Initially, I had a much more, overly complicated review of my 7-month review of my 2020 13” MacBook Pro upgrading from a 2013 15” MacBook Pro. I’ll cut to the chase. Here are some quick and simple bullet points and if you want more detail, you can read about it after them….

My current computer setup. (Image: Ricardo Gomez Photography)

What I Like About My Intel-Based MacBook Pro

• New! Being up to date on all the current technologies and software is so nice. Not having to think about what technology is compatible with my laptop is a nice release.

• Display. I’m a photographer. This is important to me. The screen seems to have better color accuracy. A tiny bit sharper.

• Performance. Overall, about a 30% performance boost. A performance boost especially when exporting photos is so much welcomed. There are things vastly faster like video and internal storage speed and you notice it when they are being used more exclusively.

• Weight/Size. When the laptop is in my bag, I barely feel it. I used to carry my iPad with its keyboard because it was so light and could do almost everything on it. The MBP is only 1 pound lighter. It’s almost half the weight of my old laptop.

• Keyboard. My laptop has the newer design which is a sort of cross between my old laptop and newer technologies. I absolutely hated the previous generation keyboards with their lack of travel. This version is pretty close to perfect.

What I Don’t Like About My Intel-Based MacBook Pro

• Performance. This is a complicated one. I like the performance improvement. Though with 7 years between computers, I think there should be at least a 50% bump in performance. Even if it’s the smaller version. When you start multitasking a good deal on it, the CPU starts to throttle, and performance suffers among all apps. Sometimes, a lot.

So yes, I’m very happy with my laptop! I wouldn’t change anything even if I knew everything about the M1 chip Apple recently released. Here’s why…

My 2020 13" Apple MacBook Pro (Image: Ricardo Gomez Photography)

What I Like About the M1 Chip

• Performance. From what I’ve seen, performance has made enormous gains! It’s really a whole other level, maybe even two, of performance. The M1 equivalent of my laptop is just a few percentage points behind that of a base iMac Pro. Which is huge! It’s not just about the chip’s performance, but the software optimization Apple has done. It’s tailored for the chip.

• Battery Life. I am rarely on battery-only mode for very long. But when I am, I’m very conscious about it. Once in a while, I’ll write a blog article in bed late night while having a movie play in a little window on screen. Battery can drop 30% or more during that time. And it gets hot on my lap.

• Design. It looks exactly like my current laptop. I think this was a great idea on multiple levels. Marketing mostly. To give less of that ‘1st-Generation Product’ caution.

What I Don’t Like About the M1 Chip

• Application Compatibility. This is just a temporary thing. When software manufacturers catch up with the M1, this issue will fade for most but the most complicated within a year or so. It’s why Apple released the M1 on its lower-end products first. Because people who buy that kind of computer don’t run sophisticated apps on them.

Questions about the M1 Chip

• Processor Updates. Only time will tell how often Apple will release processor updates. I don’t think it will be any worse than what Intel does. The thing is, Apple has the people. I’m sure they are done with the M2 chip and doing some final testing. I bet they’ve already started designing the M5 chip. Really. Companies like Apple think a years ahead.

As a professional and a person who uses applications like Photoshop and Capture One, compatibility is a huge issue. If you can’t export photos, you can’t make money. Period. So as great as the M1 chip is, I simply can’t use it. Despite Apple’s claim about how great performance and compatibility is, I’ve read about too many professionals talking about compatibility issues. Thank you. I’ll wait.

YouTube'r MBKHD talking about the M1 Mac. One of the few that knows his stuff.

What’s Ahead

I bought my new laptop with full knowledge that eventually, it will only be used for onsite photography work or when I’m out of the office. It would not be used as my sole computer. With the goals I have even in the very near future, the performance would not suffice.

A 16” MacBook Pro

This is a pretty sweet computer and if I worked much more outside the office, I might have gotten one. The base model is the same price as my current laptop and about 20% faster. But you pay for it in size and weight. I didn’t want that. The performance of a top-end 16” MacBook Pro isn’t enough even being 2x as fast as my current laptop. It would probably be fine for 2 – 3 years. Then I’d have to upgrade again. The price-premium for a top-model is not enough value for me.

An iMac Pro

While the higher-end models suffice in performance, there are too many limitations. The biggest is the screen. Too small. Though I could get a second, 32” screen. But then I’m paying a premium for a great screen that I won’t use enough. You can’t rotate it either. Not something that I do often. But when I do, I love it.

The Dream Machine: The Mac Pro. Image: Apple

Apple Mac Pro (Image: Apple)

A Mac Pro

This would be the perfect machine. Fully upgradeable and expandable in just about every way and has the performance I want. The biggest issue: cost.

However, I think Apple may have been listening to me on some of the forums I visit. I had been saying how a Mac Pro with half the expansion slots, same performance and upgradeability, would sell like hotcakes to the small-shop creatives like me. And just from my own observations, there are a lot of us.

For the last 6 months or so, there have been rumors of a smaller Mac Pro coming. Apple also said that in the beginning of 2022, they will be coming out with an Apple silicon-based Mac Pro. Would this be the ‘smaller Mac Pro’ they talked about? I think so. It would really be perfect. In early 2022, all my apps should be optimized for Apple silicon, my workload will demand a machine like a Mac Pro and most of all, I should be able to afford it!

You Can Do A Lot with A Little

There are plenty of people, especially Youtubers, who feel they need the latest and greatest to get the most productivity. It’s wrong. Very wrong.

The problem is they are just Youtubers and don’t have much if any real professional experience before starting a Youtube channel. I still remember with great clarity a “Tech Youtuber” showed their setup. On one hand, I was shocked how basic it was. On the other hand, I wasn’t. The Youtuber would still use portable hard drives to transfer data from one machine to another. And the Youtuber had plenty of subscribers to purchase gear. There was no excuse for it. Even decent networking gear is somewhat cheap. Heck, they could probably get free gear from some people they worked with…

I accomplished a hell of a lot of work with my little MacBook Pro!

Untitled photo

I read an article lately that Hollywood, video editing professionals, still use 10-year old Mac Pros. Ten years old. Think about that. They are working on multi-million-dollar projects.

So while waiting for a 2022 Mac Pro might be a little annoying, I’ll be fine with my laptop until then. You can adjust your workflows, processes and automate to get things done.

Which is one of my projects as soon as I’m done with this article!

Ricardo Gomez Photography

Originally from San Francisco, Ricardo is now a New York-based photographer specializing in editorial and commercial photography.
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