Not so long ago, I had to ask myself the unthinkable question: is it time to start looking seriously at Windows machines? Indeed, the state of Mac hardware was as grim as it was just a few years ago. What a difference from a few years.
Fortunately, I have never had to follow up on such an unfortunate decision. This is because the condition of Mac hardware a few years later is at its healthiest level. years. How did we get there? Watch our latest episode of Back to Mac for details.
Started from the top
For as much grief as people have given Apple’s management team over the mishandling of Mac hardware, it would be wrong not to also credit the team that orchestrated the turnaround.
First of all, Apple had to admit that it was wrong, which is never an easy thing for a proud company. These material changes just didn’t come out of the blue, but they were the result of leadership acknowledging their mistakes and taking action.
This line of thinking was well illustrated in April 2017, when, in an unprecedented move for the company at the time, it invited journalists to a round table to discuss the future of Mac hardware.
We also discussed some of Apple’s mistakes, plans to fix the problems, and even went as far as announcing the hardware beforehand. Again, it was unheard of at the time.
To be clear, Apple still has a long way to go, but the company has made great strides towards improving its perception among loyal Macs.
Back to Mac 017: Mac hardware is healthy again!
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Before the release of any new hardware, the eGPU was the first tangible indication that Apple was trying to get the Mac back on track. Initially, external graphics solutions required workarounds to obtain support under macOS, but eventually native support for eGPUs began to deploy.
Over time, Apple has lent more support for external graphics in macOS, and even has a support page where it describes which eGPUs are recommended for macOS. Eventually, Apple began shipping two eGPUs to its stores, the Blackmagic eGPU and the Blackmagic eGPU Pro.
Support for external graphics continues to grow under macOS. You can now force applications to prefer external graphics and applications such as the Final Cut Pro X feature preferences that allow you to specify the GPU to use for rendering and export.
The eGPUs are nice, but it’s the iMac Pro that has strengthened Apple’s desire to get back into the good graces of Mac users. The iMac Pro, although released in late 2017, remains one of the best Macs sold by Apple today, and one of the best Mac machines that Apple has released in the past decade.
Apple took the exact form factor from its popular all-in-one iMac and upgraded the internal components with Intel Xeon processors, Radeon Vega graphics, ECC RAM and lots of fast solid-state storage.
But what I like most about the iMac Pro is how incredibly quiet it is. Thanks to a completely redesigned internal cooling system, it is much quieter than the classic iMac 5K.
MacBook Pro 2018
The MacBook Pro is Apple’s most popular desktop computer, so imagine how happy Apple fans were to finally have a laptop with a serious hardware upgrade. While the 2018 MacBook Pro didn’t resolve the dire butterfly keyboard switching issues – which would occur a year later in 2019 – it did provide much-needed graphics processing and improvement. The MacBook Pro 2018 also allowed for the first time to configure more than 16 GB of RAM in a MacBook Pro.
Faster versions of the MacBook Pro
After the release of the MacBook Pro 2018, Apple pushed specification bumps like the 2019 update which brought an 8-core processor to the MacBook Pro for the first time.
Mac mini 2018
It almost looked like a dream when it came out, but after four years of waiting, we finally got an updated Mac mini in late 2018. The Mac mini 2018, while keeping the same form factor as its predecessor, came with a new space gray exterior, with considerably improved internal elements. In fact, when it came out, I called it the most versatile Mac sold by Apple. The title has since been claimed by the Mac Pro, but the Mac mini is a much more affordable machine for the general public.
What I like about the new Mac mini, in addition to its custom 10 GbE CPU and 6-core i7 CPU options, is its inclusion of four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Like the iMac Pro, the four Thunderbolt ports three ports on the Mac mini give it incredible versatility and the ability to work with a plethora of external Thunderbolt 3 devices. For the money, it’s probably the best value for money in the entire Mac lineup.
MacBook Air 2018
Like the Mac mini, the MacBook Air had been on hiatus for several years, and like the Mac mini, it returned at the end of 2018. Its biggest feature, adding a Retina display for the very first time, has brought a switch to the popular range of laptops.
Another first for the MacBook Air was the adoption of Thunderbolt 3. The Air marked not only one but two Thunderbolt 3 ports, adding potential for external upgrades to Apple’s most affordable laptop.
With just one processor available – a 7 W 1.6 GHz dual-core 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, the MacBook Air is not the laptop designed to power massive video editing projects, 3D modeling, etc. . However, it is probably the best Apple laptop for most casual users who need a machine to handle basic tasks like word processing, web browsing, etc.
And thanks to its external extensibility via Thunderbolt 3, it can handle even more intense workloads when associated with an eGPU.
Last March, Apple finally updated its 21.5-inch iMac 4K and 27-inch iMac 5K with new processors, including new quad-core, 6-core and 8-core options. High-end iMacs also had access to faster Radeon Pro Vega graphics.
As I noted in my five things to remember from an iMac Pro user afterwards, the 8-core iMac 5K offered impressive CPU performance like the iMac Pro. For half the price of a basic $ 5,000 iMac Pro, you get head-to-toe CPU performance and even beat the iMac Pro in some regions.
The 27-inch iMac can also accommodate up to 128 GB of RAM, which can be upgraded by users via a convenient access port on the back of the machine. We released a tutorial shortly after the release of the updated iMac 5K with instructions showing how to upgrade to 128 GB of RAM.
Unfortunately, Apple is wrapping up the base iMac 2019 with a Fusion Drive, which can hurt performance. If you are considering an iMac, avoid the Fusion Drive if possible. Apple also continues to sell a non-Retina iMac, the only device in its entire line without a Retina display.
MacBook Pro 2019 technical specifications
In mid-2019, Apple released a MacBook Pro specification update with a 9th generation 8-core Intel i9 processor in the 15-inch model, the first time we’ve seen an 8-core processor in a computer Apple laptop. This update has resolved one of the main complaints of the MacBook Pro 2018, that of the significant limitation of the processor.
2019 entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro
Later in 2019, Apple released an all-new entry-level MacBook Pro, replacing the model that has been in the lineup since 2017. Although on paper, the new entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro looks anemic from in terms of performance, the 1.4 GHz quad-core processor powering the machine is actually quite capable.
The great thing about the new basic MacBook Pro is that it starts at the same price of $ 1299 as its predecessor, but comes with a quad-core processor this time, and has the Touch Bar with a fingerprint sensor. digital Touch ID very practical.
While the 2018 MacBook Air, which starts at $ 200 less than the MacBook Pro, is more affordable, it might be worth considering upgrading for additional processor capacity.
16-inch MacBook Pro
The first 16-inch edition of Apple’s MacBook Pro finally provided a long-awaited fix for the failed butterfly key switches, replacing key switches with a more traditional scissor switch mechanism.
Besides the keyboard fix, the 16-inch MacBook Pro featured a slightly larger screen with higher resolution, an option to configure up to 64 GB of RAM and 8 TB of storage – the first two for an Apple laptop, a wide stereo sound with six speakers, etc. .
Although Apple still has a long way to go to resolve the keyboard problem plaguing all of its other laptops, I see the release of the 16-inch MacBook Pro as the symbolic end of Apple’s disastrous Mac hardware era which started in 2016..
If the 16-inch MacBook Pro closed the end of a once disappointing Mac era, the 2019 Mac Pro presents new beginnings and an exciting future for the Mac. After all, this is the machine that was discussed at this first meeting where Apple publicly admitted to having made bad decisions regarding the direction of the Mac.
The Mac Pro is all it needs. As I noted in our handy video, this is not the Mac for most people, and its cost, especially when upgraded during the custom build process, can be quite prohibitive.
But if you can use a machine like the Mac Pro wisely, you’ll find an incredible amount of power and capacity at your fingertips. The processor, for example, can be configured up to a 24-core monster, while users with particularly deep pockets can add a pair of Radeon Pro Vega II Duo MPX modules, which Apple individually claims to be the graphics card. the most powerful in the world.
My favorite thing about the Mac Pro, however, is the upgradability. As a Mac user in the Thunderbolt 3 era, I used to be able to take advantage of all kinds of interesting external upgrades, but this is the first time that we have a machine that can perform upgrades external and internal level on a large scale.
With PCIe access, users can add graphics cards, high-speed PCIe SSDs, internal capture cards, and more. And Apple also lets you massively upgrade RAM – up to 1.5 TB for high-end processor configurations.
All of this coupled with the plethora of external Thunderbolt 3 hardware makes the Mac Pro the most scalable Mac ever. Simply put, it’s a dream machine for Mac users, but it’s also overkill for the majority.
Pro Display XDR
Speaking of overkill, the Pro Display XDR is a dream screen for creative professionals. The true 6K screen has an exceptional contrast ratio and brightness capacity above all in its class.
Worth mentioning is the incredible build quality of the Pro Display XDR, with the optional $ 999 Pro support, which brings shame to all the other monitors I have ever used – even the beloved Thunderbolt Display from Apple.
The glossy 32-inch screen does a great job of rejecting glare, but it also comes with an option of matte nano-textured glass that takes light rejection to the next level. Of course, the nano-textured glass option will cost you an additional $ 999.
Needless to say, this is the type of display primarily intended for creative professionals who edit videos or render 3D models all day long. 6K resolution gives you tremendous flexibility for post-production, and the extreme dynamic range, which provides insane contrast, color and brightness capabilities, is unlike any other screen in its price range.
I’m very happy that the Pro Display XDR exists because it shows how seriously Apple takes professional Mac workflows. That being said, it is certainly an exaggeration for the average user, and like the Mac Pro, its price is downright prohibitive for most consumers.
Although Mac hardware has been at its healthiest level in years (maybe ever?), There are certainly some areas I would like to see Apple address in the future.
First of all – do not release the accelerator. The Mac took the wrong shape a few years ago because Apple became complacent and focused too much on iOS to see how much the Mac had eroded. Please never let this happen again. Keep pushing our periodic updates, as mundane as they may seem. Customers appreciate not having to buy outdated hardware, so keep pushing regular specification updates as much as possible.
Second: Hear customer feedback. If Apple had listened to complaints about the original 12-inch MacBook keyboard, it would have known how badly broken the butterfly switch keyboard was. So he (hopefully) never migrated such a terrible keyboard to his most popular Mac lineup.
Give us more affordable equipment. I love the Mac Pro, the iMac Pro and the Pro Display XDR, but in reality, they are often beyond the means of the most diehard Apple fans. As such, we need things like:
- A brand new affordable Thunderbolt display with excellent build quality, perhaps in 5K resolution
- A cheaper Mac Pro iteration with PCIe access and memory
In the meantime, I would also like to see the return of the 12-inch MacBook keyboard without the 12-inch butterfly, and of course, I would like to see every Mac laptop drop the butterfly switch keyboard in due course.
Needless to say, the future of Mac hardware looks very bright. It is rumored that we will see both a Mac mini and an iMac updated very soon, and of course, we should also see other models from Apple’s MacBook lineup receiving updates.
What do you think of the state of Mac hardware in 2020? Do you think Apple has done a good job in recent years to correct mistakes and missteps it has made in the past? What do you think of the future of Mac hardware? Describe below in the comments section with your thoughts and opinions on the matter.
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