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New Apple MacBook Pro (updated with comments, updated again with solutions)

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.

The new MadBook Pro might be what it is called given the cost for this configuration.

But given Thunderbolt 3 and my need for it for testing all sorts of products plus my storage problems in the field with a 512GB flash drive, I’m not about to make the same mistake I did with my late 2013 MacBook Pro. So I maxed-out the SSD (flash drive) and went whole hog on the CPU and GPU. Still no 32GB option for Apple’s top-end laptop—that rankles. I may cancel my iPhone 7 Plus order, because I can’t afford to dump that much moolah into Apple (and I can live with the iPhone 6s Plus anyway).

I expect that B&H Photo will have the new Apple 2016 MacBook Pro available for pre-order soon (no sales tax outside of NY). Thanks for using that link to buy.

Continues below, with comments.

late 2016 Apple MacBook Pro top-end config
OWC USB-C to USB adapter

Genius design does not mean practical elegance

For additional and varied viewpoints, see this collection of quotes and links on the 2016 MacBook Pro.

Form over function brings with it some very inelegant challenges. These are not a big deal for desktop use, but I’m writing this sitting in my car in the mountains, and all this adapter stuff brings the risk of forgetting the adapters and the very limited working space in an already packed car.

  • No SD card slot. an external card reader is required in the field when photographing, I use the SD card slot every day multiple times. But to use the card readers I have, I have to use another dongle as well: a USB-C to USB dongle.
  • No direct compatibility with USB: an adapter to plug in a USB3 SSD I use for backups is also needed. And a USB-C to USB adapter for my iPhone and/or a Lightning to USB-C cable.
  • [desktop use] No gigabit ethernet port (this was true of prior model also)—so one more dongle. That’s not so bad, since it’s for desktop (not travel use), but it’s one more dangly dongle.
  • [desktop use] No direct support for Thunderbolt 2: users will need to purchase Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapters simply to use any existing peripherals or displays (Mini Display Port).
  • [desktop use] No direct display support: users will need to purchase Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapters simply to use any existing peripherals or displays (Mini Display Port).

For me, that's at least four (4) dongles, where only the ethernet adapter was needed with the 2013 MacBook Pro. I also use function keys, and fortunately those seem to be available via the Touch Bar:

Reader Glenn C reports that: “the touch bar can display traditional function keys. It does so automatically when an app has no need for special touch controls, when the "fn" key is pressed, or when in BootCamp. You can also choose to always show function keys via a preferences setting.”

The people at Apple no longer understand what is desirable in a high-end computer for professional users; a $2300 - $4500 MacBook Pro is not a starter laptop and no one needs such a high-end device for web and email—but professional users do. Apparently (as per media reports), Tim Cook thinks everyone should just use an iPad, that there is little need for any computer any more. Which captures the mind-set driving current designs. So I think he is out of touch with what traditional professionals want and need. His iPad view (“who needs a computer”) may be quite valid in a general sense, but then why build a MacBook Pro at all? Isn’t market differentiation sensible (a true high end computer offering)? Apple is a business, and if the decision is that professional users don’t count for much if anything (this is probably true in a revenue sense!), then the product lineup makes perfect sense. Apple will lose segments of the pro market, just as its iPhone business peaks. Maybe that is not a wise course. The computer market has stagnated, but not just because of iPad—the functionality of computers has stagnated when it ought to be expanding.

Apple’s Tim Cook, from the Telegraph article:

“I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?”, asks Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive....

Is that clueless or what? Tim Cook is apparently so myopic that he cannot even conceptualize the needs of professionals like me. It speaks to a willful ignorance bordering on contempt for professional users, with years of evidence (specific actions by Apple) to support that idea. Not everyone is a dilettante consumer sitting around listening to music or watching movies or tapping a few emails or a few input taps—that’s the consumer crowd, albeit the large majority. But some of us produce content and/or get complex tasks done. We need to get serious work done for which the iPad is a bad joke—like suggesting moving the contents of your home to another state using a bicycle. This is not funny; it is an ignorant and insulting bad joke for those of us who need solid capable hardware.

When I receive this new MacBook Pro I will review it, then mull over returning it since my 2013 MacBook Pro still gets the job done very well. But perhaps the faster and larger SSD and a bit more performance and a wider gamut screen in the new model will be so impressive that they will win me over as compensation for the aggravation of carrying a bag 'o dongles along for basic functionality. Also, if it’s the only Thunderbolt 3 Mac coming for a while, I will be forced to keep it, for testing Thunderbolt 3 products that should be coming in early 2017.

I’d be a lot happier if Apple included *adapters in the box* for a $2200 to $4500 laptop the following: (a) SD card reader, (b) gigabit ethernet adapter, (c) Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, (d) Mini DisplayPort adapter. OWC will deliver a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 Dock similar to their existing OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock and OWC USB-C Dock, but those are strictly desktop products, not for on the road where there is no AC power.

Some users might be better off buying a discounted prior model top-end MacBook Pro (when the discounts pop up). On the other hand, this is progress—USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are here to say, and are the future.


See this compatibility page.

Adrian C writes:

I have no need for a lap top but I do have a need for a powerful upgradeable desktop. Sadly Apple seem to have lost all interest in their proffesional and advanced amateur users. If you fit into either of these categories then it is clear that there is now little option but to abandon Apple just as it has abandoned its loyal users.

I have been using Macs for over 30 years and I am sure there are people who have been using them even longer but I am now at the end of my tether with Apple. Every OS update is dumbed down, has core functionality removed and stupid user interface decisions taken. Most of Apple's software is increasingly unreliable and they will decide to abandon it on a whim - Aperture is a good example here.

I have invested a lot of money and effort into Apple products over the years but I am now seriously considering a move to the other side. I know Windows is far from perfect but at least I can buy a desktop PC which can be built to my requirements and will be upgradeable for years to come. I have an original Mac Pro sitting idle for the simple reason that Apple in its wisdom decided to equip it with hard wired 32-bit efi. Who on earth would sell a 64-bit capable machine that can only boot with 32-bits. Well done Apple, I think that was probably the start of your core rot.

Of course, if I do move to Window there will be little point in owning an iPad or an iPhone so that will be more sales they will lose.

MPG: the trend.

José S writes:

Don’t forget you also lose the function keys. As a software developer its a HUGE lose for me… It seems my 2011 MBP will be my last laptop. Next one will be a Surface Book almost for sure…

MPG: reader Glenn C reports tha: “the touch bar can display traditional function keys. It does so automatically when an app has no need for special touch controls, when the "fn" key is pressed, or when in BootCamp. You can also choose to always show function keys via a preferences setting.”

Jordi I writes:

I’m thinking like you about new MacBook Pro. Recently as soon I have readed some rumors about the new keyboard in MacBook Pro, new USB-C ports, I was to Apple Store to check the butterfly keyboard in the little MacBook, and WTF!!!... typing with this stuff is like pressing the iPhone home button... serveral misstyping inadvertised until I look to screen (I’m thinking about this professionals that need write a lot, journalism, screenwriter, writers, will be screwed with another adaptor to connect a real keyboard and carry with it).

Inmediatedly I made an economic effort and I have ordered a Macbook retina 15” top config. I don’t want to complicate my life and work with an amount of adaptors, when It easy that you need in some work to connect an USB stick, any RS-232 adaptor, some config switch, any card reader, update firmware on some Blackmagic devices, etc etc (This is my usual work).

And about thunderbolt 3... I like to know what device can use the 40 Gb/s that you can review out of a graphic card, because any HDD case barely top out the Thunderbolt 1 performance (Only +4 SSD). Maybe will be good to daisy chain, but screw this with Thunberbolt 1-2 devices that anybody can own.

Apple is lossing the perception that many people used their products to work not to play to be the most “cool”, I can undestand this approach to mobile phones, ipads... but with 4000 $ equipment. This is a part of that you name it rightly “Apple CoreRot” :)

I’m loosing in my work the feeling of blind faith to suggest to a customer a solution based on Macs and thinking in HP Z840 when performance is needed. In my work I have customers that have heavy requeriments in video editing, and when there are some high end NAS involved, there are too much problems with Mac performance, because SMB. Some appliances that have Avid project/media sharing do the trick with VFS modules in SAMBA, and you know how SMB performs between Mac and other platforms.

The problem is that Mac is still more pleasant to work in general than Windows, but every time that Apple releases any new release takes away a bit of the good that has... and is like any cut some part of a body every time... until it becomes nothing.

Every time I have readed some comments and posts of you about Apple CoreRot is like you can read my mind from several miles ago.

I’m following your forum from 2009. You’re doing a great job.

MPG: I guess I’m not the only one who feels bitchy about it.

Jared M writes:

Seeing the trajectory Apple seems to still be on, of continuing decrease in quality coinciding with continuing increase in pricing, at what point do we consider saying enough of this madness? Yes there is a feeling of permanence in "switching", and only Windows offers the same consumer applications that many of us want to use (which has it's own host of problems) but it seems like Apple wants to get out of the tools market. What is the other explanation? The only thing I can think of is the top execs are truly buffoons who don't understand how vital stable and powerful computers are to so many working professionals (I am a programmer myself).

The sad thing is it's so easy to envision an Apple that is not only producing great phones but still leading the way with world class workstations and pro software. They have the resources, but they are throwing it away on silly watches and failed car projects.

At the current rate I feel like a switch down the road will become inevitable for me, and that makes me sad.

MPG: it’s self-evident that Apple does not consider professional users a meaningful market segment. That does not make them buffoons, but it does generate tremendous ill will, even if from only a “small” market segment (small because Apple has made it so, IMO).

Glenn C writes:

I'm sure there are others with different designs, that one is just one that I had seen in person. I am excited to have a wider gamut when I am on the road.

I find it interesting that the NEW Microsoft SurfaceBook with Professional Base (not yet shipping) has the following ports: SD card, 2 USB 3, headphone jack, and mini-DisplayPort... just like a Macbook Pro 4 years ago. I use Windows 10 laptops almost every day, and the worst part of the experience remains terrible trackpad behavior... if MS fixes that with some of their new trackpad interface software, they might close the gap... but a long way to go.

The hysteria of "this is my last Mac, I am going to Windows" reminds me of when Apple dropped the floppy, the CD drive, etc. The grass always looks greener until you hop over the fence and wind up in the weeds.”

MPG: wider gamut in the new MBP is a big plus indeed. And maybe pushes me over the top on the new MBP in term of acceptance.

But as I write this, I am sitting in my car up in the mountains, 250 miles from home. With the new MBP, I will have to cart along a bag 'o adapters, and I had better not forget them or I won’t be able to process my images, or back them up. So I’ll probably have to buy two SD card readers, just in case I forget one and/or one fails (plus an adapter for a CF card reader). The additional cost involved amounts to several hundred dollars for all my needs.

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