Friday, December 8, 2023

Apple | Apple’s new MacBook Pro almost made me swear off the PC | macbook

Even if I would prefer black, I think the MacBook Pro is pretty chic.

Even if I would prefer black, I think the MacBook Pro is pretty chic.

Hardly any other company in the tech industry divides opinions as much as Apple: whether iPhone, iPad, Mac or MacBook, there are actually only two diametrically opposed camps: those who prefer to stand in line all night for the launch of the latest smartphones, tablets or notebooks and themselves miss the birth of their own child and those who consider everything from a bitten apple to be overpriced rubbish, if not to say superstition.

There really isn’t anything in between. At least I have only met representatives of one of the two sides in my life so far. Some swear by it so much that they almost feel like missionaries and want to convince me of Mac and Co. with all their might, others wonder how I, as a hardware editor for a designated PC games magazine, even do it at all consider that Apple devices could be more than mumbo jumbo. Yes, read that Thomas K. and Michael B., you are meant!

In this respect, it is clear to me that if I really say the following lines, or rather: write them out, I will probably make many enemies. I write it anyway:

Since I’ve had the current MacBook Pro with the legendary M1 Max in the best possible configuration and all the technical clutter here for testing, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me why so many users swear by Apple. And I’ve almost become a disciple of the fruit of sin myself. Not quite, but almost – how did it come to this?

It’s hard to break Apple’s spell

Well, I have to start a little early on that. Because I’ve owned an Apple device for a while now: an iPhone 12 mini, to be precise. And that’s actually only, as the name suggests, because it’s nice and small and handy. It simply fits easily into any normal-cut trouser pocket and is as fast as the larger models – no other manufacturer offers that. You can read more about this here:

But soon there might be little reason for it


i love my iphone

But soon there might be little reason for it

A few weeks ago I got the MacBook Pro sent to me. In fact, it got to me the same day as the Steam deck. This may sound like a small side note, but it is by no means. Because I wrote most of the review of Valve’s PC handheld on the MacBook Pro and learned how incredibly good the high-end notebook is for working.

It’s lightweight and feels exceptionally premium thanks to its 100% recycled anodized aluminum body. I open it and the chic macOS operating system is ready to use almost immediately. Sure, that’s because I don’t actually restart it, but it doesn’t even need to. The idle or sleep mode is so energy-saving that it is not even worth switching off the device completely. The last clean restart was accordingly already a few weeks ago.

Well, that may not be the strongest argument yet, because I can treat a modern Windows 11 laptop with an Alder Lake processor in the same way and if I dig deep enough, I can also get a comparable build quality.

Where other high-end notebooks fail…

But not quite. I’ve held many notebooks in my hands, from very cheap to so expensive that you could even have bought a small car, or at least a multi-week luxury cruise in first class. But something was missing everywhere:

My beloved and now unfortunately broken Alienware M18X R2, for example, was fed up with performance, but the sound card made a fuss. After almost every second restart, the built-in sound blaster was simply not recognized. And that for almost 5,000 euros. You with your expensive high-end stuffI still hear my family and buddies say everything is not working properly.

Then don't do it like me, just wait!


You want a new notebook?

Then don’t do it like me, just wait!

I have had similar experiences with other devices costing tens of thousands of euros. There was almost always something that didn’t work properly: Be it a poorly illuminated display, a mediocre keyboard, tinny sound, a squeaking drive or completely ordinary coil whine.

There are still a few exceptions: The Asus Rog Zephyrus G15, for example, or the Razer Blade Pro 17 from 2020. With the latter, I have to make do with an Intel processor with eight cores and an Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 due to the high performance Super Max-Q, however, make do with a maximum of five hours of battery life. Ok, to be fair it should be said that the device is not intended for this at all. I just better say it right away before the rags fly in the comments!

…scores the MacBook Pro

The Liquid Retina XDR display delivers incredible black levels.

The Liquid Retina XDR display delivers incredible black levels.

Not so with the MacBook Pro. Everything is just right here: In addition to the generally high build quality, the Liquid Retina XDR display with its brilliant color representation catches my eye. I even had to check to see if it was an OLED panel, the black levels are so good. But it is actually an IPS display. And above all one that doesn’t show the slightest backlight bleeding.

The stroke of the white illuminated keyboard is pleasant thanks to the mechanical butterfly switches and also feels very valuable. If I didn’t already have a favorite keyboard with the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog, I would take it out and put it on my desk. If at all, in the case of laptops, only the opto-mechanical switches of some models from Schenker’s XMG series can be compared.

The Force Touch trackpad is also the best I’ve seen on a notebook. It’s positioned just right so I don’t keep accidentally activating or closing something while typing. The control is also extremely precise and with the multi-touch function I save myself the right mouse button, which is often quite cumbersome and imprecise on Windows laptops.

And the sound first: The bass is full, the mids and highs are nicely balanced. The spatial sound, i.e. the spherical impression that the loudspeakers create, is in no way inferior. Not only once have I looked around my apartment in shock, only to find that the creaking of a door fortunately comes from a horror shocker and I haven’t had the last hour.

And the legendary Tardis from the British science fiction series Doctor Who didn’t land on the fluffy, gray high-pile carpet to my left, but rather materialized gently on the chic retina display.

Connections #1

From left to right: card reader, USB-C/Tunderbolt 4, HDMI.

Connections #2

From left to right: MagSafe 3, 2x USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, headphone jack.

An operating system without corners and edges

The macOs Monterey operating system is unfamiliar, but never overwhelming. On the contrary: Even if I wasn’t an experienced Windows and Linux user, I dare say that I would have found my way around it very quickly. Apple’s specially developed operating system can be operated very intuitively. I always find what I want straight away. When in doubt, I use the well-integrated and comprehensive search function. In general, macOs offers useful support and explanations at every point.

I can also use most of the programs that I use on the Windows computer on the MacBook Pro. Be it Microsoft Teams, Discord, OneDrive, LibreOffice, Gimp or the VLC Player. Whether it might not be better to use software from the App Store is another question, but for my everyday processes it is simply more practical to be able to use familiar programs.

In addition, various apps work across my iPhone, iOS and macOS. For example, my notes and pictures are synchronized. The same applies here: This is nothing that I couldn’t do between a normal Windows computer and a smartphone. But Apple delivers that to me by default. It works very simply, without me having to try this and that program, googling for certain settings and ticking a hidden box somewhere. And if I don’t want it, I can easily disable it.

In addition to the security aspect, which quite a few fans of the brand cite, in my opinion this is the quintessence of all Apple products: They deliver a complete, easily accessible overall package, a well-rounded user experience that is consistent at all times, no crashes and no driver problems.

Games are going really well

The Total War Warhammer series runs very well on the MacBook Pro.

The Total War Warhammer series runs very well on the MacBook Pro.

But now we come to the elephant in the room: The performance, especially the performance in games. To put it casually: the MacBook Pro and the M1 Max chip working in it with ten CPU and 32 integrated GPU cores simply knocked my socks off.

I’ll illustrate this with two examples: I can play the role-playing game Pathfinder: Kingmaker and the strategy hit Total War: Warhammer 2 on battery power for around two hours at the highest resolution (3456×2234) and maximum detail level. In Pathfinder, the performance is enough for 50 to 60 frames per second and in Warhammer 2 for almost 40 FPS. They do feel buttery soft though. If I hadn’t checked the frame rate, I would have sworn it was 60 FPS.

If necessary, I simply turn the resolution down a bit, for example to 1,920 x 1,200 pixels. In case of doubt, this also helps against the fan turning up under maximum resolution and full load. However, the MacBook Pro only rarely gets loud, the fan usually doesn’t turn at all or is so quiet that I can’t hear it. You can soon read a detailed review of the performance of the MacBook Pro in general and the performance in games in particular at GameStar.

The best notebooks for mobile gamers


Gaming laptop buying guide 2022

The best notebooks for mobile gamers

However, I will not become a disciple

I already mentioned it at the beginning: Despite all its advantages, the MacBook Pro doesn’t make me a real Apple disciple. And that is actually due to one thing: the support for games. In my case, about a third of the Steam library is running, but that also means two thirds are missing. And right below that are most of the big triple-A titles like Horizon Zero Dawn, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy or Monster Hunter World. I also sorely miss a Lost Ark.

Well, the price of 3,850 euros for the basic 16-inch variant certainly also plays a role. My test model with 64 instead of 32 gigabytes of DDR5 RAM and a 2 instead of 1 terabyte NVMe SSD even costs 4,770 euros. In terms of raw performance, you get the same thing for a lot less.

Nevertheless, I would prefer not to give the MacBook Pro away. Because there is hardly anything better to be productive and at the same time as flexible as possible. It is light and can be taken practically anywhere, the battery lasts for more than 20 hours of film watching on the go thanks to the economical M1 Max chip, and it is probably significantly more in pure desktop use. If necessary, I can also edit videos or photos with it without draining the battery in no time at all, and if I want, I can even play for a few hours.

How is your experience with Apple? Do you own an iPhone, iPad, MacBook or even a Mac? Are you Apple fans or knit opponents? Write it to us in the comments!

Tag: macbook issue, macbook pro, macbook release, macbook macos

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