Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2018)
THE POPULAR CHOICE GETS WELCOME NEW FEATURES FOR 2018.
APPLE’S REDESIGN OF the MacBook Pro in 2016 was divisive for several reasons. For some, nothing but Thunderbolt 3 ports and a continued lack of a discrete graphics processor is a pain in the proverbial. For others, smaller and lighter without stepping down to the less capable 12-inch MacBook or 13-inch Air is a bonus.
As with the 15-inch, Apple supplied us with a fully-specced model (Core i7, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSD) for review.
So what’s changed since 2017? As on the 15-inch, the improved, quieter keyboard is here, and arguably more important at this smaller size, as it’s popular among students, writers and office types. Likewise for the True Tone display. When you need to focus on a doc, this makes it much easier on your eyes.
13-inch and smaller MacBooks all lack the discrete GPUs found on the 15-inch models, and that hasn’t changed. The display’s powered by an integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 processor that’s a lot less capable.
That’s clear in our DaVinci Resolve test, which took about 70 minutes to finish – more than twice as long as the Radeon Pro 560Xpowered 15-inch Pro.
It also took just over 6.5 times longer than when using our Vega 64-equipped external graphics processing unit (eGPU). So, if your pro apps have been updated to work with eGPUs, there’s an even stronger argument for budgeting for one to use with a 13-inch MacBook Pro.
In testing gaming speed, the Iris Plus 655 gives a bigger boost to frame rates over last year’s Iris Plus 640 than the tiny difference that processor made over 2016’s Iris 540. Even so, it’s barely beyond the 30 frames per second ideal minimum, and bear in mind this is an average. At times, the rate dipped as low as 18.9fps.
We also tested using the newer, more demanding Rise of the Tomb Raider, but at 1080p at high quality, the three-scene test’s overall rate was a terrible 13.2fps.
As always then, the 13-inch MacBook Pro really isn’t suited to high-end games, or very demanding pro apps. The good news is that eGPU support added in High Sierra earlier this year means this model (and 2016 and 2017 models) actually has a graphics upgrade path.
Previous 13-inch MacBook Pros featured a dual-core i5 processor. Now, though, you get a quad-core version. For intensive tasks suited to parallelisation – splitting up a job across cores – it makes an impressive difference.
And while GeekBench 4 barely benefits from those extra cores, our HandBrake H.264 test puts a heavy workload on every available core. It trounced the dual-core i5, taking less than half the time.
As noted earlier, though, Apple provided a high specification for review, with a 2.7GHz Core i7. The stock 2.3GHz Core i5 wasn’t provided, so we couldn’t compare Core i5 and i7 performance across the Intel 8th-gen range.
13-inch models with a Touch Bar also gain “Hey Siri” support too and the claim of up to 3.2GB/sec SSD read rates holds up here, though again Apple supplied its top 2TB drive to us.
There’s one other change to the 13-inch that you won’t find listed on the spec sheet: models with four Thunderbolt 3 ports previously throttled performance on the right-side ports. Most won’t notice, but it’s good news if you plan to connect an eGPU or another demanding peripheral.
13-INCH MODELS WITH A TOUCH BAR ALSO GAIN “HEY SIRI” SUPPORT TOO AND THE CLAIM OF UP TO 3.2GB/SEC SSD READ RATES HOLDS UP HERE...