[PreSonus is a long time supporter of Apple and Apple Products. We strive to keep our customer base and our PreSonus Family informed about the latest technologies available and their potential applications, as they pertain to Digital Audio Recording]
Apple has released a new series of MacBooks that are highly energy efficient, even thinner than ever, and showcase the exclusive USB-C technology as the single port found on the new MacBook.
There are a few things you should be aware of prior to purchasing this latest incarnation of the MacBook.
Single Port For Everything:
Apple has merged all the Inputs and Outputs into one single USB-C Port. This port controls power to the laptop as well as all data transfers [including audio and video]. This means that without purchasing their $80 USB-C Dongle, you are limited to a single hardware input device. It is also important to note that no USB Type A port [what most of us think of when we hear USB], is not directly compatible with the USB-C connection. This would include gear such as Flash-drive, DJ controllers, midi controllers, USB audio interfaces, USB mice/keyboards, USB external hard drives and various other USB-based gear that we have all been using for the last decade. This new port does not sport a magnetic connection (for a more secure fit) and is fairly shallow, which even under the best of conditions runs a great risk of being disconnected (especially with the cluster of the single port being the collective area for the computer's entire I/O).
**Pictured Above: USB - A (Left) and USB -B (Right)
**This is the $80 Adapter you will need to purchase if you want to expand the single USB-C port on the MacBook. This splits the USB-C into a USB-C (for power and charging), and HDMI port (for and external monitor), and a single USB 3.0 Port (for any additional USB needs). As this consolidates many ports that would normally be spaced out and oriented around the perimeter of the MacBook, it now clusters and potentially clutters (when using the adapter) everything to one side with a nest of cables, hubs, and video cables; which is not always and ideal setup scenario.
**This also makes it crucial that you select a properly powered USB 3.0 hub that is not only compatible with Mac, but also meets the demands of the peripherals that are going to be connected to the MacBook.
Apple's Latest MacBook also has limitations to its flash storage on board. The basic model will come with just 256GB of storage space, which is up-gradable to only 512 GB. This limited space is easily filled even with the basics for a dedicated studio computer: software, DAWs, DAW content, VSTs, and recording sessions. Even the average hobbyist will find themselves running out of space rather quickly. (especially if this computer is not solely dedicated for audio.)
Lack of Thunderbolt:
In the Audio Industry, we have seen a recent switch to several new high speed data protocols, Thunderbolt is no exception. However, Thunderbolt is completly missing from this latest MacBook Series.
**Please Note: There are no Thunderbolt ports on the Apple USB-C Adapter. It only incorporates : USB-C, HDMI, and USB 3.0 (with the additional use of the adapter, not included).
Lack of Ethernet Ports:
This new design lacks any physical Ethernet ports and is designed behind the idea that the user-base will utilize wireless connections for internet, file transfers via AirDrop and Bluetooth for external keyboards and mouse control. Depending on the type and level of audio gear you are using, this can pose additional issues and concerns as to this computer's ability to provide necessary connection protocols for your Digital Audio Recording and Hardware needs.
Most Importantly - Processing Power:
This latest incarnation of the MacBook utilizes the 5th generation Intel Core M Processors. This is a dual core processor that throttles up from a base speed of 1.1Ghz up to a Max clocking of 2.6Ghz as a load is put on the processor via graphics, software, and various processes running in the background. Even with this new system coming highly optimized from Apple, it is under-powered and just does not meet the minimum system needs of your average modern Digital Audio or Studio computer. Even with going the extra mile to max out the RAM at 16 GB, the processor falls short of the stable and consistent processor environment needs an minimum system requirements of today's Audio Recording Environments. This new computer is geared toward more standard use cases such as business, home, and basic everyday usage. So if you are a Bedroom Producer, Studio Engineer, or a Live Sound guy, this latest MacBook just does not have the under the hood power that you need.