Barrels of digital ink have been used to write about Apple’s new MacBook Pro line. With a 16GB limit on RAM the ‘Pro’ just isn’t professional enough, so says members of the technorati elite Mac professional club.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe not. But whatever it is that drove Apple to seemingly shortchange the MacBook Pro, maybe it would be wise to give the company the benefit of the doubt until we have an opportunity to put this so-called professional machine to a few professional tests, gimmicky-but-cool Touch Bar-cum-function key system notwithstanding.
Hot Price For Cool
Let’s face a few basic facts. Apple likes touch, but not enough to make a Mac with a touchscreen, what with bursitis of elbow and shoulder a growing problem among those who make TV commercials for Microsoft Surface tablet-cum-notebooks. Real people don’t use a touchscreen on a PC. You knew that, right?
Another fact is that Apple is always very proud of their new hardware, regardless of how late it might be to a party, and regardless of the fact that other technology companies have similar hardware for less money. My first case in point is the iPhone 7 Plus with 256GB of storage. It’s $960. A similarly equipped 12.9-inch iPad Pro hits $1,129. Without a keyboard or pencil. That’s not far below the entry-level MacBook which starts at $1,299.
Indeed, Apple is very proud of their new products and is willing to charge a premium and a half for the privilege to become an owner. Privilege? What do you get in a so-called professional level 15-inch MacBook Pro for $4,299?
- 15-inch display
- 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU
- 16GB 2133MHz RAM
- 2TB PCIe-based SSD storage
- Radeon Pro 460 GPU w/4GB RAM
- 4 Thunderbolt/USB-C Ports
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
- 2,880×1,800 pixel display
- Wide P3 color gamut/500nits brightness
A similarly equipped (not exactly the same apples to Apple) Microsoft Surface Book is smaller, lighter, with dual cameras, and doubles up duty as a touchscreen tablet. And stops at 16GB of RAM. For $3,299. A comparably equipped but larger 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID weighs in at a mere $3,199, $100 less than Surface Book, but without the standard ports, and the touchscreen.
It remains to be seen if the more comparable 13-inch MacBook Pro will get higher end Radeon GPUs, but no matter how you look at it, Microsoft’s Surface Book and the new MacBook Pros have favorable comparisons.
Regardless, Apple is proud of their new models. What about the real world?
We don’t know much yet about how the MacBook Pro will perform in the real world because real world purchase options put it out of reach until near the end of 2016. So much for making the trains run on time, huh Tim Cook? What we do have are a few early adopters who have been seeded some new MacBook Pro models for testing (and, ostensibly, for positive reviews).
Thomas Grover Carter uses Final Cut Pro on a new 15-inch MacBook Pro.
First off, It’s really fast. I’ve been using the MacBook Pro with the new version of FCP X and cutting 5k ProRes material all week, it’s buttery smooth. No matter what you think the specs say, the fact is the software and hardware are so well integrated it tears strips off “superior spec’d” Windows counterparts in the real world. This has always been true of Macs.
Yes, this is real world experience using a Mac notebook with a mere 16GB of RAM, but my MacBook Pro from last year had the fastest CPU and SSD I’ve ever used, and this year’s model supposedly is faster still.
The version I’ve been using is powerful enough on the graphics front to power two 5K displays, which is an insane number of pixels. It makes me wonder if I could happily cut on this machine in my edit suit 24/7 as well as out in the field. The answer is probably yes. To have that power on the go and also docked in my suite is great. This machine has made an already nippy piece of editing software faster still.
In essence, maybe it’s wise to cool our negative jets awhile; at least until we have more reports from more MacBook Pro users as to actual performance rather that just sit and wallow in the specifications. After all, if the proof of the pudding is in the eating then actual real world usage might be a better indicator of performance than reading a bullet point list.
Technology moves forwards quickly but in fits and starts. YouTubers deliver amazing 4K videos to millions on a daily basis, while some TV stations barely manage to push out 1080p trash to shrinking audiences. A Pro machine has to cover such a wide spectrum of people and disciplines that is unlikely to ever satisfy all professionals in all things. But this will probably satisfy the vast majority, from the low end to the high.
This won’t satisfy those of us wondering what happened to all the other Macs. Where’s an updated Mac Pro? What about the iMac and Mac mini? Apple needs to address criticism on the lack of recent upgrades, but I’m willing to forego a complete judgement until I’ve had a taste of the pudding.