In what came literally out of the blue, Apple have finally made an update to their pro notebook line, by updating the MacBook Pro line, BUT only the Touch Bar models, with the latest generation Intel processors and further updates under the hood.
The update is a definitely welcome one as the MacBook Pro, like near all Apple’s current Mac line-up, was in need of an update. Aside from updating to the latest generation of Intel’s processors, Apple have actually done a lot more to the MacBook Pro line which make this one of the better updates to the line in quite some time!
Well needed spec bump
Speaking of that Intel processor, the 13 inch MacBook Pro is now quad-core for the first time, and the 15 inch MacBook Pro tops out at a new six-core Core i9 Processor, a first for all Apple’s notebook line-up. RAM has also seen an increase, with the 16GB limit doubled, on the 15 inch, to the more welcomed 32GB of RAM, and that’s fast DDR4 2400MHz RAM as well, add that to even faster SSDs across the board, this is some serious extra power under the hood. With all that increase in performance Apple have increased the size and capacity of all batteries inside the MacBook Pros in an attempt to retain the usual battery life standards.
All 15 inch MacBook Pros now come with dedicated AMD GPUs, which is a welcome addition, we still wish they’d find a way to put them in the 13 inch models, come on Apple. Also if you like storage and the bank is your friend, you can now top out to 2TB on the 13 inch and a massive 4TB of SSD storage on these new machines!
Returning to the outside of theses new MacBook Pros, their you’ll see little change, basically as nothing has changed, but start to use the new MacBook Pros and you’ll very soon notice two of the major changes to the line-up;
Apple have now delivered True Tone to the Mac for the first time and … we don’t buy it. Okay, we see the reason why it’s being thought through, eye-strain is a thing when regularly using any computer, but for a Pro machine it can actually be more a negative than a positive. For example, video editors, photo editors especially, will most definitely NEED to switch this setting off!
For the rest of us, you’ll probably be fine. I think it’s fair to say most don’t even realise that True Tone is on their iPhone and iPad models, so adding it to the Mac for most will just be an unknown change, but for those in the Pro market, keep it in mind.
Updated third-generation butterfly keyboards
Outside of some different icons in certain language regions, the keyboards on the new MacBook Pros is, visually speaking, the same, but is, according to Apple, quieter and the third-generation, so, what’s improved!
The only improvement Apple mention is the reduction in clicking sounds, but if you’ve being following tech news over the past few months you’ll have seen just how much stick Apple is getting for its keyboards, especially in the case of them jamming and more. Why is this important, well, let’s just say, iFixit found something very interesting behind every key on the new MacBook Pros;
A thin plastic layering has been added to the keys, which, sure, make the keyboards quieter to type on, also more harder for many, but it also adds that layer of protection to the keys to prevent dust getting in and blocking the key travel … that being, the very problem that everyone has being having.
As far as a legal stand point goes, Apple haven’t admitted fault on older keyboards, of which are still present in the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro and 12 inch MacBook, because if they do, in come the lawsuits, but it’s definitely very suspicious.
Time will tell whether this update to the keys actually works, definitely makes you think.
Announced alongside, and marketed with, the new MacBook Pro update was this, the Blackmagic eGPU. External GPUs aren’t new for the Mac, well fairly new, but this particular one has being made in partnership with Apple and it definitely shows … and we don’t mean the £599 asking price.
This particular eGPU offers the desktop-class AMD Radeon Pro 580, a GPU interesting which equals the highest possible option on the 27 inch regular iMac which offers a decent 8GB of GDDR5 memory! Don’t get us wrong, the AMD Vega Graphics cards in the iMac Pro still better obviously.
The big positive surrounding the Blackmagic, is how it ties in with everything Apple. With a single USB-C cable in and an external monitor, you’re set, and that external monitor can include the LG Ultrafine 5K Monitor Apple offered.
The Blackmagic also offers a sizeable array of ports, including an HDMI 2.0 port, Two Thunderbolt 3 powered USB-C ports, Four USB 3 ports as well as an 85W power supply which can charge the Mac attached whilst in use.
All this together can allow even the lowest end Touch Bar MacBook Pro, deliver some incredible graphics performance, BUT, despite this, you may still be better checking out lower cost options, but if you want the truly Apple working option, you can’t go too wrong with this.
Spec and Pricing
When you iron out the fact that the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros haven’t been updated, it quickly becomes clear how expensive these new updates are, but we’ll get to pricing and specs right now. You can take the 15 inch MacBook Pro pretty far, one of the things we’ll be talking about afterwards, but here goes;
Apple kicks off the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar at £1,749 (these ain’t cheap), which gets you a 2.3Ghz Quad-Core 8th Gen i5 Processor, the new Intel Iris 655 Graphics, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 256GB SSD and the usual rest.
MAXED OUT SPECS
You can take the 13 inch MacBook Pro up to a 2.7Ghz Quad-Core i7, 16GB DDR3 RAM, 2TB SSD (extra £1,400 like), all for a nice £3,599!!!
Apple’s 15 inch MacBook Pros all have Touch Bar and come in two flavours;
Base model at £2,349 offers 2.2Ghz 6-core 8 Gen i7, AMD Radeon Pro 555X with 4GB GDDR5, 16GB of fast DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD and the usual rest.
Upper model at £2,699 adds a faster 2.6GHz 6-core i7, AMD Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB GDDR5 and a 512GB SSD.
MAXED OUT SPECS
You can take the 15 inch MacBook Pro to an all-new 6-Core 8th Gen Core i9, 32GB of fast DDR4 RAM, 4TB SSD, all for the small sum of just £6,209!!!
…so yeah, it costs a bit
More on the Core i9
This is the first time Apple have ever added a Core i9 to any Mac, and the 15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar adds it at its top-tier option. However, such performance comes at a price, as many people have being experiencing severe throttling issues with the new models in testing stage and we’re really hopeful something can be done, but if this is found to be a hardware problem, we could be in a situation whether those who paid the larger amount for the Core i9 may end up being a bit let down.
Even with the throttling issues, the i9 still outperforms the i7, but in true Apple fashion, the company believes in things being cool in a thin and light environment, rather than high performance with a bit of extra thickness.
Update 24th July
Apple have since issued an update to macOS High Sierra which seems to mitigate a number of throttling issues many users were facing users and issued this statement;
“Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we’ve identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro. A bug fix is included in today’s macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended. We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems.”