When you don't look at the price and the MBA wins

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by asiga, Jun 10, 2017.

  1. asiga, Jun 10, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017

    asiga macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #1
    My late 2010 13'' MBA is showing its age, and I wished to upgrade now. I found somewhat non-trivial to compare the new MacBooks, so I made a table putting all the things I'd value in a new MacBook, and thinking the best candidate would be one of the MBP models, because in this moment I don't have price constraints (I can afford the top configuration of the 15'' MBP).

    To my surprise, taking into consideration the things I'd value the most (which come from a main use as developer and lecturer), the MacBook which gets a higher score isn't a MacBook Pro, but... again... the MacBook Air o_O (and this is without price constraints, as I said).

    So, I believe this weird result is because the MacBook product line will likely change in the future: All MacBook users value good design, and Apple excels at that, but, also, some MacBook users want lightness, while others prefer performance, and the current product line doesn't really offer more lightness than 5 years ago (unless you go to 12''), nor really offers remarkable pro performance either. So, I think the MacBook line is in the middle of a redesign, as currently is a compromise without excelling at any of the target audiences.

    In case the table I did could be of any help to anybody comparing the current MacBooks, I upload it here. Of course, the things I value are subjective. As I said they come from my main use, as developer and lecturer.

    Note that in the table I value big displays (a 13'' gets 1 point for size, while a 15'' gets 2 because it also gets the point for being at least 13''). I also value to be able to hold the MacBook with one hand (because I'm a lecturer, and that comes handy quite often). So I'm guessing that if Apple released a very light 15'' or 14'', it could be my perfect choice.

    Because of these currently strange scores, I think I'll try to wait for next year, and see if scores make more sense then. But, if for some reason I'm forced to buy a new MacBook, it's likely going to be another MBA o_O

    MacBook-2017-Comparison.png
     
  2. caramelpolice macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2012
    #2
    I hold my 15" in one hand reasonably often. It's only a pound heavier than an Air.

    It can also be used for Vulkan under Windows.

    Also, your metrics are kind of biased. USB-A ports are a plus, for instance. but USB-C ports are not (and I think, if you're buying a computer now that you want to last a while, you're going to wish you had USB-C ports a few years from now.) TB3 and TB2 are also weighted the same.
     
  3. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Serbia
    #3
    You could add "does it have Air in the name" and "are the bezels silver" for additional 2 points - then it would be even better!


    Try adding these columns to your list: TB3, IPS Screen, Wide Color Gamut, Brightness over 400 nits, Disk speed over 2000Mbps, latest CPU, Force Touch Trackpad - and see if it wins then. And these are some pretty good and useful things.
     
  4. asiga thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #4
    I went to an Apple Store yesterday, convinced the 15'' could be a good fit for me. I really tried to convince myself that I can hold it with one hand, and, as a matter a fact I can, but I really felt like the chassis isn't designed for that. I had the feeling that the internals of the MBP can suffer, like if the bending moment was not far from the structural limits of the chassis. It could be my impression of course, but I feel that both the MBA and the 13'' MBP are designed for one-hand holding, while the 15'' isn't.

    After that impression, I left the store convinced that it's either a new MBA or waiting for another year.
     
  5. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Serbia
    #5
    Sure, but the MBP 13 is vastly better than Air, unless you take the price into account (and you said that's not an issue). It's just as light, it's actually smaller, it has a faster CPU, a much faster GPU, a much faster SSD, a much, much better screen in every way.... I mean, that *is* the whole computer basically.
     
  6. asiga thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #6
    Yes, but the only (notable) advantage I get is CPU performance (the SSD speed in the Late 2010 MBA is still blazingly fast for my use, so the MBP SSD speed is not going to be noticeable for me).

    OTOH, I'd keep the same weight of my MBA, but I'd lose many things: I'd lose NVIDIA compatibility, USB-A compatibility, and MagSafe.

    So, it's keeping the same weight for only noticing a faster CPU.

    Now, if at least it was a 14'' for the same weight, I could see the advantage.

    Also, if the 15'' was slightly heavier but it had some lightweight 1050-like NVIDIA, I could see the advantage, as I'd regain NVIDIA compatibility.

    Yes, I'm able to sacrifice lightness if it's for a good cause (and an NVIDIA GPU would be a good cause). But, if there's no such good cause, I really want lightness.

    But I don't see neither more lightness than my MBA, nor a better GPU for development.

    I agree the new MBPs are very good, but at least in my case they wouldn't be a long term purchase, just a temporal solution for one or two years, as I'd want either a lighter model, or a better GPU for development in the short term.
     
  7. aevan macrumors 68000

    aevan

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Serbia
    #7
    Sure, I understand, but the title of your thread kinda makes it look like MBA wins in general. For most people - it doesn't. But if it's better for you - hey, it's a good computer, have fun!
     
  8. asiga thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #8
    I think the title doesn't state the MBA wins in general, but that "it can happen to you". Note that it starts with "When..."

    Also, I think I made it very clear in my text that the things I value are subjective. Each person has its own subjective preferences. Mine are subjective as well, although they come mostly from the fact that I wish to be able to write code for as many APIs as possible, and also that I value being able to hold the laptop with one hand.

    Note: I'm going to mark the subjective word in bold in my original post, so that it's clearer to other readers.
     
  9. andreyush macrumors 6502

    andreyush

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2015
    #9
    Macbook Air for the win! Hell I am even writing this post from my GF's MBA. My rMBP is staying in the living room because it's too heavy.

    If it fits you then go for it man. If you don't care about retina and the other stuff like force trackpad and Gamut kek go for it :). Very decent device and the price is awesome.
     
  10. Aditya_S macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    #10
    With macOS High Sierra, Apple is allowing external GPU support with Thunderbolt 3 devices. That means you could get a MacBook Pro and plug in an Nvidia graphics card and get your support for CUDA development and it would be way faster than the integrated Nvidia GPU in your MacBook Air.
     
  11. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 65816

    New_Mac_Smell

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2016
    Location:
    UK / China
    #11
    I think this is absolutely fine. After seeing so many threads of "Should I upgrade", people who have a 6 months old machine and trying to justify an update. It is refreshing to see someone arguing the other way instead.

    Macs are built to last, I am very glad your 7 year old machine still has life for you.
     
  12. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #12
    So performance is not a metric for you at all? I'd think that you'd be interested in a good GPU if you want to do OpenCL/Vulkan development. What about screen quality? What about eGPU support?
     
  13. asiga thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #13
    My only metric when buying a Mac is that I must love the machine as is, and that I don't foresee having to buy a new Mac in a period less than 5 years (which doesn't mean I won't, but that at the time of purchase it's exactly the machine I'd love to use for the next 5 years).

    Then, that metric, of course is subdivided in different items, and the most important of them are in the table above.

    As you noted, some of those items are incompatible: You cannot have a discrete GPU on an ultralight MacBook.

    So, it's true that performance and lightness are incompatible. However, I'm able to choose one of them, but I don't want a compromise: I want one of them maximized. I mean that I'll happily buy a 15'' MacBook if it's designed for being hold with one hand, no matter the performance. And it also means that I'd happily buy a 17'' superheavy MBP with a Titan X inside, no matter the weight.

    But I won't buy a 15'' inch which isn't either light, nor has a powerful NVIDIA GPU inside. It's a compromise between weight and performance, but I don't like this kind of compromise, because it means that you're noticing the weight of the laptop for carrying something that it's not really powerful.

    That said, one very important note: Developing for an API doesn't necessarily need high performance. For example, I can develop CUDA code in my Late 2010 MacBook Air, because it has an NVIDIA 320M GPU. You'll say I'm joking. Well, no I'm not. I can write (and test) CUDA code on it, while I cannot do it in either of the current MB/MBA/MBP product line (well, actually, the only way for developing CUDA code on current Macs is to do it on a Hackintosh, or through eGPU which is basically Hackintosh-like modifications to the OS until Apple adds officially eGPU support in 2018).

    Also note that you can develop OpenCL code on the 12'' MB. Yes, it's an integrated GPU, but it has OpenCL, so you can write and test OpenCL code on it.

    Finally, back to my first point: When I bought my Late 2010 MBA I really loved it, and I felt it was the perfect Mac for everything I might want: I could hold it with one hand, it had an NVIDIA GPU (not a high performance one, but it was compatible with CUDA, so suitable for development), it could be used for OpenCL development too, it had a 256GB SSD and 4GB RAM... I certainly didn't foresee I'd want to change it sooner than 5 years, and I was right, because it's still very useful for me (my everyday laptop) nearly 7 years after.
     
  14. Aditya_S macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2016
    #14
    Apple already announced eGPU support and will come out this year in macOS High Sierra
     
  15. asiga thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #15
    I think they said 2018. That means that perhaps official eGPU won't be available until almost the next refresh of the Mac product line, which is yet another reason for me to consider waiting (as, honestly, all the Macs available today are not the kind of Mac I'd love for 5 years... only for 1 year... all of this are symptoms that I must wait until some Mac impresses me like the late 2010 MBA did)
     
  16. William Payne macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2017
    Location:
    Wanganui, New Zealand.
    #16
    I think its great what the original poster has done. He looked at all the options in the lineup and found what worked for him. That is great and I feel it is a very logical way of purchasing.
     
  17. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #17
    Ok, makes sense. Another question though: are you also considering Metal for GPGPU programming? Or does it have to be cross-platform?

    From your criteria, I'd say that the best option for you in the current lineup is the 13" MBP and an eGPU.
     
  18. asiga thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #18
    I prefer standards. I try to avoid proprietary APIs, and when I use them, I heavily encapsulate such code, so that my main source code never calls proprietary APIs directly. I'm not using Metal yet. It's possible that I write some encapsulated code that calls Metal someday, if Apple continues pushing it so hard (and it seems so, but you never know... Apple changes mind quite fast these days... do you remember when the new MacPro was released and Mr. Schiller said "you know you should be developing in OpenCL by now"? --the next year, Apple forgot about OpenCL and introduced Metal)
     
  19. Nathan King macrumors member

    Nathan King

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2016
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    #19
    I would strongly suggest you reconsider the metrics you are using to make sure they best represent your particular use case. Also consider assigning different weights to each category.
     
  20. The Mercurian, Jun 13, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017

    The Mercurian macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2012
    #20
    I do think that the Apple laptop line has become cluttered and there is potential that different machines are cannablising each others sales. It is interesting to me that the still sell the air at all anymore. I would have thought that it competes with the rMB at least. However I'm thinking they probably still shift more volumes of MBA's than rMB - given the price difference.

    I must say my favourite ever mac was a 2013 11" MBA which I used for amonth whilst travelling. It was just so damn handy and light and perfect for airplane seats. I sold it after that trip because it only had 128GB, but I do genuinely miss it. Of course every now and then I look at the refurb store to see can I pick one up cheap. Alas no. I bought the 2013 entry level 11" MBA for €980 after a discount. The cheapest 11" refurb in the store is €1079! And thats for a 2 year old machine! Farcical (a brand new 13" Air with no discounts is €1,129). Anyhow, I guess they axed the 11" to make way for the ipad pro.

    ...lol....sorry I'm rambling off topic....dammit I miss that machine..:D To bring it back on topic(ish). I have looked at the rMB to fill this role left by the 11" MBA. But its just too expensive imho. It would be a 2nd machine for me and I can't justify that price. I do think that Apple need to simplify their laptop product line and take a cold hard look at their pricing too. Customers confused between option A or option B are less likely to buy. Or at least buy more slowly.
     
  21. leman macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    #21
    That is a bit strange, given that you were mentioning CUDA.

    I am also a bit upset that Apple has seemed to abandon open-source APIs here, but I believe that I can start seeing some reasoning behind it. I think that Apple was fairly disappointed by how Vulkan was shaping up (which I can understand) and also by instability of OpenCL implementations (with some vendors artificially slowing down support to promote their own proprietary API's).

    Given all this, Metal has some definitive advantages. It doesn't lock you into one IHV. Second, its extremely user friendly and easy to use. Compared to GL and CL, its also potentially much more stable as drivers have less chance to introduce bugs. The developer tools, especially with Metal 2, easily rival CUDA's.

    My suggestion would be going Metal on Apple platforms and Vulkan/OpenCL everywhere else.
     
  22. asiga thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #22
    As I said, I always heavily encapsulate any code which depends on a proprietary API, and I favor standard APIs over proprietary ones. Regarding considering CUDA as an interesting API for development, that's because of the success it has had in research papers. I prefer OpenCL, but it's very advisable to have an NVIDIA GPU if you're writing any GPGPU stuff, because it's quite likely you'll have to be able tu run CUDA code written by others, or even some team may request you to send them CUDA code rather than OpenCL.

    As I said, if Metal shows a good level of success, I might adopt it to in the future, with the same encapsulation techniques that I use for any proprietary API.
     
  23. asiga thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #23
    I just found the LG gram (didn't know it existed), which offers 14 inch and 15 inch displays at a weight similar to the 12-inch MacBook. The quality of the LG gram seems to be low, specially the keyboard, but I really hope Apple realizes there's a market for ultralight 14/15 inch MacBooks.

    If the LG gram was a MacBook, I'd buy it today. And I'm not kidding: today. But it's not a MacBook. I'll keep my Late-2010 MBA for another year, hoping I'll see a 14 inch or 15 inch MacBook below 1Kg next year...
     
  24. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 65816

    New_Mac_Smell

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2016
    Location:
    UK / China
    #24
    The current one's are considered pretty light, considering what's in it, it's a pretty decent piece of engineering! Of course there's a market for light weight laptops, which is why these things keep getting lighter. But I don't think anyone would be interested in an under-powered, small battery version of the Pro. The 13" Pro is about the same weight as a 13" Air too which is pretty good going.

    Only way to make these things lighter is to reduce the battery, that LG Gram has a 4495mAh battery, which is around 50% more than an iPhone 7 plus... And if you read these forums, there's plenty of people about to complain the battery life on the Pro is not good enough as it is.

    Anyway, you'll see a new Pro design around 2020, which should be a little lighter than the one day if it's too heavy for you.
     
  25. CatherineVeraGat Suspended

    Joined:
    May 6, 2017
    #25
    I'm not counting on that til 2020. But the (current) MacBook Pro 13.3-inch is 3 lbs and the (current) MacBook Pro 15.4-inch is 4 lbs. But 1 kg is 2.2 lbs. The (current) MacBook 12-inch is 2.03 pounds or 0.92 kg.

    So on the 13.3-inch version, it needs to eliminate 0.8 lbs (363 grams or 0.36 Kg). The 15.4-inch version, has to eliminate 1 lb (454 grams or 0.45 kg)

    I do know that their is a market for ultra light laptops that has 14 or 15 inch screens. But with those laptops, it is underpowered for most people. But in the last Gen on the MacBook Pro line, it has gone a long way to get more lighter, before the major redesign, the 15.4-inch version weight 4.5 lbs, but now it is 4 lbs. Both MacBook Pros in the last major redesign had 0.5 lbs that was eliminated.
     

Share This Page