Tuesday, May 21, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

MacBook Pro 2019

Apple (Hacker News, iMore, MacRumors, tweet, The Verge):

Apple updated MacBook Pro with faster 8th- and 9th-generation Intel Core processors, bringing eight cores to MacBook Pro for the first time. MacBook Pro now delivers two times faster performance than a quad-core MacBook Pro and 40 percent more performance than a 6-core MacBook Pro, making it the fastest Mac notebook ever.

Looks like a good speed bump. Longer term, I hope Apple will make the Touch Bar optional, make the trackpad smaller, make the display (optionally) larger, fix the arrow key layout, add more ports, add more thermal headroom, bring back matte displays, and stop charging ridiculous prices for SSDs.

Apple:

Apple has determined that a small percentage of the keyboards in certain MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors[…]

[…]

The program covers eligible MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models for 4 years after the first retail sale of the unit.

The repair program now covers the 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, and even the just-released 2019 MacBook Pro. Some are saying that this shows Apple doesn’t have confidence in the revised keyboard. However, regardless, I think it’s great to know before purchasing that this model will be covered. Previously, you could actually get longer coverage by buying an older model with known problems than a new one! I still think that the keyboard program should cover a lot more than 4 years, though. A new pro Mac bought today should last a long time.

Jason Snell (tweet):

Apple says these new models also feature a fourth version of the butterfly keyboard design, in response to customer complaints that the keyboard would end up in a sad state where key presses were ignored or doubled. While Apple is quick to say that the vast majority of MacBook Pro customers haven’t experienced any keyboard issues, the company still keeps tweaking this design. It claims that the change made in these new MacBook Pro models will substantially reduce the incidence of ignored or doubled characters.

[…]

Where Apple’s laptop keyboard designs go from here is also a question. By extending its repair program and seeking to improve the turnaround of keyboard repairs in Apple Stores, the company is seeking to reassure customers that they won’t get stuck with a laptop with a bad keyboard. But the company also keeps tweaking the design in order to try and make it more reliable—an admirable attempt, but the sheer number of tweaks also send the message that Apple hasn’t really had a handle on the fundamental weaknesses of the design. Whether this new tweak is the one that finally solves the problem, or if it won’t be truly solved until this design is discontinued and fades into memory, remains to be seen.

Matthew Panzarino:

Apple is saying that it is doing 3 things about the MacBook keyboard situation. First, it is changing the mechanism.

Second, it is including all current butterfly keyboards in the new Keyboard Service Program

Third, it is improving repair times at stores and replacing 3rd gen membrane keyboards with the new keyboards.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

TL;DR: we didn’t totally fix the keyboard, the next-gen MBP isn’t ready yet, and we don’t plan to apologize

[…]

Apple still doesn’t mention anything about the keyboard changes nor does it list the keyboard revision on the MBP specs page. Clearly they want to starve this problem of oxygen and pretend it never happened.

Marco Arment:

Important clarification: the new 4th-gen design will be installed during repairs, but only for 3rd-gen-keyboard models: the 2018 Air and the 2018 13/15” with Touch Bar.

Colin Cornaby:

Getting harder and harder for me to justify holding on to my 2010 Mac Pro. But the risky thermals on the MacBook Pro, especially with 8 cores, are a problem. I’d also need to get an eGPU and the only ones that support Thunderbolt output are Blackmagic’s ridiculously priced ones.

There’s also the ongoing problem of putting a large amount of money into a machine where I can never upgrade the RAM or storage. $4000 is a lot for a machine that might run out of internal storage, and doesn’t change with my needs.

Morgan:

I love my 15” 2018 but sticking two more cores in the same body is just insanity. It is way too thermally constrained as it is.

Mark Munz:

My 7 y/o MacBook Pro has never had a keyboard problem EVER.

Now Apple has a keyboard service program that lasts 4 years. I guess I’m supposed to feel more confident. 🤷‍♂️

Would feel a lot better if they had announced a “new” scissor-switch designed keyboard.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

I still don’t understand what is so hard about putting out a press release addressing the butterfly keyboard problem, explaining today’s half-fix, explaining repair & replacement program, & saying that a redesigned keyboard is in the works. Apple’s handling has been infuriating

By now, somebody needs to be fired for the handling of the keyboard situation, and the longer it takes, the higher up the management chain they should be looking. You don’t get to 5 years of ignoring it by accident. The reputation damage will last a decade, nevermind support cost

Today’s keyboard materials update could fix the problem in 99% of cases, but we won’t know from anecdata for years. And Apple’s not prepared to stand by in public what it’s telling press in private. If they don’t have confidence in the fix, why would anybody else?

Craig Hockenberry:

I have a 2013 MBP and my only criteria for upgrading is the keyboard. Size is secondary, and speed is a distant third.

In real estate, the things that matter are “location, location, and location.”

With keyboards, it’s “travel, travel, and travel.”

Mathias Meyer:

Good, now I can send in both my 2016 12" MacBook and my 2018 MacBook Air for repairs. Both have become unbearable to type on.

icabiz:

We repair these as part of our business, and to be clear, both the keyboards and the screens are failing on these at an alarming rate.

iFixit detailed the issues with the screens, which (in Apple’s unending quest for “thinness”) use a thinner flex cable to connect the display to the rest of the laptop. This thinner cable is prone to breakage, and we are already seeing 2016-2017 MacBook Pros in our shop regularly for this issue.

Since Apple built the flex cable into the display, the only solution (even from third parties like us) is a new display. At $600-$700 each, this is unacceptable.

And, like the keyboards, this is a part that’s pretty much guaranteed to fail (unless you basically never open your laptop.)

Apple hasn’t announced a fix yet, even with a petition with over 11,000 signatures, and more screens failing by the day.

Marco Arment:

SSDs are so cheap now that 512 GB should be standard on any Mac ending in “Pro”.

Greg Hurrell:

I’m not in the market or a new laptop, but every now and again I check up on the prices. Amazing how easy it is to spec up a MacBook Pro deep into “frickin’ ludicrous” territory.

For the same money you can get an absolutely monstrous machine from System76 to run Linux. Twice the RAM (64GB), more than twice the disk (10.5 TB!), an actual function keyboard…

Previously:

John Gruber (tweet):

Personally, I’d like to see them add more travel to the keys, go back to the upside-down T arrow key layout, and include a hardware Esc key on Touch Bar models (in that order).

[…]

The best that we could hope for while waiting for a true next-generation keyboard design — which for all we know might be a year or more out — is a mid-generation tweak. At the very least, talking about this material tweak and including all butterfly keyboard models in the service program is an acknowledgement that last year’s keyboards were not good enough. That was the worst case scenario — that Apple didn’t see a problem.

But what pleases me more is that Apple is updating Mac hardware on an aggressive schedule. I wrote “just speed bumps” a few paragraphs ago, but speed bumps are important in the pro market. Apple shipped new MacBook Pros last July, added new high-end graphics card options to those models in October, and now has updated the whole lineup with new CPUs. They also just updated the non-Pro iMac lineup in March. This seems like an odd thing to praise the company for — updating hardware with speed bumps is something a computer maker should just do, right? The lack of speed bumps in recent years naturally led some to conclude that Apple, institutionally, was losing interest in the Mac.

Nick Heer:

This year, however, Apple directly addressed keyboard reliability in their conversations with media. Even though they didn’t mention keyboards at all in their press release, I still see it as a noteworthy acknowledgement.

Benedict Cohen:

One more thing for the MacBook wish list: MagSafe

Steve Troughton-Smith:

OK, perhaps it’s just me; let’s do this one: Do you trust Apple’s ‘butterfly’ MacBook/Air/Pro keyboards (before or after today’s update)?

Paul Haddad:

The replacement program for keyboards is still limited to 4 years. Sucks if you bought a MacBook 12” when it first came out in April 2015…

Ellen Shapiro:

GAH, new 13” MBPs still don’t support 32 gigs of RAM.

I travel too much to really want the 15”, and I often run Xcode/Simulator + Android Studio/Emulator at the same time, so on a new laptop I’d be a lot happier with 32GB RAM.

Kyle Howells:

My 2015 15" MacBook Pro slows to a craw when I plug it into a 4K monitor, because of thermal throttling. I have to have a desk fan pointed directly at it at all times to cool it sufficiently to use.

The idea of putting an 8 core i9 into a thinner case design, makes me nervous.

Joanna Stern (tweet):

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Apple Inc. is promising to fix the MacBook keyboard issues. Yes, again.

Ed Bott:

The butterfly keyboard is Apple’s Windows Vista, a reputation-destroying slow-motion train wreck.

Keith Calder:

You know how people with MacBooks have been having keyboard problems where a random key gets stuck? That just happened to my “delete” key while I was in an important email folder, and all the emails were deleted. Fun times!

Colin Devroe:

As I wrote, I want to switch back to the Mac but only after they produce a laptop with an entirely new, reliable keyboard. I’ve seen the current keyboard in action and I think I would have pitched my laptop into the sea out of frustration if I had owned one.

Jason Cross:

To me, the biggest issue here is that it’s terrible reliability may be giving Apple a black eye, but it’s not like it’s good even when it works.

At best, people seem to think it’s just okay. At worst, they HATE it. This as a replacement for the most beloved laptop keyboard ever?

Marcin Krzyzanowski:

I had this crazy idea to get my Macbook for a keyboard repair to Apple Store while in Berlin. To benefit of fast-path announced yesterday

Observations:

1. Apple doesn’t recognize keyboard issue as a frequent issue
2. not a single slot for genius appointment for the upcoming week

Marco Scheurer:

And that ESC key... it is not just inconvenient when you use it but also when you don’t. I keep hitting hit by mistake.

Rui Carmo:

Living in a country that, to this day, still lacks an official Apple Store and where support centers (even if competent) don’t provide anywhere near the same turnaround times as in first world countries, I don’t find it the least bit reassuring.

Jacob Kastrenakes:

Apple will offer free repairs to owners of 2016 MacBook Pros with backlight issues — a problem that’s increasingly started to appear on the laptops as they age. The repair program, announced this afternoon, covers only the 13-inch MacBook Pro model that debuted in 2016, though both the Touch Bar and non-Touch Bar versions are eligible. Repairs will be covered for four years after a laptop was first purchased.

See also: Why are Creators Leaving the MACBOOK PRO ??.

Colin Cornaby:

It’s funny because the MacBook Pro has reached a point where I should seriously be considering not even using a desktop anymore. But the compromised thermals and lack of swappable memory/storage keep the MacBook Pro from really being a desktop replacement.

Update (2019-05-23): Juli Clover:

In a Geekbench benchmark uploaded this morning, the new MacBook Pro with a 2.4GHz Core i9 chip earned a single-core score of 5879 and a multi-core score of 29184.

Comparatively, the high-end 2018 MacBook Pro has earned an average single-core score of 5348 and a multi-core score of 22620. Single-core speeds are up almost 10 percent, while multi-core scores are up an impressive 29 percent.

However, it’s not clear how long the thermals will let it run at that speed.

Update (2019-05-24): Quinn Nelson:

Update: the new i9 MacBook Pro doesn’t throttle under even the most stressful benchmarks. It gets mighty close… but doesn’t ever dip under base clock. Good job, Apple!

iFixit (tweet):

Apple’s newest MacBook Pro is its fastest yet, featuring an optional eight-core processor—a first in a MacBook—and a mysterious new keyboard material. Since it’s unlikely that Apple’s going to expound on this ‘material,’ and we’re never satisfied with an unsolved mystery, it’s time once again to take a closer look at the infamous butterfly keyboard.

Dieter Bohn:

My take: when it comes to consumer trust in Apple’s butterfly keyboard design, different materials won’t make a material difference.

Update (2019-05-31): Dan Counsell:

I’ve just upgraded from a 2.5 GHz 4-core i7 15-inch Mid 2015 MacBook Pro to a top of the line 2.4GHz 8-core i9 2019 MacBook Pro with a Radeon Pro Vega 20 — Apart from the keyboard this is an excellent upgrade.

I ran some quick benchmarks and the results are an impressive increase on all fronts, especially the multi-core and compute scores. I also ran the same tests on my gaming PC that has an RTX 2080 Ti installed for comparison.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2019-07-11): Brian Gesiak:

July 1: Receive new MacBook Pro 2019 at work

July 11: Shift key permanently depressed. Really hard to type in lowercase or deselect anything

See also: Hacker News (3).

9 Comments

>Looks like a good speed bump. Longer term, I hope Apple will make the Touch Bar optional, make the trackpad smaller, make the display (optionally) larger, fix the arrow key layout, add more ports, add more thermal headroom, bring back matte displays, and stop charging ridiculous prices for SSDs.

Thanks, so far you are the only one who summarise ALL the problem in one sentence. Arrow Key layout, and Trackpad smaller is two thing I rarely see people mention.

I just don't understand the thinness obsession. it's thin enough. i'd rather be able to type! but i guess the only thing people do anymore is scroll on facebook... ;(

Speaking on background about their latest attempt to prop up a fundamentally defective keyboard design may be a legal necessity given the class action suit pending against them, but it's not going to do anything to ameliorate their public relations fiasco.

Troughton-Smith is right. Consumers and stockholders deserve a high-ranking executive's head and they should remain angry until they get one.

"I just don't understand the thinness obsession"

Jony Ive ran over a gypsy woman, and the woman's father placed a curse on him.

> Looks like a good speed bump

How much of a real-world difference will this make with Apple's current thermal problems? I think they should headhunt some engineers from Razer before they upgrade the CPU again.

BTW, the solution here is clearly to turn the MacBook Pro into one huge foldable touchscreen. No more ribbon problems, no more keyboard problems, and the flattest keys ever, with literally zero key travel.

Physics is an implacable mistress. The heat produced by fast chips can’t be sniffed away by Jony Ive as an affront to his taste. If Apple was doing anything differently in the case to cope with it, presumably it would tell us - especially after last year’s throttling embarrassment. (Not to mention the legions of overcooked GPUs produced by the trashcan Mac Pro.) So we’re probably dealing with something that sounds like a hair dryer. Which speed chasers won’t mind.

But some of us are old enough to remember when the announcement of an Apple flagship product could be met with enthusiasm - rather than wary defensiveness over whether the manufacture would be junk.

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