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by adam mathes
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New MacBooks Are Probably Not A Sign Of The Apocalypse

Some people are freaking out about Apple’s latest laptops and discussing them in either gushing or apocalyptic terms.

Let’s take a longer view.

Sample Size of One

I have purchased five Apple laptops – this latest will be my sixth.

These are the laptops I purchased (mostly, in some cases prices/stats may be off where I’m using publicly available data rather than receipts.) I may be mixing between medium and high end variants, but they’re all 15”.

Moore’s Law, Mostly

Notes:

  • Man that first TiBook was expensive
  • Hard drive size stalled during the switch to SSD
  • Yes, GHz * cores is kind of a dumb proxy but so is everything

15 Years Of Laptops

I have been buying Apple laptops since 2001’s Titanium Powerbook G4.

It took me a few years before Mac OS was my primary environment – overtaking Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD. But since about 2004 or so I’ve been using Apple laptops as my daily driver. For a few years that was all I really used, but these days I maintain a Windows PC for games and run a Linux server.

Apple laptops are the primary tool for my creative output and I’m emotionally and unreasonably attached to them.

The last time Apple released a redesigned their pro laptop was in 2012, I’m writing this on it one now. It’s great, even more than four years after purchase. I agree with my preliminary thoughts that it’s basically the best.

Speed, Power, Portability

I didn’t include weight and thickness but those have been declining and have probably overshot consumer need in 15” laptops.

While some may quibble about specific benchmarks or getting the absolute latest and greatest Intel processors, it’s mostly undeniable that Apple laptops steadily (and predictably) have improved over the past 15 years.

From my perspective this is not a super impressive or disappointing release, specs wise. The 2012 laptop I have already surpasses my needs for the most part in terms of performance, and I’d rather sacrifice a little in performance to have longer battery life, lower heat, and portability.

Where my needs are unmet is gaming and VR where Apple seems to have just completely ceded this area to competitors. (If there was an option to get a real overpowered GPU in the Macbook or use an external GPU, I’d do it in a heartbeat to stop dealing with a separate Windows box.)

Everything else I do (writing, programming, graphics experiments) what I have is already over the top.

(After four years I do have two dead pixels, and the screen sometimes seems to suffer some burn-in/fading at times, but other than that the hardware has held up.)

The Good

For me the most exciting announcement was actually for an external 5K display that connects to the new MacBook Pro with a single cable. That sounds amazing! Of course it’s not out until December.

This basically sold me – having a retina laptop with a retina external display has been my biggest want from Apple for a few years. (I almost bought the 5K iMac but the idea of buying a desktop seemed like it would just cause me too many headaches.)

TouchID for authentication seems like it will be a really nice time-saver and increase security and make things more convenient. Biometrics on my laptop! Cool!

The logo doesn’t glow anymore, I can only assume because in 2016 whimsy is dead.

The Extremely Concerning

I’m a keyboard snob and typing this on a Filco Majestouch 2. There is a near zero chance I will be happy with the weirdo no travel keyboard on this new laptop.

To be fair I’ve never really liked laptop keyboards, and when I do “real” work I’m generally in front of a bigger screen with a mechanical keyboard, so I’m expecting I’ll be able to live with it.

Touch Bar may be a debacle (or not) – I’ll cover it in depth tomorrow.

Data

Name  Year  CPU   RAM   HD   USD    USD2016
Ti    2001  0.4   0.25  10   2599   3610
Al    2005  1.67  0.5   80   2299   2895
MBP   2007  4.66  2     120  2499   2967
MBP2  2010  5.32  4     128  2199   2480
rMBP  2012  9.2   8     256  2199   2356
rMBP2 2016  10.8  16    512  2799   2799

TiBook
AlBook
MBP
MBP2
rMBP

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