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Brief Notes on new Apple MacBook Pro

I read the new specs quickly, but can’t find anything really all that interesting— brief notes on the newly revised 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros announced today:

  • 13-inch model can now be configured with 16GB memory (at time of purchase only!), which makes it into a much more useful machine, though it is still limited to two CPU cores, which makes it sluggish for many photography tasks, such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
  • 15-inch model is a nice incremental update, but mostly a yawner, and it’s not clear that the new 2.6 GHz processor is even as fast as my existing 2.7 GHz processor.
  • PCIe flash storage is a good thing, but consider that if the prior model flash storage was taking 10% of task time and the PCIe storage is twice as fast, you’re not going perceptually faster (e.g., 10 seconds of which 1 second is I/O, now 0.5 seconds = 9.5 seconds). There are always good exceptions, but in general, the PCIe flash won’t show up as more than incrementally better over existing flash storage for many uses.
  • The base config of 512GB flash storage is “about time”. PCIe flash upgrade to 1TB for $500 is very reasonable in context, but not needed for the vast majority of users. Oddly, the new 2013 Mac Pro starts at 256GB flash.
  • Bummer that MacBook Air still does not have a Retina display.
  • Claims of graphics performances are meaningless hype for all photography work I do (and I do a lot of it). However, the GPU speed could show very substantial gains for video applications run on the MacBook Pro, and there can be specialized photography tasks that also benefit.
  • When empty words like “superfast” make an appearance, watch your wallet.
  • Long-lasting battery is a big plus for some users. Would that Apple provided comparative figures for the exiting model.
  • Faster Wi-Fi is all good, but nothing beats wired internet for solid and reliable performance.

Summary: perfectly fine incremental upgrades, but upgrading my existing 2.7 GHz MacBook Pro Retina won’t offer any meaningful gains for anything I do, at home or on the road. But if you don’t have a Retina model, this might be the time to get one.

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