6 Reasons Not To Buy The New MacBook Pro

Posted in Mac on 24/02/2011 by J. Glenn Künzler

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Today’s MacBook Pro updates seem pretty incredible at face value – similar price points, quad-core processors on the 15 and 17 inch version, the addition of the incredible new ThunderBolt i/o port…  But for many users, the upgrade may not (or perhaps should not) be such a simple decision.  We discuss a few reasons why (all information is derived from Apple’s own spec page for the new models).

1.  Significantly Decreased Battery Life.

It seems as though there is a price to pay for the fantastic new features of the MacBook Pro.  One of those costs is battery life.  Instead of the 8-9 hours standard battery life you might have become accustomed to, now you can expect a standard 7 hours wireless productivity (presumable in the best of circumstances).  If you depend on the battery life of your MacBook Pro, you might consider getting an external power solution (such as from HyperMac), or foregoing this upgrade altogether.

2.  8GB of RAM Not Standard


For many users that are accustomed to a wide range of background applications, widgets, usage of many browser tabs, or usage of multimedia-rich applications such as Apple’s Aperture, Adobe Photoshop or Premiere, or even the now commonly used Apple consumer tools such iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand, 4GB of ram just isn’t what it used to be, and Apple still charges $200 for the 8GB RAM upgrade (you can commonly purchase the upgrade for under $100 online or at other retailers).

With many users now reaching the limits of their standard 4GB, and the expense of the upgrade (or the hassle of finding, buying, and installing the upgrade yourself), many users may find this aspect of the update off-putting,  Why not include 8GB standard Apple?  You want to be on the bleeding edge, and pronounce the MacBook Pro line among other recent notebooks?  8GB’s standard sure would have helped.

3.  Higher Resolution Still Not Standard, and No Matte Option For Standard Resolution


The resolution of the new MacBook Pro line still has not seen a standard increase, and the upgrade to higher resolution still costs a pretty penny, at an extra $100 for a glossy high-res screen, or a whopping additional $150 for a high-res anti-glare screen.  Perhaps more concerning is the lack of ANY KIND of anti-glare screen for less than $1150.

While many people love the glossy screen, and there are arguments to why it is better (rich graphics and media portrayal, for instance), many professionals prefer a matte display, which is less prone to glare, and which can be easier on the eyes when using a machine outdoors, or when doing professional tasks (like document creation or editing and other desktop publishing-related tasks.

4.  Lack of On-Board SSD for OS X


My reading of the many, many MacBook Pro rumors, both very recent and somewhat distant, I had come to expect that a 16GB or 32GB embedded SSD would be a standard feature.  With 16GB of SSD storage being available at retail for $50-$60 (see here, here, and here), with Apple of course obtaining flash memory for much, much cheaper, Apple wouldn’t have taken much of a financial hit for such a move.  But even if they would have had to take some kind of hit for the inclusion, they certainly have the cash reserves to handle it, and it would have placed the new MacBook Pro models that much further ahead of the competition.  Instead, they have left that move open for someone else to do first.

There is little doubt that consumers and professionals alike would have seen immediate benefits from faster boot times, much faster waking from sleep, and (with 16GB) speed enhancements to their beefier or more commonly used applications.  It would have also significantly increased the “wow factor” for new users switching to the Mac.  Sure, it might have slightly blurred the lines between the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air, but I contend that the blurring would be quite minimal due to the enhanced storage abilities of the MacBook Pro line.

In addition, the benefits from increased market share and increased satisfaction among existing Mac users would likely far outweigh the costs (both fiscally and otherwise) to Apple.  You missed an opportunity to raise the bar here, Apple, and rest assured someone else will be right on top of this (assuming you can still install any modern version of Windows in just 16GB’s of space).

5.  Limited Out-The-Door Utility of ThunderBolt


This may be a somewhat weaker point in discussion, but ThunderBolt I/O, while it does have incredible raw power and amazing potential, isn’t a knock-out straight off the shelf.  Sure, there are already some adapters available to make it connect to a variety of displays (including HDMI and native Mini DisplayPort), but most if not all of these adapters were available back when it was just Mini DisplayPort.

There are very few if any devices available that really take advantage of ThunderBolt, and until there are, this may not be a strong selling point for consumers.  In fact, it may not ever become a strong point for any one but professionals and power users anyway – those that will take advantage of the full power of the revolutionary new interface.

6.  No Option To Eliminate Optical Drive


Many of today’s users don’t use their optical drives as much as they used to.  At the least, most users don’t use it often enough to carry it around with the 24/7.  Some users still heavily depend on optical media, such as those who use their MacBook Pro for a media center machine, but surely that relatively small subsection of users doesn’t justify keeping the optical drive on-board for everyone?

I propose that a better solution would have been to make the optical drive optional (and offer an external optical drive to users for an additional cost), so that people that think they need it can still get it built in, but the rest of us could gain the ability to add something more useful, such as a secondary drive (perhaps an SSD).  Instead, users that might need or want this functionality must resort to taking a storage hit (or paying big fat bucks for a 512GB SSD), or using a warranty-damning option such as an Optibay or OWC’s Data Doubler (at additional cost that doesn’t go to Apple, I might add).

Wrapping it Up

To conclude, this MacBook Pro upgrade certainly is very nice, quite welcome, and perhaps overdue.  They have added many enhancements and features that will surely improve the flagship notebook for many of it’s users.  But for people who are on the border about upgrading, who only use their machines for web browsing, iTunes, photo management, and document creation, or who’s current MacBook is seemingly meeting their needs, it might be wise to hold off until a future upgrade, such as the complete redesign rumored to occur in 2012.


  • Jaden

    Take note on the battery life. They have changed the original MacBook's battery life to 7 hours as well. This and the 13" MacBook Pro both had 10 hours last year. Now, with then new battery tests, they only have 7. but note, according to Steve Jobs, these are "more vigorous tests.

    • J. Glenn Kunzler

      Thanks for the comment – that's good info.

  • steve

    lol post that on a pc-lovers or anti-mac blog

  • Jordy

    Jobs mentioned something about the battery life during the presentation of the new MacBook Air. The method of measurement has changed. The battery life seems reduced, but is guaranteed.

    • J. Glenn Kunzler

      Interesting – that’s a good point to consider. I can’t wait for the results of real-world tests to show up.

  • Jaden

    Take note on the battery life. They have changed the original MacBook's battery life to 7 hours as well. This and the 13" MacBook Pro both had 10 hours last year. Now after having more vigorous tests, the battery life has been reduced to 7. but this would be the same, if they had tested the previous gen MacBook Pro with the harder tests.

  • Sooks

    Been using my new MBP since 11 AM its now 6:30 PM and i have 4 hours left…. Battery is fine… RAM, this isnt a PC we dont need 8 gigs to make it work.

    • Very stupid. If you understood what you say, you would not say so stupid things. Windows7 uses 35% less RAM memory than latest MAC OS. just FYI.

  • matt

    I will not get a new macbook pro unless 8GB comes standard. Snow Leopard eats 1GB+ in memory running alone.

    • J. Glenn Kunzler

      Precisely. A large number of users (those that do more than browse the web and type documents) will feel the same way.

  • Alex

    Spot-on with screen resolution, SSD, and optional ODD.

    As for battery life, Apple's new numbers reflect a more rigorous test. Independent reviewers will undoubtedly post battery tests fairly soon, so I would hold off passing judgment on battery life until we see how real-use tests compare the new MacBook Pro's to last year's.

    8GB RAM standard isn't an industry standard just yet, and Apple has always been behind Windows PC manufacturers in this regard. In any case, it's offered as a build-to-order option, so I don't see the problem. Thunderbolt I/O is still in its early stages of implementation, but whether or not it takes off, I also don't see it as a reason NOT to buy a MBP.

    As for a matte display MBP, I'm not aware that Apple is selling them for less than $1949 (15" with min specs and matte display) although maybe I am missing something? The 13" MBP has no BTO option for a matte display.

    A further reason not to buy the 13" Pro is the lack of a dedicated GPU. The new Intel HD 3000 is, in graphics-intensive applications, actually significantly worse than the previous-generation's NVIDIA 320M GPU.

  • thomas

    You took all rumors for granted, and now you're disappointed…

    Now do the opposite : "6 Reasons To Buy The New MacBook Pro"
    .. if you dare 😉

    • J. Glenn Kunzler

      I didn't take anything for granted. Just suggesting it may not be worth it for people who are on the fence.

  • Michael

    You have no idea what you are talking about.

    The battery is fine, its a different test, apple is the first to use a test you can actually use. 7 hours is what you get @ 50% screen brightness, instead of 10% in normal tests.

    4GB is enough for most users, if you need more, get some @ a local pc store.

    Anti Glare screen, no not on the 13 inch, yes on the 15 and the 17 if you need it

    Thunderbolt? Apple is the first to put it on there laptops, better to be the first then the last.

    DVD drive? Who cares, this is a SPEC BUMP not an OVERHAUL.

    @ Thomas, spot on!

  • Steve

    For those saying the battery is fine, etc. Especially those who are using it for the 1st time. Let's see how long it lasts after 12 months….

    • Bob

      mine lasted 1 year

  • This article makes me mad just reading it. Should be re-titled "6 Of The Stupidest Reasons Not To Buy A MacBook Pro".

    Have much more to say but I don't want to stick around and waste my energy.

    • J. Glenn Kunzler

      I'm merely suggesting that most people don't need the power of the upgrade, and most would be better served by saving their money and waiting.

  • Jase989

    Must agree, and now I know exactly what the new MacBook Pro offers, I have decided to buy a 13" MacBook Air instead. For me it was never lacking in hourse power,
    I wanted the new MBP to be more like the MacBook Air, thinner, lighter, better battery & Flash memory / instant on…etc maybe new refresh we get what we really want…

    • Ninja れんーさん

      Thats what they have a macbook air for 😀

  • alex

    if do not like your super drive, want longer batery life, want higher lcd resolution, ssd standard in a macbook buy some air version 🙂 i did it and i am happy. still has c2d and not i7 but i am not a photo/video pro so it doesnt matter and is faster than a year old pro15"

  • Senior

    thanks! you just saved me from " i don't really need it" i'll wait…

  • Tiger

    I just bought the 15.4 inch core i7 2.0 ghz it runs like a dream with everything standard on it. So…. The more ram would have been nice but this machine doesn't even need it. Multiple programs run great and battery life is better than any other computer i have ever had.

  • James

    You're an idiot.

  • Many reasons are stupid of course. 
    But overall – I have exchanged 3 machines in a row and finally I will be back to PC. MAC OS is a complete crap, which only idiot or kid can like. If that machine could run Windows without having multiple driver problems, then it might worth to buy it, as aluminum unibody is very nice. HOWEVER, I wiped the last machine with a wet paper towel resulting a shiny spot on a case which is not removable now. This machine goes back too. What a pity. There is no supplier in a World nowadays, who can simply build machine, that works without problem. I tried many and all of them are crap, that either overheats badly or has some other hardware issues. But have to admit that MBP is the best machine I’ve tried, it is just not so much better than HP machine for $1000. And my MBP was $3100. Keyboard axis lacking some very important buttons such as home, end, pgdwn and so on. Some professionals feel very uncomfortable without these. I’m not an exception. After two weeks of that nightmare I’m finally done.

    And yes, keep in mind, that I’m not mentioning here all the issues that MBP has. It has tons, especially if you run MAC OS. Good Luck!

  • Anon

    I mean this in the kindest way possible. You are an idiot. This is coming from someone who hates all things Apple. But in this case I support Apple. Why might I say your an idiot?

    1.) 7 hours of battery life (Supposedly)
        That is still better than most laptops/notebooks on the market.

    2.) What are most users doing that is maxing out 4gbs of ram easily? not much.
    Especially considering there aren’t many good, demanding games for OS X. If a few programs all running at once eats all your ram then either your doing something wrong, or the efficiency of those programs and OS X is horrible.

    3.) Do most users really need a high-res screen? not really. Is it nice to have? sure, so spend the extra on it. At least you have the option of getting it.

    4.) What the bloody hell do you need an SSD for so much???? especially a standard feature?? I am sorry but if you think just because SSDs are out there and that every company should supply them standard with computers you are a fucken dumb ass.

    5.) skipping to 6.

    6.) An optical drive is by no means something that should just be thrown out it still very useful and will remain so for a long time.
    Why should they give you an option to take out the optical drive?  that isn’t something that would make much sense for a mid-full size laptop. If you want something without an optical go buy one of those crappy Macbook airs.

  • Jupiter

    no optical drive? thats just nuts… 
    the rest of your comments just seem like whining. go get a macbook air and sunglasses. smh
    I’ll concede that they need to step up on their RAM and allow FULL configuration of machines. I hate to get a faster computer I have to get a huling beast of a machine (15 or 17 inch) I like the petite 13 inch and that was a step up from my previous 11 inch. I refuse to go larger so APPLE!! HEAR THIS, ALLOW UPGRADES TO CPU’s on ALL Sizes. Enough size descrimination :o)

  • Noofyourgoddamnbuisness

    Idc nerds,I’m getting one anyway

  • Benholden

    Originally I was going to buy a DELL but having stumbled upon your article I’ve now decided to buy the MacbookPro , 7 hours battery life and 4gb of RAM in a laptop that looks that good, sign  me up! 

  • Rwidman

    Thanks for your article. If that is all you can say bad about it, I’m ready to upgrade to the new one.
    Battery life: wonderful it also depends on what you are doing.
    Optical drive: I need it to get music and see presentations people give me. I have to load what my wife needs on her AIR and pass it to her.
    Memory: Sure, standard would be nice, but pulling 10 screws out of the case to snap in aftermarket is not a big deal.

    3 years after dumping microsoft (after 20 years of hauling portable pc’s) I’m a happy camper, much more productive.
     

Author

J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.