The newly announced MacBook Pro notebooks are tempting, but consider this before whipping out your credit card.
When Apple unveiled new notebooks this week featuring Pro and Max versions of its in-house developed silicon, I was simultaneously impressed and pained.
The new machines, the specs of which my colleague broke down here, appear to be wildly fast and are packed with pro-level features. I’m particularly excited for the return of the magnetic MagSafe power port (my current notebook has been yanked off a table more than once by the tripping hazard that is a power cord) and the SD card reader, stripped from the MacBook “Pro” unceremoniously back in 2016.
The 3.5mm jack supports high-impedance headphones which is great news for audiophiles, while an HDMI port lets you connect to a TV or projector without needing to haul a dongle along. Most importantly, the silly touch bar is gone.
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But while all of these improvements are impressive, there isn’t one killer feature that’ll make me upgrade. I have a 2019 15-inch MacBook Pro that was nearly maxed out when I bought it, loaded with a 2.3 GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB of RAM, and an upgraded discrete GPU.
Two-and-a-half years after I bought it, it still rips at everything I need it to do, including moderate video editing. Some of the keys on my keyboard are worn down—I must type extra hard with my left hand because the A, C, V, and left-side Shift and Command keys are all showing significant wear. And the battery needs to be replaced, though it’s covered by AppleCare.
But it’s far more than serviceable. It drives two 27-inch monitors (one a 5K unit) without complaint, and, since it has Intel Inside, can run Windows when I need it to.
Though the new MacBook Pro has:
- The new M1 Pro or M1 Max Apple Silicon
- A greatly improved screen with a 120Hz refresh rate
- Massive SSD storage options up to 8TB
- Built-in HDMI and SD Card
- Greatly improved battery life
- The new MagSafe 3 power cord with fast charging
None of these is a must-have for me, especially since the 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 and the larger 16-inch model starts at $2,499. With my existing MacBook Pro still under warranty for another 18 months, it’s just not worth the money for me to upgrade to the new machines regardless of how tempting they are.
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If you’re a creative professional spending all day in photo or video editing software where time is literally money, none of this applies to you. Go forth and acquire this beautiful new machine and use it to all its glory.
But if you have an existing MacBook Pro that’s just a couple of years old? I don’t think this new machine is a must-have. Perhaps it’s because computers (and smartphones!) are getting so advanced now, the additional performance alone isn’t the must-have it might have been 10 or 15 years ago.
If you’re just a regular user, even a power user like me, a two-year-old MacBook Pro is just fine. And I’ll go spend my money on the new iPhone 13 Pro Max instead.