There was a lot of negativity in response to the new MacBook Pro announcement on October 27. I don’t subscribe to many of those ideas (some of the more cataclysmic responses were a little over the top), but I am disappointed enough that after more than a decade of owning Macs, I’m switching back to Windows.
I want to be clear: Apple’s new laptops are excellent, they will sell well, and this is not some sort of death knell for the Mac. However, for these machines to excel in the ways that they do, certain compromises had to be made, and those particular compromises matter a lot more to me than the improvements do. (That is, I value high-performance graphics in a 15″ pro computer over the admittedly impressive strides Apple has made in size and weight.)
I will miss the incredible screen, the best trackpad in the industry, macOS’s UNIX underpinnings1, and the ability to connect power, display, and additional USB ports all through a single cable.
Most of all, though, I’ll miss the incredible 3rd party software available for macOS. As far as I know, there is no high-quality equivalent on Windows to TweetBot, Alfred, or Keyboard Maestro2, let alone pro apps like those from Panic or The Omni Group. And good luck finding a solid RSS reader like ReadKit or Reeder.
There have long been accusations that there is an “Apple Tax” – the idea that Apple products are overpriced compared to their PC (or Android, or whatever) brethren. This myth hasn’t been true (at least in the Intel era3), but it has endured. With the introduction of the Touch Bar4 and the significant price increases it entails, I think the “Apple Tax” complaints are ready to see a revival.
The Windows Option
I’m an iOS developer at work, so I will continue using and enjoying Macs.
At home I primarily use my computer for regular putzing around, and playing games. Last time I bought one in 2011 I went for the top-of-the-line 2015 MacBook Pro because it had a solid discrete GPU. I was planning on doing the same this time, but the very best GPU that Apple offers for its new machines is underpowered, and goes for around the same price as much more powerful mobile GPUs. Here’s a quick comparison of the new MacBook Pro and the most MacBook-like Windows laptop5, the Razer Blade.
MacBook Pro, mostly upgraded.
- 2.7 GHz Core i7
- 1 TB SSD
- 16 GB RAM
- Radeon Pro 460 (4 GB VRAM)
- CAD $4,099.00
Razer Blade, fully upgraded.
- 2.6 GHz Core i7
- 1 TB SSD
- 16 GB RAM
- GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB VRAM)
- CAD $3,899.99
I’ve had a hard time finding comparisons between these GPUs since they’re both brand new, but this not-quite-apples-to-apples comparison suggests the Razer Blade’s GPU is 2-3x faster in most measurements, and the computer it comes in is two hundred (Canadian) dollars cheaper.
More than double the performance for less money, in a package that more or less exactly matches the last-gen MacBook Pro6?
Sign me up!
The reason I bought my first Mac in 2006 (a 13″ white plastic MacBook) was because it was the only laptop on the market that was a) reasonably small; b) reasonably powerful; and c) reasonably priced. I fully intended on wiping it immediately and installing Ubuntu or something. This was the time when PC folks like myself were still convinced Macs were Fisher-Price toys for people who didn’t understand computers. How condescending we were. ↩
On the subject of the Touch Bar: I think it is an interesting innovation. I don’t agree that it’s a solution in search of a problem. I do think that it’s been added to the wrong product, at least given the way Apple is explaining it to us. It seems like a great tool for people who watch their hands as they type, and who aren’t comfortable with keyboard shortcuts; I think it should be on the MacBook. (Yes, I’m certain we will see awesome “pro” applications of the technology, too.) ↩
Read: not hideous, enormous, or heavy. ↩
Meaning the one released in 2015. The new Razer Blade is the same thickness as that older model at 0.7″, lighter at 4.16 lb vs 4.49 lb, and has a higher-density screen with (according to a review on YouTube I can no longer find) full coverage of sRGB. Admittedly, battery life is not nearly as good. The new MacBook Pros beat the Razer Blade on each of these counts, but in my estimation the older machines were fine in these respects. ↩