Want to Overpay for a Laptop? Buy a MacBook.

By: Adam Perkinson

If you’ve had any connection to the internet in the last month, then you’ve probably heard of the new iPhone…well, more like iPhones. There are 3 different models this year: the regular 11, the 11 Pro, and the 11 Pro Max. Apple has taken the “Pro” moniker from their computers and applied them to their phones for some strange reason. There’s nothing professional about the 11 Pro Max, and for that matter, their computers, either.

It’s time for a little history lesson. 

Apple’s flagship laptop, the Macbook Pro, has been around since 2006. It would be laughably slow compared to today’s machines, but back then it boasted a powerful Intel Core processor that provided up to 4 times the processing power of its predecessor, the Powerbook G4. With this new Macbook Pro also came the Magsafe charger, a revolutionary little device that worked using magnets to hold the plug in place. It was strong enough to not fall out of the laptop, but if someone were to trip on the cord, for example, it would come out instead of it pulling the computer down with it. It also came at a hefty price of $2,000, which translates to around $2500 in today’s money. 

Back then, laptop manufacturers weren’t obsessed with making their laptops the lightest and the thinnest. Instead, they were more focused on making their machines as powerful as they could be. This trend lasted from the late 90s, when behemoths like the ThinkPad 365XD came out until roughly 2008, when Apple released their Macbook Air. It was thin, light, and powerful. However, in the computing world, with increased power comes increased heat, and that’s arguably the biggest roadblock for laptops today…which brings me to my next point.

Apple. Sucks. 

Okay, okay, I know what you’re saying. “Adam, don’t you have an iPhone? And AirPods? And don’t you have a Macbook Pro?” Well, yes, yes, and no (it’s my parents’.) Don’t get me wrong — I love my iPhone, and I think my AirPods are one of the most convenient devices I’ve ever owned, but when I say Apple sucks, I mean their computers do. 

Let’s have a look at Apple’s desktop — the iMac. Popular tech YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips conducted an experiment earlier this year to see if the idea that “Macs are too expensive for what they are” was true, or if you really were getting the same performance you paid for. And, as it turns out, it would be just as expensive to custom build your own PC — running Windows, of course — with the same specs. However, the iMac is what you would call an all-in-one, meaning that the monitor and the computer itself is all housed together, much like a laptop. The problem with this versus a regular desktop computer is that there is less room for cooling apparatus, which means that there is a much more likely chance of thermal throttling and thus, less performance. Herein lies Apple’s biggest flaw: the relentless pursuit of appeal. Apple is more focused on minimalistic and sleek designs, even if it means consumers aren’t getting the performance they paid for. Take the 2019 Macbook Pro for example. In its top configuration, it’s powered by Intel’s top-of-the-line Core i9 mobile processor, has Radeon 560X graphics, and boasts a beefy amount of 32gb of RAM. On paper, it should be able to keep up with, if not surpass, most mobile workstations today (like the ThinkPad P53, for example). However, as Linus Tech Tips demonstrated in their stress test, Apple’s claims of power are only true if you’re not doing anything intensive. Under full load, the Macbook hits its TDP of around 212 degrees fahrenheit within mere moments, at which point the CPU throttles back to preserve itself, effectively turning your i9 into an i5 performance wise. 

But performance isn’t the only thing modern Macbooks lack. If you want ports, you’ll have to buy a dock —which can set you back by $70 at the cheapest and up to $200 at the most expensive — because the highest number of ports you can get on any Macbook now is 4 USB Type-C ports. No HDMI, no full-size USB, and perhaps most infamously, no headphone jack. And the keyboards…don’t get me started. In 2016, in order to continue to become more and more minimalistic, Apple changed their keyboards to a low profile butterfly switch board that leaves a lot to be desired. For the first two model years, the MBP was plagued by keys that were made faulty by dust getting underneath the board. After that, they put in a protective sheath to keep dust out, but the overall design of the keys were relatively unchanged. Ignoring the quality issues, the typing experience is abysmal at worst and unremarkable at best. To anyone who doesn’t type a lot, or prefers keys with no travel (i.e. typing on a touchscreen), this isn’t a big deal; but to anyone like myself, who spends the majority of their computer time typing, this is a make or break situation, especially if you’re spending upwards of $5600 for a laptop.

But let’s be honest; the majority of people today don’t buy Macbooks because they need a powerful machine. They buy them for the iconic 1-and-a-half-inch illuminated logo on the front. Pulling a Macbook out of your bag is the same thing as saying “I have money, and I like to spend it” to everyone else in the coffee shop. Add in the newest iPhone, a pair of AirPods, a pair of Jordans and a Supreme sweatshirt and you have the epitome of flex.

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