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Ask HN: Is the new MacBook Pro worth its value for a developer?
76 points by asterslash 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 173 comments

I'm looking around for a new work setup for a software development environment. I can choose freely both for software and for hardware and since I like macOS and use it myself for quite some time the choice seemed obvious.

My problem is, for a decent upgrade both in RAM and disk space I have to go for a $2199 model (the new MacBook Pro touch bar with 16GB RAM and 512GB disk) which seems to leave almost no budget left for anything besides the monitor.

So, having said this, I do have a question: do you believe that this year's MacBook Pro is worth this value? I'm willing to give up some things from my setup (likely a usb-c dock that I'll buy on my own later for example) if it really means I'm getting a laptop that's worth it.

The primary reason I'm inclined to go with this year's model is the T2 chip that I believe to be of significant value for its added security during boot, Touch ID, disk encryption and camera and microphone processing. This is something I personally value but I wasn't able to find much technical reviews about this chip that would prove its worth to me.

I don't particularly care for the touch bar (I admit it may be useful, but in my opinion they should've only added it above the function keys and only if it didn't mean a great bump in price) so, apart from the reason above I'd be open to choose another model.

What's your opinion on the current MacBook Pro offering?

PS: I do have to say though that all their pro hardware seems to be very overpriced for their current offerings and even though I love their products I have to admit that if I really were in the market for a personal laptop, I'd have a very difficult time choosing myself between a Mac or a PC.

Absolutely not. I have the top of the range 15" MacBook Pro and I despise it, it's without question the worst computer I've ever owned.

1. The Touch Bar is appalling if you're at all a touch typist. It puts destructive actions just an accidental brush of the finger tip away. 2. The keyboard is failing all over the place. My left command key has fallen off, and three keys occasionally stick resulting in double entries. 3. The trackpad is so big that there's nowhere to rest one hand while you scroll with the other, resulting in exposé happening when you're just trying to scroll a web page. 4. It crashes a LOT. I reckon roughly one kernel panic a week since I've owned it.

It's absolutely killed my confidence in Apple hardware and after owning Macs for over 20 years I doubt I'll ever buy a Mac again. It's made me a permanently angry person.

If you feel your laptop has made you a permanently angry person, why not sell it and cut your loses?

After spending a decade optimizing your workflow to work with Apple's operating system, and after investing tons of money into software and peripherals designed for this ecosystem, it isn't so easy to just give up on it all, even if it is pissing you off and making your life miserable: you essentially just sit around having regrets and building up anger at the idiots who screwed it all up.

You could always get a second hand one from before the recent 'improvements'. (Typed from a well functioning second hand macbook)

No, really, you have to leave.

If you don't switch, are you going to use only Apple products your entire life from now? Seriously?

There are many, many devs right now who is switching from MacBooks to Linux machines because Linux on the desktop is really nice (just not perfect), and you suddenly feel very much alive again when you don't sit and wait for Apple to fix your problems. You fix them yourself, and you no longer care for the next version of IOS or the next MacBook etc.

t's freedom, honestly, truly. You are single again. You have left the bad relationship. You are free and happy. So much choice all of a sudden. It's great!

I don't want to spend the time to fix them myself.

There is very little to fix anymore unless you go for exotic hardware. Granted I went very safe with an XPS and Xubuntu, but I don't think I've had a single "how do I make this work" moment.

Ah yes wait one, I had to activate the keyboard switch for the webcam to be detected, but that would have been the same on another os.

I would also say no, absolutely not. It's not worth it in the least.

I have been a Mac user for less time (~16 years for me) than the previous commenter. I have lost confidence in Apple's ability to deliver:

a. a quality laptop that can get the job done, and

b. a quality OS that I can trust to just work.

I am typing this to you from a Dell XPS 9560 because the 2016 MBP w/Touch Bar has been such a shitshow.

It's been in for repairs THREE TIMES. Between the 2nd and 3rd trip, I switched back to Windows and installed WSL (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/install-win10)

Windows, VERY ironically, has proven WAY more stable and reliable than macOS. <-- that blows my mind.

I HAVE tried to sell my MBP even at a significant discount over the purchase price. (bought for $4300, I'm asking $3000 and even lowered to $2500) NO BITES. The machine is in immaculate condition, too.

I would be surprised if the other commenter has not had a similar experience.

If Apple is going to be as mediocre as everyone else, then there's absolutely NO POINT to the price premium, and they won't hold their value like they used to.


"I HAVE tried to sell my MBP even at a significant discount over the purchase price. (bought for $4300, I'm asking $3000 and even lowered to $2500) NO BITES. The machine is in immaculate condition, too."

I think that your problem is that the secondary market doesn't care about specs. They care about the Apple logo on the back, for the most part. So your extra RAM and bigger SSD aren't features to them. They just see the cost is $1000-$1500 more than they could buy a new one for.

Windows 10 is a surprisingly awesome OS, once you remove the thin layer of crap they spray on it (Google "O&O ShutUp10" for a 20 second fix) and learn to ignore their store. The whole thing is clean, efficient, runs well and freaking works. And like you said, WSL moved it into actually usable territory for developers.

Couldn't agree with you more. The new MacBooks are lemons.

The giant trackpad is a huge complaint of mine I don't hear a lot. Why on Earth would apple make it so big??

People who like trackpads seem to enjoy it bigger. Personally I'm not in the camp, and bring a USB mouse with me anywhere I'm using my work Mac to avoid it.

We definitely seem to be in the minority though, I've heard more complaints that the XPS 15 trackpad is too small than complaints that the Mac trackpad is too large.

I like trackpads, I use the native trackpad and keyboard exclusively in the mac and almost never external.

What's wrong with it? The only thing I could imagine is maybe accidentally touching it?

It happens maybe once a month for me, not nearly enough complain for me. Personally I love the size of it.

Are you running Docker by any chance? I have seen that if I have Docker running and I close the lid of the machine, next time I want to use it, it reboots from a crash.

But if I remember to quit Docker ok once I am done with it, I don't see this problem.

Bruv, look into BetterTouchTool to only enable the touchbar input by using a modification key like fn being pressed first. Still displays info but doesn’t respond without the modifier. It’ll remove at least some if your frustration.

I wonder how many people in the world outside the London UK area know what Bruv means.

Unless you live under a rock, I'd say everyone in the UK understands what that means, otherwise it's no great leap of the imagination to hazard a guess, or there's always that new-fangled search thingamy that can help ;-)

If you don't understand what it means it is confusing, if you do understand it is disrespectful. In either case they shouldn't be starting out posts to strangers with "Bruv, look..."

Disrespectful? It’s short for “brother” and is used the same way as “mate” in those parts.

Could have been worse with an Australian, then it might have been c... :)


75% of those letters were correct.

I live in the US but I have seen kingsmen

Exactly! I wonder why it is some people are utterly clueless about popular culture from other countries, I find it fascinating. Probably the same people who are clueless about even their own popular culture.

As a 2012 iMac user, I'm saddened that every macOS upgrade slows down the computer even more...

If you’re crashing once a week you’re definitely doing something incorrect on your end. Apple may have poor QA, but there’s no way it’s _that_ poor.

I don't see how you can blame a user for repeated kernel panic issues.

Apple fan logic in a nut-shell.

You are user spacing it wrong.

Isn't the point of a user space to protect the kernel and keep the OS from crashing?


What userspace is is where you work happens. It has no universal obligation to protect the kernel.

You could possibly say that the point of working in userspace (instead of in kernel space) is to protect the kernel.

Seems I'm either wrong or I'm punished for being rude.

In the latter case, sorry. I honestly agree I should have caught that.

In the first case my thought process goes as follows (hoping someone knowledgeable will correct me):

- user space may very well contain hostile processes (trojans, rootkits, - even intentionally in the case where a user inspects malware in some kind of container or chroot environment.

- user space may contain mechanisms that attempts to protect the kernel, but a typical kernel (linux, and I guess most other free kernels) cannot rely on it.

- I tried searching for userspace protect kernel and the closest thing I found was the act of separating userspace from kernel space protects the kernel which is what I tried to point out in my post above.

I had very frequent cornel panics on my MBP, but running diagnostics (hold “D” during startup) revealed a hardware issue. After the Apple shop replaced the motherboard, the crashes are gone.

My MacBook Air is also crashing weekly and I don't even do anything demanding (no VMs or video editing or the like).

No. I bought the $3,500 version on the advice of my partner and feel cruelly ripped off. The keyboard, which I dislike, has already been replaced. The Apple Store guy tried to accuse me of getting water on the keyboard, but that is incorrect. My partner’s identical machine also needed the keyboard and motherboard replaced. He got a loaner (I didn’t) and they tried to accuse him of the same thing.

I would much rather have purchased 2 MacBook Airs for the price. (I do web development and the MacBook Airs are surprisingly fast for my purposes.)

But more likely I’ll go with something like a Lenovo next time. With Apple much less willing to honor its warranties I don’t feel anchored to its computers, which I used to love, anymore.

Lenovo Thinkpad T series laptops are built like tanks, have proper keyboards, some have water-resistance, most have easily-removable batteries. The T480 has a 30 hour runtime with dual batteries, and starts at about $800 USD. I'd try to turn that into a hackintosh or find an A1278 because it has 2x drives (optical turns into second drive bay), works with 16 GiB of RAM and the battery isn't glued in. On the latter, I'd send it to Rossmann in NYC just to have the JTAG header removed and exposed traces sealed (Apple BOOO, poor craftsmanship)... yes, Apple sells computers with logic boards that are prone to corrosion, shorting and other damage due to substandard engineering and manufacturing.

But the Lenovo is coming from a company who has repeatedly shown that it doesn't give a shit about user privacy. Remember superfish? Or Lenovo Service Engine?

That doesn't happen on business machines like Thinkpads.

Unfortunately, it also looks like a tank.

Can recommend the s series however (have the 420s and am still happy).

> The Apple Store guy tried to accuse me of getting water on the keyboard,

They pulled the exact same bullshit with the first iPhone I ever bought (3s at the time) and refused to fix it for free even though it was under warranty as the screen stoped working, asking the equivalent of more than $200 for something I paid like $300 new, claiming water caused damages. I ended up buying a spare screen $10 online and change it myself.

It was the last time I ever bought something from Apple.

amen to that its always easier to fix it yourself when the part is the only problem.

apple is a full service shop that will quote you a price and then get it done. they wont ask any questions and just let it all happen.

It's just a shame —with all brands— that original parts aren't the more readily available.

I don't want a knock-off batteries or screens. They're cheap because they're not top-flight materials and invariably break much quicker than what they're replacing. And those that claim to be genuine are often even shittier.

there isn't a universal standard for this, but some companies do provide raw parts officialy for instance Samsung allows you to get any replacement parts for any of their phones or electronics on their website.

So I guess the new membrane they put into the 2018 MacBook Pros didn’t solve the problem? I had keyboard issues on my 2015 MacBook which I think is the first time they introduced the butterfly switches. I got a 2016 MacBook Pro 15 and the keyboard has worked flawlessly. I’ve gotten 2 2017 MacBook Pro 15s for work. The first one had keyboard issues and the second hasn’t but I’ve only had it for like 4 months.

I’ve been lucky support-wise, but maybe you would get better service from your local Apple Business team if thats an option?

> So I guess the new membrane they put into the 2018 MacBook Pros didn’t solve the problem?

My money is that OP’s laptop isn’t the new edition.

Did you get a 2018 version?

you "should have" gotten the macbook air but apple isn't planning on updating them so its a stale buy. really the lineup of apple is quite confusing. What you're getting other than a mainstream Unix OS is a few hw bells and whistles.

I know it’s stale! But I still prefer it to my state of the art MBP.

It's value is in

(1) combing a no-fuss GUI and the ability to run most major proprietary apps with a UNIX underpinning. If you also want to combine that with multimedia work (serious photo and video editing, graphic and print design, DAW work, Linux is a no-player, you need either Windows or OS X. Yes, there's Inscape and a few other tools, but only outliers use them and you'll be missing on almost all major tools and commercial products).

(2) some not-found-elsewhere niceties in the hardware (great trackpad, fine display, sturdy all-one metallic, construction, top-notch SSDs, no-fuss sleep/wake, nice latch, great aesthetic, and such).

(3) works nicely as an ecosystem of products

(4) Finally, it's in resale value.

It's value is not and has never been in bang for the buck or big performance.

And it has lost points regarding (2) through the loss of magsafe (another handy exclusive feature), worsening of the keyboard, and drop of some handy ports.

>PS: I do have to say though that all their pro hardware seems to be very overpriced

Some of it is (e.g. Macbook Air/Mini/etc are long in the tooth, at this point you're paying just for the privilege of using OS X, which many don't care about that much). But their costlier models are not really overpriced, they're just high-end.

I often look to get a comparable machine for Windows, and when you add the same things from machines from Dell, IBM, Razer, you get at the same price range very soon. I'm not talking about some custom rig desktop with faster cpu and gpu, but about getting something comparable at all levels (their top of the line laptop machine, comparable monitor, ssd, construction, etc).

For me it's still worth it. I like OS X, do lots of programming work (some native, some remote thru SSH), lots of multimedia with Adobe apps and DAWs, hate tinkering (and even more so hardware tinkering and custom rigs), and don't mind paying a premium for something I use 10+ hours each day. I also don't work with .NET, in which case I'd use Windows.

Also the lightweight and tight form factor.

I have travelled a ton with it and its help up the whole way for 14 months and 36+ flights domestic and international.

Spot on, especially point 2. I hear people complaining all the time about how trackpads suck, but the apple trackpads just work so nice I can even comfortably game using them. I yet have to stumble upon another laptop with trackpad that just works.

I'm a PC person and just got a brand new Macbook Pro 2018 i7 16GB of RAM for work. The keyboard is pretty terrible if you're used to mechanical keys. The trackpad (with the "taptic feedback") while strange and annoying at first, grew on me and is nice. MacOS for Java dev has been fine. The touchbar is fairly useless, but I was able to bind escape to caps lock very easily, muscle memory though is still a problem. I personally don't like MacOS more than Windows 10 after Windows 10 got the Linux subsystem. I hate all the USB-C only stuff. I can't plug anything in anymore without tons of dongles, and I can't seem to find a dongle that has all the ports I want on it at once. And the ones I have to buy are crazy expensive. The thing gets REALLY hot when doing anything taxing. It warmed my entire desk up where I noticed it when touching the desk from 5 inches away from the laptop. It burns my legs when I'm wearing shorts. It also slides off my legs because it's made of slippery metal. The speakers are very nice. Webcam is okay (all laptop cams suck compared to phones). Touch ID is okay I guess. I shut my laptop off when I'm done using it and each time you do that you have to type your password back in to use touch id, so I don't find myself using it that much.

All in all, I think if I had a choice, I would choose something else over a 2018 Macbook Pro. At least considering how much it costs.

One thing I didn’t know until I had owned my MacBook Pro for awhile is that the haptics for the trackpad can be changed. I always felt the click was too shallow and I had hard time dragging files. When I played with the settings I learned that there is options for deeper presses. I also learned that there is actually two clicks: one shallow one deep, which I disabled since I don’t see a need. If you haven’t investigated the settings I suggest playing around and finding a comfortable setup.

> The touchbar is fairly useless, but I was able to bind escape to caps lock very easily, muscle memory though is still a problem

I started using a 2017 Macbook Pro last week. First thing I did with the touch bar was set it to be all function keys rather than app-specific stuff. I still miss the feedback of hitting the escape key, but otherwise it's okay.

There's quite a few apps (both open source and proprietary) that enable haptic feedback for the touchbar. I recommend trying them out if you're missing the feeling of actually touching the escape key.

I think they leverage the same feedback mechanism that the track pad uses to make it feel like you're actually clicking.

Links: - https://www.haptictouchbar.com - https://github.com/niw/HapticKey - https://community.folivora.ai/t/touchbar-haptic-feedback-imp...

NOTE: New low-end MacBooks may be announced in 2 weeks or next month.

Have you identified how much RAM and disk space you actually need for your workflow?

If you just want something “good enough” you might be able to make do with even the $1300 Core m3, 8GB, 256GB, 12” MacBook [0], or even a PC running macOS in a VM.

Otherwise the answer is “as much as you can afford.”

I haven’t compared markets lately, but I think that although you’ll find PC laptops that exceed MacBooks in a couple specs here and there, you may be hard pressed to find something that betters a MacBook across the board in many areas (including Thunderbolt 3, SSD performance, trackpad, color gamut and battery time) and still beats it at price. Then of course there’s the value of the OS.

The Touch Bar can also be surprisingly handy if you give it an honest chance. Search for third-party tools that let you customize it, like BetterTouchTool [1].

[0] https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook

[1] https://lifehacker.com/customize-your-macs-touch-bar-with-be...

For a Java developer, Eclipse and IntelliJ will happily eat over 8GB on a midsize project, especially if Spring + related plugins are involved.

For a Javascript developer, a typical webpack based build chain in live reload mode + chrome debugger + app using a front end framework will also easily go over 8GB.

So for the two most common classes of developer, I couldn't reccomend a 8GB MBP. At work I need to work on both, and my 16GB MBP is woefully inadequate. Chrome debugger + (VS Code or IntelliJ) is enough to summon this screen: https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fi.stack.imgu...

It’s pretty grim that you can develop, build and test native apps with more features (graphics, UI etc.) just fine in 8 GB but twice that is woefully inadequate for anything with Java in it.

It's the same with .Net. I wouldn't consider developing Java or C# without 16Gb really. It's mainly the IDE that needs it, but also the build time, starting up services etc.. I guess this is similar with a lot of use cases these days. Web browsing is pretty expensive once you've got a few tabs open. This seems to be less of an issue on my desktop than my laptop though so maybe there are a few factors in play. Slow PC is frustrating though and my apk build is currently taking over 20mins...

>Have you identified how much RAM and disk space you actually need for your workflow?

You better think hard and choose wisely; the days of being able to upgrade your RAM and SSD are over.

The attraction of programmers to macOS née OS X has always been its UNIX foundations. Programmers love UNIX. Programmers made UNIX for programmers.

Unfortunately, from the epoch until very recently, UNIX has had GUIs ranging in quality from absolute shit to mediocre. That's finally changing with Free Desktop (Wayland + GNOME/KDE, and support libraries).

OS X gave programmers a UNIX core with a beautiful user interface layered on top. And what a joy it is to use.

But these days, you can easily make do with a much, much cheaper laptop running GNU/Linux if your budget and/or conscience dictates, and have a pretty good experience.

Regarding the user interface. On my Macbook Pro I have become accustomed to using i3 UI on Linux and now I feel handicapped anytime I switch over to Mac OS or Windows.

The only time I boot Mac OS is if I'm going to be using a browser for a while and can't plug in my laptop. The battery life on Mac OS is much much better.

Just want to echo that i3 is everything I ever wanted on a UI. Everything else feels extremely awkward and slow.

I used OS X for many years, starting shortly before the transition to Intel.

I disagree with the fact that the UI experience of macOS vs Linux is a joy vs pretty good.

That's only true if you compare macOS vs GNOME/KDE. But that's a false dichotomy. IMHO, Linux truly shines on minimal setups without a desktop environment. Of course this is not suitable for everyone. But if you are a programmer, there are good chances that it is suitable for you.

I would never ever switch back from an environment with StumpWM, Emacs, Firefox and xterm to macOS. And that still doesn't factor in the biggest advantage of Linux, openness and a first-class package manager.

Now, you could even take things further and ask for a purely functional package manager and OS. That would be NixOS. Such a setup has many advantages over traditional UNIX userlands worth investigating.

If you are considering macOS, you should at least also consider this kind of Linux setup. All that said, macOS is terrific and a great option for many developer usecases.

What type of rig do you need to run this? Would a Chromebook be good enough?

Any, in principle. Minimal also means RAM-friendly. I can boot into X and open a terminal with less than 256 MB.

Obviously if you add Firefox, you will need around 2 GB to run comfortably.

And then a lot depends on what you develop for.

NixOS is also a bit more disk intensive than other distros due to the way libraries are linked. But it's nothing too excessive.

My favourite UX aspect of OSX is how spotlight works with searching for applications.

If the application isn't already open, it launches it. If the application is already open, it brings it to the foreground.

In contrast on windows, the search bar seems to just be a launcher. In that if the application is already open and you search for it, it opens a second copy. As far as I could find, this behaviour isn't changeable.

Can anyone tell me if it's possible to get osx's search style on any of the nice gui having Linux variants?

If you're talking about an application launcher that's like Spotlight it sounds like Fedora 28 with Gnome 3 would work for you. I've literally only used it long enough to launch a Terminal, but I just confirmed it will switch back to Firefox instead of launching a second instance of Firefox. It also sounds like what Ubuntu has had for awhile with Unity desktop. Their launcher is called Dash.

If you're talking about file search, I'm not sure if they have them or how well they work. In macOS I tend to look for preference files or system files, so I usually avoid Spotlight for file search and I don't have much experience with the other two.

Windows key+1 cycles through windows of the first application, and adding the shift key opens a new window of that application. Just pin the 5-10 most commonly used apps and you're up and away with keyboard navigation.

I rather like Gnome on Debian, the hot corners and search are slick IMO. Never had to use OS X, but the UX is somewhat similar from what I hear.

Then the difference became battery life. It's been a few years since I ran linux on a laptop; has that improved?

It has! I've been using Ubuntu on a thinkpad x1 carbon (2017) for almost a year. Battery life is between 6-8 hours everyday use including work. Probably see between 8-10 if I'm not doing any programming

Similar experience on a Thinkpad T440 with a 1080p screen swap, I can easily go 5 hours before I need to swap to the big battery, which buys ne a few more hours. Games seem to halve that though...

No. Linux can’t match Mac OS on battery life.

This has been my experience as well. Apple seems to have spent a lot of effort in making their software use very little energy. Check out the energy usage of Safari vs Chrome sometime, for example.

Mine has, older Linux on older Lenovo was not good but also that battery was aging.

New (<1yr) Asus gives me about four hours of 30+ tabs across two indipendent chrome profiles, my heavy editor, multiple active ssh sessions, other nonsense, keyboard lights (on low) and screen at 60% bright.

I think it's very good.

I don't have any firsthand information, but I've heard power management has gotten a lot better for both Linux and Windows and the laptops advertise comparable hours (with reviews not calling them out on it). There are a few name-brand laptops that offer explicit support for Linux distros. Those might gave you a better idea of what to expect.

I recently went through the new laptop experience. When it came down to it, I couldn't justify spending the money on an MBP that would meet my needs.

My decision came down to a few things:

1.) I hate the touch bar and you can pry the function keys out of my cold, dead hands. (I like saying that.)

2.) To get an MBP that will provide enough power for me, I'd need to upgrade to a touch bar only model.

3.) MBPs are seriously expensive.

4.) There are other, really good machines that can run real operating systems and provide all the power for a fraction of the cost.

5.) To get an MBP with similar performance to those other machines, I would have to pay approximately $1,000 more. If I invested that money in an RESP (a registered educational savings plan, it's a Canadian thing), I'm pretty sure my girl could afford an extra semester in University.

> To get an MBP with similar performance to those other machines, I would have to pay approximately $1,000 more.


MBPs have been reported to have the fastest SSDs on the market since 2016 [0], and I doubt you can get laptops with the same resolution and wide color gamut for much cheaper.

[0] https://9to5mac.com/2016/11/01/2016-macbook-pro-ssd/

MBPs do have great SSDs, but I don't particularly care about (or optimize for) resolution or colour.

If you remove those from the mix, there are many examples. The Dell XPS series, higher end Zenbooks, and Lenovo Ideapads all beat the MBP.

So it’s disingenuous to claim “similar performance” by arbitrarily removing metrics from the mix.

On the contrary, it's disingenuous to act like resolution or color are metrics of "performance" when the colloquial usage of the word generally refers to processing speed and memory capacity. I/O speed would qualify, but is only one metric; it is correct to say it is outperformed by other machines at lower price points when accounting for the CPU and RAM.

That's cherry-picking specs and definitions.

The ""colloquial usage of the word"" very much includes I/O performance; disk speed has historically been the worst bottleneck, aside from network access.

Resolution also affects performance: it's how much information you can view at a time.

Most cheaper laptops do not present the same value as a MacBook Pro unless you ignore some of the advantages of the MBP you’re comparing against.

> Resolution also affects performance: it's how much information you can view at a time.

Not for me. My 40-something-year-old eyes mean that the amount of text I can view on a monitor is restricted by the text size, not by the resolution of the monitor. Retina displays make not a jot of difference to me. YMMV, of course.

They do. For him. And thinking this way about what you buy is smart :-)

That comparison is against consumer laptops with SATA SSDs. The MBP's sequential read/write is average for NVMe SSDs, and a mobile workstation like a ThinkPad can be configured with multiple NVM SSDs in a RAID configuration, giving even higher throughput.

I had to switch to a new laptop last year after my old MBP first generation retina died.

I couldn't justify the price, the specs and the keyboard of a new MBP anymore and after much deliberation I chose a $1200 HP Spectre x360.

I do mostly web development work (Ember.js, PHP and Node), and after running Win10 for a few weeks and hating the performance (especially for Node). I installed Ubuntu Budgie, and have been smoothly running it ever since.

The latest Linux kernel provides me with excellent battery performance and for a machine a third of the price I must say I made the right choice.

Any problems with the touch screen working in Ubuntu? Can you still use the pen to sketch in drawing programs etc?

I need a good Linux-friendly laptop with touch screen for sketching as well as code dev, so I'm very curious about this one.

Sorry. Only just saw your question.

The touchscreen works out of the box, but I don't use it that often, the few times I've used it I noticed that if I have an issue it's mostly related to the program I'm using and the lack of proper touchscreen support for that particular program.

Not the OP but the touch screen worked out of the box for me on Arch, Dell 9350 and Gnome, just like on Windows. I don't have pen to test this though.

You don't need to buy new. I find this "new everything" by default to be very sad.

As a developer, you'd be well served by a 2015 (if you like the old keyboard), 2016 or 2017 MacBook Pro. Why do you want to spend so much money to pay for Apple Corporate to get even wealthier? Even something like a certified refurbish machine will get you what you need (with full Apple warranty), AND leave you enough money for peripherals and accessories.

Buy a tool of course, that works for your job, but don't be clouded by the idea that you need the newest, the latest gadget to do basic development.

I've owned a 2016/17 MacBook Pro. Don't do it, OP. The '16/17 models feature the defective keyboard that will eventually break. Plus, they don't have the T2 chip.

I currently own a 2018 MacBook Pro which I like very much, but don't love. I paid $1,599 for it (13" 8GB/256GB w/ Touch Bar) here: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1423729-REG/apple_mr9...

What's the benefit of the T2 chip? Your other criticisms of the 16/17 model years are valid.

> What's the benefit of the T2 chip?

Extra security. It’s definitely a strong nice to have for me, but anyone who makes it a key purchase decision is likely jumping the shark imho.

I love my early-2015 MBP. Best computer I ever owned - it hits the sweet spot between processing power, screen space, weight, battery life, durability, and features. No major problems other than a slightly off-kilter hinge (coming from dropping it edge-on), and it gets a lot of (ab)use.

My next computer will likely be something Windows, though. Part of this is the horror stories I've heard about recent-model Macs, and part is because between this computer and my 2013 System76 Pangolin still working, I'll be able to cover all major OSes with it.

I agree that the newest model isn't always strictly better than the old model. I still have a 2013 Macbook Air that loyally travels with me everywhere; I bought it new. In that respect, for something that I use (almost) every day I think buying new has worked out well for me, and whenever this thing gives up I'll certainly buy my next laptop new as well (Mac or otherwise).

Old laptops have old batteries that need to be replaced. Since it's Apple this will likely cost enough to justify buying new.

Not true.

And Genuine Apple refurbs have certified-to-be-restored batteries in them (ie they will have new batteries as part of refurbishing if needed), and they carry new machine applecare warranty like new machines do - so even if the battery is no longer good, you go to apple, they replace it on their dime.

That's why they are "apple refurbs".

I got a MacBook pro 2013 15” max spec 16gb/nvidia gpu. 430 cycles (not a lot) and if it needs replacing Mac store will do it not that expensively. I paid 900$ u.s. on eBay. Model had a bit of scratches but who cares made it way cheaper . OP just buy a refurbished max spec 2013/2014 15” off eBay .

Only gripe I have is that it sometimes doesn’t ground well with the unibody casing

I have a late 2013 macbook pro 13" ~500 cycles and 86% capacity

Last year I replaced my 2012 Macbook Pro that still had the original battery. I think it was approaching it's expected life of 1,000 cycles, but it was still at about 80% capacity. It still worked fine.

Most Apple batteries are about $130 to replace (when Apple had removable laptop batteries their lifespan was 200 cycles and new batteries cost about the same). The newer laptops might have more adhesive, but replacing the internal battery was ridiculously easy. https://support.apple.com/mac/repair/service

I use a MacBook Pro Retina 13" Early 2015, and it's amazing. I hope it lasts forever.

I've tried a friends new MBP and I can't stand the keyboard, or the dongles. When I sit at my work desk, I have 2x DisplayPorts to my monitors, a USB 3.0 hub, and often a USB thumb drive. Swapping to USB-C would be a pain.

My biggest gripe with Apple's current MBP line up is the insulting specs you get for the price. I can buy a 128GB SSD delivered for £24, I imagine at bulk wholesale Apple is barely paying £10 - yet that's what they put in their 'entry level' £1,250 13" MBP. Absolute madness.

> When I sit at my work desk, I have 2x DisplayPorts to my monitors, a USB 3.0 hub, and often a USB thumb drive. Swapping to USB-C would be a pain.

So with your setup that’s four cables to reconnect each time I need to get up for a meeting, where as I have a single cable (that single cable provides power, USB, a 5K and a 4K display, and Ethernet in my setup). Yep, sounds less painful to me too!

I don't want the answer to everything to be "Buy a dongle". I have a similar setup at home to my work setup, almost identical - do I need another dongle/hub for home?

I also work from my parents house if I'm visiting, they have a monitor I use, and my girlfriends parents (again if we're visiting) has a dual screen setup in their office I can use.

Do I buy a Hub/dongle for each location? Do I carry one with me at all times? (Good job they made the laptop light as I'll now need 38kg of adapters).

Oh wait, I don't have any of these problems, I just take my 2015 MBP and it plugs in to whatever is there. Nice.

Also, let's not get started on the travesty that is the loss of MagSafe...

Because yeah, there ~aren’t any~ actually is tons of comparable USB-C cables with the same breakaway mechanism as MagSafe.

I’ve got the same machine and will be looking to upgrade the SSD shortly with a lovely nvme m.2 ssd thanks to an adapter. The thought of going from 128GB to 1TB for ~£280, plus the performance upgrade, almost certainly means I’ll be holding onto this one for a while. (Shame it’s only got 8gb of RAM...)

I’ve use Mac laptops as my primary work machine since the nineties. This year, with the MacBook Pro problems, and noticing that I was almost always working from my home office these days, I got a 5k iMac instead of a new laptop.

I’m delighted with iMac. The monitor is amazing, and it has quite a bit more horsepower than a comparable Mac laptop.

AFter trying various combinations for years, I settled on keeping a nice big iMac at home and getting a lowest end MacBook for portability + an iPad for bed/couch.

It’s been the ideal setup for me so far.

That's the exact reason I built a Hackintosh last year. I haven't rocked one of those since 2005.

A big part of that decision wasn't just that the Macbook Pros have become unreliable. The entire field of modern laptops are unsuitable to me (and I would guess to most power users). The race to the bottom in terms of consumer laptops is now complete. I wonder what's next.

I just bought a Dell XPS after eight years of Mac use. Zero productivity loss, now I can test pen and touch GUI on the laptop. Can run Linux, can run windows. Honestly, the 4k display is even better than my last Macbook's retina display. Oh, and the Dell's keyboard is much better. The big win: function keys.

Got one with high hopes, but can't stand the way the loud fan spins up seemingly at random. My 4+ year old MacBook is almost never audible.

You should look into MacBook thermals. The fact that fans are not running does not mean hardware is not getting too hot for comfort or longevity. Fans kicking up only when temps go over 90C (IIRC in some Linus video) is very very not good for long term use.

On MBPs, the fans “idle” at about 2,000rpm, they are just designed to be quiet at that speed, but are definitely running. 90°C is fairly close to the thermal limit of the MBP (as in, system will auto power off), so no, that’s definitely not the temp the fans turn on, but might be when they go to max RPM.

Which version did you buy?

I bought 9350 (Skylake) when that came out and this really scared me away from XPSes (multiple issues, motherboards replaced, the worst thing being Thunderbolt integration with the TB16 dock).

I generally like quick and nice Dell support service but would rather not have to use it.

I have the 9560, and I love it. I got it as an open box unit from Microcenter right when the 9570s were coming out, so it was a great deal. I use it for side projects and as a personal laptop, I would love to use it instead of my T470 work laptop.

It took a lot of fiddling to get Linux running on it, but it all works now. I have it set up with 18.04 with the root on ZFS.

Glad to hear it works well for you!

> I have it set up with 18.04 with the root on ZFS.

I was thinking about using ZFS too. Unfortunately it's not so easy to setup correctly (full disk encryption etc.) on Arch as it is on Ubuntu...

Yeah, my desktop is root on ZFS with arch as well, even with the LTS kernel I was always running into issues with mismatched SPL/ZFS and the kernel, I'm trying the DKMS package atm. That took me an entire day to get running.

Do you get that many benefits from ZFS? I was thinking of using it for backup via zfs send/receive and snapshotting before pacman updates but the sheer amount of work made me stay with ext4 and luks setup. Too bad as I'd really want Tor give ZFS a try :(

9575 w/4k display, SSD, i7, 16G RAM. So far so good.

People talk a lot about how awful the virtual escape key is (it is terrible), but another big problem is trying to use an IDE debugger with the touch bar function keys. The problem for me is, I want to rest my fingers on the keys and you just can’t do it since they are a touch screen. Even the IntelliJ first class touchbar support just doesn’t cut it. It just makes me miss Visual Studio on a boring old Dell keyboard.

FWIW I spent this last summer coding while traveling on a Macbook Air I bought for $999.

I was considering buying a more powerful laptop for the trip, but I'm glad I put it off.

If I needed more power, then I would just ssh to Linux box. I even used X forwarding once! It worked with XQuartz -- my first time I using it, and it was passable.

Anyway, I really like the Macbook Air -- and I used it for everything -- coding, presentations, taking videos/pictures, video conferencing, listening to music, watching Netflix, health data, etc.

I ran BOTH an Ubuntu VM and a Windows VM on the Macbook Air too! Computers can do everything now!

Consider getting a Thinkpad. They are quite indestructible (at least compared to Macbooks -- the ThinkPad durability used to be legendary but has also gone downhill quite a bit these days). The value per dollar is also quite high, especially if you can get a corporate or student discount (you might be surprised what you are eligible for with a still-working @.edu email address or an old corporate job that you no longer work for).

I recently upgraded from my 2015 rMBP to the 2018 model you’re looking at. I agree the Touch Bar is a dumb gimmick (for a dev’s purposes at least), but the keyboard has grown on me, and the 6-core/12-thread CPU is a serious boon for dev work.

I wrote up a few more details here: https://tylerayoung.com/2018/07/23/the-worlds-shortest-revie...

One of the nice things about the Touch Bar is that you can use it to hold a bunch of useful info without cluttering your prompt.

I tried the 13-inch touchbar model for work and I despise the touchbar in every way. I realized quickly that I have to have a physical Escape key... but more importantly, I never want to have to look at the keyboard for information, that's why I learned to type in the first place!

I exchanged it for the non-touchbar model (despite having two fewer USB-C ports for some unfathomable reason, fuck you very much Apple for that) and I've been much more satisfied with having the physical keys back.

Gotta chime in here:

I'm using the new MPB at work (they give them out for free so why not), and I can't say that I really have any problems with it. Granted, they keyboard is...weird (such tight, low action on the keys) but not horrible, the touchpad is HUGE, but I generally don't have a problem with this as I don't use a mouse. Lastly, the touchbar is (as others have mentioned) just completely unecessary. Why Apple? Do you care about web surfers that much more than devs? (Answer: yes). Granted, the physical specs of the machine aren't crazy (quad core, 16G RAM, 256G SSD, Intel Core i7), pretty standard for a upper-shelf laptop.

So I recently bought a HIDevolution Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501VI 15.6 inch Gaming Laptop. It has Windows (which makes me sad), but I cannot WAIT to get this baby out of the box. Intel Core i7, 1TB SSD, 24G RAM, Nvidia 1070 (swappable), quad core It's a tiny little beast fit for gaming, dev work, and running a node for smart contract work.

I honestly feel like I've broken the mental spell that Apple had over my mind. We all know their computers are 150% the cost, for 70% the performance - but for some reason I kept buying Mac laptops. No more though! I'm free, and I refuse to go back to burning my money for a cool laptop. I'm done. Finite.

> I honestly feel like I've broken the mental spell that Apple had over my mind.

Same here. For me, it was the lack of updates on the MacBook Air, and the horrendous mess that is the OS since 10.10 (10.13 is the worst Mac OS I have ever used. I started with 7.5.3).

I recently upgraded to the new 2018 model with Core i9 and 32GB of RAM. For my kind of development the RAM was a huge bottleneck and since I upgraded it’s been definitively better, I did had a rMBP 2016 which I was angry at just like the others, but I decided to give Apple one last chance and so far I’m fairly happy with my rMBP 2018 (i9/32GB RAM) so I’d recommend it

I have a 2018 15" MBP with 32gb of RAM. So far, knock on wood, it is acting fine. I am going to buy AppleCare+ immediately now after reading these comments. I feel even more ripped off though. This doesn't include the $300 I had to spend on an OWC TB3 dock to be able to connect my other drives, wired ethernet, etc.

I bought this machine because my entire workflow has been Apple for 25 years and the thought of switching is overwhelming. I have tried to go "cold turkey" before and switch to Windows and I just can't get used to it. For a few things yes.

However, I am more determined to try and get out of Apple's grip. So, I am moving parts of my workflow to Virtual Box VM's and slowly adding more and more until I get comfortable, find solutions, etc. Hopefully by my next laptop purchase I can find a non-apple machine.

The touch-bar is pointless. I hate it and don't use it unless I have to. The keyboard still feels weird to me. I tend to use an external keyboard and mouse.

Windows is by far the most annoying operating system out there. You want Linux. It's really easy to use these days and works pretty good. It's not perfect and you will have some trouble shooting but it's a lot better than sitting and waiting for Apple or Microsoft. You become totally dependant on them. No developer should ever be dependent like that.

I’m using Ubuntu in VMs now and for servers.

I love the MBP 15” 2017 keyboard. Works great for me.

I love the USB-C ports.

Touchbar is meh. I ignore it.

Cost is not really an object for a machine I use 10 hours a day to run a fairly solid “lifestyle” business. I don’t even give it a second thought.

I use the latest 2018 one for work. It's ok but just ok. Personally I will not be buying a MacBook pro as the current models stand.

Not a fan of the touchbar. I accidentally hit buttons on it as i rest the tips of my fingers on the top row, the siri button on the top right above delete was the biggest problem. Likewise I hate the context of the keys switching between apps, the escape key dispersing or volume buttons diapering. I've configured the touchbar to be a fixed constant layout now so the keys do not change however I've had a few instances where it's gone completely blank and had to restart. The lack of tactile feel is a big loss.

I've also had a few times where I thought I hit the famous keyboard issue with dust in the keys. Luckily after a few keypresses whatever was in the keys worked it's way out.

The size etc is nice especially comparing to my 2011 MBP however I feel it's now form over function. The 2011 I pimped out with upgraded memory and SSD, that's no longer possible and you have to spec it up front at cost. The 2015 model I have is probably the best model for form/function however that's still a 2015 model 3 years out of date.

Most of my work is in the terminal, Emacs or tools that run on Linux, the only Mac software I really love and will be hard to loose is 1Password. I've got a 2018 IMac as a desktop which I considered ok value for an all in one with good screen but feel if I need to buy a personal laptop instead of using works, as it stands I'll likely get a Dell XPS or similar and go back to Linux on the desktop. Based on the Surface Book Go being able to run Linux the next gen versions of Surface Book could also be interesting if they also follow the Go.

For me to buy a MBP now they'd have to loose the touchbar, fix the keyboard, come down in price for memory/disk as no longer up-gradable. All unlikely to happen.

I've posted about the Surface Book a ton of times, but I can't recommend it enough. I bought it when Apple delayed their MBP offering, and I'm glad I made the switch.

As a Linux desktop, there were some teething issues with the first gen Surface Book, but I've managed to get Debian running with minimal fuss.

There is only 2 good reasons to buy a mac. Applications you use are Mac dependent, you need crazy long battery life. I haven't used a chrome book, I have heard they're pretty good. Considering those things, if you want to get power, buy a Dell Precision or an HP Zbook, or a Lenovo T series laptop. Dell Precision laptops are built like tanks, real workstation workhorses. Dell/Zbook/lenovo laptops will never give you fantastic battery life, but boy will they blow the doors performance-wise off anything apple has to offer you. If you do open source development, moving to kubuntu w/ plasma will feel quite comfortable for most people. Use Latte-Dock, boom, got your osx style doc, and it's fast. Font rendering on linux these days is insanely nice, fonts are bold, crisp. The only negative these days I say is go with AMD chips on the laptops since they have better support and don't have screen tearing like nvidia does atm due to lack of proper vsync support.

Vmware, so long as you run it on a non-ntfs partition will run insanely fast. I run windows 10 on vmware, and it runs fantastic.

My laptop is a Dell Precision 7510 w/ 64gb of ram, 512gb NVME Samsung Evo 950, + 2tb Samsung Evo 850, Quadro M2000M w/ Intel graphics. Runs beautifully on linux. Just don't expect to get fantastic battery life from it in linux as right now, that is the only thing that I think needs a lot of work. Windows got horrible battery life as well. I think Apple with osx has windows & linux beat on battery life.

Also.. with regard to keyboards, if you type fast, just say you're a touch typist, I'd say that Dell Precision & Lenovo keyboards are some of the best out there for typing for long time. If say you type 60wpm+ you'll enjoy them considerably. If you type for any duration on a mac, the tips of your fingers over time will start to feel a stabbing feeling, I don't get this with my dell. I do have a Late 2014 model mac laptop which I just replaced the keyboard, and I still have this problem with the laptop, something to do with short key travel.

   > There is only 2 good reasons to buy a mac. Applications you use are Mac dependent, you need crazy long battery life. 
how about compiling valid ( apple store's compatible ) iOS apps ?... Xcode falls into the first category, i reckon. Is there any viable alternatives ? My trials with hackintoshed VMs ( host is running Linux ) is not good at all. Frustrating, actually.

The MB Pro the OP is asking about doesn’t even have crazy long battery life though. Its battery stores less energy than the MB Air IIRC. My 2016 MBP ‘Escape’ gives up after about 4 hours with not much more than Safari browser and an editor running.

Check energy consumption tab in activity viewer. Something is likely vampiring power without you realizing.

Yes, did that. Nothing showed up :/

Neither here. Safari was chugging along, WindowServer, bla bla. Nothing suspicious. I should add that a "Service Battery" warning has popped up recently, so maybe it's just an issue with my machine. Will bring it in.

> I should add that a "Service Battery" warning has popped up recently, so maybe it's just an issue with my machine.

Yep, all 2016 MBPs have terrible battery life, when they have faulty batteries and are directly telling you that’s the issue!

That battery warning came only recently. Battery life has been terrible all along. Anecdata, anecdata. But again, the design capacity of the MBP battery is less than that of the MB Air. It’s a questionable trade-off for a “pro” machine.

> the design capacity of the MBP battery is less than that of the MB Air.

Correct, the MB Air is rated at 12hrs for “wireless web”, the MB Pro is 10hrs for “wireless web”.

> It’s a questionable trade-off for a “pro” machine.

You must have a very opinionated view of “pro” that doesn’t fit the normal reality. A usual “pro” (at least in Apple’s context) is usually (but obviously not always) sitting somewhere with a power outlet. The battery is intended for meetings or other moderate duration periods of disconnect. If you want a laptop for being completely mobile, then go with one designed for that purpose (MacBook, MacBook Air, iPad w/ keyboard). If you want desktop class performance in a portable form factor, then there are trade-offs, and battery being one of the heaviest parts, that’s usually it. While I think Apple’s obsession with thinness at all costs is questionable to me, laptop weight being as minimal as possible isn’t, especially to my back that carries it each day.

No. I own one and regret buying it. The fingerprint sensor is the only useful bit of the touch bar, missing esc key is annoying if you use vim, and the keyboard is pretty terrible, even if I hadn't seen different keys come off or come loose. Have another appointment to get it fixed next week.

I explicitly avoided the Touch Bar, so it sucks I had to get the lower specs and fewer ports. I already remap Caps Lock to Ctrl and after playing around the ESC would really bother me. The travel on the new keyboard grew on me pretty quickly, but after almost a year I think I'm getting double-letters on certain keys and I still really really hate the half-height arrow keys. It sounds so silly, but if they released a new version with fill-sized arrow keys and maybe one other gripe (like an updated camera--seriously, this is the same camera on my 6yo macbook) I'd sell this one and buy another. Otherwise I'll probably put up with this for a few years until I'm fed up and find a PC laptop I'm willing to live with...

Do you really need 16GB of RAM, more storage and a beefy CPU? For reference, I'm using a 12-inch MacBook with a dual-core M3 processor and 8 GB of RAM as my daily driver and it's more than enough; this thing somehow runs IntelliJ and around 5 Docker containers in the background (including Javascript stuff with 1000+ dependencies) and has plenty of resources to spare.

Now I do agree the new MacBooks have a lot of drawbacks (I'm typing this on a keyboard where the "R" key is no longer responding; autocorrect is my saviour) but the time saved not having to tinker with shit in Linux or Windows (and be put to actual, billable work instead) means I can literally buy a new machine every month if needed. Not ideal but for me MacBooks are still the best option at the moment.

> Do you really need 16GB of RAM, more storage and a beefy CPU?

Why be so presumptuous? My main computer is a 12 Core Xeon Mac Pro with 128gb RAM and dual high end video cards and I still run into issues needing more horse power (which admittedly AWS/GCP makes mostly easy to consume).

I'm just basing this on my own experience where I used to always demand more power (and completely dismissing the new MacBooks and basically anything below 32 GB of RAM) until I realised that actually a low-power machine was perfectly usable for most development work.

You can definitely get a cheaper PC laptop with similar (or actually better) specs.




It's more of a choice of the OS, I feel like. I don't get how you can't simply copy files between a macbook and an iphone. With a PC it's trivial.

I'm curious, how do you copy files around? Between PCs I'd probably go for Dropbox first. To be a network share client in Windows 10 I go to the Network browser, then had to enable searching for network servers--I'm not sure how to serve files. I found the behavior kind of fickle...but it might be my hardware/network. The little I've seen of sending files over BlueTooth on any platform has been a miserable experience.

> I don't get how you can't simply copy files between a macbook and an iphone.

Zip and AirDrop? There are some nice free file managers for iOS, including some that offer sharing over the local network.

Honestly the MacBook Air is still an amazing value. I just bought another one before they discontinue it. It was just over $1k, keyboard is still the old pseudo mechanical kind before they switched to butterfly, 8gb ram and 512 ssd. 12 hours+ battery life means I only charge mine maybe twice a week between programming and browsing.

The ONLY thing I would change would be retina but I value more battery life than a better display.

If you prefer macOS, then yes it's your best option. If you're content with windows or linux, I'd suggest a dell xps or thinkpad x1.

It's worth switching from Mac to something else in 2018.

1. OSX is still fantastic, a sturdy UNIX like OS. So there will be some friction when you're moving away to an alternative, but it's not as bad as it was in maybe 2015 when windows wasn't even up for consideration as a developer machine for many and Linux variants were far from being non-flaky (because of lack of manufacturer support mostly).

2. Windows is catching up with the introduction of WSL, many developers may now setup their LINUX ready projects completely in Windows.

I switched from Macbook Pro 2013 to ~$1,000 Xiaomi Mi notebook pro (i7, 16GB, Dedicated GX card, better battery, HDMI port, 15inch, Mac like keyboard and touchpad, fingerprint reader). I run a right-swipe virtual machine and run chrome all day without issues. It's a good for 3 years machine. Screen is fullhd though.

I got an Air mid 2013 for $2200 NZD and that has been my main dev machine for the last 5 years.

I was going to buy a new MacBook after the latest round of updates but the price was insane.

Ended up building a Ryzen 2700+ PC with 32gb ram and running a bunch of dev vms on there. Now I just ssh into those from either the pc or my air.

Lenovo just released the thinkpad x1 extreme. You can get 16gb ram and 512gb ssd for $1975.

with an awesome ThinkPad keyboard.

I recently purchased a used 2013 model max specced. Definitely worth it. Loads of ports. Great retina screen. 16gb of ram. Fast CPU.

On the other hand I was not going to pay the prices for a current model, which lack the ports I like (hdmi, sd card, usb a).

I paid $1200 for a maxed-out 2015 13" MBP at the beginning of this year, and I would recommend that in place of a new MBP for most people. It was unopened/brand new, from a certified seller. The one I bought it from is out of stock, hopefully other certified sellers still have some.

I have a 2013 15" MBP (barebones spec), previously had a maxed-out 2016 15" MBP (with touchbar) for work, and currently have a maxed-out 2017 (also with touchbar) for work. I really dislike the new keyboard, and the USB-C ports are still a pain point. I never use the touchbar, in fact I wish I didn't have it at all.

UNIX backbone, with many powerful applications available.

Especially when you include Keyboard Maestro, Karabiner Elements, Hazel, Contexts, Alfred.

Also, tend to be good, lightweight machines, no hassle, and reliable.

No. I returned my new 13 inch 2017 MBP within a week and bought a refurbished 13 inch 2015 MBP with 16gb of RAM and 500gb SSD for $750 on eBay.

I own a 2009 MBP and still use it for the few apps that aren't available on my other systems.

My workhorse system is a desktop lotsa RAM, SSD + TBs of HD, triple monitors - and running Ubuntu on it is far better experience than the MBP ever was.

When on the road, I use a ChromeBook or a Lenovo tablet (depending on whether I expect to type much).

Gave up on iPad and iPhone years ago. I used to be an Apple fan, but since Steve Job's passing, the company has become yet another mega-corp chasing profits. The magic is no more.

Yes, a great machine for Xcode. The only thing I don’t like about the Touch Bar is the lack of a hardware escape key.

No. In all seriousness if you need a lot of ram and cpu resources you should be remotely controlling a big, loud, beefy xen or kvm hypervisor that is remote to you.

No laptop is going to substitute for something like a used $800 Dell poweredge r910 with 32 cores or a selfbuilt, new, 16 or 32-core threadripper or epyc machine.

The 12" MacBook (not air) is a great little laptop if you can deal with the single usb-c port.

I literally bought a chromebook yesterday to test drive as a dev machine because my experience with the new MacBook Pro has been so bad.

I’ve owned and used Macs extensively since 1994.

Unless you use macOS or iOS in production, just buy a regular laptop and install Linux.

A very minimal setup with XFCE can give you decent performance and battery life.

I'm not sure if it is even fair to call it Pro.

Apple forgot how to manufacture macbooks since 2015. Keyboards are absolute garbage and touchbar is a marketing gimmick that rarely anyone uses, even video editors as well since you can go with a MX Master 2S mouse for that. You aren't going to care about touchID, disk encryption, camera and microphone processing as much as you think you will. Because a shit keyboard is going to be painful on your wrists for prolong periods of typing / coding. Trust me it is an AWFUL keyboard, I've touched and felt them before. 2015 feels like a solid mechanical keyboard, 2018 is like the worst nonmechanical keyboard you can buy off amazon. Plus you lose the slick cool lightup apple icon in the back.

Buy a "used" 2015 Macbook pro one on amazon here. Better keyboard, legacy ports (its got USB and HDMI). Look for listings with good images and ratings. Good sellers will tell you the exact battery cycle on the used ones. I've done the homework for you, just bought a 15" macbook pro after 5-10 hours of researching GPU / CPU spec benchmark, thunderbolt2 eGPU compatability, getting opinions from many experts both on reddit forums and youtube, etc. I built my own windows computers since I was 13 so I know what to look for. This is the best spot to buy one since you get Amazon's return policy.


You might want to look at these listings every so often to find a used one you really want. The only trustworthy alternative location IMO is ebay, because that's where the sellers are at.

Its the last good one from apple. You'll spend ~$1500 for a 15". Don't buy a 13" IMO, screen real estate is already small as it is. You may or may not need a built in graphics card, its only about 30% better than the dedicated GPU around that time.

I bought mine for $1500. It was "used". Only had 21 battery cycles, for all intents and purposes it was brand new to me. I chose not to get a built in GPU because of potential issues it might have using an external GPU.

Peripheal accessories, I use a 2nd monitor from Gechic. You need an HDMI based portable monitor, they are the only ones that make it. Because if its not HDMI it causes the CPU fan to spin really loudly.


For backpacks to carry macbook, I use this personally, after researching every backpack in the market. Its designed specifically for most HN'ers in mind, IMO


If I need a more powerful PC I use my windows computer

For me, Yes.

I have had nothing but issues with my MBP. Within 2 years

It stopped booting for some hardware issue.

Both the speakers are screwed up

The charger is not working

2 of the 5 little dots where the charger connects are now blackened and expanded.


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