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Opinion: The Abysmal State of the Mac in 2016


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#1 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 08:17 PM

Opinion: The Abysmal State of the Mac in 2016

2016 is over halfway through and the Macintosh line of computers has been all but abandoned by Apple it seems. The Macbook Pro last saw an update in May of 2015, which is eons ago in the tech world. Despite the current 16 month wait now for an update, there seems to be nothing imminent on the Mac rumors websites. Apple seems to be all in on the iPad Pro and Emoji’s this year, leaving the company too stretched to do anything at all with their computer line.
Posted Image
The MacRumors Mac Buyer's Guide as of August 7th, 2016


Old and Outdated Hardware is the Common Theme

It would be too lengthy of an article to go through every product line to explain why it is outdated, so I will focus on the Macbook Pro. The Macbook Pro, the signature Apple notebook experience, does not feature that latest and greatest hardware in nearly any way. Apple’s failure to update to Intel Skylake’s architecture means slower compute power, slower graphics, worse battery life, and no Thunderbolt 3.

CPU: The MBP’s CPU is based on the Broadwell architecture, which was replaced by Skylake back in late 2015 and Intel’s “Kaby Lake” architecture is due out this fall. In a few months Broadwell will be 2 generations behind.

Graphics: The MBP’s graphics chip (Intel Iris 6100) has been replaced has the Iris 540 in the Skylake generation (With options for even faster integrated graphics such as the Iris 550 and 580). The Iris 540 is approximately 15% faster then the HD 6100. Graphics speed is something that the Retina screens desperately need.

RAM: Intel Skylake platform also brings DDR4 RAM, which has substantially higher speeds than DDR3. RAM speed is particularly important when using integrated graphics (which the Macbook Pro uses in nearly all configerations)

Thunderbolt 3/USB C: Thunderbolt 3 has been a thing in PC notebooks for months now (Dell XPS series, Razer Blade Stealth). Thunderbolt 3 has double the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2 (40 Gbps vs 20 Gbps), which allows for high-bandwidth peripherals such as external graphics adapters.

Body/Design: The Retina Macbook Pro was released in 2012 and since then has not received any body/design updates. I don't think that the machine looks bad or dated by any means but 4 years on the same platform is a little too long and Apple could incorporate at least some minor design updates to improve the machine such as: smaller screen margins, thinner, bigger battery, re-designed cooling system, slot for M.2 drive, etc.

A simple socket update to Skylake would not have been a challenging proposition. All of the major PC OEM’s such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo have been shipping Skylake since as early as Fall 2015. Apple saw fit to update the new single-port Macbook to Skylake, but didn’t want to spend the time to upgrade the Pro/Air. Apple is the only major PC manufaturer to not update their product line to Skylake.

Last Updated 1.5 Years Ago...

The entire Mac lineup (with the exception of the Macbook) has a "Don't Buy" rating from MacRumors meaning that updates are supposed to be imminent. Here is when the Mac linup was last updated:
  • Macbook: 111 days (relatively recently - the only Mac with this status)
  • iMac: 300 days
  • Macbook Pro: 447 days (this marks the longest update gap in recent history for the Macbook Pro. The previous longest gap was 294 days)
  • Macbook Air: 518 days (also the longest gap in recent history for the Macbook Air. The previous longest gap was 350 days since the Macbook Air was re-designed in 2010)
  • Mac Mini: 662 days (Surprisingly, this isn't the longest gap - which was 723 days. The Mac Mini has often been a disowned device by Apple)
  • Mac Pro: 963 days (December 2013 was the last update. Creative professionals who are willing to drop $5000+ on a desktop are thrilled to be purchasing 3 year old hardware I'm sure)
Average numbers of days for last Mac update: 500 days (nearly 1.5 years).

The iPad Pro is Receiving the Marketing Push from Apple

The iPad Pro is the product that is receiving the most marketing push from Apple when it comes to the professional space. Take a look at Apple’s recent video ad for the iPad Pro:



One has to wonder if Apple is intentionally holding off on updating it’s Mac product line so as to give the iPad Pro more time in the limelight. The iPad Pro is great for content consumption and very basic content creation. Anything beyond that requires a real computer.

Apple’s Approach to the Mac Makes it Seem Like They Lack the Resources

One of the most prominent excuses that I hear for Apple not upgrading the Mac product line is that the iPhone makes them so much more money. It is a true statement that the iPhone trumps the Mac in terms of total sales (the iPhone represented 65% of Apple’s revenue versus 10.1% for the Mac in Q2 2016. Source) but the Mac is still making Apple billions of dollars each year (and billions more then the iPad makes them, which represents 8.5% of their revenue). The problem with this argument is that it makes the assumption that Apple does not have the resources to target multiple platforms simultaneously.  

Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world with vast resources for any number of projects. Apple’s revenue dwarfs other technology companies such as Dell, Lenovo, Google, and HP and yet it seems like those are the companies that are coming out with interesting new designs and innovation every year. What has Apple done to excite in the technology market in 2016? Some new Emoji's for iOS?

Instead of innovation we see many of their product lines stagnating while they push product updates towards the lines that they think we should care the most about. The new one-port Macbook received an architecture update to Skylake this spring . Also in the spring we saw the release of the 9.7” iPad Pro. This fall we will surely see the release of the iPhone 7. The Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, iMac, Mac Mini, and Mac Pro are all sitting on out dated hardware in at least one way. Apple it is time to care about those who use Macs for productivity.

Tim, in the extremely slim chance that you see this, please speed up the Macbook Pro update. I need a new work laptop, and the Dell XPS 13 is looking mighty tempting in the meantime.
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#2 Janichsan

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 03:32 AM

It might be worth to point out that Intel's Skylake line was hit by several delays. Especially the CPUs Apple was expected to use in the rMBPs only were released quite recently. So, it's not all Apple's fault

That said, I fully agree: Apple has to get their popsnizzle together. Leaving the Mac Pro to rot with close to 1000 days without update is shameful, and selling more than one year old rMBPs with more than two year old hardware is simply preposterous. They have already lost a lot of respect by not at least announcing new hardware at the WWDC, they will miss the quite important back-to-school period if they don't act quickly, and if they don't come up with something in the next few months, I can't imagine that their investors will be too happy, after already two quarters with diminishing profits and sales.

You are not alone with your frustration about Apple's Mac policy. Articles lambasting the situation are all over the tech sites. For Pete's sake, even Microsoft's Surface manager calls Apple out on this. And the largest thread on Macrumors with more than 20,000 replies (and counting) is one called "Waiting for Skylake MBP".

View PostSneaky Snake, on 07 August 2016 - 08:17 PM, said:

Also, how do I embed a youtube video?
Like this:



[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zPYW6Ipgok[/media]
The link has to be http:…, though, not https:…

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#3 the Battle Cat

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 09:14 AM

Thanks for this article Mr. Snake.  I'm so frustrated by the lack of a decent tower that I've abandoned the Mac for the majority of my gaming and  I am having a kick-ass gaming PC built.  Still plan on using the Mac for everything else, it makes a great internet appliance and it's still good for general low level computing tasks.  My days of productivity are pretty much behind me so I'm not hurting in that respect.  

Apple has forced my hand on this.  They knowingly sold me a gimped mid 2010 Mac Pro that could not reboot with an option to select a startup disk.  That locks me out of doing a system restore too.  And the killer blow was that El Capitan prevented me from using Bootcamp.  So to paraphrase Cartman, "Screw those guys, I'm going home and eating pah."
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#4 Frigidman™

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 09:42 AM

I've pretty much stopped giving apple my money when they stopped making 17" laptops.

People wonder why I still use an old 17" MBP (non-retina), and how can I use 10.6.8 on it... and my answer is and keeps being: Until Apple actually do something worth paying for again... I'm sticking with what was once great.

And no I will not buy a giant monitor and turn my LAPTOP into a desktop tower unit with a million peripherals stuck to it ;)

I really wished they would had come out with "The iPortfolio"... a 21" portable computer that folds up like an artists portfolio... complete with touch screen and full keyboard.

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#5 macdude22

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 10:42 AM

Not that it's an excuse but I expect apple has some APFS specific hardware updates in the pipe. The file level encryption is going to be huge in my industry. A real selling point, if its not strangled by out of date hardware. Microsoft needs to get some real work done with ReFS to catch up here.

I wouldn't expect new hardware to be released at WWDC but I would have hoped to have seen a hardware event before School Started. I don't think that is going to be the case and I expect we won't see a hardware event until September at this point.

I am hoping Apple just takes the leap to Kaby Lake with hardware updates at this point. FWIW I've portrayed similar sentiment to our rep, not that he has any real input or knowledge about future updates. He gets updates sprung on him same as the rest of us  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I am fine with the MBPr staying in the same form factor, it helps maintain a healthy accessory market. I can live with around 1 year update cycles. To be honest I think there are too many tiny incremental performance updates during the course of a year. Who gives a popsnizzle about 2-3% here and there that the dulls of the world stick in every 3 weeks. BUT there is hardware available now that allows for 15/20/25/30% or more in performance increases.

The Mac Pro, I cannot fathom what is going on here. I have customers that have 2013 trash cans looking for an update. Well you can buy the same machine you bought 3 years ago, that is arguably not slow but these are folks crunching major medical data. The kind of stuff that spending 5k on a new machine to shave off an hour processing time a day is peanuts. The kind of stuff that used to be Apple's bread and butter.
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#6 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 11:05 AM

The thing that bugs me the most is Apple not taking advantage of CPU/GPU generational updates when they come out. Sure that newly re-designed rMBP will be nice when it comes out, but personally I just want to buy a MBP right now and not get shafted with 2015 hardware (the biggest thing I want is Thunderbolt 3). Apple used to be among the first to ship Intel's newest hardware but now they are among the last.

Supporting your existing product lines with architectural updates every 12 months shouldn't be a hard thing at all.
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#7 Camper-Hunter

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 01:38 PM

Apple Inc. (which lost the Computer suffix years ago) is now a smartphone manufacturer which still has a computers lineup, but doesn't really know what to do with it. I don't have much to add to what other folks wrote above. Last time Apple saw my money was when I bought my Mac Pro 2008. I now use a 2009 flashed to 2010, but I bought it used in 2013 after the "current" Mac Pro was announced: I sobbed then bought the last of the true Mac Pro computers. And now I plan to resell it and switch to Windows, after nearly 30 years of Mac use.

#8 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 01:40 PM

View Postmacdude22, on 08 August 2016 - 10:42 AM, said:

The Mac Pro, I cannot fathom what is going on here. I have customers that have 2013 trash cans looking for an update. Well you can buy the same machine you bought 3 years ago, that is arguably not slow but these are folks crunching major medical data. The kind of stuff that spending 5k on a new machine to shave off an hour processing time a day is peanuts. The kind of stuff that used to be Apple's bread and butter.

Exact same situation for me. Engineering firm that I do IT consulting for is willing to drop $10K each on a few dozen Mac Pro's, except there are no Mac Pro's available for them to upgrade to.
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#9 Spike

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 02:35 PM

Completely agree. Now is by far the worst Mac lineup I have ever seen, and it looks to continue to get worse. Not only is the hardware outdated, but I have disliked the trend to non-upgradability.

Also the MacOS continues to get worse with more and more things that don't work and more dumb feature bloat that hardly anyone uses. I am so disappointed in MacOS Sierra. Then, having dropped OPENGL and not going to the cross-platform, high performance, open standard, feature rich Vulkan to me signifies the writing is on the wall.

Getting ready to upgrade my Macbook Pro 2012 retina and am now getting a PC instead as they have all of the above. After 30 years of Mac gaming, I am on the verge of giving up as it is the worst I have ever seen.

Praying Tim Cook is replaced asap.

#10 nick68k

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 03:09 PM

I would be happy if Apple released a 21.5" 4K iMac with a discrete graphics option. That's all I ask.

Mac gaming has always been a question of balancing hope and experience; as someone who purchased his first Mac 25 years ago, I've lived through thick- (comparatively, of course) and very thin times. That said, I always have been a casual, Apple-only gamer. But to be honest, my 2015 iMac offers little performance benefit over the 2011-system it replaced. This makes me sad.
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#11 macdude22

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 03:29 PM

I've spoken to my professional opinion (i.e. I work for an academic hospital) here's my personal.

I use my iPhone/Air 2 for 75% of my day to day productive use. Writing, photos, kids popsnizzle, etc.... These are really really really useful devices. Like the kind of productivity we only dreamed of a decade ago. The kind of productivity my farmer mother says, OH popsnizzle I NEED ME ONE OF THOSE iPADS. I can do everything on it. I have a 15" 2012 non retina MBP but I haven't really used it in close to a year. The air 2 really meets my portable needs. These are really good really good devices.

But. BUT. There's that 25% that still requires a full blown computing environment. Games, real photo manipulation, nuts and bolts document editing, etc..... I want to upgrade my 3,1 Mac Pro but it kind of still does all of the things sans gaming just fine. I have a gaming PC. I have a high end monitor. I'm getting tired of them, I'm becoming real casual. I doubt I will upgrade the PC, no time, no interest. xBone does fine. The computing environment has just remained stagnant. I mean I'm more interested in booting my fraking IIgs than my MBP at this point.

I WANT to buy a new iMac or Mini but like come on, look at the current line up. 3,1 mac pro can sit and soak up photos til the cows come home. Give me a real excuse to upgrade. Sock it to me with some meaty upgrades. Really get my wallet going guys. Give me a loaded mini or iMac, best in class CPU/integrated graphics/dedicated GPU. I will buy it and retire ol 3,1. As is I'm really considering retiring 3,1 and just slaving ol 2012 MBP as it's replacement. Lower power consumption and it's performance is 95% of what I can buy BEST IN CLASS today. That's my beef. I can't get a NEW machine years out that eclipses my current hardware. Coooooooome on.
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#12 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 03:43 PM

View Postthe Battle Cat, on 08 August 2016 - 09:14 AM, said:

Thanks for this article Mr. Snake.  I'm so frustrated by the lack of a decent tower that I've abandoned the Mac for the majority of my gaming and  I am having a kick-ass gaming PC built.  Still plan on using the Mac for everything else, it makes a great internet appliance and it's still good for general low level computing tasks.  My days of productivity are pretty much behind me so I'm not hurting in that respect.  

Apple has forced my hand on this.  They knowingly sold me a gimped mid 2010 Mac Pro that could not reboot with an option to select a startup disk.  That locks me out of doing a system restore too.  And the killer blow was that El Capitan prevented me from using Bootcamp.  So to paraphrase Cartman, "Screw those guys, I'm going home and eating pah."

My situation is very similar to yours. I do not use computers for work anymore so it's all about internet appliance, various home and hobby interest applications and of course entertainment with a focus on games where this is concerned. I do a lot more consumption than anything else now aside of my musical pursuits and creating various  documents for my personal use from spreadsheets to simple databases to whatever. I wind up using a lot of the same apps I'd be using if I was working with the exception of doing zero related to software engineering. I am in the process of forgetting more than I knew in that department and with ever changing tech, languages, APIs, etc. I'm already a dinosaur anyway, not that it matters or that I care about it now.

I really like my current iMac and the way it is setup now which is something I'll post more about elsewhere after all my fooling around with triple boot, etc. but like everyone else here, gaming on the thing is the single sore point from a home user perspective. I'm actually good still for the stuff I care most about like World of Warcraft and a large backlog of titles that run great on this hardware for the time being. That said, I cannot imagine Apple shipping anything between now and when I buy my next computer to keep me from going with probably the Falcon Northwest Talon I want in whatever I feel is a good build for me at the time.

If Apple still made Mac Pro towers I'd be sorely tempted to save for one of them and dual boot Windows for gaming but those days are probably permanently over unfortunately, at least until people who think desktop coke can designs are cool are replaced by people who think both performance and flexibility is cool.

My next desktop is going to be a PC so I can enjoy gaming and upgrade the thing when I want to, etc. I don't know right now what if anything I will want to do where the Mac and macOS is concerned. For my purposes, a Macbook would be tempting but the cost would be awfully hard to justify given the fact that nearly everything I want to use for software exists, app for app, in Windows 10 now. If I can find quality digital audio workstation software for a reasonable cost which is something I haven't had time to research yet there really wouldn't be anything left to justify a MacBook.

Even the iPad and iPhone as nice as they are carry an Apple Tax I'm sure which means that next time around I will probably at least comparison shop Android alternatives. The same applies to Apple TV. I am not impressed by the last one they put out at all. In my opinion they added a lot of worthless fluff and increased the cost without increasing the value for my own use.

I do like what I own now very much and for the time being it still does what I care about most while I save for the next round of hardware around here.

I am not at all down on Apple and I think they do make great stuff but I also think now after some years of experience that particularly where desktop computers are concerned I simply am not among the people they design for. I think many of you are not either which is why you are so dissatisfied with choices they are making and the direction they are taking as a consumer electronics company which is what they are more than anything else now.
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#13 macdude22

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 03:45 PM

View PostSpike, on 08 August 2016 - 02:35 PM, said:

Also the MacOS continues to get worse with more and more things that don't work and more dumb feature bloat that hardly anyone uses. I am so disappointed in MacOS Sierra. Then, having dropped OPENGL and not going to the cross-platform, high performance, open standard, feature rich Vulkan to me signifies the writing is on the wall.

Getting ready to upgrade my Macbook Pro 2012 retina and am now getting a PC instead as they have all of the above. After 30 years of Mac gaming, I am on the verge of giving up as it is the worst I have ever seen.


FWIW ESO looks damn fine and runs great on macOS, I think if developers put in the work, they can still make great Mac games. But I get the sentiment. I don't mind Metal as long as they get some buy in and add all the necessary features. Which right now neither is true though 10.12 Metal might see some movement on that front.

I think it needs to be said that we are complaining not because we hate apple, but because we love them so damn much. We want them to succeed in this arena and it wouldn't take that much for them to really kick it up a notch. We get it, your mobile goods are THE BEST in the industry. Now show us the full blown computers that used to be THE BEST in the industry.
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#14 devSin

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 03:57 PM

I think a lot of this is down to Intel.

At some point, there's just no reason to upgrade, because the chips you planned to use were never delivered to you. At that point, you could try redesigning for the chips you have, or you can wait.

Apple could just do a generic refresh with minor CPU speed boosts, but obviously that's not something they really care to do (nor do I know if it would make any real difference, given the minimal gains in current CPU generations).

I do wish Intel would get it together, as I don't want Apple to switch to their own CPU designs, but the current situation seems untenable. I'm not sure how much longer Apple will tolerate it.

#15 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 04:30 PM

View Postmacdude22, on 08 August 2016 - 03:45 PM, said:

FWIW ESO looks damn fine and runs great on macOS, I think if developers put in the work, they can still make great Mac games. But I get the sentiment. I don't mind Metal as long as they get some buy in and add all the necessary features. Which right now neither is true though 10.12 Metal might see some movement on that front.

I think it needs to be said that we are complaining not because we hate apple, but because we love them so damn much. We want them to succeed in this arena and it wouldn't take that much for them to really kick it up a notch. We get it, your mobile goods are THE BEST in the industry. Now show us the full blown computers that used to be THE BEST in the industry.

I do feel that way too and I wish Apple would step up their game and deliver the kind of computer I want but I don't see them doing it unfortunately. Maybe I will wind up being wrong though. I suppose it is not impossible that they could be working on stuff that'll make a lot of people happy when it finally releases. Presently though, that feels like wishful thinking to me more than anything else.

I hear you on the Xbox too or any preferred console but there's always that one exception that throws a monkey wrench into the works and for me it is MMO games that I love to play which are primarily not on console even though some good ones have made their way there now. I don't want to cut the cord with WoW and EverQuest yet despite their ages and issues.
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#16 macdude22

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 04:55 PM

View PostDirtyHarry50, on 08 August 2016 - 04:30 PM, said:

I do feel that way too and I wish Apple would step up their game and deliver the kind of computer I want but I don't see them doing it unfortunately. Maybe I will wind up being wrong though. I suppose it is not impossible that they could be working on stuff that'll make a lot of people happy when it finally releases. Presently though, that feels like wishful thinking to me more than anything else.

I hear you on the Xbox too or any preferred console but there's always that one exception that throws a monkey wrench into the works and for me it is MMO games that I love to play which are primarily not on console even though some good ones have made their way there now. I don't want to cut the cord with WoW and EverQuest yet despite their ages and issues.

Never played everquest (though I do have a disk copy I got from .mac of all places) but WoW runs great on just about anything these days right? I haven't played since cataclysm so I'm not sure. GDAMN ESO LOOKS GOOD even on Mac. and I love LOVE the Elder Scrolls lore
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#17 the Battle Cat

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 06:10 PM

View Postmacdude22, on 08 August 2016 - 04:55 PM, said:

Never played everquest (though I do have a disk copy I got from .mac of all places) but WoW runs great on just about anything these days right? I haven't played since cataclysm so I'm not sure. GDAMN ESO LOOKS GOOD even on Mac. and I love LOVE the Elder Scrolls lore

You make me want to boo-hoo you ho-bo.  I miss Skyrim so badly I can taste it.  It tastes like addiction's gutter but I'll be strong if I can only get another 400 hours under my belt.  I can quit, really I can, but I choose to play until my bladder pops.  At least I'm not playing WoW, that's the hard stuff I hear, pure 150 proof Kentucky sour mash game.   Besides, my Imperial mage is pretty hot looking, so I have a guy excuse to overindulge a bit.
:drunk:
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#18 macdude22

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 06:26 PM

View Postthe Battle Cat, on 08 August 2016 - 06:10 PM, said:

You make me want to boo-hoo you ho-bo.  I miss Skyrim so badly I can taste it.  It tastes like addiction's gutter but I'll be strong if I can only get another 400 hours under my belt.  I can quit, really I can, but I choose to play until my bladder pops.  At least I'm not playing WoW, that's the hard stuff I hear, pure 150 proof Kentucky sour mash game.   Besides, my Imperial mage is pretty hot looking, so I have a guy excuse to overindulge a bit.
:drunk:

I have skyrim on 360 and Wandows., I'll probably get it on xbone too. I love me some elder scrolls. I love warcraft, but WoW became a bit too much. ESO being B2P instead of subscription whets my appetite better. Sometimes I have a whole week to play sometimes I'm gone for a month. ESO fits my bill better. And dat Elder Scrolls lore.
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#19 Frost

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 09:18 PM

View Postmacdude22, on 08 August 2016 - 10:42 AM, said:

The Mac Pro, I cannot fathom what is going on here. I have customers that have 2013 trash cans looking for an update. Well you can buy the same machine you bought 3 years ago, that is arguably not slow but these are folks crunching major medical data. The kind of stuff that spending 5k on a new machine to shave off an hour processing time a day is peanuts. The kind of stuff that used to be Apple's bread and butter.

What's ridiculous is Apple could probably do this easily like next month if they wanted to. There are already up to 22-core Broadwell Xeons available, Thunderbolt 3 is out offering lightning fast connectivity, NVIDIA just put the Quadro P6000 out which is ABSURDLY fast, DDR4 is not only out but cheap now, Samsung's got OEM SSDs available that eat the SSDs in Macs for lunch... put them all on a motherboard that works and put them in the trashcan, it's already got more than enough cooling and PSU power.

Apple could drink the high margin professional market's milkshake right now. Not to mention if you fell into the dual use situation like I was a decade ago where you have a kickass top-end Mac workstation that you also game on, it could serve exceptionally well in your off hours as a 4K/60FPS Gaming God. Meanwhile the current Mac Pro can't even run VR's minimum spec.
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#20 Matt Diamond

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Posted 09 August 2016 - 09:32 PM

When I'm feeling optimistic I wonder if maybe the delay is because they are redesigning the Mac Pro. But that doesn't explain the other delays up and down the line, so I soon get depressed again.

My new theory is that they are all spending their time fighting over who gets the corner office in Apple's new headquarters. "It's mine!" "No, mine!"

We won't get any new Macs until they remember that the new building is round. Fall of 2017, I'm thinking.
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