Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Apple Said to Plan First Pro Laptop Overhaul in Years (bloomberg.com)
102 points by rbanffy on Aug 10, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 188 comments

I'm a software developer who focuses on operational automation, and this brings almost nothing to the table which I could want. Especially replacing the function keys with a touchpad; why would I want to replace dedicated keys with muscle memory attached to them with soft keys that can change on whim?

Better graphics may be nice, if it's enough to allow me to drive a pair of high-resolution displays in addition to the laptop's screen itself. I'm not hopeful, though, due to the power and heat requirements.

As for thinner, at what cost? Battery life? Active cooling? A nasty keyboard like those in the new macbook? Losing even more ports?

Here's what I want in a MBP refresh: More power. Enough battery life to allow me on a hangout all day long; or at least enough battery life that I can have Chrome running and still be able to code all day long. A strong enough graphics card to smoothly drive a pair of 4k monitors in addition to the internal monitor. No loss of existing ports. More CPU power for compiling code. A touch screen.

> or at least enough battery life that I can have Chrome running and still be able to code all day long

Shouldn't that be an action for Google rather than Apple? Of late, I've found Google's applications to be big battery hogs - Chrome and Google Drive for example (on OS X)

Honestly, if it wasn't Chrome, it would be any of a number of other applications finding their way into our daily milieu. One of a dozen Electron based "desktop" apps. Firefox. Eclipse. I can even spin up the processor with VIM, if YCM or Anaconda addons have to do a lot of work.

As developers, we use CPU for work, and we use it hard. A battery in a "pro" laptop should support that need.

Firefox is nowhere near as big an offender as chrome. Chromes absolute disregard for me frankly offends me.

Also, programs like IntelliJ do have low power mode, which does help significantly in my experience.

I won't argue that point - Chrome is a huge offender - but compared to Safari, they both leave a lot to be desired on the energy consumption front.

Are there any knobs or dials (for any OS) for controlling how much battery (amps) an app (or task) is allowed to use? That'd be more directly useful to me than controlling CPU % utilization and so forth.

Why the touch screen?

That seems like an odd addition to the list.

I agree, a touch-screen on a 'pro' laptop (unless it's a 2-in-1) is useless.

Also: Please don't ever, ever touch my laptop's screen.

I had a co-worker who made threats against anyone whose hands came close to his screen. Even pointing at the screen was enough to get a look of death.

I can't stand fingerprints on my monitor, but I don't even notice them on my phone or tablet. Before I got my first touchscreen phone, I was pretty sure the dirty screen would drive me bonkers, but that never happened.

That's probably because phones and tablets usually have oleophobic[1] surfaces.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipophobicity

I seem to have oleophobic-proof fingerprints then. I'm constantly cleaning phone screen (swipe on jeans these days now phone is not spanking-new).

You could easily see my swipe or pin pattern from prints and smudges, even from one use, which never happened with actual keys.

The oleophobic coating does vanish with use over a period of time. That's why you wouldn't see fingerprints and such on a new device, but would on an older and well used one.

My phone screen is smudged, but it doesn't really bother me. If I spot something on my monitor, I can't get any work done until I have it cleaned off.

I am that person.


It's usually because of fear of death, extending to the non acceptance of any decay to the objects one uses.

Same kind of people leave the plastic wrap around their remote controls (or worse, car seats).

Is it really? Is there more that I can read about this?

I have a Surface Pro with a touch screen and found it to be very useful and natural to use.

The Surface is plugged into a dock for all my heavy work, so I'm not using the screen anyway. If I am using it as a laptop for more internet-browsing related work, the touchscreen is so useful that I don't need a mouse.

Since I use an iPad on a relatively regular basis, I find myself reaching for the screen on my MacBook when it's on my lap and I'm reading the web. Scrolling through webpages with a touch on the screen is a natural gesture now; having to pull my hands back to the touchpad feels clunky in comparison.

It's a minor wish, but a worthwhile addition, IMO.

It's interesting that I hear these anecdotes, because as a user of touch screen devices pre-dating iOS, and every iOS device from 2nd-gen iPhone onward, not once have I ever caught myself reaching to touch the screen of my laptop or desktop monitor. I dunno, in my mind "handhelds are for touching, things with keyboards are not to have their screens touched under threat of bodily harm."

The article describes a "secondary display" that is a "touch screen strip for function keys"

No indication that the main display is going to be touch-enabled, at least not that I can see.

Especially in a pro Macbook I could see it being really useful - think of all the people developing iOS applications on them. They can now run the simulator on the laptop display and have it pass touch events through to the simulated device.

And in addition to that, they should add an accelerometer for even more fun when testing shake and tilt gestures. ;-)

MacBooks have always had accelerometers, originally it was called the "sudden motion sensor" and was ostensibly used to park the hard drives in the event of a dropped computer.

I'm pretty sure they're still in the modern MacBooks, though Google seems to be mixed on the matter.

That sensor was taken out with the SSD MBPs: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201666 (under Note at the top of the page.

It is not because there is no need to park the HD

The touch screen would be quite an exciting addition to a Macbook. Why? If you are an iOS developer, wouldn't it be great to try your app in the simulator directly on your monitor? You wouldn't have to keep an iOS device right besides you to try it out or use a cursor to simulate touches.


We had a post about "we want a modern macbook" and your post was my post.

As you I want a PRO version as in quad core, better graphics gazzillion of ports and cooling solution to keep everything running smoothly.

But I think the PRO update will be inclined toward flashiness.

I strongly believe we only have incremental updates to the pc as we know it.

I have an ASUS ROG and it has a pair of HUGE fan vents on the back, that's the only way of keeping power running.

Let's see what happens.

> "we want a modern macbook"

All I want is a modern IBM T42 or T61 with a 14" screen. I don't care if it is ugly, big or weighs a ton. The only thing I care about is a good keyboard, a robust chassis and the fact that I can rebuild the whole thing with just a screwdriver.

I recently swapped the mainboard of my T420, it was quite easy to do with just a screwdriver (and the maintenance manual and some thermal grease). Extended this five year old machine's life by another year or so for ~50€. It was very easy to do with the manual. I'm not sure how much harder it is with the newer models, but maybe a ThinkPad meets your requirements better than a MacBook?

With you, I own an x220 and a x200t that has been running as a server for more than 2 years non stop.

I'm in love with the magnesium industrial construction and as you mention the keyboard.

In fact the keyboard is the thing that would prevent me from upgrading to a newer thinkpad.

As for opening and maintaining the elitebook 2560 with it tool-less chassis is an option as well as possessing the eraser head option and good keyboard.

I don't. I like Lenovo keyboards but I like Apple's keyboard just as much.

I also much prefer Apple's trackpad, thinness, screen, and battery life compared to my old IBM's.

>As you I want a PRO version as in quad core, better graphics gazzillion of ports and cooling solution to keep everything running smoothly.

So you want one of these PC "desktop replacement" laptops, which weight in the tons, and have desktop-class hardware.

That's not what the MBP's are about though.

Do you mind elaborating what are MBP about? Keep in mind that we already have the Air and plain MacBook options with increasing trade-offs to favor portability, which are the exact cure to your argument:

"So you want one of these PC "desktop replacement" laptops, which weight in the tons, and have desktop-class hardware."

>Do you mind elaborating what are MBP about? Keep in mind that we already have the Air and plain MacBook options with increasing trade-offs to favor portability, which are the exact cure to your argument

All Mac laptops are supposed to be thin, weight little and generally make the right compromises for portability.

The "Pro" line is also expected to have the most powerful graphics and cpu of the whole line, but still under the above restrictions. And they're supposed to only stay the same or go down (in weight/thinness) not have regressions to fit some desktop-class CPU.

So it's not like Apple says "we have the Air and Macbook to cover thin and lightweight, so now we can pig it out with the Pro's".

That has been their philosophy and design thinking from the start, and that's how they've sold all those million units.

> I have an ASUS ROG and it has a pair of HUGE fan vents on the back, that's the only way of keeping power running.


It isn't very mobile but holy heck is it an incredible developer machine. You really hear the huge cooling fans kick in when you hit compile on a large project.

You've said what I was going to type.

I don't want reason to look at the keyboard. I type faster when I keep eyes on screen. Responsive OLED display might be useful if on the bezel either side of the Macbook Pro logo, but it's really just more screen acreage there.

Pro should be more of a powerhouse, with a decent keyboard I can actually type on for hours rather than minimalist chiclet keys with no travel. Enough that I can be encoding a movie, or compiling a big code base without it threatening to catch fire. Let me have a decent all day workload, not just email, editing and browsing.

More power, more ports, 1/8" thicker if it gives me an all day workstation with better graphics and CPU horsepower. definitely no touchscreen for me though. Something more like a Thinkpad W series without the 2" thick brick effect.

What I don't want is a bigger Macbook Air with pointless keyboard gimmick.

Agreed, the pre-Retina thickness is alright with me, assuming I get all these things in return.

I agree with what you would like for the new MBP. One note, the 2015 MBP does smoothly drive dual 4Ks plus the internal. That's the set up I have at work right now. I just have the base model, and I'm not sure about the 2014 ones.

Don't forget storage! My home MBP is going on 6 years old, with no replacement in sight, because it can house an extra hard drive (in lieu of the optical) big enough to store my photos.

So, to recap: place for extra hard drive, big enough battery to last all day, big juicy graphics card, very powerful cpu, ability to drive 1 pair of 4k monitors + internal screen, and all existing ports left.

That would also need a shopping cart to carry it around, and oven mittens to touch it.

>I'm a software developer who focuses on operational automation, and this brings almost nothing to the table which I could want. Especially replacing the function keys with a touchpad; why would I want to replace dedicated keys with muscle memory attached to them with soft keys that can change on whim?

For several reasons which are obvious to me.

1) You can of course leave the soft keys as the current function keys are -- and retain the "muscle memory", with losing nothing at all.

2) You can tune them to a specific app (e.g. Logic, Cubase, Premiere, Photoshop) and get a second (or third, etc) app-specific set of muscle memory for its shortcuts. People pay $50 or even $200 for custom app-related controllers for such apps, with buttons mapped to "transport controls" etc.

I guess you don't suddenly lose your muscle memory when you press "SHIFT" and the number row becomes a different row (e.g. 3=>#, 4=>$ etc). So you shouldn't lose it with 2 or even 3 or more sets of soft keys to change depending on context.

3) You can even get behaviours that aren't possible with actual keys -- e.g. have the soft panel display a volume bar you drag on.

4) You can show information that's not related to keys -- e.g. the current cpu temp, new emails, notifications, "batch jobs completed" etc. Which could far more useful that "change brightness" that one does how often? Twice a day at most?

>Here's what I want in a MBP refresh: More power. Enough battery life to allow me on a hangout all day long; or at least enough battery life that I can have Chrome running and still be able to code all day long. A strong enough graphics card to smoothly drive a pair of 4k monitors in addition to the internal monitor. No loss of existing ports. More CPU power for compiling code. A touch screen.

Except the loss of ports, the others are not doable without ending up with a hotter and bigger machine, and some work against each other (better cpu + graphics VS better battery life). If they used a more powerful Intel CPU it would eat into the battery life, and same for graphics card -- especially when it would be driving "a pair of 4K + the internal monitor".

In other words you want a desktop class workstation -- which would translate to something like a 4kg "laptop" -- and then you (or others) will complain that it's weighty, it gets too hot, etc (and nobody will buy it, except the kind of people who want the latest nvidia power card + pair of 4K monitors, that is, outliers).

Lastly, even the touch screen doesn't make much sense without a detachable screen for ergonomic reasons. 5 minutes with your hand raised and it's off to the doctor for some painkillers. If they'd ever do it, they'd need something like the Surface Book's turnaround scheme, which would probably sacrifice sturdiness.

> You can of course leave the soft keys as the current function keys are -- and retain the "muscle memory", with losing nothing at all.

The position of the key moves, the haptic feedback changes (even with fine-tuned vibrations, the lack of a physical edge to a key makes a noticeable difference), and requires that the functionality of the keys be completely configurable - something I personally find unlikely given the current trend of Apple products.

> People pay $50 or even $200 for custom app-related controllers for such apps, with buttons mapped to "transport controls" etc.

And they frequently have very specific form factors to match their controls. Very few are flat slates with graphics on them (excepting graphic tablets, which are emulating paper).

> You can even get behaviours that aren't possible with actual keys

Which assumes that we want functionality which is not possible with physical keys.

> Which could far more useful that "change brightness" that one does how often? Twice a day at most?

I have the function keys mapped to shortcuts in my text editor, so those keys get used rather frequently, actually.

> the others are not doable without ending up with a hotter and bigger machine

Bigger, up to a point, is fine by me. I'm not asking for an alienware gaming laptop, just a laptop fit for a developer.

> which would translate to something like a 4kg "laptop"

Aside from being condescending, this comment is also inaccurate. I'm not looking to do 4k gaming, I'm not looking to mine bitcoins; all I want to do is develop software while using collaboration tools and not have to worry about my battery when I'm off power, or a 10hz refresh rate on external monitors when I'm on power. Doesn't seem like an unreasonable expectation for a laptop aimed at professionals.

> Lastly, even the touch screen doesn't make much sense without a detachable screen for ergonomic reasons

I'm not asking for the removal of a touchpad, just the addition of a touch screen.

>The position of the key moves

This has been true for function keys over several generations of Mac laptops/keyboards. Rarely they were kept in the same exact position for more than 2 years or so. So nothing new about the strip in this regard (if anything, it might give people the ability to have them where they are used to).

>and requires that the functionality of the keys be completely configurable - something I personally find unlikely given the current trend of Apple products.

That's kind of the whole point of having soft keys though. And I don't see this trend of Apple removing Mac OS configurability really, except if we talk about things like adding security sandboxes and checks (which is done for a reason: security).

>And they frequently have very specific form factors to match their controls. Very few are flat slates with graphics on them

Some though are basically just that. The lemur was just a touch screen for example and there are other strip like models of the same thing. Others are just sets of unmarked keys, for you to decide what each does, etc, but all identical otherwise (for which an OLED strip would be an improvement). Those things are popular in the electronic music production world (which I participate in). As are mere overlay stickers for the keyboard.

>I'm not asking for an alienware gaming laptop, just a laptop fit for a developer.

Developers usually have meagre CPU needs -- especially the majority which are people like web developers (and most C developers I know too). Heck, Linus Torvalds made do with the old MB Air (with Linux) and now a Chromebook, again hardly the most capable box.

The only exception would be for running multiple VMs, but while there might be legitimate reasons for running > 1 VM or needing more CPU power in general than what a quad i7 (as in in the MBPr 15") offers -- but I doubt those reasons are there for a large market.

>all I want to do is develop software while using collaboration tools and not have to worry about my battery when I'm off power

While larger battery life is always good, is there a large enough market of people who develop all day unplugged and need more than 5-6 hours of battery (which MBPs can do)? Enough to justify making a bulkier case for a bigger battery?

>I'm not asking for the removal of a touchpad, just the addition of a touch screen.

My argument wasn't addressing the removal of the touchpad, but the utility of having a touch-screen in the first place. If it's of marginal utility (without, as I wrote, a detachable screen), why have it?

All I want from a new MBP is to easily replace the: battery, ram and SSD. My current one is several years old and has only lasted this long because those parts could be substituted.

I'm guessing it's a lost cause, their ideas aligned with mine for a short window and then they decided to turn it into a gadget rather than a user serviceable computer.

This is going to sound cynical and overly negative but I don't understand why people keep posting about replaceable parts on new MacBooks. It'll never happen, as you admit.

I am going to replace my laptop this year. I mentioned it in a last gasp hope that it will be an Apple one. I suspect it will be something else though.

It's a pity, but I can't justify spending that sort of money on a professional tool that feels more like it was designed for the consumer market.

They sell more in the consumer market than professional market.

Maybe if Apple stock ever starts to decline significantly they'll finally implement some of the various complaints. Constantly harping on the lack of ports, the soldered in parts, and the terrible power cords lets them know people do care about those things.

I don't know, the only component I could see myself needing replacing is the SSD, and I never end up doing it with any of my laptops.

Intel laptop line of CPUs only accept 16gb [1], so there's no reason to no max it out from the start if you need it, really. The battery, unless you are confortable with buying chinese parts, you should only be buying a replacement for Apple, so I don't see the problem with having them replace it for you. Granted, this is easier having Apple stores close by.

And SSD hardly ever fail, compared to old HDDs at least, so unless you want to increase capacity, there in't much need to compared with before, and Apple gives you the option to buy the biggest SSD you can put in there from the beginning.

Edit: [1] I believe since Skylake, they support more than 16gb! I thought that was only with the new Xeons for laptops.

> Intel laptop line of CPUs only accept 16gb [1], so there's no reason to no max it out from the start if you need it, really.

I agree about the "if you need it really" part. But otherwise, I can think of a couple of reasons to get a smaller SSD initially and upgrade later. Firstly, storage needs usually grow with time, and hence a smaller SSD may be enough to start with (though in 2016 the majority of people cannot afford to store all their stuff on SSDs). Secondly, and this is related to the first one, the cost of a larger SSD (as with most hardware) would drop over time, allowing one to not spend a lot upfront and instead use a lot less of 'future money' to upgrade to one's needs.

Of course, Apple's SSD prices have always been quite high compared to third party replacements, and that makes this "upgrade as you go" scheme more worthwhile monetarily.

For those who use these machines as "it pays for itself" kind of work, it may be worth it. For most others though, the flexibility of being able to upgrade the SSD or RAM make a big difference on the expense, the experience and lastly, the amount of e-waste generated.

My 4th gen Haswell supports 32 GB of RAM in my m4800 Dell Precision.

That is a 47w CPU. That is way higher than the TDP of most laptops allows for (displays, discreet GPUs, etc). The 15" MBP only has an 85W charger, which must both charge the battery and power the laptop simultaneously, how is there room for this thirsty a CPU in a MBP style chassis?

Plenty of laptops aimed at the market the MacBook Pro is ostensibly aimed at come with a 4700MQ (or 6700MQ). If the design of the MBP only allows for an ultrabook-type CPU, it's not really fit for purpose.

I take back what I said, they do use the higher end variant of exactly that cpu: I7-4980HQ although it's probably aggressively clocked and or binned.

And enough ports to plug 2 things at once.

Add in user replaceable keyboard with similar feature as the Thinkpads have to prevent damage if there is a small spill. Keyboards catch everything and anything under and on the keys.

I wish they would make the Pro user serviceable like the comparable T/X/P series Thinkpads.

The real question...what is going to be soldered to the frame, and what will be replaceable.

I bought a 2012 MBP last year because I wanted the ability to swap out its guts at will. I doubt this new version will have that capability.

This comment being the top one, my friends, is why our discussions here on HN are completely irrelevant in the great scheme of the consumer hardware market. This is an opinion shared only by a meager minority of the market that may have a big voice, but basically no power in determining the direction of what we'll see shipped in the future.

Duh. Nobody has power enough to determine the direction of what we'll see shipped aside from the top guys at Apple who (if "The Macbook" is any indication (and potential blue iPhone 7)) are less focused/understanding on product devlopment (a comment Steve made about Tim Cook) and more focused on business/profit margin.

I love how your use of a double parenthesis just makes my point stronger :D

Thank you Captain Obvious! ;) Developer-oriented machines (where beefy hardware, specialized requirements and ability to upgrade parts are still taken as granted, and loss of those is quite mourned) and generic consumer-grade machines are most certainly different markets. Although I'm not sure how MBPs are classified those days.

(E.g. ThinkPads used to have a fame of great programmers' laptops and now they became quite less of that... the very same could easily happen to MBPs as well.)

Bit of a shame - the MBP is already pretty expensive, and it would be nice if that had more user replaceable parts (memory, drive mainly) precisely because they're "pro" machine (hence the P). Macbook and Airs - fine - consumer level - soldered, non-replaceable. But for the premium charged... making it easier for me to upgrade/swap my drive would be nice (it's not impossible, I know, but not as easy as it used to be).

I do love my MPB for dev work, but to be honest, anything with a unix-like userspace and a browser will do and I'd have no qualms switching to another ultra book if Apple starts shitting on the MBP (or switches them to ARM or something crazy like that).

You're welcome. Sometimes stating the obvious is still necessary to remember us we're in a comfy bubble, from which we look and judge the world (and business choices). :)

Developer oriented machines are a different market, however, this market has changed; the needs are different and nowadays even most developer oriented machines don't need the ability to upgrade parts. The issues about keyboards, screens and beefy hardware remain, but the actual need to replace hardware is much smaller, and most developers do buy hardware that prioritizes other things.

It's not a question or a doubt - yes, everything will be soldered to the frame, nothing will be replaceable, and no new versions will have that capability.

nothing will be easily replaceable

Since they made 16GB standard in the 2014 15", who cares? You can't add any more anyway.

The SSD is swappable (buying one can be a challenge, plus they're more expensive than other SSD's)

The sad thing is that there is so little competition. Apple can afford to be lax with updates to their pro line, because there is no other combination of hardware+software that gets the job done without being a huge time sink.

Before you mention laptops from Lenovo and the like, running Linux, please consider that I have been using Linux since 1994 (that's pre-1.0), and that I switched to mostly Mac sometime around 2006. And I've just installed a fresh Ubuntu on a PC right next to me. So I do know what that option is like. And it isn't even close.

I wish there was a strong competitor to Apple.

I've got young kids. Any laptop without a magsafe power connector is going to be starting at a huge disadvantage, as far as my deciding to purchase it. That includes the USB-C-only Macbook.

Add being the only manufacturer (and software company—actually that part's probably more important) that gives even half a damn about battery life, and getting something unixy without the pain of Linux (also a long-time Linux user, so yeah, I know how it is), and my not caring about more than Intel graphics (discrete graphics in a laptop: always a mistake in my experience) and anything remotely close costs just as much anyway, so I'll just go with Apple. Competition would be great, but there's just... none.

I've loved the MacBook Pros that I've had in the past. But Apple & I are heading in different directions. Their "Pro" devices are now consumer status symbols, not machines for getting work done.

Indeed, the phrase I've heard that I think atly describes the phenomenon well is that Apple is moving into developing Appliances rather than devices for power users.

They seriously need to work on the Macbook Pro's cooling. Too much throttling/overheating/heat issues.

The thin strip vent below the LCD simply isn't large enough and the fans not powerful enough to cool a Radeon R9 M370X and the i7.

And, sure, they can direct some of that excess heat to the aluminium body, but that hasn't been effective up until now so I struggle to see why it would start being effective in the future.

Agreed, when running VMWare Fusion my 2014 15" MBP runs not only hot but hideously loud.

I wish they would stop with this obsessive, compulsive need to make everything thinner.

I don't. One of my coworkers has a Lenovo X1 and that thing makes my mid-2015 Retina MacBook Pro look chunky by comparison. Thinner, lighter, faster, stronger are all what I want in my next laptop.

I'll take "faster and stronger" over "thinner and lighter".

I already carry it in a backpack with other things; I'm not interested in shaving ounces at the expense of power.

How does the battery life between the two machines compare?

A while ago while dropping my MBP onto a hard floor I realized that one benefit of lighter gear is potentially less damage on impact in a fall. Of course, this assumes equal hardness, toughness, plasticity, etc. but the same fall that happened with a 2010 MBP I had in the same spot was significantly worse damage.

It depends on what you want to do with the machine.

A friend of mine has a Yoga 900 and that thing is just perfect for a light workload at home or on the road.

But for a more intense workload I'd personally rather have a beefy and bulletproof IBM-style laptop which I can rebuild on my own with a screwdriver and cheap parts from ebay.

MacBook Pro has always been marketed as a "Pro" machine (obviously) for content creation and programming. It's the last product they should be making thinner for no reason.

People like your friend have the Air and the new MacBook. Let us workers have a powerful machine!

Lighter yes. Thinner why? Your thinnest carry bag already is more than double the thickness of most laptops with the padding and all. The only advantage! I see of even thinner laptop is that they are easier to drop on the floor.

This!!! I simply can't understand why the folks at Apple don't get this. But then again it seems to be all about the looks now. When I first heard a recent rMBP under load, I was shocked and embarrased how loud it is. I mean, I would actually feel embarrassed when using this in a library.

And yes, it's a matter of what you're using it for, but to me this noise was similar to an ugly sticker saying "Not for regular and prolonged use under high load"

Completely agree. I don't care about it being thin. I care about it being suitable for work. The current generation is more than thin enough.

They make more money selling razor blades.

> Apple is using one of AMD’s "Polaris" graphics chips

Huge disappointment. MacBook Pro used to have NVIDIA GPUs and was an excellent CUDA development environment. They switched to AMD around 2012. I suspect the change was more business related than technical.

Apple was a huge investor into OpenCL. AMD is as well. AMD supports OpenCL 2.0 while NVidia folks are stuck on OpenCL 1.2.

I recognize that a lot of people want CUDA instead, but OpenCL support is superior on AMD cards.

My Nvidia card reports OpenCL 1.2 support: http://i.imgur.com/nzb7OL5.png

AFAIK their OpenCL debugging/profiling tools are still terrible compared to CUDA or AMDs OpenCL though.

Ahhhh... damn it. I got the version numbers screwed up.

NVidia supports 1.2. AMD supports 2.0. Same concept, but I got the numbers all jumbled up. I'll edit the above post for the correct numbers.



(Hard to "prove a not", so I'll just leave the Stackoverflow page here)

nVidia is way better than AMD at software: CUDA, DX11 drivers et cetera. For stuff that has much less room for software optimization, AMD tends to be very competitive: DX12, Vulkan, OpenCL.

But this time around Apple is writing their own software (Metal). So this time around it's not surprising that Apple doesn't want to pay more for superior software if it's not going to use the software. It sucks for CUDA users, but Apple doesn't care about you.

AMDs Polaris architecture is also much more power hungry than NVIDIAs Pascal architecture, at least on the desktop variants we've seen so far.

The RX480 (Polaris) trades blows with the GTX1060 (Pascal) performance-wise, but the 1060 uses about 30% less power at load:


The RX480 Polaris is about 30% faster than the GTX1060 running DOOM4/Vulkan. Apple's Metal is very similar to Vulkan, so it's quite possible that nVidia Pascal and AMD Polaris have similar power usage while using Metal.

Honestly doesn't matter when one can't run CUDA and almost all the pro applications for a GPU are CUDA based.

Doom 4 is an outlier, the RX480 doesn't consistently gain that much from Vulkan or DX12. You could just as easily point to Tomb Raider DX12, where the 1060 beats the 480 by about 20%.

According to Guru3D the two cards perform almost identically in Ashes of the Singularity and Total War: Warhammer, both AMD-sponsored DX12 games.

Tomb Raider doesn't use async compute.

And whether Doom 4 is an outlier or just an example of the difference between Vulkan and DX12 is yet to be determined.

My conjecture is that the big difference between Vulkan and DX12 is that nVidia has put more of it's driver engineering magic into DX12 than it has into Vulkan.

Metal won't have that nVidia driver engineering magic, so I believe that DOOM4 is the best benchmark we have of performance and power consumption for Metal. But one benchmark can be misleading for a wide variety of reasons.

Tomb Raider had async compute implemented for GCN and Pascal in a post-release patch, and benchmarks on that patch still pegged the 1060 as ~20% faster than the 480:


And conversely, the developers of Doom said their async path is currently only tuned for GCN and will be enabled on Pascal in a future patch.

We've seen from 3DMark Time Spy that Pascal does benefit from async compute, so there's performance being left on the table there.

Well the OP's quote continues with "because the design offers the power efficiency and thinness necessary to fit inside the slimmer Apple notebook". It's not like Apple would just ignore power efficiency.

Plus, AMD isn't as good for Linux, if you end up putting that on the machine instead of (or alongside) OS X.

The 2013 and 2014 macbook pro still had NVIDIA (fortunately! AMD has always given me trouble)

it's still better than the intel integrated video all but the top of the top of the line macbook pros got saddled with.

Coming from the same company that proclaimed "can't innovate, my ass" in 2013, I'll believe it when I see it. I've been very frustrated with the lack of direction and the lack of flexibility in the Mac lineup.

I'd like to see a complete and modern revamp of the entire Mac lineup, but it looks like Apple, with a lot of money (even considering the U.S. alone), is not capable of focusing on Macs anymore. Or more likely, Apple decided that the sales of Macs wasn't worth spending more on them, while all along requiring app developers for all its platforms (macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS) to necessarily build their apps on Macs.

It would be nice to get all the Macs being actively improved, but the Buyer's Guide on Macrumors doesn't give much hope. :(

Still will have horrible GPUs. I at least want to occasionally play a game and not just code. My ancient 2009 Mac Pro won't run Sierra but at least I could sometimes update the video card. The Mac Pro is way out of date. Only the top iMac is vaguely decent.

Hopefully Apple will at least support Thunderbolt 3s external GPU profile, so you can attach something like the Razer Core.

I wouldn't expect Apple to make it that easy given their history of extremely overpriced video cards and custom BIOSes for them. I would be shocked if an external GPU solution on Macs were supported and sold for less than $700 and Apple-approved GPUs go for less than 30% mark-ups from aftermarket retail pricing. So at that point I'd honestly expect an Apple GTX 1080 solution to cost well over $1500. For that price almost anyone would just buy a dedicated gaming machine and not bother with the Apple ecosystem that's hostile to PC gaming by default.

I think with Thunderbolt 3 you can just plug an external GPU and you're ready to go.

You get a tiny fraction of the power of the card though, a 1080 would get you the performance of a 750. Also, I think it's kind of insane that instead of just getting decent onboard graphics your option is to buy a whole nother graphics card, power supply, and the adapter which can cost 500-800$.

If you are serious about graphics you'd probably just build your own desktop. Desktops have the best graphics cards and every hardcore gamer I've seen doesn't use a laptop.

Not a hardcore gamer (obviously being a Mac owner) I just want something that at least in Bootcamp is reasonable for the few games I want to play. WOT is one that works OK running under Crossover. But the really cutting edge games require a bigass video card you need a custom PC rig to play. If I bought one of those I'd get too little done :-)

No you don't [1]. You get within a (reasonable) margin of error of full performance (assuming there are no CPU bottlenecks).

[1] http://www.ultrabookreview.com/10761-razer-core-review/

I would simply like MacBook Airs, 11 and 13 inch screens, which 1080 screen resolution, and slightly thicker to accommodate the larger battery that would be required.

I am not the typical user since I do much of my development and long calculations on beefed up remote servers.

I am almost to the point of being able to use a tablet when I only need one SSH shell and a Chromebook when I need many shells open and visible reference material on the screen. My 1080p Chromebook and my iPad Pro are so useful for getting stuff done that I may never buy a conventional laptop again (I have 3 very functional Linux laptops, which should be sufficient for years).

Seems like the addition of the keyboard screen will make things a bit more complicated if you ask me. I just want a Macbook Air with a retina display... ugh #IfSteveWereHere

Do people even use function keys? The only shortcuts I've seen people use are Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V. I think this is a step backward because it'll make it harder to touch-type and there's a possibility that the word processor can remove your volume controls.

Like most of the replies, yes to the volume/media/brightness controls.

I also still use the old "Dashboard" overlay (using the FunctionFlip widget to remap the F4 key to how it used to behave prior to Yosemite), and Exposé.

Part of me doesn't want to see these keys taken away, made context-sensitive, or made 'flat' and losing the haptic feedback.

Another part of me wonders if this is just the standard resistance-to-change behaviour, and I might discover all sorts of good uses for the feature.

Loss of haptic feedback would be a big negative, but two years ago Apple patented a virtual keyboard with haptic feedback on individual keys: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2015/03/19/apple-patent-mac-key...

Perhaps its time has come?

This. I would hate for the new "pro" macbook to come with non physical keys for stuff like volume/brightness control. Please apple, there are people who don't just use it to fuck about on facebook in a coffeeshop. People who can't remember basic shortcuts like copy/paste have plenty of alternatives. I find the choices we have for "pro" laptops lacking as it is.

On top of my wishlist are:

  - 32 GB (or more) memory
  - Better battery life / supported external battery packs
  - Multitude of ports (add USB-C but keep some "legacy" around as well)

I use the media and volume controls, sometimes the brightness ones (when the mac decides to make the brightness lower than I'd like it to be).

For about 15 years, I've bound each of my commonly used applications to a function key. This lets me work on a laptop-sized display without constant, furious alt-tabbing or hunting around with the mouse. Add an external keyboard with proper spacing between groups of function keys so you can touch type, and you have an almost autonomic app-switching experience.

Developers use Function keys - yes.

Do developers need an LCD display to remember when their function keys do?

I'm actually a bit worried about this. Function keys had better be "functional". :D

Yes, all the time. There are multiple helpful controls on them, and the function keys themselves are useful in many editors. I'm not keen to lose them in favor of a touch screen that can change on a whim, with minimal tactical feedback.

I use F3 to search everywhere. Also my byobu actions are all tied to the F keys. I hate those laptops that default to Fn instead of F and provide no toggle between them.

> I hate those laptops that default to Fn instead of F and provide no toggle between them.

Agreed…Apple don't provide a simple toggle, thankfully there's a free third-party widget for this (called "FunctionFlip").

Yes they do. There is a checkbox under System Preferences > Keyboard. Though, function flip seems to work on a per key basis. While the apple toggle will toggle all of the F keys.

Oh, I wasn't aware of that, thank you.

>> I use F3 to search everywhere


2 keys vs 1!

...and not one with a crippled CPU like the MacBook. The MacBook would be my perfect 11" Air replacement if it were anywhere near as fast as the i5/i7 Airs. I can live with the keyboard.

I've been using the first generation 12" Retina MacBook (with the 1.1 GHz Core M and Intel HD Graphics 5300) for about a year now, currently running the macOS Sierra Public Beta, and honestly, it doesn't feel crippled at all.

Sure, it's not as fast, but I can run and use Photoshop, Pixelmator, Acorn, GarageBand, Logic, Xcode, Final Cut, and many other apps just fine, along with League of Legends and most other games that the GPU can handle (though it can't handle many and often warns about heating up), while multitasking and plugged into a secondary 1920x1080 screen. It's actually amazing for an entire PC that doesn't even have any fans (as in active cooling.)

I honestly can't see how anyone fails to understand that this is an ultraportable whose use-case is clearly people that travel a lot and prefer to carry around as little as possible.

If you need a beefy CPU/GPU this is not for you. If you need a gajillion ports this is not for you. Why insist on getting something that isn't for you and then complaining about it?

I'm not sure about that. I got my wife the 1st gen MacBook, and I have a 2012 i5 11" MBA. I like the size of the Macbook, I don't mind the keyboard but it's very much laggier than the 2012 MBA. MUCH. Once you have something running it's ok, but sometimes starting an app like FF the MB will sit there for 5 sec with no feedback. I haven't seen Mac's do that since the PPC days.

Well, Firefox currently seems to have the worst performance of all the major browsers on macOS. Try running it in a fresh environment, after backing up and removing ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox

However, while Safari always runs a lot better even with a lot more tabs, Firefox on my 1st-gen MacBook definitely doesn't take a whole 5 seconds to start. Could there be some resident third-party crap running in the background on yours?

What's the use case for the faster macbook air? lol

Lighter, great running time on the battery, fast enough for many use cases, still has active cooling for running batches of ffmpeg or big compile jobs, and inexpensive.

Oh I agree - I was making the point that the use case is the same for the macbook air vs "The Macbook" ... But the Macbook Air is faster and superior.

It's really not.

The MacBook Air is "superior" in two objective specs: speed & price. That's honestly it, and it's not even that much faster. It also has more ports & a more traditional keyboard/trackpad, but those are subjective differences.

The two people I know with them can barely tell the difference between the Air keyboard and their MacBook keyboard, didn't realize the Force Touch trackpad wasn't a physical click, and only ever plug their computer into a charger or a projector which required an adapter on the Air anyways.

The MacBook blows the Air out of the water in every other way. Design, weight, thickness it's not even a contest. The screen is orders of magnitude better. Battery life is better, sleep/wake response is better, power draw is lower, charging is faster.

The active cooling honestly gives the air the edge, as it were. The aggressive throttling when it overheats is frustrating when it occurs.

The plus for the MacBook is that it doesn't occur all that often.

We don't agree to disagree... we just so happen to disagree...


I hope they let us configure it with 32gb ram and a 2tb ssd. Also hoping that they release a new external display at the same time.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the loss of the ESC key. I use Vim and touch that key all day long. Replacing that with a touch button sounds like a terrible idea for usability. Clearly nobody in charge at Apple is also a vi user.

Beyond not removing the ESC key, I want 32-64 GB RAM, a 2TB drive option (or more), and no more weight.

Typing with my splinted-for-carpal-tunnel hands: for the love of God, if you're using vim all day, then map Esc to CapsLock or something else near your home row, or one day you will be wearing these things too.

I agree and also use ESC a lot, but I can highly recommend mapping Caps-Lock to Ctrl. Some of the time I use Ctrl-[ then.

USB-C finally becomes a standard. Hopefully, the PC market joins in so we can make this a quick transition.

It will take a while (keyboards and the lot are gonna be usb2/3 for some time) but the newer asus mobos (and I'm amusing others) have a USB-C jack on the back.

Luckily, usb-c has usb2 pins right in the middle of it, so I don't see it taking longer than a decade.

10 years? It won't take that long. Samsung is already starting the switch with the Galaxy Note, and there will be a billion phones within a few years. Every new Mac will be USB-C. PC's will push it over the edge when they include C and legacy ports. Two small additional ports shouldn't be that hard to include.

From the outside I think it is fine as it is right now, no need to be thinner, fix cooling, bump up the hardware and expand battery because of stronger hardware. Those touch fn keys and everything are again gimmicks and something that should attract wide masses, for which MB PRO is not!!! It is a machine for professional work, and Apple should listen to people from industry not average consumers. For average users there is MB.

I'm kind of surprised by the surprise generated by MacBook Pro resilience on the market. What were they expecting? That everybody would buy an iPad? Mom and Dad sure, but professionals? More and more I have the feeling that the MacBook Pro is the go-to laptop not only in startups but also in more established companies. That's what I've been given at my past 3 companies, and almost all devs were using that.

I wonder how a thinner model and more powerful graphics will affect heat in this generation.

I realize this entirely personal, but as long as Apple keeps ignoring heat in hand areas, I'll keep doing my programming on something else.

Like an external keyboard / screen so you won't get back problems due to unhealthy posture?

Hopefully they'll release a line of either MacBooks, or MacBook Airs using the iPad Pro's processor (or similar ARM offering). It's more then up to the task of most users needs, plus far more power efficient then Intel's offerings.

I've been waiting for Apple to make this change for years. It's seems only logically as it is their processor, in their ecosystem.

Looks like these changes in design will make older MacBook Pros more expensive and desirable commodity. "Oh dude - that familiar keyboard for Vi, they are not making those anymore, and look how many ports". Buy the old one while you can, these new changes are unwelcome from many perspectives.

Sadly it seems Apple keeps putting design/looks above actual functionality (i.e. letting Jony Ive make decisions). I can (and do) use that top row just fine right now without looking at it. Changing that to a screen that I have to look at does not save me time or make things simpler.

Glad to hear it won't have a tapered design. Not sure if it really needs to be thinner or lighter than the current rMBP but I'm fine as long as it keeps a keyboard that actually has some depth. Typing on the MBA and new MB is not a good experience.

I just hope they don't use the absolutely terrible keyboard design from the new Macbooks in this. There's virtually no key travel in order to shave off a few mm. It sort of makes sense in the Macbook segment, but definitely not in a Pro machine.

What's with this fetish of hardware manufacturers making keyboards as terrible as possible these days? It seems I'm going to be using X220s until the end of time.

(Not to mention Apple's departure from any sort of replaceable hardware components)

Hopefully the omission of mentioning HDMI/Mini DisplayPorts means they are staying...

Leaked pics of body parts had only five pors:

- 4x USB-C - Minijack

So I would assume apple goes hard for 4 multi-purpose USB-C instead.

USB-C can be electrically compatible with Displayport. So a cheap 5-dollar adapter should do the trick.

Seems like every time an Apple product is release I wind up with a dozen more adapters...

Adaptors really are a stop gap. But yeah, in the short term its a pest.

or a $70 official one from Apple that most people will just buy.

To be fair, those $5 adapters sometimes are really messed up. Like... switching ground and Vcc...


Apple's prices are a lot to pay for a passive component. But chances are that they'll do it right.

I personally will look at cheap and reliable testers (http://phandroid.com/2015/11/04/best-usb-type-c-cables/) and buy those.

TouchId coming to the MacbookPro will bring the secure element from the Iphone with it.

I'm hoping they also use the secure element to implement SecureBoot of only signed software. Ideally this could be disabled like in a Chromebook

I wonder will functional touchpad keys work on non Mac OS (Linux, Windows) since I guess some custom drivers are involved. I'd consider macbook pro buying, but for Linux. Thunderbolt 3 support is a must.

The touchpad function keys seem a bit gimmick-y to me. I guess I'll have to see it in action. I quite like the tactile feel when I'm trying adjust volume, for instance.

There is also the unaddressed issue of how terrible OLED displays are for anything persistent (they burn in), consume power when idle and offer no tactile feedback.

I hope this is a hoax.

Geez people here are talking about power and I'm using a 12" Macbook running Windows 10 to do .NET development without issue at all.

I can probably live without some of the bells and whistles, but please give us an option for 32GB of RAM (even if it is soldered to the mobo).

Most Intel laptop CPU's are limited to 16GB. A few Skylake CPUs support 32GB if DDR4 is used.

And please, allow me to open it up and put new/more RAM and an m.2 ssd in there. (One may hope)

But then the laptop will be half a millimeter thicker and you will see some screws on the bottom. The horror.


If you don't give a shit about design, get one of the other million laptops that are available. The MacBook doesn't try to be everyone's everything. That's part of what makes it such a good device.

I don't understand why people fail to understand that thinner, lighter and better looking are things that millions of people want. If that's not you, you seriously couldn't have more options available.

You make a good point, and for those people the Macbook should be a great machine. The disappointment is for the "Pro" market, as in Macbook "Pro".

The "Pro" stands for "Problematic".

But yeah, my next machine purchase will not be an Apple. If I need OSX support, I'll look at the current Hackintosh install lists and go VM.

The name is just a name, and Apple is not beholden to staying within what you think is "Pro". I consider myself a "Pro" and I like all of those things.

There is quite a big gap between not giving a shit about design and accepting some screws (like on my 2011 mbp, it's as beautiful as the glued models but I can access everything from the bottom.)

It is a business decision, not a design decision to not allow you to open up your laptop. Indeed they think your are sad when using a 5 y/o laptop, but my 5 y/o mbp has a fast 1TB ssd and 16 GB's of ram even though those were not available at the time (the corei7 CPU it came with is still very fast as well).

And those "more" options do not include osX powered machines anymore.

If you believe you'll need RAM, why not max out the RAM in the beginning?

A decade ago, you wanted to upgrade RAM because standard RAM sizes were growing and RAM was rapidly getting cheaper. Nowadays, if a device needs e.g. 16gb ram, then that same device category needed 16gb ram a few years ago and could have been bought back then with that RAM.

Not sure if I am that excited with this overhaul. I guess Touch ID is a nice addition.

After ~2 years with no update, the mere addition of a newer Intel CPU will be a nice addition (even if the speed bump is marginal, even across 2 or 3 previous generations).

It's great on smartphone, but useless on laptop. PC laptops have had fingerprint scanners since forever.

That's ridiculous, it's not useless anywhere. What's useless is how shitty fingerprint readers were before TouchID.

TouchID isn't just a reimplementation, it's a massive technological improvement that elevates consumer fingerprint readers from gimmicky afterthoughts to a core part of UX.

"PC laptops had it and it never took off" is a horrible metric to judge anything. If the technology and implementation is trash, then of course it's not going to take off. That's why being first to do anything is a meaningless milestone. Be first to do it well, and you might as well have invented it.

Laptops have always had the shitty kind of "slide" fingerprint sensors. Hopefully apple will do it right and include the kind found in smartphones.

Is the LED strip likely to be blue light? That would be very bad for night use.


Literally all I want for my pro work is CUDA calculation....

"PRO Laptop" means PROfessional use. PROfessionals work in environments where wireless bandwidth is a premium. PROfessionals use gigabit ethernet. Please include it. Please stop the War on Ports™ in your PROfessional lineup.

Consumers use wireless. A dongle is a good choice for them since they won't likely use ethernet. Here Dongle Driven Development™ is the proper methodology.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact