Upgrade MacBook Pro Retina SSD
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Deep Discounts on 2015/2016 Macs at B&H Photo

Apple must really want to move the 2016 models in particular, with up to $700 off the 2016 MacBook Pro.

Items shown below might not show the discount—click to view the item and its discount.

Reader Comment: How to Solve Connecting Mini DisplayPort Display to Macs with USB-C/Thunderbolt 3

See Reasons To Like the NEC PA302W Wide Gamut Professional Display.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock port layout,
includes Mini DisplayPort for displays

Reader David R was given false information by Apple support. Don’t be suckered into thinking that Apple support knows anything about non-Apple hardware. You might get someone with a clue, but you probably won’t.

David R writes:

I wanted to pass along the following about the use of my NEC PA-302W monitor. I originally purchased it about 2 1/2 years ago based on your review and attached it to my 2012 MacBook Pro. It did everything I wanted, had great resolution and because of the internal profiling with Spectraview I found the consistency between prints and the image on the monitor was amazingly good after discounting for the transmissive display versus the reflective print.

Looking, recently, to upgrade my MacBook Pro, I purchased a 2017 27” iMac pretty much maxed out, other than the RAM, and I upgraded that through OWC. All-in-all, not an inexpensive purchase. Unfortunately, I have found that with Apple’s implementation of the USB-C/Thunderbolt3 ports I can no longer display the NEC monitor at its full, native resolution.

I appear to be limited to using it through an Apple dongle that allows me to connect the NEC through an HDMI cable (and this is original HDMI, not HDMI2), thereby degrading the resolution on the NEC monitor. I spent an hour on the phone with Apple support and the person who I spoke with, although very pleasant, ultimately confirmed that there was no way for me to output the iMac to get full resolution since the NEC doesn’t, of course, support USB-C inputs.

This has been a big disappointment since, as good as the iMac display may be, it is not capable of being profiled internally as the NEC can, and can’t support the consistency of color accuracy that I prefer for my printing. Of course, I can still make a final evaluation on my lower res NEC, but this is, IMO, far from ideal. Now it appears my only option is to upgrade to either Eizo or the newer 4K resolution NEC at a cost of at least an additional $2,800. That’s a big hidden cost and thought your readers might want to know about this “gotcha" before “upgrading.” I understand that technology moves on, but it would have been nice if Apple would have protected legacy peripherals by provided a DisplayPort output from the new iMac. Apple seems to think that because they offer an LG display that can be mated to the new iMac, that’s good enough. Sadly, it’s not.

DIGLLOYD: Apple support has given David false information. My own experience not long ago shows polite professionalism mostly lacking in any knowledge—I have to explain things to Apple support when I call. They are set up to deal with novice-user issues unless you can go to the higher level support team, which is better, but still not informed about non-Apple products.

The NEC PA302W works without issues via the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock utilizing the Mini DisplayPort port on the Dock—I personally used it this way on the 2017 iMac 5K, as shown in the picture in My Sprinter Photography Adventure Van Project: Which Mac? Experience Report / Proving it Out, shown here below also

It’s too bad that Apple support is so insular and ignorant to be unaware of 3rd party products. But I think this is the RULE not the exception: Apple attitude is that the only products that exist are their own. Apple support is NOT in the business of having a clue about non-Apple potentials.

Reader Trevor states that this adapter might work, saying “I have used it to connect a 2016 MBP to a Dell 4K screen, and it works flawlessly (60hz, 30-bit, etc).”. MPG has not tested it.

Tristan S reminds me of something I knew, but somehow forgot:

You might be interested to know that you can even get DisplayPort working for an external monitor simply by using a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adaptor going into an external harddrive that supports Thunderbolt 2. I run my NEC EA244UHD 4k display from the second Thunderbolt 2 port on my OWC Elite Pro Dual external RAID. My setup is Macbook Pro 2016 --> Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adaptor --> OWC Elite Pro Dual --> NEC Monitor. Works great while I wait for my OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock!

MPG: I had forgotten that and I think I might have even suggested that in my review of the 2016 model… it’s surprising since the Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter won’t work with Mini DisplayPort and yet it is in the chain as Tristan describes.

Apple 2017 iMac 5K + OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock driving NEC PA302W @ its native 2560 X 1600 resolution
Lloyd Chambers' simulated photography working table for Sprinter photographic adventure van
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock port layout
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

MacOS Bug: Kernel Task Uses Most or All CPU Cores Continuously

Update 2: explanation found, see further below.

...

I was working on my MacBook Pro today when the system became ultra sluggish. Activity Monitor showed the the process “kernel task” was consuming all four CPU cores, driving the fans full blast and making the laptop very hot. It was hard to get work done.

Air temperature was hot (about 85°), so that this macOS bug was making matters far worse by running all CPUs continuously. And it’s not like one can kill kernel task—that’s the protected core of macOS itself. I’ve seen this problem sporadically on other Macs; my belief is that it is an Apple bug, a longstanding one.

Rebooting did not solve the issues, it just started up again. I did some web searching and came up with no good answers other than a suggestion to reset the SMC controller. This I did not do.

Instead I shutdown the computer, then restarted it. The problem went away. So perhaps it is related to the SMC controller, and shutting down rejiggers something. A cold boot (shutdown and startup) might be different than a warm boot (restart) in what the system checks or does at startup. So shutting down makes some sense.

Update: it started happening again. I notice the laptop was very warm to the touch, with ambient air temperature of 90°F or so. It looks to be a bug in which the 2015 MacBook Pro cannot cool itself properly (even with fans going), and some low-level power and heat management module just goes bonkers running all 4 CPUs at 100%—rather self defeating.

Explanation (thanks to Mike N below)

As explained in this Apple technote:

If kernel_task is using a large percentage of your Mac CPU

One of the functions of the kernel task process is to help manage the temperature of your CPU.

Activity Monitor might show that a system process named kernel_task is using a large percentage of your CPU, and during this time you might notice more fan activity.

One of the functions of kernel_task is to help manage CPU temperature by making the CPU less available to processes that are using it intensely. In other words, kernel_task responds to conditions that cause your CPU to become too hot, even if your Mac doesn't feel hot to you. It does not itself cause those conditions. When the CPU temperature decreases, kernel_task automatically reduces its activity.

Mike N writes:

I've seen this behavior on many, mainly mobile, Macs. It is not a bug, in itself, in Apple's view. It is a deliberate feature to compensate for their inexcusable obsession with form _over_ function. Going back at least to the Apple III.

They describe this "'works' as designed" frankly in If kernel_task is using a large percentage of your Mac CPU.

As a remedy (if you 'know'/enforce that your cooling is indeed adequate): http://blog.viktorpetersson.com/post/136535061619/how-to-fix-kerneltask-cpu-usage-on-el-capitan

Thunderbolt chips are just not that well integrated into Apple's designs. Just a small, passive, unconnected heatsink, far away from the heatpipes and fans. Given that the new MacBooks do not have another port that amounts to pitiful decisions. Most of their mobile systems have only barely enough cooling capacity.

Overpriced and underpowered. It is said that one shall not attribute malice were usually stupidity provides an explanation just as good. But why don't they learn then? This just has to planned obsolescence.

This thermal folly of theirs is for example currently killing MacBookPros 2011 like summer flies. Not even but especially those that were serviced under the repair extension program for RadeonGate.

You probably know the heavily censored and despite that incredibly long thread at Apple's own forums. Just look at those desperate souls here: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/force-2011-macbook-pro-8-2-with-failed-amd-gpu-to-always-use-intel-integrated-gpu-efi-variable-fix.2037591/

The situation you describe is actually a prime example of CoreRot. For the macOS is dark and full of errors.

MPG: at least there it is, plain to read.

Jarno Z writes:

It is with a very big surprise I read your article on that bug. I explain you why.

MBP 2015 as well, since three weeks ago I had the same bug with kernel working at 80% of the computing resources. I did everything on the basis. Reinstall the OS, change user, reinstalled the latest combo, reset SMC and so on. Nothing worked out.

I gave a thought about high room temperature. But was a false positive.

Then I had an idea. Maybe it is a connected peripheral. I detached everything. Symptoms away. Long story short. Thunderbolt. When something is connected to the thunderbolt, monitor or dock, whatever I have, at some point the CPU goes in protection, idling at 0.8 GHZ, and at that point the kernel task goes up to maximum. In reality then is the cpu stuck not the kernel going up, even though this is what appears.

MPG: when/if this happens again, I’ll unplug the display and see if the problem goes away. I’ll also check the Intel Power Gadget. In my case, the MBP was very warm to the touch everywhere, with ambient air temp of 90°F or so. Perhaps Thunderbolt is related and/or the root cause, but the issue needs reproducing to confirm Jarno’s suggestion. Thunderbolt is a relatively high power draw featur, and it could be that when things get too hot, the power management system takes the CPU down to minimal speed as a protective measure, rather than cutting off Thunderbolt.

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Substantial discounts on Macs at B&H Photo + OWC Back to School Specials

View iMac 5K at B&H Photo and see also MPG’s computer gear wishlist. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Check out these substantial discounts on Macs, below!

Bookmark these pages to quickly check for the latest deals (updated daily!).

Below, many of these Macs make great machines for that high-schooler or college student. If the budget allows, I recommend 16GB memory and at least 512GB SSD.

The $1399 Apple 27" iMac with Retina 5K Display (Late 2015) is a screaming deal for a fantastic display. Consider it a fantastic display with a free computer included.

Select items below, or see all OWC Back to School Specials.

 

Reader Question: SSD vs Fusion Drive in iMac 5K

View iMac 5K at B&H Photo and see also MPG’s computer gear wishlist. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

James A writes:

Looking at the new iMac. Would you ever consider the 3T Fusion Drive over 2T SSD (as a cost saving move), or would that be foolish looking at performance and future proofing?

MPG: for casual use the Fusion drive is a nice improvement over a hard drive. But for any serious or professional use, MPG sees it as a non-starter—performance won’t be consistent.

Note that having a hard drive in the iMac 5K means that noisy 'spinner' is in your ears all the time. Also, if it spins down, there can be a lag before the system responds. If the hard drive fails out of warranty, it’s an expensive repair best done by a professional. None of this is attractive.

It would be far better to get a 1TB SSD plus an external large hard drive. Then one realizes full performance for applications that need it, plus far more storage on a faster hard drive can be had externally.

OWC Back to School Deals

View iMac 5K at B&H Photo and see also MPG’s computer gear wishlist. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Lots of nice upgrades and add-ons in OWC’s back to school savings.

OWC Gear for Mac or PC

 

My Sprinter Photography Adventure Van Project: Which Mac? Experience Report / Proving it Out? MacBook Pro = Not so good for big jobs

Mercedes Sprinter cargo van,
before modifications

See also:

Update 2017-08-06: the van delivered, I am reconsidering my decision on the computer. It’s just that stow/unstow is so trivially easy with a laptop, and I can use the laptop with having to unpack the NEC PA302W.

...

I now have simulated (though not in a van just yet) field experience as to what will work/not work in my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van. By “work” I mean replicate my work efficiency at my home office.

On my recent trip to the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, I took along the NEC PA302W and my 2015 MacBook Pro, to test the setup at a friend’s house in the Eastern Sierra.

There was an open question as to whether a MacBook Pro would be viable for my work. I have been considering three options:

NEC PA302W 30-inch wide-gamut display 2560 X 1600
  • 2015 MacBook Pro with 16GB memory, top end model (already own).
  • 2015 iMac 5K with 64GB, top-end model (already own).
  • 2017 iMac 5K with 64GB top-end model, would have to purchase. Makes no sense with iMac Pro coming in 4 months. Also Thunderbolt 3 generally creates headaches, thus requiring adapters or more hardware like the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock just to hook up the 2nd display. Soas much as I like its outstanding performance, I’ve rejected the 2017 iMac 5K out of hand for cost and hassle reasons.
  • 2013 Mac Pro with 64GB, would have to buy one (don't want to risk my primary workhorse at home).

Having hauled the NEC PA302W in my SUV to a friend’s house in the Eastern Sierra along with the 2015 MacBook Pro, I worked intensively on processing images I had shot while over there, just like at home.

See Reasons To Like the NEC PA302W Wide Gamut Professional Display.

It worked, but a MacBook Pro with 16GB is not a setup I would want to rely on for my work, whether it be home or field. In particular, I wrote a lengthy new article for Zeiss Lenspire, as well as processing and publishing these Fujifilm GFX images, all with photographs shot over a few days on that trip.

  • The 2015 MacBook Pro (or 2016/2017) is unacceptable because with only 16GB memory it is constantly interfering with my work as it pages to disk from too-low memory. Plus it has only 2 USB ports. Even Zerene Stacker by itself take 11GB of memory for a simple 2 or 3 frame stack, making it problematic with anything else running and frequent rainbow beachball problems. Ditto for Photoshop. Apple’s failure to build a pretty-boy laptop and then call it 'Pro' machine remains ridiculous.
  • The 2013 Mac Pro could work, but I’d want dual screens, and I want one of them to be 5K (which it supports vi dual cables and Multi Stream Transport, but messy and not reliable in my past experience), and even if I settled for 4K, my NEC PA322UHD is too large. So I’d have to buy some other 2nd screen and then fit the Mac Pro somewhere too. That's a mess and too many cables s well.
  • The iMac 5K as shown below is just perfect: 64GB, fast CPU and GPU, 5K display as secondary, primary workhorse display the NEC PA302W.
  • The 2017 iMac 5K is a nuisance: special adapters and/or Thunderbolt 3 Dock for connectivity. Still, if one were donated or availble at a very deep discount, I’d prefer it for its significantly faster speed.

So the answer is clear: the 2015 iMac 5K with 64GB with the NEC PA302W is what is going into the Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van. Case closed. Maybe late this year if the iMac Pro has some demonstrable value then it would replace the 2015 iMac 5K.

Other items I’d want along:

  • At least one OWC Envoy Pro EX 1TB SSD for backups (2TB would be better, but 1TB is max as of summer 2017). The elegance of this device is that I can put it in my daypack when hiking all day as a safeguard against losing all my work disappear, should the van be broken into and computer gear stolen.
  • OWC Viper for big storage (preferably 4TB so I can carry a bunch of other stuff from home that can be used on the road also). But that presumes a Thunderbolt 3 Mac, so that means an 2017 iMac 5K or an iMac Pro (since the MacBook Pro is unacceptable for my work).
  • BatPower USB charger for iPhone and iPad and other stuff. And for MacBook Pro, which I’d take along as a backup/spare computer.
  • Fast camera card reader for both SDXC and Compact Flash.
  • External drive for Time Machine backup while I work, like the OWC Elite Pro Dual Mini 2TB. Assuming a Thunderbolt 3 Mac, the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual Mini USB-C would be a rocking fast choice.

Shown under the 2017 iMac 5K is the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock (highly recommended), but one more piece of power-drawing hardware that on the road I’d rather avoid.

Lloyd Chambers' simulated photography working table for Sprinter photographic adventure van
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

64GB Memory Kit for 2017 iMac 5K Works Great: Save $760 vs Apple

View iMac 5K at B&H Photo and see also MPG’s computer gear wishlist. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

The OWC 64GB memory kit for the 2017 iMac 5K worked flawlessly for all the review testing of the 2017 iMac 5K.

It’s a no-brainer—order the 2017 iMac 5K with 8GB memory (not 16 or 32 or 64), and then order 64GB memory for iMac 5K from OWC for a savings of about $760*. OWC also has 32GB memory for the 2017 iMac 5K.

64GB OWC memory for 2017 iMac 5K

* At the time this was written, the upcharge at the Apple Store from 8GB to 64GB was $1400. OWC 64GB memory for 2017 iMac 5K was about $640, for a savings of a whopping $760. Apple’s memory prices are a poor value for customers, but a nice profit center for Apple.

64GB of OWC memory in 2017 iMac 5K
NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc!

Photo and Mac Computer Deals of Note

Some crazy-good deals here and also deals on prime items:

See also:

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Get a 5K Display for only $1499 PLUS a FREE COMPUTER

A 5K Display for only $1499 which includes a free computer... well it’s true—it’s called the iMac 5K and I consider it the best display on the market today.

Apple 27" iMac 5K

$1499 Apple 27" iMac with Retina 5K Display (Late 2015) with free expedited shipping

While this model has the 1TB hard drive (no SSD), you can boot it off an SSD like the OWC Envoy Pro EX or some other OWC SSD. and store image files on the hard drive. Add 16 or 32 or 64GB memory from OWC and perhaps some big storage, and you’re 'good'.

Point is, you get a fantastic display with a very fast computer—it’s a no brainer for anyone on a budget. Great for a high school or college student too!

See also:

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Nifty Desk Fan that Runs on USB

This nifty OPOLAR 8 Inch Metal Desk Fan runs off USB power (through desktop or laptop or via any AC wall adapter with a USB port). It could also run a long time on a portable battery.

The OPOLAR 8 Inch Metal Desk Fan is nice and quiet on low, a little louder on high which moves a lot of air. Plus it has a three-speed switch: Off, Low, High—perfect so that it does not need to be unplugged.

I actually run two of the smaller 5-inch OPolar fans aimed at my Comcast router and UPS and couple of laptop servers, for those hot days in my garage—they help significantly.

The OPOLAR 8 Inch Metal Desk Fan is useful for a nice cool breeze in a hot room when working on a computer. I also plan using it as portable fan for my Sprinter photography adventure van on the road when parked where no A/C is operating. It’s small and light enough to just hang off the wall or whatever.

OPOLAR 8 Inch Metal Desk Fan runs off USB power
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

2017 iMac 5K: Connecting a Display Done Easily with OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Mac wish list •  all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2017 models •  MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.
MPG tested a fully-loaded 2017 MacBook Pro with 1TB SSD.
Suggested accessories include the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, the 1TB Envoy Pro EX.

The 2017 iMac 5K utilizes Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports. These are not directly compatible with most displays (if any as of mid 2017), such as my workhorse NEC PA302W wide gamut professional display.

The Apple Thunderbolt 3 Male to Thunderbolt 2 Female Adapter is non-functional for connecting a display; it only passes data signals, not video. Thus to connect my NECPA3o2W wide gamut display, no adapter that Apple offers will work.

Enter the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Not only does it provide a Mini DisplayPort port for connecting the display, it provides a host of other ports as well, adding five USB-A ports in addition to the 4 USB-A ports on the iMac 5K itself.

See also 2016 MacBook Pro TESTED: 10-Bit Color With External Display in which I note that the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock also works—using the Apple adapter to adapt the 2016 MacBook Pro to the Thunderbolt 2 Dock.

iMac 5K using OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock to connect via Mini DisplayPort to NEC PA302W wide gamut display
2017 MacBook Pro using OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock to connect via Mini DisplayPort to NEC PA302W wide gamut display

Seen above, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock neatly solves the display connectivity issue with its Mini DisplayPort port, charges the MacBook Pro, and provides gigabit ethernet and other ports, as shown.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock port layout
Blazing-fast PCIe storage for Mac Pro Tower

TESTED: BatPower USB-C High Speed In-Vehicle Charging of 2016/2017 MacBook Pro and 2015 MagSafe MacBook Pro Too!

The diminutive BatPower CPD 110W PD USB-C Car Charger for MacBook Pro plugs into the cigarrette lighter socket standard in vehicles to directly charge any MacBook Pro with USB-C ports (2016 and 2017 and later models, there is also a high power charger for earlier models).

What I did not realize initially was that BatPower also has the BatPower CCA 110W Laptop Car Charger for Macbook Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook (2006-2015 Mac laptops).

The difference is only which charging cable is plugged into the BatPower charger. So one handy little car socket charger can handle any MacBook or MacBook Pro from 2006 through 2017 models!

Read more...

  • Charges a MacBook Pro at 90 watts (the maximum) via USB-C port.
  • Two high power USB-A ports.
  • Total charging power of 110 watts.
  • The BatPower Laptop PD technology automatically detects and delivers 5V, 9V, 12V, 15V, 20V(Max90W), based on your devices needs.
  • Charges MacBook Pro and many other devices.
  • CPD Car Charger size: 3 inches (L) x 1.8 inches (W) x 1 inches (H) Weight: 3 ounces.
  • Packing list: BatPower CPD Car Charger Adapter, PD USB-C Converter, Type C Charging Cable, Instructions Manual.
  • Warranty: 30 days money back or exchange, free 18 months warranty. (Note: Sold by BatPower only).
 
BatPower CPD 110W PD USB-C Car Charger for either 2016/2017 MacBook/MacBook Pro or MagSafe models

My Sprinter Photography Adventure Van Project: Computers and Computer Desk

For the genesis of this project, see My Sprinter Photography Adventure Van Project.

The #1 key goal of my Sprinter photography adventure van is to be able to work as efficiently in the van up high in the mountains as I can at home. That means a computer desk with my wide gamut workhorse NEC PA302W 30" display, driven by an Apple iMac (preferred) or Apple Mac Pro or MacBook Pro, with battery power sufficient for two days. Along with OWC peripherals for storage and more. With that in place, I can shoot in the field and publish at downtime (bad light middle of the day, night, etc).

See Sprinter Van: Desk Computer Layout in my Sprinter photography adventure van section.

Below,the table as shown is just a rough mockup for the width I have available (about 44 inches) and depth (about 30 inches), using a real table I already have. The actual installed table might not even have an outer-left leg, or at least it will be inset more, with the inner legs bolted to the van wall to save space and for rigid support (I’ve asked for a table that supports 250 pounds). The front will be shaped in a way that allows ideal positioning and will also round-off the corners. Prior to the upfitting process though, an initial trial run with this rectangular table is what I'll use to check out the fit and placement of things. Then I will design just the curvature I want of the front edge of the table. The chair will of course by a quality swiveling chair, like the Herman Miller Aeron.

* Tip: solar is an expensive non solution the money being far better spent on a bigger battery, or a 2nd alternator or a underbody diesel generator.

Shown under the iMac 5K is the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock (highly recommended).

Lloyd Chambers' simulated photography working table for Sprinter photographic adventure van
S
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo
Blazing-fast PCIe storage for Mac Pro Tower

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