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@jcs gives an excellent review of the 2016 MacBook Pro - and cons of using it.

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    I’ve been wondering if the low end model was a half refresh that never got released. Then somebody saw it sitting there, escape key and all, and repurposed it. It uses slightly older CPUs and everything. Maybe a MacBook companion that was set aside? Then the touch bar model had the extra ports added, but it was too late to go back and rework the unreleased model, so it shipped as is.

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      All new MBPs use the slightly older CPUs, not just the low-end model.

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      I demoed the 2016 13in MBP in store a few days ago, and came to the same conclusion about the keyboard. This bums me out greatly, because I don’t usually have preferences on keyboards at all, and they seem to be what Apple is choosing at this moment in time.

      I also dislike that the 2015 rMBP with dGPU is essentially down to refurb/second-hand stock.

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        Looks like I’ll try to wait out another refresh on my late-2013 rMBP. Not really sure what I’ll do. I don’t like Thinkpads that much and I was pretty happy with the chiclet keyboard. If everything actually being updated has the unfortunate butterfly mechanism, I might be out of luck.

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          I hear you. My personal 2012 rMBP still has good life left in so I won’t replace it (waiting for that magic 5 year mark) but I certainly feel the itch.

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          I also dislike that the 2015 rMBP with dGPU is essentially down to refurb/second-hand stock.

          Apple refurbs are really as good as new (with exactly the same warranty as a new product, applicability for AppleCare, etc). AFAIK the user-facing parts are all replaced with new, as are batteries with more than a few cycles. The only difference is that they come in plain white boxes.

          I’ve been buying them for years and won’t buy new if I can help it (this across various MacBook Pros, an Air, a Mini, several iMacs, several iPads). A saving of at least 15% (up to 25% in the case of some BTO specification machines) makes it worthwhile.

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            How much time did you give to the keyboard? Asking as anecdotally I hated a split keyboard I purchased - but after about 3 weeks of using it daily I finally grew to like it.

            Wondering if there’s a teething period we need to be aware of for input device changes.

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            So I’ve been encouraging people to switch to thinkpads.. but since they’ve gone off trying to replicate the Macbook, what hardware do people recommend?

            The T460 I think is probably going to be my last thinkpad if they stay going this “no FRU” path.

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              People have been recommending Dell XPS to me. I held one for a moment, it felt decent.

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                The issue for me with the XPS is that they don’t offer a non-touchscreen version with 16gb Ram (stuck at 8gb).

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                  The XPS 13 is an excellent piece of hardware, better than any available MacBook.

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                    Provided you’re comparing to the 13" macbooks.

                    The current selection in 10-11" laptops is disgraceful. I can’t find anything that has enough RAM and won’t tip backwards, other than the macbook air and macbook 2015.

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                      Does it support 16GB of RAM?

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                        Yup! And there’s a version that comes from the factory running Ubuntu because it’s part of Dell’s Project Sputnik.

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                      It’s pretty nice, barring some really annoying design decisions:

                      • power button glows really brightly
                      • the laptop-connecting end of the power cord has a blinding white LED all around it
                      • there’s a huge light on the side of the laptop (facing you) that glows with the light of a thousand suns whenever it’s charging
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                      I personally don’t think there has been a great ThinkPad since the T61 (2007). I used mine until late 2013 when I got a MacBook.

                      I wish they kept the legacy going, those were some truly beautiful laptops.

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                        I’ve been really happy with my Surface Book. Wonderful screen, touch is one of those little things that you don’t use much but it makes them better when you do (likewise the pen for signing PDF forms), keyboard feels great to me (but I like a light touch and short travel, others may disagree), first-party dock is immensely practical, battery life is plenty, other specs are good enough.

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                          Do you run Linux on the Surface Book? Did you try to run OpenBSD?

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                            No. Was planning to try FreeBSD on it but then I found WSL worked really well for what I needed and I couldn’t be bothered. There’s a community on reddit (SurfaceLinux) and I’ve heard some positive things, but don’t know the details.

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                          HP Spectre 13 came out as my vote of choice recently. Very happy with it. Best keyboard I’ve had in years, and it’s blooming quick too.

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                            I don’t think the problem is the hardware. There is lots of great PC hardware out there. Maybe not comparable on build quality, trackpad, and battery, but hardware that has other things going for it.

                            The problem is that there is no desktop OS that compares to macOS. This is especially true for laptops.

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                              I use mac os for work and windows 10 at home. I really don’t see any real difference beyond user preference.

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                                What about user experience, intuitive interface and general better design?

                                I don’t use windows but I help a fair lot with their windows machines, and nothing feels smooth, intuitive. The only thing I like is the combined menubar+dock. I loathe the macOS dock.

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                                  I don’t think anything about windows is unintuitive. Windows acts largely like it has forever (aside from the Windows 8 start menu/metro thing). There’s nothing difficult about it. The macOS dock is bad, and I also think the launchpad is terrible. Finder is slower on my 2015 mbp (512gb/16gb/i7) than Cortana/search is on my Windows 10 desktop (512gb/8gb/i5). Not very much, but it’s noticeable. Both of them are SSDs.

                                  General better design is completely subjective. I happen to prefer Windows 10 looks to macos. Different strokes!

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                            Legitimate question, what do most people think they get out of upgrading to a newer MacBook Pro from a moderately recent model (circa 2012/2013), when:

                            1. The processors are not faster in real world use cases
                            2. The dGPU are only marginally faster
                            3. There isn’t more RAM (we’ve been maxed out at 16GB on a MacBook Pro for… around 7/8 years now?)
                            4. There isn’t more SSD storage space (256GB to 1TB have been available on MacBook Pro models for years as well).
                            5. Same retina screen resolution (understandable if you’re upgrading from a non-unibody to a unibody retina–the screen upgrade is definitely worth it!).

                            I’m on a 2012 T430 Thinkpad that performs likely very close to a 2015 MacBook Pro (Intel i7 3630QM, 16GB RAM, 2x SSD).

                            I just bought a HP 2570p (yet another machine from circa 2012), with the intent of upgrading it with 2x SSD, 16GB of RAM and an i7 3720QM to run Qubes OS (thus the 3720QM. I need VT-d!). All of this will cost me less than $600 to do, and gives me the portability (the 2570p is a 12.5" and weights 3.5lb–heavy for the size, but not heavy in the absolute sense) and performance of a 2015~2016 machine for a fraction of the price.

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                              Legitimate question, what do most people think they get out of upgrading to a newer MacBook Pro from a moderately recent model (circa 2012/2013), when: […] I’m on a 2012 T430 Thinkpad that performs likely very close to a 2015 MacBook Pro (Intel i7 3630QM, 16GB RAM, 2x SSD).

                              It’s a matter of preference, but one of the reasons that I buy MacBooks, besides liking the thin/light hardware (I cycle quite a stretch to work every day), is macOS.

                              Sure, I could buy a Thinkpad or HP laptop for half the price, but it would be heavier and it wouldn’t run macOS. That would be a downgrade for my computing needs.

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                                It’s a completely valid reason indeed. I see many talk about wanting to switch away from Apple hardware, and there is indeed a lot of great hardware out there. The real problem is that there exists no comparable (imo) desktop OS. Especially true for laptops, and running macOS on non-Apple hardware just seems barbaric.

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                                  Sorry, I meant upgrading from a circa 2013 MacBook Pro. The last two paragraphs is just to add context in terms of where I’m coming from.

                                  I personally don’t see much difference between the retina unibody models of the last few years, and while yes the 2016 model is absolutely thinner (and slightly lighter), is that the primary motivation?

                                  I’ve used the 2013 retina model previously and am currently using the 2015 model at work, and I would be hard pressed to say I see or feel a difference at all

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                                  If you do anything that involves a GPU in some fashion, then upgrading is worthwhile. I tolerate Apple’s anemic GPUs because my workloads typically don’t involve them, and macOS is so good.

                                  Being able to run games like HotS just fine on the laptop screen is really nice, though!

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                                    This only applies if the fashion in which the GPU is involved is for actual graphics, right? Afaict the cards in the new MBP are not bad as graphics cards, but not that useful for GPGPU, mainly because they aren’t Nvidia, and Cuda seems to have won that space for now.

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                                      Indeed. But 40Gb Thunderbolt does open the possibility to have fast external GPUs [1]. I am currently doing my CUDA work on a Linux box that I SSH into. But the prospect of running CUDA on an eGPU on my Mac is quite exiting.

                                      [1] http://barefeats.com/tube21.html

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                                        Intel GPUs are actually pretty good for compute, they’ve been shipping significant performance improvements in recent generations and Skylake is impressive.

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                                          The main problem is that a lot of libraries use CUDA (and only CUDA) for GPU computing. Hopefully Tensorflow on OpenCL will make some strides.

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                                            For deep learning specifically the situation will get better in not too long. There are efforts to add OpenCL support for TensorFlow including the first SyCL support that got merged to master in the last week. I don’t know as much about scientific apps though.

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                                      According to the chart, 802.11ac seems to be the only change. Also, a 2012/2013 machine with AppleCare would be coming out of warranty about now.

                                      I just noticed on that chart that the 2016 model that I briefly had actually downgraded its max WiFi speed from 1.3 Gbit/s on the 2015 model to 867 Mbps. Not that I’d ever reach either of those speeds but boy, Apple sure did cheap out on this new 2016 model.

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                                      Oh HOLY SHIT YES HOW I DESPISE THE FREAKING SQUISHY APPLE LAPTOP KEYBOARDS!

                                      Every time I type on my laptop for extended periods my wrists hurt. Going back to my mechanical keyboard is SUCH a relief :)

                                      Why Apple doesn’t feel that keyboards are important is beyond me.

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                                        I used a mechanic keyboard at my last gig. I prefer the keyboard on my MBP. Maybe they do too.