Reviewing the 2018 15" MBP vs my old 2015 15" MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by mossme89, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. mossme89, Feb 26, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019

    mossme89 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 2, 2009
    I have been an apple fan for 12 years, wbich is about half my life.

    I have fond memories of fiddling around with the 1 core Toshiba laptop I had at the time, installing 10.5 Leopard on it so I could use apps like iMovie and iPhoto. I got an iPod Touch a few months after it came out, and remember showing it to people and how it just blew their minds how well the touchscreen worked. I remember installing the iPhone OS 2.0 betas, all the way upto the Golden Master. I even remember waking up at 4AM to check if the App Store was live yet on the day it went live and witnessing the app going from “can not connect” to showing the App Store. I remember working 3 jobs during the summer of 2009 so I could buy a MacBook Pro. And I did.

    That MacBook Pro lasted me until 2015 with few issues (I went through about 4 hard drives because I have a habit of walking around with my computer but once I switched to an SSD it was great). I even was able to upgrade the RAM from 2GB to 6GB. Then in the fall of 2015, the screen died and I decided to let it die for good.

    So then I picked up a mid-2014 model which worked great. Sold that and got a mid-2015 model shortly after because 256GB was too small for me. I used that 2015 until a few weeks ago. I picked up a refurb 2.6Ghz 15” 2018 MBP.

    My point is that I am very much an Apple fanboy. Or, I was. In many ways, the new models post 2015 are depressing. Depressing because they are a clear departure from what has made Apple laptop so great for so many years.

    For example:

    • There is no start up chime anymore
    • The Apple logo is just a solid metal thing, it doesn't light up.
    • The touch bar
    • USB-c
    • The butterfly keyboard
    • No magsafe 2 so no magnetic charging

    Some of these things are symbolic in that they are not big things themselves but they represent a departure from what’s made MacBook Pros so great for all these years. It’s like they are trying to kill their fanbase by 1000 paper cuts.

    Things I like:

    1. The display is better than the 2015 model. I’m not sure if it’s the True Tone or what, but looking at the 2 side by side looking at the same things, the 2018 looks much better. I actually thought it was a higher resolution at first. Was surprised to see that it wasn’t.
    2. It’s fast. Faster than my 2015 even in real-world usage.
    3. It’s pretty
    4. The big trackpad.

    Things I’m meh about:

    1. The keyboard. I’m being nice here. It isn’t as awful as previous generations, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The keyboards from 2008 -2015 were so good that it changed the entire laptop industry. Before the unibody MBP its’ keyboard, laptop keyboards were 1 single piece with the buttons mashed together. Remember how keys fell off, you had to replace the whole thing? After the unibody MBP came out, laptop makers started copying it. The butterfly keyboards are reinventing the wheel. Why? Marketing people.
    2. USB-c. Not as bad as I thought but still a PITA

    Things I hate:

    1. The Touch Bar. I really tried to give this a fair shot. But it’s pointless, the Touch Bar is just annoying. Going back to the 2015 model, I realized that my typing style had changed to compensate for the touchbar. I kept accidentally tapping the escape key so I had to change my hand placement. Why is this stupid thing FORCED on anyone? Surely it just increases costs for Apple and decreases margins. I think we know why. Because if they made it optional, very few people would get it, and that would bruise the egos of people over in marketing.
    2. Thermal throttling. It hasn’t been that bad but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to throttling. I’ve had it throttle as low as 80C. And it throttles down to 800Mhz, making it basically unusable. For a $2400 machine, that is not okay.
    3. No card reader. Okay fine, USB-c it is. But why the heck did they have to remove the card reader?
    4. The price. Despite these issues., I still like the new MBP. But I can't justify the price. $2400 refurbished is a ripoff for a machine with this many flaws. Time will tell how reliable the 2018 models are, but given the issues with the 2016 and 2017 models, I am not optimistic. And that's just unacceptable for the price point.

    So what would I suggest for Apple? Take the iPhone SE approach. Release a “MacBook Pro CE” (Classic Edition). Take the shell of the 2015 MBP and re-release it with updated internals. The extra bulk will help with heat dissipation, it allows Apple to save face, and the margins will still be good. Sell it for $1999 and it will become a best seller overnight. Please, Apple. Please.


    3/2 Update:

    I returned it. No regrets. Really, the only reason why I wanted the 2018 was the True tone display. When I realized I could emulate it manually with Night Shift, that was the final nail in the coffin.

    After going back to the 2015, I'm realizing what I've missed:
    1. The keyboard. The 2008 - 2015 keyboards are widely regarded as the best EVER on a laptop, and it's very clear why.
    2. No Touchbar. Hooray for escape keys and not having to worry about accidentally hitting the top keys!
    3. SD card slot.
    4. USB-A slots.
    5. A reasonably sized trackpad
    6. HDMI port! I'm bolding this because of how important it is. I didn't realize how much I used the HDMI port until it wasn't there. I refused to buy an adapter just in principle.
    So I expected the Magsafe to USB-c change to be a bigger one. Honestly, it's not that big of a deal. Because USB-c is such a thin connector, it effectively amounts to the same thing as a magnetic connector.

    I can't help but think about this video from Steve Jobs

    It's very clearly what's going on with Apple now. They are making $3000 fashion accessories not laptops. The late model MacBook Pros are powerful, but impractical in so many ways. Sure many of the issues can be fixed by buying a plugin dongle, but we shouldn't have to. And the touchbar needs to be an option, not forced on every user.

    Please, Apple, just release a MacBook Pro Classic. Because you know what's crazy about all this? Lots of people, myself included, would be willing to pay EXTRA for a 2015-style MBP with updated internals. But you're just too dang proud to do that because it would be an admission that people don't like the new MacBook Pros.
  2. AppleHaterLover macrumors 68000

    Jun 15, 2018
    TBH the only real issue I see with the new MBP is the Touch Bar. I wanted a 15" when I got my last Mac but it was a dealbreaker, so I went with the nTB.

    As for the rest, I think the keyboard is fine, USB-C is fine, the price well what do you expect it is a top of the line machine.

    You will get used to every single one of its features. It's just that it's a departure from the previous MBP.

    And also I think they'll be releasing an entirely new MBP this year. So there's that.
  3. Fishrrman, Feb 26, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019

    Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "So what would I suggest for Apple? Take the iPhone SE approach. Release a “MacBook Pro CE” (Classic Edition). Take the shell of the 2015 MBP and re-release it with updated internals"

    I suggested exactly that three years ago.
    But it's still a good idea.

    I bought my 2015 MPB -just after- the 2016 models were introduced (December 2016).
    I did a side-by-side comparison, and to my tastes, the 2015 model won.
    Lookin' back, it was THE BEST COMPUTER-BUYING DECISION I ever made...
  4. jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    Good writeup.

    I did the same analysis when I got my 2018 15" MBP and after a fair month long trial traded away my 2015 15" MBP.

    Upgrades for me:

    I prefer USB-C over USB-A No more power insufficient issues when running an external hard drive and a Audio Interface. I have a lot of USB cables for my other non-Apple devices so wondered what took Apple so long to catch up. Now they just need to kill Lightning.

    Tye got rid of Magsafe! Yeah!!! Never tripped over a power cable. Always felt this was a Apple looking for a problem to justify their connector. Also, no more frayed power cables resulting in a replacing power supply, because you can replace the USB-C power cable since it is socketed at both ends. Much better to replace a $10 cable than a $80 power supply.

    Display way better than older system, not as big a change as first going to retina, but definitely a big upgrade. Colors better, and once calibrated stay accurate when you adjust luminosity.

    6 core processor is quite a bit more powerful. Runs well even when it throttles. The 2015 throttled more and fans were much louder at 100% which is important when running ML models at 100% CPU for 30 minutes. FWIW, same models run in 2 minutes on system with NVidia GPU. Grrr. Apple and AMD

    Speakers - best in the business.

    Less weight. Less bulk. Not huge differences, but every little bit helps.

    Things that are a wash for me.

    Keyboard - I dislike all laptop keyboards because of their low travel and poor key feel. Nothing beats a keyboard with Cherry MX switches. I like MX Brown, but that is a personal preference. Never had issues with reliability on the 2015 keyboard, and never had an issue on the 2018 keyboard.

    Dongles. No big deal. Always carried some sort of adapter to ensure I could give presentations in places that VGA or DVI projectors. Now I have one USB-C adapter that does USB-A, SB, microSB, HDMI, ethernet, and another than handles VGA/DVI.

    Trackpad - Great for adjusting brightness and sound. Not happy about loss of physical escape key, but not using vi as an editor these days so not a major issue. Non of my apps use it effectively and suspect they never will.

    Things I am not thrilled about

    Trackpad. This thing is comically large. Never had an issues with the "small" 2015 trackpad. Not sure why they changed it.
  5. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    Boy, no kidding - that decision looks AMAZING given what's transpired the last 2-3 years.
  6. mossme89 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 2, 2009
    The touchbar is so freaking annoying. Even in the "disabled" mode where it shows the normal row of keys, it's just too dang easy to accidentally hit one of the virtual keys.

    And after using my 2015 again and giving it more thought, I'm tending to agree that the trackpad is obnoxiously large. It looks like they compressed the keyboard to compensate, which makes typing less accurate.
  7. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    It really is too big on the 15" models.

    We have a 13" in the house and I think that is the max size I'd want the trackpad to be personally.

    Software tricks aside, accidental inputs are still an occasional issue on the 13" here and no buffer space below the space bar I find frustrating. On my 2015 I really like some non input space below the space bar for my thumbs to rest/graze over as I'm typing.
  8. nouveau_redneck macrumors 6502

    Sep 16, 2017
    I had a similar experience buying the mid-2015 at that time. It could have gone either way, but I ended up getting the 2015 and I absolutely agree, best decision ever. I feel like I dodged a bullet.

    I greatly prefer the 2015 keyboard, and can't have the unreliability of the 2016 and above. I live out in the middle of nowhere and repairs require travel or shipping. I didn't buy a premium laptop to get into that hassle.
  9. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    good riddance to SD card reader. Really, i bet less than 10% of user base uses it.

    fwiw, touchbar is fun to use in Logic on the go.
  10. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    Hmm. Bummer.
    I guess I’m in that 10% - use it daily.

    But..I have one on my 2015 so all good!
  11. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    i still use firewire daily, that got dropped from 2008 to 2012.

    i still prefer having four multipurpose highspeed ports than highly specialised crap that's useless for most, and becomes obsolete in few years.
  12. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    I guess it depends on how long you’re going to have your machine and how annoying it is to deal with generic ports that require an adaptation for nearly every single use.

    USB-A ports, SD cards and HDMI are not obsolete.

    If you use those all the time as many of us do, it’s pretty amazing to have the ports built-in and rock solid reliable and always there and ready.

    I certainly see the potential of USB-C, including the confusion about cables and specs and capabilities sadly, but I’m not excited with where that is at right now personally.

    Some people get really excited about future proofing, whereas I am just more excited about the machine that at this moment does exactly what I want with the most reliability and ease.
  13. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Yeah, I know what you mean. Some of these are show stoppers but they made life better or made life with macs unique. The startup chime, the glowing apple, I really liked them. magsafe saved my bacon numerous times in all honesty and I was bummed out to see it go.

    Yeah, the actual usage is meh, I agree. I largely got used to typing on it, but wasn't really enjoyable. Transitioning over to the Thinkpad, and man alive, my fingers were so happy :p Seriously its night and day.

    1. Touchbar is horrible, its solution in search of a problem. The loss of function keys (real function keys) impacted me a lot.
    2. Throttling was unbelievable, I have a thinkpad X1E running a 2.6Ghz 8850H and I'm not seeing temps go past 80c when pushing it. Game playing has temps in the 60 to 70 range, not much at all. The difference in thermal performance is staggering.
    3. Loss of ports is not show stopper, I know but its still nice to have the ports that you need.
    4. The price is staggering, while I took advantage of a sale (Lenovo has constant sales), I paid 2286 and that includes a 3 year warranty. A similarly equipped MBP would run about 4,300 dollars.

    I say these things not to rub anyone's nose in it, but to provide background info on why I personally chose to leave the mac platform. There are many happy mac users and that's great, because we each have to be happy with our own decisions.
  14. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    And a main driver of these two problems?

    The incessant pursuit of thinner products.

    I have no problem with some of the MacBooks emphasizing thinner and dealing with those tradeoffs.

    The problem is that Apple has decided to enforce that ideology on EVERY product.
    It's really frustrating.
  15. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Sadly yes, I think we'd be in a different spot if apple didn't embrace the butterfly keyboard. I could live with the touchbar, but a keyboard that seems to have a tenancy to fail at some point.

    In the past, I've been willing to pay the apple tax, and get a beautifully designed machine that worked well. I've said this many times, the 2012 rMBP was the best laptop I ever owned. Instead of improving and building upon that, I think apple took a step or two backwards.
  16. Nbd1790 macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2017
    New York
    Have to agree with most people in this forum. Came from a 2013 15 inch and picked up a 2018 15 inch. Can't type nearly as efficiently as I did on my 2013, and I have to say I have no desire to use the Touch Bar AT ALL. I even use several apps on a daily basis that can take advantage of it, and I still find it more inconvenient.

    I can live with the TB3 ports, as I found a dongle that basically gives me every single port I would need (including an SD card reader) If they made a 15 inch with the new Air's row of physical function keys (along with TouchID) I would most likely sell the one I have now for it.
  17. Olivia88 macrumors member

    Jul 28, 2018
    I feel like the current generation MacBooks don't really feel like a MacBook anymore, It's like it's just another generic laptop like all others.
    I'm not here too much but from your posts that I've seen you've always been helpful.
  18. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I try, and I try not to sound like apple hater. There's a lot, I like about the MBP, but at its current design with the keyboard I felt I personally have to move off the platform.
  19. mossme89 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 2, 2009
    I have a similar attitude, except I really want Mac OS. I just prefer it to Windows in every way.
  20. mossme89 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 2, 2009
    Considering that the crack in my LCD on my 2015 MBP is getting worse (pixels around the crack have now died), and it's $700 to fix, I'm actually considering keeping the 2018. I can't justify paying $700 to fix the 2015 or $1000 to buy a new one. At that point, I might as well just get the 2018 model. I will get AppleCare+.
  21. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    $700 to fix or $1k for a new one...or just keep the overpriced 2018 AND pony up $380 for AppleCare+...

    Doesn't really matter what the decision is - Tim Cook wins!


  22. jeyf macrumors 65816

    Jan 20, 2009
    only 10% revenue is rumored to come form mb sales?
    if this is true likely not see any big changes.
  23. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    it's not about future proofing, it's about modularity.

    needs of a professional photographer differ from a music producer
  24. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    That makes sense for Apple, not the customer necessarily.

    The customer would usually be best served by a tool that most closely, natively, caters to their needs.

    I don't care what's good for Apple, do you?
  25. mossme89 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 2, 2009
    I think I may just keep the 2018 and get AppleCare+. It doesn’t make sense to put $700 into a 4 year old machine.

    Also factoring into my decision is the fact that the 2018 is significantly faster and this is noticeable even in general (web browsing) usage. Going back to the 2015 it just feels sluggish in comparison. And the 2015 did indeed thermal throttle under high usage for me. The 2018 throttles slightly more but at least that’s manageable in that if I use Volta to limit the power it’s still way faster than my 2015.

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