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A nasty, fast 13-inch laptop



Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

The newly updated MacBook Pro is good. The battery life is exceptional, the speed is exceptional, the keyboard works, and thanks to Apple, which embraces the concept of the external graphics card, the 4 USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports are finally good for something. This is an Apple laptop built for work, and it's damn it.

Until recently, Apple seemed completely indifferent to its computer customers. While iPad and iPhone fans have seen nice updates every year, laptop and desktop fans have stayed home, often with aging processors in outdated and overpriced devices.

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What is it?

A Coffee Lake update from Apple's top laptop

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It's one of the fastest laptops in its category

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It's the most expensive notebook in its category.

But between Mojave and this new MacBook Pro, it feels like the wind is changing. Mojave is a great operating system update that makes macOS look more productive than in days gone by, and this MacBook Pro is easily the fastest laptop available in its category.

To be clear, this review only talks about the 13-inch MacBook Pro with touchbar. That's what I tested and that's what impressed me with its speed and price. The 13-inch MacBook Pro without touch bar has not been updated and is therefore still outdated and expensive for what it is. I also had no opportunity to test the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. While the device sounds good on paper, there are currently widespread reports that the processor for the chassis is too hot, resulting in unpleasant throttling. That makes it a tough pass.

This review focuses instead on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with touchbar, 16GB of RAM and a 2.7GHz i7-8559U 8th generation processor. Such a laptop starts at $ 2,300 with 256 GB of SSD storage (the i5 version starts at $ 1,800). It goes up to $ 2,500 if you actually want a fucking room on the SSD and jump for 512GB. This makes the 13-inch MacBook Pro one of the most expensive laptops available today. It's also one of the only 13-inch laptops with a Coffee-Lake CPU inside.

Intel has caused some confusion with the 8th generation of Intel CPUs. Usually each generation is limited to one type of microarchitecture. 6th generation was Skylake and 7th generation was Kaby Lake. When Intel launched its eighth generation last year, it started with Kaby Lake R mobile processors. Then came the desktop CPUs from Coffee Lake, and finally, Coffee Lake Mobile CPUs were announced in April 2018.

Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

Since then, several laptop makers have grown the MacBook's 4-core Coffee-Lake CPUs professional. They had taken over the Kaby Lake R CPUs quickly when they were announced, so why turn to Coffee Lake? Apple, as it took so long to update, has inadvertently become the laptop maker embracing the bloodiest edge of Intel CPU technology. It really stands out! Apple's standard 13-inch competitors (Dell XPS 13, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 and Yoga 900 and HP Envy 13t) are all Kaby Lake R devices, which cost on average $ 500- $ 1,000 less than the Apple MacBook Pro.

They will also be slower than the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. In Geekbench 4, a synthetic benchmark, the MBP had a multicore score of 18328, while the Dell XPS 13 had a score of 15516. This means that theoretically it should handle tasks that rely more quickly on multiple cores in the CPU. This means rendering files in Premiere or Final Cut Pro, or processing files in Blender. With fast and fast storage, the MacBook Pro also screams through Gizmodo's Photoshop benchmark, which scales and converts a series of RAW image files into JPEG. This benchmark tests the speed of the CPU, but the biggest speed differences are always dependent on the speed of the memory itself, and the MacBook Pro is fast. The Dell XPS scaled and saved all images in 48.49 seconds. The MacBook Pro made it in 26.37 seconds – almost half the time!

Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

A combination of processor and low resolution helps the MacBook Pro perform the visual tasks of the 4K Dell XPS 13 in more. The reviewed Dell XPS 13 has a 16: 9 4K display (or 3840 x 2160). The Apple MacBook Pro has a less typical 16:10 2560 x 1600 resolution display. Think of it as half a step between the traditional 1080p and the 4K with the higher resolution.

This is probably why it's half a step between the battery life of the 4K Dell XPS 13 and the 1080p XPS 13. The latter XPS 13 is still one of the most powerful notebooks we've ever seen. If you set the display brightness to 200 nits and stream a YouTube video, it will take ten hours and 24 minutes for the Dell XPS 1080p to finish. It takes the 4K version 9 hours and 28 minutes. The Apple MacBook Pro takes 10 hours and 35 minutes. This would save you time by both seasons of Glow on Netflix (it also makes it one of the few laptops we've tested that is double-digit).

There is no USB-A or HDMI or even an SD card slot, but USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 is becoming more and more useful.
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

In addition to a very reasonable battery, the MBP also has a slightly faster integrated GPU than the GPU found in the Dell XPS 13. That means that in our Civilizations VI benchmarks that measure the average time that frames needed in the game at 1080p in height, the average time was 140.9 ms and the Apple laptop had an average time of 128,5ms. That does not make it an ideal system for gamers – Macs still have lackluster game support and you still need an external GPU for something more Lag-sensitive than Civilizations – but it makes it a less painful option for previous generations of the MacBook Pro

And that's really what this MacBook Pro is designed for – the tired Apple laptop pendant. Apple has made a large part of it, that after a few years of lackluster updates and overpriced and underpowered hardware as a laptop designer wants to be taken seriously. That's why not only are new processors built into the updated notebooks, but also the fastest Intel processors that they can theoretically handle. It wants to make a statement!

Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

But so far this has led to a false statement for the 15-inch MacBook Pro. This system has a 6-core Coffee-Lake CPU, usually found in laptops that are twice as thick. Currently, according to several outputs the CPU in the 15-inch MacBook Pro (and the Dell XPS 15) is throttled, as otherwise it would severely damage the internals. It would be irresponsible to recommend it in its current state.

But this 13-inch MacBook Pro? This inspired me for the idea that Apple might not just stuff in the biggest CPUs for a simple PR move. Maybe it's thinking about its users and trying to deliver a laptop that, if it's still overpriced, is not embarrassing. The keyboard feels softer and less prone to crumple damage. The machine is significantly faster than its predecessors and competitors. The battery life does not suck. There is also a much improved operating system on the horizon. So if you're ready to pay Apple's tax on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, you're not so ashamed. This machine is so good that the price is almost worth it.

Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

README

  • Average to Good Battery Life
  • The eighth-generation Coffee Lake CPU is one of the fastest available in a 13-inch laptop.
  • The speed of storage is incredible.
  • The graphics are bearable.
  • The price is agonizing.
  • The 15-inch version should be avoided until Apple resolves the problem of throttling issue.

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