I have a retina Macbook Pro from 2012, and it has served me well. However, it’s practically dying (especially the battery), and I need a new Macbook.
The recent Macbook announcement got me thinking: do I replace my Macbook and start carrying dongles around, or do I try to find an alternate solution?
Apple announced three new Macbooks, where the first one (without the touch bar) is basically like a pumped up Macbook Air, and the 2 other ones are lighter than my current laptop, not necessarily much faster, and miss all the ports I regularly use.
When I configure the Macbook the way I want it, it’s going to be around €4000; and it won’t actually be much faster than my current laptop. The only thing that would become better is graphics performance, but from what I can tell that just means the Macbook will finally be able to run games a bit better than it used to. The performance won’t come anywhere near what you can get from a Windows gaming laptop.
My current inclination is to either pick up a refurbished 2015 Macbook Pro from eBay; or to replace my laptop’s battery for the second time.
Now, another point. When working at home sometimes I want a bigger screen. I find that a big screen can be very helpful when coding. If you are used to working on a retina screen, going to a non-retina one (e.g. the Dell 27″ I am using at the moment) is pretty jarring.
However, just buying a 4K or 5K display and attaching it to an older Macbook is a no-go. Depending on the specific combination of screen and Macbook you either have the problem that the older Thunderbolt connections can’t handle the amount of pixels; and when they can, you are stuck at a max frame rate of 30 frames per seconds.
Furthermore you have to deal with the crappy interfaces that Dell/Acer/etc provide to set up your screen.
One solution is to get the 2015 iMac 3.3Ghz, which I could buy together with a refurbished Macbook for around the price of a new Macbook. The good thing here is that it actually contains a semi-decent graphics card, and that it’s basically a much faster Mac than the Macbook is. This might be helpful when editing large Sketch documents, which is basically my daily job.
However, this will put me in a situation with 2 computers again, which I’ve had in the past, and which I wasn’t happy about. Things might be better today though with macOS Sierra’s desktop sync.
An Apple-built external 5K Thunderbolt display has long been on my wishlist, but it just doesn’t exist. Apple’s recommendation is to buy an LG UltraFine 4K Display. This has a worse resolution than the iMac and I’m not very convinced by its design.
I’ve also contemplated hacking my gaming PC to be a Hackintosh. Basically my gaming PC blows everything out of the water spec-wise (it has a quad core 4Ghz processor and a Geforce GTX 1080). Successfully doing a multi-boot setup where I can use it as a Mac will give me a machine that is basically faster than a Mac Pro.
The counter-argument to this is that I don’t feel like spending my weekends trying to find the right drivers to get basic things to work. I don’t want to have some hacky setup where hardware and software are not matched together. There is a reason I use macOS and not Linux; the same reason I use iOS and not some custom Android ROM.
It’s quite bizarre that after 4 years the Macbook that Apple announced is not really appealing to me; the touch bar looks like an interesting innovation and I can’t wait to play with it, but I’m not ready to spend €4k and carry around 4 dongles with me. I like that I have an HDMI port, SD card slot and 2 USB-A ports available at all times. There’s actually not a single port on my current Macbook that I don’t use regularly.
I’m pretty sure a lot of people are doing similar research, so please, share your thoughts.