The new MacBooks Pro have the best processors and graphics, the deepest color displays, and the fastest ports ever. Full stop. But what they don't have is the ports many people want and need. MagSafe. USB-A. HDMI. SDHC. Thunderbolt 2.

If you're one of those people, then this is the best MacBook Pro for you.

Best overall

15-in MacBook Pro (2015)

The 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015) doesn't have a TouchBar or Touch ID, USB-C or Thunderbolt 3. What it does have is a MagSafe 2 power connector, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, two USB-A ports (USB 3 spec), an HDMI port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an SDHC card slot. And if you absolutely need them, you can get dongles for Ethernet and FireWire. Yeah, it's a legacy dream machine.

Starts at $1999 but you can find them cheaper refurbished.

Bottom-line: The 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015) may not have the latest processors, but it has all the familiar ports.

One more thing: The 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015) also has a traditional scissor-switch keyboard. None of that new, low-travel butterfly-switch stuff.

Why the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015)

Everything old is good again.

It's hard to make a better case for the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015) than the one made by Marco Arment, who called it the best laptop ever made:

I recently returned to the 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro after a year away.

Apple still sells this model, brand new, just limited to the integrated-only GPU option (which I prefer as a non-gamer for its battery, heat, and longevity advantages), but I got mine lightly used for over $1000 less.

I thought it would feel like a downgrade, or like going back in time. I feared that it would feel thick, heavy, and cumbersome. I expected it to just look impossibly old.

It didn't.

It feels as delightful as when I first got one in 2012. It's fast, capable, and reliable. It gracefully does what I need it to do. It's barely heavier or thicker, and I got to remove so many accessories from my travel bag that I think I'm actually coming out ahead.

Because I travel so much, I've switched to a 13-inch MacBook Pro, but I've used and reviewed all the 15-inch models over the last few years. And, yeah, this one is the absolute best of the previous generation.

Best for portability

13-inch MacBook Air

Unfortunately, Apple hasn't kept the MacBook Pro 13-inch (2015) around the way it has the 15-inch. But it has kept around the 13-inch MacBook Air. You lose processing power and Retina display — absolutely — but if you don't really need those things and you want the portability of a 13-inch, then you also get a MagSafe 2 connector, two USB-A (3.0) ports, one Thunderbolt 2 port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and — yes — an SDHC card slot.

And it starts at only $999.

Bottom line: It's not a MacBook Pro, but will killer portability and price, and a bunch of legacy ports, the MacBook Air can still be a MacBook for pros.




Best for #DongleLife

15-inch MacBook Pro (2017) with OCW Dock

If you really do need an Intel Kaby Lake processor with 10-bit HEVC support for 4K HDR video or you really want Touch ID or the power, speed, and flexibility of four USB-C + Thunderbolt 3 ports to charge from any side or drive 5K displays, then you'll need to go with the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2017).

Starts at $2399

But you'll also need a hub to add back all those legacy ports. For that, I'd recommend the OCW Thunderbolt 3 Dock. If you want to travel light, just get the dongles you need. If you want full-on legacy ports to the extreme, OCW offers SDHC, analog audio, five USB-A (3.1), optical audio, FireWire 800, two Thunderbolt 3, and a mini DisplayPort. Phew.

All for $299.

Bottom-line: If you want all the tech in the new but also need all the ports of the old, yo, ho, ho, it's a $$$ #DongleLife you go.

One more thing: Both come in silver and space gray.

Conclusion

Confession: I love the new MacBooks Pro. From USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 to butterfly switches to Touch ID, they're by far the best laptops I've ever used. Dongles have been part of my life for years, from FireWire to VGA and DVI, to Ethernet and now USB-A. When I stop needing them, I can get rid of them. If I need a faster and more modern port, though, I can't retrofit it on.

But I understand that, for many people, the new keyboard is as much a dealbreaker as the lack of old ports. If that's you, get the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015) before Apple stops selling it, and enjoy it until Apple makes another MacBook Pro that really is for everyone again.

Best overall

15-in MacBook Pro (2015)

The 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015) doesn't have a TouchBar or Touch ID, USB-C or Thunderbolt 3. What it does have is a MagSafe 2 power connector, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, two USB-A ports (USB 3 spec), an HDMI port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an SDHC card slot. And if you absolutely need them, you can get dongles for Ethernet and FireWire. Yeah, it's a legacy dream machine.

Starts at $1999 but you can find them cheaper refurbished.

Bottom-line: The 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015) may not have the latest processors but it has all the familiar ports.

One more thing: The 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015) also has a traditional scissor-switch keyboard. None of that new, low-travel butterfly-switch stuff.

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