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2018 MacBook Pro: Video Presentation: Configuring the 2018 MacBook Pro as as Desktop Replacement
Related: 2015 MacBook Pro, 2017 iMac 5K, 2018 MacBook Pro, 4K and 5K display, backup, computer display, display connectivity, DisplayPort, focus stacking, hard drive, iMac, iMac 5K, laptop, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Macs, memory, Other World Computing, OWC Envoy Pro, OWC Envoy Pro EX, SSD, storage, Thunderbolt, video, Zerene Stacker
The 2018 MacBook Pro is Apple’s most powerful laptop ever, rivalling desktop systems when properly configured. See my in-depth review of the 2018 MacBook Pro.
This video is aimed primarily at photographers and videographers who need robust computing capability. For many it is worth considering the 2018 MacBook Pro as a full replacement for a desktop-class machine, at least if travel is involved where a laptop is sometimes needed—why not have top-end laptop that is also a desktop-grade machine? For the first time ever, I deem a laptop a viable desktop replacement.
Gear recommendations follow the video presentation. Play the video at 1080p, for on-screen clarity.
Notes on the video
Shot in 4K but YouTube won’t allow streaming it in full quality.
This is an unscripted video. There are a few word-errors which I correct a bit later (e.g., “hard drive” instead of “SSD”). Makes me wonder if my concussion affected my recall vs speech—a little frustrating.
Sound track: I waited for the quietest part of the day. Even so, squawking birds nearby and noisy kids 1/4 mile away and overhead airplanes make me less than happy with the sound track. Today I have a shredder going just as I wanted to redo it. It’s hopeless without a soundproof studio or getting it done in the mountains where quiet, but I don’t own all the gear and can’t keep it out on loan any longer.
Mannerisms: I blink a lot because of contact lenses, particularly when dry or bright; I cannot consciously control very well, especially if my eyes are tired from too little sleep.
Recommendations: which MacBook Pro?
Think of the 2018 MacBook Pro has a 4 to 6 year investment—there is no reason that kind of lifespan should not be possible (be sure to buy AppleCare).
Key recommendation: MINIMUM configuration should be 16GB memory and 1TB SSD because memory, SSD, GPU and CPU are all soldered onto the logic board. And because anything else is almost certain to inadequate down the line.
The configuration that Lloyd would buy is the 2018 MacBook Pro 2.9 GHz / 32GB / 2TB / Radeon Pro 560X.
Recommendations: port management
The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is the best choice for desktop use because of the extra ports and in particular if there is a need to drive a display that requires Mini DisplayPort. I use one at home, and one in my Sprinter van.
Solid state drives are expensive but noiseless and very fast.
- Choose the OWC Thunderblade for high-end video production.
- Choose the OWC Envoy Pro EX VE (video edition) for video production.
- Choose the OWC Envoy Pro EX (regular edition) for high speed external storage.
- Consider the OWC Envoy Pro EX (USB3) for ease of interchange with non-Thunderbolt 3 computers.
The ideal scenario for any Mac with an internal SSD is to add an external SSD of capacity equal to or larger than the internal SSD. Keep this SSD separate from the laptop when traveling (in case of theft), and use it every day for a backup, particularly a clone backup.
Recommendations: hard drive and fault tolerance
Hard drives offer excellent value on a per-gigabyte basis.
Every user should have a bare minimum of two complete backups, with at least one of them stored well away from the computer. In addition, MPG recommends at least one always-attached Time Machine backup and one always-attached clone backup.
An outstanding value and simple approach is a large hard drive (12/10/8/6TB) in the OWC Mercury Elite Pro enclosure. OWC does not sell the 12TB configuration, so if 12TB is desired, buy the empty enclosure and add the 12TB hard drive yourself. Remember also that hard drives slow down as they fill up.
Ideal for any Mac with Thunderbolt 3
Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports
USB 3 • USB-C
5K and 4K display support plus Mini Display Port
Analog sound in/out and Optical sound out
Works on any Mac with Thunderbolt 3
Recommendations: display and other stuff
To finish the “desktop as a laptop” system, a large display is needed and this necessarily requires a keyboard and mouse because there is no ideal way to position a MacBook Pro except to the side.
A laptop screen is too small and requires hunching over the keyboard—very poor ergonomics causing fatigue and eventually leading to physical injury.
A separate keyboard and mouse eliminates the 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard as an issue (it sucks) and a mouse bypasses the trackpad, which I find highly inefficient by comparison.
The ideal display for the 2018 MacBook Pro or for any Thunderbolt 3 Mac is one that plugs directly into a Thunderbolt 3 port. The LG Ultrafine 5K is lovely and 4K video easily fits. However, photographers like Lloyd require a wide gamut color managed conventional resolution display. See 2.5K or 4K or 5K Display for Image Editing and Viewing?.
* Displays with Mini DisplayPort or DisplayPort cannot be connected without something like the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock that provides a Mini DisplayPort.