In Motion There is Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Budget Macs

For the biggest savings, OWC sells used Macs as well as factory sealed Apple refurbished Macs with full 1 year warranty. For example:

B&H Photo has Mac deals and AppleCare deals. Several budget choices below.

Expiring today Nov 30: 30 Apple Deals.

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Reader Comment: DiskTester

Erwin B writes:

Just a short note to thank you for your excellent Disk Tester.

I had two OWC Mercury Electra 3G 1Tb drives go bad on me in the last two months. DiskTester found the problem in no time.

MPG: DiskTester is part of diglloydTools and offers both performance and reliability testing. The test-reliability command is specifically designed to ferret out drive issues, but the other commands are on the lookout for problems while testing as well.

Get diglloydTools and consider subscribing to my photographic publications also.

A few articles about diglloydTools

Aside from testing hard drive or SSD or RAID performance and reliability with DiskTester, data integrity with IntegrityChecker is a must-have workflow tool for anyone with important data:

Cycling

Apple Mail Calendar Spam

UPDATE 12 Dec: Apple has added a “Report Junk” option. This is not a solution to ignoring user preferences (Add invitations to Calendar = Never), but it will help in some ways.

There is a new type of spam making the rounds: spam email containing calendar appointments, which Apple’s software picks up on to annoy me every day.

In effect, Apple provides a spammer’s wet dream toolkit. A spammer counts on some very low response rate, but if spam is never seen it fails the spammer’s goal.

So Apple does the job for the spammer by forcing you to see it: not only is there an in-your-face notification, but it also has to be clicked to gotten rid of—and clicking the wrong button (fairly easy to do) puts spam into Calendar!

Of course if your preferences include auto-adding Calendar appointments from mail, then you've got a serious accumulating mess on your hands—see possible workaround below.

Spam email with calendar appointment, disruption courtesy of Apple
Apple Mail Preferences => General

This macOS behavior above is particularly irksome because I have my mail configured with Add invitations to Calendar = Never. So why is Apple forcing me to respond to junk mail spam to go into my Calendar?

There is also a risk that a mail message with a payload of calendar appointment could be a vector for a virus or trojan if a weakness is found in Mail or Calendar code. Auto-this and auto-that can be very bad for security. If such a weakness is found, tens of millions of users could be compromised in a few hours.

I’ve changed my settings to New message notifications = VIPs, but since the VIP feature has been non-functional for 2 OS releases, in effect I cannot get any notifications at all.

MPG hopes that Apple will issue an OS update that properly respects user preferences.

Unchecking Show invitation messages in Notification Center in Calendar might help (not sure until some time passes):

Apple Calendar app settings => Alerts

Evan A writes about iCloud calendar settings:

Thanks for all your insights over the years, they are extremely helpful in my day-to-day Mac use.

I too have been suffering from the calendar spam issue for the past week, and according to MacWorld today the only way to shut it down is via iCloud calendar online (just another reason to love iCloud).

MPG: Evan A refers to How to disable calendar invite spam on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. I have not tested or confirmed this solution as I avoid the bug ridden iCloud offerings entirely.

It is not clear that iCloud online is the only solution (or if it works) and since I never use iCloud on the web, it was distasteful to have to go there. Still, I did so and here is the suggested setting:

Apple iCloud Calendar settings => Advanced

Cyber Monday Deals

Thank you for using my links. Just click through any link on my site and I get credit for everything that goes into your cart once on that site in that session.

Availability and time frame for special pricing may be limited in some cases—don’t delay.

Callouts

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

2016 MacBook Pro TESTED: 10-Bit Color With External Display

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

2016 MacBook Pro: 10-Bit Color With External Display

See my reviews of NEC wide gamut displays and other displays.

The built-in MacBook Pro display supports only 8-bit color**.

Attaching the NEC PA244UHD 4K display to the 2016 MacBook Pro confirms that the MacBook Pro drives the display at 60 Hz and 10-bit color*.

Portrait orientation (tall mode) works properly also, as do all the scaled resolution settings, although the default “Best for Display” is the wrong choice (too enlarged).

  • The OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock worked flawlessly with the display being detected immediately. It is on sale now for about $200.
  • The Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt adapter did NOT work to drive the display. Unplugging and replugging and rebooting several times failed to ever detect the display. This is odd, because the same adapter was used to connect the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock.

So here we see one more hassle with the 2016 MacBook Pro: the Apple adapter does not function! However, since the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock (and future OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock) offers many ports of several kinds, the smart move is to get both and use the Thunderbolt/MiniDisplayPort port on the Dock for the display, and the Apple adapter for any kind of external device other than a display.

* “30-Bit Color” means the 3 RGB channels at 10 bits each.
** “32-Bit Color” means 3 RGB channels plus alpha channel at 8 bits each.

OWC 40TB SSD: RAID-4 vs RAID-5 from 32KiB to 512MiB Transfers

The Thunderbay 4 Mini RAID-5 edition is available with SSDs in capacities from 1TB to 40TB. MPG strong recommends the RAID edition.

Thunderbay 4 Mini configurations (non RAID) are also available, as well as hard drive configurations are also available.

Added to my review of the OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD is additional analysis of RAID-4 vs RAID-5 with the OWC 40TB SSD.

OWC 40TB SSD: RAID-4 vs RAID-5

As shown below, RAID-4 mode is the unequivocal winner over RAID-5 for read performance (blue vs green lines).

a> disktester run-sequential-suite -s 32 -3 512M --iterations 5 --test-size 4G

Figures are in MiB/sec. Multiply by 1.048576 for MB/sec.

 
Sustained transfer performance with a 30TB RAID-4 vs RAID-5 SSD configuration in OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Black Friday Specials, Links (updated @ 16:50 PST Nov 26)

See also all my B&H Photo wish lists.

Thank you for using my links.

Just click through any link on my site and I get credit for everything that goes into your cart once on that site in that session.

Prices and availability may be limited to hours in some cases — don’t delay.

OWC computer deals

See a long list of OWC Black Friday specials as well as callouts below.

OWC says “These deals are moving, many won’t make it till Monday + some already gone. Check ˜em out!”.

Apple and computer deals:

Callouts:

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

OWC 40TB SSD Sequential Transfer Speed: RAID-4 beats RAID-5 by 16% for Reads

The Thunderbay 4 Mini RAID-5 edition is available with SSDs in capacities from 1TB to 40TB. MPG strong recommends the RAID edition.

Thunderbay 4 Mini configurations (non RAID) are also available, as well as hard drive configurations are also available.

Added to my review of the OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD is analysis of RAID-4 vs RAID-5 with the OWC 40TB SSD.

OWC 40TB SSD: RAID-4 vs RAID-5

RAID-4 mode is 16% faster for reads, and it also touches the estimated asymptote for theoretical best performance (based on testing the SSDs singly).

The supplied SoftRAID deserves kudos for implementing RAID with performance that sets a benchmark; few if any hardware solutions can do this well.

Figures are in MiB/sec. Multiply by 1.048576 for MB/sec.

 
Sustained transfer performance with a 30TB RAID-4 vs RAID-5 SSD configuration in OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini

2016 MacBook Pro: Strange Rainbow Beachball Behaviors

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Never observed with the 2013 MacBook Pro, and both wired with gigabit ethernet—

The 2016 MacBook Pro regularly does a rainbow beachball for a second or two, then all is well. It seems to happen if the machine has been idle for a bit, but not gone to sleep. In three years I (Lloyd) have not observed anything like this behavior with the 2013 MacBook Pro.

The cause is unclear: could it be related to some kind of new power management algorithms? It’s minor but annoying, along with the chimeless black screen guessing game at system boot. These two behaviors constitute annoyance only, but they are surprisingly irritating compared to the rock solid predictable behavior of the 2013 MacBook Pro.

2016 MacBook Pro: Readers Considering 2015 MacBook Pro Instead

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

James A writes:

I am thinking about buying the Mid 2015 15inch MBP, 1TB, 16gb. I’ll get the ports, display and not give away too much performance. Am I missing something or does this seem like a reasonable move for my photography?

MPG: if one already has a 2013 or 2014 MacBook Pro, then the 2016 model runs the gamut from compelling to a headache; it all depends on how one uses it: desktop or travel, type of work done with it, size of jobs (e.g., memory limits), etc. Even something as simple as external power could be a compelling feature for some users.

The internal SSD of the 2013/2014/2015 MacBook Pro SSD can be upgraded to 1TB.

In general, the MPG recommendation is that anyone with a 2013/2014/2015 MacBook Pro should skip the 2016 offering unless there is some compelling feature (such as external battery power). For example, that a video crew or pro photographer shooting offsite (or even onsite) would find external battery power via USB-C a compelling feature both for runtime and for avoiding trip-over risk of wall cords.

The other reason to upgrade is that the expense matters not, but that is not my situation. The top-end model whose price with AppleCare and tax approaches $5K would be much more palatable, for, say $3200 (Apple has not added any value with the 2016 model in terms of core specs vs price). I’d still be slightly grumpy about the performance sidegrade, but accept the price and make use of the new features like the external battery power—I travel a lot in the mountains and runtime is a hassle on the 2013 model.

See also:

Discounts

OWC and B&H Photo both have discounts on 2015 models. MPG strongly recommends models with the 1TB SSD (and of course 16GB of memory).

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

TESTED: OWC 40TB SSD Sequential Transfer Speed

The Thunderbay 4 Mini RAID-5 edition is available with SSDs in capacities from 1TB to 40TB. MPG strong recommends the RAID edition.

Thunderbay 4 Mini configurations (non RAID) are also available, as well as hard drive configurations are also available.

Added to my review of the OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD is performance on sequential transferes from 32 KiB to 512 MiB with a RAID-0 stripe.

OWC 40TB SSD: RAID-0 Transfer Size Performance

Figures are in MiB/sec. Multiply by 1.048576 for MB/sec.

 
SoftRAID showing a 40TB RAID-0 stripe SSD in OWC Thunderbay 4 MIni

TESTED: OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD with RAID-0 Stripe and RAID-4 Fault Tolerance

GetOWC Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD RAID Edition at MacSales.com.

Following up on yesterday’s overview of OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD, below are performance results with both RAID-0 striping and RAID-5 fault tolerance.

RAID-0 striping

This is the best performance MPG has ever seen with Thunderbolt 2 (or from any external SSD). It sets the new benchmark.

  • Read performance flatlines at 1425 MB/sec
  • Write performance flatlines at 1192 MB/sec
 
30TB RAID-5 SSD: OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini

Those are average figures across across a gigantic 39.37TB volume! Context: those figures beat the internal 1TB SSD in the MPG 2013 Mac Pro. It looks like Thunderbolt 2 has throttled the read performance. MPG expects OWC to offer a similar solution with Thunderbolt 3 in 2017, in which case the read speeds should rise to even higher levels.

RAID-4 (fault tolerance)

This is the best performance MPG has ever seen with Thunderbolt 2 (or from any external SSD). It sets the new benchmark.

  • RAID-4 Read performance flatlines at 1224 MB/sec
  • RAID-4 Write performance flatlines at 853 MB/sec

The RAID-4 performance is outstanding in two ways:

  • Flat line consistency across the entire 29.8TB volume.
  • Data rates within a few percent of the theoretical speed, that is, 75% of the speed of RAID-0.

It’s a superlative performance from four SSDs in the Thunderbay 4 Mini witih SoftRAID.

Tested using a> disktester fill-volume --xfer 128M with diglloydTools disktester

Graph shows writes read filling the volume to 99% capacity with 1000 test files.

RAID-0: Write @ 1137 MiB/sec = 1192 MB/sec, Read @ 1359 MiB/sec = 1425 MB/sec
RAID-4: Write @  814 MiB/sec =  853 MB/sec, Read @ 1167 MiB/sec = 1224 MB/sec
RAID-5: Write @  814 MiB/sec =  854 MB/sec, Read @ 1003 MiB/sec = 1052 MB/sec

 
Sustained transfer performance with a 40TB RAID-0 stripe vs 30TB RAID-4 SSD configuration in OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini
Save big on Used Macs at OWC!
Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPad, Displays
Certified, and warranted by OWC
✓ Free shipping and 14-day money back guarantee

TESTED: OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD

GetOWC Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD RAID Edition at MacSales.com.

 
40TB SSD: OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini

Following up on yesterday’s overview of OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD, here is performance.

This is the best performance MPG has ever seen with Thunderbolt 2 (or from any external SSD). It sets the new benchmark.

  • Read performance flatlines at 1425 MB/sec
  • Write performance flatlines at 1192 MB/sec

Those are average figures across across a gigantic 39.37TB volume! Context: those figures beat the internal 1TB SSD in the MPG 2013 Mac Pro.

There looks to be cruising room here for 4K raw video capture. Or any hyper demanding task for writes and even better for reads.

It looks like Thunderbolt 2 has throttled the read performance. MPG expects OWC to offer a similar solution with Thunderbolt 3 in 2017, in which case the read speeds should rise to even higher levels.

Tested using a> disktester fill-volume --xfer 128M with diglloydTools disktester

Write @ 1137 MiB/sec = 1192 MB/sec, Read @ 1359 MiB/sec = 1425 MB/sec
Test size 37.0 GiB = 39.37 GB in 1000 37.0 GiB files

 
SoftRAID showing a 40TB RAID-0 stripe SSD in OWC Thunderbay 4 MIni

A wide range of capacities is available. Capacity rating reflects usage as RAID-0 stripe or single drives. Using in RAID-5 mode means that 1/4 of the capacity used for parity, e.g., reducing 40TB to 30TB usable capacity.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD

Get OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini and OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini RAID Edition at MacSales.com.

 
40TB SSD: OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini

Here it is folks: an about $28000 40TB SSD, consisting of four 10TB Sage Electronics 2.5-inch “Black Edition” SSDs in the four bays of the OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini (RAID Edition).

Who needs 40TB of SSD storage (30TB as RAID-5)? Any professional outfit shooting 4K or 6K or 8K video for starters. Huge databases, huge collections of photos or sound and so on. Anything where high bandwidth and huge capacity are needed. An ultra-fast backup device for another similar capacity unit and/or many other devices.

On top of the huge capacity and extreme peformance (about 1200 MB/sec across the 40TB capacity), the OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini is tiny for the capacity it offers. It can easily fit into small bag, perhaps even into a briefcase. That makes it an incredibly powerful tool for any video professional or similar requiring huge capacity while on shoots. Or airline travel where bulk and weight count.

The next closest thing would be the 40TB OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID Edition, which is quite a bit bulkier and heavier. But at about $2997 it offers as much capacity in a hard drive format at about 1/9 the cost (and lower performance that is variable as the capacity fills, as all hard drives solutions do).

Below, the four SSDs are setup as a 40TB RAID-0 stripe.

As shown, the screen shot from SoftRAID is inverted intentionally, as an attention getter.

 
SoftRAID showing a 40TB RAID-0 stripe SSD in OWC Thunderbay 4 MIni

Testing

A long-running test is now in progress with the fill-volume command of diglloydTools DiskTester. More tests will follow after that completes.

diglloydIMAC:diglloydUtil lloyd$ disktester fill-volume OWC_40TB
DiskTester 2.2.14 64-bit, diglloydTools 2.2.14, 2016-08-04 14:00
Copyright 2006-2016 DIGLLOYD INC. All Rights Reserved
Use of this software requires a license. See http://macperformanceguide.com/Software-License.html

OS X 10.12.1, 8 CPU cores, 65536MiB memory 2016-11-23 at 15:16:33973

Volume: OWC_40TB Num files: 1000 Space to fill: 36.2 TiB File size: 37.0 GiB Transfer size: 131072 KiB Fill with: "0x0000000000000000" Free space to remain: 223.6 GiB = 0.60%

Creating up to 1000 files of size 37.0 GiB on volume "OWC_40TB" Speed shown includes file system create/open/allocate/write-- real world time.

Elapsed File# Qty 2sec 5sec 15sec 1min 2min 5min 15min 30min 60min 2s:15s 1m:5m ClockAvg 5s 0 5.62 GiB 1105 1143 1143 1143 1143 1143 1143 1143 1143 0.97 1.00 1130 ... Elapsed File# Qty 2sec 5sec 15sec 1min 2min 5min 15min 30min 60min 2s:15s 1m:5m ClockAvg 19522s 585 21.2 TiB 1124 1133 1140 1139 1141 1141 1140 1140 1141 0.99 1.00 1137 19527s 585 21.2 TiB 1147 1143 1142 1139 1141 1141 1141 1140 1141 1.00 1.00 1137 19532s 585 21.2 TiB 1149 1140 1139 1139 1141 1141 1141 1140 1141 1.01 1.00 1137 19537s 585 21.2 TiB 1131 1133 1139 1140 1140 1141 1141 1140 1141 0.99 1.00 1137 19542s 585 21.2 TiB 1142 1139 1139 1139 1140 1141 1141 1140 1141 1.00 1.00 1137 19547s 585 21.2 TiB 1139 1142 1138 1139 1140 1141 1141 1140 1141 1.00 1.01 1137 19552s 585 21.2 TiB 1164 1145 1140 1139 1140 1141 1141 1140 1141 1.02 1.01 1137 19557s 586 21.2 TiB 1124 1135 1138 1138 1139 1141 1141 1140 1141 0.99 1.01 1137 19562s 586 21.2 TiB 1163 1138 1138 1139 1139 1141 1141 1140 1141 1.02 1.01 1137 19567s 586 21.2 TiB 1125 1138 1136 1139 1139 1140 1141 1140 1141 0.99 1.01 1137 19572s 586 21.2 TiB 1126 1139 1140 1140 1139 1141 1141 1140 1141 0.99 1.01 1137 19577s 586 21.2 TiB 1137 1149 1143 1140 1139 1141 1141 1140 1141 0.99 1.01 1137 19582s 586 21.2 TiB 1120 1134 1141 1140 1139 1140 1141 1140 1141 0.98 1.01 1137 19588s 587 21.2 TiB 1134 1143 1142 1140 1139 1140 1141 1140 1141 0.99 1.02 1137 ...
 
SoftRAID showing a 40TB RAID-0 stripe SSD in OWC Thunderbay 4 MIni
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

OWC Black Friday Specials

OWC says:

  • Shipping is free on most everything $49 and up and can ship up to 8PM at night, shipping Friday, Shipping Saturdays too. We’re there for those last minute ‘rush’ orders when you need us! International Delivery Specials from $2.99.
  • Special Purolator Courier to Canada only $9.95 on $99 & up + FREE on orders $500 & up

Featured Black Friday Deals now up on this page.

The full list found here.

We have boatloads of deals up now… and more will be going live after 6PM as well. But these are a large segment.

Product highlights - things already going fast:

**Bonus Round**

=====


Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

B&H Photo Black Friday Deals Start Tonight at 21:01 Pacific Time (12:01 Eastern)

See my wish lists at B&H Photo.

Please use this link, which is active now, but will have Black Friday prices as noted above:

B&H Photo Black Friday Deals
(prices start at 21:01 Pacific time)

All APPLE deals.

Pre Black Friday deals (available right now):

OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD

Get OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini and OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini RAID Edition at MacSales.com.

This graphic depicts the relative capacities of a 1TB SSD versus the OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini 40TB SSD. MPG will be testing this 40TB monster starting today. Wow!

The 40TB OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini is available for sale right now with capacities from 1TB to 40TB SSD ($27999) or 2TB to 8TB hard drives.

 
Circles whose areas represent 1TB and 40TB
 
OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD pricing
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

2016 MacBook Pro TESTED: Photoshop Performance on Real World Job 'Create Size Variants'

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

See 2016 MacBook Pro: Compatibility Hardware (USB, Thunderbolt, Camera Card Readers, etc).

Yesterday, the diglloyd Photoshop benchmarks showed the 2016 MacBook Pro to be slower than the 2013 MacBook Pro—yikes!

Today another Photoshop test, and one that Lloyd does day in and day out for generating lens rendering aperture series shows a smidgen better performance for the 2016 MacBook Pro, effectively no gain at all. This test is as real world as it gets, at least for Lloyd’s photographic work. This particular job was one performed only a few days prior for this lens comparison, repeated here on all four test machines.

2016 MacBook Pro: Photoshop Create Size Variants

Here, the 2016 MacBook Pro ekes out a 2.7% win over the 2013 MacBook Pro. But in one run it turned in a slower time, and its performance is oddly variable in all the tests, suggesting some kind of power management behavior that degrades performance at times.

Photoshop CC 2017: 21 x 36-megapixel layers in 6.1GB file: resize, sharpen, convert profile, save as JPEG 12 size variants

2016 MacBook Pro: Return It and Stick With 2013 Model?

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

See also 2016 MacBook Pro: Readers Considering 2015 MacBook Pro Instead.

As the MPG Photoshop tests show, the fastest possible build of the 2016 MacBook Pro is slower than the 2013 MacBook Pro. Three years for a... downgrade. Of course the SSD is faster and the screen has a wider gamut, but the whole thing is a mixed bag with no obvious “win” when the pros and cons are added up. Surely it’s a net win if buying a MacBook Pro the first time, or against a much older model, but versus the 2013/2014/2015 models, the question is of value (cost vs benefit).

A fully loaded 2016 MacBook Pro exceeds $5000 with taxes and AppleCare and adapters. That’s a pile of dough, so I am seriously doubting that a top-flight 2016 MacBook Pro makes any sense at all at this point. Less functionality for my primary usage (field use for photography), at huge cost.

My original premise was that (a) I needed Thunderbolt 3 for testing (still true but I can borrow for now), and (b) that there would be real world gains for my Photoshop work. I expected something, say a 10% to 15% reduction in processing time. Not a 7% performance loss.

My 2013 MacBook Pro Retina still performs like a champ and has none of the port hassles. Why should I drop $5K on a machine that underperforms or at best (for my work) is no faster?

If after a new MacBook Pro, a discounted 2015 MacBook Pro at B&H or discounted MacBook Pro at OWC may be better options for some, though they are selling out fast and are not likely to last long—buyers are voting with their wallets. Excepting the SSD, the 2015 model will be just as fast and with none of the port hassles.

As for Thunderbolt 3 ports, a revised Mac Pro with Thunderbolt 3 or at least an iMac 5K with Thunderbolt 3 ought to come along with 3-4 months. I’d rather spend my money on either of those than on a laptop no faster than my 3-year-old model. Also, the 16GB memory limit makes the MacBook Pro a non-starter for much of the work I now relegate to my 2013 Mac Pro, which keeps the MacBook Pro from serving any useful function as an alternative desktop workstation (for me at least).

Update 01 December: I’ve made my decision. The 2016 MacBook faux Pro is very nice for anyone who does not own a reasonably recent MacBook Pro Retina, but for me (Lloyd) the value proposition is just not there—it is a travel machine only (6 weeks or so a year), and it’s no faster than my 2013 MacBook Pro Retina for what I do. The value proposition is just not there. I’d rather wait a year for a model that has more features, or at least 32GB of memory and/or a faster CPU and GPU.

Apple Abandons Wireless Routers (no more Apple Airport)

From bloomberg.com: Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers:

Apple Inc. has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, another move to try to sharpen the company’s focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced.

...

Apple currently sells three wireless routers, the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time capsule. The Time capsule doubles as a backup storage hard drive for Mac computers.

...

What does this say about the potential for other low volume products, like the Mac Pro?

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

2016 MacBook Pro TESTED: Photoshop Performance

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

See 2016 MacBook Pro: Compatibility Hardware (USB, Thunderbolt, Camera Card Readers, etc).

The 2016 MacBook Pro does not have the chops for larger Photoshop tasks. Moreover the performance of the fastest-possible 2016 MacBook Pro is scarcely faster than the 2013 model for in-memory work. This 2016 MacBook Pro is not an upgrade in terms of getting work done in Photoshop. It is a 'dud' upgrade. You are buying Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports (and incompatibility), a faster SSD and nicer screen.

See the three different tests:

2016 MacBook Pro: diglloyd Photoshop Benchmarks

There is no meaningful argument in favor of upgrading for a Photoshop user, excepting really large editing jobs in Photoshop, in which case the faster SSD of the 2016 MacBook Pro helps a great deal. But anyone doing that on a regular basis should be using a Mac Pro or iMac 5K.

...

I am seriously doubting that spending close to $4800 (with AppleCare and tax) on a top-flight 2016 MacBook Pro makes any sense at all. My original premise was that (a) I needed Thunderbolt 3 for testing (still true), and (b) that there would be real world gains for the things I do in Photoshop. The latter premise is proven false, making me seriously consider returning the 2016 MacBook Pro and sticking with my 2013 MacBook Pro Retina, which still performs like a champ and has none of the port hassles. Plus perhaps a revised Mac Pro or iMac 5K will come along in 3-4 months, with Thunderbolt 3. I’d rather spend my money there than so much on a laptop which will perform the same as my 3-year-old one.

If you want a new MacBook Pro, you may be better off with a discounted 2015 MacBook Pro at B&H or discounted MacBook Pro at OWC, though they are selling out fast and are not likely to last long—buyers are voting with their wallets. Excepting the SSD, the 2015 model will be just as fast and with none of the port hassles.

diglloydSpeed1 Photoshop benchmark for 2016 MacBook Pro vs others
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

2016 MacBook Pro: the SanDisk USB-C Card Reader Does not Work with my Lexar SDXC Cards

SanDisk USB-C card reader

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

See 2016 MacBook Pro: Compatibility Hardware (USB, Thunderbolt, Camera Card Readers, etc).

The SanDisk Extreme Pro SD UHS-II Card USB-C Reader sold by Apple* does not work with my Lexar 256GB SDXC cards.

My Lexar 256GB cards have worked in every one of the six other card readers I have used over the past year—never a problem.

So much for a USB-C solution.

The SanDisk USB-C reader is badly designed anyway; it sticks far out of the machine so in crampled quarters there is no room to insert it. Also, the card is difficult to remove because of the projecting lip on it. One has to pinch the card to try to extract it, very hard to do with cold fingers.

The good news is that my other card readers work fine via a USB-C to USB-A adapter or via the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock, etc.

One positive that compensates in part for having to carry a separate card reader and adapter versus built-in: the Lexar card reader I use with the USB-C to USB-A adapter copies from the card about 3X faster than the built-in SD slot of the 2013 MacBook Pro.

* The necessity for which is rationalized away by an Apple executive ignorant or willfully in denial of reality.

OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
only $270

What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.

2016 MacBook Pro: USB-C Might Offer Massive Runtime via External Batteries

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Battery Menu 2016 MacBook Pro w/
Anker PowerCore+ 20100 battery

Update 21 November: Anker has responded to my email inquiry, stating:

I am sorry that the PowerCore+ 20100 is unable to charge 2016 MacBook Pro (15" model) as it is not powerful enough to activate this laptop. We have another external battery which can charge the new Macbook [sic]. Below is the link of this battery:

I’m not clear given the response which says “can charge the MacBook” that this battery will charge the MacBook Pro, but it looks like it ought to, delivering 30 watts.

Anker won’t exchange the batteries but did offer a 10% credit. The thing is, I bought these Aug 1 thinking they would charge a MacBook Pro, which I knew was coming (I used them for solar testing also). Now I have two PowerCore+ 21000 batteries that won’t do the job. I requested an exchange, but I got the “past 30 days” response.

Update 25 November: after much back and forth, Anker has agreed to send me one Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD 20000 mAH battery, which is claimed to provide 30 watts of charging power. However, it is out of stock and might not arrive for weeks, and by then I may have sent the 2016 MacBook Pro back.

...

A few weeks ago, I discussed the appeal of external battery power for the 2016 MacBook Pro via USB-C, in particular the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C battery.

External batteries with USB-C still hold promise for providing a total of up to 30 hours of runtime with just two of the Anker batteries I discuss, in theory being able to provide 12 watts (2.4A X 5V), which is enough for steady state usage, albeit not enough for demanding usage—but 12 watts should still defer internal battery drain.

However, I am disappointed to report that the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C battery fails to supply charging power to the 2016 MacBook Pro 15" model, even though the MBP shows a lightning icon (as if charging), chimes when the power is connected (as if a power adapter were working), and indicates that Power Source: Power Adapter in the charging menu.

Or, perhaps it is the MacBook Pro disliking not being able to pull more than 12 watts. Or, outside chance, the Apple USB-C cable is involved.

  1. Press the button on the Anker PowerCore to put it into the mode of supplying power (so it won’t try to charge itself instead).
  2. Connect the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C battery to the MacBook Pro via the Apple USB-C cable (unplug one end from the Apple wall wart and plug into the Anker battery).
  3. Observe that the MacBook Pro is happy as a clam, showing “Power Source: Power Adapter”.

I have sent an email inquiry to Anker tech support.

Shown below with some green Gaffer’s tape on it, the about $60 Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C is a compact 74 watt-hour battery that weighs only 467 grams (517g with soft case and two USB cables)—about one pound. I have used it in the field when backpacking to recharge Sony A7R II batteries as well as a Fenix flashlight. It can also be solar charged.

Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C battery connected via USB-C to a 2016 MacBook Pro

 

 
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

2016 MacBook Pro: Configuring the Touchbar Control Strip

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Some aspects of the touchbar are good, and some drive me crazy.

Go to System Preferences => Keyboard => Customize Control Strip.

This customization dialog seemed inoperable on macOS 10.12.1 on my 2016 MacBook Pro; dragging things seemingly had no effect: I am not used to dragging off the screen.

Finally it hit me: one has to drag the icons down towards the touchbar, off the screen (just as the instructions say, doh!); doing so makes the dragged item light up on the touchbar. Something new and for me at least, 10 minutes of confusion.

Similarly, to remove an item from the touchbar, move the pointer below the screen; an item on the touchbar itself will light up—drag that item up and out of the touchbar.

See also Configuring the Touchbar Control Strip to Show All Function Keys and 2016 MacBook Pro touchbar control strip articles.

What is frustrating here is that I need at most one or two of these icons (I use command key shortcuts by preference), and the ones I do want are missing (function keys) and app-specific items.

Tip: configured however wayt, holding down the fn key at bottom left of keyboard toggles the touchbar display to a set of alternate items.

System Preferences => Keyboard => Customize Control Strip

2016 MacBook Pro: Configuring the Touchbar Control Strip to Show All Function Keys

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

The touchbar control strip can also be configured for individual items; see Configuring the Touchbar Control Strip.

System Preferences => Keyboard => Customize Control Strip

To force the touchbar control strip to display all 12 function keys, drag the desired app(s) into the window as shown.

Doing so restores the keyboard to a traditional layout for those app(s), using virtual keys on the touchbar, as shown further below.

System Preferences => Keyboard => Customize Control Strip

Below, the 2016 MacBook Pro touchbar control strip now shows only function keys.

To access other items, hold down the fn key at bottom left of keyboard; this toggles the touchbar display to a set of alternate items. And vice versa if the function keys are not the defaults.

See also see Apple’s Using function keys on MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

2016 MacBook Pro touchbar control strip configured to show only function keys:

2016 MacBook Pro: Siri Icon on the Touchbar is Driving me Crazy

See 2016 MacBook Pro touchbar control strip articles.

Update: here is how to remove the Siri icon.

I would destructively REMOVE Apple’s Siri if there were a safe way to do so.

This Siri dialog (further below) is driving me crazy.

Flat keys next to crapware icon make easy miss

I have Siri turned off but I use Terminal a lot , and in Terminal (and many other apps), Apple has placed a Siri icon in the touchbar, right above the Delete key. That’s right: Siri is explicitly off, but Apple places the Siri button there anyway. Qué siri siri I guess.

I use the Delete key a lot, since I make a lot of typing mistakes. The keyboard in the 2016 Macbook Pro has nearly flat keys (like the MacBook). They are certainly usable but have poor tactile feedback as compared to a real keyboard and fingers can wander more easily.

The main thing is that with flat keys, it is easy to hit that dwimmerlaik Siri button just above the Delete key, thus provoking the “for the 200th time, do you want to enable Siri ” crapware dialog. No, not this time, nor the 199th time, nor ever. I turned Siri off and I want it off—forever. Begone. Gah!

So I regularly press that Siri icon by accident. I have had to respond to this dialog at least 20 times in just two hours or so. It took me a while to figure out why this dialog kept appearing, making it all the more maddening until I realized the cause.

... the Touch Bar at the top of your keyboard adapts to what you're doing and gives you intuitive shortcuts and app controls when you need them.

And when not wanted or needed, and there’s nothing intuitive about no power key.

I have Siri turned off. I don’t ever want it turned on. Why does Apple push crapware on users like this in a key working location? Software developers respectful of their users take the time to add a “don’t bother me again checkbox”—some apps do this (like Photoshop) and it is much appreciated.

2TB SSD in 2016 MacBook Pro (and a bug in categorizing the data)

Martin D writes:

You should be able to customize the touch bar to remove the Siri button. You may have to do this on an app-by-app basis. Another thing you can do is set the touch bar to show function keys by default for one or more apps (that’s in settings)

MPG: I know I ought to be able to do so. To have to customize-out something due to software harassment is poor design judgment: would not it make sense if a user explicitly disables Siri to not show the Siri icon?

There exists nothing in Terminal preferences to control the control strip, but customization is possible, sort of half-baked stuff.

2016 MacBook Pro: Why I Went With the 2TB SSD

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

See also Saving up to 8.5GB of Space After Every Apple Xcode Update.

With a 512GB SSD in my 2013 MacBook Pro, I only had about 180GB of free space available, which regularly overflowed on my photographic outings (I shoot raw only, not JPEG).

When I purchased the 2013 MacBook Pro, I was pretty sure that 512GB would be enough, but 18 months later that assumption proved wrong.

So this go-round, I considered buying the 2016 MacBook Pro with a 1TB SSD, which will be enough for... how long? And the SSD in the 2016 MBP cannot be replaced, being soldered onto the logic board.

Then there is the issue of longevity: a 2TB SSD used to significantly less than its capacity (say 1.5T or less) has in effect has far more “over provisioning”, so that when blocks of flash fail as they inevitably do, there are ample unused blocks around. Compare filling a 1TB SSD with 950GB of data versus filling a 2TB SSD with that same 950GB; there is no “wiggle room” on the 1TB SSD in either storage capacity, or in unused blocks to deal with flash block failure.

Thus my decision to go with a 2TB SSD. Now I have ample space to take along whatever I need, as well as ample storage for my 7-14 day shoots.

2TB SSD in 2016 MacBook Pro (and a bug in categorizing the data)
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Apple iPhone Secretly Uploading Call Logs when iCloud is Enabled?

Where is Tim Cook’s voice on such matters? He seems to have time to express his views in other ways about non-business matters, so how about discussing this privacy issue openly and honestly? Deny it or acknowledge it, but speak up Tim.

According to IPHONES SECRETLY SEND CALL HISTORY TO APPLE, SECURITY FIRM SAYS at TheIntercept.com:

Russian digital forensics firm Elcomsoft has found that Apple’s mobile devices automatically send a user’s call history to the company’s servers if iCloud is enabled — but the data gets uploaded in many instances without user choice or notification.

“You only need to have iCloud itself enabled” for the data to be sent, said Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft.

The logs surreptitiously uploaded to Apple contain a list of all calls made and received on an iOS device, complete with phone numbers, dates and times, and duration. They also include missed and bypassed calls. Elcomsoft said Apple retains the data in a user’s iCloud account for up to four months, providing a boon to law enforcement who may not be able to obtain the data either from the user’s phone, if it’s encrypted with an unbreakable passcode, or from the carrier. Although large carriers in the U.S. retain call logs for a year or more, this may not be the case with carrier outside the US.

It’s not just regular call logs that get sent to Apple’s servers. FaceTime, which is used to make audio and video calls on iOS devices, also syncs call history to iCloud automatically, according to Elcomsoft. The company believes syncing of both regular calls and FaceTime call logs goes back to at least iOS 8.2, which Apple released in March 2015.

MPG despises iCloud not for such things (reason enough), but for its severe design problems and bugs, free to enjoy for anyone with more than one computer or iPhone.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2016 MacBook Pro
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • Gigabit Ethernet • 4K Support • Firewire 800 • Sound Ports

2016 MacBook Pro: Disappointing 8-Bit Video on Built-In Display

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

With a DCI-P3 display gamut, I am surprised and disappointed that even the high-end GPU in the 2016 MacBook Pro supports only 8-bit video.

With a wide gamut display, 10 bits is important to rendering subtle gradients seamlessly. Looks like we have to wait another generation for proper video support. Still, the alleged DCI P3 gamut is a big plus—that to be checked on soon.

MPG has not yet checked whether the 2016 MacBook Pro can deliver 10 bit color to external displays. It seemed unlikely given the half-hearted 8-bit video on the built-in screen, but Apple specs say it is so:

Simultaneously supports full native resolution on built-in display at millions of colors and:

One display with 5120-by-2880 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colors
Up to two displays with 4096-by-2304 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colors
Thunderbolt 3 digital video output

Native DisplayPort output over USB‑C
VGA, HDMI, and Thunderbolt 2 output supported using adapters (sold separately)

This is particularly disappointing having paid for the fastest GPU.

2016 MacBook Pro does NOT support 10 bit video, even with most expensive GPU option!

2016 MacBook Pro: the Downsides to a Soldered-on SSD

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

While the SSD in the 2016 MacBook Pro has jaw dropping performance, there are serious downsides as discussed in depth at MacSales.com. One excerpt:

Drive Failure

With the drive physically on the motherboard, if it should fail and you’re beyond the warranty/AppleCare period, any repair would likely cost as much as a new machine, or be very, very expensive. If a drive were to fail on the second year of usage, telling the customer they need to buy a new computer would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth – especially if that computer was a $3,000 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Most interesting is this: if the SSD fails, the entire computer is 'toast', you’d have to buy an entirely new computer, unless Apple comes up with some kind or special repair program.

Well, that’s not 100% entirely correct: if the SSD failed but did not otherwise derange the MacBook Pro, the machine could still be booted and used off an external SSD. Not much joy there, but it would work.

Ditto for the CPU, GPU and memory too (which are also soldered-on), but traditionally nearly all computers have drives have been replaceable, and drives have been a key failure point. Hopefully the SSD in the MacBook Pro is highly durable. Still, it is a very disturbing thought that a $4400 laptop could be unrepairable if *any* of {CPU, GPU, memory, SSD} fail — all are soldered on.

Accordingly, it is foolish to not buy AppleCare on the 2016 MacBook Pro. BTW, if these Apple laptops are so terrific, why the miserly 1-year warranty? A 1-year warranty speaks volumes about the quality of a product*. BTW, B&H Photo has discounted AppleCare.

* A product is the sum of the hardware and software and service and support and warranty.

2016 MacBook Pro: Jaw-Dropping SSD Performance

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Jaw dropping performance.

The graph was blank at first—the figures were off the scale of all previous Macs! Insane.

More...

The OWC teardown of the touchbar 2016 MacBook Pro shows a soldered-on SSD. If this is the price to pay for performance, so be it. Be sure to order 2016 MacBook Pro with 1TB or 2TB SSD. Smaller options are likely to become cramped.

Tested with the fill-volume command of diglloydTools DiskTester. The MacBook Pro was booted via external drive, then the 2TB internal SSD was erased before testing.

Performance of 2TB SSD/Flash drive in 2016 MacBook Pro, large sustained transfers over entire 2TB capacity
disktester fill-volume
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

2016 MacBook Pro: System Integrity Protection (SIP) Disabled as Shipped by Apple

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

In a troubling slip-up, Apple has shipped at least some 2016 MacBook Pros with System Integrity Protection (SIP) disabled, which exposes the MBP to malware and other threats.

The MPG MacBook Pro shipped with SIP disabled:

MacBook-Pro:~ lloyd$ sudo csrutil status
Password:
System Integrity Protection status: disabled.

√ MPG tested and verified this fix as follows

The fix is to boot into recovery mode (cmd-R at startup), then do 'csrutil enable'.

As shown below, the MacBook Pro was booted into recovery mode, then Utilities => Terminal was chosen. See the 'csrutil enable' command near bottom.

Rebooting, SIP is confirmed enabled:

MacBook-Pro:~ lloyd$ sudo csrutil status
Password:
System Integrity Protection status: enabled.
Using csrutil to enable System Integrity Protection (SIP)
OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

2016 MacBook Pro: Enabling the Startup Chime... does not work

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Apple removed the startup chime by default for the 2016 MacBook Pro, but it can be restored. Thanks to reader Jewels Davies for passing along this nvram fix.

UPDATE: I tried the solution below immediately after writing this post... the wrong order of course, but the machine was running a test at the time and could not be interrupted. This solution just does not work on my MacBook Pro. The volume is at maximum and not muted and there is no sound upon restart. A dozen Mac web sites apparently all copy each other and never bother to test if a claimed fix works.

MacBook-Pro:~ lloyd$ sudo nvram -p
csr-active-config	%10%00%00%00
gpu-policy	%01
BootAudio	%01
bluetoothInternalControllerInfo	%95%82%ac%05%00%00%00%00%f4%0f$+%ec%e4
wake-failure	%01%15%0f%00
SystemAudioVolumeDB	%dc
fmm-computer-name	MacBook Pro
bluetoothActiveControllerInfo	%95%82%ac%05%00%00%00%00%00%00%f4%0f$+%ec%e4
SystemAudioVolume	7
... 

Enabling the startup chime

Does not work.

The commands shown should be entered in a Terminal window.

To enable the startup chime:

sudo nvram BootAudio=%01

To disable the startup chime (silence):

sudo nvram BootAudio=%00

Bill W writes:

I too cannot get Startup chime re-enabled on Macbook Pro 2016. Did you find an alternative solution?

MPG: nothing yet.

Andrew R writes:

I can confirm this doesn't work! Tried a number of times, no start up tone.

Another issue; can't boot into single user mode. Tried of course Command S, then just S, then Control S; no go. Weird.

DIGLLOYD: so far, no one has stated that it ddoes work.

Auto boot

Not tested or verifed as yet.

Auto-boot means that when the lid of the MBP is opened, it starts up. Given the confusing lack of a power-on button, it is probably best to leave auto-boot enabled.

Disable auto boot:

sudo nvram AutoBoot=%00

Enable auto boot (boots when lid is opened)

sudo nvram AutoBoot=%01

Christian T writes:

I’ve got a Late 2016 15” MacBook Pro and can confirm that enabling the startup chime does not work, however disabling auto boot does. Without auto boot enabled, a large battery status icon is shown in the centre of the display.

Kind of cool, it helps now that there’s no way to see your battery status without booting up your Mac!

MPG: nice feature.

Cycling

2016 MacBook Pro: the Touchbar Already Saving Me Time

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

The OLED display of the touchbar is beautiful to behold, with rich color and crisp detail.

See also Touchbar Notes.

While I have used the touchbar for little as yet, I am already a 'fan' because it is saving me time: every time I am prompted for an administrator password (a lot, when I doing certain things), I just touch the touchbar and my fingerprint instantly takes care of that pesky password dialog.

This is also a security win in one way (potential risks of fingerprint login are beyond my knowledge): there is no need to type a password, hence no one can spy out what is being typed. That’s a good thing in public places, at the least.

Just touch the touchbar instead of entering password

The touchbar is a big win for usability and the learning curve

Insofar as the touchbar merely replaces keyboard shortcuts it is not a win for power users like me, since it is no faster; I can just use the command-key shortcuts.

The touchbar has the potential to unhide functionality and improve ease of use and already MPG is won over to its merits (in spite of certain confusing trade-offs).

  • To the extent that the touchbar makes visible context-sensitive features that for most users would otherwise remain hidden in the menus or contextual menus, the touchbar is a HUGE win. Non-expert users have a big win here.
  • The ability to touch to complete an action brings the ease of use of iOS to the Mac. While this is not a win for expert users knowing keyboard shortcuts, it makes visible things that might have remained hidden in contextual menus or overloaded main menus and/or submenus. Context-sensitive features on the touchbar thus flatten the learning curve.

In MPG’s view, these are big wins which will play out over time in bringing the ease of use aspects of iOS to the Mac, while avoiding the problemetic approach of making the whole screen touchable.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

2016 MacBook Pro: Hangs on Restart, How to Force Reboot?

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

I restarted the MBP and it hung with that spinning icon thing. But it has no power button so I did not know how to forcibly power it off. The touchbar was blank and was unresponsive to anything; the machine was hung and unusable with a blank screen, aside from that spinning icon thing.

I found this non-obvious solution at Apple (what would I have done without another Mac?!) in How to turn on or turn off your Mac:

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016) and MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports): The power button is adjacent to the Touch Bar and integrated with the Touch ID sensor. Press Touch ID (power button) to turn on your Mac.

Not only is the touchbar completely blank when the machine is off (very confusing, where does one press and for how long, etc?!), the touchbar is one long strip, with no power button to be seen! Also, this advice says nothing about powering *off* the Mac, so I missed it at first, But then finally guessing that it meant power on or off, I tried it: pressing and holding the right side of the touchbar did power it off. I still cannot find any power key anywhere! No visual feedback, no tactile feedback, very poor explanation.

When this hang arose, this was all very confusing because there was just a blank touchbar. Nor is it even obvious where one should press on the touchbar, since the touchbar was totally blank. I still don’t know exactly where to press, even with the machine booted up—design insanity.

Once powered off, one has to close the lid and reopen it to boot thing up. Or presumably the touchbar thing works for power on, but its lack of visual or tactile feedback makes it all mysterious. One is just supposed to know to press in some magic spot? How is that better than a power key, which is self evident?

Requiring special knowledge for basic/key operations is poor design judgment.

Also, Apple has removed the startup sound, so there is no feeback that the dang thing is rebooting, until it actually does (update: enable the startup chime). Ditto for restart. Poor feedback again, because one cannot turn away for a moment: it is now required to stare at the computer to confirm if it is going to restart, or if it is going to hang. Nor is there any clue as to when it has started booting up: stare at the screen until it happens, whereas the startup sound was obvious auditory feedback.

Lack of feedback is poor design judgment.

The foregoing is not a criticism of the touchbar per se; I like the touchbar overall and the touchbar has potential for time-saving features.

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

2016 MacBook Pro: Arrived, Solving the Adapter Mess

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Get OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock or OWC USB-C Dock at MacSales.com.

Also: 2016 MacBook Pro: Compatibility Hardware (USB, Thunderbolt, Camera Card Readers, etc).

Setup, and solving the adapter mess

Out of the box, I blanched at connecting a Thunderbolt 2 to gigabit ethernet adapter to a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter—about 8 inches of chunky adapters before the ethernet cable is plugged in! It’s not obvious how klunky this is until you see it in action—yuck.

Adding a mouse would add yet another adapter, and that’s just getting started on the dongle mess (external drive, camera card reader, and more). A sleek laptop that has to bristle with attachments just for basics: funny how the Real World is never shown in those sleek product shots.

There is a better way—while the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is not yet available, the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock avoids a pile of adapters: plug in a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, then cable that to the dock. That’s one adapter, but it adds a plethora of ports, including gigabit ethernet and Thunderbolt 2 and five USB3 ports and Firewire. Nice and 'clean' for desktop scenarios.

The not-yet-shipping Thunderbolt 3 Dock will plug in directly without adapters, but note that the port on the Thunderbolt 2 Dock is Thunderbolt 2, so any Thunderbolt 2 peripheral can be plugged in directly (and more daisy-chained off that device). Whereas the Thunderbolt 3 Dock has a Thunderbolt 3 port, which requires an adapter if one wishes to plug in a TB2 device. Either way, the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter is needed so you might as well get one.

These solutions are of course for desktop use, since they need wall power.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

The about $149 OWC USB-C Dock works on the 13" model (tested and verified according to OWC), but the 15" model apparently has some issues when restarting the computer or powering on:

We are rescinding 15” compatibility for now… is a firmware update most likely—we are seeing some inconsistency in initial dock power up at connection on just the 15” models. Zero issue on the 13” models. But the 15” sometimes is requiring multiple plug in attempts before the dock comes online recognized by the 15” models we have.

OWC USB-C Dock for MacBook and 2016 MacBook Pro
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

OWC Offers Up to 40TB SSD in Thunderbay 4 Mini

Now here’s something VERY cool: OWC will be offering the OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini with 10TB, 20TB, 30TB and 40TB SSD capacities.

Not hard drives.

Not the Thunderbay 4 — the Thunderbay 4 Mini, which is highly portable.

No, that is NOT a typo: up to 40 terabytes in the Thunderbay 4 Mini. Awesome—no more 'spinners' (hard disk drives) needed for a nice quiet system.

MPG will be testing the 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini later this month.

OWC Thunderbay Mini: up to 40TB SSD option!
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Marco Arment: “A world without the Mac Pro”

Update: also good is Adam Engst’s Understanding Apple’s Marginalization of the Mac.

Marco Arment articulates a message that will resonate with any professional in A world without the Mac Pro.

It’s looking increasingly likely that there will never be another Mac Pro. Here’s why that would be a shame.

Pro buyers depend on Apple to make the hardware that satisfies our needs. And we’re flexible. We’ve adapted over the years to new CPU architectures, port changes, capability changes, price increases, and a slower update pace.

The 5K iMac is a truly great computer. It’s the best general-purpose desktop Apple has ever made. It almost replaces the need for the Mac Pro. Many of us can get by with the 5K iMac.

But there are some things that only a Mac Pro can deliver.

...

MPG is in agreement.

See also AN OPEN LETTER TO APPLE FROM THE ACTUAL WORKING PROS.

Unfortunately if Macs are 5% of Apple revenue and Macs continue to be neglected while Apple expands its other lines, they will become 2% or 3% of revenue. What point does a Mac Pro have if it is 1/10 of that revenue? It’s not even a side show. Still, there’s hope: the 2016 MacBook Pro apparently is garnering a lot of revenue.

My wish list for a future Mac Pro. If necessary, supersize the existing form factor, do whatever it takes and make it a true pro machine:

  • Bring back dual CPU options, or at the least offer a wide range of options up to the 22 core Xeon CPU.
  • Up to 256GB memory.
  • At least 8 and preferably 12 Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports.
  • Six built-in USB 3.0 ports for compatibility without existing adapters or hubs. Built-in SD card slot.
  • Ability to drive dual 5K displays.
  • 2TB or 4TB or 8TB inernal SSD options running at 3GB/sec or faster with pro-grade lifespan.
  • Top-of-class GPU, with the 2nd GPU made optional.
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

The Internet of Things is a Disaster Waiting to Happen (Self-Propagating Smart Light Bulb Worm)

From Bruce Schneier’s excellent security blog:

Abstract: Within the next few years, billions of IoT devices will densely populate our cities. In this paper we describe a new type of threat in which adjacent IoT devices will infect each other with a worm that will spread explosively over large areas in a kind of nuclear chain reaction, provided that the density of compatible IoT devices exceeds a certain critical mass.

In particular, we developed and verified such an infection using the popular Philips Hue smart lamps as a platform. The worm spreads by jumping directly from one lamp to its neighbors, using only their built-in ZigBee wireless connectivity and their physical proximity. The attack can start by plugging in a single infected bulb anywhere in the city, and then catastrophically spread everywhere within minutes, enabling the attacker to turn all the city lights on or off, permanently brick them, or exploit them in a massive DDOS attack.

MPG: the idea of internet-connected anything (except computers and equivalents) has struck me as an incredibly ignorant and short-sighted idea for more than a decade. This case confirms that suspicion. I won’t be buying any Philips LED bulbs!

How about another really, really Bad Idea: the forced conversion (including my home) of electricity meters to ones that communicate wirelessly and related cruft, all on the internet. How about shutting down an entire state’s electricity grid for even a few days? That’s the future of warfare, if nothing else. And already probes are in progress using the IoT: witness the very recent massive DDOS attack that took out key internet services like NetFlex by attacking DNS provider Dyn.

The IoT is a massive national security risk, because it puts every kind of infrastructure at risk. Imagine a few billion IoT devices put to work hitting all major internet service providers, along with electrical power stations, banks, dams and so on. Not a pretty thing to contemplate.

2016 MacBook Pro: Pros and Cons Abound

Joe M writes:

What's "cumbersome" is current camera wireless transfer techniques. By contrast an SD card slot in an expensive Pro laptop is "useful".

It is ironic that Jony Ive is often lauded for his clean, Bauhaus-inspired work. A key tenet of Bauhaus design is "form follows function". The 2016 MacBook Pro is the *opposite* -- function is sacrificed at the altar of form.

Such design decisions could be termed mindless minimalism. It is worse than past design fads such as automotive tail fins, which were ornamental but at least did not subtract from function.

MPG: Let’s examine that idea on the merits, that is, how well “form follows function”. I’m going to assume that the “function” is not to look cool while sipping $6 lattés and checking email and watching videos (a MacBook will do just fine for consumption of all those kinds), but for serious professionals looking to create content and get work done, particularly photographers and videographers and so on.

Looked at this way, it’s easy to see why MacBook Pro users are conflicted; there are too many losing propositions competing against the gains. As per a reader:

... Apple will see an overall lift in sales and declare it a success even where it’s failed to capture the larger sales/lift/base it could have.

Good is not great. The 2016 MacBook Pro is good, but it falls short of the gold.

See also 2016 MacBook Pro: What Options I Ordered, and Why.

Aspect Functionality
Size and weight a good bit lighter
battery life slightly longer
SSD up to 2TB internal, blazingly fast class leading performance (!) but soldered on, so buy a new computer if it fails?
I/O performance and connectivity Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C offer a lot of potential.
5K/4K display support very cool for those who want to use it as a desktop
display (!) Mixed blessing: DCI P3 color gamut (claimed), but only 8-bit color!
CPU Presumably marginally faster, but from from compelling.
GPU Presumably faster, but the GPU is fractionally as fast as some PC laptops.
cost Most expensive Apple laptop yet if 2TB SSD is chosen. The function to cost ratio has hardly budged albeit each new MacBook Pro acquires reasonably current technology.
16GB memory limit (!) no change, and it’s supposed to be a pro laptop. For a user looking for one pro level machine, this may force purchase of a 2nd more capable machine for use when not on the road. That said, most users will do fine with 16GB.
keyboard (!!!) faux MacBook style keys; toy keyboard.
SD card reader (!!!) forces user to carry external card reader
total form factor, compatibility (!!!) forces user to carry a bag of dongles
built-in cellular (like an iPad) no change but in late 2016 the lack of built-in cell-phone internet connectivity is lame. Tethering is fine, but internal connectivity has its uses too.

Edward A writes:

This article about the Macbook Pro and Mindless Minimalism reminds me what has happened to the iMac. Obviously the iMac is not meant to be a portable device. But, the older iMacs were relatively easy to upgrade RAM and HDD, and there was space in the case for an optical drive. Now, that has changed. Apple has decided to condense the iMac, as though “thin” is now the new “cool”. I.e. Mindless Minimalism. This is leading to machines that, when they break, have to go straight into a landfill. Reminds me of the planned obsolescence in the auto industry that became rampant in the 1950s. Perhaps Apple should add tail fins and four headlights to the new iMacs.

MPG: thin trumps the ability to easily add or change a hard drive or SSD internally (it is quite a delicate and involved task).

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

OWC Announces Updated Mercury Elite Pro Dual

OWC has released a new version of its OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual.

The Hardware RAID Workhorse

Reliable hardware RAID maximizes the full potential of two 3.5" 7200RPM hard drives in the Mercury Elite Pro Dual. It comes configured in high-speed RAID 0 mode for the maximum sustained throughput from your drives. With speeds up to 407MB/s, that's fast enough for HD video workflows. Configure the Mercury Elite Pro Dual in RAID 1 mode for the extra security of mirrored data, set up a span of the two drives, or use them independently.

Performance by Design

Mercury Elite Pro Dual features both high-speed USB 3.1 Gen 1 and eSATA ports to offer the connectivity and versatility to work with your current equipment at extreme speeds. A second-generation, free-flowing brushed-aluminum chassis with high-performance fan delivers cool, quiet operation. In addition, drive-activity LEDs give you an instant snapshot of the status of your RAID, and intelligent power management conserves energy and reduces wear by automatically spinning down the drives when inactive.

Quality You Can Trust

Like all OWC drives, Mercury Elite Pro Dual is built to the highest standards of reliability and performance. Because 100% reliability is always the goal, Mercury Elite Pro Dual is rigorously quality tested, and backed by an OWC 3 year limited warranty* and 24/7 customer support.

OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual capacities
OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Apple Cuts Prices Substantially on Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Adapters

See my Mac wish list at B&H Photo and see all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

In a class act, and one for which MPG claims no credit in spite of pointing out how cheap it felt, Apple has dropped prices substantially on most of the USB-C adapters and cables needed for the new 2016 MacBook Pro, which has Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports.

I called Apple support for my own order of various adapters. Apple issued a refund—but it looks like another conversation is needed because only $20 was refunded, and it seems that the refund was for only one item rather than all four items ordered.

It’s good news that the adapter cost has come down considerably. For example, the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter has dropped from $49 to $29. That’s much more palatable.

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

OWC Infographic: Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C

See my Mac wish list at B&H Photo and see all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Thunderbolt and USB standards can be very confusing. OWC has prepared this helpful infographic explaining the differences.

You can pre-order the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock with 13 ports of connectivity as well as USB-C cables and adapters.

Thunderbolt 3 cables (which subsume USB-C) are a better choice (handling both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C), but will be more expensive and are not yet available.

Missing/not noted in graphic: Thunderbolt 3 can drive one 5K display which supports Thunderbolt 3, or two 4K displays via Mini DisplayPort.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C Infographic
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

2016 MacBook Pro: USB-C Might Offer Massive Runtime via External Batteries

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Battery Menu 2016 MacBook Pro w/
Anker PowerCore+ 20100 battery

Update 19 Nov 2016: I am disappointed to report that the Anker batteries fail to supply charging power to the 2015 MacBook pro 15" model, even though the MBP shows a lightning icon and indicates that it is on a power adapter. An inquiry is in to Anker tech support.

...

A few months ago I looked into off-grid power options. See my review: Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C Charger Battery for iPhone/iPad/Cameras/MacBook/etc.

One terrific feature of USB-C is the ability to power the laptop via a battery. The MacBook could/can do this, and now the 2016 MacBook Pro.

Take a look at the amp hours with the batteries involved:

  Battery Power
Apple 2016 MacBook Pro 13" (non-touchbar): 54.5 watt hours
Apple 2016 MacBook Pro 13" (touchbar): 49.2 watt hours
Apple 2016 MacBook Pro 15" model: 76 watt hours
Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C 74 watt hours
Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C battery

The about $60 Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C is a compact 74 watt-hour battery that weighs only 467 grams (517g with soft case and two USB cables)—about one pound. I have used it in the field when backpacking to recharge Sony A7R II batteries as well as a Fenix flashlight. It can also be solar charged.

The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 has the ~same capacity as the internal 15" MacBook Pro battery (within 2Wh). Plug it into any USB-C port, and it is rated to deliver 2.4 amps at 5V = 12 watts. That’s not enough for full load with all CPUs cranking, but it’s ample for most any kind of steady state usage.

So for about $60 you can attach Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C and in theory just about double your runtime.

It seems to me that we now have an unprecedented “clean” solution to powering a laptop in the field, that is, one without special connectors, patent-violating connectors and so on—just standard interchangeable USB-C that works on any port on the MacBook Pro.

Since Apple rates the MacBook Pro runtime at about 10 hours, in theory the Anker battery could double the runtime. Two of them could triple it, for only about 2 pounds of weight.

Theory is one thing and such things have to be verified. As I have two of the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 batteries, I will be testing them and verifying this exciting potential for being able to use a laptop a very long time without AC power.

 
4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
Free how-to videos and tools included, 3-year warranty

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock: 13 Ports that Solve the Compatibility Headaches with the 2016 MacBook Pro

See my Mac wish list at B&H Photo and see all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo.
See all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models or see all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

When desktop usage is the scenario (AC power is available), the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock solves most of the compatibility headaches: see 2016 MacBook Pro: Compatibility Hardware (USB, Thunderbolt, Camera Card Readers, etc).

  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Five (5) USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, including one high-power port
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • SD card reader
  • Audio in/out
  • S/PDIF pro-grade digital audio for lossless signal transfer
  • Mini DisplayPort for attaching a display.
  • Firewire 800
  • Should be possible to plug in 5K display to one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is available for pre-order.

There are a few limitations.

  • This is a desktop device that requires AC power.
  • To use a Thunderbolt 2 device, the Apple Thunderbolt 3 Male to Thunderbolt 2 Female Adapter will need to be plugged into the Thunderbolt 3 port on the Dock. But since Thunderbolt 2 can be daisy chained, a number of devices can hang off that one port, leaving the other port free.
  • The USB ports are Gen 1 (5 Gb/sec just like on all current Macs), not Gen 2 (10 Gb/sec). According to OWC, Gen 2 ports would have raised the cost substantially. However, it should be possible to plug in a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Hub (when available) off one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports (see for example Expanding USB3 Ports: TRIPP LITE 7+1 USB3 with iPad Charging).

Continues below.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock port layout

Description:

With the 13 ports you need, OWC’s new Thunderbolt 3 Dock brings unbelievable connectivity to your laptop through an included Thunderbolt 3 cable, and, delivers charging power to your laptop and other devices, all at the fastest speeds possible.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock delivers more connectivity, more power, and charging capability than ever before all at the fastest speed available today so all your connected devices perform at their maximum. Drive two 4K displays, connect and charge up to six USB devices, work with legacy FireWire storage, enjoy pristine audio, wired networks, and read SD cards, all at twice the speed of Thunderbolt 2 and all through a single cable. The possibilities are endless.

Because Thunderbolt 3 delivers phenomenal bandwidth up to 40Gb/s, Thunderbolt 3 Dock can be the foundation of your perfect custom display setup. Add two ultra HD 4K displays, or a combination of 4K, HD and other displays with the mini DisplayPort port and additional Thunderbolt 3 port.

If you’re a pro working in the creative industries, you probably have a highly specialized workflow complete with specialized and legacy ports like FireWire and optical audio. The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock supports FW800 and S/PDIF optical audio, as well as an SD card reader and analog stereo audio.

2 Year OWC Limited Warranty

The best warranty is one you never have to use, but should the need occur — OWC is proud to provide a superior level of support and warranty coverage to our customers. Even when not used, we understand the peace of mind afforded by a longer warranty period. OWC's industry leading coverage is a testament to our confidence in the reliability of the solutions that we offer. OWC connectivity solutions are engineered to demanding quality standards in order to deliver the most reliable, highest performance available on the market.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, front view with SD card slot and headphone jack and USB port
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, rear ports
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, in situ
NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc!

2016 MacBook Pro: Firewire 800 Compatibility

See my Mac wish list at B&H Photo and see all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo.
See all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models or see all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

See also 2016 MacBook Pro: Compatibility Hardware (USB, Thunderbolt, Camera Card Readers, etc).

UPDATE: the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock with FireWire is the best solution. The dock will direct connect to a Thunderbolt 3 port on the 2016 MacBook Pro while providing a bunch of ports, including Firewire.

Nancy P writes:

Don't laugh - I still have two 2TB FireWire 800 drives as my backup JBOD system. Eventually I may upgrade, but I have to deal with the hardware on hand, used on my mid 2010 MBP 15" (non-Retina). I bet there are more users out there who upgrade laptops only every 5 to 6 years or so and who are wondering about those FW drives.

Recommendations? Please consider adding them to the fine "adapters for late 2016 MBPs" post. Thanks!

MPG: LOL!

This is not a good backup system and drives fail with age also. I recommend no fewer than two external backups kept away from the computer, plus one always-attached Time Machine backup plus one always-attached clone backup. On the road, I like the OWC Envoy Pro EX 1TB.

I do not advise this kludge, but if you're willing to use up a port, you can use the Apple TB3 (USB-C) to TB2 ADAPTER along with the Apple Thunderbolt To Firewire Adapter. But spending $79 for such a messy solution does not make sense to me. Fortunately, Firewire can be daisy-chained.

MUCH better in this case is to not waste money on adapters of that sort. Instead buy new and much faster USB3 mini drives (or full size) and connect through any OWC Dock or USB Type-A to USB Type-C Adapter. If you can afford a new MacBook Pro, you can afford proper backup.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is a far better value than individual adapters and with many more ports; it would be connected via the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. See the Firewire 800 port and other ports below.

OWC Thunderbolty 3 Dock
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Reader Comment: Apple Pro Division?

See my Mac wish list at B&H Photo and see all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo.

See all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models or see all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Don H writes:

As long as Apple is marching to one master (high-margin consumer sales) the idea of ‘professional’ products doesn’t stand a chance. It’s just too much in conflict with the end-game of a consumer product company, even one as capable as Apple.

I’m now wondering if a possible way out would be for Apple to create a ‘Professional Division’ (don’t even use the word ‘Pro’ which has lost all meaning, not only within Apple’s products but in just about every other industry). Set it up as a separate profit center, and incorporate not just hardware but also software (Final Cut, developer tools, even the not-talked-about stepchild that is Filemaker), and most important - a ‘professional’ version of Mac OS. Strip out all the consumer gewgaws that are always in a half-assed developmental state and just provide a bulletproof base of operations for people who actually use their computers for their livelihood. Don’t let Eddy Cue anywhere near the premises.

This would free up the professional hardware and software to include more ‘legacy’ interfaces or other functionality that has been stripped out over the years, and if it ends up costing more then that’s the price we’ll have to pay. (Either that, or people will end up switching platforms, which is happening anyway.) Apple can still leverage their economies of scale for most components, but the professional product lines wouldn’t have all the utility squeezed out of them for the sake of mass consumer appeal.

I know this is most likely a pipe dream, and the logistics of maintaining separate product lines while keeping key technologies in sync is hardly a trivial task. But many auto manufacturers have been doing this for at least a century with their truck and heavy equipment divisions. And the question I’d like to see asked of Tim Cook, point-blank in front of reporters, is “What do your own internal developers use to get their jobs done?”

I don’t think an Apple Car can be designed using iPads and a touch-based drawing program downloaded from the App Store...

MPG: pipe dream. And I agree that the Apple Car should be designed on an iPad, as per Tim Cook’s assertion that there is no reason to buy a computer.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

2016 MacBook Pro: High Sales + Schiller on the Omission of an SD Slot

See my Mac wish list at B&H Photo and see all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo.

See all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models or see all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Apple’s Phill Schiller is quoted as saying:

And we are proud to tell you that so far our online store has had more orders for the new MacBook Pro than any other pro notebook before. So there certainly are a lot of people as excited as we are about it.

When you sit all but idle for 4+ years in the pro laptop space, and then finally produce a gorgeous laptop, one would hope for strong sales. This is excitement to be sure, but who wouldn’t get excited about selling the '08 Camry for a new car?

When the robust workhorse 2013 Mac Pro that is nonetheless an aging out-of-date underpowered computer is updated, will we read the same sort of twaddle about an improved model that lacks pro features yet again?

Properly speaking, praise is deserved for relentless uncompromising advancements as quickly as possible. Apple has done this with iPhone, but let Macs languish. How about just refreshes with the best and fastest CPUs, larger and faster SSDs, if nothing else? This Apple has not done for 4-5 years, not at all in most cases, and in no meaningful way in others. For example, where is a 2TB SSD option (and upgrade) for the 2013 Mac Pro with the 3GB/sec performance claimed in the MBP? That alone would be news, along with the latest fastest CPUs. Such things Apple just does not do: Apple never honors customer investment in a platform, particularly when it comes to allegedly pro software like Final Cut (yearlong incompatibility with past projects plus wanton arbitrary changes), and a discontinued Aperture that can’t even be downloaded anymore.

The SD card reader slot

From my perspective, Phil Schiller’s perspective on card readers is that of someone who has a dim understanding of the pro and high-end photography market (my specialty) and video market, namely that the vast majority of cameras sold today (even pro cameras) have SDXC card slots (my pro Canon, Nikon, Sony, Sigma, Leica cameras all do so I rarely use CF cards any more). Schiller’s lame rationalization might be accepted by the ignorant:

SanDisk USB-C SD card reader
(no more SD slot in MBP)

...it’s a bit of a cumbersome slot. You've got this thing sticking halfway out. Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this – we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off. And then more and more cameras are starting to build wireless transfer into the camera. That’s proving very useful. So we think there’s a path forward where you can use a physical adaptor if you want, or do wireless transfer.

The SD card “sticks out” only when downloading and not by much (does he have any idea of the tiny size of the “thing”?). Second, NONE of my pro cameras have wireless transfer (though one has unusable wireless feature). And is he joking about wireless transfer? I’m going to transfer a single day’s shoot of 20 to 50 gigabytes of raw files over wireless? Or 400GB of video clips? Seriously? WAFM. All while draining the camera battery and taking the camera out of commission while downloading? It shows a gross ignorance of the issues involved. The classic “marketing bozo”.

Finally, can you trust anyone so prone to misrepresentation (the “sticking out” thing) that an external reader (sold by Apple as the solution) is 10X worse? Apple’s polished execs are as smooth and slippery as politicians when they can put over that kind of claim in the face of this self evident visual rebuttal. What is the risk of damage to the computer when this kind of phallic adapter is inserted and then bumped or leveraged? I sit in my car while downloading in the field, not in some cute little coffee shop buying $5 lattes watching movies on a $4400 laptop.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

2016 MacBook Pro: SSD Speed

See my Mac wish list at B&H Photo and see all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo.

See all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models or see all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Jonathan P writes:

I'm sure you're aware that LaCie has announced a couple of new SSD RAID drives, one of which, the 2TB Bolt3, is said to approach read speeds of 2,800 MB/s, which I assume will outrun the new MacBook's internal SSD.

I take it you're not a fan of LaCie (not sure), but I've been using their portable Backup Plus Fast and 4TB Rugged RAID drives for several years without a single hitch. I also have a few 4TB LaCie desktop Porsche design hard drives that have also been reliable. I realize those are too slow and too small for the work you do, and not really configurable to your liking, but I'm just a hobbyist. If the Bolt3 didn't run $2,000, I might consider it. At the moment, I shoot with a LUMIX GH4 and downsample to 1080p for delivery to YouTube. I really appreciate all the work you do.

MPG: As I understand it, only the LaCie Bolt is an SSD, the others are hard-drive based. My confusion stems from the most obtusely written press release I can ever recall reading. Why companies write such stuff is baffling. The point is to communicate, and the press release is a failure that left me puzzling through it.

I have little experience with LaCie products, because I can’t review what I can’t easily obtain. My time is always under pressure, and if a company doesn’t want to respond quickly or seek me out, then I generally cannot afford to pursue dead ends or to waste my time justifying my request according to some generic rules-based process at Company X. Recommending products that I have not personally tested is a bad protocol for everyone, so I avoid that. Accordingly, I cannot recommend the LaCie Bolt, but by the same token I am not dis-recommending it. The foregoing is an open offer for the folks at LaCie to contact me and send me a LaCie Bolt and their other products for testing.

SSD speed

Apple is claiming 3GB/sec for the internal SSD of the 2016 MacBook Pro, which is faster than the LaCie Bolt claim. I say “claim” because performance is much more complex than one number. The 3000 MB/sec = 2.86 MiB/sec or 2800MB/sec = 2.67 MiB/sec figures are sustained throughput—best case with very large transfers.

Take a look at actual behavior in the graph below, which shows throughput (MiB/sec) versus transfer size*. The Apple and LaCie offerings are going to behave according to this same pattern. The quoted figures are best-case for large transfers only. Yet in the real world, typically 99% of transfers are ~1MB or smaller!

Accordingly, factors like latency and how many requests per second can be handled figure into actual real world performance.

As I understand it, latency is inherently higher over Thunderbolt 3 than the direct-connect PCIe bus of the internal SSD. Moreover I expect the Apple internal SSD to be a very high performance design. Therefore I expect the Apple internal SSD to outperform anything and everything.

What the Apple internal SSD is likely to be less good at is industrial-grade longevity (over provisioning and such). So peak speed alone is a poor metric by itself: for professional use a device must meet or exceed and sustain a critical performance metric, and be designed for 3 or 5 years of taking a beating. Thus a slower offering may well be a far superior choice for some applications.

* MiB = 1024 * 1024 and MB = 1000 * 1000

Example of SSD performance behavior below.

Transfer speed vs transfer size for OWC 960GB Aura SSD in MacBook Air
Cycling

2016 MacBook Pro: What Options I Ordered, and Why

See my Mac wish list at B&H Photo and see all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo. See all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models or see all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

MPG strongly recommends the 1TB or 2TB flash drive (SSD) option in the 2016 model because there is no way to achieve similar performance externally, at least not yet and maybe never.

This discussion is aimed at professional work and at those who just want the best. Notet that the “best” in a Mac Pro is not so clear-cut, but in a laptop it generally means adding all the options.

What matters, and why?

  • Memory on the 2016 MacBook Pro is soldered onto the logic board. No upgrade possibility—ever. So it is foolish to get only 8GB for any kind of professional use (Photoshop, Lightroom, video, etc). While 8GB is fine for web and email browsing and various non-demanding tasks, the rational for a top-end laptop is somewhat at odds with 8GB memory—a MacBook will do just fine for travel and so on. So if there is a real need for a MacBook Pro, 16GB just is the only sensible option.
  • The CPU speed is something you experience every day in every app, so the fastest CPU make sense. But the difference is only about 11% and thus hardly noticeable, so if the budget is tight, put the money into 16GB memory and/or larger SSD.
  • CPU cores: unless smaller size is of paramount concern (13" vs 15" model), 2 CPU cores (13" model) instead of 4 CPU cores is a very poor tradeoff, particularly with the escalating costs of a large SSD and 16GB memory and GPU upgrade. Ask yourself if saving 5% of the total cost for a slower CPU makes sense—it does not to me.
  • The SSD is in theory upgradeable, but that is costly even if (and that’s a big 'if') an upgrade could deliver the unprecedented 3GB/sec that Apple states. That kind of speed is as huge win, so don’t cut it tight on SSD capacity. 512MB must be considered an absolute minimum, but this is likely to prove unwise—go with the 1TB SSD, or 2TB if you like to carry additional stuff around like music or a lot of images and video footage. It saves a lot of hassle when on the road just to have it all there.
  • If you’re a Photoshop or Lightroom or video user or a gamer, the GPU upgrade is essential. Photoshop and Lightroom use the GPU increasingly, so this is now just as important as CPU speed in those programs.
  • The new Touchbar is hard to speak to; it is cool and nifty, but some users may prefer conventional function keys. Or that touchbar may prove useful over time as software is developed to make sensible use of it. Since the touchbar is omitted only for the starter model, it is not really relevant to this discussion.

In short, there are no real choices if using the MacBook Pro for professional work, except perhaps the 1TB vs 2TB SSD option. You just want a maxed-out 15" MacBook Pro or a maxed-out 13" MacBook Pro. But if the budget is tight and you still want a MacBook Pro and the cost is too high: go with 16GB and the largest SSD you can afford, sticking with the base CPU and base GPU options. You will still have a very find computer.

But wait, there’s more (cost), which raises the total system cost. Total everything up before making decisions above that may prove unwise.

Don’t forget adapters for compatibility.

Configuring the late 2016 Apple MacBook Pro for high performance

 

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

2016 MacBook Pro: the 16GB Memory Limit in the + CPU Speed vs Other Macs

See my Mac wish list at B&H Photo and see all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo.
See all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models or see all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Lawrence F writes:

What are your thoughts about the new MacBook Pro as it relates to Photoshop and Lightroom? Are 16 gigs of RAM enough?

MPG: for most users operating on up to half dozen images up to 50 megapixels (or perhaps even 100 megapixels), 16GB memory will get the job done. It may squeeze other applications if one works as I do with multiple apps all at once. However, the compressed virtual memory feature of OS X El Capitan and macOS Sierra is very effective at making 16GB work more like something closer to 24GB as compared to ealier OS releases—but if and only if the memory usage is amenable to compression, so it all depends. Still, let’s say that 16GB is the new 20GB in operational terms.

With the 2016 MacBook Pro, there is a mitigating factor that plays a VERY large role: the speed of virtual memory swapping. If I understand correctly (to be tested and proven once I get my 2016 MBP with its 2TB SSD), the internal flash drive (SSD) in the 2016 MBP approaches something like 3000 MB/sec (3 GB/sec) and presumably also has very low latency with its PCIe based SSD. With very low latency and high bandwidth, the effects of low memory and the accompanying virtual memory swapping will be mitigated to an unprecedented degree, greatly muting the performance hit of having only 16GB. Of course nothing beats having 32GB or 64GB of real memory.

MPG strongly recommends the 1TB or 2TB option in the 2016 model because there is no way to achieve similar performance externally, at least not yet and maybe never.

Shootouts from the 2015 MacBook Pro vs the 2013 MacBook Pro where the only significant difference is SSD performance show huge gains:

Ian K writes:

As a long time subscriber, I very much appreciate the quality of information presented on your site.

Like you and many other subscribers, I have been waiting “forever" for Apple to replace the Mac Pro. I am still using my old 2010 model purchased on your then recommendations and it has served me well with a few minor upgrades. I held off on the 2013 “trashcan” because I, like many others, thought Apple would be upgrading it soon; 2015..! 2016..!

Compounding the situation was the ever increasing power of the Mac Book Pro lineup which offered an alternative. The solution; wait until Apple looks after their original core users; professionals and prosumers, and releases an amazing new Mac Pro. Looks like the “team” at Apple tasked with this are still out to lunch.!

Which brings me to the current dilemma. If we assume that a new Mac Pro is not on the cards anytime soon, how does the new 2016 15in Mac Book Pro (high-end model) hold up against a 2013 Mac Pro for normal photographic use; Lightroom, Photoshop, etc? Is there going to be a huge difference in performance?

MPG: I’ll be testing to answer such questions specifically.

Unless a laptop is needed, I’d say go with the late 2015 iMac 5K: faster CPU and a 5K display are a big win—for less money. Right now, USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 have little to nothing to offer for desktop users except port compatibility hassles.

But assuming a laptop is the choice—first, see the above discussion of flash drive (SSD) speed. I expect the 2016 MacBook Pro to show modest performance gains vs the 2015 model: faster SSD plus slightly faster CPU and memory system. It depends on software however; internal bottlenecks in Photoshop or Lightroom may mute actual gains. Moreover the those programs use the GPU heavily now, and it’s not clear to me how powerful the GPU is in the 2016 MacBook Pro.

Still, I would say this as the bottom line: most users are likely to find the 2016 MacBook Pro shockingly fast and quite competitive with the 2013 Mac Pro. That’s assuming work that doesn’t push beyond what 16GB memory can handle and/or tasks that don’t benefit strongly from the 6 or 8 or 10 or 12 CPU cores possible in a Mac Pro (excluding specialty filters, Photoshop and Lightroom hardly use 4 cores well for most tasks). For example, Lightroom “Import” benefits from 8 CPU cores, but the slower clock speed and older CPU design of the 2013 Mac Pro (and slower SSD) means that actual gains are relatively modest. There are other considerations with only 4 CPU cores, but for most users these may not be a primary considerations.

Upgrade Your Mac Memory
At much lower cost than Apple, with more options.
Lloyd recommends 64GB for iMac or Mac Pro for photography/videography.
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

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