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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.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
By ‘doesn’t work’, I meant not 100% compatible with Apple’s SSD.
... 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....
As noted in the SSD topic, High Sierra and its firmware update are required for third-party NVMe support and compatibility with certain sector sizes.

One MCE upgrade [e.g. 1TBPCIESSD-2015] avoids NVMe (at the expense of maximum performance) and is billed as "100% compatible" with Retina MacBook Pros through 2015, complete with support for Trim, SMART and Boot Camp.
 


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).
Same symptoms for me with my mid-2014 MacBook Pro (dGPU) plugged into an old 27" Thunderbolt display. I can't say it's worse with the external display plugged in, because it always is [bad].
 


As noted in the SSD topic, High Sierra and its firmware update are required for third-party NVMe support and compatibility with certain sector sizes. One MCE upgrade [e.g. 1TBPCIESSD-2015] avoids NVMe (at the expense of maximum performance) and is billed as "100% compatible" with Retina MacBook Pros through 2015, complete with support for Trim, SMART and Boot Camp.
That makes sense that NVMe drives require a firmware update before installation. However, that doesn't entirely explain the Aurora Pro X. The tech specs don't say whether it is NVMe or SATA (or more correctly AHCI). OWC specs it at 1352 MB/s read and 1066 MB/s write, compared to 1900 read, 1400 write I benchmarked in my 2015 MacBook Pro, Apple SATA/AHCI-based SSD. If it is NVMe, why is it so slow? If it is AHCI, why does the 10.13 firmware update fail?

I checked the specs on the MCE; they also leave unanswered questions. They state that it is 100% compatible, but further down it states compatibility with 'current and future OS versions'. This might mean it requires 10.13, and the firmware update will fail just like the Aurora Pro X. The specs don't say if it is AHCI or NVMe, only that it is PCIe. The performance specs are better than OWC, 1400 read, 1100 write (maybe they just rounded up?), but still far below what Apple claims for their NVMe drive in the 2016+ MacBook Pro, and below Apple's AHCI drive.

I checked the specs on the Transcend JetDrive, it looks like the JetDrive 85x is an x4-lane NVMe drive requiring 10.13 (but still slower than Apple's AHCI drive); the JetDrive 82x is x2-lane AHCI drive, about half the speed of Apple's drive, and requires 10.10, making it more compatible, but not an equivalent replacement.

Interestingly, Transcend's compatibility list says that the 82x won't work in a pre 2015 MacBook Pro, while the SSD guide says Apple's 2015 MacBook Pro SSD will. Transcend has a JetDrive 72x for the pre-2015, but its advertised speed is slower than even SATA 3 speeds. This makes me question the compatibility of their drives, too.

Call me a skeptic, but I have doubts that any of them are 100% equivalent replacements for an Apple SSD.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
That makes sense that NVMe drives require a firmware update before installation. However, that doesn't entirely explain the Aurora Pro X. The tech specs don't say whether it is NVMe or SATA (or more correctly AHCI). OWC specs it at 1352 MB/s read and 1066 MB/s write, compared to 1900 read, 1400 write I benchmarked in my 2015 MacBook Pro, Apple SATA/AHCI-based SSD. If it is NVMe, why is it so slow? If it is AHCI, why does the 10.13 firmware update fail?
I just tested a 2015 MacBook Pro 15" with 1TB Apple SSD SM1024G (AHCI x4 PCI) with FileVault enabled, running macOS 10.12 and Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. I see 1863 MB/s Read and 1078 MB/s Write. I'm curious why you're seeing higher Write speeds, while I'm getting Write speeds that are the same as what's listed for MCE's non-NVMe 1TB SSD (but I'm seeing somewhat higher Read speeds). From what I can tell, this MCE SSD should function the same as Apple's, unless I'm missing something, but maybe there are differences in the controller used, the driver or the memory.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's some more information about Apple and OWC SSDs:
AnandTech said:
OWC Introduces SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air PCIe SSDs
Apple's Retina MacBook Pro and all but the earliest MacBook Air models have relied solely on SSDs for internal storage, as Apple slimmed down the designs to the point that even a 1.8" hard drive was too bulky. Rather than adopt the mSATA or later M.2 form factor, Apple's SSDs have used custom form factors and pinouts. This has contributed to keeping the market for third-party upgrades very small. Only a few companies have produced SSDs in Apple-specific form factors, most notably Other World Computing (OWC) and Transcend. Transcend has generally used Silicon Motion controllers while OWC has used SandForce controllers, but until now their offerings have been limited to SATA-based SSDs.

Apple migrated their notebook SSDs to PCIe-based interfaces in 2013 and has been using drives supplied by Toshiba, SanDisk, and Samsung. OWC has finally devised a compatible replacement and released it as part of their Aura SSD product line. Like the Apple originals, the OWC Aura PCIe SSD uses the AHCI protocol; Apple so far only supports and uses NVMe on the Retina MacBook that doesn't have a removable SSD. The requirement to use AHCI instead of NVMe limited OWC's choices for SSD controller. While Apple is a big enough customer to convince Samsung to make the SM951 in a custom form factor, OWC is not. Marvell has shipped several AHCI-compatible PCIe SSD controllers, but their typical business model is to sell just the controller and leave it up to the customer to write their own firmware or license from a third party, either of which is a substantial up-front expense.

In order to keep costs under control, OWC has opted to not use a native PCIe SSD controller. Instead, the PCIe Aura SSD uses a Marvell 9230 SATA RAID controller and a pair of Silicon Motion SM2256 SATA SSD controllers. The Marvell 9230 has a PCIe 2.0 x2 host interface, so the PCIe Aura SSD has the potential to outperform SATA SSDs but won't be able to approach the peak transfer rates of the recent Samsung SM951-based Apple originals. The Silicon Motion SM2256 controllers mean the PCIe Aura SSD is almost certainly using TLC flash, which is less expensive but also performs worse and draws more power than MLC flash. The PCIe Aura SSD's RAID design unfortunately does not support passing through TRIM commands nor retrieving SMART information from the individual SSD controllers.
 


I just tested a 2015 MacBook Pro 15" with 1TB Apple SSD SM1024G (AHCI x4 PCI) with FileVault enabled, running macOS 10.12 and Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. I see 1863 MB/s Read and 1078 MB/s Write. I'm curious why you're seeing higher Write speeds, while I'm getting Write speeds that are the same as what's listed for MCE's non-NVMe 1TB SSD (but I'm seeing somewhat higher Read speeds). From what I can tell, this MCE SSD should function the same as Apple's, unless I'm missing something, but maybe there are differences in the controller used, the driver or the memory.
I don't have FileVault turned on, it is 1 TB, of which about 35% is available. I am also running 10.12. I just ran it again, got 1450 write and 1899 read.

Are you sure that MCE drive is non-NVMe? I only saw PCIe specified, but nothing about NVMe or AHCI. The reason I ask is the MCE performance numbers are suspiciously close to OWC's. I finally did find an article that states that the Aura Pro X is a NVMe drive.
 




Apple is still selling a 2015 MacBook Pro 15", which has Thunderbolt 2 ports and USB 3 ports. Presumably, that's what you found.
The big downside for anyone doing extensive photo work on that machine is that it uses Intel's Iris graphics over a dedicated video card. I would have bought one last year if Apple had made the dedicated GPU a BTO option, but alas...
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The big downside for anyone doing extensive photo work on that machine is that it uses Intel's Iris graphics over a dedicated video card. I would have bought one last year if Apple had made the dedicated GPU a BTO option, but alas...
Yeah, I didn't think it would affect me that much, as I haven't been doing much photo work (nor video), but I was surprised and disappointed at how the fans ramped up in Affinity Photo doing simple things. I don't think the Iris Pro is even all that bad in the grand scheme of things, though it can't keep up with a discrete GPU. But I haven't really done enough photo work to have a good handle on what I'm dealing with hardware-wise.

A neighbor bought an inexpensive Dell gaming laptop, and it's doing just fine for video editing with its dedicated GPU. It's a lot larger than the MacBook Pro, but I think it's quite a bit more powerful for about a third of the price, and one screw gives you complete access to the internals with easily-upgradable/replaceable components. Wish I could get a Mac laptop like that.
 




The big downside for anyone doing extensive photo work on that machine is that it uses Intel's Iris graphics over a dedicated video card. I would have bought one last year if Apple had made the dedicated GPU a BTO option, but alas...
I'm kicking myself, as the 2015 discrete GPU models were still available up through a week or two ago - I was pricing them out but didn't pull the trigger. They're now all gone, and I can't find anyone with new units available (other than with just the integrated graphics). Guess I'll keep an eye out for refurbs.
 


I'm kicking myself, as the 2015 discrete GPU models were still available up through a week or two ago - I was pricing them out but didn't pull the trigger. They're now all gone, and I can't find anyone with new units available (other than with just the integrated graphics). Guess I'll keep an eye out for refurbs.
Did you try looking in Amazon?

I am not sure if this is what you want, but there might be other options available

Apple Macbook Pro 15.4 inch laptop with Retina Display

I am not related to that seller but bought this model about a year ago there.
 


I'm kicking myself, as the 2015 discrete GPU models were still available up through a week or two ago - I was pricing them out but didn't pull the trigger. They're now all gone, and I can't find anyone with new units available (other than with just the integrated graphics). Guess I'll keep an eye out for refurbs.
OWC has a refurb section:

https://eshop.macsales.com/configure-my-mac/macbook-pro

As of this post, they had a 2015 15" MacBook Pro with discrete graphics available.

Shortly after the Touchbar models were made available and I saw that Apple's "new" 2015 stock only included integrated graphics models, I quickly purchased a 2015 refurb directly from Apple so it came with the standard Apple 1-year warranty.
 


Did you try looking in Amazon?
Yes, but your search-fu was better than mine! There's one new unit listed, at a premium price, too ($3,000). B&H had the same configuration (2.8GHz, 1TB, Radeon) for around $2700 a couple weeks ago, and Adorama was even cheaper.
OWC has a refurb section… As of this post, they had a 2015 15" MacBook Pro with discrete graphics available.
Fastest listed is a 2.5GHz, as of this writing. Given it's two generations old, I think it would be best to get the fastest available processor.

I think I'll wait and watch for an Apple refurbed unit - they're bound to show up now and then.
 


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