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2017 Apple Laptop Buyer's Guide

  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock with MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina display
  • SVALTPerformance Cooling Dock with MacBook Air 11-inch display
  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock showing air flow with 2015 to 2012 MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina display
  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock showing air flow with 2015 to 2013 MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina display
  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock showing air flow with 2013 to 2012 MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina display
  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock showing air flow with MacBook Air 13-inch display
  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock showing air flow with MacBook Air 11-inch display
  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock showing air flow with 2016 to 2017 MacBook Pro Touch Bar 15-inch Retina display
  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock showing air flow with 2016 to 2017 MacBook Pro Touch Bar 13-inch Retina display
  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock showing air flow with 2016 to 2017 MacBook Pro non-Touch Bar 13-inch Retina display
  • SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock showing air flow with 2015 to 2017 MacBook 12-inch Retina display
While smart phones and tablets are important tools, laptops are essential for handling professional applications and for maintaining productivity throughout the workday, from office meeting to coffee shop to home. Laptops have become so powerful that many have replaced dedicated desktop computers for even the most intensive computing workloads. However, when professionals, creatives, gamers and others rely on laptops to provide maximum performance and productivity for hours at a time, the laptop’s mobile ergonomics and cooling system can fall short. The SVALT Cooling Dock was created to transform Apple’s compact laptops from incredibly capable mobile computing devices into more ergonomic, productive, powerful, and professional desktop workstations. The SVALT Cooling Dock is compatible with a wide range of devices.

Before jumping into laptop models, if you need some help sorting through the wide range of Apple devices and then figuring out what type of devices will best meet your needs, then checkout our 2017 Complete Apple Buyer’s Guide.

Okay, assuming you are all set on buying a laptop, then the following lists Apple’s current laptops from the most powerful desktop replacement laptop to the lightest, thinnest, smallest and most portable laptop. When comparing models, configurations and pricing, be sure to keep in mind that most components are not user upgradeable, especially with the newer models. This means that you will want to go for a configuration that not only works today, but will also work for as long as you plan on using the laptop. While external storage is always an option, it’s often less than ideal for a variety of reasons, so storage size will likely be one of the configurations that has the biggest impact on costs.

MacBook Pro with 15-inch Retina Display and Touch Bar / ID (2016-2017)
For users seeking maximum performance and desktop capabilities, along with the following updates: thinner and lighter chassis, Touch Bar and Touch ID, Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C, and improved screen, storage and dedicated graphics performance. All of the current 15-inch MacBook Pro models use powerful quad-core CPU and dedicated GPU processors so configure to your budget. The Mid-2017 update includes Intel’s newer Kaby Lake CPU processors that will offer a minimal to moderate increase in performance and efficiency over the Late-2016 Skylake processors. The 2017 Radeon Pro 555 and 560 dedicated GPU processors are essentially rebranding of the same 455 and 460 GPUs in the Late-2016 models. These laptop models are supported for passive cooling and thickness fit with the SVALT Cooling Dock, but not for active/direct processor cooling because the laptops lack an air intake vent along the screen hinge.

MacBook Pro with 15-inch Retina Display (2012-2015)
For users seeking maximum performance and desktop capabilities, along with pre-2016 configuration. While the new 15-inch MacBook Pro models offer a number of improvements, the previous 15-inch models include more built-in connections/ports (2x Thunderbolt 2, 2x USB 3, HDMI, headphone jack, and SDSX card slot), MagSafe trip/drop resistant power supply connection, more traditional keyboard design without the Touch Bar and extra large trackpad that some users find problematic, storage upgradeability, and lower price. Only the low-end model with integrated GPU remains as a new option, so look to Apple’s refurbished, retail clearance deals and used models, especially models with the more powerful i7 CPUs and dedicated GPUs that maintain solid performance compared to the new laptops. These laptop models are supported for active/direct processor cooling, passive cooling and thickness fit with the SVALT Cooling Dock to turbo charge the laptop’s cooling system and help maintain maximum performance under intensive workloads.

MacBook Pro with 13-inch Retina Display and Touch Bar / ID (2016-2017)
For users seeking increased performance while achieving ultra portability, along with the following updates: thinner and lighter chassis, Touch Bar and Touch ID, Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C, and improved screen and storage performance. The 13-inch Pros are incredibly compact and deliver amazing performance for their size, however, they lack the 15-inch model’s quad-core CPU and dedicated GPU for tackling more demanding applications. Going with 16GB is likely a good upgrade for performance and resale at this price point. The Mid-2017 update includes Intel’s newer Kaby Lake CPU processors that will offer a moderate increase in performance and efficiency over the Late-2016 Skylake processors. Intel’s 2017 Iris Plus 640 and 650 integrated GPU processors essentially offer the same specifications as the Iris 540 and 550 GPUs in the Late-2016 models. These laptop models are supported for passive cooling and thickness fit with the SVALT Cooling Dock, but not for active/direct processor cooling because the laptops lack an air intake vent along the screen hinge.

MacBook Pro with 13-inch Retina Display (2012-2015)
For users seeking increased performance while achieving ultra portability, along with pre-2016 configuration. As with the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro models, these 13-inch models lack the latest specs and do not support 5K displays, but include more built-in connections/ports (2x Thunderbolt 2, 2x USB 3, HDMI, headphone jack, and SDSX card slot), MagSafe trip/drop resistant power supply connection, more traditional keyboard design without the Touch Bar and extra large trackpad that some users find problematic, larger battery capacity, storage upgradeability, and lower price. Purchase through Apple’s refurbished, retail clearance deals and used models. These laptop models are supported for active/direct processor cooling, passive cooling and thickness fit with the SVALT Cooling Dock to turbo charge the laptop’s cooling system and help maintain maximum performance under intensive workloads.

MacBook Pro with 13-inch Retina Display and NON-Touch Bar (2016-2017)
For users on a budget seeking good performance while achieving ultra portability. This new Pro model is less professional as a result of lower specifications and only including two total ports for power and connections, but it will get the job done unless you plan on regularly using professional applications. The Mid-2017 update includes Intel’s newer Kaby Lake CPU processors that will offer a small increase in performance and efficiency over the Late-2016 Skylake processors. Intel’s 2017 Iris Plus 640 integrated GPU processor essentially offers the same specifications as the Iris 540 GPU in the Late-2016 model. These laptop models are supported for passive cooling and thickness fit with the SVALT Cooling Dock, but not for active/direct processor cooling because the laptops lack an air intake vent along the screen hinge.

MacBook Air with 13-inch or 11-inch Display (2008-2015)
For users on a budget seeking good performance and portability. The macBook Air offers all of the performance most users need in a compact, thin and light package with more built-in connections/ports (Thunderbolt 2, 2x USB 3, headphone jack, and SDSX card slot), MagSafe trip/drop resistant power supply connection, more traditional keyboard design without the Touch Bar and extra large trackpad that some users find problematic, larger battery capacity, storage upgradeability, and lower price, especially through Apple’s refurbished store. If performance matters then the i7 is a good upgrade. Refurbished and retailers is where you need to go to find the ultra compact 11-inch MacBook Air, that packs considerable punch for its size and cost when equipped with an i7 processor. These laptop models are supported for active/direct processor cooling, passive cooling and thickness fit with the SVALT Cooling Dock to turbo charge the laptop’s cooling system and help maintain maximum performance under intensive workloads.

MacBook with 12-inch Retina Display (2015-2017)
For users seeking ultra portability without requiring performance on a regular or sustained basis. The 12-inch Retina MacBook is an amazingly compact and light mobile computing laptop, but don’t expect to run professional applications regularly or for extended periods of time without performance throttling because the processor lacks active air cooling and ventilation. The Mid-2017 update includes Intel’s newer Kaby Lake CPU processors that will offer a small increase in performance and efficiency over the Late-2016 Skylake processors, and note that the 2017 i5 and i7 designation does not mean that Apple is using higher powered processors, but that Intel has rebranded the older m5 and m7 chips as i5 and i7 for 2017. Intel’s integrated HD 615 GPU processor in 2017 models offer a small increase in specs compared to the HD 515 GPU in the Early-2016 models. These laptop models are supported for passive cooling and thickness fit with the SVALT Cooling Dock, but not for active/direct processor cooling because the laptops do not include an active cooling system or any air vents.

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