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The best laptop ever made (marco.org)
390 points by hodgesmr 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 233 comments



I knew what laptop Marco would be talking about before I clicked on the link. Perhaps that says something about Marco, but I have the feeling it's almost certainly about how widely-lauded the old rMBP was, and still clearly is.

Apple got so many things right with it, because all the design choices made sense, for exactly the reasons Marco gives.

The design choices being made at the top of Apple no longer make sense. Take the touch-bar, for example; it was a passable idea, but flawed in execution and production. If you want another example, how about DongleGate™? The most recent USB-C trend was not handled the way Apple used to handle standards progressions. Yes, they annoyed us in the past with too many FireWire ports, and an overly-futureproofed candy drop iMac (USB)... But even then, those choices made sense because the rest of the ecosystem was thought about. This is clear when you compare it to today's offering, where you cannot plug a new iPhone into a new MacBook, out of the box! Incredible...


I thought "DongleGate" refers to that incident at PyCon in 2013 where someone made a bad joke about "dongles" within earshot of a woman who became offended. She took a photo of them, posted it on social media, and got them fired, and then she got fired for getting them fired.


My eye started twitching just thinking about that one.


DongleGate™ arguably started (and was likely internally fomented) with this edition of the MacBook Pro.

This was the first MacBook Pro to exclude an ethernet port, and when Desktop Support at my company handed it to me, I looked at it and asked them what the fuck was I supposed to do about it? They shrugged, threw up their hands and left (I was the prima donna that asked for the Mac, figure it out asshole), and so I limped along on guest wi-fi for a week, until figuring out that I had to buy a dongle if I wanted to use wired ethernet. Eventually snagged some from desktop IT services too, but initially, they were callous and indifferent to my plight.

If anything seeing the statistics for the successful sales of this model and related essential dongle accessories, despite knee-capping ethernet, and forcing dongle adoption to replace an old, standard, widely reliable and convenient data bus standard, could only have inspired and emboldened choices like the headphone jack debacle and USB-C minimalism which still plague us even today.


DongleGate is a real thing, I'm actually putting off getting a new MPB until I get my head around what I can and cannot use different USB-C connectors for, but honestly dropping wired ethernet along with the optical drive was the right thing to do.

There has to be a balance between features on the device and the number of people that will end up ever using them. Hardly anyone uses wired ethernet these days, so expecting the tiny percentage that do (most of whom are probably on HN knowing my luck) to use a dongle is a justifiable decision.

The USB-C debacle is not justifiable. It's a stupid, necessary mess that will affect almost everybody at some point or other.


Hardly anyone at home, maybe. I still plug my desktop into wired at home, and the vast majority of computers at work have wired dock stations that work so much better than the WiFi in the building.

I don’t think you can honestly say hardly anyone uses wired Ethernet.


I'd put money on 90%+ of desktops being wired, but in the context of laptops, it's a pretty reasonable statement to make.


  Hardly anyone uses wired ethernet...
Au contraire! Anyone familiar with wi-fi security knows better than to trust the flimsy authentication protocols, and even flimsier application layer implemntation of the user interfaces that control and behave as lock and key for the (more difficult to crack) actual encryption that protects the traffic itself.

Wireless communication is often attacked at the joints, by targeting the login handshakes that relay the password-oriented auth tokens back and forth, when confirming access. These side channel attacks on encryption are more likely to succeed than trying to capture a terabyte of traffic, in order to crack the encryption itself.

Anyone tasked with the technical aspects of handling millions of dollars securely, is likely to be avoidant of wi-fi for some select activities, where convenience is not the priority. If you know you're a spear phishing target, there are certain things you don't do over wi-fi.


It obviously depends on your use-case, but in my case I have the LG monitor recommended for the MPB.

This monitor serves as a secondary display, a laptop charger, _and_ a USB-C hub. I ended up throwing a USB hub on my desk connected to the monitor for keyboard + mouse.

When I get to my desk, I plug in one cable to the computer and everything works. I know that ThinkPad people have had this sort of stuff for ages, but it's much nicer than my old workflow of magsafe + display port + USB setup.


The late 2014 rMBP's were the last of the good ones. After that they put the stupid "force touch" trackpads in them, which have slightly but perceptibly worse mechanical response to being clicked. I still miss my 2014's trackpad all the time.


I don't know, the force-touch pad is maybe my favorite hardware feature of my 2015 MBP (my first Mac actually). Being able to use the same amount of force to click regardless of finger position is really something.


I really loved the 2012-2015 line of MBPs. I didn't have a 15 inch, but the 13 inch one. It'll always be my favourite as it's the perfect balance between size/portability/power/style.


Agreed. My dream is a 13" with a quad-core CPU and TB3. With e-gpus progressing they way there are with TB3, my laptop is very close to replacing my desktop as well.


I had to get a new MBP really quick, and didn't know about the USB-C. I couldn't even use it for work since none of the monitors (one Thunderbolt, one would HDMI) would plug in, my iPhone used for dev didn't fit and and my USB-keyboard was a mismatch. Such a poor implementation.


I feel like the odd one out. I buy a new MBP every 12-18 months (have owned all Intel generations), use my MBP for hours every day, and think the latest is by far the best.

Being able to charge on either side is a big deal for me as I move around a lot, plus being able to use 30W USB-C power packs and third party chargers (e.g. Anker) without fear of fire.. a massive boon for me, especially as my phone and Nintendo Switch work on the same cables. USB-C cables fall out with little tension so have had no pre-MagSafe style accidents so far.

The touchpad is better than my 2016, the touchbar is almost pointless to me but no worse in operation, and it runs way cooler and quieter - the past two generations used to burn my legs and were noisy. The only downsides are reduced battery life (not a big issue to me) and the keyboard. I like the reduced travel, but it can "clog".. if they fix that, I prefer its design overall.


> I feel like the odd one out.

You're not. I have the late 2016 model. It replaced my ~2013-2014 model and I consider it an improvement.

The Touch Bar / touch-id is a (mostly irrelevant) improvement over a row of keys that I never used.

I think my computer would be worse if it dedicated space to a SD card slot reader. I've never used it.

I wouldn't mind a USB-A port. But I have only wanted to plug something in twice over the last year and the adapter was fine.

I really don't see why I want an HDMI port. I have never used it once over the last decade I have owned Mac laptops.

I get that Marco wants this stuff. He runs some complicated portable podcast setup that pretty much requires every port on the old laptop. But I can't really tell the difference between him and the people that did not want Apple to remove the ethernet port. Or the floppy drive. Or the VGA port. Or DVI. Or the DVD-ROM drive.

The only port removal issue that I suspect hits a sizable number of users is the iPhone cord still being USB-A.


>SD card slot reader

Expansion, not sure how many people realise this - I have a 128GB card and make heavy use of the extra storage on top of my internal 256GB SSD.


I agree, but the keyboard is what gets me the most. I can get used to the feel, but it is simply too unreliable for a $2k computer. A spec of dust can bring it down for crying out loud.


You know it's an issue when apple releases an official guide on cleaning the keyboard for users with unresponsive keys due to dust.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205662


I’ve had a new MBP since it came out and also had a 12” MB too with virtually the same keyboard and never had a keyboard problem with dust. I wonder what I’m doing different?


Yes. It's ridiculous.


I totally agree, though a MacBook Pro (note the Pro) with all these ports is a legitimate option. It's a similar situation as with the old Mac Pro and the new Mac Pro. Luckily they realized the problem. Honestly, Apple has the funds to offer both options: An ultra lightweight laptop series called 'MacBook' and a 'MacBook Pro' series with all these ports like USB-A, USB-C, SD-Card and HDMI that the pros need.


> I wouldn't mind a USB-A port.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but this is a non-issue because of the existence of USB wires that have USB-C on one end and USB-A on the other, isn't that right?

Basically, any device which is USB-A works just fine if you simply use a USB-C<->USB-A wire.


The main reason to want an HDMI port appears to be that the external HDMI adapters are flakey as hell and simply do not work as consistently as the built in port. We have some LCD flatscreens in the conference rooms at the office, and one of the brands (which we've had since 2013) causes the brans new MBPs to panic.


On the USB-A port thing, what reason does anyone have for plugging their phone into their computer anymore, though? Everything about iOS and macOS now supports wireless sync and file transfer. I can't think of a single thing that I'd even need that for...


>On the USB-A port thing, what reason does anyone have for plugging their phone into their computer anymore, though?

I'm a mobile dev. Also to charge it.


You can charge any modern smartphone (except iPhone) with the USB-C cable coming from your laptop charger


I'm a fairly happy MBP 2016 user. I would love to have a single USB-A port. And that is because of the logitech unifying receiver[1], the Elecom wireless trackball dongle[2], or the plantronics voyager uc adapter[3]. These are all USB-A and fit almost flush with the laptop, unless you have to attach a usb-c adapter, in which case you have to stick out 2" with a ridid adapter, or a 6" flexible cable adapter.

Now you're probably thing "but what about bluetooth"? And I'd agree. In fact, I have almost no need anymore for the unifying receiver. Except my elecom trackball isn't bluetooth, and up until this year's Logitech MX Ergo, bluetooth trackballs just were not an option. I still prefer the Elecom over the MX Ergo.

And the plantronics headset? I've gone through so many bluetooth headsets, and this is really the best one I've ever found that lets me switch between phone and PC. However - computer bluetooth leaves something to be desired for VOIP windows and mac). That's where their UC adapter comes in - it makes voice conferences heavenly sounding.

Anyways, these are small nitpicks. When I'm at my desk, my laptop is docked and the various accessories live in the dock. It's really only when I travel or want to use that headset to take a zoom call on my computer from the couch that I find myself missing it. I'd love to just leave that tiny dongle live in the laptop all the time instead of retrieving it (plus usb-c to usb-a adapter) as I'm setting up for the call.

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/Unifying-receiver-keyboard-Logitech-c... [2]: https://www.amazon.com/ELECOM-M-XT3DRBK-Wireless-Trackball-f... [3]: http://www.qtooth.com/plantronics-voyager-legend-uc-bluetoot...


I use these https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3... to alleviate the 'sticking out' problem.


Surprised Logitech doesn’t sell a $10 USB-C unifying receiver.


If you have a long commute, it’s nice to have a 4lb battery strapped to your back


What does that have to do with having a USB-A port on the computer?


I use my notebook all the time to charge my iphone. Especially if I happen to be using the phone as a hotspot whilst out and about.


tethering while working on the train


Yep. I love my late 2013 15" (typing on it now), but also use a late 2016. They're both great machines, and there were controversial things about the 2012-era models at the time (soldered RAM, proprietary PCI connector for the SSD (I don't believe there was a standard for this at the time), no ethernet, the usual chiclet keyboard qualms, etc.) and that Marco doesn't mention those today actually bodes well for the latest design, I think.

The USB-C transition is certainly painful right now, but he's glossed over many advantages of the current model too:

- 3+GB/s (yes, gigabytes) storage speed

- 10Gb/s USB (and 4 of them)

- Thunderbolt 3 (and 4 of them)

- Discreet GPU is standard (thank you Apple)

- Touch ID on a Mac really is nice

- Better screen (actually very low reflectivity for a so-called "glossy")

- Better sound

- Better cooling (and quieter indeed)

- Does make the previous model seem thick and heavy to me, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that one

- I like the keyboard, but it requires some adjustment for sure


He didn't "gloss over" the standard discreet GPU. He specifically mentioned that the integrated GPU was a benefit for the increased battery life it allowed, and that it wasn't a performance sacrifice for non-gamers and non-video-focused professionals.


Because most of these here aren't design Changes. They are technical. You could have fitted all these technical improvement in the previous MBP as well.


To me, the only downside is trackpad - it's too large and palm rejection ain't working perfectly.

Keyboard is better, screen is better, ports and touchbar - neutral.


I wouldn't say it's the only downside, but it's my #1 complaint about the new MBP as well - the trackpad is bigger, which is not useful at all, and I constantly have problems with it.

Especially when trying to use things like 3-finger drag, or 2-finger scroll, it feels like half the time it's not working properly. It completely removes the spontaneity / "no thinking about it" quality of what was once the literally best part of Apple's laptops - the fact that the trackpad is an amazing input device for laptops.


It IS incredibly frustrating. And I dont understand, Why Apple has kept the keyboard the same size across both MBP, but not the track pad. The MBP 13 track pad size on MBP15 would be perfect.


I felt similarly about the trackpad in the first few weeks but somehow the problem seems to have "gone away". I'm suspecting this is some sort of unconscious physical adaptation on my part..


Apparently I can't adapt. Spurious touch events while typing are incredibly frustrating on my 2016 MBP. I love the display and the size and weight but overall I'm a bit disappointed in my $3600 purchase.


$3600 was a lot. Too much for me, and i returned mine, and got a refurb 2015. Almost same CPU speed, longer battery life, quieter keyboard, more usable trackpad, retina screen. You can get refurb 2016 models now for ~$2500 - a better deal, but the 2016 changes - I just don't know who asked for them. I couldn't type in the same room as someone else without them being aware of it - that's just... a big problem (in my eyes/ears).

I will probably end up getting one of these 'newer fangled' models at some point, if only for faster CPU, eventually, but I was quite disappointed in the 2016 model, as were many of the long-time Mac users I know.


You're not the odd one out, at least not to me. I also consider the newest MBP to be the best one, though I will admit that I really, really loved the one Marco's talking about in the OP.

For me, the Touch Bar is awesome and is super useful to me when doing video and audio editing and BetterTouchTool basically makes it useful in absolutely any app I want. The touchpad is almost laughably huge but, to me, it's way more useful than the smaller one, and I'm a big fan of the keyboard. It's a little loud but it has a very solid feel and I never feel like I miss a key accidentally because of the keyboard. It's very, very consistent for me and I really like that.

Overall, I just think it's a better computer for my case. I have 1 dongle that has USB, VGA, HDMI, and ethernet and I've used it twice since I got the laptop.


I recently picked up a 2017 15 inch with Touch Bar and I honestly love it. I feel like it's one of the best MacBook Pro I have ever owned (soldered components and all), except for the first 17 inch Aluminum PowerBook and my Thinkpad 600E/X it's my favorite laptop so far. I like the touch bar too (Nyan Cat [0] makes it worth it alone). It seems like it's ripe for playing around, fun little hacking/side project fun, and who knows, maybe something useful can come of it. It also just seems like the next step up from the finger readers on all the other laptops in the marketplace currently.

[0] https://github.com/avatsaev/touchbar_nyancat


You're not, there's even a relevant XKCD for this: https://www.xkcd.com/1172/

For one subset of users (of which I'm a part) I'd need one dongle - USB-C to DisplayPort - because everything else I need for my software development job is wireless. I'd occasionally need an SD Card reader for my camera, but I'm more likely to use my iPad Pro's dongle.

For others, they've invested in a lot of attached hardware that would need dongles to attach. It's a real pain for them.

Nobody's right or wrong, and to please everyone they'd need to maintain two models of MacBook Pro and that's not Apple's way. They'll either be successful, or like the Mac Pro they'll have to back out and redesign. They might lose users along the way but I'm sure they're aware of the risk. After all the play-it-safe PC laptop brands are nowhere near as successful.


Wait till your Macbook dies and you try to pull some data out of the soldered on SSD. I find dongles annoying, lack of magsafe irritating but the soldered on SSD is what really puts me off.


But you have backups right? Betting on data recovery is a really poor strategy, you might drop your laptop under a truck.


Yeah sure. But sometimes you are traveling, without access to your backup. Or something did not yet make it to the backup. Or whatever, 100 other situations. Making SSD soldered on as opposed to putting a $3 connector just adds to fragility. On $3k laptop. No thanks.


And the only reason that decision was made was to stop you from DIY upgrading the SSD and getting a few more years out of your $3k laptop


No. It was done to save motherboard space.

Those upgradable connector ports have a cost associated with them.


Well which is it, space or cost?


So a connector is /less/ fragile than a soldered connection? I don’t think so.

If you’re really depending that much on the ad-hoc access to a backup, drop an additional external SSD in your bag and add it to timemachine. That’s even more secure. I highly doubt that you are currently packing an external adapter to transplant your internal SSD to in case your notebook fails....


Let me explain: motherboard has 1000 components. One of them fails and it is likely a brick. SSD contains several chips. Most probably what will fail will not be an SSD but some capacitor somewhere on CPU power line. With a separate SSD, you buy connector/another laptop, pull it out of a bricked machine and you are good to go. With a soldered on SSD you a F^%$ed. All for a $3 connector.

I'm not paying $3k to be inconvenienced by such retarded design and carry yet another ssd along with my bag of dongles, because apple decided to get cheap on a $3 connector. Kapish?


This makes me so sad. My laptop is a tool that I use for close to 12 (maybe even more!) hours per day. Every single day. It is the tool I use more than any other tool. It is such an important part of my life. It's so important that it work well.

I remember when I got my first MBP (it was a 2010 model). I had long been a linux user, and getting the mac was something I had done begrudgingly. I remember how the little LED on the front would fade (not blink!) on and off. I thought it was really cool. I heard a story (maybe from here, actually?) that the apple engineers studied the way that humans breathe when they're sleeping, and modeled the fade after that.

When I told this story to one of my friends (a long time mac user) she just laughed and said "Welcome to mac, Ryan.".

I can't imagine a "welcome to mac" story like that one anymore. The only version of "welcome to mac" I can think of is Apple seemingly crippling their own hardware. Can't use your headphones on their $1000 (!) phone? Welcome to mac! Can't plug anything USB into your laptop without an adapter? Welcome to mac! Can't even plug your $1000 phone into your $1500 laptop made by the same company without an adapter? Welcome to mac!

The new MBPs are just such a downgrade. I totally get why they dropped the optical drive when they did. Online/flash storage was getting cheap enough and ubiquitous enough that it was a real replacement for CDs.

This is not the case with USB-C, evidenced by the fact that apple doesn't even use it on their own consumer electronics yet (!!!).

The new macs are really pretty. I do not understand and probably will never understand their hardware design decisions.


I was in your spot also. Had an x200/x201 hybrid running Arch. Dropped it on concrete from 6' in a server room one day sending it to the morgue. I was in the anti-apple camp until my work offered me a replacement of either a MBPr or an X1 Carbon. I made the switch to the MBPr because of the 16:10 screen (I can't stand 16:9 in a laptop).

My god was that an eye opening experience. I'm still on my 4 year old 13" MBPr and it works flawlessly. It's easily the best consumer computing product I've ever used/owned. Everything is thought out so well.

The new macs have so much that I like, but the touchbar, the new keyboard, the dropping of the sd-card slot (hobby photographer here), and the dropping of magsafe seem like huge regressions to me. Everything else is great. I firmly support the USB-C switch. The new chassis is amazing, the new P3 display, and TB3 put it close to perfection.

Apple is so, so, close to making the perfect laptop again. Give me a quad core 13" MBPr with no touchbar, improve the keyboard, and return magsafe and the sd-card slot and I'll dish out the money. Until then, my amazing 2014 MBPr will continue to be my daily driver.


> This is not the case with USB-C, evidenced by the fact that apple doesn't even use it on their own consumer electronics yet (!!!).

The biggest problem IMO is that Apple decided to outsource the whole connectivity problem to third party. Apple provides no [1] cable, no monitor, no external anything that uses the ports. At the very least Apple could have done some sort of certification program so that their user are not left with an infinite combination of unmarked cables of varying capability, or something to show commitment and strategy.

That's like removing the headphone jack and failing to provide their Airpods for months. But at least they announced the Airpods ...

2015 was a terrible year for Apple, the year they did nothing right - not because their product were bad just meh, but their delivery, the PR was terrible. 2016 is ok so far, but following 2015 it does not feel like enough.

[1] OK they provide cable and dongle, the point is that there is no USB-C product line or anything special around them, nothing that really help or make USB-C cool, just Apple-basic package as exiting as the ashtray option in a Tesla.


> 2016 is ok so far,

I think you have your years off.


> I totally get why they dropped the optical drive when they did. Online/flash storage was getting cheap enough and ubiquitous enough that it was a real replacement for CDs.

> This is not the case with USB-C, evidenced by the fact that apple doesn't even use it on their own consumer electronics yet (!!!).

A better comparison would be when the original iMac abruptly dropped support for SCSI, ADB, and serial in favor of USB, which was almost unknown at the time. The iMac drove demand for USB peripherals and started us down the path to USB becoming ubiquitous, but everyone griped about it at the time and there were all sorts of ADB-to-USB adapters for awhile.

That being said, I think USB-C does have some serious issues which Marco outlines well in another post: https://marco.org/2017/10/14/impossible-dream-of-usb-c


>> the original iMac abruptly dropped support for SCSI, ADB, and serial in favor of USB

Except, the next few updates of that iMac brought 2 FireWire ports, a 56k modem port, ethernet, and a Mezzanine slot


And you could put an SCSI card into that Mezzanine slot.

We had a generation B iMac, and it was an incredibly versatile machine.

It worked with all our old SCSI stuff (Scanner, ZIP drive), supported all the new USB printers (no need to get a "Mac" printer anymore)...

Only stupid thing was that all those connectors where squeezed into a tiny space behind that a small door.

I loved that computer.


I completely agree with you. As a long time Mac user I remember how Macs would delight you with the details. The thoughtfulness that went into making your life easier, to facilitate getting your work done.

With this latest generation of MacBooks, it seems that you have to constantly struggle to adapt to them, not the other way. You need to bring dongles to connect peripherals, the charger no longer has MagSafe and the LED that used to tell you when it was charging and when it was fully charged, etc.


Same story here. I had used a mix of Fedora/Debian with a custom window manager for the longest time. Then reluctantly got a macbook and had a great user experience.

I used to love Macbooks, now I hate them with passion.


For me it's the Lenovo T61 with a 14.4" 4:3 display (or any of the older 4:3 IBMs).

Yes, compared to modern laptops it is heavy, slow, bulky and has a shitty display but: i) I can replace every single piece of it with a simple screwdriver and ii) 4:3 is still the best aspect ratio for reading and developing. If I am doing the latter I prefer a screen with a lot of height. A 4:3 aspect ratio gives me a tall screen while keeping the overall size of the laptop down.

When DVDs became popular there was suddenly the idea that a laptop _had_ to have a 16:9 aspect ratio (e.g. "HD") and unfortunately this killed the whole idea of a laptop with a tall but narrow screen. Microsoft seems to go back to an older style with their 3:2 but I'd still love to see a modern T61 with a true 4:3 screen.


I thought it was going to be an older Thinkpad. Matte screen, great keyboard, three-button touchpad, runs Linux, and you could drop it on concrete while running with barely a scratch. (I haven't dropped one recently to test the newer models.) Also cheap next-day, at-home repair plans where they drive to your house and fix anything that is broken without asking any questions.


The matte screen is a must have for me. I dislike seeing reflections and find matte screens have way less eyestrain.


> For me it's the Lenovo T61 with a 14.4" 4:3 display (or any of the older 4:3 IBMs).

Which is why I thought it was odd that he didn't even mention aspect ratio. 16:9, for example, is a deal-breaker for me personally. This limits the kind of devices I have available (and sadly, increases the price point) but I simply can't do 16:9 as I find it too constraining.

My options today are 16:10 and 3:2. From a hardware standpoint, Apple's document-friendly screens on both their laptops and tablets have always been a strong selling point. Currently on a 16:10 but shopping around for a more modern 3:2/16:10 that's Linux-friendly.


What do you find constraining with 16:9? It's got more wasted space than 4:3 when you're working with a single window I guess, but who seriously works with just one open window?

Maybe I'm having trouble envisioning a modern 4:3 screen, since the only ones I have for reference are a couple old 19" ones I've got lying around but I can't imagine I would comfortably be able to have 3 vertically split files open on a screen e.g.


The main advantage (at least for me) is the physical height of the display. If I sit in front of a laptop I don't want to look _down_, I want to look forward as much as possible. The taller the screen, the more comfortable I can sit. And the T61 with a 4:3 ratio has a higher display than all modern laptops while keeping the size down. I could get a 17" gaming laptop for a similar height but those machines are massive.


As a longtime and current Thinkpad user, the best 4:3 solution on the market today is Apple’s iPad Pro 12” Retina TrueTone + Logitech Create keyboard + Pencil.

There is no technical or supply chain barrier to 4:3 displays, panels are available in quantity on alibaba.


16:9 (or 21:9 even) is fine for large displays that sit on top of a desk but wide aspect ratios don't have the required physical vertical height to be comfortable at laptop sizes.


I miss 16:10. Probably will never have those in a 4k resolution.


Seconding 4:3 being the absolutely best aspect ratio for working with text. My X220 is amazing in a lot of ways but 16:9 is borderline unusable on any display under ~17 inches in my experience. Even 16:10 feels so much better.

You may be interested in making a "T70", which is a 15.4" T61 shell with a contemporary motherboard made by a group of Chinese ThinkPad enthusiasts. I've been considering an "X62" (same concept applied to the X61) but haven't pulled the trigger yet due to concerns about reliability and maintenance.


Hey! I just got a couple X62s last weekend.

Quality control is an issue, but only kind of. There's a warranty and the 51nb people are super cool and helpful. Some people go all out with the backlight mod etc, but the only reason I'd do that is improved battery life; the regular backlight suits me fine.

Other than that, it's an amazing machine. I used an X60 for years and it's just like that, but better in basically every way. And relative to other comparable machines they're pretty cheap too.


If you don't mind answering how was your experience with the ordering process? Did you get them via LCDfans or did you use a proxy in China? Did you order them assembled or did you put the motherboards in X61s that you acquired separately? Thanks!


Of course!

I tried a few different ways; ordering was kind of difficult. I tried a couple PMs on Reddit which got lost, I tried the order form a couple times from facebook.com/lcdfans but that didn't work out either. Then I sent a Facebook message, Jacky responded and we started emailing. That worked. I think their email addresses are listed on the FB page. Basically the strategy is to be relentless haha.

Ordering itself took more than a month; I think I wired money 10/5 and finally got them 11/10.

I did order them assembled and they were perfectly new, no blemishes, scratches or anything. They're so new it's eerie (because all the parts are new old stock), except it's such a beautiful experience you don't care. I think the shell I got was an X61s; I still have that X60 and there are some small differences (no infrared, for example), but they mod them - ex: for the video outputs - so it's possible they do other tiny mods also.

I ordered 2; one was completely fine, the 2nd freezes with 2 DIMMs installed (works fine w/ 1) and I haven't decided whether or not to warranty it.

All of which is to say that you're right, it's significantly more effort than just loading up Amazon and clicking a few times, but I love ThinkPads so it was completely worth it to me. Even with 1 DIMM I'm super satisfied - so I guess either I'm completely in the tank or they're really great haha.

LMK if you have any more questions :)


Awesome, thanks a lot!


Yep, I am thinking about one of those, but my main problem is not so much the CPU/RAM but the display itself. The 4:3 display in the T61 is just not up to date anymore (e.g. it is utter garbage in every single category). I'd rather have a modern IPS display in 4:3 than a new motherboard but this does not exist.

If there would be a modern "IBM" with a 1600x1200 IPS display in a 14"-ish chassis I would be first in line to buy it.


It's true that there are no 14.1" 4:3 IPS displays but 15.4" 1400x1050 and 1600x1200 IPS displays do exist which I believe is why the modders decided to target the 15.4" T61 rather than the 14.1" T61. Unfortunately, 14.1" 4:3 ThinkPads are really the sweet spot for me as well as 12.1"/12.5" is just a bit too small and 15"+ is too large.


> Unfortunately, 14.1" 4:3 ThinkPads are really the sweet spot for me as 12.1"/12.5" is just a bit too small and 15"+ is too large.

This is exactly my problem! 12" is too small for longer reading and 15" is already getting too bulky for carying it around. 14.1" is the perfect myth of both worlds.


Movies have always been widescreen, in general. I believe VHS and broadcast was a detour. Do you remember all the "this has been modified to fit your screen"?

Since computer displays are advertised by their diagonal measure, for monitors with the same display area, a wide screen monitor will have a larger diagonal measure, thus sounding more impressive. -- Wikipedia


4:3 came first. Televisions mimicked the movies. Then the movies went wide screen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_ratio


I was really surprised to see a macbook named there. I've used that model and hated it -- though I suppose not more than other modern laptops.

In my view there is no comparison to the x61 and x61-tablet with the higher resolution screen. I continued using mine until I couldn't get a replacement screen and backlight dimming and bubbling made the screen unusable.


I'm a big Thinkpad person, too. Had and loved the W530. Now I have and love the P50.


Here in my home office, I have three laptops within 10 feet or so of me: a late-2015 MacBook Pro, a ThinkPad T420, and a ThinkPad W530.

95% of the time I'm using the workstation on my desk but when I'm not I almost always reach for the W530. I've probably only touched the MBP three or four times in the last year or so (since I built the workstation).

I absolutely love the W530! I've had it for, I think, about 4.5 years but it still has twice as much RAM as the MBP (32 vs. 16) and a pair of Samsung 850 PRO SSDs in a ZFS mirror. It is a beast of a laptop (considering its age) and it takes a beating riding around in the saddlebag of a Harley-Davidson.


Yes! I was sad I had to leave it behind (work laptop) and actually strongly considered buying one for myself. Then I started using the P50 and honestly, if I did buy one for myself, I think it would be this one. It's essentially the W530 brought forward.


I know this is a story about Apple.. but you are spot on, the Thinkpad, especially the IBM versions were the best laptops. I used a Thinkpad from the mid 90's right up till they sold to Lenovo. I had an x41 for years, one of my favorites... and like you said, all the parts were replaceable.


I was also a Thinkpad user and switched to Mac for the primary reason of the 16:10 screens (with the resolution and color accuracy to boot). I loathe 16:9 in anything less than 27"


With high resolution screen and 19:10 (or whatever format macbook has) you can do side-by-side work reasonably well. IDE on side, app on another.


Those things were also an effing tank, practically indestructible.


This can't be understated, truly.


This is the most elegant critique to the current line of Macs I've read so far. I hope it reaches the right eyes and ears.

While Steve Jobs was unique, I believe Apple has the right people to continue delivering the same great products. They just need to let them do their jobs.

This said, I'm looking forward to test a Pixel 2 Chromebook.


This is the most elegant critique to the current line of Macs I've read so far. I hope it reaches the right eyes and ears.

I tried a 12" MacBook. It was a gorgeous machine and wildly fast given its size.

But its trackpad is a grotesque monstrosity, and while I writing I too often activated it by accident, flinging the cursor to some distant spot by accident. Then I'd have to stop, recover, and reset.

I can't figure out what usability case would mandate a trackpad that large.

I returned the computer and suspect that the last generation of 13" MBPs may become "legendary," because they don't make the ginormous trackpad error.


> I can't figure out what usability case would mandate a trackpad that large.

I couldn't figure it out either. Did they have a bunch of focus group feedback saying "this trackpad is too damn small... moving my wrist 1/4" to touch the trackpad from a resting spot is way too much work, I'd rather have my wrists touching the trackpad"? That's the only feedback I can see them getting to justify it. That or... it's a general trend towards the ios-ification of mac, and pushing towards "touch interface" for everything (except, of course, on the actual screen).


That is exactly the problem with current Apple, it felt like they are doing this for the sake of it, not because it is in any case better.


I don't know, I kind of think that the best ever is Macbook Air 2015.

I would also argue that Macbook Air was the first laptop ever since it was the first truly portable - not just transportable personal computer ever. For the first time a notebook was light, performant and run long enough on battery to be actually usable out of your office or home.

Yep, the screen is not retina but it's also significantly lighter, thinner and has longer battery life.

The design, so perfect that hasn't changed since 2010.


I agree. I have the 2012 model, bought new in 2013 for cheap. 8 gigs of ram with an i7. I recently had the battery replaced. I has some blemishes on the screen. Every ones in a while I'm looking at upgrading to a Mac Pro, but then again, this little laptop is still going strong, so why should I?


Exactly my experience, except I just spilled coffee on it and now the keyboard needs replacing. That's expensive and a bit hard to justify on a 5 year old machine, so I'm going to break out the screwdrivers soon and give it a go.

With every previous laptop I would have just taken it as a good moment to buy a new device, but I honestly don't see the point right now.


I've been using a 13" MBPr for the last few years (on number 2) and I still miss the MacBook Air I was using previously.

The Air was easily Apple's greatest laptop in my opinion. They made the perfect compromises on size, weight, and performance for my use case.

I was hoping when they released the MacBook it would continue the tradition... but that price! I wanted a Retina screen, but after comparing specs and price with the 13" MBPr, the pro was the clear winner, and a pretty great laptop too. No way I'm getting a touchbar though, and with Mac alternatives like the Pixel pushing touch screen / tablet mode... I might have to go back to the Air.


I tried to like the Air but the aluminum bezel around the screen is a non-starter for me. If there has to be something around the screen it better fade into the background (like the MBP's black glass or a typical desktop monitor's black plastic).


Maybe, but it also looks more humble the way it is. Less serious, let's say.

It's shape also allows more casual usage, there's something magical about being able to pick a laptop with one hand and swing it.


I completely agree with you. The battery to power balance was amazing. It really lasted all day unlike the MacBook/MacBook Pro we have today.


Completely agree. Just bought my third one, just a perfect product in my mind.


I'm using the 2017/latest Macbook Pro for work and have the late 2015 at home and I totally agree with this post.

The trackpad isn't improved, the touchbar is crappy and it runs for less time and runs hotter.

If any HW startup wants to do a Macbook Pro 2015 redux (maybe using an ARM core) i'd throw money at them.


Bonus if it's all hardware with good Linux drivers.


As someone who just inherited one of these at work and who had never played with a MacBook before, my first thought when seeing the headline was “If it’s not a MacBook Pro 2015, I don’t know what it is”.

This thing is pure functional art. The first time my screen just magically unlocked itself because I happened to be wearing a particular watch was the moment nerd-like turned into nerd-love.


The only thing I can think of regarding this story is how it's now an infosec hazard for you to take off your watch while showering.


Removing the watch locks the watch, and makes it unable to unlock other devices.


It's odd that this was posted as I was thinking along these lines the other day.

I have a 2012 Retina 15". The first generation. I spec'd it out at the time hoping for it to last me at least a few years.

From 2015 I've been eyeing off every new release of Macbook Pro thinking "yeah this time I'll upgrade" but then I realise there is actually nothing wrong with my current one. Like, nothing at all.

I realise the battery is going die eventually and software updates will no longer be supported at some point, but for now it really is the best computer I've ever owned.

Note: I've been on all sides of the fence (Amiga/win95->winVista/OSX) so I'm not just a fanboi.


I'm on the same machine and i feel exactly the same way. It's been used hard for years and actually works BETTER now than when i bought it, with software updates(mountain lion was... questionable). The battery is still healthy, and it still tackles anything i throw at it.

Why would i upgrade to in many ways a crappier computer?

I'm hoping with the new mac pro we get a real macbook pro again. And i'm coming at this from the same place, i've used all different platforms. But this is the best laptop i've ever owned, and my favorite since my old T60. It was the first one that really felt like it not just checked every box, but filled out every corner.


Hah yeah my previous best computer was my IBM T40p. Did a lot of travelling with that and it could take a beating. IBM made some top notch stuff.


After 1000 cycles or after 4 years, just have the battery replaced by Apple for $199 + taxes, then you will have a good macbook pro, as apple will replace the keyboard and trackpad, along with the battery for $199.


Eventually they'll stop replacing that model of battery though


>as apple will replace the keyboard and trackpad, along with the battery for $199. Is this standard for all MacBook?


It is the standard for any laptop in which batteries are glued to the top case.

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/retina-battery-replacem...


but for now it really is the best computer I've ever owned.

I mentioned this here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15700403 regarding the 12" Macbook, but I'm baffled by the size of the trackpads on the new laptops. What's the point of having trackpads that large? It seems only to impair usability.


Were the issues with mouse lag on the 2012 model hardware or software related? I tried a 2012 right when it first came out and got physically nauseous from the extreme degree of mouse lag when scrolling. The 2013 never had any problems and I've been using that for the last 4 years.


Definitely a software issue. I have the 2012 model and it would lag in expose. But after the metal upgrade it got a lot smoother. Still gets choppy with many apps, but otherwise smooth animations in most places.


This was completely corrected in software in the next big OS release. It was HORRENDOUS at launch though. It's smooth as butter on the latest version, with the same hardware. Machine runs cooler too


I got myself the 2012 model shortly after it was introduced. Despite the obvious risk, I made an exception to the rule of never buying a 1st gen. It was simply everything I (until then) didn't know I wanted. A machine truly worthy of the Pro label, pushing the state of the art at a fair price. I was happy to spend my money.

Meanwhile we lost both the quality and the fair price. It really makes me feel sour, to the point that I just bought a new 2015 model only to have the warranty that I'll have a proper MBP for three years to come. It was no more than a contingency plan; a rational decision made out of a lack of options, involving no enthusiasm at all. During that period I'll either have to find a good alternative to switch away to, or – hopefully – Apple will introduce something new that will make me want to be their customer again. Honestly, I can't say I'm optimistic about either.


Not quite following you here, are you saying the 2015 variant is not as good as its 2012 same-model predecessor? What's the difference?


What I meant is that practically the only reason I upgraded* is that I don't want to risk my old one breaking when no pre-2016 model is available new from Apple anymore, which could be anytime soon. Now warranty assures me that for at least three years I'll be able to keep using the 2015 model. I can't switch to another platform all at once, or bet that my stuff won't stop working before Apple get their act together again. That's why the lack of options.

*This new one isn't really worse, nor is it much better. The biggest improvement is the SSD. No more dGPU is a loss in terms of performance but a win for durability and battery life. The screen has this weird thing that something inside slides when you shake or turn it on the side (https://youtu.be/HmL7KXCMfxU). Don't bother having it replaced because all have it to some extent. I suppose it doesn't affect anything but my quality perception. Everything else feels pretty much the same.


I'm thinking the OP meant that, when looking to upgrade, the 2015 model was the only choice left, due to the changes in the 2016 model. I'm guessing that because I came to a similar conclusion. My decision was a combination of the new design choices and price point - a refurb 2015 gave me more consistency with earlier models, while saving > $1000. There were/are positive aspects to the 2016 (I miss the touchid on the model I had for a couple weeks) but enough annoyances to make the question the value I was getting at that price point. My 2016 ended up being... $3700? Had it been, say, $2500, it would have been a no brainer to keep, even with some of the design drawbacks.


I loved my MBPr when it came out, had it for years abd then decided to buy a refreshed model basically for faster wifi and because I could.

Suddenly I learned that the SAME version of my mac but newer cost the same and REMOVED the dGPU.

I was flabbergasted... why the HELL would I pay the same money to lose the dGPU.

That day I had to abandon the mac and I got a Surface Book. The new line of Macbooks with their poorer battery life, silly keyboards and overdosed trackpads made me feel less like I was missing something.

First mac was the Macbook “white” one of the forst intel ones.

Magical is the only word I have. The breathing sleep led, the orange/green charging indicator. The button on the underside which would light up a simple gauge indicating battery level. The media remote control. The terminal with Python and C installed out of the box.

I mean it was way way way beyond anything you could buy and although more expensive it was worth every penny.

Just doesnt feel like that anymore.

The new macbooks just cost too much and the features dont feel like an improvement.


How are you liking the surface book? I was on the fence, and... to get the model I'd want, it's still > $2k - not something I'm going to just randomly grab to try out for a bit. But... the build quality seems very 2015 MBP, and as the specs improve, I'm tempted. Perhaps that'll be a 2018 upgrade?

Any downsides you've hit in switching? I do a lot of work with intellij/phpstorm, vagrant/vms - I'm assuming there wouldn't be any substantive changes in those. Also, some of the WSL/ubuntu stuff in win10 looks promising too.


The current MacBook Pro should've been a separate product line, like the MacBook Air was. Those who are happy with the sacrifices it makes could switch over, but they wouldn't have to leave everyone else out in the cold.


Those should be the new "macbook"s. The pro line should carry pro features.


Pro features like being incompatible with Apple's own products, having shorter battery time, often running hotter than the previous iterations, not having magsafe, etc..

Bringing a new meaning to "tortured artist", opening up for tortured software devs to join in a more literal sense.

Why don't we look for other cool ways to make excuses for things getting worse or being bad, like saying "It's a bad craftsman that blames his tools" and other platitudes to excuse away technology that is legitimately worse than its alternatives? It's so meaningful to everyone around us when we refuse to engage in any kind of discussion about how good things are and why some things could be considered worse than others.


I use one at work and never thought much about it. But reading this I have to agree. It simply works. I never had to think about my hardware because it silently and adequately does its job. If I owned any other Apple devices, I imagine the experience would be even better.

I have an expensive Windows laptop for personal use. The much more impressive specs aside, the experience is admittedly inferior. Why is it taking so long to build a similarly seamless laptop on Windows?


Sadly my 2013 MBP logic board died after some spilled beer. I purchased and quickly returned a 2017 15" MBP. This is not the MBP which made me switch from Windows.

Apple laptops are becoming too thin at the expense of features I care about: larger battery, more diverse (HDMI and USB3) port, the mag safe connector and a longer travel keyboard. I could care less about Apple having the thinnest laptop. That's what the Air line was for.


A fixed but fast declining battery is what I mostly remember from the hardware side, and how fucking hot it got under normal load. The dated gui and always broking developer workflows from the software side.

It wasn't a bad Laptop but I would place pretty much any Thinkpad Tsomething above it in usefullness every day.

Edit:// forgot the horribly glossy screen. I really like sun, not like hiding from it to see my work.


I bought this in 2016 for an urgent project, just before the update. I had planned to buy the new MBP when it came out, figuring it would result in the same great form factor, but faster.

When the new Macbook pro came out, I just kept my old one. Apple lost a guaranteed $4000 sale.

Why didn't I upgrade? I needed the ports for audio/video work, I didn't need the touch bar. I needed an SD card and HDMI. I would have had to buy an awful amount of dongles just to use the laptop.

I'm going to hang on the the 2015 version until it is obsolete, or until something better comes out.


Every year I ponder getting a new laptop to replace my mid-2012 MacBook Pro.

Every year I don't. Instead I wipe the hard drive, reinstall the OS, and I have a brand new machine. Even the battery is still going strong 5.5 years into ownership.

This article hit the nail on the head. The laptop fulfills every need I have better than anything else I've tried.


Curious why you wipe the hard drive instead of upgrading. Of course, I'm fairly certain it's because you've tried that and had issues just like many users do. I'm just wondering what they are and how people justify "wipe and reinstall" (instead of updating the OS) whenever a new version of macOS is released.


That's absolutely why. Every time I try to just use the "Install macOS $VERSION" app, my new installation seems slow and buggy, and I swear some of my files disappear.

But if I backup everything and then wipe the drive, things work perfect. I also get the additional benefit of only adding back the programs/files/settings I actually use, so I use it as a "spring cleaning" to clear out all the cruft that accumulates during the previous year.


I get it, but how much work is it for you to add back apps and other software and how do you manage that so it takes less time? Do you clone all your settings and dotfiles in a repository?


It's actually not that bad; I'd say maybe a couple of hours at most.

I actually enjoy the opportunity to slim down the apps/files/etc. that I need. It's like a spring cleaning for my files.

My settings/dotfiles are something I've been backing up on my external harddrive, but it would be a good project to put them into a repository somewhere and make a setup script to get everything installed just how I like it.


Reparability is the main downside to the retina MPBs for me. With my old MBP I could swap out the battery in 30 seconds, and I could upgrade the RAM. Neither of these are possible any more.

That said, I'm still using my 2012 retina MBP and it's going great. These things are built to last!


Upgrade-ability forced me to selle mine last year. I had on of the low-end models with 8GB/256GB and needed more space and memory.


That's a bummer. It makes me sad that we have to stop using hardware that's 90% fit for purpose because we can't upgrade the 10% we need to.


> Neither of these are possible any more.

People in China are replacing memory modules on iPhones. I'd say you just don't have enough skill to.


While I agree with Marco (and would add that generations Air was the best consumer laptop every produced), I always feel like it's unfair to judge the final iteration of one architecture with any other iteration of a new architecture. A lot of things had to fall in place for the RMBP to be "perfect", specifically the move away from optical, the prevalence of speed of 802.11ac, etc.

The Touch Bar Pro is an equally great model, when used in a similar "perfect" world (USB-C peripherals, connected to an LG 5K). But it's a terrible model "in the field", as very few things are ready for USB-C (including USB-C in some respects).


We are two years in since the new MBP, and likely three years before we see a new model. ( Might not be a new design )

Very rarely have we doubt and not see the gain from an Apple transition two years in.

USB-C: I dont have problem with bringing in every connection to one standard or Apple dont ship iPhone with USB-C yet. These are all timing problem that will be solved one day. I have problem with USB-C itself. The quality, standard, and execution of USB-C in the public market with lots of different standard of cables that doesn't support PD or whatever feature. It is basically shit. At the moment I just wish they make a new version called USB-D and clean things up, for both the Transfer spec and the plug.

Keyboard: While most do like the bigger keys, it is still no where near as good as the old MBP. And there is a 5% chances ( The amount of new MBP repair due to Keyboard failure ) that the most important input devices on your Notebook does not work. And the repair cost $799. The 2nd revision of the Keyboard tries to solves the key travel problem by making a bigger noise, trying to trick your brain that you have typed and "felt" it. Cant we just have a extra 1mm thick MBP that has much better keyboard and cheaper to repair, or even no need to repair?

TouchPad: As mentioned, no one has yet find a use case as to why we need such a large touchpad on MBP 15. Apple manage to keep the keyboard same size in both MBP, but not the touchpad. It frustrate you by various misfire from time to time, which was NEVER an issue with previous MBP.

Touchbar: It is useless, and does not work 100% of the time. Which align with Apple's new Keyboard design very well. But it doesn't annoys me since I rarely use it for anything other then those default keys. Trying to work with it for 2 years, it never clicked.

But I dont think any of these blog from Marco or rant in Reddit or HN matters. Tim Cook is much more of an Data / Number person. And the recent quarter shows there are more people buying the Mac then ever.

I miss Steve, i think he better then anyone else understand what the users need, and when to make the call or jump. The Apple now is trying to continue that way, but it is different. And it will never be the same.


Using it right now - it's... so reliable. Had zero problems. Love these zero-problem products in life (and they are not that easy to find to be honest)


I've had problems with my 2014, but at the same time it's repairable. The screen went a bit screwy, so I opened it and replaced the LVDS cable. Right back to ticking along.

Typing this on a 2012 rMBP that's still a champ.


My first retina worked worked well for a few months. Until the screen started looking like it was being burnt by the keyboard (a now known factory defect)

My second one, around a year later, had the same screen problem! Not only that, it had a logic board failure that took me months to resolve and left it practically unusable (random crashes etc). Three times to the mac store to sort this one and a multi week wait at the end for a new logic board.

On both laptops: Wifi doesn't connect to half the hotspots I ask it to. Boot times become long even with a bare minimum installed after a few months of use. Charging cables have a lifespan of less than a year and cost a fortune to replace.

Im a heavy user and admittedly I don't take care of my stuff as much as I could. But Id always bought macs because they were reliable and durable (My ancient powerbook is still in use) and not had any problems.

Indeed - after swearing off macbook pros I had the chance to try and later buy a 2012 macbook air. Damn - it reminds me of macs of old. 5 years old and it just.. works. I couldn't be happier and am seriously considering buying another to do me when this dies.

Im not sure if the tide will come back in but I think the high water mark was perhaps before the retina.

https://www.macrumors.com/2015/10/17/apple-mbp-ar-coating-qu...


Nope.

The best laptop is the one with 7 row keyboard, like ThinkPad T420.

While Macbooks have nice aluminium body and are very light and thin they are far from being 'the best'.


I think that the aluminium body, crisp display, and the blessed silence win it for the Mac, otherwise I would have said ThinkPad T420 as well. I don't even remember that the MacBook that I am typing this from has a fan unless I really brutalize it with a software compile. The classic ThinkPads were definitely something special, though: this MacBook has a good keyboard, but it's no ThinkPad keyboard, and I absolutely loved that retro style case design.


and Thinkpads also didn't have a glossy, reflective screen.


I'm typing this from a ThinkPad T420, but was expecting the x200 or (actually) the Titanium Macbook Pro 12" ("TiBook").

Give me a modern-day laptop with 4:3 aspect ratio or even 1:1 and a matte screen and I'll be yours for life. I probably should have gone for the Chromebook Pixel while it was available.


Correct


The glossy screen is a showstopper for me.


There are companies that professionally laminate screens with a (removable) matte screen protector.

Once you'll laminate a glossy screen, you'll never want to go back again.

I don't know in USA, but in Europe, a German company does it: http://www.tdcomponents.com/shop/displayschutz_laminierung.p...


The foil seems to cost around 40 EUR. What would be the total price to have them apply it for you?


That includes application; you'll need to add the shipping costs to your country.

Of course, you'll pay the shipment to the company.


I understand these work very well: https://www.moshi.com/ivisor-12#black

(I have this wonderful macbook too, but I got used to the glare, it's not as bad as previous glassy versions)


Screen protectors work well for any size, but they need to be applied with special equipment; it's already hard to apply them without imperfections on a 5", I can't imagine doing that on a 12".


The thing about glossy though is once you come out of the code editor and look at the finished product...ohhhh...it looks so good.


If I could get one of the late 2000s 17" MacBook Pros, but with updated internals, that would definitely be my next laptop. I know several people that bought them for college and are still chugging away with them a decade later.


They made them as recently as 2011. Unibody aluminum. Matte or glossy screen. 1920x1200. IPS. 2.5ghz quad core i7. Ram's a little slow at PC3-1333. Those don't have replaceable batteries, but you can replace them yourself fairly easily. You can pick them up for about $1k.

It's sobering, really. The only substantial improvement made to laptops in the past 6 years is battery life.


Yes, I'm still using my 2011 17-incher. Will be very sad when it dies.


The best laptop ever made came with not one, but two ports for an utterly failed connector standard (Thunderbolt), long since ditched?

And those replaced the ubiquitous RJ45 Ethernet jack?

At least they had the good sense to include HDMI and not go full TB.


The connections are standard mini-DisplayPort, which is still very much a thing. As is the Thunderbolt 1/2 protocol over those connections (in the audio world, for example)


And best of all, it might even last a long time without breaking down. Since it has an SSD, those can last 10 years+.


I have a 2016 MBP with TouchBar and I'm mostly happy with it. I love the quality of the screen, its the brightness, and the overall performance of the computer, and I honestly prefer macOS over any other desktop operating system.

My main gripe is the keyboard. I know some don't prefer the feel, but I could honestly get used to that (I mostly use an external mechanical keyboard at my desk, but often have to use the laptop portably). However, the keys get sticky real easy and I hate having to constantly clean it/blow the keys out just so it works like normal. I think that's ridiculous for such an expensive computer.

I don't experience any downsides to the TouchBar honestly (besides the annoying non-tactile ESC key), but I don't use the TouchBar for anything more than I used the function keys before (brightness, volume controls mainly) so it's really not worth the extra $$$ that they added onto for this thing. In hindsight, I probably should have went with the 2015 model.

With all that said, it's the unreliability of the keyboard that bugs me the most, because this laptop should work PERFECTLY for this price (even if I don't agree with some of the decisions that were made regarding the design). If I didn't rely on macOS for work I probably would have got a Lenovo laptop instead. That makes me sad, because my first Mac was the unibody WHITE model and that was probably the best "new computer" experience I've ever had.


Only downsides: I have had 2 screens replaced due to delamination and this 3rd one has developed a purple line down the middle. Also picking it up with one hand on the corner can register a false touchpad click. Magsafe2 was a totally unnecessary change. Bizarre really.

But all that aside it's a champ and the only reason I would replace is because of the stuck purple line.


Yes, the coating coming off was a pity. After having my screen replaced, I thought I'd have one that didn't have the same production error anymore and yet it came back. Found out too late about the extended warranty program to have it replaced a second time. All I can hope for is that my new 2015 model does have a screen that will last, but I can't find any confirmation anywhere that the issue was ever resolved...


I'm staying with my 2014 MacBook Pro 15", trying to weather the storm. Perhaps I'll be able to wait out the current "Jony Ive running rampant and unchecked" period. Perhaps next year somebody at Apple will finally speak up and say "no". Perhaps next year we will have a split between "Pro" laptops (with useful ports, useful keyboards, keys on keyboards, and without trying to achieve extreme thinness) and consumer laptops, which have an entirely different set of compromises.

Today Apple is making all its products according to one specific set of tradeoffs: external out-of-the-box form over function, thinness over everything, usability comes last. This set of tradeoffs is fine for some products, but not for every product.


I totally agree, but I'm not happy to see this post for the selfish reason that I'm worried it will be harder to buy a refurbished one once the one I'm currently using dies. With the exception of the non-ergonomic keyboard layout, I could keep using this machine forever and be pretty happy.


I have a 2012 13" Macbook Pro at the office. It's still going strong, and I'm still just a bit more productive on it than on my fancy schmancy Asus laptop with a GTX 1070. Since I'm running Xubuntu in VirtualBox in seamless mode, installing software for cloud/game server development is sometimes more convenient on the Asus, but I still have to deal with running a VM. The trackpad is better on the Macbook Pro. What's more, Windows 10 startup got corrupted by an update last night, and I'm still dealing with that. I've had to deal with the equivalent level of problem on the Macbook (SSD failure) but the tools that come with MacOS make that at least 5X easier. (It has been a real saga with the Windows 10 laptop, which I will leave out the details of.)


A year ago I needed to upgrade my MBP and went for the 2015 model without a doubt.

I wrote about it here: https://medium.com/@Pier/why-i-bought-a-2015-macbook-pro-fad...


I like the new design better and I won’t switch to the previous version. The display alone is significantly superior.

While I like the previous design and think the 2015 model is pretty great, it is important to chronicle the history as it actually occurred so let me paint some light on some not so rosy features in 2012:

- MacBook Pros in 2012 almost universally had an image burn in issue (on the LG made displays) and it took Apple at least 6 month to reliably sort things out.

- MacBook Pro 2012 almost universally had a dGPU problem that made the machine crash on dGPU (presumably because of solder issues).

Those issues were very serious. Apple eventually did sort them out and the 2015 model is great but it is worth remembering that things take time to perfect. Issues will get fixed over time.


They weren't design issues as much as manufacturing/parts issues, though. There's nothing to 'fix' with a missing SD card port, or missing USB-A ports. That doesn't mean they may never add them in a future release, but probably won't, as it would admit being 'wrong' (and may be less needed in a few years). I was honestly surprised at the USB-C-only approach (even though I know it's Apple's "way" to just remove stuff altogether). Having a mix of USB-A and USB-C would have made it a much more palatable transition - upgrade, use your old devices as needed, get new ones and use the new USB-C over time.


The poor implementation of keyboard and TouchBar are not design issues either. Add haptic feedback and TouchBar can get GREAT.

I do miss SD card a little bit, but it is no big deal, and I don't get all the fuss with USB-A at all. If you have an Android, MacBook is really made for you. If you have an iPhone you just got to grab a USB-C to Lightning cable (not dongles) and get on with your file. At your desk you really need a compatible monitor/dock anyway. So they are rather obvious choices medium to long term and hardly a design flaw. You could argue about the smaller battery and lower key pitches as a potential long term prioritization issue, but I think they just get better implementations that alleviate concerns under the current form-factor.


> and I don't get all the fuss with USB-A at all.

I don't get why people don't understand what the fuss is about.

external drives, external mice, external keyboards and USB drives. All of these are things that I or colleagues have/use on a regular basis. To spend north of $3k on a "pro" computer, but still get nickel and dimed to be able to use things that you could use 3 minutes before making 'the switch' is annoying/insulting/stupid. I'll go so far as to say had they even included a token C-A dongle in the box as a gesture... it would have been appreciated.

If only to do a backup/migration from an existing macbook, you very likely are going to be backing up to a non-usb-c device, and will need a connector just to do a migration.


I just bought a lightly used 2012 model to use as my home laptop. I have been using the 2016 model at work for a little over half a year now.

I prefer the older one. I might prefer a 2015 model even more, but the 2012 is almost as good; close enough to perfect.


I totally agree! Though I bought my 13" non-retina MacBook Pro (mid-2012) on the day it was launched in 2012 (5 years ago!) and upgraded it with faster RAM and replaced the 750 HDD with 500GB SSD, and this machine is a beast in performance!

I have used and compared it to the other latest Macs, and though I can notice the performance increase, I find it a little minimal compared to the 5-year old machine I have! The Non-Macs are not even close, not even on the list, and no, I am not saying this just because of the MacOS, I find the overall experience to be shitty. I cannot imagine using HP/Dell laptops, with that OS!


That's what I'm using at work, and what I've got for my personal laptop too. Are the new ones that much worse? They don't seem like there at all worse to me, I've been thinking about getting one.


I think the lack of standard ports, mag-safe, hdmi and sd card slots are big regressions in functionality.

Not to mention that the touchbar is not very useful, and as an emacs user, a big pain to not have a physical <esc> key.


I live in Emacs too. I thought you could get one with real buttons? Did they drop that?


They make a 13" MBP without the touchbar. Except it's using the lower power 15 watt CPUs, the same category the Macbook Airs used to use. So it's basically a Macbook Air with a retina screen and a hefty price hike.


Vim user. Mapped <esc> to capslock. But yeah, the touchbar drives me insane because I accidentally just press buttons on it all the time.


In my opinion you would need to try one to know. My wife has one and the keyboard is such a far step back I can't even describe it properly. If nothing changes, I will be sticking to my 2014 or switching to Lenovo.


I hate the keyboard on the 2015 era ones too though, I'm always using my giant Microsoft hump style keyboard instad. I only use the built-in keyboard in hotel rooms/conferences/etc.


I have one. Here is my next one: https://system76.com/cart/configure/lemu8


I wish they went better than 1080p screen. Everything else seems to be on point, including price.


If System76 would support straight Debian stable, I'd be a customer for life. I actively dislike Ubuntu, and think that supporting Debian will result in 'free' Ubuntu support, while not being noticeably more expensive to begin with.


Whoo. It has VGA output.


the magesafe2 was bad ;( I've been trough ~5 adapters since I bought the late 2013" in early 2014


It is interesting just how ahead of their time these laptops were. I wonder if it's even possible to make such an innovative laptop in 2017; it seems like all the easy wins have been claimed.

Also notable: they hold their value exceptionally well, even for an apple product. The 2014 model price is actually trending upwards on eBay lately.[1]

https://us.bidvoy.net/macbook_pro_2014_i5/111422


Do we maybe need some kind of Mac-Reformation? Maybe Johnny could print this out and nail it to the front door of the new Apple HQ? (assuming it even has a front door, of course)


I mention to colleagues that I hope produce a MacBook Pro 'classic' line. I totally agree with the author: it is a professional machine.


hopefully, a few people at APPLE read hacker news, and relay this information to more and more people in the company.... hope they realize this in 2018.

- macbookpro 13" 2011 user


It's pretty good, yeah. I really would have loved it if they simply doubled the USB ports and re-included an Ethernet jack for the newest one instead of doing what they did.


That almost sounds like a unibody Macbook Pro.

I'm probably in the minority here, but to me, the best laptop ever made was the 15" unibody Macbook Pro, the predecessor to the Retina (so long as we forget the gpu dumpster fire that was the early 2011 models).

It had plenty of ports and had the perfect balance of portability and components that were easily upgraded by end users.


Except the new ones have USB-C, which can literally become any other port. Any one of them can become the Ethernet jack. Any one of them can become the video out. Any one of them can become the charging port.


I personally own the 2014 15" MBP — and would agree with the post.

My work–issued 2017 13" MBP requires 2x dongles to run a dual screen setup — at a total cost of $240 — which is just ridiculous. And I have to carry one everywhere, just in-case I want to jack into HDMI (ie; visiting customer, presenting research). HDMI will be the prevailing standard for some time, and is ubiquitous.


I have a 2013 high end model with Nvidia graphics. I love it. If all goes well, I plan to use it at least through 2020.


Completely agree. I use a 2015 model for work, and its glorious. Another engineer got a 2017 MBP, and its TERRIBLE.


Isn't it also the revision that removed the possibility to easily upgrade the RAM & storage ?

Personally, this is when I started seeing the MBP derails from my needs.

Culminating (so far) with the touchbar. Even after a couple of month with it, its disadvantages run deeper than its advantages.


I have two issues with the 2017 MacBook Pro work gave me, versus my 2015 at home.

USB-C

Touchbar

Otherwise, I dig the keyboard and larger touchscreen, and the rest is the same.

My guess is the Touchbar is a UX experiment

I'd prefer they just ditch the UI they're moving and enable keyboard shortcuts to respond to notifactions


Agreed. I've not looked forward to new Macbooks since around that era.

The new ones are just horrible and more expensive. The touchbar does zero for me. So much junk for higher price and little utility.


I have a mid-2014 model and I absolutely love it. However, weird spots have been appearing on my screen now on the black edge and I'm kind of nervous/scared. Anyone else with these spots?


Yep, that's the screen coating coming off. It's known as "Staingate": http://www.staingate.org/

I got mine replaced for free from Apple (they even upgraded me to the most expensive model of the next generation as they didn't have my medium level one any more)


Does it have to be under the first year or two for warranty for that? I definitely have this, but I'm 2.5 years out at this point.

Edit: https://9to5mac.com/2017/02/24/retina-macbook-display-staing... Oh my! I think I could go get a shiny fix/replacement. I am definitely going to have to do that

Thanks for this post! hah


"Best?" really?

- Glued in batteries

- Difficult to repair, especially the poorly-manufactured logic board

- No Kensington security slot

- Soldered in RAM

This is why I still use an 13" A1278 non-Retina from 2012: 2x SSD's, 16 GiB of RAM, SD slot and KS slot. It's a little thick but sturdy, not the fastest CPU but it's solid.

The latest MBP's have unreliable logic boards and Apple's repair policies result in massive charges for binning whole boards instead of repairing cheap components. For such reasons, the "best" macOS laptop these days is arguably a hackintosh Lenovo such as T440 or P50s.

- Spill-resistant, awesome keyboard

- Nearly unbreakable

- Upgradable with commodity parts

- Repairable

- Crazy-long battery life

- Necessary ports included

It doesn't make sense to go with over-priced, soldered-in components that lack sufficient repairability.


> "Best?" really?"

> "It doesn't make sense…"

People are definitely entitled to their opinions, and any definition of "best" is going to be based on what one's priorities are. It's clear your priorities and Marco's aren't the same, which is fine. The incredulity you express here is really unwarranted.


I'm using the same laptop and do like it, but I find my battery life is not that great.

How are you optimising battery life?


>Apple still sells this model, brand new..

How? Where?

I have the 2017 MBA 15" . Hate how the thing crashes all the time from using USBC peripherals... arghh..


Here you are, friend: https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro?product=MJLQ2...

If that doesn't work, go to Mac > Macbook Pro > Buy > 15" > Scroll down to the 3rd option.

They come in and out of stock though.


OH! that one model at the very bottom of the 15" page!?


Exactly. They sort of hide it.

I'm in IT and order these all the time for engineers and sales folks; it's much preferred over the new models. ;)



Looking at those laptops there's only 1 pre-2016 one currently. I have a 2013 one I got refurbished and it's going to have to last me a long time.


Disagree; it doesn't have a pointing stick.


I don’t see a donglegate - I’m carrying

- current MacBook-Escape

- 29W USB-C Power brick

- USB-C Cable

- USB-C to Lightning Cable (iPhones and iPad)

- USB-C to HDMI/USB Adaptor I bought for EUR10


This is the MBP I am using! I love it. I tried a new model and returned it after just 2 days.


The downside: the cost for replacing a broken Retina display of the MacBook Pro are obscene.


I've got one at the office, and love it. Anyone want to sell me their spare?


Sure. I will sell you my spare if you are in the bay area.


Alas, I am not. Thanks for the offer.


I have a 2015 MBP I use for work. It is indeed everything that folks say it is, except that I absolutely hate the magsafe. Any little provocation pops that damn thing right out. I'm actually not a fan of the new MBP but thank God they removed that nonsense.


I love my X220. Still do!


that being said I could see myself upgrading in two years or so


Keyboard layout makes it nigh unusable for my work, programming.


That's a shame, since there are thousands of programmers who are using it for their work right now.


Why would that make it a shame? There are a lot of people using tools of all kinds that are insufficient for others.


It’s a shame that they can’t use for their job something that many other people enjoy using for that job.


What keys do you need that aren't on a 78-key layout?


I haven't used it, but from the photo, I don't see home, end, pageup, pagedown, and backspace. (or maybe delete, but at least one of the two.)

Personally, I use all those regularly.


Yeah, you have to use the function modifier for those. Function + up-arrow = page-up is easy to learn.

Chords can remain easily learnable down to about 65 keys, but on a smaller layout (~40 keys), you have to memorize multiple layers for dozens of keys.


ding ding ding

This guy gets it.

I suppose if I bit the bullet and unlearned years of muscle memory I could do without those keys, but at this point it's not worth the effort. I'll stick to ThinkPads if I need to code on a laptop.


I've had a 15" Macbook Pro since late 2013.

It was perfect in every way.

It never crashed, it was never slow and it had GNU tools built right in, but out of the way so I could enjoy the simple and practical UI.

Then one day my X key started missing a keystroke now and then.

Later it started missing strokes.

Then after a while it started to input 'x' when I wasn't pushing the key once in a while.

Eventually the entire computer became unusable because as soon as it powered on it would start to repeatedly ghost type the letter X, resulting in the OS disabling the X key at boot.

So I took it to the Apple store.

"They'll just pop the key off and replace it, maybe clean out under it" I thought. "Worse case scenario I'll have to pay $20 for a new keyboard."

Haha no.

Apple wanted $400 to fix the X key because they refused to simply fix one key. And they refused to simply replace the keyboard. No, the only way they would fix it would be to replace the entire lower deck and that would cost $400.

I had no choice. I needed my computer for business because all of my work depended on it. So I gave the $400.

My computer came back and it worked great for a while, about 8 months.

Then one day the G key started to miss a keystroke once in a while.

I think you know where this is going.

I continued to use the computer until the G key completely failed and began to ghost type G all the time.

This time I didn't have $400, so the broken key rendered my computer completely useless because my disk unlock password had the letter G in it, rendering the OS unbootable.

Even using an external keyboard didn't work because when the OS disabled the letter G at boot it disabled it on both the internal and the external keyboard.

So now I have a computer rendered useless by poverty.

If it was a Lenovo laptop, I would have called Lenovo and they would've overnighted me a free replacement keyboard, which I would have replaced myself in five minutes by removing a few screws, swapping it out and replacing the screws (I've done it on several Lenovo laptops).

I have a perfectly usable Macbook Pro sitting there in the corner rendered unuseable by a single broken key.




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