Mid-2020 13" MacBook Pro

Ghent,

For the past 10 months, I’ve been using a Mid-2020 13″ MacBook Pro as my daily driver. For the most part, it’s been a pleasure to use it for all my work as a software developer, but it is far from perfect. This post is a list of issues that I think are important enough to be addressed before I consider sticking to the Apple ecosystem in the future.

Software Development

As a back-end web developer, most of my time is spent on iTerm2, where I generally launch a tmux session with different panes running Neovim, a Ruby on Rails server (with a PostgreSQL DB) and console, and an empty pane to execute multiple local and remote commands for development and system administration.

When I’m not writing code. I spend time on Slack chatting with colleagues, handling tickets on Height, or attending meetings in Meet which I make sure to attend on time using Calendar reminders. Once or twice a day I check my email using Mail.

Specs

  • 2,3 GHz Quad-Core i7
  • 32 GB RAM
  • Intel integrated graphics
  • 500 GB SSD
  • 4 USB C Ports

Cooling

Let’s start with the most annoying problem for me. This laptop gets seriously hot. I cannot put it on my lap for more than five minutes without feeling uncomfortable. After prolonged use, I cannot even type on it without feeling some discomfort in my hands. This means that my MBP spends most of its working hours on a stand, with an external keyboard and trackpad. But what is the point of having a laptop then? I’m at a point where I’d rather switch to a desktop machine.

Remove the Damn Touch Bar

One thing I enjoy about Apple keyboards is the layout (English US). They have the right key size and separation between keys for my hands' size. The travel is not great but is also not crap like with previous models. The touch bar, on the other hand, is poorly designed. I’d much rather have physical keys like the MBA. This would have the additional benefits of improving battery life and reducing costs and e-waste.

Battery Life

I think battery life is one thing Apple could improve in all their products. I don’t get even half a working day out of this machine making it not a very portable device in my opinion.

Upgrades and Reparability

I have good experience with Apple machines lasting long. I’ve owned a 2010 MBP, 2011 Mac Mini, and a 2012 MBA (the last two are still used today). But when I got them, I bought the models with the lowes specs, because it was all I could afford. This wasn’t such a big problem because I could upgrade them whenever I needed to without putting a hole in my pocket. However, this is pretty much impossible with these new models, hence why I got a beefier one this time. I think is a shame that Apple doesn’t allow me to do upgrades and repairs. I don’t want to replace a computer every 2 or 3 years, especially when I’m aware of the amount of e-waste we humans produce.

Conclusion

As a software developer, having a performant device matters, but it’s not the only aspect that I consider when picking a machine as my daily driver. Because I spend at least 8 hours per day using such a device, comfort is also just as important. I guess that with the new ARM chips, Apple will address improve the cooling and battery life. But when it comes down to portability, I think Apple and I don’t see eye to eye. For me, it is to be able to use my machine on the go; for them, it means a thin device. However, the major issue I see going forward is that Apple doesn’t allow (at least minor) upgrades and repairs of their hardware, which is an important enough reason for me to consider alternatives for my next device.


This is day 3 of the #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com.


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