Best MacBook Pro of 2020 – If You Must Have Legacy Ports

MacBook Pros
MacBook Pros (Image credit: iMore)

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.

Why the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2015)

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Everything old is good again.

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.

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.

But you'll also need a hub to add back all those legacy ports. For that, I'd recommend the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. It offers 14 ports of connectivity: USB 3.1 Gen 2 / Gen 1 + Thunderbolt 3 + microSD Reader + SD Reader + mini DisplayPort + Gigabit Ethernet + S/PDIF + Combo Audio I/O.

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.


Confession: I love the latest MacBooks Pro models. From USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 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.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.