New MacBook Pro --- 13 or 16" model?

Discussion in 'Mac Ham Radio on macOS & iOS' started by WB9JPH, May 13, 2020.

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  1. WB9JPH

    WB9JPH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    How much is enough for general home, small business, and ham radio (FLDigi Suite, MLDX, WSJT, FT-8) use?

    Which computer would you pick and why?

    How would you configure it?

  2. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    If you're not going to be moving it too much, lugging it off to business lunches or airplane travel, then go with the biggest screen you can: your eyes will thank you in the long run.

    If traveling, then go with the biggest that has a weight you can tolerate.

    I like at least 32gb of RAM for my computers, but you'd be just fine with macOS and 16gb. If you have to trade off between a top-of-the-line processor or more memory, I'd go with the processors, but if you can afford both then go 32gb RAM and the 8- core processor. I'm not sure that the 64gb RAM is quite worth the cost.

    Ultimately, it is your choice and either would be much more than enough for ham radio stuff and general usage.
  3. N2IW

    N2IW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've always been using a 15" MBP, but next time I probably will get a 13". Because I'm going to use an external monitor or two whenever I do intense work. 13" MBP is 1 pound lighter besides 15" or 16" is not big enough anyway!. The new 13" MBP has 4 cores and up to 32GB RAM, which should be powerful enough for most jobs, unless you use it to render movies, in that case, you should get a Mac Pro instead.
  4. WB9JPH

    WB9JPH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    For the same money - if portability is not a factor - would I be better off with the new mac mini - faster processor, more memory, more I/O?
  5. WF7A

    WF7A Subscriber QRZ Page

    I go portable with my MacMini when staying at hotels--I connect it to the TV in the room, to my keyboard and mouse, and away I go. If a TV's not available, I use my iPad as a monitor.
  6. 2E0JDJ

    2E0JDJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    For the MacBook and MacBook Pro I've had I've gone for the 13", but that's simply due to the fact that I could get more horsepower for the same money, couldn't really afford the larger ones. That said I now have a very old (12 year old) iMac which I use at home for my rig, it's useful having more screen space when you have various windows open for logging, transmitting digital modes...
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
  7. KM6LLM

    KM6LLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    For the use that you have described, the mini is a perfectly viable alternative to a MacBook Pro.

    Just to add this aspect to the conversation, so it's on you radar: the most important difference between the 13" and 16" laptops is in the graphics card. The 13" MBP and the mini have the same integrated Intel UHD 630 graphics, whereas the 16" MBP has dedicated high-end AMD Radeon graphics.

    So if you ever plan to run graphics-intensive applications on the machine, the 16" is the natural choice. If you stick purely with "general home, small business, and ham radio (FLDigi Suite, MLDX, WSJT, FT-8) use," the 13" and the mini will do just fine.
  8. WF7A

    WF7A Subscriber QRZ Page

    Just a thought: Because Apple is abandoning Intel processors for ARMs, if you're thinking of buying one of their computers you may want to wait 'til the new ones (with ARM processors) have been out for a while before buying one--buying obsolete (Intel) ones may limit upgradability years down the road and ARMs being new, some hardware bugs may need working out before they're proven.
    KC1DR likes this.
  9. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Valid points. On the other hand, if there's any chance you might want to run Windows software, it may not be so bad to snatch up an Intel Mac while you still can. Boot Camp is going away with the ARM-based Macs. There may be support for running a Windows Virtual Machine under macOS on an ARM, but that would mean either having the ARM processor emulate the x86 instruction set, (or, much less likely, getting a copy of Windows natively compiled for the ARM, and getting copies of any application executables built for the ARM, as well.) Having the ARM emulate the x86 instruction set is likely to have a performance hit.

    If you buy an Intel Mac today, you'll have a time-tested platform, very unlikely to have the teething problems that might come with a radical change in architecture. But it's true that Apple is likely to eventually drop support for the Intel platform, so you've got to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Apple's press release on the subject claims that, "Apple will continue to support and release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Macs for years to come", but it doesn't say for how many years to come.
    WF7A likes this.
  10. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    That Apple won't turn into a pumpkin on midnight of the ARM processor switch. It will still work as it did before. Apple has switched processors before on their Macintosh line (add one more if you want to include the 8-bit Apples) and each switch went relatively smoothly with years of support of older systems. This new version of macOS, Big Sur, will support 8 year old computers and there will be security updates on the current macOS for years to come.

    If you want to and can wait then that's fine, but I wouldn't let this future switch to a new processor stop me.

    My "rule" on new hardware is to not go backwards in capability from what I already own. Once I got an iPod with 60GB storage I didn't want another with less. When I broke my "rule" by buying an iPhone (though not technically an iPod but was to replace it) with 32GB storage I was constantly running out of space, even after compressing my music library.

    I'm up to 16 GB in my MacBook Pro now and it allows me to run Windows and Linux in virtual machines without running out of RAM. I'm running out of drive space though, because I got the cheaper 256 GB drive even though I was having plenty of space on my old MacBook Pro with 500 GB.

    With screens it's nice to have bigger but with newer screens packing in more pixels I'm fine with the 13" screen on my latest MacBook Pro when I've had 15" screens from my first laptop until this one. I realized that lighter is as important as bigger, so I had to compromise between the two.

    As others point out above it's hard to go wrong with either.

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