MacBook and MacOS it’s something different from Windows. I use Mac for almost four years and I decided to write this post – I’m satisfied with this hardware and software, but can’t not say something about some stupid solutions, stupid issues in Apple products. Some of them can ruin daily usage, some of them decided, that Macs can’t compete with much cheaper notebooks with Windows of Linux – everything because of limitations. If you are not real Apple “follower”, just read. I think much information from this post are not as popular, as their should be – you will not warn before buying Mac, so.. it may be great chance to avoid expensive and bad shopping.
You don’t have any control over the GPU
If you have a Mac with additional graphic card (Radeon) and only with Thunderbolt ports, you should not use external displays without connect also power adapter. Why? Because in that situation, MacOS uses only Radeon card. Yes, you can use only battery, but it doesn’t matter and you can’t do anything with that. It’s because of Mac construction. Thunderbolt display lines are connected directly to Radeon and can’t use Intel from notebook CPU. Result is very disappointing: when I use Mac without power adapter to watch movie on external displays (not using AirPlay), after just 2 hours there is only 20-25% of battery. It’s very weak result. Competitors with Windows and for example NVIDIA cards with Optimus can work much longer without any issues – because these notebooks can still use Intel card instead of power-hungry GeForce or Radeon.
No power plans
It’s problem not only in movies, but also on many, many apps. If you checked MacOS settings about power, you are seen option to dynamic switching graphic card. It’s ok, but can work only in limited way. You can enable switching or disable this and always run Radeon (it’s not good option if you use Mac on battery). But what about apps? I made some investigation using some free, open source apps like gSwitch (here is official website) and discovered something very strange. MacOS allows many third-party apps to use Radeon acceleration without any important reason. Example: run Google Maps on Firefox or Google Chrome. Both will use Radeon to accelerate this page. Probably because a lot of canvas elements and drawing. These both browser can also run Radeon on… Facebook. Why? I’m not sure. Fox example Opera browser doesn’t do that, it has an option (enabled in default) to use only integrated graphics and works with Intel. Without problems, Google Maps are fast on Opera. The same with Safari. This browser doesn’t need to use Radeon to draw most of the pages, so it can save your Mac energy.
According to Statcounter Safari has about 15% of browsers market share (data for July 2019). It’s very good result, but much worse than winner, Google Chrome with more than 60% of market. According to Netmarketshare, Safari has only about 3,3% browser market share. Both results are different, but both results means exactly the same for browser extensions developers: they should not spend more time for Safair. It should be simple to create extension for this browser, or convert existing extension for Chrome/Firefox to Safari compatible format. Now, with new API, it isn’t simple. It requires new code, and not every developer knows Swift or Objective-C. So it’s problem, very important problem. With such market share, Safari doesn’t have changes to be main goal of browser extensions developers. Sorry, but that true. Apple should encourage instead of deterring these developers.
Sleep automatically after close lid
One more thing about power. In some situations, I prefer to connect external display, and then close lid of my computer. With Windows or Linux, is not a problem, in any case. In MacOS it also not a problem… but only if you use power adapter. If you work with battery, your Mac will automatically, so you must open lid again to wake up. Ok, it’s also default behavior in Windows, but you can change this in anytime. You can also look for similar setting in MacOS settings panel but… you will find nothing, exactly nothing. There is no build-in option to NOT sleep computer when you close lid without connected power adapter! I know, that it’s because of power saving, but it’s frustrating in so many cases… And I really don’t know why they didn’t decide to add this simple option. Solution: use external software special for that. Yes, really.
No DisplayPort Daisy Chain
DisplayPort it’s fantastic standard with a lot of abilities to connect external display. One of the best options – for me – it’s Daisy Chain. You can connect two or more display to your computer using serial connection instead of connect many cables directly to computer. Yes, serial, co you connect first monitor to computer, then use cable to connect second monitor with first etc. It isn’t anything new, and I can work without issues with Full HD or 2K displays, so it’s great in many cases. Only one thing you must do to configure MST in displays, and connect them, without any issues. And it works perfectly.
But not on Mac, not on MacOS. Why? I really don’t’ know, but Apple doesn’t support this international standard. Apple decided, that you should use their, proprietary solution, and only compatible displays (!), of course much more expensive. It’s very stupid and means additional cost, additional vendor lock-in in Apple ecosystem. Of course this company uses Thunderbolt 3 port with a lot of available options: send not only video, but also power, audio, ethernet etc. but it’s not perfect option. What if we have older Mac, for example MBP from 2015? We must use different cable for each monitor. It’s not a problem, because older Macs have more ports, but again – it’s not necessary in competitors notebooks, required only in Apple products. So, what is better?
No ports, no PRO
You can buy MacBook Pro and spend a lot of money for that computer. But it will be not really PRO computer, or, computer for professional, power user. Why? Because it provides now only very, very limited ports: just two, or four Thunderbolt 3 ports. This port uses USB-C connector, but provides a lot of options: sending 5K video signal in 60Hz with power and audio in only one cable is one, but very good example. It’s a lot of data, and only one cable, brilant, yes? Not exactly, because to do this, you must buy for example LG UltraFine, very expensive 5K display. Another shopping? What about hardware that you already have? You must use hubs or adapters to connect them – and it’s another nightmare, about I wrote earlier. Computer for professional users without DisplayPort, without ethernet, without standard USB, without HDMI? Really? It’s only another, stupid Apple limitation.
As you can see, Apple has a lot of stupid limitations. I will update this post during my use of MacBook Pro and MacOS. As I wrote in the beginning – overall, I’m satisfied and I think, that’s still better option than Windows 10 aka “construction area, do not enter”. It’s also better than Linux, because this system is amazing for servers, but has so many gaps in professional and home software support (like Adobe, Microsoft Office or Autodesk). After all, I don’t want to say: Mac is perfect. No, it isn’t. It’s far away from being perfect. I can’t say, that Mac is good or bad for you – everything depends on of your requirements.