Slowly but surely it appears as if Apple is in the process of upgrading a line of products that have grown longer than long in the tooth. iMacs got a bump. iMac Pro made a debut. Now there’s a new and notably faster MacBook Pro to love or loathe. Or, both at the same time.
As with every new Apple product, new new or upgrade new, there are pros and cons, plenty to like and room for criticism and improvement. The new MacBook Pro is no exception, but I can tell you after trying it out that it’s damned fast.
Still A Mac
More than four of every five Macs that Apple sells these days are notebooks. The Mac notebook line can be divided into four distinct groups. The aging MacBook Air at the low end. The anemic entry-level MacBook for $1,299, a decent 13-inch MacBook Pro for more, and the hefty and powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro line.
Let’s talk about that model because that’s the one so-called professionals prefer. It honks. A Genius friend of mine at the Apple Grand Central store in New York let me hog one for a couple of hours over the weekend and we ran it through a few tests to see how far those i9 six core Intel’s inside could go.
Intel Inside Mac notebooks in recent years had nominal upgrades which improved performance incrementally. This MacBook screams. It screams through Photoshop and Final Cut Pro 4K video and everything else we through at it, and thanks to the recent firmware update, it didn’t get hot enough to cook anything.
Yet, if you read reviews here and there across the technology interwebs you’ll find criticisms galore. For example, Brendan Nystedt at Wired called it unbelievably expensive with an inferior typing experience on a Retina display that isn’t true 4K.
Samuel Axon at ArsTechnica did a stress test re-run and declared the new Mac now behaves as expected. Fast.
The MacBook Pro is now easier to recommend to most creative professionals, developers, and researchers—provided they can afford it and wish to prioritize a balance between performance and portability, that is.
Fast. Expensive. Beautiful. Rene Ritchie on iMore provides a more balanced approach:
If you want a thicker laptop with more thermal headroom, more keyboard travel, and more legacy ports, then this is still not that. If, on the other hand, you’re all about pro-on-the-go, and you want your speed to be sexy, then the MacBook Pro (2018) is the absolute best expression of it yet and will make you ludicrously happy.
Today’s notebooks, from Chromebook to Microsoft Surface to whatever else HP and Dell push out the door with reckless abandon, has changed. The Mac has competition. I priced a new Surface Book 2 to the max. 15-inch display. 16GB RAM. 7th generation Core i7. 1TB SSD. $3,299.
Compare that to a new 15-inch MacBook Pro. 16GB RAM. 8th generation Core i9. 1TB SSD. $3,499. I’m not sure where one comes up with absurdly expensive. It’s a professional level machine. An entry level iMac is $1,099. An iMac Pro starts at $4,999. They are not the same and not aimed at the same type of customer.
And if the graphics capability in the MacBook Pro isn’t enough to catch your hair on fire, the new models work well with external graphics accelerators like the Blackmagic eGPU.
So, how bad is the new MacBook Pro?
I struggle to find much that’s negative. If horsepower and portability are what you want, Apple just made it available in an attractive package with a competitive price tag. If you’re the type of Mac user still stuck on mechanical keyboards and disdain dongles because you love USB-A cables, keep looking around. You’re not really a professional anyway. It’s the 21st century. We’ve moved on to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3.
As much as I might want a Mac with some touchscreen capability, the MacBook’s trackpad is freaking huge and I love TouchBar because it does so much more than the ancient function keys that adorn every other notebook. Criticisms are easy these days. Everyone is into it because negativity bias is a thing that most people don’t understand.
As you traverse the tech interwebs looking for valuable information, consider the sources. Like Brendan Nystedt, do they have a degree in negativity bias, and a lifetime charter membership in the technorati elite politburo? Or, like Rene Ritche, are they well versed in pragmatism?
At Mac360, we prefer to call it like we see it. The new MacBook Pro models are overdue, yes, but it isn’t exactly like Intel has been cranking out the latest and greatest CPUs in recent years, amirite? The 2018 MBPs are interim models. In a couple of years Intel will have figured out how to do the 10nm trick and even faster models will be on the streets.
In the interim, I expect Apple to surprise the world with a new MacBook Air with ARM inside; an Apple-designed A-series 64-bit CPU with cores galore. When? If not this year, next year. But a new MacBook Air is coming.