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  • A Lame Reason for Canceling a MacBook Pro Order?

    December 6th, 2016

    According to a published report from one of those ill-informed online pundits, he canceled his order for a fully-outfitted 15-inch MacBook Pro because of the expectation of poor or reliable performance. But it’s not as if media reviewers have said as much. Indeed, most have given these notebooks high marks, so there must be more involved, and that’s why I’m raising the issue.

    You see, something smells.

    But let’s look at the facts and see where one’s suspicions might be triggered.

    According to the article, the blogger in question, who shall remain unnamed for reasons that will become clear shortly, writes that he placed an order for a 15-inch MacBook Pro in October. He was upgrading from an aging Mac mini, evidently, though moving to a high-end notebook from an entry-level system would seem a curious choice. But there’s no accounting for taste, and so I’ll accept the decision as important for this particular person.

    If it’s real of course.

    Then comes the second act, where the blogger starts to feel qualms about his decision. But it seems as if there’s some sort of disconnect here. Let me explain why.

    As many of you know, the larger MacBook Pro uses two graphics processors. For regular use, it’s the built-in Intel HD 530 integrated graphics. But when more power is called for, it’ll switch to an AMD Radeon Pro. This setup is designed to maximize battery life. Your computer coasts with integrated graphics unless a specific app needs more graphics horsepower.

    So where’s the problem?

    Well, it seems as if he once owned a Windows laptop with a dual-graphics setup featuring an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M. But he encountered “constant driver problems” resulting in system hangs. Perhaps they occurred when the processor switch occurred, although that’s no altogether certain.

    All right, things happen, but remember that we’re dealing with a Mac, not a Windows notebook. It was 2012, according to the article, and the discrete graphics chip was made by NVIDIA, not AMD, so why assume a connection? More to the point, this isn’t Apple’s first rodeo when it comes to handling graphics processor switches. In 2012, Apple released a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display that used an Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated chip plus a standard NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M for higher performance requirements.

    Were there problems in managing the switchover? Were there system crashes? Of course. Defects with NVIDIA chip in the 2012 MacBook Pro called for occasional logic board swaps. But that’s four years ago, and millions of customers of these dual-graphics notebooks are using them with great reliability. So why assume a 2012 defect, or a similar problem, still exists in 2016?

    Indeed. the blogger seemed blissfully unaware that Apple has been building dual-processor notebooks for several years, but there might be another cause for concern, and that’s published reports that some owners of the new MacBook Pros have faced possible graphics problems. The issues include screen artifacts and crashes. They don’t appear to impact everyone.

    Now there’s one more element to this story, and it makes the blogger’s decision even more curious.

    As a result of the problems he had with his Windows notebook, and these reports, he decided to cancel the order for the 15-inch Macbook Pro. Just to drive the point home, the article includes a screenshot displaying the cancellation message from Apple. It seems forced, as if the writer felt that the reader might disbelieve such an order and cancellation really happened.

    Even if the whole thing is a put up job, I won’t dispute the fact that an order was placed and later canceled. I’ll accept the screenshot as genuine. Perhaps the blogger was willing to temporarily sacrifice a credit card authorization to prove a point since that money would be returned to his account in a few days.

    The upshot?

    Well, he opted to purchase a 13-inch MacBook Pro instead, since it only has a single integrated graphics processor. That, to him, would avoid potential reliability problems.

    But here’s the kicker. Although these graphics problems do appear to exist, if the blogger did his research, he would have realized they aren’t confined to a dual-processor 15-inch MacBook Pro. According to the AppleInsider article on the subject, “Perhaps most telling are similar issues seen in 13-inch MacBook Pro models, both with and without Touch Bar. Since the 13-inch variants rely on a different graphics processing system than their larger siblings, specifically Intel’s integrated Iris graphics chips, the problem can likely chalked up to faulty software.”

    In other words, this doesn’t appear to be a problem restricted to Appl’es dual-graphics systems. Clearly, if the blogger actually checked, he would have realized this. Then again, he didn’t realize that a dual-graphics system wasn’t something that Apple originated on the current MacBook Pro.

    Or perhaps it was a case of selective research to prove a point and enhance the claim that Apple builds defective gear. Or just more hit bait, and that’s what I’m leaning towards. I’d rather not think the blogger isn’t capable of discovering facts that you can search online in just a few minutes.

    Update (12/7/2016): According to a published report from AppleInsider, the forthcoming macOS Sierra 10.12.2 update will address reported GPU issues on the new MacBook Pros. That goes to make our unnamed bloggers reasons for canceling his order even less credible.



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