Here’s how fast the 2018 Mac­book Pro 15 will be

Apple’s Mac­book Pro 15 gets a shiny new CPU, but it still won’t be faster than a PC.

PCWorld (USA) - - News | Surface Go Vs. Ipad - BY GOR­DON MAH UNG

With Apple an­nounc­ing re­cently that it has dropped a 6-core 8th-gen Core i7 8750H into the Mac­book Pro 15 ( go.pc­, there are two things we know for sure: The first is that the boost in per­for­mance ( go.pc­ will be huge. The se­cond—it still won’t be faster than the fastest PC lap­tops.

Sure, you could say we’re just be­ing haters be­cause we heart PC. But un­like the ipad and iphone, Apple doesn’t make its own CPUS. It re­lies on the same ones PC lap­tops have been us­ing since at least April. All of the

test­ing we’ve done al­ready on In­tel’s 8th-gen Kaby Lake R (re­viewed at go.pc­ kbrv), the 8th-gen Kaby Lake G (re­viewed at go.pc­, and the 8th-gen Cof­fee Lake H (re­viewed at go.pc­ chrv) lets us say with high con­fi­dence just how fast the new 2018 Mac­book Pro 15 will be when it ships.

The big news for Apple users is the six cores in the Core i7-8750h.

Those two ad­di­tional cores com­pared to quad-core parts means hefty im­prove­ments in 3D mod­el­ing, video edit­ing, and many op­ti­mized photo edit­ing tasks.


To show the per­for­mance we ex­pect, we’ve com­piled the re­sults from sev­eral lap­tops equipped with high-end 7th-gen CPUS, in­clud­ing the quad-core Core I7-7700HQ that’s used in the 2017 Mac­book Pro 15. We’ll com­pare them to the re­sults from a lap­top with the 8th-gen Core i7-8750h in the new 2018 Mac­book Pro 15.

Our first com­par­i­son runs Maxon’s Cinebench R15, which tests 3D mod­el­ing per­for­mance. You can see about a 50 per­cent in­crease in per­for­mance be­tween the six-core Core i7-8750h and the typ­i­cal 7th-gen part, such as that Core I7-7700HQ.

We won’t bore you with too many charts

of the 8th-gen Core i7-8750h’s mul­ti­threaded prow­ess, as you can see them on page 91. You’ll see vary­ing amounts of per­for­mance gains based on how op­ti­mized the CPUS are, but the story is still the same:

It’s a ton faster.

For ex­am­ple, here’s how the same CPU per­forms in video en­cod­ing. While you don’t get quite a 50 per­cent im­prove­ment, it’s still about 33 per­cent, which means that a com­pa­ra­ble three-hour en­code could be done in about two hours. When you’re in the field on a shoot, and time is money, then yeah, that’s more money.

The world isn’t about multi-threaded

per­for­mance, though, and very few ap­pli­ca­tions ac­tu­ally can use all six cores in the new Mac­book Pro 15. So to get an idea of how an 8th-gen Core i7 Cof­fee Lake H stacks up against a 7th-gen Core i7 Kaby Lake H part, we also run Cinebench R15 us­ing just one CPU core. While not all ap­pli­ca­tions per­form the same, we do get an idea of how fast the new chip does in pedes­trian, sin­gle-threaded tasks, such as Mi­crosoft Word, Sa­fari, and most ap­pli­ca­tions.

For the most part, the new 8th-gen Core i7 still gives de­cent per­for­mance ben­e­fits over the older 7th-gen Core i7 CPUS.

To get fur­ther insight into how the new 8th-gen CPUS be­have un­der par­tic­u­lar loads, we var­ied Cinebench R15 from 1 thread to 12. The ver­dict is sim­ple: The 8th-gen Core i7 Cof­fee Lake H has a de­cent per­for­mance ad­van­tage on lightly threaded tasks (the left side of the chart be­low), and a huge per­for­mance ad­van­tage once you get to tasks that can use all of those CPU cores.

While not all tasks are the same, the se­cret to the per­for­mance of the new 8th-gen Core i7 is mega­hertz. That’s an­other dis­tinct ad­van­tage the 2018 Mac­book Pro 15, with its clock-speedrich Core i7-8750h, will have over a 2017 Mac­book Pro 15 with a Core I7-7700HQ in it.

The big un­known in this is how hard Apple de­cides to push that CPU. Both re­sults here are from gam­ing-fo­cused lap­tops, but both are also rel­a­tively thin, as we ex­pect the Mac­book Pro 15 to be. The Core i7-8750h re­sult is from a four-pound MSI GS65 Stealth Thin, while the Core I7-7700HQ per­for­mance is from the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Asus ROG Ze­phyrus.

What we do know from pre­vi­ous Mac­book Pro lap­tops is that Apple gen­er­ally does not like to leave per­for­mance un­tapped, so we ex­pect it to swing for the fences.


So af­ter see­ing th­ese re­sults, how can we say for a fact that the new 2018 Mac­book Pro 15 won’t be faster than PC lap­tops? For one

thing, PCS of­fer larger form fac­tors that let the 8th-gen CPUS run even faster. Also, the graph­ics in the new 2018 Mac­book Pro 15 haven’t changed much.

Apple is ap­par­ently still re­ly­ing on the el­derly AMD Radeon Pro lineup for graph­ics. In the sin­gle lap­top our sis­ter site Mac­world saw, the unit had a Radeon Pro 555X in it. De­spite the X, it’s the same old thing. AMD just added the X to make ev­ery­one feel bet­ter. It’s ac­tu­ally a de­cent dis­crete GPU, but in pure per­for­mance, it’s not go­ing to win any con­tests be­yond tasks heav­ily op­ti­mized for it.

To give you an idea how much graph­ics fire­power are in PC lap­tops, the above chart shows the raw gam­ing per­for­mance of most of to­day’s mod­ern graph­ics cards. Based on what we’re see­ing with the Po­laris-based GPU in the Core i7-8705g, with 20 com­pute units buffed with High Band­width Cache and HBM2 RAM, we’d ex­pect the Po­laris-based Radeon Pro 555X, with its 12 com­pute units and GDDR5 RAM, to be slower by a bit.


While it’s easy for PC par­ti­sans to is­sue a Simp­sons’ Nel­son Muntz–like “ha ha,” we should be fair and give Apple its due credit. Even with its flawed key­board, the Mac­book Pro 15 has been an im­pres­sively thin lap­top with rel­a­tively good bat­tery life for its power ra­tio.

And yes, PC lap­tops have been us­ing 8th-gen Core i7 CPUS for more than three months now. But to have Apple up­grade the Mac­book Pro 15 to a CPU that came out just three months ago, rather than drag­ging it out for an­other six or nine months, is ac­tu­ally a huge im­prove­ment in re­spon­sive­ness from the com­pany.

It’s hard to be­lieve, but it’s en­tirely pos­si­ble that Apple may have fi­nally wo­ken up, which means PC lap­top mak­ers may fi­nally see their old slum­ber­ing foe for an­other fight.

A new 8th-gen Core i7-8750h in the 2018 Mac­book Pro 15 would give you about a 50-per­cent per­for­mance in­crease over the pre­vi­ous Mac­book Pro 15 (rep­re­sented by the Core i7-7700hq-equipped lap­top shown here) in multi-threaded tasks.

Hand­brakes sees about a 33-per­cent buff by go­ing from a 7th-gen Core i7 to an 8th-gen Core i7.

Thanks to very high clock speeds when given lightly threaded tasks such as brows­ing or Mi­crosoft Word, the 8th-gen Core i7 Cof­fee Lake H CPU in the new Mac­book Pro 15 will be faster than its di­rect pre­de­ces­sor.

The 8th-gen Core i7 leads the way in sin­gle-threaded tasks.

You can see the clock speed ad­van­tage of an 8th gen Core i7 over the 7th gen Core i7 il­lus­trated above on light loads (left) and heavy loads (right.).

The Radeon Pro 555X in the new 2018 Mac­book Pro 15 should fall be­low that of the Kaby Lake G-se­ries of chips in the HP Spec­tre x360 15. That’s not bad, but it ain’t no Ge­force GTX 1080.

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