First, the Macbook is a 12" notebook. So maybe you meant to ask why Apple needs two devices that are only 1" apart? I’ll let the i5 userbase duke that one out amongst themselves.
But with respect to the 15" MacBook Pro, and prior to writing the article, did you actually benchmark the new (fully loaded i7) against your existing notebook because I get the sense you didn’t. There is more to a machine than chipsets, and I am waiting to go hands on with some benchmarking software to see what, if any significant performance differences there are.
I’ve been running a fully loaded late 2013 MBPro Retina since, well, late 2013. Here we are in late 2016. I’m constantly offloading data from the SSD to ensure I have plenty of swap drive space. I wish I had 32 GB or even 64 GB of ram. And I’m damned unhappy about giving up the SD card slot. But everything else that you’re talking about is a non-starter as far as I am concerned.
Pro audio engineers are not going to swap their studio monitors for a pair of iPhone lightning headphones. I paid dearly for my Layla’s and the current tech for high end audiophiles does not spell wireless or lightning. I’m keeping my cables. I suspect that the audiophile/musician/sound engineer based focus groups said the same thing.
As for graphics, the Radeon Pro 460 specs in at 1.86 TFLOPS, contains 16 compute units (for 1,024 stream processors/1024 shading units), and 4GB VRAM @ 80 GB/s bandwidth. In contrast, the GeForce GT 750M specs at 0.72 TFLOPS, with 2 SMX units (for 384 shading units) and 2GB VRAM @ 64 GB/s bandwidth. Seemingly, there appears to be noticeable architectural and performance improvements.
Is the Pro 460 the best performing graphics device that could have been selected? Obviously not. Is it the best performing graphics device that meets Apple’s battery consumption and heat generation metrics and substantially out perform the the GT 750? Well, yes. If not, what were the alternatives?
Is it suitable for supporting VR or AR? The RX 460 @ 2.2 TFLOPS claims to be VR ready. @ 1.8 TFLOPS is the Pro 460 really underpowered or is the real issue no one is currently supporting VR hardware on OS X? At this point the topic is academic.
You mentioned that Apple didn’t use the latest Intel CPU technology. Despite that, there tangible performance improvements between the new MBPro (Skylake 6920HQ) and the late 2013 MBPro CPU (Haswell/Crystalwell 4960HQ) CPUs. Both are quad-core but the 6920 clocks faster with less power consumption (36.5W vs 38.2W) and delivers 8,000 MT/s vs 5,000 MT/s. The 6920HQ’s improved power consumption is largely due to the 6920HQ’s 14 nm transistor sizing vs 22 nm for the 4960HQ.
So considering the above, I’m not sure (other than lack of touch screen) that I agree that Apple doesn’t know where it is going or that it has lost touch with its core consumers. What are you doing now that you won’t do faster or smoother with this latest offering?
Would I have liked to see something different? Of Course; who wouldn’t? I was personally hoping for a touch screen, VR capability, more CPU & GPU processing cores & units, and more ram and SSD capacities. I agree, on the surface, that the touch bar is gimmicky, unproven, and will not replace a touchable surface for those who want to design direct to screen. But that leads to the iPad Pro vs Surface argument if you want to fairly compare platforms. (Personally, you can have my keyboard when you pry it from my cold dead hands; but give me a touch screen on my notebook please.)
I’m also not happy that I’m going to have to buy adapters for my thumb drives, SD cards, and peripherals. But at least I can drive four (4) monitors at 5K instead of two (2); and I won’t have to fork out thousands of dollars above and beyond the cost of a spiffy new Razor notebook to transition to Windows based software that I would need to purchase otherwise.
Back in the day, I ran an exclusively Windows & Linux shop. I spent thousands of man hours troubleshooting Microsoft and other Windows based software, optimizing operating systems, and purging bloat. I switched to Apple about the same time I switched my kids from PC to Mac. I hated having to buy new software and go through the acclimation process, but in the end I discovered that I was actually getting my work done instead of constantly fighting the Windows ecosystem. I just don’t see making the transition back to masochism no matter shiny it looks until Apple actually breaks my trust like Microsoft has.