What Power Users Say About the 2018 MacBook Pros

It started as a simple voice memo attachment from Alessia Cara. A hook for a new song called Growing Pains. Famed producer Oak Felder then started to work his magic, taking this rough voice sample and laying it into Logic Pro on the new 15-inch MacBook Pro.

From there, he added a synth, a sick beat from a drum specialist he pinged, his own vocals through Auto-Tune, a guitar and other sonic elements to the track, at which point it was ready for Alessia to lay down her final vocals.

Felder doesn’t really care that the system Apple let him borrow has a Core i9 CPU and up to 32GB of RAM. But he does care about what all that power lets him do, as he doesn’t need to travel to a studio to create a hit single.

“I have enough space and speed to do everything I want to do,” Felder said. “It helps my vision become a reality.”

As part of a showcase for the new MacBook Pros in New York City, Apple introduced several journalists to Felder and other power users — from photographers and scientists to app developers — who have been putting this hardware through demanding real-world tests.

“I have enough space and speed to do everything I want to do. It helps my vision become a reality"— Oak Felder, music producer

Another fascinating demo was given by Lucas Gilman, an adventure photographer and filmmaker who has been using the new MacBook Pro to create large format gigapixel images.

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Snapping as many as 100 huge images over a 2-minute span, Gilman has been working with files that are between 60 and 80GB in size. He puts all of the images together in a program called Autopano Giga and creates a poster-size image that he says “can be as tall as a building.”

As Gillman says, “there is no take two,” in his specialized line of work, and the new 15-inch MacBook has made much quicker work of processing files in the field, including a trip to Iceland to chronicle the journey of a man who grew up in a prison and was scared straight from drugs and crime and became a powerlifter.

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The theme of his project is called Beauty & the Beast, where the beast aspect refers to adversity and beauty is the outcome of the process. That name is pretty fitting for this notebook as well, based on the first impressions from these pros, even though the outside of the system has barely changed at all.

John Ciocca, an 18-year-old app developer who taught himself how to program over the course of a summer, has been using the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to enhance his apps and build new ones.

The first app Ciocca created, MyVoice, was inspired by his older brother, who has down syndrome. The app is designed to give a voice to those who have trouble articulating; you simply type a phrase into the app and it comes through the iPhone’s speaker. Ciocca also created an app called WeBelong to help kids stay in touch with friends and family when they move away from home.

The ability to have three screens up and running at once with no lag is a definite plus, but for this young developer, the most important benefit of the new MacBook Pro is how much time it’s saving him. “It’s cut my compile times in half,” said Ciocca.

For Sal Kato, an assistant professor of neurology at UCSF, he’s been leveraging the new MacBook Pro to unlock the mysteries of the brain. During a demo he showed how he can analyze high-resolution images of neurons in nematodes (the simplest animal with a nervous system) to better understand how the brain works.

“We capture video and get volumetric scans of the animal to connect the dots,” said Kato.

The goal, Kato says, is to eventually tackle diseases and pioneer more drug discoveries. He admitted that the scientific community is pretty much split around using Macs vs PCs, but he’s been impressed with how smoothly his visualization app (built around the Unity engine) has been running on the new MacBook Pro.

“We’re dealing with large data sets and writing and running code non stop,” said Kato.

Credit: Apple

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptopmag.com, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.