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So, I'm buying a new MacBook. Question is, which one?

over 2 years ago from , Digital Product Designer

Hello community,

I'm an happy MacOS user, and because I have to return it to its original user, I'm now facing a dilemma; I can't decide which MacBook (or not) to buy.

I've been watching reviews, reading specs comparisons, etc, of the latest versions of Macbook Pro; none, and every review is different, and when it comes to buying a piece of hardware so expensive, you better have your 2 kidneys ready.

Speaking for myself, and what I have in mind: I have an Asus ROG GL502VS, which I use for different matters. This laptop can be "transformed" into MacOS. Not the same experience, and future updates/vulnerabilities are something that makes think twice.

The new Macbook Pro 15" with Touch Bar is quite expensive, but in the other hand, you'll have a great piece of hardware in your hands, ready to use everytime you open the lid. I thought about the 13" Macbook Pro as well, but because I'll be moving around quite often, I'd not make use of a separete display and desk, if bought.

I'm currently using my Macbook Pro to play with Sketch, Framer, Principle, Final Cut, Cinema 4D, Adobe Creative Suite, and to browse the web.

My question is, if you own the newer version of Macbook Pro 15", does it worth the money? Would you have bought something different (other version)? What do you use it for?

Thanks everyone :)

50 comments

  • Tom ReinertTom Reinert, over 2 years ago

    I recently bought a macbook pro, despite being sceptical at first about the hardware and specs.

    Turns out: It's a beautiful machine and I would recommend it to everyone. Yes, it's expensive, but once you bought it, you can stop worrying about specs and start to work on a powerful and reliable computer.

    Hope that helps.

    16 points
    • Luis da SilvaLuis da Silva, over 2 years ago

      Thanks for your tip, Tom.

      Speaking about hardware, is the Macbook that faster, compared to previous versions?

      2 points
      • Tom ReinertTom Reinert, over 2 years ago

        I can only compare it to my last computer, a 2011 Macbook Air. So yes, it's about a million times faster ;)

        For everyday design work – Sketch, Photoshop, Indesign – it just works without any lagging or delay. Fast enough for me.

        0 points
        • Luis da SilvaLuis da Silva, over 2 years ago

          That's great to know :) Thanks again!

          0 points
        • Rafa Camargo, over 2 years ago

          Cool, but air isn't really a good computer to compare to, it categorize as a netbook. The new MBP does look cool and great hardware, but the lack of ports is a big deal in my opinion. Gl

          0 points
          • Cory MalnarickCory Malnarick, over 2 years ago

            I worked on a MBA for a year as a freelance UX designer just fine. It would slow down on larger sketch files, but it was doable. It isn't purely a netbook, perhaps a netbook to someone expecting every laptop to be capable of particle physics.

            1 point
    • Luke Fiji, over 2 years ago

      Same here. I used to use all Windows computers and laptops and bought the late 2016 15" Touchbar MBP and love it. As a developer, I can't see myself going back to Windows unless I build a desktop

      1 point
    • Ed HoxhaEd Hoxha, over 2 years ago

      Bought the new mac book pro loaded to the max, tested it for a few days and realized it doesn't perform a lot better compared to my old late 2013 macbook pro, so I returned it. Will purchase a new macbook pro only if I can get 32Gb + RAM.

      2 points
  • Ktrn DsrsKtrn Dsrs, over 2 years ago

    The previous generation of MBP is still available here: apple.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro?product=MJLQ2LL/A&step=config

    this will allow you to have a muscle config without the hastles of the damn dongles for the fraction of the price ;)

    11 points
    • Sam SolomonSam Solomon, over 2 years ago

      If you're sure you want a laptop, I think this is a good answer. I've got this MBP for work and don't want to carry around dongles from meeting room to meeting room.

      Alternatively, for personal use I decided to purchase a new 5k iMac and I absolutely love the machine. The screen on that computer is unreal.

      3 points
    • John PJohn P, over 2 years ago

      This machine is the pinnacle of Apple laptops, even the branding is far superior on it. Really not looking forward to having to replace mine with one of the newer models some day.

      1 point
  • Nemanja NenadicNemanja Nenadic, over 2 years ago

    Recently I bought a 2017 15" MBP with touch bar.

    Here's my 0.02$.

    It's as great as any previous Mac I've owned and faster ofc but...

    1. I don't like new keyboard (but unless you want a Windows PC you'll have to get used to it because they are not going back to old ones). It's not like it's the worst keyboard ever but previous ones were way nicer. This one just looks better but that's it. Having that said, it's not a deal breaker. It's just a step back in my opinion.
    2. Touch bar. It's pretty much useless. Yeah, you can do a lot of stuff on touch bar and first two hours everything looks great as it's a new toy but after that you'll be pretty much bored. I consider myself advanced user who uses keyboard shortcuts for 90% of things I don on my Mac. So, if you're not that kind of user you might even like it, not sure. All I know is I don't. Also, if you're like me, doing front end development, you'll hate the missing physical escape key.
    3. I hate new, enlarged trackpad. I get a lot of misclicks while typing but I hope I'll get used to it.
    4. Everything else is pretty much great and display is X times better than the already great one on my previous late 2013 Retina MBP.

    P.S. I'm a Mac user since 2008 so this may affect my review a bit. If you're coming from a Windows notebooks this might not be something that'll bother you.

    By the way, did I say how gorgeous new screen is?

    6 points
  • Tropical HoochTropical Hooch, over 2 years ago

    Luis, get a gently used 2015 MBP with maxed out specs. You'll pay half the price and get a solid machine that you can use for the next 3-5 years. This is what I did and I'm super happy.

    4 points
  • Spencer JSpencer J, over 2 years ago

    Just got a Kaby Lake 15" Touchbar MBP with base processor and upgraded GPU.

    Upgraded from a 13" early-2015 MBP.

    Overall it's quite zippy, and feels/looks nice. I'm happy I upgraded and did TONS of comparative shopping. There's no better hardware on the market, except GIANT gaming laptops, which have way more portability tradeoffs than I'm willing to accept. It really is the best that's out right now.

    Thunderbolt 3 isn't really ready because the ecosystem to support it doesn't yet exist.

    There are only 2 Thunderbolt 3 docks (Kensington and Elgato) that you can even buy that will let you have a single-cable plugin solution, and virtually no displays support Thunderbolt 3 (with the notable exception of the LGs that Apple sells).

    I hate the touchbar, I think because I don't have a video workflow. I prefer physical function keys and a physical escape key, but I think I'll get over missing them. It's really annoying that the touchbar doesn't have the same resolution as the screen, and all the icons look blurry to me.

    I looked at dozens of different laptops before I made my choice (including Thinkpad, XPS, a 12" Macbook, Yoga, that new Microsoft one with the cheapo fabric, etc), and I am confident it's the right choice and the most futureproof machine.

    Just be prepared to carry tons of dongles for the next year or two.

    3 points
    • Luis da SilvaLuis da Silva, over 2 years ago

      Hey Spencer, what an awesome piece of advice / feedback; thanks for that! :100: I guess you really did your homework on selling me out the new MacBook :)

      More than anything, this is something inevitable which I'll have to buy.

      So, talking about displays, if I ever have to connect the Macbook to an external display (other than LG or Apple), can I use an adaptor? #donglelife

      0 points
      • Spencer JSpencer J, over 2 years ago

        I just wrote a post about this very question, actually! :-)

        Basically there aren't very many Thunderbolt 3 displays outside of the Apple ones, and the USB-C displays aren't great.

        I'm not sold that the Apple 5k display is the best format, and it annoys me that it doesn't offer gigabit ethernet and I'd have to buy ANOTHER adapter. I also don't want 2 4K displays, but maybe I'm just a whiner.

        You can use an adapter to connect the Macbook to an external display, but usually you have to use 2 adapters, one for power, and one for Thunderbolt 3 to DisplayPort. If the display you're using supports HDMI you're in luck, but most of the high-quality displays seem to be DP-only. :-(

        0 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 2 years ago

    I have bought the 2017 MBP without the shitty touchbar and I am the most happy customer of the world.

    2 points
  • Barbara M.Barbara M., over 2 years ago

    Uhm, I'm a designer, and I used MacBooks Pro for years and years. My last MacBook Pro was the 15" early-2014 model, and two months ago my company sent me the latest MacBook Pro, 15", highest specs. I was expecting a huge improvement that to be honest didn't happen, so in a certain way I'm quite disappointed. If before I could use the trackpad to design things on the fly, now it's almost impossible to use, especially holding something by pressing with the thumb while moving the index finger it's very much harder, shaky result and so on. The surface of the trackpad is way too big and too close to the edges. I can't chill anymore on a beanbag with the laptop on my stomach, because my hoodie now ends on top of the trackpad. I heard many people complaining about all types of problems with that, also keys that don't work well.

    I personally find the touch bar really annoying, apart from a few useful buttons (when you remember they exist) it's a UX disaster. I often press something by mistake, for instance, I was used to rest my finger on the Esc button but obviously now as you hover on it you trigger an action. It takes 5 seconds to turn down the volume because pressing the button just opens the volume slider—in a different position— and doesn't actually turn down the volume.

    All programs seem to perform at the same level of my previous computer (pretty well), maybe a little bit better but not much. I use Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere and 3bn of tabs open on Chrome, and all that stuff.

    What to say? It's a great machine, but IMHO if you can find the previous model you might as well go for that.

    2 points
    • Jackson AlsopJackson Alsop, over 2 years ago

      It takes 5 seconds to turn down the volume because pressing the button just opens the volume slider—in a different position— and doesn't actually turn down the volume.

      Just as a heads up – you don't need to do this. You can just rest your finger on the volume icon and, without lifting it, move left or right to adjust the volume. Same with the brightness icon.

      0 points
  • Gavin AnthonyGavin Anthony, over 2 years ago

    I bought the 2016 space gray macbook pro when it first came out. First one I got had a few malfunctioning keys and I was able to get it exchanged. Now the replacement I got is starting to make popping/cracking noises constantly. I know others that have had hardware issues too. I hope they've gotten better, but I think the build quality is poor, considering I've owned many generations of macs with 0 problems. Just thought I'd share this experience.

    Power-wise they run great, the design is very sharp, and the p3 display is really awesome. I would just recommend getting applecare+ if you are considering getting one.

    1 point
    • Luis da Silva, over 2 years ago

      Sorry to hear that, buddy. I can relate with that; my current MacBook heat up for no reason, and, even tho when it's cold, the fans starts to enter airplane mode.

      Thanks for your sharing your feedback / experience; Applecare+ is something I've never thought about, and I might consider from now on.

      1 point
  • Ketan Anjaria, over 2 years ago

    The number one rule with Apple redesigns is to wait a generation or two while the kinks get worked out. If you travel at all the 13" is way better for portability. I still use my 2014 MacBook 13" and have not seen the need to upgrade (and I usually upgrade whenever I can).

    1 point
  • Aaron Wears Many HatsAaron Wears Many Hats, over 2 years ago

    I just wish their "Pro" machines could actually handle a professional workflow properly.

    I still run a late-2015 MBP 15" retina i5. Ok machine, not as good as my previous i7, but looking back that was a while ago now. I'm in the same boat - need a new machine, but I don't feel the hardware specs are worth the money.

    Hear me out - I'm a mac user since early 2000, I love the things. I really miss my G5 powermac lol. But I don't see the new features that the latest MBP bring are going to be of value to me.

    • Screen: Everyone comments on how lovely the screen is, but I have two huge cinema screens it gets plugged into when I get to the office - so a slightly moot point

    • Touch bar: I don't feel I'd ever use it, as I plug a mechanical keyboard in most of the time

    • NOT ENOUGH RAM. I don't care who says otherwise lol.

    • Not enough GPU options

    Now, while these are definite issues for me, I'll likely end up sal-sacking another MBP, because hey that's what you do when the entire company uses macs. But I'll be whinging the whole way to and from the Apple store :P

    1 point
  • G Juchault, over 2 years ago

    Hi :) Bought a MacBook Pro 13" without touchbar, Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, all works pretty well pretty fast. I'm not sure it would be ok for video editing, I'd go for a GPU (ie. MacBook Pro 15" with graphic card).

    1 point
  • Account deleted over 2 years ago

    My wife got a max-spec'd 13" with touchbar and it is one of the worst products I've had the misfoturne of using. For context, I'm on my second macbook, and third iphone, its her third macbook etc. It is laggy, takes forever to wake up, the touchbar is unresponsive 40% of the time, for some reason tags in OSX no longer have colours, thus rendering them useless. I could go on. Do not buy this macbook.

    1 point
    • Nemanja NenadicNemanja Nenadic, over 2 years ago

      I have no similar problems. Touchbar works smooth (although I stopped using it almost completely after few days). macOS has no problems at all. Works like any previous Mac. I have dislike of keyboard and touchbar as I stated in my post up there but that's a dislike not a malfunctioning thing.

      0 points
      • Account deleted over 2 years ago

        Yeah it's really weird. Every other peice of apple hardware ive owned has been good, but this macbook is fucking terrible. Every day it amazes me with how shit it is. It even seems to be slower than her old dual core 13" MBP. It is odd.

        0 points
  • Dinis Baz, over 2 years ago

    I think 15" too big, especially if you wanna take it everywhere. I bought 13" with touch bar and I like it. Honestly, touch bar is not so great feature as I wanted, but I hope Apple update experience in new OS.

    0 points
  • Kishore SKishore S, over 2 years ago

    If it helps, i just bought the non-touchbar 15" MBP. I use tools like Sketch/PS/Illustrator for the most part.

    If the latest one's had all the ports as the old one, without the touchbar, that'd easily be my first choice. Sadly, it isn't.

    And yes, i am not disappointed with the performance despite having an older version, its blazing fast!

    0 points
  • Jack VeigaJack Veiga, over 2 years ago

    I switch to a Late 2016 15" MBP from a Mid 2012 15" MBP and I did notice some improvements, especially when handling graphics on a WQHD external display.

    Clearly a more refined machine with fewer problems (no display warm yellowish tint and no scroll lag). The keyboard doesn't bother me, I'm used to mechanical.

    I was apprehensive about buying it at first because it looked like I was just spending money and not getting that much of an upgrade, but no regrets. The only thing that still bitters me is not having 32GB RAM (Apple has its reasons), but well can't win them all.

    0 points
  • Mantas MilkintasMantas Milkintas, over 2 years ago

    I am currently owning Macbook Pro Late 2012 13" i5 128 GB SSD 8GB Ram. I bought machine couple of years ago, used. But it was in very good condition thus running smoothly. Currently I am looking for an upgrade and I was looking for either Mac or Hackintosh.

    Read a bunch of reviews and these are my main findings:

    • MB as always is great, but f-ing expensive. This speculated because of Touch Bar introduction which is relatively new technology, making it expensive.

    • Other alternatives which would be less expensive and even have better performance were: -- Del XPS 9560 Only old model of 9550 is available to Hackintosh. The Hackintosh for new model will be available only after quite some time. -- Razer Blade Really nicely priced model and has the same case as MacBook only Black and different logo. No Hackintosh is available for newest model, so this was a bummer.

    -Hackintosh. In general this is still a hack and will provide with the issues you stated before. So this has a downside.

    -New MacBook Pro 2017 15" 512SSD 16GB Radeon Beast of the machine, but what I've read performance if not the same as the two year old MacBook, could be even worse. Plus the price tag jumps from premium to insane category.

    • Macbook Pro 2015 15" 512SSD 16GB Radeon This is my choice currently. I am planning to buy a couple of years old MB and wait to see for the new version of MB. I keep my fingers crossed that the new prices for MB will drop at least a bit. As well I can keep open eyes for Hackintoshes for XPS and Razer.
    0 points
  • Josiah TullisJosiah Tullis, over 2 years ago

    Like many others here I recently made the jump back to Windows and have been quite please. With the exception of Sketch, I don't miss anything about MBP.

    0 points
  • Kevin SuttleKevin Suttle, over 2 years ago

    My new employer got me early 2017 model MBP: 15", with Touch Bar. It's super fast, and can handle running a high-end graphics game in an emulator, something my 2015 MBAir chugged doing.

    The keyboard is very responsive and springy, but the noise level of the keys does take some getting used to. At first, it feels like a scene from a movie where someone is typing obnoxiously loud. I'm very aware of it when I'm not working alone.

    The touch bar I only use for 1Password/TouchID. I also use it for volume and brightness control, but only because I have to. The lack of the physical feedback esc key is still foreign after a month of use. To be honest, most of the time I forget it's even there, as I suspect most touch-typers do.

    The display is gorgeous. The bezel is smaller around the screen and the SF font on the keyboard is a nice touch.

    The force trackpad I still have a hard time dragging and dropping with. It's not the extra pressure that's the problem for me. It's the more nuanced gestures and light touches.

    Overall, it's the best laptop I've owned, though I'm not sure I'd opt for the touch bar if I were to purchase one myself. Then again, I think it depends on your age and experience.

    0 points
  • Stuart McCoyStuart McCoy, over 2 years ago

    Buy the most powerful one you can afford. It should last you a long time (I'm still using my 17" mid-2010 MBP).

    0 points
  • Erhan D'SilvaErhan D'Silva, over 2 years ago

    I am in the same boat as you. Looking for a new machine but coming off a mid 2009 which still got some life in it. Yes the cost is high up front but in the long run the device should pay for itself. Averaging out the cost makes it a little more feasible.

    0 points
    • Luis da SilvaLuis da Silva, over 2 years ago

      Welcome to the boat, buddy. :) Having a 2009 model?! :D Any idea of how you're going to choose your next MacBook model?

      0 points
      • Erhan D'SilvaErhan D'Silva, over 2 years ago

        My use-case is similar to yours. I rarely connect my current 15" to any external monitor so right off that bat it eliminates the 13" for me due screen space for large sketch/design documents. I also plan on some light video editing that is more personal stuff rather than client so I would need some GPU power for that. Base model for the 2017 15" MBP is my current top choice. I think the improvements are marginal between that one and the top line one in the 15".

        0 points
  • Connor NorvellConnor Norvell, over 2 years ago

    I recently got the 2017 15" macbook pro (max specs for video work). My thoughts: Its beautiful, the touchbar is mostly useless imo, but its a great machine, incredibly fast. and works well for what i needed.

    If you want to cut down on price, a top of the line 2015 model would work well I am sure. but the 2017 is a fantastic computer and I would recommend it.

    but if you can use windows, you could get a more powerful machine for cheaper

    0 points
    • Luis da Silva, over 2 years ago

      That's my dilemma at the moment; going for a cheaper 2015 MacBook version, which can do the job, or buying the newer MacBook Pro version, future proof.

      Talking about future proof, I'm afraid upcoming MacBook versions will have more functionalities for the Touch Bar. However, at the moment, I can relate with you when it come to it.

      Using Windows OS itself is out of question, for professional reasons; most of the software I'm using only works on MacOS, like Sketch, Framer, or Principle.

      0 points
      • Connor NorvellConnor Norvell, over 2 years ago

        Yeah i feel. for me the touchbar functionality its a big deal, but I think going future-proof (if you can even call it that with mac) is the best way to go. I buy a new laptop every 4 years or so, and this one should last me until then. thats what I would do!

        1 point
      • Tropical HoochTropical Hooch, over 2 years ago

        The touchbar is a gimmick. It's never going to give you any competitive edge over those who don't have it. It's only useful if you're typing on your computer, so if you plug it in to an external monitor, or use an external keyboard it's completely useless.

        0 points
  • Arturs VanagsArturs Vanags, over 2 years ago

    Any info on how the performance differs with graphic cards in real life situations? Like, comparing the 2016/2017 13.3 with Intel HD 550 and 15.4 with Radeon Pro.

    One would assume, that handling Sketch files should be fine on both of them, right?

    0 points
  • Radley MarxRadley Marx, over 2 years ago

    One thing to remember is that Apple trickles-out improvements and tends to save the most important update for last. The new MBP has a better screen and touchbar, now has Kaby Lake... but still only 16GB RAM. This means the next update may have 32GB RAM which is a game changer. Personally, I'd hold out and just get an older 15" MBP, something with an upgradable SSD.

    There's also big signs Apple has all but retired the Mac platform. Updates have slowed to nothing while the iPad "Pro" was center stage at the last WWDC. It's pretty obvious managers at Apple all use iPad Pros, so that's the itch getting scratched. Now that iPad has a file system, I wouldn't be surprised to hear something from Adobe in the next year or two about Creative Cloud for iPad.

    0 points