Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews on Ubuntu PC-maker System76 seeing a surge of traffic after last week’s MacBook Pro announcements:
Alternatively, I headed to System76 and configured its 15-inch
Oryx Pro (you can do so here). I closely matched the MacBook Pro
specs, with a Quad-core Sklyake i7 and NVMe 256GB SSD. Instead of
16 GB of RAM as found on the Apple, I configured with 32 GB (you can
go up to 64 GB if needed). By default, it comes with a 6 GB Nvidia
GTX 1060. The price? Less than $2,000! In other words, the
System76 machine with much better specs is less expensive than
Obviously we aren’t comparing apples to apples (pun intended). If
you absolutely need macOS for certain software or licenses, an
Ubuntu machine will not meet your needs. Also, the System76
machine does not have Apple’s revolutionary Touch Bar.
Still, the Oryx Pro can be configured with specs far beyond the
MacBook Pro, and at a very competitive price — it is not hard to
see why System76 saw a huge jump in traffic following the Apple
Keynote. It is worth noting that both the Oryx Pro and MacBook Pro
can run Windows too.
There is a catch. The 15-inch Oryx Pro is 1-inch thick and weighs 5.5 pounds. The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is 0.6 inches thick and weighs 4 pounds. I’m not slamming the Oryx here — there are plenty of performance-hungry Mac users who wish that Apple made a MacBook this thick and heavy if it meant they could install up to 64 GB of RAM and had all the ports they wanted built-in. (I will add that the Oryx is ugly as sin, and doesn’t have a retina-resolution display. Here I am slamming it.)
But the price you pay for the MacBook Pro isn’t about the sum of the components. It’s about getting them into that sleek, lightweight form factor, too. In a word, Apple is optimizing the MacBook lineup for niceness. That’s frustrating — in some cases, downright angering — for people who want a notebook optimized for performance.
This year-ago quote from Tim Cook in an interview with The Telegraph, in the wake of the launch of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, is getting a lot of circulation this week:
“I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC
anymore? No really, why would you buy one?”, asks Tim Cook,
Apple’s chief executive, who has just flown into Britain for the
launch of the iPad Pro. […]
“Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop
for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they
no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones,”
Cook argues in his distinctly Southern accent (he was born in
People are pointing to this as proof that Tim Cook doesn’t care about the Mac, because he thinks everybody should just switch to an iPad Pro. But here’s the thing, in Apple lingo, the Mac is not a “PC”. A “PC” is a personal computer that runs Windows or Linux or whatever. I’m not splitting hairs here — this is how people inside Apple talk. It’s right there in the opening lines of the years-long “Get a Mac” ad campaign (66 ads!) — “I’m a Mac…”, “… and I’m a PC.”
The second paragraph above shows the difference. In the first paragraph, Cook is questioning why anyone would buy a (Windows/Linux) PC. In the second, he’s saying many people don’t even need a notebook or desktop, period, implicitly including Mac notebooks and desktops. This is true for many people, probably even true for “many, many” people, as Cook says. But even “many, many” is not “most”.
You can argue the sorry state of the Mac hardware lineup is proof that Cook doesn’t properly value the Mac. If this goes on much longer, it’s an unavoidable conclusion. You can also argue, quite possibly correctly, that Cook is too bullish on the iPad. But Cook’s “Why would you buy a PC anymore?” question is only a slam against computers other than Apple’s.
Note too: Tim Cook has an iMac on his desk.
“Exploding_m1”, in a thread on Reddit:
The true reason behind the lack of 32 GB or DDR4 is Intel. Skylake
does not support LPDDR4 (LP for low power) RAM. Kabylake is set to
include support, but only for the U category of chips. So no
LPDDR4 support for mobile until 2018 I think.
One example is the Dell XPS 13. On the Dell XPS 13 version, you
cannot go for 32 GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the 15 inches does give you
that option, but you have to sacrifice battery life for it.
From what Apple told me last week, I believe this is true. You can certainly argue with the design of the new MacBook Pros — and many are. The argument against this design is that it’s backwards — that for MacBooks targeting pro users, Apple should start with high performance specs and then build a machine that supports things like 32 GB of RAM. If they had done that, they’d have wound up with thicker, heavier designs. Many actual pro users would be delighted by that.
Apple simply places a higher priority on thinness and lightness than performance-hungry pro users do. Apple is more willing to compromise on performance than on thinness and lightness and battery life. Intel just doesn’t make the chips that Apple needs.
This is why Apple designs its own chips for iOS. You don’t see people complaining that the iPhone or iPad Pro are underpowered. In fact, they’re faster than their competition. (The iPhone 7 has a single-core Geekbench 4 score that is double that of the Google Pixel.) With iPhones and iPads, Apple makes them ever thinner and lighter and yet they still offer industry-leading performance. We’ve all been speculating for years that Apple might start designing its own chips for Macs. At this point it looks like they have to do it. If anything, these new MacBook Pros were overdue — they arrived late and Intel still doesn’t have the chips Apple really needs.
Intel is designing its chips for an industry that does not share Apple’s obsession with thinness and lightness.