Why my next MacBook Pro will likely be worse than my current one

“Regular readers will know that I still have a 17-inch MacBook Pro as my main computer,” Ben Lovejoy writes for 9to5Mac. “It’s almost five years old now, which is a relatively long time in Mac terms, and an absolute age for someone who usually does poorly when it comes to resisting shiny new tech.”

“Two years ago, I still hadn’t entirely given up hope on Apple reintroducing a 17-incher,” Lovejoy writes. “Two years on, that hope has pretty much dwindled away. Given that Apple managed to create a 5K 27-inch iMac at a relatively affordable price, it’s clear that making a 17-inch Retina display wouldn’t be a problem – but Apple still hasn’t launched one.”

“One thing is now certain: I’m never again going to be able to buy a MacBook with the same degree of upgradability as my classic MacBook Pro,” Lovejoy writes. “Whatever RAM I opt for when I buy it, that’s all the RAM it will ever have.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A long time ago, we used to have 17-inch MacBook Pros that we lugged around and also docked into larger monitors, drive arrays, keyboards, mice, etc. at our desks. It was the worst of both worlds. Back-breaking “portability” and underpowered desktops.

Our way of looking at it today: You buy a portable Mac for – ahemportability and you spec your desktop Mac for as much performance as possible. As always, max out the RAM in both if your budget allows. That’s why we have 27-inch iMacs (dual displays) on our desks and 11-inch MacBook Airs (still waiting to see what Apple releases in portable Macs this year before upgrading – likely to 12-inch MacBooks). With macOS’s Continuity features, pretty much everything is in sync between both machines, so they act as one.

36 Comments

  1. MDN nailed it. Moved to a similar setup, have a 27″ dual display iMac and a 13″ macbook air I travel with. Perfect combo. With Dropbox, iCloud, and and (remarkably) Office 365 I move between both computers effortlessly. I also have a 9.7″ iPad that I use as a 2nd display on my Macbook Air when I have multiple large spreadsheets open (using Duet). Duet can be a bit buggy but it is a lifesaver when you are reviewing two docs with vey small print.

    1. To me, the solution appears to be a simple one. Some manufacturer needs to make a thin, docking bottom that includes more battery power and SSD drives.

      I’m in the same boat, using my 27″ iMac at home and a 15″ retina MPB away from home. But I miss my old 17″ MBP. I also miss the optical drive on occasion.

  2. I understand your point. Apple seems to have chosen fashion over adaptability with extreme thinness and the one port MacBook being its example. Makes you wonder why they are so hard headed about this. It’s simple. People want more battery life. Design stuff with larger batteries. Allow users to use msata ssds that can be field upgradeable. Use the ports count on the MacBook Air not the 12″ MacBook. If you want to bend to fashion, I understand aluminum can be anodized into a rainbow if colors. The project red MacBook never shipped.

    Hope at some point Apple gets it by meeting user needs instead of perceived design and fashion goals.

    1. Soooo why not just buy a Dell, or Lenovo, or HP? They all make 17″ laptops. Stop punishing yourself. I just saw a Dell with ports up and down both sides. Buy what you want and send a true message to Apple on what you value.

          1. The inherent troubles of hardware incompatibilities would make the experience not worth the effort. Most people want a painless user experience, not degradation of function. So yes, it is possible in theory, but it is also worthless in practice.

  3. I’m in the same boat. My MacBook Pro is 7 years old and due for replacement. I am certain, absolutely certain, that the next MacBook Pro coming out will be a substantially less enjoyable machine than the one I have now. I have done so many upgrades to my old laptop, it is amazing how long the life has been extended.

    Apple simply doesnt care anymore about the user experience. Not one whit.

  4. As is typical these days, I disagree with MDN’s take, and agree with the article. My office Mac is a 27′ iMac, late 2012, with 32 Gb RAM, 3 Tb fusion drive and an external 27′ Thunderbolt display. My laptop is a late 2011 17″ MBP with 16 Gb RAM and I have recently swapped in a 1 Tb SSD. I still have the internal Superdrive, which I still use daily, because yes, people still use optical discs. But I have and still want a 17″ screen because Retina means nothing to me — screen real estate does. That’s why I have dual 27″ monitors. At home I have a Mac mini connected to my 65″ TV HDTV — not 4K, because again, pixel density means nothing to me, screen real estate does. I’m 6’4″ and 240 pounds, so lugging the 17″ laptop around doesn’t bother me in the slightest. (Hell, most people can’t even pick up my laptop bag, so one thing I worry less about is someone grabbing it and running when I’m out and about with it.) Do all these things make me an edge case? Sure. But the last time I had to take the MBP to the Apple store — where they replaced the motherboard due to an old graphics card failure that Apple covered even out of warranty, so the darned thing is practically new again — each of the three Geniuses I talked to said the same thing: “I miss that 17″ model. Loved that thing.” You can’t get much more pro than an Apple genius. There IS a market still for this beast.

  5. My next Mac will be worse, too. Can’t get used to the new force touch non-mechanical trackpad. Afraid I won’t have a choice on my next Mac unless I buy used.

  6. Yup. Apple is(has?) transitioned(ing?) to a complete disposable(recyclable? product line. I don’t want to have to complete replace a desktop machine when a component fails. So I built a hackintosh (for less then half the price of an equivalent Mac Pro Trashcan)..

    But for a laptop, I can understand the all in one disposable(recyclable) thing.. the problem is they don’t price them as such. If they want to build in a 2-3 year life expectancy, then they should also price them that way. The m7 12inch Macbook should not cost more then $1000. Its essentially less powerful then an iPad Pro, only it comes with a keyboard.. If you want me to buy a new one ever couple years due to battery wear down or other inevitable hardware failure then price it accordingly.

    1. Apple’s blowing their green cred going with disposable machines. It’s not enough that it’s mercury free, conflict-free minerals, etc etc… Even if Apple touts its recycling program, 1) it’s not available globally, and 2) recycle is the THIRD of the “3 Rs”. Reduce and REUSE come before it.

      1. Yes. This. I cannot send my old Apple products anywhere to be recycled in my country. Which means they either get sold on craigslist for next to nothing to some poor sucker who thinks he is getting a deal. Or more likely shipped to a e-waste mountain to be torn apart by chinese peasants. sad but true.

  7. As a pro video editor I happily lug my souped up late 2011 17-incher around. Completely agree with the original article. Apple is purposely scorning pro market – to its peril. We are the genesis of all halo effects.

    1. Even heroin addicts get it right some of the time. 🙂 The neglect of the pro market and not building machines THEY want specifically is Apple folly. I agree. Why not lump specifically designed and souped up pro iMac’s, MBP’s and MP’s under one special PRO banner? Then watch pent-up sales start to fly.

      1. It’s kind of a double edged sword. I keep reading people (Pros) say they want this machine or that machine, but then they don’t sell in large enough quantities for Apple. Xserve is an example.
        If you guys want a specific machine, you have to contact Apple and tell them. Complaining on web forums won’t get their attention. And then if/when they put out a machine you approve of, you have to buy them and keep buying them.

        1. Apple sets up their own failure in the pro market. Every year iPhone users get fresh hardware, but professional hardware isn’t updated for 3, 5, years or maybe more.

          Can you believe that Apple actually expected people to pay $999 for a Thunderbolt display? No wonder people didn’t buy it. It was too stale for pros and too overpriced for the common man.

          So what does Apple do to replace its noncompetitive, overpriced ancient hardware? NOTHING. No XServe, no usable Mac Pro, no standalone displays, ….

          It is as if Apple is intentionally trying to push pro Mac buyers away.

          1. But again, if you guys don’t want to upgrade very much, then they don’t sell a lot, then they don’t update them much……let them know what you want directly. Not articles on websites, not forums, not online petitions. Write to Tim and Phil directly and let them know.

  8. Portables are supposed to be portable. a 17″ Macbook, like many PC laptops because of size and weight, are not really all that “portable”. You have a luggable.

    If you want screen size, use an external display, if a retina display which provides more resolution than the Macbook Pri 17″ display is not good enough, then use a larger external display, you can get very large displays now with good quality very inexpensively.

    As to the other question, should Apple be raising the bar and creating larger displays for “portables”, Using a 15″ Retina, I don’t really see the need for a larger display if I am going to carry it around, that’s already large enough.. and if I am home, I can easily connect to larger displays anytime.

    1. Not everybody fits the airplane/coffee-shop or home office scenario. My main location is sitting on the couch in front of the TV. But I occasionally carry my 15-inch MBP to other locations. A luggable is just fine; in fact, most of the time, a battery is unnecessary. I sorely miss my (stolen) 17-inch MBP.

  9. I have to come down on the side of some expandiblity even at the cost of a bit more weight and size. My MacBook is 8 years old and going strong thanks to upgrades of the memory, HD storage and a new battery. Next upgrade may be an SSD now that they are coming down in price.
    If Apple charge more reasonable prices for bigger SSD’s and additional memory, I might change my mind.

  10. A large fraction of Mac laptop users use their portables to take them to clients or potential clients to show their work. These people do NOT want an 11″ laptop no matter how light and portable it might be. They do NOT want to have multiple people crowding around a small screen.

    What they DO want is a decent size screen (15″ or larger). What they DO want is a decent machine with enough horsepower (fast CPU, fast GPU, lots of RAM, fast SSD) so that they can impress their clients and potential clients.

    If you can get by with an 11″ laptop with marginal performance, then why not get the large iPad Pro?

    This is NOT a niche crowd. There are a lot of Mac users out there that would NEVER buy an 11″ or 12″ laptop and likely wouldn’t even consider a 13″ laptop.

  11. With respect to MDN, the 17″ MacBook Pro was indeed a beast, but that was then, this is now.

    A modern 17 incher would be fantastic. Under 2 lbs and ultra thin. It would be a professional’s dream machine.

    Sadly, as we all know, this will never happen. Apple is led now by a numbers guy.
    Mr. Cook is simply is not interested in anything but the mass market.

    As a photographer, it is extremely frustrating to be ignored, both on the hardware front but also the software:
    Musicians: Garageband. Logic Pro.
    Videographers: iMovie. Final Cut Pro X.
    Photographers: Photos. . . . . . . . . . .

    It feels personal when it’s this blatant.

    Steve Jobs:
    “”I have my own theory…. The product starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company.”

  12. My 2012 MacBook pro is still very good and fast
    New extra sdd 500 GB, 16GB and 15″ non glare screen.
    There is nothing new for sale for the price I have paid for it.

  13. Amen! My sole unit is a mid-2012 15″ MacBook Pro (with the last optional 1680×1050 anti-glare display ever offered) which goes with me everywhere, the LAST business laptop made by Apple. And yes I sometimes have devices simultaneously plugged into both USB 3 ports, FW 800, Ethernet, and a disc in the optical drive. I’m so dependent on it that I purchased an identical backup unit on eBay a while back, which has come in handy. I’m hanging onto it for as long as I possibly can…

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