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1 Apple Inc. MacBook Pro Complaint That Makes No Sense

By Ashraf Eassa – Nov 17, 2016 at 8:20PM

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Apple's new MacBook Pro systems have been controversial, but this criticism doesn't hold water.

Developer Alexey Semeney recently wrote a blog entry titled "New MacBook Pro is not a Laptop for Developers Anymore." In the article, Semeney lists several reasons why Apple's (AAPL 1.56%) new MacBook Pro computers aren't compelling to the development community (i.e., programmers).

Image source: Apple.

Of the complaints, one stood out, as it made absolutely no sense. Let's take a closer look.

Have processors not gotten any faster?

Here's Semeney (ellipses are in original):

The MacBook Pro had options with 2.4 gigahertz dual-core processors back in 2010. Anything new in 2016? Not really, well... nope.

The implication here is that the processors inside of Apple's latest MacBook Pro haven't improved much from the ones inside of the MacBook Pro machines being sold in 2010.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

The MacBook Pro has gotten much better

The early 2010 13-inch MacBook Pro included a 2.4GHz dual-core Intel (INTC 1.81%) Core 2 Duo P8600 processor. This chip was rated at a thermal design power of 25 watts, didn't include an integrated graphics processor, and required several support chipsets just to function properly.

Compare that to the Core i5-6267U processor found in the base configuration of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

The CPU, which is a dual-core chip with hyperthreading (meaning four virtual cores total), runs at 2.9GHz base and a maximum turbo speed of 3.3GHz. The chip includes a powerful integrated graphics processor (Intel Iris graphics), and requires only one support chipset to function (and that chipset is integrated onto the same package as the main processor).

Further, the frequency measurement alone doesn't say much about the underlying performance of the system. Over the last several years, Intel has made substantial enhancements to its processor cores so that they can perform more work per given clock cycle, or per GHz.

This means that even if Apple were to use modern (in the blogger's words) "2.4 gigahertz dual-core processors," they would be a lot faster than the processor that Apple used in its 2010 MacBook Pro computers. The combination of higher frequency and much improved performance-per-clock means that today's MacBook Pro systems are way faster than those from 2010.

Indeed, per the popular Geekbench 4 CPU performance test, the baseline 13-inch MacBook Pro is more than twice as fast as the 2010 MacBook Pro in single-threaded CPU tasks, and nearly three times as fast in dual-core performance.

Image source: Geekbench 4 Browser.

The MacBook Pro has gotten better and faster

Typical personal-computer replacement cycles are quite long, often about five to six years, according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. This suggests that the target audience for Apple's 2016 MacBook Pro computers is owners of personal computers (both Windows and Mac) purchased back in the 2010-2011 time frame.

The improvements that Apple has brought to the table with its new systems, including processor performance, look as though they would be compelling to users of computers purchased five to six years ago.

There may be legitimate criticisms of Apple's new MacBook Pro systems, particularly as they relate to software developers. However, I don't think the lack of a performance increase is something to knock Apple on, since both performance and power efficiency have gotten significantly better.

At any rate, I remain optimistic that Apple's new MacBook Pro systems will do well in the marketplace, despite the complaints. Investors will be able to get a better handle on how these systems have been received by customers as Apple reports its Mac shipment and revenue figures over the next several quarters.

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple.

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