Retina MacBook, Port me away!
May 8, 2016 10:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking at the MacBook Retina. I see it only has a USB C port. And there is a dongle from Apple that supposedly allows one to hook this thing up to hdmi. Please tell if you have used this because reviews are all over the place. Bonus: is there a dock or hub that has both ethernet AND hdmi?

I'm interested in the this particular model because it is so small and light. I will have an external monitor and kb/mouse for desk use.

I see there is a multi port for usb and hmdi and a separate dongle for ethernet.

Since apple just released this in April, I doubt they're going to release a new one with a thunderbolt connector in June at the WWDC.

I don't do anything graphics related... I'd want to use the port to have a monitor hooked up just for ease of use.

The things I would have running all at once are:
-browser with Trello, intercom, Google docs, and like 20 tabs
-streaming Spotify or Netflix

I think this tiny little thing would be perfect. But the external monitor is a must. And it'd be nice if I could have both ethernet and monitor at the same time. However, my technical knowledge is lacking so I don't know what the deal is. Hope me!
posted by sio42 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A few companies make 'breakout boxes' that give you both HDMI and Ethernet out - here's one that I found.

As for your usage scenario, that sounds mostly fine - just make sure that you get a model with as much RAM as possible.
posted by destructive cactus at 10:56 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks - those docks look awesome.
And for reference here are the specs for the one I'd get. This the maxxed out version.

512GB PCIe-based onboard flash storage1
1.2GHz dual-core
Intel Core m5 processor
Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz
8GB memory
Intel HD Graphics 515
posted by sio42 at 11:00 PM on May 8, 2016

I've been looking for something like this, too. This looks pretty good to me. I've bought from OWC in the past and have not been disappointed with them at all.
posted by qurlyjoe at 5:47 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I suspect the reason you're asking the question is because you've previously heard that DisplayLink based USB-based docks are laggy and don't work well for video. (True - I have one.) USB C is different and the USB C docks for the MacBook are literally just breakouts; the HDMI signal is generated internally on the MacBook and presented on otherwise-unused pins on the USB C connector.

In other words, it'll work great. (So will the OWC one which works the same way). Don't worry about it.
posted by doomsey at 5:48 AM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

As a comparison case (and in case anyone ever looks this up), I have a late-2015 Dell XPS 13, which also has just a USB 3.0, and it works flawlessly both with HDMI and VGA.
posted by Stilling Still Dreaming at 7:03 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I know you marked best answer already, but I have to chime in as just on last Monday experienced the same question and ended up buying a 2015 Macbook Pro retina instead.

And here is why. The new Macbook whilst a sexy little number offers very little bang for the buck and when it comes to size, the difference is really a couple of hundred grams.

There were three things I noticed whilst looking at the new macbook. The unified single USB-C adapter has numerous problems. For example, driving a hi res (2560x1440) display the macbook will not charge. What looks on the exterior as a slick machine is really an excuse for my briefcase to pile up with adapters just so I can work and live with one mac. The 2015 macbook pro features dual thunderbolt ports, HDMI out plus 2 USB 3.0 ports.

The second was the power and options. For almost the same or less I now have an 8GB Dual Core i5 processor running at 2.7GHz as well as a 256 SSD. it runs everything I can throw at it without a problem. The graphics card - whilst a Intel 6100 is fantastic. Plus with the Retina screen at 13.3 inches have a bit extra room and find it no problem to throw on some Netflix whilst editing some excel sheets and switching between surfing etc.

The last was quality. It feels sturdier and the build is brilliant. With the new macbook, Apple touts the lack of bezzle etc, but again in reality, it isn´t a loss plus the keyboard accomodates bigger hands (No Trumps allowed) with ease.

In the end, I chose the 2015 Macbook Pro Retina as cost and performance wise is a hell of lot more value than the new one. As it sit writing this now, am still glad I trading a couple hundred grams in weight and couple of mm in thickness to get better performance and a sturdier build. Plus my briefcase is lighter thanks to fewer adapters and I have a product I know will perform under any circumstance.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 8:08 AM on May 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you are inclined to spring for the MacBook Pro, it's worth noting that the next MBP model revision is widely expected to be announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 13–17.
posted by AndrewInDC at 8:35 AM on May 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

The unified single USB-C adapter has numerous problems. For example, driving a hi res (2560x1440) display the macbook will not charge.

This is not true. The HDMI adapter kit includes a Type C charge port, an HDMI port, and a USB 3 Type A port. All 3 ports work at the same time, and the MacBook will charge just fine while driving a display. Though I believe that for the Apple design the Type C port cannot accept a Type C peripheral - just the charger. Apple info
posted by doomsey at 11:25 AM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

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