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The photo group I support jumped on the chance to buy fully loaded 2016 MacBook Pros for ≈ $1200 below retail. I had not researched the machine, but searches now reveal serious problems with it. Yesterday here it was noted that Apple has begun a keyboard replacement program.

We received the machines yesterday but have not opened the boxes. I was disturbed to note all of the them are in generic, rather than full retail, packaging. The ad at B&H says nothing about refurb, so maybe I'm wrong on this.

I am concerned that I may have led people astray (including myself) on this. I ask the community to give me some thoughts on the 2016 MacBook Pro. Greater incidence of failures? Battery, sound, and other issues overblown? I recognize that any quality or engineering failures represent a small portion of nearly any manufactured product, but this seems significantly larger than the normal stats. Thanks much.
 



I considered that, and I've had everyone waiting on the off-chance that this would constitute "acceptance" of the item. (That's not making me popular at the moment!) Opening it reveals a full sealed retail package, so that's one thing not to worry about. I've had several laptops but never one inside a package that's inside a second package enclosed in yet another package.

I'm still concerned about the keyboard "recall" and other reported failures. We'll go ahead and start using them. See what happens. Again, if anyone has experience with this model, I'd appreciate feedback.
 


A long article worth reading through...
iFixit said:
Apple Engineers Its Own Downfall With the Macbook Pro Keyboard
A titan of tech and industrial innovation has been laid low by a mere speck of dust. Last week, Apple quietly announced that they were extending the warranty on their flagship laptop’s keyboard to four years. As it turns out, the initial run of these keyboards, described by Jony Ive as thin, precise, and “sturdy,” has been magnificently prone to failure.

... This is design anorexia: making a product slimmer and slimmer at the cost of usefulness, functionality, serviceability, and the environment.

... Apple can do better. Let’s start with a slightly thicker, more robust keyboard. Butterfly 3.0, we’re waiting for you.

In the meantime, let’s give some other companies a shot. Dell and HP have gorgeous, reliable, repairable flagship laptops that are getting rave reviews. Right now, I think they’ve done more to earn your business than Apple has.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
So yesterday I guided a friend through the Apple online store to buy a replacement MacBook Pro for her 9-year-old model. The new one doesn’t have a touch bar but does have a keyboard prior to the butterfly era.
Apple is still selling a 2015 MacBook Pro 15", which has Thunderbolt 2 ports and USB 3 ports. Presumably, that's what you found.
 


Apple is still selling a 2015 MacBook Pro 15", which has Thunderbolt 2 ports and USB 3 ports - presumably, that's what you found.
Yes Ric, that's what was ordered. It felt peculiar to steer her to a three-year-old model but didn't want to have her unknowingly buy potential problems.

The 2015 MacBook Pro will be like a rocket for her use cases compared to the refurbished Core 2 Duo, 4GB system she's been using since late 2010.
 


I'm still concerned about the keyboard "recall" and other reported failures. We'll go ahead and start using them. See what happens. Again, if anyone has experience with this model, I'd appreciate feedback.
According to Apple's page on the keyboard issue,"The program covers eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro models for 4 years after the first retail sale of the unit."

So, you should be good for awhile should the problem arise later.

However to be safe, you might want to check the warranty status just to make sure the serial numbers do show up as new on their system. You may also want to purchase AppleCare.
 


Apple is still selling a 2015 MacBook Pro 15", which has Thunderbolt 2 ports and USB 3 ports. Presumably, that's what you found.
My wife replaced her 2009 MacBook Pro with a 2015, just for the ports, before hearing about the keyboard issues.

Meanwhile my Mac Pro 2013 has 6 Thunderbolt ports, all full of adapters, with one native Thunderbolt device (a dock). Meanwhile all of its USB 3 ports and most of the docks are in use, including a USB 3 camera card reader that is easily 33% slower than my FireWire 800 one. Sigh. Progress...?
 



Apple is still selling a 2015 MacBook Pro 15", which has Thunderbolt 2 ports and USB 3 ports. Presumably, that's what you found.
Where can I find such a MacBook Pro? I could not find one on the Apple online store. Have I missed something? I love these models much better than the current ones - plus they are fairly extensible.
 


My wife has a rather old 2010 MacBook Pro 13", maxed to 16GB RAM and 1TB hybrid drive (120SSD + rotational), which works great - with OS X 10.8 installed.

Until now, we resisted all incentives to update the software, fearing the performance degradation with newer bloat-ware from Apple. However, lately, many services (including Apple iCloud and synchronization services) simply don't work anymore with the old software.

So - while I'm looking for a hardware upgrade (thanks, Ric, for the note about 2015 MacBook Pros still sold by Apple), I'd like an opinion on the latest macOS version I should install on this machine.

I don't think High Sierra is a good solution. Apple fairly neglected non-retina Macs for a while. So, from 10.9 to 10.13, which will be my "sweet spot" on the 2010 MacBook Pro?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I don't think High Sierra is a good solution. Apple fairly neglected non-retina Macs for a while. So, from 10.9 to 10.13, which will be my "sweet spot" on the 2010 MacBook Pro?
My personal experience:
  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks was the first Mac operating system that was too slow on a hard drive, so I had to upgrade all my Macs to SSDs for this. But it was a great, reliable Mac OS, and I miss it. Unfortunately, a lot of software isn't compatible with it, and Apple isn't providing security updates for it, so I was forced to update past it.
  • OS X 10.10 Yosemite gave me a great amount of trouble, although it has worked successfully for other people. It's the last version before Apple started adding things like the hidden photoanalysisd daemon. Apple seems to be no longer providing security updates (nor bug fixes) for it.
  • OS X 10.11 El Capitan is probably the oldest viable "current" version of the Mac operating system and is, for the moment, getting security updates (though not bug fixes). It's compatible with most software, though some apps demand a newer macOS. It worked much better than Yosemite for me.
  • macOS 10.12 Sierra is stable and compatible with most things and gets security updates. It's what I'm running currently
  • macOS 10.13 was insanely buggy and insecure initially, an utter failure in terms of quality and security, on top of new issues and confusion created by its new file system (APFS). It has had many updates and patches (including emergency patches), and I have friends using it successfully (as are many here on MacInTouch). Apple uses trickery to try and get it installed as an update, but I'm avoiding it as long as I can, as I see no advantages, unless you want to use an external GPU [eGPU] with Thunderbolt 3 or use a third-party NVMe SSD.
 


I have seen no real differences between macOS 10.12 and 10.13 on my 2011 cheesegrater (Mac Pro 5,1) for what it's worth; I went to a PCIe-card-mounted SSD a long time ago, though. (It's not optimal, since it's on 6GB SATA, rather than NVMe, but that's so it will boot normally. I can pretend it's actually designed to be doing what it does. It was also cheap compared with “doing it the right way.”)

As I write this, I realize why I want a new Mac Pro — so I can go to a faster SSD! It's annoying that I'll have to buy a new, possibly slower video card to keep this machine going, mainly because of the video card shortage and resulting insanely high prices.
 


My personal experience:
  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks was the first Mac operating system that was too slow on a hard drive, so I had to upgrade all my Macs to SSDs for this. But it was a great, reliable Mac OS, and I miss it. Unfortunately, a lot of software isn't compatible with it, and Apple isn't providing security updates for it, so I was forced to update past it.
  • OS X 10.10 Yosemite gave me a great amount of trouble, although it has worked successfully for other people. It's the last version before Apple started adding things like the hidden photoanalysisd daemon. Apple seems to be no longer providing security updates (nor bug fixes) for it.
  • OS X 10.11 El Capitan is probably the oldest viable "current" version of the Mac operating system and is, for the moment, getting security updates (though not bug fixes). It's compatible with most software, though some apps demand a newer macOS. It worked much better than Yosemite for me.
  • macOS 10.12 Sierra is stable and compatible with most things and gets security updates. It's what I'm running currently
  • macOS 10.13 was insanely buggy and insecure initially, an utter failure in terms of quality and security, on top of new issues and confusion created by its new file system (APFS). It has had many updates and patches (including emergency patches), and I have friends using it successfully (as are many here on MacInTouch). Apple uses trickery to try and get it installed as an update, but I'm avoiding it as long as I can, as I see no advantages, unless you want to use an external GPU [eGPU] with Thunderbolt 3. (It may also be a bit "perkier"/faster than macOS 10.12.)
Ric, thanks for this great summary. I've had the same experience and am also running Sierra on all my Macs.
 


Where can I find such a MacBook Pro? I could not find one on the Apple online store. Have I missed something? I love these models much better than the current ones - plus they are fairly extensible.
The Apple "Refurbished Store" currently has one listed. Others may show up as availability changes.

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/FJLQ2LL/A/refurbished-154-inch-macbook-pro-22ghz-quad-core-intel-i7-with-retina-display

They all come with the regular one year warranty and are eligible for AppleCare (highly recommended, especially for laptops).
 


It seems like you should be able to do better with USB 3. Are sure your reader is USB 3 and that you're using a USB 3 cable? This one has high ratings at two different stores and promises high performance:
Maybe some other people can offer experiences/suggestions.
I have the LRW400U. I'm using the cable that came with it and Lexar UDMA 7 cards. It was so slow, I did some timings. My SanDisk FireWire 800 reader through Apple's FireWire->Thunderbolt 2 was easily 50% faster.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I have the LRW400U. I'm using the cable that came with it and Lexar UDMA 7 cards. It was so slow, I did some timings. My SanDisk FireWire 800 reader through Apple's FireWire->Thunderbolt 2 was easily 50% faster.
Interesting. For what it's worth, I'll note that a pro photographer friend got a huge speedup in his workflow when he upgraded to a Retina MacBook Pro 13" several years ago and started using its built-in SD card reader instead of his external reader.
 


Will be taking my one-year-old MacBook Pro 2017 in for its second keyboard malfunction.
After the first fail of spacebar and other issues, I have been generally successful
cleaning keys periodically... until now... with a failing key that compressed air cannot clean.
Will be interesting to see if a store tech will be able to repair the defective key itself, or return to Apple for a second full replacement.
 


My wife has a rather old 2010 MacBook Pro 13", maxed to 16GB RAM and 1TB hybrid drive (120SSD + rotational), which works great - with OS X 10.8 installed. I don't think High Sierra is a good solution. Apple fairly neglected non-retina Macs for a while. So, from 10.9 to 10.13, which will be my "sweet spot" on the 2010 MacBook Pro?
One consideration might be how often this laptop is used away from your home network. If it never leaves home and you use an up-to-date browser (so, not Safari), you could go with Mavericks.

I still have Mavericks on two MacBook Pros (2011 15” and 2012 13”), in one case so that I can keep using Peak LE. Both have SSDs and 16 GB. A 2012 15”, same configuration, has Sierra installed. Performance is good on all of them. I use Firefox with all of them.
 


The Apple "Refurbished Store" currently has one listed. Others may show up as availability changes.
They all come with the regular one year warranty and are eligible for AppleCare (highly recommended, especially for laptops).
Yeah, and it's been there for weeks. The 256GB SSD models linger for a long time, but the 512GB SSD models don't even last a day. There were three or four there yesterday, and they all went quickly.

I just don't get why you'd pay all that money for a MacBook Pro, and then be content with 256GB of storage. It seems Apple refurb pricing isn't enough to convince anyone else it's a good deal, either!
 


Meanwhile my Mac Pro 2013 has 6 Thunderbolt ports, all full of adapters, with one native Thunderbolt device (a dock). Meanwhile all of its USB 3 ports and most of the docks are in use, including a USB 3 camera card reader that is easily 33% slower than my FireWire 800 one. Sigh. Progress...?
In looking for a reason for this slowdown compared to FireWire, have you considered how the Thunderbolt ports are bussed together on the Mac Pro?

How to Configure 2013 Mac Pro Thunderbolt Connections for Maximum Performance
 


I have found excellent results acquiring used/refurbs from eshop.macsales.com. Currently,
four 2015, and twenty 2014, models are offered. They generally sell pretty quick, too, for those in the market for pre-2016/17 models - OWC is one of the better online shops for used Macs.
 


Yeah, and it's been there for weeks. The 256GB SSD models linger for a long time, but the 512GB SSD models don't even last a day. There were three or four there yesterday, and they all went quickly.
I just don't get why you'd pay all that money for a MacBook Pro, and then be content with 256GB of storage. It seems Apple refurb pricing isn't enough to convince anyone else it's a good deal, either!
BestBuy sells the 2015 MacBook Pros as well. I just purchased one a few weeks ago. They also show up from time to time as Open Box stock, which I have had good luck with. On their site currently is a new 2015 MacBook Pro, 15", Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 256GB storage for $1499. Lots of ports, SD card reader, MagSafe, and a real keyboard. What's not to like?
 


I’ve been looking for a personal MacBook Pro for some time now, and I remain reluctant to purchase a 2015 machine. While I loved the one I had and despise my current “butterfly disaster,” I want to own something for the long haul. I want routine Apple support/patching for at least 3 years. WIll I get that?

Maybe. I want a full-featured machine with an SD card reader, a better power connection than my current USB-C, more ports, and a keyboard with tactile response that includes a recognizable home-row. I want more memory and the most current chipset. Will Apple give me that in the near future? I wonder.

I may be asking for the moon, or I may just be asking for a machine I can take into the field for photography “hobbying.” I’d settle for 80% of what I want and am open to advice...
 



Yes, but how would that cripple a USB 3.0 device?
It wasn’t clear to me from your post that your USB card reader was plugged directly into the Mac Pro, rather than via the Thunderbolt dock or other Thunderbolt adapters you mentioned . I’m curious as to the cause of the slowdown, as well.
 


BestBuy sells the 2015 MacBook Pros as well. I just purchased one a few weeks ago. They also show up from time to time as Open Box stock, which I have had good luck with. On their site currently is a new 2015 MacBook Pro, 15", Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 256GB storage for $1499. Lots of ports, SD card reader, MagSafe, and a real keyboard. What's not to like?
Or you can watch Craigslist and occasionally find a great deal if you are very careful.

To wit, I just bought a 2017 15" MacBook Pro with another 2-1/2 years of AppleCare+ (verified with Apple), 16GB RAM, 2.9GHz i7, and 512GB SSD for $2,200. I had to watch for weeks, and follow up carefully, but I found a seller who knew what they were doing, so all the back and forth arranging the sale was rational and straightforward (a welcome change from other Craigslist experiences!).

I love it when a plan comes together. :-)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
If I were buying a new 2015 MacBook Pro right now, this is what I'd get for maximum performance with High Sierra required:
Or, for compatibility with macOS 10.12 Sierra with lower performance:
If you want a 2015 MacBook Pro with a 1TB Apple SSD, the total cost is $2599 with slower non-NVMe flash, which is compatible with macOS 10.12 Sierra:
A friend reminds me that one disadvantage of the 2015 MacBook Pro vs. later models is that it has only Thunderbolt 2, not Thunderbolt 3, which means the 2015 can't handle external GPUs (eGPU), which need Thunderbolt 3's additional bandwidth. This is aggravated by the fact that the 2015 MacBook Pro models Apple currently sells lack discrete GPUs, having only integrated Intel graphics hardware. (Apple discontinued other 2015 models with the much faster discrete GPUs.)

Bottom line, a 2016-2017 MacBook Pro may be a better bet for graphics-intensive work than the currently available 2015 MacBook Pro models, though the 2015 version has more ports and better keyboards, and it looks like you can upgrade the internal SSD to the NVMe performance level of the later models.
 


Apple is still selling a 2015 MacBook Pro 15", which has Thunderbolt 2 ports and USB 3 ports. Presumably, that's what you found.
B&H still lists the 2015 MacBook Pro. After reading reviews on the new MacBook Pros, and playing with them at the Apple Store, I decided to replace my 2011 MacBook Pro with the 2015 version, not the new touchbar version.

After poking around on Craig'slist in Austin for 6 months or so, I found exactly what I sought: 2015 MacBook Pro with [discrete GPU], 16 GB RAM, and 512GB drive. Cost for the still-shrinkwrapped computer: $1350. It should serve me well for another 5 years....

And, just replaced my wife's 2010 MacBook Air with the 2015 version, still available on Amazon (13", 8 GB RAM, 256GB drive). Cost $958.

I really hope Apple can return to certain elements of its root history by producing computers driven by customer needs, not visions of designers. (And I'm still hanging on to my 2012 Mac Pro, a true photo workhorse with its four internal hard drives, driving 30" and 24" Dell displays. )

Thank you Ric for all your effort keeping the MacInTouch pages alive!

Mike
 


…the 2015 MacBook Pro models Apple currently sells lack discrete GPUs, having only integrated Intel graphics hardware. (Apple discontinued other 2015 models with the much faster discrete GPUs.)….
For some of us, that “shortcoming” is actually a blessing.

I’ve tried to not purchase MacBook Pros with discrete graphics, simply due to the ongoing issues with such. I’ve had my last three MacBook Pros with discrete graphics repaired for issues with the discrete graphics subsystem. Fortunately, the repairs have been either under warranty or through a repair extension program.

Also, integrated graphics draw less power overall, reducing heat generation (less fan use) and tend to get better battery life.

If I could purchase a new MacBook Pro 15" with ThunderBolt 3 and only integrated graphics, I’d leap at the chance.

Cheers,
Jon
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I’ve had my last three MacBook Pros with discrete graphics repaired for issues with the discrete graphics subsystem.
Maybe that's why Apple isn't selling 2015 MacBook Pros with discrete graphics anymore. Did you have trouble with a 2015 MacBook Pro or only older, more notorious ones?
 


Maybe that's why Apple isn't selling 2015 MacBook Pros with discrete graphics anymore. Did you have trouble with a 2015 MacBook Pro or only older, more notorious ones?
My work laptop is a 2015 MacBook Pro 15”, 2.8GHz, 16 GB, Radeon M370X, 500GB Apple SSD. I work it hard, running Adobe CC, VMware and Office apps mostly. It’s pretty much been rock-solid over the past three years.

I’m seriously considering picking up a “new” ‘15 to replace my flakey ‘15 iMac 4K at home. No interest in the later MacBook Pros - they seem like a failure waiting to happen.
 


Just thought I'd add to the mix, while folks are considering the, well, jump back to MacBook Pro 2015, that while for me the keyboard issue is disappointing and
the general "feel" of the 2017 seems lacking in durability, the 2017 iteration did see an improvement in display brightness (a bit, but noticeable) and speaker performance (a bit, but noticeable).
 


DFG

For some of us, that “shortcoming” is actually a blessing. I’ve tried to not purchase MacBook Pros with discrete graphics, simply due to the ongoing issues with such.
Interesting point. By 2015, the discrete GPU issues should have been resolved. But maybe not?!? I haven't seen any authoritative report on this. Perhaps not enough time has yet elapsed to know for sure, as such issues typically appear after a few years of use.

At any rate, for serious work the dGPU is needed, because it makes the laptop much faster.
 


When a top-spec (2.8GHz, 1TB SSD, AMD GPU) 2015 MacBook Pro appeared, I jumped, even though I don't really need it (yet). My 17" MacBook Pro is still my primary workhorse machine, as it has a few capabilities lacking in the 2015, specifically DVD burner and FireWire. Oh, and the big screen. Ethernet is handy for troubleshooting Airport issues but not used much otherwise.

I did have the infamous GPU failure in my 2011 17", but I was able to get it repaired by a 3rd-party shop. Plus the RAM, SSD or hard drive, and battery are all user-replaceable. It annoys me that in the 2015 the battery is glued in, and while the SSD is replaceable, apparently there are no non-Apple SSDs that actually work. When it lands on the vintage list in 2021, battery and SSD replacements (which are both consumable items) will become a problem.
 


I’ve had my last three MacBook Pros with discrete graphics repaired for issues with the discrete graphics subsystem. Fortunately, the repairs have been either under warranty or through a repair extension program.
Just curious - what did the problems look like for you? My discrete graphics MacBook Pro 2015 has been having periodic problems with apps crashing during sleep, or the UI failing somehow to come back from having been asleep, requiring a hard restart. It seems like it's worse when the external display is plugged in (forcing the GPU to be used).
 



Mark, there definitely are third-party SSDs that are compatible with the Mid-2015 15" MacBook Pros. There's been a recent MacInTouch discussion [SSD (solid-state drives)] about just this topic.
By ‘doesn’t work’, I meant not 100% compatible with Apple’s SSD.

I am aware of four 3rd-party replacements: the OWC Aurora Pro, OWC Aurora Pro X, MCE, and Transcend.

Samsung is the OEM provider for the 2015 MacBook Pro but is apparently prohibited from selling directly to consumers.

The Aurora Pro is some sort of RAID configuration, appears as an external drive, doesn’t support TRIM or FileVault, and is apparently incompatible with High Sierra or later.

The others are compatible with only High Sierra (and presumably later). OWC states this about their Aurora Pro X. I thought I read similar information about MCE and Transcend, but I can't find the source of that info. From what I’ve read, all of them must be removed and the Apple SSD reinstalled in order to install High Sierra, due to firmware updates.

This raises the question of will this be necessary for future updates? What if the original Apple SSD fails, or you are trying to replace a failed SSD in a vintage machine?

I asked the Apple Store reps about purchasing replacement Apple SSDs. They quite clearly stated that they will not sell SSDs except as replacements for a failed factory component. They will only replace like-for-like, no upgrades.

So as far as Apple is concerned:
  • They will never sell an SSD except as a repair for a failure component
  • They will never sell an SSD with a different capacity than what was originally configured.
  • Once the machine is vintage, they will not replace it at all, under any circumstances.
 


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