Ap­ple Mac­Book Pro 15-inch (2018)

Ap­ple’s top-of-the-line por­ta­ble Mac gets up­graded for 2018.

APC Australia - - Contents - Alan Stone­bridge

Don’t turn the page in hor­ror at the huge price above just yet – the lat­est 15-inch Mac­Book Pro doesn’t have to cost nearly the same as an en­try-level iMac Pro. That price is for the rather high-end spec­i­fi­ca­tion that Ap­ple pro­vided for test­ing.

A new fea­ture that might be a big deal if you spend a lot of time writ­ing doc­u­ments or pro­gram­ming is Ap­ple’s third-gen­er­a­tion but­ter­fly key­board mech­a­nism. It’s mar­keted as qui­eter than pre­vi­ous ver­sions. In­deed, we found it less click­ety-clacky, which is great if you ever work in a fairly quiet of­fice or pub­lic space. Com­ple­ment­ing that is True Tone, which ad­justs the dis­play’s colour tem­per­a­ture to be eas­ier on the eyes, based on am­bi­ent light around you.

For this re­fresh, Ap­ple has up­graded the Mac­Book Pro to In­tel’s 8th-gen­er­a­tion Core pro­ces­sors, us­ing ver­sions that have six cores in­stead of the four found on pre­vi­ous 15-inch Mac­Book Pros. It doesn’t mat­ter which 15-inch Mac­Book Pro you choose, they all have six cores. Like older ver­sions, you get a Core i7 pro­ces­sor as stan­dard. For $3,499 it’s a 2.2GHz model that can tur­bo­boost its clock fre­quency as far as 4.1GHz when just one core is busy. The $4,099 ver­sion’s base clock speed is 2.6GHz and tur­bo­boosts up to 4.3GHz.

On either of those mod­els, you can pay more to re­place the Core i7 with one of In­tel’s new Core i9 pro­ces­sor line. This also has six cores, with a base clock speed of 2.9GHz and tur­bo­boosts up to 4.8GHz. It’s $480 to add the Core i9 (as an op­tion on the 2.6GHz i7), but look at its re­sults in Hand­Brake, which makes heavy use of all cores, and GeekBench’s sin­gle-core test, which mea­sures per­for­mance with In­tel’s Turbo Boost tech in ac­tion.

Re­spon­sive­ness comes from more than just the Mac’s brain. The speed of its stor­age is crit­i­cal to avoid stalling. The 2TB drive sup­plied to us came up just a lit­tle short. It peaked at 3.1GB/sec, but that isn’t re­ally a con­cern. More im­pres­sive is that writ­ing data – typ­i­cally tougher – peaked at that rate too. Mean av­er­age rates we saw were lower – 2.5 and 2.2GB/ sec, re­spec­tively. That’s nor­mal and still great news for per­for­mance.

The $3,499 Mac­Book Pro’s 256GB SSD is com­fort­able if you mostly work with words. A 512GB SSD – $320 as an up­grade and stan­dard on the $4,099 model – is one of the more af­ford­able and ap­peal­ing up­grade op­tions avail­able.

The 2TB drive is hard to jus­tify un­less it’s nec­es­sary for your kind of work, cost­ing $2,240 or $1,920. It’s the big­gest con­trib­u­tor, on top of the Mac it­self, to the huge price. There’s also a new max­i­mum ca­pac­ity: a 4TB SSD. Again, only cre­ative pros will se­ri­ously con­sider this, as it costs an eye-wa­ter­ing $5,440 or $5,120 to add.

Both 15-inch mod­els have In­tel UHD Graph­ics 630 for lighter tasks. For apps that need a graph­i­cal boost, the dis­crete graph­ics pro­ces­sor leaps into ac­tion. In the $3,499 model, that’s a Radeon Pro 555X with 4GB of me­mory. At $3,659, or for an ex­tra $160 on the base model, it’s a 560X, also with 4GB.

Be­fore buy­ing, make sure you check whether your key apps make greater use of the cen­tral or graph­ics pro­ces­sor, and choose build-to-or­der parts to suit.

In many ways, this up­date does a lot right, build­ing on the strong foun­da­tions Ap­ple laid a cou­ple of years ago. Stor­age per­for­mance is top-class, and it’s good to have the 32GB me­mory op­tion.

AP­PLE LAP­TOP FROM $3,499; AS TESTED $6,499 | AP­PLE.COM/AU

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