15-inch MacBook Pro mini-review: How much does Apple’s fastest laptop offer?

For the longest time, one in all my most important frustrations with the 15-inch MacBook Professional has been that you may normally get a lot sooner video efficiency incomparable Home windows machines. For computer systems meant for video editors, recreation builders, and so forth, that is an enormous drawback.

The MacBook Professional we reviewed final 12 months was usually a superb workhorse for Mac customers, albeit with a steep price ticket. However since we printed that evaluate, Apple has expanded its configuration choices in two essential methods for efficiency. First, you possibly can configure a brand new MacBook Professional with an Intel Core i9 CPU with eight cores, not simply six. Second, there at the moment are pricier workstation graphics choices that up the video efficiency ante over another latest MacBook Professional.

After all, choosing each these choices when shopping for means you are spending a minimal of $3,349. So the query now turns into: does the Professional ship efficiency that is price the fee, and who is that this for at that value.

We’ll attempt to reply these questions concerning the maxed-out 2019 15-inch MacBook Professional. And since we’re simply a specs bump over the past 15-inch MacBook Professional we reviewed, this might be a narrower look focusing nearly solely on graphics and CPU efficiency. Aside from a barely tweaked keyboard, extra CPU cores, and the much-faster Vega discrete GPU choice, there’s not a lot new right here. That is probably not a nasty factor.


Specs at a look: 2018 15-inch MacBook Professional
Display2880×1800 at 15.4-inches and 500 nits
OSmacOS Mojave 10.14.5
CPU2.4GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 (5GHz Turbo) with 16MB shared L3 cache
RAM32GB 2400MHz DDR4
GPURadeon Professional Vega 20 with 4GB HMB2
Networking802.11ac Wi-Fi; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n; Bluetooth 5.0
Ports4x Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm headphone
Dimension0.61-inch×13.75-inch×9.48-inch (1.55cm×34.93cm×24.07cm)
Weight4.02lbs (1.83kg)
Guarantee1 12 months, or three years with AppleCare+ ($379)
Value as reviewed$5,149
Different perks720p FaceTime HD digicam, stereo audio system, three microphones

We have a complete of three ninth-generation Intel CPU configuration choices. On the low finish is a 2.6GHz, 6-core, Intel Core i7 with a 12MB L3 cache and Turbo Increase as much as 4.5GHz. The following step up is an 8-core Core i9 processor with a 16MB L3 cache and Turbo Increase as much as 4.8GHz. Lastly, you possibly can amp that up ever-so-slightly by going to an otherwise-similar Core i9 with a 2.4GHz clock velocity and Turbo Increase as much as 5GHz.

In any case, you are an built-in Intel UHD Graphics 630 for low-power operations and help for 2400MHz DDR4 reminiscence. Talking of reminiscence: the default is 16GB DDR4, however you possibly can spend $400 to take it as much as 32GB. Most individuals will not want 32GB within the close to future, however it’s a comparatively latest addition that’s good to have for some use circumstances.

GPU is available in 4 discrete configurations. The underside two are those we already noticed within the 2018 mannequin: AMD Radeon Professional 55X with 4GB of GDDR5 or AMD Radeon Professional 560X with 4GB. New since our final evaluate are the Radeon Professional Vega 15 with 4GB of HBM2 reminiscence and the Radeon Professional Vega 20 with the identical.

Stable-state storage choices embody 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB. Apple not too long ago reduce the costs of those to be far more aggressive within the present market, making 1TB an extra viable improve at a further $200 over the bottom spec. Nonetheless, that 4TB choice remains to be nuts, despite the fact that the improve prices half as a lot because it did earlier than, at $1,400.

Like earlier fashions, the Professional has 4 Thunderbolt Three ports, a headphone jack, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, a 15.4-inch 2,880×1,800-resolution show with a max of 500 nits of brightness and P3 huge colour, and a 720p front-facing video digicam. Apple estimates as much as 10 hours of battery life for film playback or wi-fi Web looking.

Our evaluate unit is absolutely maxed out. We’ve the two.4GHz 8-core Core i9, 32GB of RAM, the Radeon Professional Vega 20, and 4TB of SSD storage. Meaning our unit would price $5,149 within the Apple retailer, which is, in fact, far exterior most customers’ value ranges. Word, although, that $1,400 is the SSD alone, and it is greater than $1,500 inexpensive than the top-spec MacBook Professional only a 12 months in the past, regardless of delivering notably improved efficiency.

Nonetheless, this is among the most costly mainstream laptops you should purchase. I am unsure I would even name it mainstream anymore, if for no different cause than it comes outfitted with workstation-class graphics.


The present 15-inch MacBook Professional appears and feels an identical to the one we reviewed in 2018. It nonetheless has a Contact Bar, and it nonetheless has 15.4-inch IPS show with a decision of 2880 x 1800 pixels. It nonetheless has the luxuriously giant contact pad, it nonetheless has 4 Thunderbolt Three ports, and it nonetheless weighs roughly 4 kilos and is 0.61 inches thick. A teardown by iFixit discovered the internals to be largely the identical, too, for all intents and functions.

The brand new new new butterfly keyboard

The one design change is the newest-generation butterfly keyboard, which Apple believes might be extra dependable than its problem-laden predecessors. It is too quick for us to make a judgment concerning the keyboard’s reliability for ourselves; it hasn’t damaged within the few weeks we have had it, however, that will not inform you a lot.

It does not really feel any completely different beneath my fingers than the 2018 15-inch MacBook Professional I reviewed a couple of 12 months in the past. That keyboard did really feel a bit completely different than the one which got here earlier than, and it was a bit quieter, too. These delicate advantages are right here as properly, however you most likely would not be capable of informing the distinction even with the 2 most up-to-date iterations side-by-side.

We have already written at size concerning the keyboard in these laptops, and the takeaway stays the identical: they’re divisive. Some folks like typing on them—I am a kind of folks. Some folks hate typing on them. Polling the Ars employees, it anecdotally looks as if a couple of 60/40 break up towards the butterfly keyboards.

So we advocate attempting one on the Apple Retailer (if one is close by) earlier than buying. Give it a bit time; they really feel fairly completely different to kind on than most laptop computer keyboards. You may discover you prefer it after some time. Otherwise you may actually not. We won’t predict that for you, however they’re controversial sufficient that warning is suggested.


Efficiency is what this evaluate is all about, so let’s leap into the benchmarks. Here is what we’re testing.

2019 15-inch MacBook Professional with Contact Bar Intel Core i9-9980HK at 2.4GHz (5GHz Turbo)Radeon Professional Vega 20 4GB HMB2
2018 15-inch MacBook Professional with Contact BarIntel Core i9-8950Okay at 2.9GHz (4.8GHz Turbo)AMD Radeon Professional 560X 4GB GDDR5
2018 Mac mini Intel Core i7-8700B at 3.2GHz (4.6GHz turbo)Intel UHD Graphics 630
2017 iMac ProfessionalIntel Xeon W at 3GHz (4.5GHz Turbo)AMD Radeon Professional Vega 64 16GB HMB2
2019 HP Spectre x360 15Intel Core i7-8750H at 2.2GHz (4.1GHz Turbo)Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB
2018 HP Spectre x360 15Intel Core i7-8550U at 1.8GHz (4.0GHz Turbo)Nvidia GeForce MX150
2018 Dell XPS 15 2-in-1Intel Core i7-8705G at 3.1GHz (4.1GHz Turbo)Radeon RX Vega M GL 4GB HMB2
Microsoft Floor Laptop computer 2Intel Core i7-8650U at 1.9GHz (4.2GHz Turbo)Intel UHD Graphics 620

And now for the outcomes.

Itemizing picture by Samuel Axon

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