When the rumor mill started churning out stories about an updated MacBook Pro, we were very excited. After all, the previous generation of powerful laptop workstations had grown rather long in the tooth. The 2015 models used Broadwell (13-inch) and Haswell (15-inch) processors, both several generations old. While those processors were still quick enough, they used more energy and ran hotter than the newer Skylake processors available last year.
Now that Apple has updated the MacBook Pro (MBP) lineup, we’re left scratching our heads.
The new computers use Skylake processors, so they’re still a year behind the newest Kaby Lake architecture seen in new Windows 10 machines. Raw performance compared to last year’s base specs MBP is not significantly better.
We have some other qualms too. The keyboard, which feels a lot like the 12" MacBook, is another casualty of putting form before function. And to add insult to injury, the price shot up dramatically.
What do you get in return? Thinner and lighter computers with NONE of the ports you’ve relied on in the past. And a Touch Bar if you really fork up the dough.
Let’s focus on the ports. The base model 13-inch comes with two USB C / Thunderbolt 3 ports. One of those is for charging, so you have a single available port most of the time. If you have old USB flash drives, external hard drives, printers, and other accessories, you have to buy a dongle to use those.
The HDMI port? Also gone, but there’s a dongle for that too.
SD Card reader? I hope you have a bag for all these dongles.
Luckily, the headphone jack remains, but if the iPhone 7 is any indicator, that may disappear in the next iteration of “Pro” laptops.
There are some positives to the design overhaul. Weight has been shaved down to 3 pounds for the 13-inch model and it’s just over half an inch thick. The new Touch Bar with Touch ID is a welcome addition, especially for creative professionals, but a 13-inch model with the Touch Bar and base level specs starts at $1799. Even the base 13-inch model WITHOUT the Touch bar is $1499, $200 higher than the previous entry level MacBook Pro.
If money is no object, read on. The 15” models are definitely more powerful than their predecessors and they include robust graphics options. For power users and media professionals, the 15” MBP configured to its maximum specifications is a workhorse. Of course, you may have to take on a second mortgage to cover the list price of $4,299.
In short, the new MacBook Pro is overpriced and underpowered in its low level configurations. For the average user the new MBP just doesn’t make financial sense. The improvements to form factor and battery life are offset by the tremendous cost bump, loss of ports, and modest performance improvements.