Monday, October 20, 2014

MacBook Pro

I've been wanting a new laptop for a little while, now. I haven't been able to find the perfect laptop, yet, but the MacBook Pro comes fairly close.

Here are my requirements:
  • I need Windows for Visual Studio, SQL Server, and IIS. I guess IIS is optional, but since I have Windows already, might as well use IIS. This is mainly because I really like the way VS works, and SQL Server is fairly easy to use and configure.
  • I need an SSD drive. This is fairly obvious. The speed improvements are just crazy good. As an anecdote, my wife's machine was constantly trashing with only 4GB to offer to Windows 8 and her 50 Chrome tabs. Instead of upgrading her to 16GB of RAM, I decided to upgrade to an SSD. Now it's fairly responsive even with 100 hard faults/second. On the plus side, anything going to disk is fast. 
  • I want 16GB of RAM. I know I only gave my wife 4GB, but I plan on running VMs, and I want to give SQL the memory it loves. I really would like to upgrade this in the next 3 years as well.
  • I want over 4 hours of battery life. I had a nice laptop that only had 2 hours of battery, and it was pretty annoying at times.
  • I want a 15" or 17" screen. I already think 17" is small, but they don't make any reasonable 19" laptops.
  • I want a CPU with over 2000 on the single thread PassMark benchmark. Multithreaded benchmarks no longer mean much to me. I occasionally use 2-3 cores, but I don't really care how much the 8th core runs. I want whatever I'm doing to be fast, and I can't do that many things at once.
  • I want a trackpad that works well. I've used a few crappy trackpads. I had it permanently disabled on my other laptop, it was so bad.
  • I want 1920x1080. I think this is a perfect fit for a 17" screen. I guess I can settle for 1600x900 on 15", but I like having 500px on each side of the screen. This pushes right up against my medium line lengths. About 5% of my lines need more space. Retina screens are no good since they make everything super tiny or blurry.

The MacBook Pro meets most of these requirements, but misses a few:
  • The 15" comes only with a retina screen.
  • The RAM is soldered on. I don't really want to be removing solder from a $2500 laptop.
  • Doesn't run Windows out of the box.
If I put all my requirements together, the price range is around $2000-$2500. So I decided to just go with a MacBook Pro and see how it goes. Apple has a 14 return policy, so I'm going to see how it works in these two weeks.

So far, I've had these issues: 
  • I'm using Parallels since VirtualBox doesn't support Retina, and makes everything super blurry.
  • Battery life at 90% CPU and 90% disk was only 2 hours. That's a far stretch from the 8 hours advertised. I'm going to try using it with a lighter load today and see what happens. 
  • The different keyboard shortcuts are fairly annoying. For now, I'm just going to run everything in a VM. I also installed Karabiner to switch alt and win keys for the VM.

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