want to drive dual displays 4k+, then the 2016 with the flagship GPU may be the best fit for your needs. The RAM is also faster on the 2016, as is the SSD - but I think it is unlikely that most real-world use will see a huge difference there.

    In conclusion, I think all are outstanding products. I just personally have come to favor the enhanced refinement that a mature design often offers over a premiere.
  6. Sanpete, Feb 5, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017

    Sanpete macrumors 68020

    Nov 17, 2016
    Don't be misled by the flatly false claim above (frequently made and corrected here) that the performance of the 2015 and 2016 machines is the same. For tasks that only use the CPU, the performance is typically close, but for many tasks that can use the dGPU, the 2016 is much better.

    To be clear, if you're looking at a new 2015 model, it very likely doesn't have a dGPU. It (or any other model without a dGPU) will struggle to do any heavy-duty task that would take advantage of the dGPU, such as hi-res video editing or gaming.

    If you can find the 2015 model with a dGPU, it will still run hotter, louder and slower than the 2016 for things like video editing and gaming, but the difference will be smaller. The 2016 will "only" be 15-90% faster. (Especially faster if you try Final Cut Pro.)

    It's highly misleading to claim that there have been a large number of people who have had issues with the dGPU in the 2016. There were software glitches that have been fixed. The hardware appears to be fine, and since it runs cooler than earlier models, it's less likely there will be problems. Edit: The dGPU for the 2015 was discontinued by Apple, probably because it ran too hot and did cause problems.

    As for future proofing, the 2016's more powerful dGPU and ports will probably be a plus in years to come, as demands on the hardware tend to increase with time.

    Which to get, then, depends in large part on how much video editing and gaming you'll do, and on the harder-to-predict matter of how well future software will take advantage of the dGPU for other tasks. Photo editing typically doesn't take advantage of it presently, for example, but that could change, and it could make a big difference.

    There are numerous other differences that may or may not matter to you. I personally much appreciate the better speakers in the new model. I collected a lot of info about the differences between the 2015 and 2016 models when I was deciding, and put a lot of it in a customer review at Amazon, if you want details:
  7. fokmik macrumors 68030

    Oct 28, 2016
    Macbook pro 2016 model
    • USB ports: the MacBook Pro has 2–4 USB ports. They didn’t remove any of them. They upgraded them. Does it suck for everyone that has peripherals currently? Yes. Apple is the only one with the clout in the industry to push these changes through without losing many customers because they have no competitors[1] . This is something that needs to happen otherwise we’re doomed to spend the next 10 years still using two types of USB (like how most PCs still come with VGA). Again, a good thing.
    • SD cards: I wish they could have included it but I understand why they didn't. You sometimes have to cut features, especially if they contradict your vision.
    • All of those things are pushing toward the wireless future that Apple imagines. Apple imagines a world without any wires. You will charge your computer at night like your iPhone and iPad and use it all day and never plug anything into it because everything connects wirelessly. Are we there yet? No, but these steps will help us get there. If everyone continues to support the old technology, no one will push us into new stuff. It will be an uncomfortable transition but it will be better in the long run.
  8. TrueBlou macrumors demi-god


    Sep 16, 2014

    I'm inclined to agree for the most part, for me a 1.3% (single core) and 4% (multi-core) performance advantage (on average, based on max specs) of the 2015 models is not enough for me to consider it a worthwhile alternative to the 2016 model.

    Particularly when it comes to the GPU. I don't game much on my computer, though it's always good to have the option just in case. But the performance boosts I should see in video editing and particularly 3D modelling, even over my iMac thanks to the more powerful chip and the 4GB of memory (in the configuration I'm getting) are big lures to the 2016 MacBook Pro.

    Would I like 32GB of RAM? Yeah, will I miss it as much as I think I will? Unlikely. But that's another matter.

    I'm really looking forward to my new MacBook arriving, I know I've made the right choice for me and I know I won't be disappointed.

    And that's what it boils down to at the end of the day. Finding the system that's right for you and your needs, which expands beyond performance into price and features as well.

    Personally and it is just my opinion, I think the 2016 is the better buy. The better graphics chipset (depending on configuration) can be far more beneficial than an, at best 4% processor performance gain. Which if we're honest you won't notice in general use at all. Well, the last time I changed to a processor with that small a difference I didn't notice it day-to-day. Indeed my upgrading my forthcoming MacBook to the 2.9Ghz wasn't originally on the cards for that very reason. It ended up being a last minute, to hell with it I'm upgrading everything else anyway, decision :D

    So, op, as always your the only one who really could and should make the decision on what to buy. It's your money and they aren't cheap, so you have to be happy with your decisions.

    For what it's worth, I was in the same boat as you until last week when I finally made my decision. In the end the better GPU, faster SSD, Touch Bar, smaller and lighter body and yes, shock and horror, Thunderbolt 3 ports to name just a few, of the 2016 model won out for me. I know your looking at the base models, but those same comparisons I made for my decision are just as applicable to yours. Particularly if your considering gaming on it at all, (like you I'd only be gaming occasionally but I still want good performance when I do) the 2016 is much better.
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    What are you getting for your money? The 2016 model is more expensive.
    Does the touch bar mean much to you? For some, its a nice addition, to others they consider it gimmicky.
    Reports/benchmarks do seem to show that it may be bit slower
    GPU from what I know its faster so you'll get a more responsive UX.
    Display - brighter, colors pop, better gamut.
    USB-C ports, no magsafe, no HDMI or SD card slots. For some those are important omissions
    Smaller/thinner/lighter laptop
    Crazy fast SSD
    Battery life - inferior, smaller battery and many people are complaining about its inability to get to 10 hours

    Bottom line is the additions and changes worth the cost?
    --- Post Merged, Feb 5, 2017 ---
    Edit: I forgot that some people hate the new keyboard others don't mind it, and still others love it. YMMV so try it out
  10. sunapple macrumors 65816


    Jul 16, 2013
    The Netherlands
    Personally is see more value in a second hand 2015 model with R9 graphics if you can find one in mint condition with Apple Care for 2000$. That's what I did anyway after using the 2016 model with upgraded 460 graphics.
  11. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    2015 - greater 'value' - as in bang for buck.
    2016 - a bit better in every way.

    Both great computers. My advice: go with your gut feeling. You probably already know what you prefer. If a part of you is looking at the 2016. version and saying "wow, I really like this" - then it's worth it. It's - for the lack of a better word - "nicer". However, if you don't care that much - you just want to get the most bang for your buck - the 2015 is for you.

    As for longevity, I do believe both computers will last a long time, however, there is one thing to consider: if you plan on using them for 3-5 years without upgrading, there will certainly be a lot of nice USB-C devices out there that you won't be able to use on the 2015. MBP. I'm not talking about "the simple stuff" like external hard drives. I'm talking about monitors that charge your computer, or devices like the Wacom Cintiq Pro or MobileStudio Pro - that work better with the USB-C than using the "Wacom Link" adapter (yes, ironically, this professional device requires a $100 adapter to work on old ports, and works out of the box with the new ones). Think about the devices you use and take that into consideration.

    In the end: both great computers, enjoy. Hope this helps.
  12. WhiteWhaleHolyGrail, Feb 5, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017

    WhiteWhaleHolyGrail macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2016
    It really is misleading and actually cruel how people spout false statements about the 2015 simply to justify their purchase decisions.

    The 2015 is a very solid tried and tested machine and if money is a concern, by all means, opt for it. Otherwise, the 2016 is indeed faster and more power efficient, with the fantastic new chassis and updates like beefier speakers, screen and the yet to be fully utilised TB.

    Regarding SSD speeds not making a difference, I hope this shows how tenuous some of the above statements are. With heavy file transfers you will certainly notice a difference of seconds which, depending on your use, could translate into minutes and hours of extra time. In general day to day use, the 2016 has the file access speed of an ipad - it's lightning fast!

    Good luck.
  13. facemeat macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2016
    Both are good and will probably last for quite a while, go with whichever you can afford or appeals more to you.
    I guess the only caution might be the longevity of the touch bar, only time will tell on that one.
  14. Sanpete macrumors 68020

    Nov 17, 2016
    That's true of the 13" TB, but not of the 15" the OP is talking about. Tests done in controlled conditions show the new 15" has better battery life than the 2015 for light to moderate use.
  15. ZapNZs, Feb 5, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    Hey friend, I'm above you and I clearly noted that:

    Furthermore, the difference between the improvement the Radeon 450 found on the base 2016 model I was referencing makes, compared to the flagship 2015 with the Radeon M370X, is not as significant as the two higher tier 2016 MBPs with the 455 and 460, respectively, where the improvements could been very significant depending on the work being done.

    and, regarding my statements about the CPU,
    Entry level 2016, 450, i7-6700

    Flagship 2015, R9 M370X, i7-4980

    2nd Tier 2015, R9 M370X, i7-4870

    2nd Tier 2014, 750M, i7-4870

    Indeed, you are spot on about certain tasks heavily involving the dGPU, hence...

    Finally, my statement regarding the dGPU specifically referenced the 2011 MacBook Pro, and how that issue was not immediately apparent upon release (and so, based on prior flubs, I don't think there is any way to be certain that a dGPU design has good longevity when it is relatively newer. That applies to the 2016 - it does NOT imply that the dGPU WILL have issues, but that it might have issues or it might be the most reliable Apple dGPU implementation to date.)
  16. Sanpete macrumors 68020

    Nov 17, 2016
    Ha, wasn't talking about you. You didn't say what I was responding to. Read further up in the thread to see what I referred to. I don't think I have any objection to what you said in your earlier post, not that I recall from reading it last night, anyway.

    Even the base 450 is significantly faster for video editing and gaming. Your link supports that, as does the experience of users. Some of the results there are surprising, though! I'll edit my earlier post to reflect that.

    I didn't say anything about certainty that the new dGPU will have good longevity. I said it runs cooler and is thus less likely to have problems. Which is true.

    I should have added that the dGPU in the 2015 was probably discontinued because it ran too hot and did cause problems.
  17. NatalieThomas89 macrumors newbie


    Jan 20, 2017
    Damn! How some of you guys get such amazing deals? That too with Apple Care o_O. Is Apple refurbished or Craiglist? I live in a country where non of these are available. The only way to get a new one.

    Yeah I do agree that the battery is consistent with every 2015 MBP and closer to promised whereas in the case of 2016 you have to be extremely lucky.

    What is your battery life like? How much hours with your brightness and usage pattern? IYDM what is your browsing like, heavy or moderate or lite? BTW what is your battery cycle at? You can replace it for free with Apple Care anytime?
  18. Sanpete, Feb 5, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017

    Sanpete macrumors 68020

    Nov 17, 2016
    Not with the 15", which is what this thread is about. Tests consistently show the 2016 15" has better battery life than the 2015 for light to moderate use, and users are fairly consistently pleased.
  19. zackkmac macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2008
    I actually got mine off of eBay! Is that available where you're at? Sometimes sellers ship internationally now that eBay has made that easier.

    Mine is always at full brightness except in darker situations when the sensor kicks in and lowers it some. My browsing habits are moderate - I typically browse forums such as this one and use YouTube for plenty of instructional videos, and occasionally some Netflix.

    I don't think AppleCare replaces the battery at any time for free, but it's covered if they agree that there is an issue with it, and will probably replace it (or the entire laptop) if repeated issues occur.
  20. Charlesje macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2016
    I'd like to add that also cpu wise the 2016 15 inch brings serious benefits to the previous model. Expect at least a 15% increase when comparing the maxed out versions in sustained multicore use. This relative speedbump is really unseen in years for the MBP. There is a lot of misleading information on the 2016 model on macrumors, and minimizing the cpu performance is certainly a part of that.
  21. Sanpete macrumors 68020

    Nov 17, 2016
    I've seen reports to the contrary in regard to benchmarks, but you seem to be talking about the effects of throttling, right? That is a real problem for the 2015 for some tasks. For particular CPU tasks, each seems to do better in its share.
  22. MrGuder macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2012
    Wow, great read, thanks for the link.
  23. Charlesje macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2016
    I'm basing my opinion on real world use (digital audio) and benchmarks (digital audio, cinebench cpu benchmarks) which measure or point to sustained use of the cpu. See also a nice ltest conducted by Leman on this forum.
    Indeed the 2015 (plus a number of previous gens) throttled greatly in sustained, high load use settings of the cpu. This is well documented in threads on macrumors. You could actually say that in these settings there was almost no difference in performance between the different 2014 or 2015 models. And indeed this can be seen as a particular usecase, but it is the use case a lot of people looking for a highly performing cpu will look for. I can imagine that the theoretically higher clock performance (turboboost) could benefit certain usecases (the geekbench benchmark is an example) but I have yet to see a realworld example or benchmark. I'm still not convinced that the 2015 has higher actual burst (short load) performance, as the skylake cpus also have lower latency in speedstep changes (microburst performance as you wish), but I wouldcertainly be interested to be shown otherwise.
  24. Sanpete macrumors 68020

    Nov 17, 2016
    The effect is described in this video starting at 3:50, and particularly the point you mention at 5:15 ff. (This is a useful video for those interested in video editing in particular.)


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