MacBook Pro

On October 27, 2016, Apple released a refreshed line of MacBook Pro laptops.

For the time being, we don’t these new models for several reasons.

  1. The processors in these new MacBook Pros are the same Intel Core i5 (for 13″ models) and i7 (for 15″ models) processors, running at about the same speeds, as models from 2011, 2012, and 2013.Speed improvements in these new models come strictly from the fact that they are built with more RAM (8GB for 13″ models, 16GB for 15″ models), and use solid state hard drives (SSDs) rather than mechanical hard drives.The reality is that you can buy a used MacBook Pro, upgrade the RAM to its maximum, substitute an after market solid state drive for its original mechanical drive, and get the performance of a new MacBook Pro while saving a lot.
  2. The new models have both their RAM and solid state drive components soldered directly to the logic board. There is no way to upgrade them…which means no way to prolong their useful lives. Unlike the older models we’re recommending you buy now specifically because you can upgrade them to perform about as well as new models, these models will not be able to be upgraded. So when one of these gets too slow, you have no choice but to buy a new one.
  3. The new MacBook Pros have none of the standard ports we all use every day…USB 2.0 or 3.0, Thunderbolt, Ethernet, Firewire…none of them. Instead, Apple has chosen to include only proprietary ports Apple calls Thunderbolt 3.0 ports. Some models have 2 ports, some have 4.How do you plug in your standard USB printer? Purchase an adapter. How do you plug in your expensive Apple Thunderbolt Display? Purchase an adapter. How do you connect to an ethernet network? Connect a USB or FireWire scanner? A USB keyboard or mouse? Purchase adapters. Each adapter typically costs $29-79.

Apple claims that the new MacBooks are thinner because of deleting all the ports we use every day. Perhaps so, but think for a moment about how that affects us. If we purchase a brand new MacBook Pro, slip it into a snug fitting computer sleeve for travel, we also have to fit in a selection of adapters we might need wherever we go. Rather than being thinner and easier to transport, the sleeve is thick and lumpy because of all the hard plastic adapter boxes.

So why did Apple make this decision? Simple. Follow the money. For every port Apple doesn’t include in a computer, they save a small amount of money per computer. Multiply that small amount of money by the total number of computers Apple manufactures annually and they’re saving a ton. But they’re actually making additional money by forcing you to buy the adapters…which typical sell for between $29 and $79.

At the point where there is a profusion of external Thunderbolt 3.0 hard drives, printers, scanners and other peripherals available to use the new proprietary port, these models will be worth buying.

Until then, a used MacBook Pro from 2011 or later will give you all the ports you use without needing adapters, and if you want performance very close to these new models, upgrade RAM to the maximum the computer will take, and replace mechanical hard drives with after market SSDs.

As I write this, a typical 16GB RAM upgrade for used MacBook Pros runs about $85, and 1TB SSD (solid state drive) runs about $250 on Amazon.

Check out powermax.com for an excellent selection of used and refurbished MacBook Pros (and other models) that come with a 120 day warranty. We’ve recommended them for used equipment to many clients, and have never had a problem.

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