As I promised, I am going to grade myself on the predictions I made earlier this year for the 2016 Macbook Pro. There are going to be some impressions and opinions expressed as I evaluate my predictions, but if you're worried that there isn't going to be much meat in this post, don't worry. I will follow-up this post with a more comprehensive, more opinionated impressions article. You can look forward to that if you want me to tell you whether or not these new notebooks from Apple are worth considering. For now, though, it's mostly going to be myself who's in the hotseat, so let's get to scoring!
Of all of the predictions I made, this was the one where I felt most confident, even coming up with specific parts that we could anticipate seeing. Overall I think I nailed the high-level predictions, such as the use of Intel Skylake chipsets and the TDP (thermal design power) for both the 13-inch and 15-inch models, but was hit-or-miss when it came to specific clock speeds, not to mention a huge curve ball I didn't see coming.
I am glad to say I was absolutely spot-on for the regular 13-inch model's chipsets. The lowest configuration did use the Core i5 6267U chip, while the maxed out model used Core i5 6567U. I also managed to guess that 8 GB of RAM would be standard, as I thought it was too soon to start at 16 GB. One prediction that I am pleased to say I got wrong was storage. I predicted it would start at 128 GB, but Apple managed to go the extra mile and make 256 GB the lowest configuration, something I am really happy about.
The 15-inch model predictions didn't do so well, however. I thought that Apple would do a similar thing as last time by making the entry-level 15-inch model use exclusively the highest-end integrated GPU from Intel, while reserving the discrete GPUs for the more expensive configurations. Boy, was I wrong. There is not a single Intel Iris Pro GPU to be found on any of these 15-inch models. Instead a different discrete AMD GPU is included with every configuration, including the lowest one! This meant Apple could save on costs by just opting for cheaper quad core chips that don't include the more powerful integrated GPUs, thus the use of Core i7 6700HQ at the bottom and Core i7 6920HQ at the top. The good news is that I correctly predicted the RAM, the storage and the use of AMD Polaris GPUs correctly, so that's my consolation prize.
Then there is the absolute curve ball that is the 13-inch Macbook Pro sans the Touch Bar, which I'm going to call from here on out the Macbook Escape. Spec-wise the Macbook Escape is basically a Macbook Pro with Macbook Air specs. It includes an ultrabook-class Core i5 6360U for the base model, with an optional Core i7 6660U at the top, also ultrabook-class. What's nice about these chipsets is that they come with the eDRAM-equipped Intel Iris 540 GPUs, which is highly qualified to power these retina displays and even some light gaming on the side. Please note that these chipsets only have a TDP of 15W (versus 28W on the regular 13-inch model), meaning the CPU and GPU can't clock as high or perform as well, so expect some choking in high performance applications such as games. On the plus side the Macbook Escape shares the same 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage as the regular 13-inch Pro, which is great.
Some high-level predictions were correct, but wrong 15-inch specs and storage predictions take away some of the thunder. Macbook Escape was an anomaly that I couldn't have been predicted, but still.
My predictions for ports took a beating this year. Despite my best efforts to be forward-thinking yet also restrained, Apple basically went full-Apple this year and outright massacred numerous ports from their Pro lineup. Here's what I predicted earlier this year (for both 13-inch and 15-inch):
- MagSafe Power Connector
- 3 x Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- 1 x 3.5mm Headphone Jack
- 1 x SDXC Card Slot
Here's what we actually got:
- 4 x Thunderbolt 3 Ports (2 Ports on Macbook Escape)
- 1 x 3.5mm Headphone Jack
That means we lost both MagSafe and the SD card slot, but kept the headphone jack for one more generation and gained a total of 4 USB-C ports. While I got the number of ports wrong, I at least correctly predicted that every single USB port would support Thunderbolt 3, since that would be a very Apple-y thing to do.
I underestimated Apple's ruthlessness when it comes to ports. Kudos for predicting the full merger of USB and Thunderbolt, and for the sparing of the headphone jack.
And now for a bit of rapid-fire scoring.
Thinner, Lighter Design and New Colors
I said both were likely. What we got was a design that was thinner than the Macbook Air, and certainly much lighter than previous Pros. We also got a new Space Grey color.
Spot-on prediction, but I can't give an A+ because I hedged my bet by saying likely instead of certainly.
I didn't fully commit to the prediction because I wasn't sure the Secure Enclave would be allowed on an Intel chipset. Turned out it was, so now we have Touch ID on Macs!
Also a spot-on prediction, but no A+ due to lack of commitment.
OLED Touch Bar
I said it was highly improbable.
Way off the mark.
Butterfly Switch Keyboard
No actual predictions were made. Instead I plead Apple to not change the keyboard, knowing it was very likely to happen. Alas, they did. They said they made improvements to the butterfly switch, so hopefully it's much better than the one in the 12-inch Macbook.
Did not commit to a prediction.
Final Score: C+
See you next time for the Macbook Pro impressions!