After a rather subdued 2017 as far as the MacBook upgrades were concerned, Apple has created quite a stir with the 2018 refresh. None more so than with perhaps the larger of the two MacBook Pro options that you can buy—the MacBook Pro 15 (2018). And there are multiple reasons for that. The excellent MacBook Pro line-up of 2017 has just received a big boost. Here is an exclusive look at the Core i9 variant of the MacBook Pro 15 (2018).
At first glance, not a lot has changed on the outside. The design of the MacBook Pro 15 (2018) remains the same, so do the dimensions and the feel of the aluminum chassis. The colour options are unchanged and the perfection is as real as always. The preciseness of the construction is something that many of Apple’s rivals are still learning to match. Combine this with the design continuity, and that makes the MacBooks distinct to identify, from even a mile away. For a 15.6-inch screen laptop, this weighs just 1.83 kilograms, and that is quite creditable. Kept side by side with the MacBook Pro 13, the size differences do make you wonder how the MacBook Pro 15 has managed to remain so compact. There are two colour options—silver and space grey, and we really do prefer the latter.
The keyboard was perhaps the only weak link in the previous two iterations of the MacBook Pro line-up. The 2018 update brings the third generation of what is known as the ‘butterfly’ keyboard. It is less susceptible to failures because of dust getting lodged beneath the keys, and each key press also generates lesser noise—this is very welcome if you are typing in a silent room. The key size, spacing and the overall keyboard layout remains exactly the same. The key travel and response is extremely consistent, and that makes the MacBook Pro 15 (2018) keyboard (and indeed even the MacBook Pro 13 update) the best layout if you are a writer.
The magic of the MacBook Pro 15 (2018) lies on the inside, though. Depending on which variant you pick, you get to choose between the newest generation Intel Core i7 processor and the Intel Core i9 processors—this generation is codenamed Coffee Lake. That is two more cores than the predecessors 4-core processor options, in case of the Core i7 and Core i9, which allows professional grade editing apps, for instance, to take advantage. This is by far and away the most powerful processor you would find in any laptop at the moment.
It wasn’t the smoothest of starts however. The initial firmware that shipped with the MacBook Pro 15 on the Core i9 variant had a bug, which pushed down the processor’s clock speed because of incorrect temperature settings, causing gaming and video encoding performance to suffer. That has since been solved with the latest macOS update that is available for the MacBook Pro. No such issues with any of the Core i7 variants.
Apple offers 16GB RAM with the Core i7 options, though you can configure 32GB of RAM with the Core i9 variant. Whichever configuration you consider, what you’ll get is a multi-tasking monster, so to say. Instead of confusing you with technical jargons, we will simply illustrate this with an example—you can edit 9 streams of RAW 4K video simultaneously, for instance—though that is not something that you’ll do every day. The AMD Radeon Radeon Pro 560X and the AMD Radeon Radeon Pro 555X graphics options are powerful to say the least. Believe us when we say this, you will not be able to make the make the MacBook Pro 15 (2018) slow down, irrespective of whatever software you run. Along with the extravagant amounts of RAM, the added benefit is that the new RAM is faster as well, which further boosts application load and data handling times. That is great news then, since the futureproofing will ensure that this MacBook will serve you well for the next few years. Even if you feel that the Core i9 processor may be a bit of an overkill for you, the Core i7 is extremely powerful too and should hold you in good stead for many years.
We are quite excited about the final version of the macOS Mojave which is set to release later this year, particularly the Dark Mode, Stacks as well as the enhanced data privacy and security features. The overall experience of using a MacBook should really should come to life on these powerful specification options.
The 15.6-inch Retina Display remains the most accurate display if colour accuracy, detailing and depth of visuals is critical for you. Photo and video editors will find this the most relevant. For the rest of us, the screen quality pretty much makes for a pristine visual experience, irrespective of whether you are using the MacBook Pro 15 (2018) for work or for media viewing. The biggest change is the addition of a feature called True Tone. This is where multiple algorithms work out the data from the ambient light sensor and modify the brightness and colour tone of the screen accordingly. The advantage is that the strain on your eyes is reduced significantly. The drawback is that colours won’t always look the most accurate if the True Tone has switched to a warmer display—in that case, you can turn this off.
Above the keyboard is the Touch Bar. This touch control cluster replaces the standard function keys that we have seen in the non-Touch Bar variants, but it also does a lot more. Depending on what app you are using at that point of time, the Touch Bar shows contextual options. For instance, if you are typing a document in the Pages app, it will show controls for font styles for instance, and even word suggestions as you type along. That changes to media controls when you are using iTunes. Or quick access to bookmarks when browsing using Safari.
Despite so much power under the hood, the MacBook Pro 15 (2018) lasts very close to 10 hours on a single charge. That figure has been achieved because Apple has packed in a larger battery into the new MacBook. If you are a tad careful with brightness levels while using it through the day, it can even touch the 12-hour battery life mark—that is what the MacBook Pro 13 is able to achieve with ease. For a machine that is a complete beast in terms of performance, the ability to carry the thing around for a day at work and not have to take the power adapter along, deserves a lot of credit.
It is incredible fun to use the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to unlock the MacBook, just like you may have done on the iPhone for so many years. The Touch ID feature, as well as the always on Hey Siri, the display management software as well as the encryption of the contents on the SSD are managed by what is the T2 co-processor. Each T2 is linked to each MacBook Pro. This means that even if someone was to remove the SSD from your MacBook and attempt to access that data through another MacBook or computing device, that will not work. This is a great security measure, which should be useful for business users, who may want that extra layer of protection for their sensitive data.
The MacBook Pro 15 (2018) line-up starts at Rs1,99,900 and anyone who would invest so much money would genuinely be utilizing the power this brings to the table. The latest specifications bring to the table, a great amount of future-proofing as well, and even the entry-spec variant with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD and an AMD Radeon Pro 555X (4GB) graphics is tremendously powerful. The Intel Core i9 variant is yet to come to India—and at present, these processor powered variants retail at prices starting $3,099 (around 2,12,500 onwards, exclusive of shipping and local taxes) in the US.