Apple has just released the 2018 Macbook Pros and it's quite a significant upgrade over their previous generation. There are now quad-core options for 13-inch models and 6-core options for the 15-inch ones. I was so close to getting a new Macbook Pro when I saw Dave Lee's video of him running his i9 6-core 2.9Ghz model in a refrigerator. That video totally wiped out all my temptation of upgrading to one.
Why I'm thinking of upgrading
I'm currently using a 2013 Mac Pro quad 3.7Ghz and a 2015 Macbook Pro quad 2.5Ghz. The Mac Pro is the workstation that I use to edit and export most of my Youtube videos. A few days ago, I exported 70 minutes worth of 4K videos on the Mac Pro and it took me 5 to 6 hours. It was a long time. The 2015 Macbook Pro with its Quick Sync hardware encoder can export the same videos in a fraction of the time.
Here's the thing, when it comes to editing videos, both the Mac Pro and Macbook Pro are equally fast. When it comes to exporting videos, the Macbook Pro is significantly faster. But I don't use the Macbook Pro often for my video editing work mainly because the Mac Pro is on my desk. The second reason is because while the Mac Pro is exporting video, I can spend the time doing other stuff, like editing photos or writing for my blog.
Why I'm no upgrading?
When it comes to technology, I only care about two things. Whether the new technology is able to help me save time and money. And what can I do with the time saved.
Even if I upgrade to the new Macbook Pros by selling the 2013 Mac Pro and 2015 Macbook Pro, I won't be able to create more content.
My workflow involves editing videos for Youtube everyday. I spend hours editing videos and exporting them. Even for this intensive workflow, I can't say that processor speed is the bottleneck. As mentioned earlier, while the video is exporting, I can always do other stuff.
If my workflow a processor intensive task to be completed before I can do anything else, then it's a clear case for me to upgrade. But that's not my workflow. For example let's say my workflow involves rendering 3D scenes for interior design or architecture. In order to get the best lighting in the scene, I have to render the scene several times, each time changing some variables. Each new render can only be done after the previous has completed. And during the render, it would be disruptive to do some other stuff. That's when having really fast processors really will help get work done faster. You can have more time for yourself as a result. Not just that, it will help get more work done.
Should you get the Macbook Pro for graphic design?
The Macbook Pros are more than powerful enough for graphic design. The dual-core models are sufficient for graphic design. Quad-core models are overkill.
If you're going to be running Adobe software, you can consider Windows laptops too because they can run Adobe software as well. Regardless of Windows or Mac, when you're running the same software, the user experience is going to be quite similar. Photoshop on Windows can do what Photoshop on the Mac can do.
The main reason to get a Mac is for Mac OS and to use software that can only be used on Mac OS. In my case, I use Mac because I use the video editing app Final Cut Pro which only runs on Mac OS. And the reason why I use Final Cut Pro is because it exports videos significantly faster compared to Adobe Premiere Pro. If Final Cut Pro can run on Windows, or if Premiere Pro can export videos faster than Final Cut Pro, I would have switched long ago. The saving grace for Apple computers is their OS and software.
Should you upgrade?
Ask yourself these questions.
Qn1. Are you going to be able to save more time with the new Macbook Pros?
Qn2. Are you going to be able to get more work done because of the time you saved?
My answers are yes and no. Even though the new Macbook Pros are fast, extremely fast, I can't get more work done with the time I save with them. Right now, I am not making more videos that I can export. And I'm making videos every day.
If your answers are yes for both, then it make more sense to upgrade. The performance improvement is significant from dual-core to quad-core, and from quad-core to 6-core. Even with the throttling that so many people are complaining about on Macrumors and Reddit, you're still getting a jump in number of cores, so the improvements will be there.
Which model to get?
For graphic design, visual content creation, the dual-core models are more than good enough. Don't get the 128GB model though because the real storage after formatting is as follows
128GB = 119GB
256GB = 238GB
512GB = 476GB
1TB = 0.9TB
That's not including storage space you need to install Mac OS and the apps you use. If you want something to edit photos with, note that 16MP RAW files are around 20MB each or even higher nowadays. If you show videos, 1080P or 4K, they are going to take up a lot of storage.
Quad-core models are good for those who need to run processor intensive task, such as video editing or rendering 3D models.
For those who are really squeezed for time, for people who need to run their processors for extended periods of time, get the 6-core options. Apple offers 6-core options in i7 2.2Ghz, i7 2.6Ghz and i9 2.9Ghz. Based on what I've researched so far, the i9 model seem to generate so much heat that it throttles to the point where it can't even maintain its base clock speed. I can understand and accept that the i9 processor cannot maintain its turbo speed of 4.8Ghz for extended periods of time. But for it to be unable to maintain its base clock speed is ridiculous and unacceptable, especially when you're paying the price for that performance. Right now, it seems that the 6-core 2.2Ghz is the only model that's meeting expectations.
Regardless of which 6-core you're getting, you're still getting significant improvements because of the core count increment. But the 6-core 2.2Ghz seems to be the one that's worth the money.
So that's my take.
I wanted to upgrade but the upgrade won't improve my workflow. I'll upgrade eventually. Maybe when the new Mac Pro arrives in 2019. And let's hope Apple won't mess up the new Mac Pro.