MacBook Pro 13″ 2017 Review for Normal Users

I purchased the 13″ MacBook Pro for a travel computer, but over the past week have found it to me a great overall system.  I’ve been using a 15″ MacBook Pro as my primary system for almost 4 years, and have been very happy with it.  I used it for everything from email, and blogging to video editing and live streaming.  It was able to keep up with everything I threw at it, and still works well after almost 4 years.  The reason I decided to buy a new laptop was simply due to size.  It’s a portable computer, but it’s a bit of a brick.  I planned to buy a lower powered system that would be more portable.  The 13″ MacBook Pro is about the size of a spiral notebook and comes in at 3lbs.  I had thought about the 12″ MacBook, but once I spec’d out the upgrades I’d want the price difference between it and the MacBook Pro was not very significant for me.  I decided on the MacBook Pro for the better processor, and the small increase in size makes the laptop feel more usable.  (The MacBook really is a small computer, to the degree I though it felt uncomfortable for typing.)

Before purchasing the MacBook Pro I had watched a number of reviews on YouTube, and generally the only downside to the MacBook revolved around Adobe products.  Apparently Adobe doesn’t do well on these lower powered Macs.  For my needs this is irrelevant.  I not only do not use Adobe CC, but overall dislike Adobe products.  I use Final Cut, Compressor and a $4 image editing app for my creative work.

My productivity apps are all web based at this point.  The Google suite, plus a few SaaS apps to deal with my work flow. For this type of work I find the MacBook to be terrific. The keyboard is the same size as my 15″ one, and the standard bluetooth one Apple sells so it doesn’t feel cramped to type on.  As far as the large track pad and typing goes I do not have a problem personally.  (This may be a personal thing.  I notice as I type that my typing style positions my palms to either side of the trackpad.). I like the trackpad size.  As much as some people talk about how big it is, it’s actually smaller than the bluetooth trackpad that I use on the MacBook Pro.

The Touch Bar is a bit of take or leave thing for me.  After getting used to it the functionality does work well, but frankly I would have preferred a cheaper system and the old hard keys.  The Touch ID works far better than my iPhone, and is useful for logging in.  Again I’d prefer to have typed a password and had a cheaper system, but it works very well.

The speed of the system is great, and so far even for the video editing work that I’ve done it’s been comparable to my old MacBook 15″. At this point not only has the 13″ exceeded my exceptions, but it will most likely end up being my primary system for daily use rather than simply a travel system.

I purchased the $1999 version with the 512GB drive, 8GB of Ram and the 3.1 GHz i5 Processor.  I went with this version mainly for the 512GB drive for video storage. Once I decided on 512GB for storage this system seemed the best value.  I was genuinely concerned about the 8GB or RAM.  For basic use that seemed like barely enough for a modern laptop, and for video editing it seemed like a joke.  For 16GB you have to order the system from the Apple website so I decided to test out the 8GB version with the general intention of returning it.  I figured I’d play with the system, and then when it bogged down I’d order the 16GB version from Apple and return this one.  To my utter shock the 8GB does fine. Not only do basic tasks hum along, but even for 4K video editing it chugs along just fine. I’ll hold off my review for content creators for a couple of weeks, but at least for the average user there is more than enough power here.

To this point my only complaints are the ports and the noise from the keyboard.  Obviously the MacBook has 4 USB C type connectors and not SD Card Slot.  This sucks… yup… I purchased an SD Card adapter, and a USB C to A adapter.  With these I can connect to everything I need to connect to.  Dongle life is a real concern, but it’s not like I don’t already drag a power adapter, and USB cables with me anyway.

The bigger annoyance is the noise from typing on the keyboard.  The keyboard feels good, but the tick tick tick clack is obnoxious.  I can’t imagine working in a coworking facility with 20 folks taping away on these keyboards all day. It’s like the geek version of the mufflers on motorcycles. The owner feels cool, but everyone else wants to take a hammer to the system.

One benefit of the new MacBook’s that I hadn’t though about until I had purchased one is the USB C compatible power bricks.  You can buy a $150 power brick not just for your phone and tablet, but it also provide 10+ hours of extra batter life for the MacBook.  This will be great for air travel, and just travel in general.  With a single power brick I’ll be able to do all the work I need for a few days (other than video encoding) without needing a wall outlet.

If  you are someone that may need to use Windows specific apps I would recommend the 16GB RAM version so that you can run VMware fusion seamlessly.  Otherwise the stock standard 8GB RAM version works smoothly.

You can take a look at the MacBook Pro 13″ Options here:

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply