In this article, I give you my Apple MacBook Pro 15-Inch (2018) review with specs included. This looks physically identical to the 2016 and 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro. So no casing redesign here. What does that mean?
If you didn’t like the 2016 and 2017 s compromises for the super thin and light design. It’s four-point-zero-two pounds which is one point eight seven kilograms and fifteen-point-five millimeters thin which makes even a 15-inch razor blade look kind of chunky.
Well you still have Donal hell you’ve got four Thunderbolt 3 ports that’s great if you have a lot of Thunderbolt 3 accessories or you use a Thunderbolt 3 dock at your desk but otherwise dongle held for you. And obviously, we have the butterfly keyboard here which seems to get love it or hate it. I’m more toward it as I hate it kind of thing. Almost no travel. So it’s the third generation of that keyboard though. What does that mean?
They have put little silicone baffles under each key. Sort of like little condoms. Now Apple says that’s to make the keys quieter because they were awfully clacking e despite the fact they had very little travel. And it is effective they are a little less clack e. It’s still noisy but it’s not like god yeah I’m annoyed by it noisy.
But it also that silicon barrier really bears a striking resemblance to their patented dust ingress protection system. So maybe it’ll help with the problem that they’ve been having with the butterfly keyboards we’re just it’s that his little specks of dust that can sometimes make your keys misbehave.
The strong points are it’s a gorgeous-looking laptop. It’s extremely well made it’s very rigid. To display yeah it’s not 4k but we’ll talk a little bit more about that. It’s still one of the nicest you’re gonna find on a laptop in terms of color accuracy and long it has to do with the operating system it’s delightful.
Of course, there’s no touchscreen. We still have the touch bars which some people derisively called the emoji bar. I still don’t find it terribly useful. About the thing I like most about it is scrubbing inside of Final Cut Pro or when playing a youtube video or something like that.
Yeah, it’s still a long reach over the keyboard just to do something you could hit a command key to do instead. The other great thing is that we have Intel eighth-generation 6 core coffee-like CPUs. That’s the 45-watt kind of CPU that you’d expect to see in mobile workstation level laptops and not too far behind the windows counterparts by about two months or so afterward.
For Apple, that’s actually pretty good so. A lot more potential processing power a lot more potential Heat I have a really good trick for that that doesn’t involve throwing it in the freezer. Really look at it now. So let’s talk about pricing and why the Mac tax perhaps is actually worse than it used to be.
Yeah, you can say that the prices now are pretty much the same that they have been for you know four years five years or so. But here’s the thing my 2012-era 15-inch MacBook Pro was twenty-five hundred dollars with a dedicated graphics option. But at the time you’ve got 16 gigs of ram in a 512 gig SSD.
Now back in 2012, there was like what am I gonna do with all that RAM almost and that’s a huge SSD given the fact that they’re so expensive. Well now fast forward from 2012 to 2018 and you’re still getting 16 gigs of ram and a 512 gig SSD.
So part of the justification for the high price before was that you’re getting kind of those upgrades already built-in. That’s not the case anymore. The only problem is that Apple charges a lot for all those upgrades. You can say that the base prices are kind of like the way they’ve been and I can live with that.
And if you’re good with the base product specs which are decent they’re okay then good for you but otherwise. Say you want that core i9 because Intel has everybody captivated with the idea of having a core high nine. Is not so great the Coronet will talk about that anyway.
That’s $400 more you want to go and get that 32 gigs of RAM that’s $400 more. You want to get it with a one terabyte SSD just the core i7 mid-range model and 32 gigs of ram and you’re talking $3,700. That’s beyond the Mac taxes getting a little bit of food. So hopefully the base models are more suited to you. The introductory level model shall we call it has a 2.2 gigahertz core i7 – 87 50h processor which we see in a lot of Windows laptops right now.
Turbo Boost goes up to four point one gigahertz. 16 gigs around a 256 gig SSD which are really I think insulting for 2400 dollars and for pro users that’s just not going to cut it for a lot of us. And you get the AMD Radeon Pro 5 5 5 X dedicated GPU. The is new for this model year and it’s just a slight boost in clock speed nothing much to see here in terms of performance.
This is a shame because dedicated graphics or where the Mac has been lacking because what they’re trying to do is keep the charging requirement low under a hundred watts and to not make much heat and much noise. So it’s a thirty-five watt GPU and in that respect, it’s actually pretty impressive. The amount of performance that it does give you compared to you know Nvidia graphics card using a lot more power generating more heat.
If you go up one level the other pre-built option is $2,700. That one has a core i7 – 8850 age and that is content of 2.6 gigahertz. So that’s a nice jump from 2.2 to 2.6 I would recommend that. That also gets you the Radeon Pro 5 60 X. So that’s another move up I’d also recommend that.
Either way, you’re gonna get 4 gigabytes of gddr5 VRAM. So you’re not gonna increase your beer and. You’re gonna get 16 gigs of ram still and a 512 gig is d which is kind of a good amount of room to have at least as a minimum for someone who is a pro user. Now I will say that that $2,700 model which is a kind of sweet spot where I go. I can live with 16 and not 32 gigs of ram that’s ok with me.
The fact that that’s a couple of hundred dollars more than the equivalent Razer Blade 15 is kind of shocking. You know what I mean. You get razor blade 15 was expensive well this kind of blows it away by several hundred dollars. Alright, now we’ve gotten pricing out the way in the fact that obviously if you wanted to configure this with a terabyte SSD and 32 gigs of ram you can almost get to dell XPS 15 for the price.
Let’s look at what else we have here. First off you can get it with a 4 terabyte SSD. Which is at first I don’t believe there was any other laptop that has that option right now. And God bless you if you can afford that because that’s $2,800 additional.
I think most of us will go with external storage but if you can afford it take me out to dinner. We finally have ddr4 Ram before Apple was still using ddr3 when everybody else was using ddr4 and they said oh because ddr4 uses more power. It’s a 15-minute difference in overall runtime. So finally they moved to ddr4 and they slightly increased battery capacity to compensate for that.
So battery runtimes are about the same as they were before. It’s so that’s pretty good stuff right there you do get a performance boost from having a ddr4 certainly. The SSDs are this now here you go this is how some people can be fooled by things. So you can see our black magic test here and that’s those are very good speeds yes they are.
But Samsung 970 Evo Drive can also achieve those speeds they put it in a razorblade 15 and give it a test which I’ve done put one terabyte Evo 970 in my razor blade 15 and it’ll achieve the same things. But Apple has some file system optimizations that they’ve done so things like file duplications are insanely fast.
Why I don’t know. Do we all spend our days duplicating files well probably because it looks really great on benchmarks? And some reviewers will say look at how fast those file duplication speeds are. Well, we want to look at the read and write speeds and you can see they’re in line with the best SSDs that are available today and it’s good stuff.
By the way, nothing is upgradeable here nothing nothing nothing no. You can unscrew at the bottom you can unscrew those pentalobe proprietary screws and take it off and say this is a very beautiful clean design but other than that the RAM is soldered on the SSD is soldered on its chips it’s not a two slotted thingy at all the Wi-Fi is soldered on everything is soldered on here.
The battery is that interesting thing that Apple does with multiple chunks of battery cells glued to the top casing not easy to get out so. This is sort of like a surface book sort of experience. You know don’t expect to upgrade anything don’t expect to service this one yourself. Except for the trackpad that’s pretty easy to take out.
We do have the new Apple t2 chip in here replacing the t1 and that handles your touch ID your touch bar and encryption including filesystem encryption and speeds those up. So that’s a good thing. And touch ID is still here your fingerprint scanner that’s a nice thing I do hope that move on to face ID that would be certainly lovely.
Obviously, it works great on the iPhone they could hopefully do that someday. Meanwhile, we still have the 720p webcam, or facetime camera as they call it up top above the display. The trackpad is still humongous. I still don’t know why. But it’s nice it works very well we still have forced touch if you’re into that sort of thing and I don’t have any problems with palm rejection.
The keyboard like I said is quieter and I appreciate that. It also feels slightly more tactile and crisp. Whereas I really didn’t like the first and second generation once I can kind of live with this. I’m not in love with it maybe we’ve also gotten used to the thinner and thinner laptops with more and more compromised keyboards in terms of travel. It feels a lot like the Dell XPS 15 two in one with the Maglev keyboard which isn’t such a bad thing.
It’s weird but I can live with it. The display on this is lovely still. 2880 by 1800 no it’s not 4k I really am okay with that in the 15-inch size. My eyeballs really can’t see the difference between 4k resolution or not. 16 by 10 aspect ratio in terms of color gamut it covers p3 which isn’t really the most useful thing unless you’re creating feature films where p3 is the color space its use. We mostly care about sRGB and Adobe RGB.
Those coverages are excellent. 91% of Adobe RGB Schwing you’re right up there with Dell XPS 15 4k display and all that sort of thing. If contrast is excellent on this it’s wonderful. What makes it more wonderful are two things first off color management. Mac OS itself does color management which Windows 10 still does not they’re working on that Microsoft is.
So that means if you have a high gamut display if you’re just tooling around the operating system or any program that’s not color-managed which means pretty much anything except for Adobe CC suite of apps colors can look garish or not very realistic. So Apple takes care of that. So it’s just a gorgeous-looking but somehow natural display.
Also, they do scaling really well at the operating system level. It’s not into the application really to support it. Apple’s operating system handles as so. While Windows 10 has made great strides and we don’t see as many programs with teeny-tiny impossible-to-read text on the high resolution this place is never a problem with the Mac it’s well done.
By the way, it can support two 5k external displays at 60 Hertz or for 4k displays at 60 Hertz. So that’s pretty good. And we now have true tones something that we saw on the iPad pro. This means it looks at the ambient light and says it’s a kind of darkish room at night year by the couch whatever and then it will warm the display.
I really personally like that I like color accurate displays and you really notice blue-white looking display is looking really much worse in dark lighting. So if you like that’s a great thing it’s there for you it is easier on the eyes less blue light at night you get the idea. Or in dark rooms.
Now Windows 10 has something sort of similar. They have their nightlight feature and that can turn on on the schedule. So sunrise sunset to sunrise for example that one gives you a slider. So there’s no automatic adjustment but then again you have control over it. If you want it not to be yellow you can still do them.
The display is glossy however it has just about the least glare you’re gonna see on the glossy display. Apple does a good job with that and hopefully, unlike some previous-generation models, the coating on there will last a little bit longer. Some people had problems with the coating staining or peeling that sort of thing. Hopefully, that’s a thing of the past now. All right performance and cooling.
I know this is what you guys are and gals are really waiting for. First up let’s talk about the core i-9 for a minute. And I’ve said this in my Windows laptop reviews and we reviewed a few like the Alienware 17 or five that had the core I nine 8950 H CPU or HK. And it’s a marketing thing from Intel. Really this is equivalent to the core I 9 to last generation seventh generation top-of-the-line core i7 CPU overclockable. So this 7820 HK for example.
It’s the same architecture as the Core i7 it’s the same 6 cores and 12 threads it has more cache faster cache that’s about it. So it’s not as big a deal as you might think because Intel decided to give it a whole different thing for marketing reasons so that. It does make more heat though because it has higher base clock speeds. So where you’re talking 2.2 or 2.6 Kurten gigahertz for the Core i7 models this one this 2.9 gigahertz.
When it comes to turbo boost we got from 4.1 gigahertz at 4.3 gigahertz to 4.8 gigahertz for the core I nine. But the Mac doesn’t spend much time in turbo boost. I have done a bunch of tests. I have done Final Cut Pro tests benchmarking tests exporting video of handbrake kind of tests and it’s not boosting a whole lot. So I’m more interested in the base clock speeds because that’s where it’s gonna be spending a lot of its time.
Why is it not turbo-boosting? Because this laptop is too thin and doesn’t have adequate cooling to run it at higher clock speeds. Doing the same handbrake export where I take a 4k actually generate on iPhone video and export into a 1080p h.265 video which uses the CPU not the GPU it’s about a minute and a half slower than the razorblade 15 or even the Dell g7 which is their low-end gaming laptop with a Core i7 – 8750 inside.
To give you an example. It just doesn’t have the cooling folks. The good news is you can overcome this in part. No, you don’t put it in the freezer or move to Siberia dot right. That’s silly give me key things. What you can do is actually override the fan control. I’ve been using Macs for like 20 years on-off and the laptops tend to run hot.
And Apple wants to make a quiet laptop so you can say oh we make the quietest laptops and it’s less hard to touch. That is true actually. The bottom on this gets warm but it doesn’t get frying an egg hot like a Razer Blade will or even Dell XPS 15 that’s pushed hard. But they run the fans to the slope. They don’t ramp them up soon enough or fast enough.
So USB SMC fan control was the app to go to but that one’s not really supported anymore in the High Sierras. So you can get something called max fan control. Just download it install it and you can override the default behavior. You will hear more fan noise but no matter what this thing does not get loud. This is not like a 2012-era Mac.
It just cannot scream it cannot make so much noise it’s totally worth it to use that. Change the fan control. So I have it starting to boost up when the CPU hits 65 centigrade in the cores and then I have it really ramped up when it hits about 82 degrees and it makes a difference in terms of core temperatures. So doing that handbrake export or using blender which boy blender on a Mac is not a good thing in terms of course performance and CPU temperature is hitting 99 yeah.
It’ll drop between 5 and 10 degrees centigrade on the cores which means it will spend more time and at least its base clock speed and turbo-boosting more. So that’s your practical way of handling the heat here. No matter what you do this is still not going to run say when I’m doing that hand braking export that is talking about or even blender.
Now you’ll see the razor blades spend most of their time as an example at three point three gigahertz for all cores. The Mac will spend most of its time balanced around a lot but going anywhere from two-point to two sometimes three gigahertz and more down in the two points something or other. So it’s not going to run as well as a more thoroughly cooled PC laptop.
And especially one that’s oriented towards gaming sorry about that. When it comes to the Dell XPS 15 latest generation for 2018 that one’s thermally constrained. Just like Apple they really haven’t redesigned the cooling system and going from four to six cords has generated a lot more heat. So Apple is not alone for not compensating for this very well in terms of cooling and having some problems.
They’re all running hot. The razorblade 15 r5 latest generation with the core I and I that hits 96 degrees centigrade when gaming. 100 degrees is the allowable maximum. So apples not alone in having this problem but the way they’re dealing with it is is they’re having the CPU not really boost very much. So what does all this mean?
Well if you’re somebody who is not just buying this because they want a big screen and a nice Mac and you really are using this for pro apps and pushing it hard. Definitely use Mac’s fan control and control your fan speeds. If your Mac lover you’re going to be willing to give up some performance relative to a Windows laptop. So if you’re cool with that pun intended then it’s okay.
Final Cut Pro is very well optimized for the Mac Apple makes it not a problem. Running that as you saw on screen even without manually controlling the fans and temperatures are okay on that and they can be absolutely great if you micromanage the fans yourself. But as always this is a laptop whose selling points are it’s not as loud as competing laptops and it doesn’t get as hot on the bottom but you’re sacrificing some performance in the end.
In terms of gaming, this is not a gaming laptop. Apple pretty much makes it that clear this is not a gaming laptop. This is not really a great gaming GPU sort of thing. The five 60 X is about equivalent to a GTX 1050. The other challenge games are not as well optimized honestly for AMD as for NVIDIA GPUs.
The other thing that’s not very well optimized is Adobe Premiere Pro. That’s why I don’t even run that test. For years now Adobe Premiere Pro runs like a dog on the Mac. It’s just not optimized for that there’s not much of a point. If you live in Adobe Premiere you should be buying a Windows.
If you live in the final cut which I think a lot of you are it’s one of the selling points you’re looking you’re hooked on a final cut then you should be using a Mac. Which is wicked fast and well optimized. So back to gaming again we’re not going to demo a lot of gaming footage because it just doesn’t do well but I have run a fortnight.
And you can see it’s a little disappointing even though it’s not a gaming laptop at this price range really you can’t run fortnight on high settings. 35 to 38 frames per second doesn’t cut it. But if it’s on the medium you’ve got a solid 60 frames per second on them. Now I don’t run windows benchmarks and windows gaming because number one every time a flow comes out with a new laptop they don’t have the boot camp drivers ready.
Number two the boot camp drivers are not nearly as well optimized as Mac OS drivers. So it’s just not going to do as well you’re not going to be able to use integrated graphics for example to test out heat and all that sort of thing. So yeah.
When it comes to battery life it’s just like the last-gen which is to say actually pretty good for this class of machine. And about eight hours I find with moderate use. Photoshop obviously streaming some Netflix who can resist that sort of thing doing productivity work. If you’re gonna be doing Final Cut Pro or playing for tonight surely it will be shorter battery life.
They slightly increased battery capacity now like I say 80 points eighty-three point seven watts inside watt-hours just to compensate for the ddr4 Ram. The charger is the same 87-watt charger. The nice thing is you’re under the hundred-watt limit for Thunderbolt 3 charging so it’s under about three docks all that sort of thing can charge it.
And you still now have to pay extra for the extension cord the one that goes you know you yank off your little prongs here and if you want to get a longer cord for it you got to pay extra snow in the box anymore.
So that’s the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro. Is ever with MacBook Pros it seems to be a love it or hate it kind of thing. People have strong opinions, either way, some of them are like whatever Apple does I love them other people are going to deride it no matter how good it is. And the truth is it’s still somewhere in between.
You cannot call this junk. You can call this expensive for the price certainly it is. Especially when you add those upgrades which are where the real problems amplify the whole situation. But you get a very stable operating system and typically OS updates don’t read quite as much having still as a Windows counterparts.
You get one of the best displays in the business and color management and the os-level to go with it really makes the display that much more enjoyable. Speakers that are excellent. What is it with Windows laptops lately I mean even the gaming zones with their mediocre no base kind of wimpy speakers?
I don’t know. So plenty of Thunderbolt 3 is it’s what we’re looking for. Still, you can’t upgrade this after the fact and servicing, and is a nightmare. So it’s a mixed bag. It’s fast it’s beautiful it gets less physically hot to the touch than the average laptop in this class and it certainly is quieter on these.
Apple MacBook Pro 15-Inch (2018)