Apple is just right now announcing some new MacBook Pros for 2019. I had the chance to chat with them briefly about the updates and, while I'm still waiting on all the exact details, there are a couple of big things worth covering right now (And, of course, I'll include all those details below).
Now, upfront, these aren't the rumored 16-inch redesigns that would continue the war on bezels and bring back the inverted T arrow keys. Nothing like that, at least not yet, but please do go ahead and factor this update into your timeline predictions on that update.
What these are are a manifestation of something else a lot of pros have been asking Apple for for a long time: Timely, consistent, spec bump updates between those redesigns.
Waiting for years between even spec bumps is something no consumer really wants but it's particularly frustrating for pros for whom time is literally more valuable than money and who need, not just want, the latest and greatest silicon every time, all the time.
With last July's Coffee Lake processor updates, last November's Vega Pro graphics updates, and now this month's Coffee Lake Refresh… refresh… I think Apple is trying to show, not just tell, pros their renewed commitment to giving them just that.
And I know that will make some people all shades of salty, with "I just bought one in July" or "I just bought one in November", "how dare Apple release a newer one so soon!" And you have to balance that with people who want constant updates made available whenever Intel or AMD release appropriate silicon.
Count me firmly in the second camp. Something new may make what I have seem old, but new specs don't change old specs, they just give me more options for updating in the future.
MacBook Pro 2019: Keyboard
Ok, so, keyboard things first. It's been tweaked again. Apple isn't calling it a 4th generation butterfly keyboard, but they've changed the material used for the mechanism so it should — and I think at this point it's fair to say no one should take anything for granted until it's had months if not years in the field to prove it so — reduce or even eliminate some of the problems, like repeated characters, that some customers have been experiencing.
That's something Apple's apologized for recently, and now they're putting their support money where their keyboards are as well: Specifically, Apple is extending its Keyboard Service Program to every machine with the butterfly keyboard, so they're covered at no extra charge.
Also, Apple is working to make sure that, if and when repairs are needed, they're done absolutely as quickly as possible. That's something that we've seen leaked before, with more in-store repairs and 24-hour or less turn-around time.
So, yeah, no new keyboards, again at least not yet, but continued improvements and an up-front, pretty-damn candid commitment to stand behind the current keyboards for every machine that has them.
If you're a pro waiting on a new MacBook Pro, you'll have to weigh all that against your current and near-future need for those speeds.
MacBook Pro 2019: Processors
And those speeds… Apple is putting 9th generation Coffee Lake Refresh processors into the 15-inch MacBook Pro. That means up to 8-core processors with Turbo Boost up to 5.0 GHz.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is sticking with 8th generation Coffee Lake Refresh but with faster quad-core processors with Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.7 GHz. Why not 9th generation Coffee Lake Refresh for the 13-inch? Apple's not saying but if history is any indicator, Intel once again didn't have the specific chips Apple needs available in anything approaching timely manner.
Also, Apple still doesn't have anything new to report on the 13-inch non-Touch Bar model. My complete
Now, I know Apple gets a lot of grief from some segment of pros that complain about multiple core, high base and turbo frequency chips in an enclosure as thin and thermally constrained as the current MacBook Pro.
But, for those who do believe any improvement is an improvement, and that workloads aren't as heterogeneous and frequency modulation is far more frequent than benchmarks would lead YouTubers to believe, this is more as in more.
Apple, for their part, has done a bunch of testing of a bunch of real-world workloads and says the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with 8-cores is anywhere from 40% to 200% faster.
What it actually means to you, though, will really depend on your own personal workload. If you think fewer, slower cores and better-sustained frequencies are better, save yourself a bucket of money and go for those. If any amount of time savings is worth it to you, even if it requires ludicrous, overpowered silicon to get you there, and money is no object, there's that 8-core i9 sitting right there.
Because nothing comes for free. I was drooling over the thermals in Dave2d's Razer Blade Pro video the other day until he got to this part:
A tiny, 2-hour battery.
Yeah, ouch, I travel too much for that to be realistic for my workflow. The 15-inch MacBook Pro, though, has been a champ.
And I say that as someone who has to edit and export video as fast as inhumanly possible after events and briefings, or on days like today.
MacBook Pro 2019: The rest
As far as I can tell, and again I'll link to all the specifics in the description as soon as I have them, everything else remains the same. And same memory and storage options, same graphics options up to and including the Vega Pro.
And prices remain the same as well, Starting at $1,799 for the 13-inch with Touch-Bar and $2,399 for the 15-inch.
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