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Why I bought a 2015 Macbook Pro (medium.com/pier)
67 points by pier25 on Dec 24, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

I had a go on a frind's new 15" with touch bar tonight when visiting for Christmas Eve drinks. The touch bar looks lovely, it's a solid machine (literally the trademark Apple solid block of Aluminium) and while I found the feel of the keyboard a little odd it wasn't at all unpleasant. I typed about 300 words and it was accurate and tactile enough to give positive feedback. The large touch pad felt really good. Overall, it seemed like a very high quality product. He needs an SD interface because he takes a lot of pictures for work, so uses a multi-adapter block which he says works fine.

Some of the design choices seem edgy maybe, but nothing that would be a deal breaker for me. I don't need a new machine right now, but when the time comes I see no blocking issues with it and in a few years time when I will be in the market things like USB-C only will be even less of an issue.

I don't for one second buy the idea that Apple is neglecting the Mac. A neglected product doesn't get an entirely new and unique touch interface format that's fully supported by the integrated software from top to bottom, an entirely new keyboard design and a risky but forward looking peripheral port revamp. These are not choices you'd see made by a company treating the device as an afterthought.

Counterpoint: Mac Pro. An exiting new design, bold statement and technological choices. All but dead.

We just have a few more months to know what Apple really has in mind. And by the end of the year that will be clear if 2 year between updates minimum is the new best for the mac line.

Counter-counterpoint, the 5K iMac now with wide colour gamut displays. They're still pushing the Mac forward in ways no other computer manufacturer even comes near, but not in every direction or into every market segment.

I don't know if new Mac Pros are in the roadmap. But if they're not, while that would suck for those people that depend on them, it would hardly be the end of the line for the Mac.

Counter-counter-counterpoint, the 5K iMac is pretty much a better specced iMac from all angle. It has all the good stuff without sacrificing anything important. It simply is a "better"machine.

The complain isn't with the wide colour gamut display or any new feature they added, but its the other stuff that they sacrificed.

Exactly. Like the lack of a proper GPU.

"I simply hate the new butterfly Apple keyboard. I don’t like the shallow key travel and it’s super noisy."


I started skeptical -- I'm still using a 2012 pre-retina MBP because I can swap out the RAM/drive myself and it appears to be the last option without a damn glossy screen. But I have to try the new hardware, because old hardware doesn't last forever.

The noise and travel from the keyboard is atrocious. Guess if we're all using the touchbar and the giant trackpad it doesn't matter?

I find it funny: nobody complained about the new keyboard design when it was being used in the 2015 MacBook or in the new Magic Keyboard accessory. But now that the same keyboard is a part in a product with a halo of negativity around it, people are much more willing to hate on it.

You have that kind of backwards. People are complaining this time because everybody has tried the 2015 MacBook and everybody knows exactly how bad those butterfly keyboards are.

When the 2015 MacBook came out, nobody knew what a butterfly keyboard was. Nobody had ever tried, felt, or melded with that keyboard. But journalists who got to try it did start hating on it right after the event finished.

Also, the MacBook was an addition to the existing Air + Pro product lines so you could just happily ignore its existence if you didn't like it.

I am a computer professional. I never even considered using the low end MacBook. I imagine all other professionals also disregarded it. So, I don't think this is a reasonable argument. Now that the second generation is being used on a computer for professionals, professionals will start noticing the flaws and voicing their complaints.

> I am a computer professional. I never even considered using the low end MacBook. I imagine all other professionals also disregarded it.

I am a computer professional. I was delighted to get the 2016 MacBook. I imagine plenty, though not all, other professionals also use it -- in fact I see them doing so. I'm also not pompous or insecure enough to feel that there is some sort of magic dividing line between "real" computing folks and mere "consumers".

I must admit I build only small programs with Xcode, doing most of my development in Emacs, doing some compiles locally and much heavy lifting remotely. I have one large simulator that can only run for a few thousand steps locally, but I can happily run it on AWS.

On the other hand it's super-portable, perfectly powerful for the C, C++, Lisp, Java and Rust development I need it for; it runs web browsers, various clients etc perfectly well.

Perhaps if you have to do a lot of image or video editing it wouldn't be enough. It's hard to say, since I used to do editing on a shared 2.5 MIPS mainframe; on the other hand you wouldn't make a modern movie on a MacBook Pro. But you probably write such a program on a machine far less powerful than the users need.

Yes, people did. Lots of people didn't like that Macbook keyboard, and this new one is supposed to be better and improved.

Actually, plenty of people complained about the 2015 MacBook. They are just willing to put up with it more since they understand that the machine prioritises portability above all else.

I did exactly the same thing. I was waiting for this release and knew I'd be updating from my 2012 rMBP this time around.

But, in the end, I couldn't accept the large list of compromises. When it came down to it I specced out a brand new 2015 rMBP on the Apple Store.

I've been using it a couple of weeks now and I'm still glad I made that choice!

Ditto. The compromises aren't worth it. I have no interest in "progress" for progress sake. Achieving a thinner device is not laudable at the expense of utility.

Planning to order a beefed up 15" 2015 model in the new year. Probably a refurb.

Apple doesn't change anything: "They've stopped innovating and become boring."

Apple does change stuff: "Why did they ruin a good thing?"

Apple's whole thing is simple products that work really well, and they're now suffering from it. Android or Windows can add 20 new bells and whistles, whereas that's not Apple's thing. Their initial versions are freakishly well-done (the current iPhone isn't that different from what was released a decade ago, and the MBP hasn't really changed either), and subsequent models suffer from that early level of polish and perfection. They need people to continue buying (they are a company), but really don't have many ways to entice people to.

> They need people to continue buying (they are a company), but really don't have many ways to entice people to.

"What happened at Apple, to be honest, over the years was... the goal used to be to make the best computers in the world. And.. that was goal 1. Goal 2, we got from Hewlett-Packard actually which was "we have to make a profit". Because if we don't make a profit we can't do goal 1. So, yeah, I mean we enjoyed making a profit, but the purpose of making a profit was so we can make the best computers in the world. Along the way somewhere those two got reversed. The goal is to make a lot of money and well, if we have to make some good computers well OK we'll do that... 'cause we can make a lot of money doing that. And, it's very subtle.. it's very subtle at first, but it turns out it's everything. That one little subtle flip... takes 5 years to see it.. but that one little subtle flip in 5 years means everything." - Steve Jobs (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJKmnKbx-aE&feature=youtu.be...)

Considering doing the same thing. I really do not like the compromises of the latest models. But -- were you able to get the model with the discrete GPU? I find the Iris Pro slow when driving an external 4k display, so I wanted to get a model with the discrete GPU, but it seems only integrated graphics models are available.

Author here.

I got the one with Iris Pro. I was a bit worried about performance but after using it for a couple of days I'd say it's more than fine.

I haven't connected it to a 4K display though. I will try that and get back to you.

Yeah, well, I know that Iris Pro is slow with an external 4K display. Not just 3d, even moving windows around is sluggish.

I was hoping it is still possible to buy a 2015 MBP with a discrete Nvidia GPU in it.

I'm using a Dell P2415Q using the provided mDP to DP cable and it works just fine in 4K at 60Hz.

Maybe you were using it at 30Hz?

No, at 60Hz, but we might differ in the definition of "fine" :-)

Moving windows around isn't smooth, resizing large windows is noticeably laggy, things like expose seem slow as well.

He makes no mention of how much money he saved by buying last year's model. I am seriously on the edge of buying a 2016 15" MBP, but with many reservations. I would definitely consider buying a 2015 model, but I'm having a really hard time seeing the value in it.

I can get a reasonably well configured 2016 15" MBP for $3100, and a reasonably "well" configured 2015 15" MBP for $2500. I just don't see shedding $600 as being valuable for what I lose. I'm stilling paying an Apple premium, and if I'm spending that much money on a MBP I want the current model.

Add on the dongles/peripherals you'll need to buy. Don't forget the lack of MagSafe/USB/etc..

I bought a 2nd-hand (from a specialist 2nd store, who test everything) immaculate MacBook Pro 11,5 (Mid-2015) 2.5GHz i7 - 512Gb SSD - 16Gb RAM for £1200 (~ $1500) and saved nearly £1000 on the same spec new.

Also, last night, if I'd had a new 2016 model, it would have flown across the floor onto the hard kitchen floor as someone accidentally tripped on my power cord.

Never been more thankful for MagSafe.

Buyer Beware.

Most of the people buying the 2015 models now consider it the superior product. The fact that it's also cheaper is just a bonus.

Add the money you save by not buying a new magsafe charger every year as well because it will fail eventually.

I did the same and I'm also sticking with El Capitan. I have no use of Siri, Sierra broke Karabiner (Karabiner Elements mappings are not sufficient for my keyboard), and mouse scroll was also behaving weird on Sierra. f.lux is showing artifacts with fullscreen video. It feels like this will be my last Mac, which sucks because I bought my first Mac three years ago and completely stopped using Windows last year. It might be time to embrace Linux for desktop when it's time to replace the 2015 MacBook Pro.

May do the same. Quality wise I can't find anything comparable to Mac and I find the latest one has too many quirks.

A 2015 model or a Thinkpad. Still deciding.

I wanted to get a Thinkpad too but the monitor may come with PWM which is a deal breaker for me.

Is this the same with Lenovo Yoga series?

I also did the same and I'm very happy. I added a permanently-in microSD card too for backup. Always buy last-generation.

I've got the very same thoughts.

My 2014 15" MBP is mostly fine, however it needs some cleaning and anti-reflective coating issue has become really annoying lately. 2015 vs 2016 was hard since there's so little feedback from actual users(power\professional ones) and this post is really helpful. I haven't heard anything more annoying(to my ears) than this new keyboard.

Still buying smth 1.5 years old(instead of 2.5 y.o.) not to satisfy your expectations, just to meet your needs(old ones, but with no stain issues)... Is it the world that "pro"+"mobile" Apple users should live from now on? :\

Yeah especially for developers there's never a need for the latest and greatest. For creative professional they never upgrade the os on a piece of hardware, that's another reaso they choose Macosx over Windows for things like making hit songs or doing movie editing or soundtracks. For creative professionals they need the latest hardware to test their entire setup with the next version of MacOsx. As developers its moree cost effective for us to buy these second hand systems from creative professionals doing their upgrade cycle than going brand new.

If you write software using a language with a compilation step, you certainly need the latest and greatest.

Except that this time the "latest and greatest" doesn't really offer better compilation times.

Did exactly the same thing here. Bought 2nd-hand. Immaculate. Saved £900!

Did the same thing. Then I went even further and bought a maxed out 2011 17" MBP.

I did the same and I have zero regrets.


this is sort of my modus operandi...every time they do a new form factor I usually wait till the second release.

I for one, do like the new direction of the MacBooks Pro - I think the ideal would be a 13" as 1) all the dedicated GPUs in the mobile space that I have used have always crapped out due to the combo of heat and bad BGA array solder (maybe things are better now than the fiascos with '08 vintage nVidia and ATI chips but that instilled a healthy amount of paranoia), and I have been moving towards wireless everything, dongle-free workflows. External storage and gizmos are through bluetooth or 802.11ac, or Apple TV airplay when possible. Assuming hardware v.2 gets some polished and the fancy contoured batteries, that will probably be good for me.

I suspect the Mark Gurman article was right - could have used a little more polish. Now that Jony Ive and Bob Mansfield's attn turned elsewhere, Apple has to find good successors to their roles...but this is something a successful corp has to do or else fall by the wayside.

These recent articles about the MBP make me wonder: am I the only one who dislikes working on laptops in general, and refuses to buy one?

> These recent articles about the MBP make me wonder: am I the only one who dislikes working on laptops in general, and refuses to buy one?

They're great. You can change where you're working when you want for a change of scenery or for comfort reasons, you can take a laptop to presentations and meetings, and you can be fully productive on trains and in hotels when you're travelling. It's limiting if you're only able to work from a single physical desk and a bit more power from a desktop doesn't outweigh that for me.

I love laptops. Easy to carry, always has my stuff on it. I connect to a big monitor/keyboard/mouse at my desk both at home/work... use a laptop when I travel or work from the coffee shop/bar/etc.

I haven't owned a desktop since maybe 2002, and can't imagine ever getting one again.

I use a Mac mini hooked up to a 34" ultra wide monitor and love it. Have no use for a more powerful machine and would hate to do work anywhere but my desk. My iPad mini is fine for browsing when I'm not at my desk.

After using desktops exclusively for over a decade, I went exclusively laptop in 2012. It was alright, and while laptops were able to fill most of my needs (they were all 15" high end models), there were always times here and there where the limitations inherent to being a reasonably portable laptop reared their heads, and it was always frustrating. Just a couple months ago I built myself a new tower and now it's where I do most of my free time computing, and it's really great to not have to deal with aforementioned limits.

It's also just staggeringly more powerful than my laptop. My tower compiles projects in Xcode 2x-3x as fast as my top of the line 2015 15" rMBP, and that time saved really piles up.

Probably no, but it all boils down to personal preferences. I type this in my bed with a glass of wine next to me. I use the same machine in class on Monday and I use the same thing for client work... and so on and so on.

If you are fine with your desktop environment that's okay :)

+ this is not an MBP, just a 4 years old Dell with 1366x768 resolution. It's just fine. If I work on a larger project I just plug 2 extra screens and I'm good to go.

I think very few people choose to work at a laptop when a desktop is available.

A docked laptop is as good as a desktop.

No, it really isn't. Desktop cpus blow mobile cpus out of the water (same with gpus, of course), and can use far more RAM and disk storage. Laptops simply have the rather massive advantage of portability.

Does the horsepower give you any extra capability these days though? My laptop (Surface Book) is plenty powerful enough for development, even a certain amount of 3D rendering.

It depends what you're doing as to whether the CPU is enough, but RAM is still a frequently-cited constraint in the laptop world. Obviously with the immense rise in popularity of laptops, mobile CPUs are now 'fast enough' and have been for a while, but when you do need the grunt, desktops are nice. I imagine most developers these days have 'forgotten' how nicely desktops perform, simply due to lack of access.

My own anecdata: I work in two places, one where I have a 'nice' laptop (some old-but-beefy Alienware thing) and one where I have a 'nice' whitebox desktop. When I'm on the desktop, I find that I'm not keeping my computer's limitations in mind as I do my work, whereas on the laptop I do. It's not at the forefront of my mind, but it's there to some degree. Before I moved to the Alienware (16G ram), I was on an 8G laptop, and I had daily issues with that constraint - even though all I used daily were terminals, about 15-20 browser tabs[1], and maybe a screencap program.

Then I go home and play games, and in that realm, laptops really are the middle-child if the game has any GPU or CPU heft (though again, laptops have the benefit of portability).

[1] not all website are created equal, of course...

I've always wondered: has any computer ever come with a "dock" that actually contains its own CPU+GPU+RAM+disks+etc, such that, when you plug the "computer" into the "dock", you're really telling the "dock" to boot and parasitize all the "computer's" PCI-E peripherals into its own address-space?

Sort of like an iMac's Target Display Mode, but in reverse: instead of the "guest" computer doing the work and the "host" computer acting as a dumb frame-buffer, the "host" does the work and the "guest" acts as a Thunderbolt hub.

You want to be running the "guest" since that's where all your work is (just having access to the disk isn't really enough, you want to run your apps/settings/etc). I think we may see a move towards docks with graphics cards, but the CPU and RAM probably want to stay on the guest computer.

I would imagine that the "host" would be diskless and would treat the "guest"'s boot disk as its boot disk. It's effectively the same as swapping the guest disk into the host, but all its other peripherals (ports, sensors, etc.) come along as well.

This is why I was asking whether there was ever a dock made for a specific computer that had this feature: it requires the guest's disk's OS to have drivers to let it boot the host—or even hardware compatibility such that docking the "guest" would cause it to hibernate to disk, and then boot from that same hibernation image on the host. That basically requires the host and guest [the dock and the portable] to be made together.

(And that's not even getting into weird things you could do with live process migration and NUMA and memory hotplug if you want to make both the host's and guest's processors available without an effective reboot/hibernation/sleep step.)

An aside: before it was revealed what exactly the Nintendo Switch was (a portable with a variable clock rate that overclocks itself when plugged into a heatsink dock), I had a suspicion that it might use this architecture: a portable that just turns itself into a disk and Bluetooth controller for a more powerful non-portable when plugged into it.

> You want to be running the "guest" since that's where all your work is (just having access to the disk isn't really enough, you want to run your apps/settings/etc). I think we may see a move towards docks with graphics cards, but the CPU and RAM probably want to stay on the guest computer.

Like the Razer Core, with USB-C. Yep, I can see this happening, but also remote gaming where you rent the workstation and just get a thin client which only has to be able to download and see the 'movie'.

Gaming-wise, I can also see use cases where you want to get additional CPU power.

> Like the Razer Core, with USB-C.

Yeah, I was thinking of my Surface Book (with the graphics card in the base).

> Yep, I can see this happening, but also remote gaming where you rent the workstation and just get a thin client which only has to be able to download and see the 'movie'.

I suspect the inherent latency will always argue against remote gaming - especially for the kind of games where you most want extra computing power.

> Yeah, I was thinking of my Surface Book (with the graphics card in the base).

Excellent example. In theory it could also work with devices like the newest MBPs.

> I suspect the inherent latency will always argue against remote gaming - especially for the kind of games where you most want extra computing power.

Not necessarily. FPS and perhaps LoL, sure. RPG such as WoW, not really.

Not sure about AR/VR.

If one doesn't have/want a PC workstation with a strong graphics card, and one does have a laptop, why not just a Razer Core or akin device?

Until we can just have those in the device itself. But that is gonna take a while!

I have Dell XPS 15 with quad-core i7, 512 SSD, dedicated GPU and 16 GB of RAM. It's plenty for anything I want to do ... with the added benefit of mobility. Why desktop?

These days if you're purchasing a computer the default option is a laptop. You have to have a good reason not to go with a laptop.

I have a NUC, which is the size of a video cassette and thus doesn't consume much desk space.

Once you plug in a mouse, keyboard, and external screens, a laptop then just becomes clutter. So, I mainly use my laptop for on-the-go such as at university libraries.

For awhile I had a desktop with two 24 inch monitors, and a retina Mac Book Pro. I would always use the Mac Book because after having the Retina screen there and on the phone, standard PC monitors looked fuzzy. I stopped using the desktop and eventually junked it.

I'm considering getting a desktop again but would only get the Retina iMac.

It doesn't have to be either or. Use the best of two worlds i.e. laptop for mobility and desktop for the rest. Various forms of sync and remote desktop aid where needed.

I am of similar views. The feel of both performance and real keyboards/screens boosts my productivity significantly but I can see how others are able to get things done on a laptop.

I also dislike laptops but they are nice in that you can work anywhere. Nothing really beats a nice mouse, keyboard, and 5k screen.

Um... you can connect all of those in a laptop.

Well, maybe not a 5K display, but 4K should be more than fine.

> Nothing really beats a nice mouse

vim :^)

edit: How little humor do people have, christ. Can't even make a joke. people get triggered too easily.

Why not have both?

I own the basic 2015 15" model and it works really well. The discounted price difference between the two models is $400. The 512 GB 2016 model (as opposed to the 256 GB model) has SSD read benchmarks that are considerably faster than the 2015 model if that is important. The 2016 model is somewhat smaller and lighter and the battery life is about 2 hours longer. I like the keyboard on the 2016 model and many seem to like it after they get used to it. For me the MagSafe adapter is annoying because after a short time it start to fall off if it is hanging over a table edge. The power adapters on the 2015 and earlier models have problems with the insulating material coming off. The 2016 model has a replaceable cord that detaches from the power brick. The 2016 models can drive 5K displays.

I got an MBP 13'' last year, and after reading many of the internet reviews and reports, I'll be sticking with it for at least a couple more generations / years, if not many more.

I have to admit, that I find the touchbar to be a gimmick - but a gimmick with lots of potential. Once Apple has ironed out the current issues, it might become a pretty neat enhancement to the rather static, traditional, physical keyboard.

The dimensions and weight of the new MBP are a huge step forward, indeed. But one can live without it, as 3.02 pounds (1.37kg) is not THAT much of a difference, as compared to 3.48 pounds (1.58kg). I mean yes, you notice the thinness and lightness of the new MBP, no question about that. But believe me, it's not even close to the previous jump (which I won't Google now).

Now for the controversial part: at most 16GB of RAM for the new MBP, really Apple? It almost sounds like a joke. And the CPU, well, I guess Apple is not the one to blame here, since Intel probably is the culprit here, but there really is pretty much no noticeable improvement over the previous generation AT ALL.

USB-C? Yeah, I like it. Don't have any devices that support it, but I can understand that it is the future. Really. But how on earth does Apple think that it is a good idea to just not have Magsafe anymore?! If there is one thing that even Apple haters have considered amazing, it is Magsafe. Now it's gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. This makes me sad, as I don't think there is going to be something similar anytime soon...

Now listen Apple. There is this company that you've been ahead of for many years. Yeah, I'm taking about Microsoft. They are BACK. And as much as I dislike their OS, they are improving their hardware AND software much, much faster than you are. If I was you, I would start to at least TRY to be a bit more revolutionary again. Because in 5 years from now, people might find your hardware a scam, and your software not that good anymore.

Sincerely, a software engineer that likes his MacOS and MBP.

The 13" non touchbar version is the MacBook Air I've always wanted: thin, light, great screen and 16gb of ram. I bought one and couldn't be happier. They're priced more reasonably than the touchbar versions too.

Man, that keyboard sounds really bad. Can anyone with the new MBP confirm it's as noisy as that video makes it sound, even after you adapt to it? As a Vim user, a noisy keyboard scares the hell out of me.

any links to a cheap 2015 MBP?


Apple is clearly gearing up to sunset the MacBooks. You can be in denial about it, but it's inevitable.

The quality has been declining for some time because engineers are being usurped for bigger, money-making endeavors.

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