I Miss Mac OSX, But Can’t Go Back

I’ve been using Macbook Pros at work for years. Before I switched back to Windows on the Aorus, if I remember correctly, I’ve owned five or six of them, the last 3 being 15″ Macbook Pros. I never had any issues with Apple’s hardware, and the one time I did fry a system (static discharge after touching it when I walked across a room, wouldn’t charge anymore) I walked in to an Apple store, explained that it was no longer charging, and they gave me a new one no other questions asked.

Aside from the awesome build quality, and the fact that they offer the 2016 Macbook Pro 13″ and 15″ in Space Gray, which is sexy as hell, the hardware isn’t really what I miss – it’s the UI and the fact that OSX is Unix-based. Windows 10 isn’t bad – since I’ve switched back I have only had one blue screen of death and that was due to a driver issue from Dell. An update quickly fixed it and I haven’t seen another one since.

Still, it was pretty great being able to jump in to a command line and run normal Linux commands without having to install some sort of ghetto bolt-on like Cygwin. I also like the simplicity of it. Windows 10 seems to now have multiple control panels – the classic one from “normal” Windows, and the awful “touch-based” one from Windows 8.1. If you could do everything in both of them this wouldn’t be an issue, but you can’t. Plus now that all of my displays are 4K, sans the one built in to my laptop, the horridness at which Windows supports display scaling is even more apparent than ever to me now.

For this reason, I thought about switching back to OSX for work, since I have a gaming PC at home now, and it’s not like I game at work. So I started looking at the 13″ and 15″ 2016 Macbook Pros with that weird touch-bar display. Quickly found out that I can’t do it.

At work I have 3 4K displays. The 15″ would support this, the 13″ won’t. Base price for the 15″ is $2399 and it only comes with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of NVME SSD, and none of that is upgradable. Also, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 isn’t the awesome connector that everyone seems to think it is. In its current spec, Thunderbolt 3 to HDMI support is limited to HDMI 1.4, which means if you want 60Hz refresh on your 4K displays, you’re out of luck unless those 4K displays have DisplayPort (requires an expensive adapter) or native Thunderbolt (requires an expensive display).

This means that even with Apple’s $79 USB 3 to HDMI adapter (and I would need 3 of them), I could only get 30Hz on my two HDMI 2.0-only displays, and even though I could get 60Hz on the third display (it has DisplayPort), that setup would require use of 3 of the 4 available Thunderbolt ports on the Macbook Pro, the fourth of which would then be required for the charging cable.

Another solution? An active (externally powered) Thunderbolt 3 dock with HDMI 2.0 outputs, the cheapest of which I found was over $200. What a mess.

It seems like of all companies and of all demographics for which that company’s products are geared toward, Apple would understand that their customers would want something aside from just 1080P displays or 4K displays at 30Hz. Having to go to a third party and spend hundreds of dollars on adapters and docks just to get a couple of 4K displays to work with what is supposed to be a “professional” solution is horrible. What’s even more sad is that the previous generation Macbook Pro (I owned one) had no problem running a couple of external 4K displays via its two Thunderbolt 2 ports… and one could do so using a couple of cheap Mini DP to HDMI cables from Amazon.

All of this wouldn’t hurt so bad if the 15″ Macbook Pro (the entry-level 15″ model remember, with only 256GB of SSD, 8GB of RAM, and a weak Radeon GPU) wasn’t $200 more than a 15″ Aorus X5 V7, which comes with your choice of a 3K 60Ghz GSYNC display or a 1080P 120Hz GSYNC display, 16GB of RAM standard (upgradable to 64GB), the same 256GB of NVME SSD PLUS a 7200rpm 1TB spinning disk (upgradable), and the ability to add a second NVME SSD AND a standard M.2 SATA SSD. Add to that it comes with a GeForce 1070 8GB baked in instead of the weak ATI GPU, and even a love for OSX can’t make that argument. Also, there’s a faster, unlocked 6820HK i7 on the Aorus.

Add to all of that the fact that the Aorus is 100% aluminum on the outside – even the bezel around the screen (which is smaller and looks better than the one on the 17″ model), and even though it’s not quite up to Apple’s build quality standards like the Razer Blade (weak 1060 GPU there though, I wish they’d put a 1070 in those) and the Razer Blaze Pro (sexy, but $4000) are, it’s very much “good enough.”

Even if you’re not going to game on it, the best part about my situation with the Aorus X5 V6 is that it natively supports 3X 4K external displays with no adapters, given the fact that it has the latest gen Display Port on it as well as two HDMI 2.0 ports. Add to that convenience, standard sized USB type-A connectors that are 3.0, as well as a USB-C connector which is USB 3.1. Granted, as of the V6 that connector isn’t Thunderbolt, but the V7 model coming in a few months will be.

I love (well used to) Apple, and I really miss OS X, but even after the kinks have been worked out, the 2016 Macbook Pro is a hard swallow purely from a value perspective. It’s not like 3 or 4 years ago where a 15″ Macbook for $1800 wasn’t THAT much of a stretch over the competition, given similarly built PC laptops at the time with similar specs and a comparable screen were within $100 or so of the Macbook’s price… but not anymore. Even as someone who longs for that OS… I just can’t do it.

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