It has taken a while but Apple has finally updated its 15-inch MacBook Pro with Intel’s 8th generation Core processors. It also gets an improved display, keyboard, and Apple’s new T2 chip.
The design of the 15-inch MacBook Pro however, hasn’t changed. It still weighs 1.83kg and it still has a thickness of 15.5mm. For a powerful 15-inch laptop, the MacBook Pro is actually remarkably thin and light. Also unchanged are ports on the machine. It still has four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, which is a bit of a hassle if you’ve amassed a collection of USB devices with the more conventional Type-A connector. The good news is that USB-C adapters are much more affordable and plentiful now. Overall build quality is class leading.
Under the hood, you now get Intel’s newest hexa-core Core i7 or Core i9 processors, and can finally be equipped with up to 32GB of RAM. The model it replaces could only accommodate a maximum of 16GB, leading to an outcry that it wasn’t enough for tasks that required large amounts of memory such as running virtual machines.
Storage has been upgraded as well. The old 15-inch MacBook Pro maxed out at 2TB of SSD storage, but this new model can be spec’d with a massive 4TB SSD drive.
Be warned, however, the additional memory and storage options will burn a big hole in your pocket.
On the graphics front, the 15-inch MacBook Pro gets AMD’s latest Radeon Pro 560X GPU. While this isn’t the most powerful mobile GPU available, it offers a good balance of performance and efficiency. Apple clearly did not want to sacrifice battery life at the cost of all-out performance. Fortunately, if you need more graphics performance, there is no shortage of external GPU enclosures available now.
The unit I tested came with all options maxed out. This meant an Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, 32GB of RAM, a 4TB SSD, and the AMD Radeon Pro 560X GPU. Performance, as you would expect, was impressive. In our benchmarks, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro was significantly quicker than the model it replaces. And in real-world scenarios, I found it equally blazing fast. Apps launched quickly and the machine showed no signs of slowing down even while running multiple apps, watching videos, and having countless tabs opened in both Safari and Firefox. This level of performance is definitely addictive.
Apple has specially designed leather sleeves for the new MacBook Pro.
Amazingly, battery life remains relatively good. In our taxing battery test which consists of a multitude of various workloads including productivity, video conferencing, and even light gaming, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro lasted almost two and a half hours. This is comparable to other PC laptops in its class.
Performance aside, there are more updates that make this a better laptop than its predecessor. The Retina display retains its 2,880 x 1,800-pixel resolution, but now features TrueTone technology. With TrueTone, the display automatically shifts its white point to match the color temperature of the room. This piece of tech first appeared on the iPad Pro and has been adopted by the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as well as the iPhone X. The end result is a more natural and comfortable viewing experience. That said, professionals doing color critical work might want to disable it as it might skew your judgment of colors.
TrueTone technology reduces fatigue especially if you spend long hours in front of your MacBook Pro.
The keyboard has also been updated with what Apple calls its third-generation design. It still uses a butterfly mechanism, which gives it an extremely low profile and next to no key travel, but it is more stable than typical keys with scissor mechanisms. According to Apple, the keyboard on its latest MacBook Pro is quieter, but I found this to be true only by the tiniest of margins and only when I’m straining to listen. I doubt most people will ever notice.
The other major new feature is the Apple T2 chip, which made its debut in the iMac Pro. It is responsible for numerous security and hardware operations, such as the system management controller, audio controller, storage controller, Touch ID, Touch Bar, and enabling Hey Siri. It also securely boots the MacBook Pro and provides real-time encryption of data on the drive.
All things considered, the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro is probably Apple’s best to date. It is well built, relatively portable, and immensely powerful. It is, however, extremely expensive when fully decked out, and for most users, probably an overkill.
A thin, ultra-powerful laptop for hungry professionals with a fat wallet.
AT A GLANCE
PROCESSOR Core i9-8950HK
GRAPHICS AMD Radeon Pro 560X