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2017 MacBook Pro vs My 2015 MacBook Pro

Mac wish listall 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2017 modelsMPG gets credit if you buy through those links.
MPG tested a fully-loaded 2017 MacBook Pro with 1TB SSD.
Suggested accessories include the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, the 1TB Envoy Pro EX.

The 2017 MacBook Pro top-end laptop sits here on my desk on loan from B&H Photo. Next to it is my trusty top-end 2015 MacBook Pro.

As the tests show, the 2017 Apple MacBook has little to offer in terms of performance over the 2015 MacBook Pro.

But beyond performance, I prefer my 2015 MacBook Pro:

  • Keyboard on 2015 model vastly better for my typing, versus the chiclet keyboard on the 2017.
  • Trackpad on the 2017 is so large as to be a nuisance.
  • The touchbar remains a useless nuisance.
  • The dongle hassle with the 2016/2017 MacBook Pro is as problematic as ever; the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is highly recommended (picture below).
  • Strange performance hiccups with the 2017 model, but never with the 2015.

Put another way: if it were a free exchange (217 for 2015), I’d keep my 2015 MacBook Pro. It’s just better for my usage, and with the BatPower charger for my car (for 2016/2017 or for 2015/2014/2013), the charging issue of USB-C vs older models is a moot point.

Check OWC used Macs for great deals on used Macs, for example used 2014/2015 MacBook Pro at OWC. The 2014 MacBook Pro is little different from the 2015.

B&H Photo still has new 2015 MacBook Pro models for sale, I recommend 512GB SSD (1TB better but they may be out). But I think buyers are better off getting MacBook Pro with 1TB SSB from OWC.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock for 2016 or 2017 MacBook Pro

If going with the 2016 or 2017 MacBook Pro, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock has been a godsend in hooking up the 2017 MacBook Pro for desktop use (not for out and about, as it requires AC power). Comparing to the cost of a bag full of adapters, its cost is less than it seems, and its functionality much more convenient.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock port layout

Eric L writes:

Thank you for your exhaustive comparisons.

I owned a 2015 15" MBP max specs but sold it because it was too noisy: I like a quiet environment, especially when watching a movie (VLC) or more importantly listen to music (real top hifi).

I also own a 2015 13"MBP: less noisy (though fans kick in fast with VLC app), but Summer in Japan is quite hot and sooner or later the fans rotate faster. What about your experience with the 2017 models? I'm sacrificing speed for silence, I already sold a 5K iMac as well. Fan is OK, but not permanently.

MPG: the 2017 MacBook Pro is much more quiet than the 2015 model.

Robin K writes:

Lloyd, first just a general comment thanking you (again) for your excellent investigative reports. I did buy a 2016 MBP, but returned it shortly after purchase. Hated the keyboard. And I found that my 2012 model was not that much less powerful. So I bought a basic 2015 model - it's terrific. Keep up the good work.

MPG: a common sentiment regarding the keyboard.


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