Offbeat Bits

Three months with MacBook Pro

Hell froze. I bought an Apple computer. And now I should write ten paragraphs on how Apple is supremely better than anything and bait those poor Windows plebs to argue with me. I totally should. Not today though. Even I maintain certain standards for cheap laughs on my own blog.

Don't worry. We're not gonna start an Apple church here. Whether we will refrain from bashing them for no reason, that I can't promise.

Backstory, yay

Back in September I figured I needed a separate device dedicated solely to everyday work. I could choose between relying on my employer to buy one for me or bring my own. Despite the cost I opted for the second option so that I could have final say on the workhorse I was gonna spend lots of time with. I didn't want to use my desktop PC for work because having separate machines for work and entertainment is my way of switching between ‘work' and ‘home' modes while working from home.

I chose a refurbished Lenovo P53 with an i7-9750H CPU and 32 GB RAM. Powerful and mobile, yet still within budget. Or so it looked.

From the very first day this machine was an absolute pain to work with. Finding a matching docking station for it was a challenge due to its humongous power requirements. When I finally forked out extra budget for a beasty dock with two power adapters (yup!) the laptop still wouldn't work as expected. I had tons of issues people have been complaining about on Lenovo forums since 2017.

I eventually decided to sell it and get another laptop. But I didn't want to go through the same hell with a different manufacturer.

It's time

Aaaand it happened. MacBook it would be, I decided. But which one?

It was October 2021, just a few weeks away from new generation of M1 MacBooks being released. That didn't matter anyway. Any M1-based computer was out of question due to lack of support for more than one external display. Previous generations of Intel-based MacBook Pros were still available. Maybe spending spending extra for a machine that would potentially outlive any of the computers I owned wasn't a bad idea after all?

Yup. This one. A 2019 i9 MacBook Pro with 32 GB RAM. Not the latest or beefiest of them all, but still powerful. Boom. Done.

At the moment it serves as my daily driver. Funny enough, I no longer need it as my other job provides me with a Windows laptop. That's fine though.

So, are Apple computers that good? Or bad?

Yes and no.

Switching to MacOS is painful if you use a computer in a productive way and want to keep doing so. MacOS insanely unintuitive at first and has dozens of weird design quirks. I can't believe I had to google how to get past country selection screen because nobody in the design department thought I'd want to use Tab and Enter to navigate.

Typing and using a mouse requires relearning. Using any non-Apple peripheral requires software tweaking and third party software is often needed. Functions of Ctrl, Win and Alt keys are split between Fn, Control, Option and Command and I found them very difficult to adjust to. I eventually ordered a Magic Keyboard and a Magic Mouse to alleviate some of the adaptation pain. I'm slowly getting my typing speed back but I still have a long way to go.

As for MacOS itself... At first, it's annoying. It's annoying because most of its weird design quirks can't be tweaked or disabled. I'm not a fan of computers forcing me to adjust to them rather than letting me adjust them to my needs.

Then, after a few weeks, the system itself becomes boring. And it's a good thing actually. It just works and doesn't stand in the way between me and work to do. I notice a lot of metaphors and design choices I've seen before with Ubuntu. MacOS doesn't add any substantial productivity boosts to my workflow but it doesn't slow me down either. I truly appreciate the feeling of power and stability of a desktop machine in a laptop form factor.

Then, from time to time, lack of polish and awkward bugs pop out. I quickly learnt to treat each MacOS update with caution. Sometimes the system disregards my wallpaper choice and switches back to a default one for no good reason. Unlike Windows or Linux, fatal problems rarely give useful tracebacks beyond generic error messages. Fortunately I can defer updates for as long as I can without the system trying to know better than me.

And finally, my i9 MacBook requires an 87 W power adapter, which means it runs just fine on the 90 W Lenovo dock I use for my underpowered work laptop. Meanwhile, my previous Lenovo P53, sporting an i7 CPU, needed a 170 W power adapter or a dock powered by two power adapters at once. What the heck happened here?

But was it all worth the pain?

Yes. MacOS gets the job done without fuss and I like it. And it seems I no longer need a desktop PC for anything else than gaming. And for gaming I already have a Switch, so I might consider getting rid of a desktop altogether soon.

Is Apple hardware worth getting instead of anything non-Apple? Uhm, I'm not so sure. Apple does things their own way but I don't consider their products particularly innovative to treat them in any preferential way. They're a viable option to consider if they fit the budget. I strongly disagree they're inherently superior to anything else available on the market at any given moment. There's more to effective computing than fancy looks or CPU performance.

Am I an Apple fanboy now?

Nah. Even worse, I now have legitimate reasons to criticize anything about Apple should I ever decide my keystrokes are worth it. But hey, I already criticized them by voting for them with my wallet, so who cares?