Apple releases new Coffee Lake-based Macbook Pro laptops
New 15-inch model offers a 70 percent performance boost; 13-inch model now with quad-core CPUS.
Apple has officially unveiled its latest upgrade to its Macbook Pro line of laptop computers. While the design hasn’t changed, the new Macbook Pro promises to reach new performance heights that video editors, audio producers, animators, developers, and other professionals will truly appreciate.
That performance boost is supplied by Intel’s eighth generation of Core processors, along with a change in the RAM being used, and new graphics processors. The heart of the new laptops, Intel’s “Coffee Lake” processors, actually became available last April ( go.macworld. com/ncpu), and Coffee Lake PC laptops have been on the market for a couple of months. Now Apple users get a taste of what Coffee Lake can do for the Mac:
Apple claims a boost of up to 70 percent for the 15-inch Macbook Pro, while the 13-inch Macbook Pro offers 2x performance.
In a media showcase to introduce the laptops, Apple hosted several demos by “pro users” who have been using the new hardware. In one demo, producers from Elastic People ( go. macworld.com/elpl), the makers of the “Despacito” music video ( go. macworld.com/desp), talked about how the new Macbook Pro allowed them to stop relying on proxies (smaller copies of the master files) while editing in Final Cut Pro X. In another demo, music producer Warren “Oak” Felder, who most recently worked with pop singer Alessia Cara ( go. macworld.com/alcr), said that he often pushed Mac hardware to its limits while working in Logic Pro, and that with the new 15-inch Macbook Pro, he hadn’t “reached that limit” yet.
The new laptops include Apple’s currently shipping operating system, macos High Sierra 10.13. The laptops can be upgraded to the new macos Mojave 10.14 ( go.macworld.com/ap3b) operating system when it becomes available this fall.
Apple’s Macbook and Macbook Air lineup, and the 13-inch Macbook Pro without Touch Bar, remain unchanged.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW ACROSS THE MACBOOK PRO LINE
In addition to new processors, Apple is now using DDR4 RAM in the Macbook Pro, which should help performance. The maximum amount of RAM supported jumps up to 32GB in the 15-inch model, twice the amount of the previous Macbook Pro. The max in the 13-inch version is still 16GB.
The Macbook Pro contains a larger battery, but Apple representatives said that
the power demands of the DDR4 RAM implementation essentially negates any possible gain in battery life over the previous models.
As with the T1 in previous models, the new Macbook Pro has a T2 processor that Apple uses for dedicated processes, such as the Touch Bar, Touch ID, Secure Enclave, and dedicated storage encryption. (The T2 made its debut in the imac Pro [ go.macworld.com/t2ip].) New to the T2’s functionality is support for “Hey Siri,” where, just as on the iphone, speaking the phrase triggers the Siri digital assistant.
Besides the internal changes, Apple has made a couple of external updates. True Tone, a feature that originated on the iphone, is now in the Macbook Pro Retina displays and Touch Bar. With True Tone, a device can sense the ambient light of your work environment and adjusts the colors so that images appear consistent.
And maybe what might be the most anticipated update to the Macbook Pro—in light of class-action lawsuits ( go.macworld. com/clac) and a new Apple repair program—apple is introducing the third generation of its butterfly keyboard. The keyboard, with its low profile and short key travel, has been improved so that it is quieter than before. Whether the keyboard is more reliable and durable remains to be seen, and we’ll definitely make note of the keyboard experience in our upcoming review.
NEW 15-INCH MACBOOK PRO
Prices start at $2,399. Here are the key components that are specific to the 15-inch Macbook Pro models.
> 6-core Intel Core i7 and Core i9 processors, with speeds up to 2.9GHZ (Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHZ)
> Base configuration of 16GB of DDR4 RAM (32GB max)
> 4GB Radeon Pro discrete graphics subsystem
> Maximum 4TB SSD storage > Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
NEW 13-INCH MACBOOK PRO
Prices start at $1,799. Here are the key components that are specific to the 13-inch Macbook Pro models.
> Quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, with speeds up to 2.7GHZ (Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHZ)
> Base configuration of 8GB of DDR4 RAM (16GB max)
> Intel Iris Plus 655 integrated graphics 655 with 128MB of EDRAM > Maximum 2TB SSD storage > Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
The new Macbook Pro is now available for purchase at apple.com ( go.macworld. com/bymp).
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM 8TH GEN INTEL PROCESSORS
This past April, when all of the highperformance Windows laptops transitioned to Intel’s new 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors ( go.macworld.com/8tgn), Apple fans were left scratching their heads. If it offers such a huge boost in performance, then why isn’t Apple upgrading the Macbook Pro?
Well better late than never, as they say. Apple’s bumping up the specs of the 13-inch and 15-inch Macbook Pro (with Touch Bar) to the 8th-generation Intel chips, plus adding a few other goodies that should help make them tear through your Final Cut and Photoshop tasks.
We will test, benchmark, and thoroughly review the new Macbook
Pros just as soon as possible, of course. While you wait, let’s dive into the specs, compare them with what we know from Windows laptops, and paint a picture of just how much better these new Macbook Pros may be.
4 IS MORE THAN 2, AND 6 IS MORE THAN 4
The chief benefit of the new 8thgeneration Core processors from Intel is a boost in core count. In the 13-inch
Macbook Pro, you’re jumping up from dual-core Core i5 and
Core i7 CPUS to quad-core.
13-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar offers a Core i5-7267u at the low end up to a
Core i7-7567u at the high end. These are processors with a
We don’t yet have the exact model numbers of the CPUS in the new Macbook Pros yet, but judging by the announced clock speeds and the similar TDP necessary, we expect to find a Core i5-8259u at the low end and a Core i7 8559U on the high end.
This change would mean higher boost clock speeds (3.8GHZ versus 3.5GHZ on the low-end model, 4.5GHZ versus 4.0GHZ on the high-end model). It also means 6MB of cache instead of 4MB. The Iris Plus 655 graphics processor is essentially the same as before, but with double the embedded DRAM, which should speed things up a bit at higher resolutions.
For the 15-inch Macbook Pro with
Touch Bar, we’re likely looking at a bump from the Core I7-7700HQ to the Core i7-8750h on the entry-level version, with the maxed-out configuration jumping from a Core I7-7920HQ up to Core i9 8950HK. Those processors all have a 45-watt TDP, but it’s a jump in maximum turbo speed from 3.8GHZ to 4.1GHZ on the base model and from 4.1GHZ to 4.8GHZ on the high end.
Higher boost clock speeds are nice and all, but the biggest benefit is the higher core counts. The powerhouse 15-inch Macbook Pros jump from 4 cores with 8 threads up to 6 cores with 12 threads. Those who like the more compact 13-inch model get an even bigger increase, jumping from 2 cores and 4 threads to 4 cores and 8 threads.
BIG PERFORMANCE IN ALL APPS
Our friends at Pcworld benchmarked the new Coffee Lake ( go.macworld.com/bncl) 6-core processors back in April and came away very impressed. One would expect that more cores would equal more performance in heavily multi-threaded applications. Imagine their delight when the new processors delivered significantly
better single threaded performance as well.
For example, one of their WINRAR benchmarks showed the Core i7-8750h (the chip likely to be in the entry-level 15-inch Macbook Pro) blowing the doors off the Core I7-7820HK, a faster chip than the 7700HQ found in the current 15-inch Macbook Pro.
But dial the test down to a single thread and it gets real interesting. The 8750H is still faster than the 7820HK, and much faster than the 7700HQ.
That’s the magic of higher boost clock speeds and increased cache. If we look at Cinebench performance scaling from one thread up to twelve, we see that even on low thread counts we can expect the new generation to deliver around a 15 to 20 percent boost, with high thread counts up at 50 percent.
Bottom line: Expect the 15-inch Macbook Pros to be 15 to 50 percent faster in Cpu-limited tasks.
And that’s just the jump from the 4-core to the 6-core chips. Imagine the boost we’ll see on the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar, where the cache and boost clock speeds go up and the core counts double. Combined with the fact that more apps are able to effectively utilize 5 to 8 threads than 9 to 12 threads, the 13-inch Macbook Pro is likely to realize its potential more often than the 15-inch model. Apple’s smaller Macbook Pro is going to realize a bigger performance increase, more often.
NOT JUST A CPU BUMP
The new Macbook Pros benefit from more than just the impressive gains of Intel’s 8th-generation Core processors. There are quality-of-life improvements like True Tone displays (which we love on the ipad Pro, iphone 8, and iphone X), a new third-generation butterfly keyboard that isn’t quite so noisy, and you can load ‘em up with double the RAM (up to 32GB).
But Apple also snuck the T2 chip (first found in the imac Pro [ go.macworld.com/ imrv]) into the Macbook Pro. As Jason
Snell correctly predicted ( go.macworld. com/2rev), the T2 (and future T-series chips) are likely going to push down into all Macs over time. In the new Macbook Pros, the T2 chip does everything it does in the imac Pro: It’s the audio processor, it handles image processing for the Facetime camera, it controls storage (including offloading file encryption), it’s the secure enclave for Touch ID, and it provides secure boot and system management.
That means less work for the CPU, which should further boost performance just a little bit. It also means better Facetime video quality and, finally, “Hey Siri” support on a Mac laptop. ■
During an Apple showcase for the new Macbook Pro, music producer Warren “Oak” Felder talked about how the performance of the new 15-inch model affected his work.
More cores mean much faster multithreaded performance.
Even with one thread, Intel’s processors are faster.
Even with low thread counts, the 8th-generation Core chips are much faster.