Niall’s virtual diary archives – Saturday 17th December 2016

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Saturday 17th December 2016: 12.08am. Grrr I bought a just released MacBook Pro 13 some weeks ago and I've been having one hell of a time persuading it to run Windows. Firstly, you need to use and only use the Consumer Win10 ISO preferably in US only. Anything else tends to cause Bootcamp Installer to crash out randomly, or to bork the install such that the installed Windows won't boot.

Secondly, once Windows boots up you'll find it won't connect to any 5Ghz 801.11n network. 2.4Ghz works but with awful packet loss yielding a barely tenable 1Mbps connection. You won't be able to download anything nor search the internet for solutions. Fix: open up the Broadcom Wifi properties and open the Advanced tab. Find the Bandwidth Capability option and change it to "11a/b/g: 20Mhz". Hit Apply, and voila 5Ghz works (albeit at a max of 150 Mbps, but it's now usable).

Thirdly once Windows can speak to Microsoft, it naturally goes off and installs the latest drivers from Windows Update. This will ruin your Windows install because your display will keep cutting out when you're on battery, and if you check the display driver version installed by Intel it's a really ancient edition, so clearly Apple also see the problem. Unfortunately, try what you may, the most recent edition of Windows 10 does NOT permit you to stop it installing what it thinks is the appropriate display driver, and as soon as that new driver touches your system once, it's game over for using Windows unless you're plugging into the mains.

Except, after much head scratching, I found the Fix: Open the Intel Graphics Control Panel and then the Power submenu. In there under the Battery settings is an option "Panel self refresh". Disable that, Apply and voila your display now works when on Battery.

It's taken me more than a week to figure these out, and I hope these save people some time. All I have to say is that for nearly €3,000 this is a pretty awful showing by Apple, their Bootcamp setup is really badly written, configured and tested. I appreciate some will say you're not supposed to be running Windows on a MacBook anyway, but well I don't want to be lugging multiple laptops around with me. It's not like a bit of QA wouldn't have both discovered and fixed the problems I've found and fixed already.

In terms of what I think of the MacBook Pro 13 late 2016 ... well, it is a nice laptop, but then it should be for three grand. I think the decision to exchange battery capacity for better audio was a big mistake, I've seen about five to six hours of battery life which is not bad, but far less than any of the previous four editions of the MBP 13 which could hit eight to ten hours. Don't get me wrong, the speakers are pretty good, but still not a patch on any properly sized speaker and as this battery ages my runtime is going to drop into the four hour range quickly enough.

I'll be back soon with more comment and opinion on this late 2016 MBP after I've finished some benchmarking of it against my old laptop which is why I needed a working Windows install. Mine is the one with the touchbar though I didn't care about that, I bought this model for the upgraded CPU and RAM speeds. The touchbar is pretty crap to be honest, the function keys are much more useful especially in Windows where there is now no way of hitting function keys to tell the Windows boot loader what to do because the touchbar driver hasn't loaded yet. Once Windows boots a service Apple installs does eventually fire up the touchbar with useful keys, but it's not seamless to use same as the Force Touchpad in Windows which also is annoyingly not fully baked as a daily driver. I'm also really missing the Del key for deleting to the right :(

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