The Good The latest 15-inch MacBook Pro offers major internal updates to the processor, RAM, memory and display. The Core i9 version delivers significant speed boosts for processors that require large tasks.
The Bad The basic design has not been updated, with the same advantages and disadvantages. Adding new high-end options adds to the cost.
The Bottom Line The 15-inch MacBook Pro 2018 laptop has a serious computing muscle that users and creative professionals seek, but everyone else should wait for the rest of the line to be updated.
Update, November 13, 2019: Apple has introduced a new 16-inch MacBook Pro with a larger screen and an improved keyboard. It completely replaces the previous 15-inch model.
On paper, it looked like an impressive, if predictable, set of updates to the internal components. Apple 13-inch and the 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro will get new ones eighth generation Intel processors , more memory and RAM, True Tone color temperature display, and other settings are all nice improvements over ho-hum 2017 update . At the same time, the slim aluminum construction of a single body would remain unchanged from the moment it was last installed. designer overhaul at the end of 2016 , keeping features both beloved (giant track) and not-too-favorite (fine-movement keyboard, USB-C connection).
If anything, an expensive version of the application for one of the new Intel six-cores Core i9 processors will appeal to users of equal level, such as video editors and 3D artists, who may be beginning to feel that Apple is not keeping up with their ever-increasing needs for upscale gear.
To say things got to a rocky start is to say the least. First, there was confusion over this keyboard: Apple claimed that the new third-generation butterfly keyboard was quieter, but otherwise unchanged – but a hiding place at the iFixit repair site discovered a brand new membrane that may well solve the issue of the sticky and dusty keys on previous models that suggested class actions against Apple.
Secondly, there was a speed reduction problem that appeared a few days after the announcement on July 12: Some of the earliest assistants who came into service and received the Core i9 MacBook Pro as soon as they were released found mysteriously accelerated work. YouTube personality technologist Dave Lee first drew the public’s attention to a video in which he demonstrated heat and suppression issues. These results were soon replicated by others, including our own testing of CNET laboratories.
In his honor, Apple quickly investigated the problem and determined that a simple software fault was to blame. Updating the software for MacOS seemed to solve the problem, and you can read more about our experience before and after the fix here .
If you are one of the early adopters, here are instructions for installing a MacOS 10.13.6 update. This problem has affected all new Apple MacBook Pro 13- and 15-inch models. The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro without touchpad is unaffected since it was not updated this year.
And now that the buzz surrounding this bug has subsided, we have to consider how much is really new in the MacBook Pro, and if it fits the needs of the creative, increasingly moving towards 4 and up videos, and other power-grabbing tasks . What follows is a more in-depth analysis of the new features and performance of the 15-inch 15-inch MacBook Pro Core i9, but first let’s break down the key ways:
- Post-patch, the Core i9 version is much faster than last year’s high-end Core i7 model
- The True Tone screen works well in a variety of lighting conditions
- Options for up to 32GB of RAM and 4TB of flash storage can greatly help with video production
- The “stealth” keyboard update makes it less prone to stuck keys, a major issue for some in the 2016 and 2017 models
- Only the more expensive Touch Bar models have been updated, leaving the entry-level 13-inch Pro and the more affordable non-Pro MacBooks out in the cold (for now)
- You’re still locked into only USB-C connectivity
- The super flat keyboard, while possibly more reliable, is still not particularly comfortable
- The Touch Bar sill feels like a technology in search of a purpose
High end, high prices
Get ready for a serious sticker shock if you want the new MacBook Pro components to get the most out of the new components and features. The model I didn’t use for testing and review is a 15-inch MacBook Pro, which is already priced at $ 2,399 (£ 2,349 or AU $ 3,499). But this high-end configuration included one of Intel’s new Core i9 six-core processors, a whopping 32GB of RAM and a healthy 2TB drive. (Previously, 2TB was the upper limit, now 4TB is available for anyone who wants to lose $ 2,000.)
All these upgrades take this laptop to $ 4,699 (£ 4,409 or $ 7,339). This is expensive even for the type of creative or technical professional that would be on the market for such a machine. But, fire, software fix issues are left out, that’s some power. When you pull out almost all the stops, you get a screaming laptop and it does.
This new 15-inch MacBook Pro and the 13-inch model Apple touchpad is the only new Mac 2018 notebooks to date, though the rest are in the lineup are rumored to be receiving updates till the end of the year. As for the touchpad itself, its fingerprint reader works with a new separate security chip called T2, which adds a bit of extra data as a safe boot path to make sure no tricky malware gets into your download process. But the touchpad itself doesn’t get the new killer features, and remains unpleasant as always .
Here’s a skipping all new and advanced 13-inch and 15-inch specifications :
- New eighth-gen quad-core Intel CPU (i7 or i9).
- Support for twice as much RAM (now up to 32GB).
- Twice as much SSD storage capacity available (now up to 4TB).
- New display support for True Tone, which optimizes colors to ambient light conditions.
- New T2 subprocessor for Touch ID security and encryption.
- Hands-free Siri (say “Hey, Siri” to activate).
- Modest tweaks to the super-flat butterfly keyboard. Apple says the changes are only intended to quiet key clack , but they may (or may not) affect reliability , too.
To the nines
This is my first chance to try out an eighth generation 8th generation Intel Core i9 laptop. Earlier, the 15-inch Pro was released on the seventh-generation quad-core Core i7 by itself, without a hitch, after the last line update in the spring of 2017.
Compared to the 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro with the quad-core Core i7, the new six-core Core i9 was significantly faster in the standard tests we conducted before Apple fixed the problem of suppressing the processor.
But – before Apple released the patch – while setting up heavy load to intentionally push the system, we were able to easily call the Core i9 processor in our 2018 MacBook Pro to ping pong its internal temperature and processor clock speed and quickly down as in encoding video and 3D games.
As soon as Apple released the update, we installed it on a 15 inch MacBook Pro Core i9 and repeated the same tests. The CPU shutdown stopped, and the CPU clock and internal system temperature remained fairly stable, even when performing 4-code video encoding or in a game set to maximum detail settings. In our standard benchmarks, which do not work long enough to cause a throttling problem, the performance of the pre- and post-correction was actually the same.
Do you need such strength? Most ordinary mortals are not, so the more affordable 12-inch MacBook ($ 799 at Walmart) and MacBook Air ($ 700 to Walmart) models are still ideal for the masses of web surfing. But this is a MacBook Pro , and a professional audience does much more than surf the web.
For example, when Apple introduced me to new pluses, the company offered personal feedback and demos from several power users, including Carlos Perez, director of the record music video Despacito, who talked about how a larger drive and faster processor in the MacBook Pro could give it a preview and color correct 5K frames in real time, cutting out the mediation steps from his workflow.
Let’s also consider graphical power under the hood: Although the AMD Radeon Pro 560 inside is not necessarily a gaming graphics processor, photos, videos and designers editing 4K video or rendering giant 3D models, it will prove a worthy step up from Intel’s basic integrated graphics 13-inch model. But for video professionals who really want to increase power, Apple is also promoting a new $ 700 external graphics box made by a company called Blackmagic – albeit sealed with non-upgradable video cards.
Tone on tone
True Tone is a display technology already found on the latest iPhones ($ 899 on Amazon) and iPad Pros, using light sensors to automatically adjust the color temperature of the display to best suit your viewing environment. This can make the color range warmer or cooler on the fly by adjusting the white balance. For example, colors will be displayed on the screen to better match how that color looks on a wall or object in the real world under the current lighting conditions.
For all but the most extreme lighting situations, this is at best a subtle effect. For example, under warm studio lighting, for example, True Tone reflected the color temperature of the room. Clicking the checkbox to turn it off quickly moved the image back to a cooler tone with a more noticeable blue tint.
Anyone who edits accurate images or videos who do not want this setting can disable True Tone in the settings menu. And if you’re working on an external monitor, the effect can also be used on certain supported external displays, including the recent Thunderbolt Apple display and LG’s UltraFine 4K and 5K monitors.
Let the keyboard quiet
What is the biggest problem with the modern MacBook keyboard design? Don’t ultraflott keys have the same tactile response as the old, deeper keys? Is it a story that small particles are killed in tight keys, leaving some keys sticky or inappropriate? Or is it that the keyboard was just too clamorous and loud?
If you chose the third option, you are in luck! Apple says the new third-generation flat keyboard on the MacBook Pro is quieter than in previous versions. The company officially states that this keyboard upgrade has no new engineering or customization to specifically address the sticky issue that is the subject of both multiple lawsuits and a Apple’s new repair program .
But that may not be the whole story. Early stairs showed a new membrane under the keys , which seems to be designed to prevent at least dust and grain particles. Time (and users) will tell you whether this is enough to mitigate enough solids abuse that people send their laptops to.
Using the Apple keyboard, the butterfly is in almost every product that comes with it the first 12-inch MacBook in 2015 , I can only say that I rarely encountered natural questions. Not at a time when the keyboard was malfunctioning, but it was still frustrating when it happened. I found this is the methodology of purification worked on all my stuck key issues. At the same time, I was talking to MacBook owners who had to ship their new laptops to repair the keyboard, so for some this is a real question.
This new keyboard is really a bit quieter. Not that the previous keyboard was particularly loud. These new keys have a more muted “lightning rod” when pressed rather than a sharp cotton. It feels like a softer contact against a key of a key mechanism that can be associated with a transparent silicone membrane. You will really have to try both generations of MacBook Pro keyboards next (which I did) to determine the difference.
A game in anticipation
Apple obviously wants pro-level customers to have a sense that they are being heard and that their needs are understood and addressed. Advanced level options are finally included in the Mac lineup, starting with the iMac Pro all-in-one in late 2017, and now with the new and improved MacBook Pro laptops. And – sometime in 2019 – with a redesigned Mac Pro desktop .
Still, it sometimes feels like it’s two steps forward and one step back. The overall an impressive iMac Pro still built around a perennial structure and fixed in its immediate display and components. These new MacBook Pro models finally have the processor and horsepower to make it easier to handle large files and complex tasks (if you pay for the biggest updates), but the saga of the keyboard and the awkward thermal interruptions of distractions distract from an otherwise robust upgrade cycle, though one there are no significant leaps, such as major repairs or upgrades Face ID .
All this time, Apple is going to reboot the 2019 Mac Pro. He has not received a genuine facelift since 2013 because his “junk” cylinder design couldn’t handle the heat of (literally) newer processors and GPUs. As design advances, Apple has even created a so-called Pro Workflow team to further focus on elite digital artists – filmmakers, photographers, and designers that it continues to focus on. This is great, but a quick introduction to Twitter will show that professional users want simple, but certainly non-Apple-like deeds, such as keeping multiple old-school USB ports on board. Whether or not Apple sees a new “modular” Mac Pro that matches the traditional “slide in new RAM and graphics cards” means that Black-Magic blue boxes are chained to daisies, anyone guessed.
In the meantime, the new MacBook Pro remains the king of comprehensive performance laptops, and if you have a model by 2016 and are looking for a major upgrade, this is the clear winner.
For professionals who depend on a serious level-of-life tool, the 15-inch is worth the extra expense of its larger display, AMD GPU power, and new processors, including the Core i9 option (though Core i7 should suffice for many users).
Those looking for a great all-in-one laptop and perhaps something a bit more portable should look at the 13-inch Pro, which receives most of the same updates (and reportedly adds high-speed Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth to all its USB-C ports, and not just half).
If you want to get something almost as good but spend much less then entry level 13-inch Pro has no new 2018 updates and a touchpad, but that’s a lot of laptops for $ 1,299.
However, if you already have a modern MacBook Pro design and don’t need advanced power or more storage space, you probably won’t have enough new to justify a new purchase.
And while that may be the end of Touch Bar MacBook Pro history this year, there may be more new Macs coming. The 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Air, all Mac desktops, and even the 13-inch Pro without TouchBar are still only available in their 2017 (or earlier) iterations – at least so far. You can see the latest Forecasts for other Mac updates this year are here .
Apple’s new 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro
|Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2018)||Apple MacOS Sierra 10.13.6; 2.9GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB Radeon Pro 560X / 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 630; 2TB SSD|
|Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)||Apple MacOS Sierra 10.12.5; 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-7820HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Radeon Pro 560 / 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 630; 512GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 15 9575 2-in-1||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 3.1GHz Intel Core i7-8705G; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL Graphics; 512GB SSD|
|Razer Blade (15-inch, 2018)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeFroce GTX 1070 with Max-Q Design; 512GB SSD|
Here’s how the comparatively new touchscreen 2018 MacBook Pro models have the 2017 predecessors:
Specifications of Apple MacBook Pro 2018 for 2018
|13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2018)||13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2017)||15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2018)||15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2017)|
|Starting price (USD)||$1,799||$1,799||$2,399||$2,399|
|Starting price (UK)||£1,749||£1,749||£2,349||£2,349|
|Starting price (AUS)||AU$2,699||AU$2,699||AU$3,499||AU$3,499|
|Display||13.3-inch 2,560×1,600-pixel||13.3-inch 2,560×1,600-pixel||15.4-inch 2,880×1,880-pixel||15.4-inch 2,880×1,880-pixel|
|Pixel density||227 ppi||227 ppi||220 ppi||220 ppi|
|Dimensions (imperial)||11.97 x 8.36 inches||11.97 x 8.36 inches||13.75 x 9.48 inches||13.75 x 9.48 inches|
|Dimensions (metric)||304 x 212mm||304 x 212mm||349 x 241mm||349 x 241mm|
|Thickness||0.59 in. (14.9mm)||0.59 in. (14.9mm)||0.61 in. (15.5mm)||0.61 in. (15.5mm)|
|Weight||3.02 lb. (1.37kg)||3.02 lb. (1.37kg)||4.02 lb. (1.83kg)||4.02 lb. (1.83kg)|
|Operating system||MacOS High Sierra||MacOS High Sierra||MacOS High Sierra||MacOS High Sierra|
|Processors||2.3GHz 4-core Intel i5||3.1GHz 2-core Intel i5||2.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7||2.8GHz 4-core Intel i7|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Plus 655||Intel Iris Plus 650||AMD Radeon Pro 650X (4GB)||AMD Radeon Pro 555 (2GB)|
|Up-spec||2.7GHz 4-core Intel i7||3.5GHz 2-core Intel i7||2.9GHz 6-core Intel i9, Radeon Pro 560X (4GB)||3.1GHz 4-core Intel i7, Radeon 560 (4GB)|
|Storage||256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB||256GB / 512GB / 1TB||512GB / 1TB / 2TB / 4TB||256GB / 512GB / 2TB|
|RAM||8GB / 16GB||8GB / 16GB||16GB / 32GB||16GB|
|Battery (Apple estimate)||10 hours||10 hours||10 hours||10 hours|
|Networking||802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2||802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2||802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2||802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2|
|Ports||4x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), any can charge; 1x 3.5mm headset||4x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), any can charge; 1x 3.5mm headset||4x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), any can charge; 1x 3.5mm headset||4x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), any can charge; 1x 3.5mm headset|
|Cameras||720p FaceTime HD||720p FaceTime HD||720p FaceTime HD||720p FaceTime HD|
|Touch Bar/Touch ID||Yes, powered by T2 subprocessor||Yes, powered by T1 subprocessor||Yes, powered by T2 subprocessor||Yes, powered by T1 subprocessor|
|Trackpad||Force Touch||Force Touch||Force Touch||Force Touch|
|Colors||Space gray, silver||Space gray, silver||Space gray, silver||Space gray, silver|
Senior editor Justin Jaffe contributed to this review.
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