Marco Arment on Why Apple Still Sells Old MacBook Pros
Apple’s MacBook line has changed significantly in the past few years: screens have been upgraded to Retina resolutions, optical drives have disappeared, and upgradability has been curtailed to reduce size and weight. But there’s one notable exception: the 2012 13-inch MacBook Pro, which remains surprisingly popular. Developer Marco Arment lists some reasons why he thinks that’s the case, including the machine’s optical drive, upgradable RAM and hard disks, and low cost. Apple should be asking itself if the constant push for smaller and lighter is meeting the needs and desires of all of today’s users — keeping old models available isn’t a long-term solution. We’d like to see Apple serve this group of users with a new MacBook that retains the design goals of the 2012 13-inch MacBook Pro while using newer technologies. It’s not like the MacBook line could get any more confusing than it already is.
Sounds like Steve's approach, when he came back in 1997!
Cut down on the number of offerings and make it simple so the user know what to buy!
I don't agree with you completely. The fact that so many people are still buying the old MacBook pro means it offers something they want. The retina screen is way overrated. On a laptop I don't see enough difference. I do see it on the 5K iMac. I really really hope that Apple does not replace the MacBook Air with the new Macbook. To pay extra for the privilege of buying adapters is ridiculous. I do not have any retina or 4K displays, and sitting I front of my computer working I never get the feeling that I want one. Not only does the new MacBook have only 1 port but it is USB not Thunderbolt so it is limited. I have a Mac Pro and a 2011 MacBook Air and both still work perfectly. I Apple does decide to replace the Air with that Under Powered 1 port Machine. I will but the latest Air and keep it as long as I can. I am sure others feel as I do.
Marco states "geeks like him" wonder why people would buy such an outdated machine. I find it strange that screens that were standard less than 2 to 3 years ago are labeled by him as "low-resolution".
In the summer of 2014, I decided to replace my 2008 15 inch MacBook Pro despite it being outfitted with maximum RAM and SSDs. Although Mid 2012 15-inch MacBook Pro's could still be found, I knew that I needed the "hardware features" available in the top of line models — all except one; a Retina screen.
That one "feature" added 1000€ to the listed price. After finishing "configuring" my order I had a final price of over 3500€. I felt so ashamed and guilty spending so much on that notebook compared to what I had spent for its top of the line predecessor. Nevertheless I had to settle for a late 2013 instead of the mid 2014 models which had recently become available and would have meant an extra 500€. Not being able to replaced RAM and storage myself was adding insult to injury.
I'm old enough so that my eyes prefer a big screen, and I love a fast processor. Two years ago I needed a large MacBook Pro and didn't mind lugging a boat anchor. Buying a used 17" early 2011 model through Amazon couldn't have been easier.
Turns out the supplier was iBuildMacs.com. Jon is a local guy (Los Angeles area) who works out of his home. LOVE this machine. I went back to Jon last month to get an upgraded, used 2010 Mac Pro. With two 3.33-GHz, 6-Core Intel Xeon processors and a 1-GB PCIe SSD, it outperforms anything Apple sells today and holds all my old hard drives as backup. Cost was about $3000, roughly half what I'd pay for a similarly configured new Mac Pro.
Seems like Apple is ignoring the geeks of the world unless they're graphics professionals. Sure, I could buy the "new" 2012 Mac Pro 'garbage can" and hook everything up to a Thunderbolt dock, but WHY would I want such a kludge?
Apple didn't make a Mac Pro with two 3.33GHz 6-core processors, they made one with one 3.33GHz 6-core processor or two 3.06GHz 6-core processors (12 cores total). I guess Jon managed to put 2 of the 3.33GHz processors in one Mac? Looking at GeekBench charts for multi-core processing, I suspect the 12 core "garbage can" is still a bit faster.
For software that doesn't take advantage of multiple cores, both old and current Mac Pros perform very poorly compared to most other Mac models with Core processors. Even a MacBook with a Core M processor outperforms the 12 core Mac Pro tower in single core processing.
I assume your PCIe SSD is bigger than 1 gigabyte, that's not much space. I'm sure it's fast but probably not faster than what the "garbage can" comes with.
I note you didn't mention the video card(s) in your Mac Pro; a major market for all Mac Pros, including the current models is video production and other tasks that can take advantage of GPUs. I'm pretty sure the "garbage can" video cards well out-perform any card you can put in a tower Mac Pro. There are very few tasks for which a Mac Pro makes sense that don't take advantage of the video card(s).
Thunderbolt is hardly a kludge and not making customers pay for drive bays that don't meet their needs is very much in keeping with the customization supported by the 2012 MacBook Pro the article is about. The "garbage can" Mac Pro (2013) has lots of performance that any Mac Pro customer needs and Thunderbolt ports replace PCIe slots for connectivity to add whatever else they need.
The retina screen IS worth it, hands-down. Once you have gotten used to one of those, everything else is weak by comparison. You don't need to be a graphics pro to appreciate the beauty of that screen. I do miss having an optical drive built in, and the ability to upgrade ram, but otherwise can't complain about my 15" macbook pro retina.
I still find a 2009 13" MacBook Pro with 24" external monitor adequate for my needs, and thin and light enough for occasional travel. Maxed out RAM at 8 GB and installed SSD years ago. Before this I replaced my laptop every 3 to 4 years but it just doesn't seem necessary any more. I may grab a used 2011 version off Craigslist for a couple of hundred $ just to go to 16GB RAM and pick up a couple of other newer features. Inability to upgrade RAM except at time of purchase is a HUGE turn-off to current models.
Retina is tempting but that move is most likely to happen when the external monitor dies and I want a 4K or 5K replacement.
Now does not seem to be the time to buy a new MacBook and external display for long-term usage. Once the USB3/Thunderbolt port situation settles down and adds DisplayPort 1.3 support (maybe in 2 years?), then I may make the jump.