back to article Force Touch tweak: Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

When is an update not an update? The MacBook Pro has been something of the poor relation in the Apple family in the last few years. The recent Intel Broadwell chip family update given to the 13-inch MacBook Pro offered a small boost to battery life, but did little for performance. Apple MacBook Pro 15-in WRD mid-2015 Intel …

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  2. Ron1

    Battery capacity was also increased

    From 95 Wh to 99.5 Wh - first upgrade since release in 2012.

  3. Mondo the Magnificent

    So, we play the waiting game...

    I still use a MacBook Pro 13" non-Retina model, I managed to source this new last year, even though the Retina/SSD model was available at a much higher cost

    Since then I installed a 500GB SSD and upgraded to 16GB and it does the job, but lacks physical resolution and graphics performance

    I do want a larger screened MacBook Pro, but I do like gaming, I not a real big fan of Intel's Iris graphics, the GPU does the job, but I do game on my little Mac too and Iris just doesn't hack it

    Run a thermal monitoring application like TG Pro and you will see first hand just how hot that integrated GPU can become when doing/playing anything graphic intensive, and I mean hot, as in 95ºC+, when I looked into it, Apple Support Forum states "MacBooks are not designed for gaming" and the temps are acceptable.. well, okay then...

    Another little bugbear is why are Apple so anal on BootCamp nowadays? I mean, us sysadmins like to run more than one OS, and I am happy enough with Windows 7 to run it as a bootable OS, opposed to a VM, but I am forced to use VMware/VirtualBox and create VM's, for my Mint Linux install because BootCamp will no longer support "generic" Linux, so again another VM for Windows 7? Please....

    As much as I yearn for a larger MacBook Pro I cannot justify the costs versus the mediocre "improvements", plus anyone can stuff a decent SSD into a MacBook nowadays and fall slightly short of Apple's latest and greatest offerings, unless you have a non-Retina display, but at my age, Retina is not the deal maker, my middle aged eyes are happy with non-retina offerings..

    MacBooks will never be cheap, but I do like OS X and the fact I have a functional CLI that I often use to access our LINUX hosts, but in a way I wish Apple would churn out another cheaper [white/black plastic] MacBook, even if it lost the "Pro" moniker

    1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

      Re: So, we play the waiting game...

      " I wish Apple would churn out another cheaper [white/black plastic] MacBook, even if it lost the "Pro" moniker"

      Ladies and gentlemen, we introduce to you the new MacBook "Amateur".

    2. chris 17 Silver badge

      Re: So, we play the waiting game...

      Like a MacBook Air?

      swapping the sata HDD for a sata SSD will not give as much speed as the pcie SSD's in the new MacBooks which currently achieve 2GB/s.

  4. Mark 65

    Where's capitalism when you need it?

    I'd have thought that if this is truly overpriced - I believe it is but am not entirely sure to what extent - then surely there is an opportunity for someone like Dell to make a nice XPS ultrabook that is configured so that it could operate easily as a Hackintosh should the purchaser so wish to walk that path. That is what is needed to keep the bastards honest.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Where's capitalism when you need it?

      Remember that a company named Psystar tried to do that a few years ago, and they ended up in court ordered to pay $2,500 per computer that they delivered to customers. Not that it mattered much, because neither Psystar's lawyers nor Apple did ever get paid a penny. The difference between Dell and Psystar is that Dell has money, so they would actually have to pay.

      1. Mark 65

        Re: Where's capitalism when you need it?

        @ gnasher729: Psystar advertised theirs as such a machine which was their mistake. I merely stated that Dell could make a fine XPS windows box that just oh so conveniently happened to play nicely with OSX. They don't even need to market or advertise it as such, which would leave them in the clear, and let user forums and word of mouth do the rest. That way a user can by a fine machine and use whichever operating system they desire on it. Dell are in the business of selling hardware aren't they?

    2. jason 7

      Re: Where's capitalism when you need it?

      Why would you?

      A clean install of Windows is as good as a clean 'out of the box' install of OSX and also works with a lot more software. Its the OEMs and their junkware that screw Windows up.

      Hackintoshes are mostly novelty hobby machines but for a lot of users, Windows on a Mac is essential.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where's capitalism when you need it?

        A clean install of Windows is as good as a clean 'out of the box' install of OSX...

        I stopped reading after that. Laughing too much, couldn't focus through the tears.

        1. Mike 102

          Re: Where's capitalism when you need it?

          Same here

      2. Allonymous Coward

        Windows on a Mac

        I've heard of one organisation where they use Macs specifically for the good international AppleCare support (their people travel a lot). But they boot into, and use, Windows almost exclusively.

    3. Matt_payne666

      Re: Where's capitalism when you need it?

      You don't need to think its overpriced... the very machine you reference is £500 less than the Mac

      Dell XPS 15

      15" 3840x2100 Display

      Touch Screen

      512GB SSD

      16GB Ram

      2GB Discrete GFX


  5. Frederick Tennant

    RIP Steve...

    I have come to love my MacBook Pro 2011, yep its a non Retina job and works fine, these new laptops have faster hard drives (SSD) but that built in graphics don't win any friends. So I decided to look around for something similar, people complain about Apples prices but Ive just had a look at Razer as they look like they have good build quality and components but the prices are just as bad too. If your going to review a product please do a like for like e.g. build quality components etc. Dell XPS are cheaper but they don't look very solid either.

    1. AceRimmer

      Re: RIP Steve...

      "Dell XPS are cheaper but they don't look very solid either."

      They are (or at least were) very solid. My 2013 model is very well traveled - up and down the UK by train each week and still looks and feels brand new

    2. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: RIP Steve...

      I also have a late-2011 15.6" MBP.

      It has 16GB (Non-Apple) RAM, a (Non-Apple) 1TB SSD and a (non-Apple) 1TB HDD in a (non-Apple) optibay in place of the superdrive.

      95% of the time I bootcamp boot into Windows. A few months ago the need came to do some testing with Win 8.1 so I blew the then 7 away and replaced it.

      It does everything I need it to, including the odd game as I wish to play which isn't that often.

      I've said it many times on here that it's been the best Windows laptop I've ever owned to date in terms of performance, reliability and aesthetics. It has some oddities when it comes to things like not being able to install an OS from USB (even USB attached superdrive).

      No way in hell I'll be buying a newer MBP to replace it when the time comes - and I've generally upgraded every couple of years or so as I'm quite tough on laptops due mostly to travel. All of my non-Apple upgrades couldn't have been done. So no. No thanks, Apple.

  6. jason 7

    So now a power user is defined as...

    he or she that needs more than one USB port at a time?

    Interesting times.

  7. Tim Scales

    "I’m not sold on the Force Touch trackpad, though. Admittedly, the new hinge design means that the trackpad surface does feel smooth and responsive, but I still don’t find the press-and-hold ‘force-click’ action particularly useful."

    I thought the point was it didn't have a hinge any more?

    1. Mike 102


      Yes. Would be nice if the 'reviewer' had a clue about what they are reviewing. Is that too much to ask El Reg?

    2. Handy Plough

      This is the standard of "journalism" at the Register these days. Sad.

  8. Wibble
    Big Brother

    Difficult to justify the upgrade expense

    I've the last of the 17" MBPs which is now over three years old. I'd normally "upgrade" the machine every three years as it leads a hard life, used for 8 - 10 hours a day. I replaced the disc with a Crucial 1Tb SSD and the thing is very good.

    Looking at the benchmarks (, my 3 1/2 year old machine scores 11,000 compared with the latest MBP at 14,800. Sure, that's a nice improvement, but only 25% (and that's not comparing the performance increase an SSD gives the old machine).

    So, what would I get from Apple if I paid them their £2600?

    Well, no optical drive obviously. Nor would I get a network port. Nor the remote control (I do use this occasionally). I can't change the disc, nor memory (not that this is an issue). The ability to change hard disc is really important to me as I need to periodically update the 'disk' as new hardware is available, but most importantly, I can remove the hard disc if the machine needs to go in for a service -- I could then mount the disc on another machine in the meantime.

    I do get a machine that's thinner. Well, thinner than my existing machine which is quite thin enough. I do get a screen that's smaller. Sure, the retina would be nice, but I spend a lot of my working life connected to a thunderbolt display.

    In other words, sod all really. Certainly not £2600 for a bunch of grief, plus the issues with disc.

    Not impressed. It's obvious that I should wait another year until the new Intel chipset is available before updating.

    1. Matt_payne666

      Re: Difficult to justify the upgrade expense

      It is tricky, not just for Apple - Intel have seemed to be focussed on mostly energy efficiency as opposed to brute power. All day computing is nice, but 7hours on haswell in a 13" laptop will see me through most days.

      Both my Laptop and Desktops run i7 haswell processors and nothing has appeared recently that is worth upgrading them for. Hell, even the Sandy bridge stuff is still quick compared to the new lower wattage chipper.

      Apple are invested in their trademark aluminium casework, which is nice, but equally very tricky to make dramatic design changes with.

      I like Apples PCiE hard drives, that is worth spending money on... I wish PC manufacturers would enter the realms of crazy fast storage, but on the flip side - the Retina display is starting to be a bit low res compared to the 4k panels that are being touted by DEll, Lenovo, et al

      1. jason 7

        Re: Difficult to justify the upgrade expense

        The cases are nice but getting a bit tired and samey.

        Maybe time for some new colours or textures? This isn't 2010 anymore.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Difficult to justify the upgrade expense

        PC's have entered the realm of crazy fast storage, it's not called Thunderbolt or Lightning(USB 2.0) it's called M.2

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Difficult to justify the upgrade expense

      By that time Apple might not put any sockets at all on their new machines. Best buy now while they still come with at least one connector.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Difficult to justify the upgrade expense

        > I can remove the hard disc if the machine needs to go in for a service -- I could then mount the disc on another machine in the meantime.

        That would be useful for some people, but of the total users who ever take their machine for service:

        X% wouldn't bother swapping their HDD; it's not critical for a few days.

        Y% would have their HDD backed up hourly/daily via Time Machine. Their data and desktop environment is important.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not enough USB ports

    I find the lack of full size USB ports a deal breaker on Apple laptops.

    2 full size ports cover my basic needs (wireless mouse and wireless headset), leaving nothing available for USB sticks/hard disks or memory cards. I guess that I could find a Bluetooth headset that I could use or alternatively how about providing a few more USB ports?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not enough USB ports

      Bluetooth mouse, bluetooth headset = done.

      1. Mike 102

        Re: Not enough USB ports

        Mad looney... The name says it all.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not enough USB ports

          When logical arguments fail, commence personal attacks.


    2. chris 17 Silver badge

      Re: Not enough USB ports

      Blutooth Mouse & headset, if you really want to push the boat out get a blutooth keyboard too.

      the anti apple mindset seems to be my pc needs this to do that and apple doesn't support this so i can't do that,


      Its a bit like the guy with the 17" MBP who spends all day connected via thunderbolt to a large screen complaining about how hard it is to replace the pcie disc expecting to replace it every few years. just buy a big disk at the start and have a bigger disc connecetd by thunderbolt for backups etc. The pcie disc is much much faster than the sata ssd's available now. if you need to send the machine off, just erase the disc and restore from backup on its return, & how often do you expect it to go for repair? I've had 3 macbooks since 1999 and only 1 has been repaired after i dropped it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not enough USB ports

        So instead of being able to choose my favourite of a range of peripherals, both Bluetooth, wired and wireless I am limited to having to choose a restricted range of Bluetooth only devices.

        That's not what I would consider to be THINKING DIFFERENT, seems more like herd mentality to me. I don't see what this has to do with 17" MBP or disks, terrible analogy.

        My other reasons for additional USB ports is for astronomy, my tracking scope takes up 2 USB ports for video feed and output corrections.

        You seem to have mistaken me for an Apple hater; which is a bit of a jump to make that conclusion, although from your knee-jerk reaction it's probably safe to say that you worship at the altar of fruity goodness.

        In summary: I need more than 2 USB ports, you are clearly happy with 2. We can all rejoice.

        1. Number_6

          Re: Not enough USB ports

          Thunderbolt to usb3 adapters would give you another 2?

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Not enough USB ports

          In summary: I need more than 2 USB ports,

          Me too. I use a hub.

  10. gary27
    Thumb Up

    Still worth it

    I have a max spec year old mbp 1 Tb ssd 16 ram etc

    Ive had dell xps which was geat, but not in the same league.

    As someone else said it's the best windows laptop I've ever had, bootcamp works perfectly much better than parralels or vmware (i bought both) , because so fast to reboot on ssd not an issue to switch os.

    Performance is about the same as a samsung series 7 gamer beast of a laptop I also have, the main benefit of the mbp is the portability - its so light and easy to quickly start up on a plane for instance, no other workstation comes anywhere close, opening up the samsung on a plane is embarrassing because its so huge and so heavy.

    Also the build quality is fantastic, it's so tough and durable, my samsung is very flimsy in comparison, soon cracked.

    And at home I can run 2 huge high res monitors directly and perfectly, because of the 2 display ports, the samsung only has 1, this is far more important for me than number of usb ports, since usb hubs are so cheap, but displayport or thunderbolt hubs are incredibly expensive.

  11. khisanth

    I am still running my mid 2009 Macbook Pro 13" and all I have done is up the memory to 8Gb. Same core 2 duo processor and original hard drive in there. Works perfectly for everything I want still at a decent speed. Startup time is a little longer with the current OS but nothing I cant live with.

    Until that breaks or wanders off somewhere, I aint getting a new one :)

  12. SniperPenguin

    I wanted a MBP for some time, but like a mechanic who works on hi-end kit for others but drives around in a battered old fiesta, I happily got along with bargain basement used kit that took a ton of abuse and world travelling (Last was Dell Studio 1555 with backlit keyboard retrofit, SSD and RAM upgrades) :)

    I have no issue with Apple's pricing - You charge what people are willing to pay (Hello Capitalism... <waves> ), however I do have issues with the more restrictive the Pro range is becoming. I can understand the non-changable component bollocks in the MB Air, since that is essentially a powerful iPad with a keyboard and so thin in king....... But removing an ability to change / upgrade RAM or HD over time? Pissing around with boot camp? Jog on...

    If I do get one, it will be through work (not my cash) or one of the late upgradable models. :(

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