2nd times a charm... 16" MacBook Pro

I took delivery of another 16" MacBook Pro, and the experience with this one has been so drastically different, that I felt I needed to share.

I tried to replace my aging 2012 rMBP with a brand new 16" MacBook Pro i9 2.3Ghz/32/1TB/5500M.
On the very first day, I had 9 different issues and after two days, I’d wiped the SSD and set about trying to resolve a major issue with my app (Apple had told me I needed to do a specific thing with my app in order to get it into the Mac App Store, except it doesn’t work on macOS 10.15.4).
I was so disappointed in the experience (especially considering how much I’d paid for the product) that when Apple refused to extend the return period, even though they could see I was working with DTS to overcome this issue, I shipped it back and felt a great wave of relief.

My trusty 2012 started dying, randomly switching itself off (even when plugged in). This time I went through the refurbs and scored a i9 2.3/16/1TB/5500M for a $1,000 less than what I bought before (16GB RAM less).

When it arrived, I split the drive into 3 partitions. 2 x 64GB APFS partitions (for two OSes) with the remaining ~800GB for data.
I avoided Migration Assistant (under AppleCare’s advice as they know Migration Assistant in Catalina is broken), and because I want data to be independent.
It took a while to get it configured. I could have shared the home folder between the two, but I didn’t want them to start fighting over settings and I really wanted to try having data on a HFS+ partition.

So there’s now several differences between these two 16" MacBook Pro.

  1. macOS 10.15.5 v.s. macOS 10.15.4.
  2. 16GB of RAM v.s. 32GB of RAM.
  3. Catalina is on a 64GB APFS partition v.s. the entire drive.
  4. Data is on a ~800GB HFS+ partition v.s. an APFS volume.


  • Opening apps is noticeable improved, Xojo still takes a while, but it is faster.
  • Web page loading is noticeable improved
  • Still takes 20+ seconds to boot :frowning:
  • Running current project in Xojo 2019r3.1 on the 2012, has an annoying 3~5 second delay from when the progress bar reaches the end and the app actually launches. This 16" MBP has no such delay, and launches the app as soon as the progress bar finishes. Really nice!

Improved memory usage

  • 2012 has used 14 GB by the time I have Xojo open and started coding.
  • Previous 16", used a bit more RAM at the same point.
  • This 16" runs at about 8GB all day long.

Improved battery life

  • Previous 16" got ~ 4 hours of battery life (not much better than a 8 year old machine). Manually disabling dedicated GPU bought it up to ~ 8 hours.
  • This 16" MBP is getting about 10 hours of coding, browsing FireFox and debugging! (I have manually disabled the dedicate GPU on battery)

It seems to me that a slow migration really solved a lot of my issues.

The performance gains, are really nice and I’m not sure if they’re attributed to the slow migration, less memory, or restraining APFS to a small partition and using HFS+ for data (Yes, I symlinked Xojo’s cache folders over to the HFS+ partition).

If you encounter an underwhelming experience with your 16" MacBook Pro, I’d recommend at the very least trying a clean install and slow migration. Just make sure you backup first!

When you do a slow migration, log-into iCloud BEFORE you copy your data to the machine. It auto enabled “Desktop & Documents” & “Photos”, when I disabled “Desktop & Documents” it deleted all the files from my desktop and documents folder! When I disabled “Photos” it carried on uploading all my photos, until it ran out of space and then proceeded to ask me to buy more space!

Some Home sub folders can be removed with “rm”, some with “sudo rm”, some by dragging them to the Trash (but not “sudo rm”). The Pictures folder, won’t budge. Even clearing ACLS & xattrs.

just for saving your 2012 rMbp…

[quote=495028:@Jean-Yves Pochez]just for saving your 2012 rMbp…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naXglCTEtLw [/quote]

Ok thats amazing. I thought you had to actually re-solder the GPU and given it’s huge array of ball solder joints underneath it that is beyond my surface mount soldering techniques. I have just put together several dozen boards with surface mount ESP32 chips on them recently so I can do that much, and that means that I could do that first repair on the power supply for the GPU easily enough. Not that I need another 2012 Mac Book but I actually have 2 of them sitting on the shelf here with that exact problem. Both I help to move hard drives to new machines for friends and family when they died on them and they used it as an excuse to upgrade. Apart from the video problem they both work fine. I used one as a headless server for a while and experimented with a USB/DVI adaptor on the other which actually worked but was hilariously slow to update :wink: Now I want to tear them both apart and give that a try! Like I needed more projects thank you very much :wink:

Many times over the years, when you’ve complained about something in macOS that I did not experience, I’ve wondered if it was down to the fact that I clean install every year and you don’t, or don’t seem to. Naturally, this wouldn’t explain all of your many (many) Apple complaints but I bet it explains some of them, as evidenced above. One of the reasons I clean install is to test my main backups (I take several backups in several places). Another reason is that I hate clutter and I like a squeaky clean system. And the final reason is that when I do a clean install, I get to experience the OS again for the first time, as my new customers might - any weird leftover cruft from 5 OSs ago will be gone, preferences will be reset and so on.

I don’t think there’s any point in fighting macOS. It’s not Linux, it’s Apple’s way (apart from some small preference settings) or the highway, and fighting with it only leads to misery, I feel.

it’s still strange because I never do a clean install, I’ve always used the migration assistant, for me and hundreds of customers.
I quite never encountered errors like this one, or completely bad migration, except when the original drive was defective.

I tried the migration assistant the last time. I had to do a second user which led to much unpleasantness with Xojo. Not going to do that again.

Even with the migration assistant Sam’s troubles were extreme.

[quote=495053:@Jean-Yves Pochez]it’s still strange because I never do a clean install, I’ve always used the migration assistant, for me and hundreds of customers.
I quite never encountered errors like this one, or completely bad migration, except when the original drive was defective.[/quote]

Yes, this is how I have always done it too. I haven’t had to do a clean install of OSX in 3 or 4 new macbooks and twice that or more number of major OS updates. If they really broke migration assistant in Catalina that is a HUGE fail for them. Probably related to all the stuff under the hood that isn’t where it is supposed to be anymore but just linked and faked out and all that nonsense. That actually makes me angry. How am I supposed to help my mom over the phone manage her stuff if the stuff for managing it is broken? Arrrg…

I never user the Migration path, but the Clean the HD and install clean MacOS X.

But, since I have any external HD, if there is something bad in them…

The above experiences shows experience may vary.

Thank you for sharing these.

Interesting. I use the migration assistant each time and I install the macOS updates over the previous ones and have never had a problem. My current laptop is the newest 16" MacBook Pro.

You, you hit the nail slap bang center in the head. New users.

The crux of the problem is Apple (not this Apple) invested a lot of time, money and care into making Migration Assistant and built-in into the set-up process of a new Mac. To make existing users lives and experiences with a new Mac easy.

It’s crystal clear that the rabid pace of OS updates, simply doesn’t give Apple enough time to test it and make sure that it meets their high standards (you know the ones that got Scott Forstal fired), or maybe they simply don’t care about existing users enough as they intend to replace them with all the teens that use their phones?

Most people use Migration Assistant, not all will have such a bad experience as I did earlier in the year, some will notice that this new Mac isn’t meeting expectations (may not know why), some will have minor issues and just attribute that to the earlier mentioed rabid pace of change. Then there’s those like myself, who find the experience of the new Mac utterly terrible and return the machine. Bear in mind that Apple doesn’t ask why you returned the machine. Which means that a percentage (I’m not even going to guess) do not get what they should, and this erodes trust and faith in Apple, which reduces the chances of them making further purchases or recommending Apple products to others.

I have filed Feedback (with Apple) over the terrible state of my Migration Assistant experience, but I don’t expect it to change. I filed Feedback with Apple many years ago about the recovery partition having to download the OS version to install, it’s only 8GB, leave the installer on the users computer, so that the user can re-install without an internet connection and faster. This has never changed, and continues to dampen Apple’s reputation, it’s like they simply don’t care anymore.

Because I’ve followed Apple’s way, which lead to misery and if I truly have to do a clean install each and every year (what a PITA), at least my data is safe and I only need to blast the partition with the OS on it.

Oh and I went the path of least resistance with Apple and the App Store this year, and that was horrible too! Wasted 9 months of my life to get an app onto their store, that’s buried under 8 year old crap.

[quote=495053:@Jean-Yves Pochez]it’s still strange because I never do a clean install, I’ve always used the migration assistant, for me and hundreds of customers.
I quite never encountered errors like this one, or completely bad migration, except when the original drive was defective.[/quote]
For the most part, I’ve used Migration Assistant, but this year I had terrible trouble, immediately I had problems like.

  1. Screen tearing.
  2. Machine ignored headphones on reboot.
  3. Media keys didn’t work.
  4. Internet access was slower than my 2012.
  5. Couldn’t access the Facebook website from FireFox!
  6. The App I was developing, wouldn’t work (a bug in macOS 10.15.4).

I had 9 issues in total on day one, with a machine that cost close to USD $4,0000, it was a huge disappointment.

I reported all my issues to Apple Care, which is when I was told that they knew Migration Assistant is broken and recommend customers to do a “Slow Migration” (like it’s 1994 again).

My guess is that there’s some preferences somewhere for something that when copied across, cause various things on the new OS to fail and misbehave. What I don’t know and I’m not going to spend the time trying to figure out, I don’t pay Apple to do their QA for them… Oh… I am an Apple developer, I guess I am a paying QA tester for their new OSes…

There are two other members of this forum who’ve had less than stellar experiences with their new 16" MacBook Pros, which is why I wanted to publicly share my results.

If you feel your machine is working perfectly, I wouldn’t recommend this, but if you feel that you’re not getting what you expect from it, then consider a clean install and slow migration. Be warned, log-into iCloud BEFORE you restore your data, make sure you have backups and all your passwords written down somewhere, all your e-mail account information and so on… You’ll literally spend days finding things that need the password re-entered or appeared to work, but now doesn’t. It’s a time consuming and slow process.