Sean Groff

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Macbook Pro 2019 (16-inch) Review - One Month in

January 29, 2020

My Macbook Pro 2019

I bought the higher model Space Gray 16-inch Macbook Pro with all of the base options. I bought the higher model with the better graphics card because this machine is also going to be my gaming computer. I also bought the Apple Care coverage which I’d highly recommend. To get some rewards points I bought the laptop from Best Buy instead of the Apple Store. The total cost after tax was $3400.

The Keyboard

The keyboard is fixed! Apple messed up bad with the previous models’ butterfly keyboard. It still feels weird telling people I LOVE the keyboard on my Macbook Pro. I’ve been in the market for a new Macbook Pro for a couple of years. I experienced the butterfly keyboard issues everyone complains about with the 2017 Macbook Pro I use at work. I can no longer use the “o” key as it triple presses whenever I press the keyboard. The “a” key doesn’t work most of the time. There was no way I was going to shell out three grand on a laptop with a flawed keyboard! Apple went back to the scissor key keyboard found on the Magic Keyboards. Apple also went back to the more traditional keyboard layout, including the return of the physical escape key and traditional arrow keys. The touch bar is still there. I don’t love it and certainly wouldn’t pay extra for it if it was an add-on.

Why a Macbook Pro?

I’ve been an everyday Mac user since 2012. Some laptops offer some of what the Macbook Pro offers, often at a slightly cheaper price. What stood true in 2012 still stands true in 2020. The touchpad is second to none and the retina screen is world-class. The overall polish of OS X is great. I’ll cover the OSX apps I use at the end of this post. I don’t consider myself much of a gamer anymore. I play Starcraft 2 and the occasional simple to play Steam game. I’ve been able to stream myself on Twitch while gaming or coding without any performance issues.

Thermal Improvements

With previous Macbook Pro’s I would open Slack or Docker and the fans would kick on at a decibel level similar to a SpaceX rocket launch. The fans will eventually kick on when I’m streaming but it’s much more subtle. I honestly never notice they are on. Thanks to the improved thermals we get a powerful CPU and GPU. Apple has been known to throttle the CPU and GPU to balance the thermals and fan noise. The only drawback to the extra beef is the laptop is slightly thicker than the previous model. It’s very subtle honestly. If anything, it feels more solid and well built. Now I sound like a fanboy…

Larger screen and the Speakers

Back in the early 2000’s, I owned a 17-inch Alienware laptop. The thing was so big I never wanted to take it anywhere. I believe a 15-inch is the perfect balance between screen size and portability. That is until I started using the 16-inch. My eyes aren’t the greatest so I love the extra screen real estate, even if it’s only slightly larger. One thing I’ve never cared about with laptops is the built-in speakers. It’s not that I don’t care about good audio. It’s that speakers on every laptop I’ve tried have always been bad. The speakers on the new Macbook Pro sound clear and have some bass!

My OSX Apps

I’m a huge fan of Homebrew. I maintain my install script on GitHub so whenever I get a new laptop at home or work, I run the script and a few minutes later I’m ready to rock. I’d highly recommend this to anyone. What I love about OSX is the spotlight search. I press command + space and search for every app I want to open. Since this is a key point in my workflow, why not make it even better? This is where Alfred comes in! If there is a must-have app for OSX, this is it!

Gaming & Streaming

SensibleSideButtons - Makes your mouse side buttons not suck

SteelSeries Exact Mouse - Removes mouse acceleration

OBS - Streaming software

iShowU Audio Capture - Allows OBS to record your voice AND game audio.

Discord - How else do you talk to other gamers?

Development

VS Code - My preferred text editor

iTerm - still the best terminal I’ve ever used

Docker Desktop for Mac - because containers aren’t native on Mac

Figma - My favorite design tool

ImageOptim - easily optimize images to reduce file size

Firefox Developer Edition - The dev tools blow away Chrome, seriously give it a spin!

Productivity

Todoist - Getting Things Done

Trello - take notes on everything!

Grammarly - because I suck at writing?

Spark - Best.Free.Email.Client.

1Password - If you’re using LastPass you’re doing it wrong

OSX Enhancement Apps

Alfred - Spotlight on steroids

Homebrew - Everyone’s favorite package manager

Vanilla - Hide mac menu bar icons of your choosing

Rocket - Slack style emoji picker on your Mac

Rectangle - Mac window manager (the successor to Spectacle)

Should you switch to a 2019 Macbook Pro?

If you love Windows or Linux I don’t see why you’d switch to a Macbook Pro now. If you’re in the market for a new Macbook Pro, this is the best Macbook Pro ever made. It’s very expensive so you need to decide if your workflow demands the Macbook Pro or if the Macbook Air will suffice. Nothing is perfect, but this laptop is close!


Sean Groff

I am Sean, a Software Engineer in Kansas City passionate about React and JavaScript.