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

Mac wish list all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photoall 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.

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