Some (popular) misconceptions about the MBP 2016

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by leman, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. leman, Nov 7, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016

    leman macrumors 604

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    #1
    Across all the heated and passionate discussions, I have noticed that there is a number of misconceptions that are getting repeated over and over again. As I think we all will benefit from a more objective approach, I have decided to collect a number of such points that I consider particularly pervasive and comment on them.
    Disclaimer: this post is by no means complete and could probably benefit by adding some links to external sources or discussions here and there. If other posters would like to contribute by providing these (or maybe other points of discussion), I would be happy to update the original post.

    Misconception 1. Apple is using slow, outdated CPUs. They are using Skylake, while Kaby Lake models are already available.
    Truth: the only currently available Kaby Lake CPUs are low-tier, 15W dual-core models with slow graphics. The 15W Skylake chips used in the base (non-touch-bar) MBP are actually faster overall (EDIT: actually not true, they are slower than Kaby Lakes, mu bad. But their iGPUs are faster :) ) Chips used in touch-bar models are significantly faster. In fact, there are no currently available consumer CPUs that are faster than what Apple is using. Note: it is true that the 15" is not using the high-eng 6X70HQ CPUs with Iris Pro graphics, reasons for that are subject to speculation. Personally, I believe that Intel was not able to produce enough of these chips due to technological reasons. But again, that is just a speculation.

    Misconception 2. Apple decided to use slower, less efficient AMD GPU instead of the superior Nvidia Pascal graphics.
    Truth: the only currently available mobile Pascal GPUs are very hot, high-end gaming cards. These cards are not suitable for a laptop that wants to achieve any noteworthy mobility. There are some thin and light laptops on the market that utilise these GPUs, but they have significantly reduced batteries and also aggressive cooling systems (such as large venting holes on their bottom, which will promote dust accumulation and make them a less sturdy design). The Pascal GPU that would potentially be suitable for the 15" MBP, GTX 1050 is not released yet. And even then, it is not clear whether it will actually be more energy-efficient than the AMD Polaris, as Apple is only getting the best quality Polaris chips with top-end efficiency figures.

    Misconception 3. Apple is using outdated DDR3 RAM where faster DDR4 has long became superior standard. Also, they refuse to add a 32GB option.
    Truth: Apple is used advanced LPDDR3 RAM, which is more expensive than normal DDR4 RAM. The benefits of LPDDR3 is decreased power consumption, as it has been developed for mobile applications. Furhtermore, Apple is using fast 2133Ghz LPDDR3 RAM. This RAM has lower latency than the commonly used 2133Ghz DDR4 in some other laptops and therefore has faster access times at the same memory bandwidth. Which means that, given same amounts of RAM, the LPDDR3 is not only going to consume less energy than the DDR4 RAM, but also will be (slightly) faster. Of course, the significant drawback of LPDDR3 are its lower densities (which means that 16GB is max) as well as its increased price. Unfortunately, Intel CPUs do not currently support the LPDDR4 RAM, which would offer higher densities and thus 32GB RAM. It is reasonable to expect that Apple will add that option next year, once Intel has released newer CPUs.

    Misconception 4. USB-C is making all my USB external devices like printers and disks impossible to use without dongles.
    Truth: the vast majority of external USB devices are already using a "dongle" — the USB cable that connects the host (laptop) USB-A port to the device USB-B or mini-USB etc. port. Therefore, these devices are compatible with the USB-C port by replacing the cable. USB-C to device cables are currently sold at $10 or less, which is a very minor investment. Note: undeniably, devices that contain an integrated USB-A plug, such as thumbdrives/mice/keyboards are not of this kind and will require a dongle.

    Misconception 5. Apple used to cater to professional users, who need more performance. The 2016 MBP show that Apple has abandoned them and is only making consumer hardware now.
    Truth: (I will only consider the performance aspects here and disregard other factors, which might be of equal importance). At no point in time in last decade has Apple released a laptop that could be seen as a workstation or a desktop replacement. Apple's laptop line always attempted to combine high mobility with reasonable performance. Apple's MacBook Pro laptops have traditionally used the fastest available contemporary consumer CPUs as well as mid-range GPUs with low (sub 50W) TDP. The 2015 MBP follows this design model, just as every MacBook Pro did before it. Its not that Apple stopped making laptops for people who need high-performing GPUs over mobility, Apple never actually made them. It is not reasonable to criticise Apple for stopping something they never actually did. In fact, the higher-spec GPU performance is unprecedented on a MacBook Pro so far. This GPU will allow one to play demanding contemporary games are medium to high settings and 60 FPS, where previous GPUs could maximally play corresponding contemporary games at around 30 FPS. Of course, this is not Apple's achievement, but that of the GPU industry, which keeps producing incredible, more and more efficient GPU designs.

    Misconception 6. Apple's laptops are overly expensive.
    Truth: they totally are :D
     
  2. hj576 macrumors regular

    hj576

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    #2
    I think, (in my limited knowledge xD ) the fact isnt that apple is no longer catering for "Pro", to me it seems like the demand of "Pro" users has increased more in recent times. Previously as mentioned Apple using top end CPU and medicore GPU could satisfy "Pros", now their demands have gotten higher than what apple is capable of offering

    (This comment has been based on what I have been reading about people who do not find these new Macbook Pro to be powerful enough for them, please dont shred me into pieces if i am completely wrong xD :D )
     
  3. leman thread starter macrumors 604

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    #3
    That is actually a good point. It is true that the role of the GPU has increased dramatically over the last few years. Before, GPUs were just for gaming and maybe some CAD, but now they are using to accelerate all kinds of content creation and editing as well as scientific applications. And processing demands have also risen dramatically.
     
  4. Yaemon macrumors regular

    Yaemon

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    #4
    Great post. Also, it's true that the new devices are expensive, but I would say they are not "overly" expensive after all, especially if you compare price and quality (not just specs) to the available alternatives.
     
  5. fs454 macrumors 65816

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    The real question is why is Intel allowed to skate along like this? Why do they not support LPDDR4? Why is there even a 16GB limit? More importantly, why do they plan on keeping this restriction in place for another FULL YEAR and not have an LPDDR4 supported chip for all of 2017?
     
  6. WRONG macrumors 6502a

    WRONG

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    #6
    I don't see enough likes this post deserve.
     
  7. leman thread starter macrumors 604

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    What do you suggest we do? Go there and threaten them with physical violence? CPU design is a very very difficult task and Intel's engineers and scientists are among the best of best that the humanity has to offer. And they are currently having to solve some very complex problems, because the high-end semiconductor tech is simply approaching limits of what is physically possible. The thing is, despite Intel's obvious stagnation, nobody has managed to catch up yet. Although let's see how that new AMD chip will be.

    As to 16Gb limit, its fairly simple. You'd need double the space to fit another 16GB there. Which is simply not there. And even by making the laptop much thicker or larger, the space still wouldn't be there (those 16GB really take a lot of very valuable logic board space). With higher chips densities of LPDDR4, one could fit 32GB in the area that currently takes to host 16GB.
     
  8. fs454, Nov 7, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016

    fs454 macrumors 65816

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    I just think it's insane that they'd hold off for so long on this - they're holding the entire industry back and they know it. "CPU design is a very difficult task, give them a break"? There's no way that LPDDR4 support is this huge, insurmountable goal - they're not doing anything with moving processing power forward other than repackaging existing cores - the least they could do is further work on saving power consumption on all fronts.

    And then there's Apple. 3 millimeters thinner > figuring out how to fit 32GB of RAM configurations and retaining the 99wh battery. I think true innovation in the "let's remain stagnant with macOS products" era of Apple would be fitting more power than typically conceivable in a mobile workstation. These are professional notebooks that cost, in many configurations, well over $3000 and will be used for 3+ years. There needs to be an additional config, full stop. There's no way that "get used to it, it's fine, 16GB is enough for you" is a viable response to this.
     
  9. zhaoxin macrumors regular

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    #9
    No. Intel supports both DDR4 and 3, it was apple who decided not to use.

    DDR4-2133, LPDDR3-1866, DDR3L-1600

     
  10. hj576 macrumors regular

    hj576

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    #10
    Because physics ....
    Its not easier to make transistors any smaller then they have already gotten
    Moores Law is pretty much dead and dusted.
     
  11. fs454 macrumors 65816

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    DDR4 is different than LPDDR4 - but I agree. The difference in a few watts could have been alleviated by not giving a damn about shaving 3 millimeters off of the notebook and keeping that 99wh battery that's been in there for all this time. Unfortunately, the most powerful mobile mac you can buy these days is now built for the coffeeshop iMovie user, and the professionals are between a rock and a hard place.
     
  12. myscrnnm macrumors 65816

    myscrnnm

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    #12
    Yeah, I don't see LPDDR4 in that list.
     
  13. Ries macrumors 68000

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    And LPDDR4 is a requirement why? Because every other laptop out there is just fine with DDR4. Don't blame intel for Apple's choice to use a smaller battery. Every laptop out there with user changeable RAM is using DDR3/DDR3L/DDR4 including macs.
     
  14. myscrnnm, Nov 7, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016

    myscrnnm macrumors 65816

    myscrnnm

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    #14
    I never said LPDDR4 is a requirement. Please show me where I said that. My reply was in response to someone coming to an incorrect conclusion based on someone else's post. Please read the comments before going off on someone in the future.

    Edit: Also never blamed Intel for Apple's choice to use a smaller battery. That was Apple's choice because the new components are more power efficient, and I fully support it. Stop putting words in my mouth. It honestly looks like you just want a reason to argue.
     
  15. zhaoxin macrumors regular

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    Though DDR4 is not LPDDR4, its voltage is 1.2v, the same as LPDDR3. In my opinion, the latter is expensive because it is tiny as it is designed to be used in smart phones and tablets.

    Speaking of performance of DDR3 2133 vs DDR4 2133, according to anandtech's test, "Overall, comparing DDR4 to DDR3, there is little difference to separate the two."
     
  16. leman thread starter macrumors 604

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    This true of course. They could have kept the larger form factor and the 99Wh battery. Frankly, it was a tough call to make. Personally, I am glad that they did, because it improves my experience (I need to carry the laptop around a lot, so every shaved off mm and gram counts), but I understand very well that many people are disappointed by that decision.
     
  17. fs454 macrumors 65816

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    #17

    I mean yeah, I travel, too. My current MBP has circled the world many times, visited every major city in the US and UK and most of Europe, has lived on the road on big music tours for months at a time, and flown hundreds of thousands of airline miles. Yeah, my bag is very heavy, but I don't see why I'd want to lose half a pound off my computer at the sacrifice of power and abilities - and again - this could have been a "one more tier" model that retained the original thickness with the new body and additional RAM, rated for an hour or two less battery life. There are other ways to reduce backpack weight that don't kill off a swath of pro users.

    The only thing I want is a mobile workstation running macOS that's powerful enough for all of my needs so much so that I don't need to carry a checked pelican with my Hackintosh and monitor - but let's not even get started with talking about the state of the Mac desktop. The only things limiting that are Apple's misguided "next steps" - another tier could have fixed everything at the complaint of absolutely nobody.
     
  18. leman thread starter macrumors 604

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    There is much merit in what you are saying, but I believe there is a deeper issue to the "another tier" question. Companies like Dell can offer workstations because they have a very wide portfolio of machines. By diversifying their laptops, they can amortise the costs of R&D, and frankly, those costs won't be that high for a Dell workstation that uses mostly standard components and layouts. In contrast, Apple is literally engineering every of their laptops to perfection. There is absolutely no wasted space, every fraction of millimetre and every screw are very well though out*. The problem with workstation is that they are essentially a very niche product. Yes, professional video editors would like something like that, maybe some other people, but thats basically it. In comparison to their more balanced 15" model, the workstation product will generate virtually no sales (remember the 17" model)? I think Apple simply doesn't feel like investing vast sums into R&D for a product that won't be financially profitable for them. An alternative would of course be to relax Apple's perfectionism and produce a 'will do' machine without putting to much attention to detail, but its Apple we are talking about here :)

    It is interesting that this general tactics (don't make niche computers) is also what Microsoft does with their Surface line. Even their new performance base book has a mid-tier GPU. They also don't offer workstations, and I guess for the same reason.

    *I went to the Apple store today to see one of those escape edition MBPs. Call it what you want, but its literally engineering perfection. I have never had a laptop in my hand that felt that well made.
     
  19. xraydoc macrumors 604

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    #19
    How dare you, sir, bring reason in to this debate.
    The "pros" have their pitchforks and, by god, they're going to use them.
     
  20. monkeydax macrumors 6502

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    May not matter to you, but matters to Apple wanting to make their MBPs more portable, and for those who love having a thinner form factor with the same 10h battery life. Your buyer power is limited.
     
  21. Pardus macrumors member

    Pardus

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    #21
    what impact does the new flash storage have on the 16gb ram limit? Apparently it writes at 3GB/s which is pretty smoking fast. obviously swap files aren't as efficient but when you do start maxing out your available ram, surely that fast storage is going to help?
     
  22. leman thread starter macrumors 604

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    I think this depends on what one does. If you really need very high working memory, then swapping (even with very fast SSD) will substantially slow things down. If you don't need all the items in memory to be resident (e.g. if you run a bunch of RAM-intensive VM's, but only use one at a time), then I think your experience is going to be more smooth.
     
  23. airshu macrumors newbie

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    #23
    This point breaks if you write it as:
    Misconception 4. USB-C is making all my USB external devices like thumbdrives/mice/keyboards impossible to use without dongles.

    which is then what you've already agreed with in your Truth.
     
  24. leman thread starter macrumors 604

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    Than it would be a different point, no? What I was trying to do is to respond to a very common complain that USB-C makes "all" devices obsolete, by pointing out that the (often) expensive units such as external HDDs/storage units/printers etc. are still compatible via a cable upgrade. USB thumdrives are usually less of an issue because they are a) cheap and b) subject to frequent replacements anyway. And modern high-quality mice also often have a detachable/replaceable USB cable.
     

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