The Air ap­par­ent


TechLife Australia - - WEL­COME - [ MATT BOLTON ]

Ap­ple Mac­Book Pro 13-inch (Core i5, Late-2016) A NEW LOW-END PRO, OR A NEW HIGH-END AIR?

AP­PLE’S NEW­EST MAC­BOOK Pro isn’t equipped with the new Touch Bar con­trol strip. You al­most feel like it would make more sense if Ap­ple had made this a new 13-inch ver­sion of the Mac­Book, with the Pro name re­served for mod­els with the Touch Bar. As we started to test it, how­ever, we could see why Ap­ple was happy with the Pro name.

Its dual-core In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor proved to be al­most as pow­er­ful as the 2.7GHz pro­ces­sor in the pre­vi­ous-gen en­try-level model. That ma­chine man­aged our real-world video en­cod­ing test in 57 min­utes, while this ma­chine took 55. This amount of pro­cess­ing power makes it more than ca­pa­ble of mid-range video edit­ing and photo work, im­pres­sive to fit in a smaller, lighter frame with the same bat­tery life. In­tel’s Iris 540 GPU is a much more ad­vanced de­sign. In our Bat­man: Arkham City test, we got an im­prove­ment in frame rate of more than 50% over the pre­vi­ous model. This is great for apps such as Pho­to­shop or Fi­nal Cut Pro, which can use GPU power to speed up cer­tain tasks.

An­other im­prove­ment is the stor­age. In Black­Magic’s Disk Speed Test, we recorded 1,241MB/s for writ­ing to the Mac­Book Pro’s in­ter­nal SSD. We switched to Xbench to get ac­cu­rate drive read speeds, record­ing around 3,000MB/s at the peak. It’s as­ton­ish­ingly fast — per­fect for those work­ing with gi­ant me­dia li­braries, in­clud­ing video edit­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy. It comes with 8GB of RAM, which should be fine for most peo­ple. You can up­grade to 16GB when you buy, though, and you can also get more than the de­fault 256GB of stor­age, or up­grade the pro­ces­sor to a 2.4GHz In­tel Core i7 model — but the $480 price for the lat­ter is the al­most the same cost as up­grad­ing to the 2.9GHz Touch Bar model.

The dis­play is still a 2,560 x 1,600-pixel Retina dis­play, but is now much brighter and fea­tures the wide colour gamut seen on the Retina iMacs, iPad Pros and iPhone 7. It’s a re­ally de­tailed, vivid, stun­ning screen. The key­board is the new style that pre­miered with the 12-inch Mac­Book, though in an up­dated form, with switches that have a marginally ‘click­ier’ feel, of­fer­ing more feed­back. We liked it on the Mac­Book, and this ver­sion is slightly im­proved. We love the crisp feel with the large size of the keys, and find them ac­cu­rate and comfy. The track­pad has in­creased in size, too.

Ap­ple has also in­cluded new speak­ers, which are a vast im­prove­ment. They de­liver a fuller sound across the range, with es­pe­cially im­proved bass help­ing to make ev­ery­thing feel less tinny. Iron­i­cally, in other ways, Ap­ple has made the ma­chine im­pres­sively quiet — we only no­ticed the fans make sig­nif­i­cant noise when run­ning our Tomb Raider graph­ics test.

Bat­tery life is fan­tas­tic. Ap­ple still quotes around 10 hours of us­age, so it can last a whole work day, but that de­pends on your us­age. That said, we can’t talk about us­abil­ity with­out dis­cussing the ports. Two Thun­der­bolt 3 ports don’t go very far when one of them is also your power con­nec­tion. Adapters for ba­sic USB and SD card read­ers are in­ex­pen­sive, but you’ll def­i­nitely need to in­vest in one. For those com­ing at this ma­chine as a Mac­Book Air re­place­ment, this will prob­a­bly seem okay. As a re­place­ment for an en­try-level Mac­Book Pro, it’s a ma­jor drop in na­tive con­nec­tiv­ity.

In con­clu­sion, we re­ally like this ma­chine — it’s fast, us­able, with a lovely screen. But it’s sit­ting in a slightly awk­ward mid­dle ground in Ap­ple’s lineup — and one of the many other mod­els may ul­ti­mately suit you bet­ter.

AP­PLE MAC­BOOK PRO 13-INCH (CORE I5, LATE-2016) From $2,199 www.ap­ CRIT­I­CAL SPECS 13.3-inch IPS ‘Retina’ LCD @ 2,560 x 1,600-pix­els; dual-core 2GHz In­tel Core i5 CPU; In­tel Iris 540 GPU; 8GB RAM; 256GB PCIe SSD; 1.37kg.

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