A Depressing Comparison Between the New Kaby Lake MacBook Pro and Four Other Windows Laptops


For the past few months I’ve been looking for a new
laptop to edit videos on. As you probably know, I’m a Windows user, but because
Apple just refreshed their MacBook Pro line two days ago, I decided to
throw one into the mix as well. The results of my tests were both shocking and
depressing.

Let me first tell you what I wanted in a laptop. I
wanted it to cost less than $3,000 (because I don’t use laptops very often), I
needed at least 16 GB of RAM, 512 SSD, a fast quad-core processor, an
accurate 4K screen, SD card reader, and an Ethernet port. As laptops
are getting thinner and thinner, finding a new machine that still has Ethernet
is very difficult. I would have been happy to buy another Alienware but for some
reason they have kept the Ethernet but have gotten rid of their SD card readers.
Sadly, I was not able to find a laptop with all of these features that I was
happy with, but I did compare five of the most popular laptops on the market
today and I came to some very interesting conclusions.

Here are the five computers I tested.

Dell XPS 15
9550

  • i7 6700HQ
  • 16 GB RAM
  • GTX 960M

We’ve owned this computer for one and a half years and
it has been amazing. We have had issues with our USB to Ethernet dongles but I
think we finally got to the bottom of the issue by updating drivers and
purchasing a Dell USB C to Ethernet adapter. This is Patrick’s main
computer and I would have purchased another one if it had Ethernet but I was
really excited to remove all dongles from my life and therefore I wanted a new
computer that had all of the ports I needed.

Surface Book

  • i7 – 6600U
  • 16 GB RAM
  • GTX 965M

I’ve owned this computer for a while now and it really
is a fantastic laptop. The only reason that I wanted to purchase another machine
was because this laptop doesn’t have Ethernet (without a giant hub that is a
pain to travel with) and it only has two underpowered USB ports which struggle
to power my Logitech mouse dongle and anything else at the same time. With the
dock this laptop works perfectly, I just hate having to travel with
it.

HP Zbook Studio
G4

  • i7 7700HQ
  • 16 GB RAM
  • Quadro M1200

I purchased the Zbook because I thought it was the
perfect laptop. It had everything I wanted plus two thunderbolt ports, Ethernet,
and a fingerprint reader. Sadly when I got it I noticed that the screen had
significant dimming on the edges. Everyone else in the office said I was crazy
for even noticing this but I couldn’t justify spending $2,500 on a laptop with a
crappy screen.

Dell Inspiron 15
7000

  • i7 7700HQ
  • 16 GB RAM
  • GTX 1050 Ti

The next laptop I purchased was the new Dell 7000. It
was almost the same laptop as the Zbook above minus the fingerprint reader and
two thunderbolt jacks and it was also $1,100 cheaper. This laptop would have
been perfect for me except that the screen was even worse than the Zbook’s.
Instead of edge dimming, the colors of the screen were so inaccurate that I had
trouble working on it. I tried to calibrate it and I couldn’t get it close to
looking right.

MacBook Pro
15-Inch

  • i7 7700HQ
  • 16 GB RAM
  • Radeon Pro
    555

I was ready to run the test with the four computers
above but Apple literally updated their laptops two days ago and so I decided to
run to the Apple store and buy a MacBook Pro with and identical processor
to the Zbook and Dell 7000. The MacBook literally cannot be used
without dongles because it only has USB type C ports which is my biggest
nightmare, but I added this for test purposes only.

The Test

This laptop will be used almost exclusively for Adobe
Premiere and so I only cared about how it performed with this program. I
transferred the same project to all five computers’ local SSD drive and I
exported the footage with the same encoding options. Surprisingly the oldest
computer, the Dell XPS 15, was able to render the footage the fastest and the
new MacBook Pro was by far the slowest.

Results (Less time is better)

1.
Dell XPS 15 9550: 3:35

2.
Dell Inspiron 15 7000: 3:44

3.
HP Zbook Studio G4: 4:35

4.
Surface Book: 5:01

5.
MacBook Pro 15-Inch: 6:04

I then ran the test again without GPU acceleration
disabled and got almost identical results. This seems to prove that either the
GPU didn’t help in any way in the first test or that the GPU was still helping
on all computers in the second test even though I turned it off.

I tried one other test on each of the computers that I
failed to mention in the video. I tried to play back the 4K footage in
the timeline at double speed on each of the machines. The only laptop that
struggled with this was the Surface Book because at times it would start to drop
frames but it wasn’t a significant problem, nothing like the first one that I
tested over a year ago. All of the other four laptops performed almost
identically.

Conclusion

The new Kaby Lake processors may not be a significant
jump over their predecessor on either Windows or Mac platforms. When it comes to
Adobe Premiere, they may actually be worse. I’ve seen similar results with other
benchmark tests but I was shocked to see our one-and-a-half-year-old laptop beat
four of the newest, and most expensive laptops currently on the market. I
decided to give up on my search for the “perfect laptop” and instead I went on
eBay and purchased a used XPS 15 which is identical to ours and has a two year
warranty for just $1,100. If you don’t want to deal with a used laptop, B&H is currently selling this laptop for just $1,500 brand
new
. It’s always nice when the most affordable option is also the
best.

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