Review: Three weeks with the Macbook and some Surface Pro comparisons


mkelly

macrumors regular
Nov 29, 2007
154
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For those who are getting under 6 hours on their MacBooks, a question:

Do you have any folder synchronization / backup software installed, like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, File Transporter, Bittorrent Sync, iCloud drive (enabled), etc?

For those getting 8+ hours, same question.
 

Gav2k

macrumors G3
Jul 24, 2009
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With exception of simcity and utorrent everything I use is apple based. My iCloud account is on and synced etc. I cloud drive is in use. Wifi is via an AirPort Extreme over ac. Brightness is set to 50% and keys are set to 2.
 

wowee

macrumors member
May 23, 2015
63
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I'm under 6 hours. I have dropbox but it i disabled unless i launch it.
 

pollycat

macrumors newbie
Sep 27, 2004
19
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I'm also consistently only getting around 5-6 hours on my 1.3ghz rMB. However, I do have Dropbox running all the time in the background, so could that be the cause?
 

zhenya

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2005
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I use Dropbox and iCloud as well on mine. Honestly, I think the brightness is a big part of it. I'm usually below 50%, often well below. If I sit outside and the screen goes to 75-100% brightness then I'd say my battery life would drop to ~6 hours +/-. If you want great battery, it's worth adapting to slightly dimmer screens. My iPads generally go 10-15 hours because of this as well. It's worth noting though that this only helps so much on my Surface - I'm nearly always at 30% or so yet get about 5.5 hours.

The OS X tools to determine what apps are consuming power are pretty good. Anything suspicious there? Sort by the Avg. Energy Impact. Safari is generally the highest by far for me, but anything else - even iTunes sitting idle, that averages even ~1 is worth shutting down if you aren't using it as it seems to make a noticeable impact to me.
 

Flunkyturtle

macrumors 6502
Dec 20, 2011
298
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web browsing, and excel i haven't gone below 90% charge yet and i usually sit and watch TV and browse for about 3 hours. I reckon i'd get 10 hours easy
 

nalbagli

macrumors 6502
Sep 11, 2014
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Great review, I love to read this type of posts. In my case I am mac user for a log time now, but on december I bought the i7 Surface Pro 3 and I can tell you that I absolutely love it, the only think i don't really like is Windows 8, but I've gotten used to it and I really think Windows 10 will solve most of my issues with Windows. For me as a student it has been a great device, really portable, office programs are much better than on mac, the ability to take notes is amazing for me at least as I use it a lot to mark up PDFs. The keyboard even though many people don't like it, once I got used to it I can write really fast and have no issues at all, the trackpad I find it really responsive but it's too small so I usually carry a mouse or use the touch screen.
Now I also have my 1.2 Macbook and it's clear to me it's a much better laptop, I love the keyboard, Trackpad, Battery life and everything about it, for my type of light use performance has been great. To be honest, although I do love the Surface I would not use it at all if iPad would have the inking feature as the SP3, that's the only thing missing in my apple lineup.

For those with battery issues with the Macbook as many have said, I found out screen brightness to be the key. For me to get to around 9 hours I have to set the brightness around 50%, if it's set at 100% It usually lasts like 5 hours.
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,245
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Perth, Western Australia
wow, lots of words to repeat what others who like it have said, and what detractors complain about. reads like apple gave you a review unit and your pay back was positive. the whole professionally-written piece raises questions.
Just because some people are articulate, does not mean they work for a publication or apple.


edit:
battery life on a portable will depend very much on what your workload is.

spreadsheets, mail, web, general documents like word or pages - you'll use very little battery.

If you're expecting to get say 10 hours when using stuff like final cut, photoshop, etc. - then sorry but it's just not going to happen. The more CPU/GPU something needs, the more battery it will drain.
 
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zhenya

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2005
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Great review, I love to read this type of posts. In my case I am mac user for a log time now, but on december I bought the i7 Surface Pro 3 and I can tell you that I absolutely love it, the only think i don't really like is Windows 8, but I've gotten used to it and I really think Windows 10 will solve most of my issues with Windows. For me as a student it has been a great device, really portable, office programs are much better than on mac, the ability to take notes is amazing for me at least as I use it a lot to mark up PDFs. The keyboard even though many people don't like it, once I got used to it I can write really fast and have no issues at all, the trackpad I find it really responsive but it's too small so I usually carry a mouse or use the touch screen.
Now I also have my 1.2 Macbook and it's clear to me it's a much better laptop, I love the keyboard, Trackpad, Battery life and everything about it, for my type of light use performance has been great. To be honest, although I do love the Surface I would not use it at all if iPad would have the inking feature as the SP3, that's the only thing missing in my apple lineup.

For those with battery issues with the Macbook as many have said, I found out screen brightness to be the key. For me to get to around 9 hours I have to set the brightness around 50%, if it's set at 100% It usually lasts like 5 hours.
Thanks. I feel pretty much the same way about the Surface. If i can get an iPad within the next year or so that has a good digitizer, I'll have a whole lot less interest in the Surface lineup. I will say that I have become a pretty ardent fan of Windows 8 though, at least as far as Windows goes. When used on a device like the Surface, a lot of those gestures and swipes make a lot of sense. Even the split UI COULD work if Microsoft could get more developers on board and didn't make so many things repetitive themselves. As it is, it's almost like managing two different devices in one physical unit, and one of those devices is so hobbled that it isn't generally worth the effort.

The keyboard, eh, I have gotten used to it to make it no longer completely painful to use, but in the end, I still find it to be completely mediocre. It doesn't stand up to the rest of the product design. They could have done better.
 
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thewusman

macrumors regular
Aug 8, 2013
138
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I get 6-7 hours with brightness at 75% and some moderate keyboard backlighting, I have a lot of background apps running.

(Alfred, Tweetbot, OneDrive, iCloud, Fantastical, MacID, OneNote, iTunes, Pocket and a few others).

If I reduce the brightness to around 60% I can get 8 hours.

For those getting 10, wowzers.

My SP3 is worse though, 6-7 hours with brightness on 50% at the most with even less activity.
 

Elise

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2007
476
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London
i get around 9 hours but the screen is always 50% brightness. The retina screen is power hungry so if you want a decent amount of usage you need to reduce it.

Actually just checked and it is more at 60% - not bad!
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,245
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Perth, Western Australia
My SP3 at work, i am lucky to get 4 hours out of it. Running Outlook, a few web apps, remote admin tools, etc.

Not really a severe workload by any stretch. I'm most disappointed in the SP3 battery life to be honest, but i think a large part of that is Windows and the associated crap that needs to be running in a corporate environment (virus scanning, etc.).
 

skinuca

macrumors member
Jun 15, 2005
80
13
0
New York City
Absolutely love mine - I opted for the 256 model as they didn't have the 512 in stock, not the end of the world. I've been using a 128gb macbook air for the last 4 years and never really struggled.

I do keep my music collection on a harddrive seperately but that's because it's close to a TB.

I've not had it hang for anything yet, i've ran my usual stuff on it and dealt with some massive libraries.

Next test is using Photoshop which i'm sure it will handle just fine as well
This entire review was perfect and timely for me. My 2009 Air finally died this week. Travel a lot and for work in the past, now at Columbia doing school again in my 30s. The choice is really the MacBook or the MBP. The main review and this comment are swaying towards the MacBook. Not CPU intensive work at all. MS office, Keynote, web, Netflix and some photo and video, but only personal.

The thing that was slowing down the 2009 Air was Google Docs which we use a lot at school. That seems silly. Anyone used that on the MacBook?

Heading to the store today, as can't live without a something. Still undecided, but leaning to MacBook.
 

skinuca

macrumors member
Jun 15, 2005
80
13
0
New York City
I use Dropbox and iCloud as well on mine. Honestly, I think the brightness is a big part of it. I'm usually below 50%, often well below. If I sit outside and the screen goes to 75-100% brightness then I'd say my battery life would drop to ~6 hours +/-. If you want great battery, it's worth adapting to slightly dimmer screens. My iPads generally go 10-15 hours because of this as well. It's worth noting though that this only helps so much on my Surface - I'm nearly always at 30% or so yet get about 5.5 hours.

The OS X tools to determine what apps are consuming power are pretty good. Anything suspicious there? Sort by the Avg. Energy Impact. Safari is generally the highest by far for me, but anything else - even iTunes sitting idle, that averages even ~1 is worth shutting down if you aren't using it as it seems to make a noticeable impact to me.
Will have Dropbox running too, but when in need of battery life it can easily be disabled for a while.

Question on charging: you mentioned using usb-c to usb-a and an iPad charger, can you run off that while connected and still get some net charging?

Thanks again for all the effort, very timely thread for me!
 

Esoom

macrumors 6502
Apr 30, 2010
415
48
0
Colorado
Thanks, OP, nice write up, I'm very happy with mine.

I had the same impression using the keyboard, after using it for a while, other keyboards feel wrong. As I mentioned in a previous thread, I use touchscreen keyboards extensively, the rMB feels great.
 

dyn

macrumors 68030
Aug 8, 2009
2,708
383
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I think it all has to do with screen brightness and throttling.
Or just looking at what the battery icon is saying (estimation based on what you are currently doing) vs timing it with a stopwatch/clock aka estimated time vs real time. It wouldn't be the first here that people are only looking at the time given by the battery icon. It would be nice if people would tell how they measured it so others can replicate and compare the results better.
 

zhenya

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2005
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Will have Dropbox running too, but when in need of battery life it can easily be disabled for a while.

Question on charging: you mentioned using usb-c to usb-a and an iPad charger, can you run off that while connected and still get some net charging?

Thanks again for all the effort, very timely thread for me!
Thanks!

I haven't received my cables yet, but yes, a number of people have reported this to work. I expect it will be ok, especially if you have the 12w charger that Apple shipped for a short while (I have several of these). The Macbook charges so fast on the included charger, I would not be surprised to find it charges reasonably well with the iPad one (I see charge from ~20%-80% in 1 hour!)
 

zhenya

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2005
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I got my cables. Mixed results.

I have a USB charger built into one of the outlets in our kitchen where we typically charge devices. AFAIK this is a max of 2.1 amps, but I can't get it to charge the Macbook - it just reports no charging. Also, as I've seen reported elsewhere, with both of these cables, unfortunately the USB-C side is not really reversible - it really only charges in one orientation.

Things are a bit better with my 12w iPad charger where it does charge, and even when using the device seems to work ok. Looks like it would take about 8:00 to charge though during my normal use. Closed and asleep, I'd bet half that, as in 30 minutes of mixed use/sleep, it managed to get about 10% charge added. So asleep, I bet it would charge in a few hours.

So, not a bad way to get access to cheap charging as a backup. I'll probably leave one of these on my desk at work, and another in a secondary place at home just for the convenience of not having to move my main charger around. If you don't have at least a 2.4a charger though, probably worth just putting the money into a proper Apple usb-c brick as a spare.
 

skinuca

macrumors member
Jun 15, 2005
80
13
0
New York City
I got my cables. Mixed results.

I have a USB charger built into one of the outlets in our kitchen where we typically charge devices. AFAIK this is a max of 2.1 amps, but I can't get it to charge the Macbook - it just reports no charging. Also, as I've seen reported elsewhere, with both of these cables, unfortunately the USB-C side is not really reversible - it really only charges in one orientation.

Things are a bit better with my 12w iPad charger where it does charge, and even when using the device seems to work ok. Looks like it would take about 8:00 to charge though during my normal use. Closed and asleep, I'd bet half that, as in 30 minutes of mixed use/sleep, it managed to get about 10% charge added. So asleep, I bet it would charge in a few hours.

So, not a bad way to get access to cheap charging as a backup. I'll probably leave one of these on my desk at work, and another in a secondary place at home just for the convenience of not having to move my main charger around. If you don't have at least a 2.4a charger though, probably worth just putting the money into a proper Apple usb-c brick as a spare.
Terrific. I decided to get the MacBook. Have only had it a few days So far loving it. I do have the iPad charger and an Anker with two ports that I use for work travel. Ill see how things go too. Don't so much need it to charge while using one, but as you said just a way to avoid carrying around its charger. Figured that can use power when it is available and thus still keep what power I have in the battery for when on the go. Now more class time than work travel, so 3 hour lectures or labs.
 

zhenya

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2005
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Terrific. I decided to get the MacBook. Have only had it a few days So far loving it. I do have the iPad charger and an Anker with two ports that I use for work travel. Ill see how things go too. Don't so much need it to charge while using one, but as you said just a way to avoid carrying around its charger. Figured that can use power when it is available and thus still keep what power I have in the battery for when on the go. Now more class time than work travel, so 3 hour lectures or labs.
I used one on my desk at work yesterday where I had the Macbook sitting for most of the day not doing much. It was convenient to have a charger to plug into it for the cost of an inexpensive cable. In situations like that, it doesn't matter how long it takes to charge. Same at home where I nearly always charge it overnight anyhow. This way I can leave the stock charger permanently in my bag so I'm not moving it from place to place all the time. Fulfills most of the need for me of having a 2nd or 3rd charger for $10 in cables.