Home Home Tech 2018 MacBook Pros arrive, 15-inch gets long awaited 32GB option, 6-core CPU and more

Promising a "third-generation" keyboard for "quiet typing", along with support for 32GB memory and 6-core i7 and i9 processors on the MacBook Pro 15-inch model with more storage, TrueTone displays, "Hey Siri" support and more, the new MacBook Pros are here, but people will still want more.

How can you guarantee that Apple's customers will want more? All Apple has to do is to release something, and in amongst the bouquets will inevitably be brickbats over how Apple doesn't done this yet, or that.

This time, of course, is absolutely no exception, with no sign of Face ID for the MacBook Pro models yet, nor 32GB memory option for the 13-inch model, nor this, nor that, but let's focus on what is there, as opposed to what isn't, and then at least we all know where we stand.

As is Apple's style, it says its updated new MacBook Pro models feature "faster performance and new pro features, making it the most advanced Mac notebook ever".

If you choose one of the MacBook Pro models with the Touch Bar, you finally get "8th-generation Intel Core processors, with 6-core on the 15-inch model for up to 70% faster performance and quad-core on the 13-inch model for up to two times faster performance", which Apple says is "ideal for manipulating large data sets, performing complex simulations, creating multi-track audio projects, or doing advanced image processing or film editing".

Apple then reminds or tell those of us who don't yet know that MacBook Pros are "already the most popular notebook for developers around the world", and that "the new MacBook Pro can compile code faster and run multiple virtual machines and test environments more easily than before".

There's that new support for up to 32GB of memory on the 15-inch MBP, a True Tone display and an improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing – but no word yet on whether this third-generation keyboard features improved travel when typing on each key, or whether the keys are still too flat compared to pre Thunderbolt 3 equipped models, where the keys are bouncier and nicer feeling.

No doubt this will be reported on with light speed by whoever gets one of these new MacBook Pro models first, but unless I am utterly mistaken, which I very much hope to be, the world might have to wait for a fourth-generation keyboard for that wish of mine to come true.

Anyway, back to the new specs, Apple proudly boasts of "powerful Radeon Pro graphics, large Force Touch trackpad, revolutionary Touch Bar and Touch ID, dynamic stereo speakers, quiet Apple-designed cooling system, and Thunderbolt 3 for data transfer, charging and connecting up to two 5K displays or four external GPUs, it’s the ultimate pro notebook".

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice-president of Worldwide Marketing, said: "The latest generation MacBook Pro is the fastest and most powerful notebook we’ve ever made.

“Now with 8th-generation processors up to 6-core, up to 32GB of system memory, up to 4TB of super fast SSD storage, new True Tone technology in its Retina display and Touch Bar, the Apple T2 chip for enhanced security and a third-generation quieter keyboard packed into its thin and light aluminium design with all-day battery life, it’s the best notebook for pro users.”

At this point it's worth noting that the 13-inch models without Touch bar have a seventh generation Intel processor, but given Touch Bar models are the best, Apple has clearly kept the newest processors for the Touch Bar models in the 13 and 15-inch range.

Apple's explanations for its newest models continues, with the statement that "the new MacBook Pro is now faster and more powerful, with 8th-generation 6-core Intel Core processors on the 15-inch MacBook Pro for up to 70% faster performance and 8th-generation quad-core Intel Core processors on the 13-inch model for performance that’s up to twice as fast".

"With the option to add up to 32GB of memory on the 15-inch MacBook Pro, users can run more apps simultaneously or load larger files into memory. And with up to a 2TB SSD on the 13-inch model and up to a 4TB SSD on the 15-inch, MacBook Pro gives customers the flexibility to work with large asset libraries and projects wherever they go".

Apple's new displays: "Retina Display with True Tone Delivers Ultimate Viewing Experience"

Here we're told that "with 500 nits of brightness and support for the P3 wide colour gamut, the Retina display on MacBook Pro is the best Mac notebook display ever. Now with True Tone technology, the display and Touch Bar deliver a more natural viewing experience for design and editing workflows, as well as everyday tasks like browsing the web and writing email".

We also get a new chip on the MBP range: "Apple T2 Chip Delivers Enhanced Security and “Hey Siri” on Mac"

"Also new to MacBook Pro is the Apple T2 chip, first introduced in iMac Pro, With the Apple T2 chip, MacBook Pro now delivers enhanced system security with support for secure boot and on-the-fly encrypted storage, and also brings “Hey Siri” to the Mac for the first time."

Here are the 15-Inch MacBook Pro highlights: 

  • 6-core Intel Core i7 and Core i9 processors up to 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.8 GHz
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 memory
  • Powerful Radeon Pro discrete graphics with 4GB of video memory in every configuration
  • Up to 4TB of SSD storage
  • True Tone display technology
  • Apple T2 chip
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID

Also, it looks like the older 15-inch model with regular USB ports has finally been retired as I don't see it at the page that lets you compared Mac models, so it's now all Touch Bar and Touch ID for the 15-inch models, all the time.  

Here are the 13-Inch MacBook Pro Highlights: 

  • Quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.5 GHz and double the eDRAM
  • Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics 655 with 128MB of eDRAM
  • Up to 2TB of SSD storage
  • True Tone display technology
  • Apple T2 chip
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID

An addition new feature is "new leather sleeves for MacBook Pro"

These were first introduced with MacBook, with Apple leather sleeves "now available for the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro in Saddle Brown, Midnight Blue and, for the first time, Black".

We're told they are "designed with high-quality leather and a soft microfibre lining for extra protection," making the sleeves "a perfect complement to MacBook Pro for users on the go".

These Macs are naturally fully compatible with the upcoming macOS Mojave update coming during our Springtime and the US "Fall" or autumn.

macOS Mojave is "the latest version of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, with new features inspired by pros but designed for everyone".

As Apple reminds us, "in macOS Mojave, a new Dark Mode transforms the desktop with a dramatic new look that puts the focus on user content. The new Stacks feature organises messy desktops by automatically stacking files into neat groups.

"Familiar iOS apps, including News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home, are now available on the Mac for the first time. FaceTime now adds support for group calling, and the Mac App Store® gets a full redesign featuring rich editorial content and the addition of apps from top developers, including Microsoft and Adobe."

I've had the chance to play with macOS Mojave beta, and the Dark Mode is a fantastic addition, with the other cool features all welcome. I'll have more to say about the macOS Mojave beta later, but in short, it's looking great thus far! For Mac users that depend on their Macs, don't upgrade yet unless you have a spare machine to play with, because you never know what beta issues lie in wait, but it will be a must-upgrade OS version for most people in a couple of months' time.

Pricing and availability

The 13- and 15-inch models start at A$2,699 and A$3,499 respectively, with prices going up if you want more storage, faster processors or other options, the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar and 15-inch MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar are "available today through Apple.com and in select Apple retail stores and Apple Authorised Resellers later this week".

As Apple says, "additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at the MacBook Pro section of Apple's site here.

New external GPU

In the US, Apple is also selling an external GPU from the famed Blackmagic Design group, but this doesn't appear to have been released Australia, or at least, not yet. More here at The Verge, and here at Apple for US $699. Adding an "/au" link to Apple's US address for the eGPU does bring up first a note that the product isn't avaialble, but lo and behold, an Australian price of A$1149 is listed, so maybe it is available in Australia after all...

So, there you have it. Some people will be delighted that up-to-date new models have arrived, although yet again with the 15-inch model having more powerful spec options than the 13-inch model thanks to the greater space and cooling capabilities of the larger model compared to the smaller one.

Other people will still wish for more, as is per usual, and again some of those features will just have to wait until a future time when processor and memory technology improves.

It would also be great to see Apple introduce even more battery life on its notebooks in the future, but again, let us be grateful for the advances that have arrived today, for they portend even better in the years and generations still to come.

Until then, if you've been waiting for new portable Macs, with a newer keyboard, faster processors, faster storage and other options, new models have arrived at last. Let's hope that faster Mac mini isn't too far behind, while Mac Pro users still have to wait until next year for their new models to arrive, too.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

 

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