Life with a MacBook Pro – 2 months on

It’s almost 2 months since I decided to purchase the new MacBook Pro with Retina display to run Windows 8. Time to take stock and see how that is working out.

I am still a big fan of the hardware and think it’s a great laptop. Performance has been fantastic for me in terms of:

  • Boot time
  • Copying files (for example VMs)
  • Launching and running applications

The main niggles I’ve had appear to be related to Windows 8 – although I’m sure some of it is the combination of Windows 8 and this specific hardware. Hopefully some of that dies down as the drivers get updated for various bits and pieces. Specifically I have problems with the machine sometimes not sleeping or even shutting properly – it ends up getting really hot and the fans are going nuts, requiring me to press the power button to really turn it off.

I use a Logitech Bluetooth mouse which now works flawlessly after I fiddled with the Wireless card driver settings. The track pad supports basic gestures in Windows, but nowhere near as complete as OS X does. I can get a good 4 – 4.5 hours of batter life out of the machine running Windows. I could probably get 9-10 hours running OSX but I’ve never had to push it that far.

I really do live in Windows (installed via Boot Camp) for the majority of my time. It’s just where my computing life lives – Visual Studio, Outlook etc. I have no compelling reason to make OS X my primary operating system and then use VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop to get the Windows things I need. I did try those setups, but for me the most comfort came from running Windows primarily.

I’ve realised I’ve become a hardware snob. I noticed that when I used my wife’s Toshiba laptop, or a colleague’s Dell and realised how ‘plasticy’ those machines were (to be fair neither are high end machines). And so looking down upon this hardware from the snooty pride of owning a MacBook Pro my transformation was complete.

The display is great and I run Windows with the maximum resolution of 2,880 by 1,800. To be fair, lower than this and things seem fuzzy. To compensate for the ridiculous small text I run a DPI of 150%. Sometimes this comes unstuck with dialogs in programs (usually setup programs) not catering for the different DPI setting properly. The Windows 8 metro world works flawlessly with this screen resolution, it’s only the desktop world that has hiccups. Usually the quick workaround is to just adjust the resolution.

Another winning factor for me is the weight – 2 kilograms is about the weight limit of comfort when carrying this thing around between buildings as I walk around. Of course anything lighter would be better, but I’ve never stopped and thought ‘this thing is too heavy, I should get my backpack’.

I ended up buying and applying a Wrapsol cover for the outside and the top surface below the keyboard to avoid scratches and marks. My inner critic was shouting “See, you’ve bought into the vanity of ‘beautiful’ products!” and is probably right, but this machine will last me a while and I would like to be able to re-sell it one day.

Overall I am happy. I’m just looking forward to improvements in hardware drivers which will hopefully see some of the niggly inconsistent issues go away over time. That is the price I pay for being bleeding edge at the moment using a product that is RTM but not generally available.

So if you’re looking for kick-arse laptop that can pack enough RAM and with a high overall build quality, it is worth checking this out.