For a while, loyal Apple customers were starting to get nervous the company might be abandoning the Mac. It’s still true that the iMac and Mac Pro have gone without refreshes for far too long, but Apple finally released the all new MacBook Pros in 2016.
Unfortunately, the update created even more issues for Apple. Customers have reported a number of issues ranging from poor graphics performance, inconsistent battery life, and general discontent with the lack of ports.
With all of these complaints still rolling in every day, let’s sort through the ones that are legitimate and concerning and the ones that are minuscule enough to disregard.
More importantly, I’ll attempt to address whether you should buy one at all or if the problems outweigh the perks.
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Full-Speed Ahead with USB-C
Yes, the MacBook Pro has infamously gotten rid of all ports except for USB-C, but is that such a bad thing? It depends.
First, it’s worth noting that models of the new MacBook Pro without Touch Bar come with two USB-C ports. Models with the Touch Bar come with four. All come with a headphone jack as well — a bit ironic, but welcome nonetheless.
If you use a lot of ports now and are still considering a new MacBook Pro, first figure out which ports you can do without. Maybe you don’t need the SD card reader because your camera has built-in Wi-Fi, maybe HDMI isn’t a priority because you have an Apple TV with AirPlay.
For all the remaining accessories you do need ports for, you’ll have to buy dongles. Apple sells them, but you can get them cheaper on Amazon. A popular choice is the Aukey USB 3.0 to USB-C adapters; a two-pack sells for just 10 bucks.
The famous MagSafe connector is also gone with the 2016 MacBook Pro. You have to charge through USB-C, which doesn’t have a mechanism to conveniently snap the cable out should you trip over it.
That puts your Mac at some additional risk, but at least you can charge from both sides of the notebook now.
Gaming and Graphics Woes
Let’s first get something straight. If you’re looking to get any type of advanced gaming done on a Mac, you may want to think again. Macs have never been known for superb gaming performance compared to elite PC brands like Alienware. Still, I personally think it’s fair to expect at least good graphics and gaming performance out of a machine that starts at $1500.
Extreme gaming is less than ideal on these machines.
That apparently isn’t the case though. Some users have reported graphical distortions on screen, weird artifacts, glitches and crashes. Fortunately, Apple issued an official response stating that updating to the latest macOS Sierra software update should act as remedy. Ultimately, the graphics glitches shouldn’t prevent you from purchasing a MacBook Pro.
That said, extreme gaming is less than ideal on these machines. Just search through Twitter or YouTube for “MacBook Pro gaming” and you’re sure to find a lot of disappointed customers.
The cherry on top of the cake comes from EverythingApplePro on YouTube. He went all out to buy the top-tier $4300 2016 MacBook Pro only to find that many of his graphically intense games are near unplayable on it. Most of them work, but for the most intense game you’ll likely have to dramatically alter your in-game graphics settings to get a decent frame-rate. Even then, it’s disappointing to say the least.
Poor and Inconsistent Battery Life
A very weird report came out from Consumer Reports stating it could not recommend the 2016 MacBook Pro due to poor and inconsistent battery life. In some tests, it claimed the MacBook Pro would get 16 hours of battery life, in others it would get as little as three.
Apple responded essentially criticizing Consumer Reports for an inaccurate assessment. It also blamed a bug in Safari for some of the concern over battery life and released an update to fix the problem.
After the rejection from Consumer Reports sparked controversy within the tech community, Consumer Reports said it would retest the MacBook Pro after Apple released a software update. The publication kept its promise, found better results the second time around, and now recommends the MacBook Pro.
The bottom line is that battery life issues with the new MacBook Pro should be a thing of the past. Apple boasts up to 10 hours of web surfing and 30 days of standby time on one charge.
The 16GB RAM Cap
There has been a flood of disappointment surrounding the fact that the 2016 MacBook Pro isn’t expandable past 16GB of RAM. Many pro users want 32GB of RAM to handle demanding tasks and heavy multitasking.
However, unless you’re in a very niche group, this is not an issue you need to worry about. Macs and macOS excel at memory compression. If you choose to upgrade to 16GB of RAM, macOS will work its magic to make 16GB of RAM feel roomy.
The minimum nowadays should be 8GB of RAM, which is suitable for most users already. Plus, MacBooks and MacBook Pros now come standard with 8GB. A cap on 16GB of RAM is not something 99 percent of customers will have to worry about, at least not for several years to come.
Should You Buy?
Gamers should steer clear from Apple’s latest machines as should anyone who uses a lot of older or wired accessories.
Since the battery life and RAM issues really aren’t major issues, the only worthy concerns about the MacBook Pro should revolve around gaming and the lack of ports. The total switch to USB-C for connectivity and power is a deep dive. Gamers should steer clear from Apple’s latest machines as should anyone who uses a copious amount of older or wired accessories.
If you don’t fall into those categories, the 2016 MacBook Pro is a perfectly acceptable and capable machine. It’s starting at under $1400 right now on Amazon.