If You Give A Girl a MacBook
For years, I've been a desktop computer user. I built my first tower in 2017, and haven't looked back since. I just tend to prefer doing my thing with my three monitors and a keyboard and mouse and a nice chair with my fancy headphones. And yet here I am, with my AirPods in, typing this from a MacBook in bed.
I've been using the MacBook Pro (14-inch, M1 Pro) for about twenty-four hours now. For those who know me, I'm no stranger to the Mac, and I'm not even a stranger to a MacBook - I used a 2010 white unibody MacBook for quite a few things when I was simply out of the house - but this is a whole new world.
So what happens when you give a primarily desktop user a powerful laptop? Why did I buy one in the first place? And, most importantly...do I plan on keeping it?
Why the MacBook?
I recently decided to bite the bullet on this laptop for quite a few reasons. For one, I've simply just really wanted to get my hands on an Apple Silicon Mac. For two, I'll be doing a bit of traveling this summer, and my 2010 MacBook nor my iPad 9 will be sufficient in terms of power. And for three, I lost access to macOS when I finally replaced my desktop's RX 5600 XT with an NVIDIA card.
In terms of hardware, I bought the absolute base model. 512GB of SSD storage, 16GB of RAM, and the M1 Pro chip. I don't foresee myself needing any more power than the M1 Pro could provide (and admittedly I'm not sure the base M1 couldn't provide what I need), and storage isn't much a concern since I store most of my projects on my big desktop with 8TB of space. I store most of my graphic design projects in the cloud when I'm not using them, and I don't plan on doing any streaming from this machine, so I shouldn't need to keep the 2GB or so that the my streaming assets take up.
I also don't plan on playing any games, really. I can see myself playing the occasional round of TETR.IO or Minecraft SkyWars, but in terms of any serious gaming, I have a PC, Switch, and PlayStation 4 if I really want my fix. Trying to keep the work and play separate here, so I'm not hard-pressed if this thing can't play Counter-Strike or Valorant.
What I do plan on doing is creative work. Working on commissions, writing blog posts, making videos, even trying to get back into music and DJ work. And since I now have access once again to Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, I suspect that I'll be having lots of fun with those - I simply do not like their Windows alternatives. On top of this, I've been pouring lots of love into a large video retrospective and review on literally everything Anamanaguchi has ever put out, so being able to have a machine where I can work on that distraction-free is a huge plus.
With that out of the way, well...how do I feel about the hardware itself?
In short, this is the best laptop I've ever used.
In long, well...it's a bit more complicated. Yes, ultimately, I love this machine - I haven't touched my desktop since I got the MacBook Pro in my hands - but it's just got some minor quirks.
Let's talk about the aspects I have zero complaints about, first. One, the display. Between it's 120Hz refresh rate, absolutely gorgeous colors thanks to the micro-LED tech, and the perfect size, I don't think I have any complaints about this at all. Content looks great, the operating system pops and feels right at home, and yes, even the notch isn't as bad as people say it is - especially if you're like me and using apps in full screen most of the time.
On top of this, the battery life is unmatched. I've had Apple Music open with my AirPods Pro connected, alongside Discord, Mastodon, ten Safari tabs, and two Affinity Photo projects open - all in the background while I type this out in Ulysses at medium brightness. I have used the MacBook for about four hours off the charger... and it's only at 82%. For reference, my 2010 MacBook would end up dead after two hours, and my ThinkPad would last four to five hours on a single charge - and all of those devices had significantly worse screens and hardware.
Speaking of charging, MagSafe is back! This doesn't mean much, but it's nice to see. I quite like MagSafe, especially as someone who uses their device in bed a lot, so it's not something you'll hear me complaining about at all - especially since the charger comes in the box.
Now, I have two minor complaints about the hardware on the MacBook Pro, and shockingly they come in the two areas I expected to complain about least - the keyboard, and the trackpad.
Getting the keyboard out of the way, it's fine. It's still pretty good, and definitely usable, but I find that it's just not as good as my 2010 MacBook or my old 2015 MacBook Air (which I no longer own). The keys are perfectly spaced and sized, but they feel just too clicky and without enough accentuation. I think this is largely because of the softer, thinner plastic used on the keycaps as opposed to the rough thick plastic on the earlier MacBooks. It's not something I can't get used to, but still just a bit jarring. The trackpad is a similar story. The tracking and gestures are second to none, as usual, but the click just feels weird. Maybe it's because I'm not used to the Force Touch yet, but even on the Firm setting it just feels...mushy. I'm sure this is also something I'll get used to, but it feels like a downgrade from my 2010 MacBook with it's clicky glass trackpad.
Desktop, minus the desk
I think having a laptop this good is going to be the death of me.
I'm used to working at a desk. To having a neatly organized desk with everything I'd ever need on it, with three large displays and nice headphones. I've had an iPad with a Logitech Combo Touch that I use, every now and then, but that requires me to station at a table, and admittedly using an iOS device for actual work isn't something I enjoy doing.
I have not sat at my desk in the past twenty-four hours.
I've taken this laptop with me into the kitchen, where I drank a cup of tea while writing. I've taken this laptop with me to the couch, where I listened to some music while conceptualizing some designs. I've taken this laptop into my bed, where I fell asleep with it wide open (and where I'm currently writing this from, still in my pajamas). Having a machine where I can do all of my work from anywhere is amazing, although it's going to make getting into a "work mode" harder if I can do anything at any time, since it gets rid of that divide. But, ultimately, I'm okay with that, because the MacBook Pro 2021 is an absolute joy to use.
Am I keeping it in the end?
Obviously, I've only had this thing for like, a day, so that's going to be hard to answer. As I use it more, I'll gauge whether it's worth keeping, or if it'll be better to return and scale down to the M1 Air or Pro instead. But so far, I'm in love with this device, even if the price is a very hard pill to swallow. I'm excited to get more intimate with this device as the weeks go on, and I'll be happy to update you all on this as I go.