New HP ZBook has some lessons about potential future MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by danwells, Jun 26, 2016.

  1. danwells macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2015
    HP has recently released a machine (the ZBook Studio) that (assuming it didn't run Windows and aggressively try to update itself to Windows 10) offers one set of tradeoffs we might wish for in a 2016 MacBook Pro.

    4.4 lbs, same thickness as a Retina MBP
    15.6" 4K wide-gamut display
    Skylake (6700, 6820HQ and a couple of different Xeons as options)
    Quadro M1000M (yes, the Mac's going to be AMD graphics, not Nvidia). This card is actually comparable to the Radeon in the current MBP - only a little faster.
    A plethora of ports (the Mac won't have that...) including conventional USB AND USB-C (but Thunderbolt only over the USB-C connectors), HDMI, an SD reader and even Ethernet - they had to use a folding port to get that in there!
    Accepts up to 32GB of RAM, dual 1TB "blade" SSDs
    MUCH shorter battery life than any Mac - 4 to 5 hours (runs down in an hour with intensive use).

    Interestingly, this Geekbenches a couple of percentage points slower than the current 2.8 gHz 15" MBP, even with the 2.8 gHz Xeon (a couple percent doesn't matter at all, and could just be the difference between Windows and Mac), but anyone looking for big performance gains from Skylake will be disappointed.

    The screen is something a lot of Mac types are hoping for - note that it is much dimmer and somewhat less uniform than the rMBP screen - Apple may be able to do better?

    All those ports, the non-soldered RAM and the second SSD slot come at the cost of a lot of battery - the HP uses a 64 Wh battery, to the Mac's 99.5 Wh (Apple actually can't put any more batteries in, or the Mac would be illegal on airplanes). I think this was a deliberate decision on Apple's part - eliminate anything vaguely bulky and fill the space with a lot of batteries. We may agree or disagree, but that 99.5 Wh battery drives a lot of decisions on other components, and Apple prides themselves on it, so it's not going away.

    We may see an option for 32 GB (soldered) RAM, since one of the few real benefits of Skylake is that it does support denser RAM. This wouldn't necessarily be especially expensive - 2 16 GB SODIMMs are only a couple hundred dollars, so Apple might call it a $200 upgrade from a machine that already comes with 16 GB.

    The fact that HP only gets to 2 TB of storage by using a second slot suggests that 2 TB isn't an Apple priority - it's an $800 option from HP once you already have the first terabyte drive in there - 2 TB is a total of $1300 in upgrades from the default 256 GB! Extremely fast PCI-E blade SSDs are just inherently expensive, so Apple won't put a slot in (at the cost of some battery) that is only used on a $4000 configuration. If the HP had a single 2 TB option, Apple might well get ahold of the same drive, but that drive doesn't exist.

    A high-end configuration (2.8 gHz Xeon, 1 TB drive, 32 GB RAM, 4K screen) is around $3300, so it's very comparable in price to a top MacBook Pro. This doesn't include the exorbitantly expensive 2 TB option.

    An interesting look at a machine with a philosophy about as similar as anything out there to the MacBook Pro. HP obviously puts more of a premium on ports, and less on battery life, than Apple does. It's also interesting to note that the overall performance is so similar to a 2015 MacBook Pro, suggesting that the 2016 won't be such a different performer, either. Moore's Law has failed, at least as far as CPU performance goes, and the tiny increments we've seen since Ivy Bridge or so are what we're going to get going forward. GPUs may have a little more life in them.

    If what HP was able to do is any indication, the choice between 2015 and 2016 MacBook Pros won't be between two machines that perform radically differently, but between two different selections of ports and a few other features. Many may not be clearly "better" one way or the other, but a series of compromises (some driven by Apple's specific design choices - they COULD release a machine with less battery, or one that wasn't "exactly as thin as we can possibly make it", but they won't)... Want USB-C? You can have it, but you won't get other ports... Care about HDMI, the card reader or even conventional USB? Sure, but that comes without Polaris...
  2. grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007
    #2 |

    Normally I'd prefer a 17" but from a photograph at I know that I'll dislike the off-centre input devices.

    Probably true. For mobile devices, I expect Apple to push/pull customers away from local storage, towards optimised storage.

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