A Month with the 2017 MacBook Pro: What I Loved, What I Didn't

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At Laptop Mag, we produce the most-comprehensive laptop reviews, with analysis based on a mix of in-depth testing and hands-on experience, usually completed over a period of days. We test hundreds of systems a year, so after one review is published, we usually put the just-tested laptop away and move on to the next one. We posted our full review of the MacBook Pro 15-inch back in June and gave it 4.5 stars, but personally, I still had questions.

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I've been thinking about upgrading from my five-year-old 15-inch MacBook Pro and wondering whether the new model is right for me. While the 2017 MacBook Pro's clicky keyboard has more travel than its immediate predecessor's, I didn't know if I wanted to trade away the keys — which have far more movement and comfort — in my 2012 model. Was Apple's Touch Bar the tappable gift that the company had promoted, or just a gimmick? I used the new 15-inch MacBook Pro for month to find out.

MORE: Which MacBook Should You Buy? MacBook vs. Air vs. Pro

Design: Thinner and lighter, but not by enough, really

Weighing 4 pounds and measuring 0.61 inches thick, the 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro is lighter and thinner than my personal 2012 model (which is 4.46 pounds and 0.71 inches), but I noticed the thinness a lot more than I noticed the weight, as my bag would feel just as heavy no matter which machine I was lugging.

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Ports: Is Thunderbolt 3 truly trouble?

And let's just dive right into the MacBook Pro's Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C–only policy. Yes, it puts a hurdle in the way of anybody trying to attach a device they already own, because tons of accessories use the boxy Type-A connector. But a small, one-time purchase can solve this issue.

Fortunately, because I just wrote up the list of best Type-C hubs, I had my pick of the litter when choosing new a pair to work with. Yes, I needed two hubs, because I use two monitors at work and each of these hubs has only one HDMI-out port. So I had the HooToo Shuttle on one side and the OWC USB Type-C Travel Dock on the other side.


At home, I just used Apple's Type-C-to-USB 3.0 converter cable to connect my 10-port USB hub from Anker to the laptop. Both worked like a charm, and I'd forget I was using them.

Touch Bar: What is it good for? Absolutely one thing

The biggest innovation in the 2016 MacBook Pro (as well as this 2017 model) is Apple's sliver of an OLED touch screen, which the company calls the Touch Bar. My reaction? I'm sorry, but I want (most of) my effin Fn keys back.


In my whole month with this MacBook Pro, I found that the Touch Bar was mostly an accident waiting to happen. The majority of my interactions with it happened unintentionally; while typing, I would activate the digital Esc key while trying to hit the ` or 1 keys.

On the upside, the far right end of the Touch Bar contains a Touch ID sensor, which is my favorite part of the MacBook Pro's outer body. The convenience it offers, allowing me to unlock my login IDs and passwords from the 1Password utility, is electric, especially when the alternative is typing out my complex, 23-character pass code.

Keyboard: A clicky controversy

Right under the Touch Bar is the most controversial aspect of the MacBook Pro: its clicky keyboard. I read news stories about these keys getting stuck due to a small amount of dust, but I never encountered that issue myself. Neither did my colleague Michael Andronico when he tested this laptop for its official review.

That being said, my feelings about this keyboard are lukewarm at best. Its keys offer more travel than you get with recent iterations of Apple's 12-inch MacBook or the MacBook Pros released in 2016. But the movement in these keys is still paltry compared to what I find in my 2012 model.

This wasn't a constant problem for me during the month, as I typically write on an external keyboard, so I can view a raised display. Doctors say you should do this to prevent back and neck issues, which I'm already headed for due to a lifetime of sitting in front of screens.

MORE: How to Customize the MacBook Pro Touch Bar

But when I brought the MacBook Pro and its shallow keys with me to cover a press conference, I felt the pain of shallow keys. Or, more specifically, my fingertips did, as I repeatedly felt the keys bottom out (hit the bottom of the keyboard earlier than expected). My fingers want more than this keyboard's mere 0.81 millimeters of depth.

And while I managed to file my report from the field, I wasted time correcting the mistakes I made while typing on those keys. Sure, one could argue that I could have gotten used to this keyboard over the span of the month had I forced myself to forgo my typical typing methods. But you shouldn't have to get used to your keyboard. You're not paying to adjust your own behavior.

One night at home, I ran into a particularly annoying issue with the keyboard. While the caps-lock key itself wasn't stuck, clicking it wouldn't stop the computer from spitting out all-caps text. A quick restart remedied the issue.

Performance: I'll miss you the most, speed

Aside from the introduction of the Touch ID sensor, my favorite upside of this temporary upgrade was the much-needed speed boost. My old MacBook Pro felt like a reliable Honda Accord, but this new laptop was so fast that using it was like driving a high-end Acura with leather seats and a nitrous tank attached to the bottom.

Not only could I could open all of the tabs that I wanted (and keep them open, and forget about them until I needed them), but I could also run every single app I could think of, without seeing pauses or problems. That is the benefit, of course, of having a 7th Gen Kaby Lake CPU and a 4GB Radeon 560 GPU, with a strong 16GB of RAM.

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In particular, I saw massive gains in the speed of video-editing programs (Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro and iMovie). When I tried to run any of these programs or even Apple's simple iMovie on my old MacBook Pro, I experienced pauses, waits and stutters, which wasted my time and gave me a headache.

The modestly demanding side-scroller Cuphead isn't difficult to run, but to use it in a Parallels virtualization on my personal MacBook, I had to make sure that no other apps were open. But on the 2017 MacBook Pro, I could keep Safari, Tweetbot and the Bear text editor open without hitting slower frame rates.

Display and Audio: Still fantastic

There's little that I need to say about the sound and picture quality, as Apple continues to hit it out of the park in both areas with the ferocity of slugger Aaron Judge.

Footage I shot of an In-N-Out Double-Double Animal Style burger looked incredibly realistic on the MacBook's Retina display, with popping yellow in the cheese and the background's blue skies looking serene. St. Vincent's album "Masseduction" sounded fantastic, with strong bass, clear vocals and accurate synths.


My time with the MacBook Pro left me excited … to see what Apple will do next with the line. With this machine's upgraded performance and fingerprint sensors, as Biz Markie might say, it's "got what I need." And I could see the MacBook keeping biometric security and moving it out of the keyboard, now that Face ID is a thing and the company can build security into the webcams.

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While I've learned that Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C ports are nothing to be afraid of, my time with the clicky keyboard and Touch Bar has convinced me that I shouldn't rush out to buy this machine immediately. I get why thinner keys and more-lithe laptops are desirable to some people, but I'd rather have a superior typing experience than a svelter system. So, for now, I'm holding onto my 2012 model, and hoping it can stay alive until Apple changes the MacBook's keys.

Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
Add a comment
  • John L Says:

    Change your mecanicle hdd to a ssd and your 2012 macbook pro will go as fast as that 2017...

  • andres Says:

    The 2017 macbook pro with the touch bar is by far the worst product I have bought on apple. It is a complete rip off, dont buy this crap. 2016 macbook pro was way better and faster. I still have the white macbook that kinda works fine aside from the battery. My 2017 macbook pro lasted me exactly a year before the logic board somehow got wet (I seriously cant remember getting my macbook wet). They told it was $1400 to repair it, basically it was better to throw it away (they still asked me if I wanted to recycle the computer). What a complete joke of a company. Never buying a macbook pro again rather spend $500 of a dell either way they last a year like the new macbook pro. I still have the white macbook and the 2014 macbook that work. This new computer is by war the worst product apple has launched and they are ripping people.

  • AdamR Says:

    Its only a matter of time till your thunderbolt ports stop working.

  • Vincent Says:

    I am generally an Apple loyalist. I have a late 2013 15" MacBook pro that I have had zero issues with (aside from the frame rate when HD video editing) but I thought I'd try replacing it with a new 13" (2017) macbook pro with touch ID.

    For reference, the specs of the new 13” 2017 pro were 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7 Dual-Core, 8GB of 2133 MHz RAM | 256GB SSD, while the specs of my old pro are (2 GHz Intel Core i7, 8gb 1600 mhz ddr3, Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB graphics).

    After 45 days of using the new pro, I left thoroughly disappointed and ultimately returned it with a lot of my confidence in Apple having been lost.

    IF I were to ignore the logic board defect (explained later on), I would have to say that the most disappointing aspect of the new pro was the performance (or lack thereof) of the new machine, specifically its inability to handle multi-tasking. My 2013 machine flat out performs better. I guess that is to be expected with a dual vs. quad core processor, I just didn't expect it to be this noticeable. I literally had to restart the machine multiple times throughout the day to get the kind of performance I needed out of it. This was never a problem with my 15” MBP.

    So now onto other issues with the new pro. The most significant being the random charging failures no matter which USB-C port I tried to use (the same issue as the author had) as well as momentary display blips, both most likely caused by logic board issues, which is obviously unacceptable on its own. I don’t know if this is a supply chain issue/vendor, the indirect result of a design flaw, or what but Apple should be embarrassed that a product like this reached the hands of a consumer. On a more positive note, when I was able to charge the computer, I appreciated being able to do so from either side using the Usb-C ports. I just wish that Apple would have implemented the magsafe charging tech as well.

    I also found the keyboard to be uncomfortable (although no specific keys failed on me) and missed the key travel of my old pro’s keyboard. I got used to the new keyboard but when I went back to using my old pro, I really noticed how much I preferred it.

    The touch bar was more annoying than useful in my opinion. It is so easy to accidentally brush it while typing which only causes unnecessary interruptions. I found it useful for certain functions while using MS word and excel, but it was more inconvenient than anything. I actually changed the system preferences so that the app specific functions were disabled and the traditional, complete keyboard layout was displayed. Needless to say, I won’t miss the touch bar at all.

    The touch ID was a welcome addition and I will miss its convenience. I also appreciated the weight reduction of the 13” pro, although comparing it to the weight of my 15” pro is an apples to oranges juxtaposition. The 2017 15” pro is not even a half pound lighter than my 2013 model (4.02 lbs vs. 4.46 lbs) which is relatively insignificant in my opinion.

    As far as everything else goes, nothing really moved me in one way or another. In other words, the display on the 2017 pro was probably slightly superior to my 2013, but the display on my 2013 pro is still phenomenal so that’s kind of a wash for me. The same goes for nearly everything else. The USB-C ports were somewhat inconvenient but not a big deal with a good USB-C hub.

    All in all the execution of the new MacBook Pro left me incredibly disappointed. My 2013 pro has been essentially flawless for roughly five years now. The new MacBook Pro had a litany of issues from the moment I took it out of the box. Tim Cook and co. really need to pull their heads out of wherever they may be, stop worrying so much about quarterly stock earnings, and get back to making a product equivalent to what was produced under Steve Jobs’ leadership. Apple’s reputation was built on quality execution, reliability, and user-friendliness - if they don’t get back to this asap, they can say goodbye to those sonorous stock prices and the customers that helped get them there.

  • Andrea Says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this computer. I live in fear of my 2011 13" macbook pro kicking it but I've not been able to decide between the 15" pro with the 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and the newest 15"version for a couple of months now.

    My husband bought 13 inch pro recently and I've played with it a bit, but not much. I personally find the touch bar to be fairly useless and like you, the keys uncomfortable to type on. For $3K (I want at least TB of memory) I want something that I'm comfortable using. I've also observed how often his machine has frozen up since he updated to the most recent OS - not good.

    I've been a mac user since the 80s and personally can't imagine going to what I view as the dark side, so windows based machines are out. My husband is concerned with me overpaying for old / outdated technology. I know that I like the keys better, the port selection better and could care less about the touch bar. Do you think I'd be making a huge mistake buying the 15" pro with the 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor?

    Thanks in advance for any advice you might have.

  • kenny lowey Says:

    press FN and you get your Fn keys back ?

  • Joe Bean Says:

    Didn't I warned you when they announced the touch bar it would be a gimmick as much as it has been a few years before on the Lenovo Carbon X1? Apple didn't do their homework on this one. Serious power users need F keys.

    I am glad to read an honest review where the conclusion is you prefer your old computer.

    I find that the general direction Apple and especially Microsoft is going lately with a buy and throw away quickly model with both the hardware and the software is not in tune at all with the needs of people who need stability to focus on work and not constantly adapting to an always changing OS that brings change for the sake of it and not much value.

  • Drew Laithge Says:

    I would have bought this machine if they didn't force such gigantic tradeoffs. The large trackpad is amazing, but the keyboard is horrible. The thin/design of the system is great, but removing everything except TB/USB-C is handicapping us. I'm giving Dell's XPS a try while I wait on Apple to deliver a machine worth my money.

  • Jack Feder Says:

    Yes, the keyboard is the biggest problem. My main computer is my 27-inch iMac retina, but I recently needed to upgrade my portable computer. Since I could not get a MacBook with a decent keyboard, I bought a very cheap Lenovo. Even though it has Windows, it was okay since almost all of my real Computing is done on my desktop. The keyboard on the cheap Lenovo is vastly superior to the new MacBooks.
    Unfortunately, my office may start going portable next year. If a point does not come out with a MacBook with a good keyboard by the time I need to get rid of my iMac, I might be stuck using a Windows computer as my main machine.
    Please Apple, Don't force me to use Windows as my main machine. Get me a MacBook Pro with a good keyboard please!

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