15-inch MacBook Pro with Touchbar Review
In this post, I want to share with you my review of the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar (2016 Edition).
My primary computer is an essential tool in my setup, and I make all of my money using it. As a result, when it comes to buying a laptop, I never sacrifice on quality to save a few bucks. For me, buying a good machine is an investment, which is paying off in the long run.
As of today, my primary computer is a 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Why I choose MacBook Pro
I have used Macs for ten years, and during that time I didn’t have any issues with it. In a matter of fact, my father is still using the first MacBook I have ever used, and it still runs perfectly fine for what he does.
Besides, some of my favorite apps like Blocs, Ulysses or Pixelmator run only on macOS. As a part of The Perfect Setup 2017 project, I will post a separate review of all of my favorite software and services.
Size and Specifications
I was deciding between the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro. The improved portability of the 15-inch model and a better performance made me choose the bigger model.
At first, I was going to buy a maxed out version with 512GB of storage, but then I had a chance to save on a stock model, so I got the higher end stock version instead.
The main specifications of my MacBook Pro are as follows:
2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz)
16GB 2133MHz memory
512GB PCIe-based SSD1
Radeon Pro 455 with 2GB memory
As for color, I was going to choose the classic silver, but I ended up getting the Space Gray, and I am more than happy with it. You will be pleased with both colors.
Although it feels very similar to my old 15-inch MacBook Late 2013 model, the overall performance is excellent. I don’t have any issues with my typical workflow, which includes email, web browsing, web development, simple video editing, photo editing, and occasional games.
I didn’t test the MacBook Pro with Radeon Pro 460, but I am delighted even with 455. I guess I don’t know what I am missing with 460, but I am happy to keep it this way. SSD read and write speeds are crazy fast, the best on any laptop I have ever used.
Display, keyboard, trackpad and speakers
There is not much I can tell you about the display. It is a usual great quality Retina display, but with even more vibrant colors and higher brightness. Same goes for the speakers, which are the best I have ever used on a laptop.
I liked the keyboard on 12-inch MacBook, so I knew what to expect from a new keyboard on a MacBook Pro. I love it.
The trackpad is as comfortable as on any MacBook, although I am not sure if its bigger size is useful in any way.
I don’t have any issues with USB-C only ports, because I am used to a single USB-C port on 12-inch MacBook. Most of my devices already support USB-C connection, and for the rest, Apple’s Digital AV Multi Adapter is more than enough for me.
I don’t use SD cards, but I imagine that the absence of SD card slot will be inconvenient for some people, but other than that, I support Apple’s decision to go all USB-C / Thunderbolt 3, because it is the future and I am happy to be an early adopter.
By the way, the headphone jack, which has disappeared from the latest iPhone, is here, but I don’t use it at all. Instead, I am embracing the wireless audio, which I will talk about in the future posts.
Touch Bar is not something I need, but it is nice to have. It is undoubtedly better than old-style Functions keys, so no complaints there.
One of the most controversial areas of the new MacBook Pro is its battery life. We all know that the new MacBook Pro has the smaller sized battery compared to the previous generation, but Apple has claimed that it provides even longer battery life at 10 hours.
The size of the battery was reduced to archive thinner and lighter design, while the more efficient processor should have been able to compensate the difference in battery size by using less energy.
During my tests, I found out that when idle or under a light load, the processor uses less energy than before, making it possible to have good battery life. At the same time, when doing some intense work, such as video or image editing, the smaller battery plays its part, resulting in even worse battery life than the previous generation of MacBook Pro.
Fortunately, for my workflow the battery life is excellent. I usually get from 9 to 11 hours. My typical workflow includes the following:
- Safari with 5–10 tabs
- iTunes via built-in speakers or Bluetooth headphones
- Google Drive
- Pixelmator or Apple Photos
- Blocs or other web development tool
When I browse the web or watch Netflix, the number is close to 12–14 hours, although it is important to stress that I usually use my MacBook Pro’s screen with brightness at to 65% or 10 bars from 16.
There are issues, and I would even say that the 2016 MacBook Pro is the most buggy Apple laptop I have ever used. I am sure that most of these issues are due to software optimization, because I have also experienced the similar (but not as bad) issues on 12-inch MacBook after updating to macOS Sierra.
There are occasional graphics glitches all over the system, which is not a big deal, but very unusual for an Apple product. Then, a couple of times my MacBook Pro has completely frozen on me, forcing the hard restart of the system.
Apart from the reduced battery life under the heavy use and occasional graphics issues, this is a fantastic laptop, the best I have ever used. Generally, I am satisfied with a battery life I get from my workflow, but I hope Apple will fix the graphics issues with a software update.
That’s it for my review of my primary computer, 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro. Let me know if you have any questions about it.
Next week I am going to share with you the next gadget from my Perfect Setup for 2017, so If you are interested in this series, sign up for a newsletter to get notified when I publish the new posts, or follow me on Twitter for updates and sneak peeks of the upcoming content.