Apple MacBook Pro 2018 15-inch review: Loaded for performance

Apple MacBook Pro 2018 review: The MacBook Pro 2018 packs a punch with the most powerful processors, loads of really fast memory and a display that adds value to your workflow.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Rs. 199900
Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: September 2, 2018 3:40:34 pm

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Apple MacBook Pro 2018: What is our concept of a professional laptop? While I would have thought it would be thin, but powerful, notebook devices that are light enough to be carried around, a recent trip to Japan turned out to be an eye-opener. There a lot of corporate types I saw were using clunky small laptops from companies like Panasonic and NEC. I don’t think such devices are even sold in India anymore, but clearly, there is something about Japanese culture that makes them stick on to traditional technology. So there I was sitting next to a Japanese journalist who was at the same time writing notes on an iPad Pro using the Apple Pencil and typing Japanese characters into a tight grid at regular intervals. I was, on the other hand, using the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro, making me wonder if we were both in the year 2018.

MacBook Pro 2018

The anecdote above was just to highlight the fact that a lot of us don’t use the devices that are the best for us but still are not unhappy with the choices we make. Can we do better? Can we do faster? That’s the question a device as powerful as the MacBook Pro makes you think.

MacBook Pro 2018 15-inch specs: 15.4-inch, 500-nit LED-backlit display (2880x1800p, ~ 220ppi) with IPS technology | 2.9 GHz Intel Core i9 with six cores | 32GB DDR4 | 512GB SSD | Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) x4 | Wireless 802.11ac | Bluetooth 5.0 | 720p FaceTime HD camera | 83.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery | macOS High Sierra | 1.83 kg

MacBook Pro 2018 15-inch price in India: Rs 1,99,900

MacBook Pro 2018: Design, display and audio

The MacBook Pro 2018 version is a progression of what Apple started pushing out 2016 with the new MacBook. The MacBook Pro 2018 too tries to be sleek and slim, be minimalist with what it has to offer in terms connectivity options for a more web-based world, and at the same time push the envelope when it comes to performance. My review unit was the 15-inch version with 32GB storage and Intel’s Core i9 processor. Technically, there isn’t a better configuration possible in a laptop meant for professionals.

The design is what confronts you first. The MacBook Pro is a 15-inch slab of metal or it seems so until you decide to open it up and confront the stunning Retina display. From the very moment you look at it, you will realise something is different, a bit soothing to the eyes on the whole. This is the new True Tone technology Apple has brought in to make colours look more natural. For me, the screen felt slightly more warmer, thus making it more lifelike and less digital as we are used to. But you can shift back to the more blueish regular colours if that is what you feel like. I will stick to True Tone.

The other noteworthy change is the speaker, which matches the intensity and rigour of the display and is clearly one of the best I have heard on a laptop. But yes the latest Surface devices from Microsoft too have great audio.

Users haven’t really loved the Butterfly keyboard on the latest Mac. So, Apple has tweaked the keys and they are now much more quieter and softer than before. Personally, I would like a bit more of travel, but the keys on the MacBook Pro are well spaced out and practical. Also, there is the Touch Bar which I kept glaring at and used very seldom.

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Actually, there is a lot you can do with the Touch Bar, especially after you customise it for your needs. Like on the Bear witting app that I use, it gives a lot of options that are contextual. Also, if you are editing video or photos, this offers the kind of precision you cannot achieve with a mouse. And the TouchID at the end of the bar just makes logging in to the MacBook Pro much more easier.

Talking of design, its hard to ignore the fact that though this is a slim and sleep MacBook Pro, it is a tad heavier than it looks. At 1.83 kg it is certainly heavier than the MacBook Air I am used to carrying in my bag whenever I am on the move. So if you are upgrading from a MacBook or a MacBook Air you will feel the weight on your shoulders. But if you are from an earlier MacBook Pro, then is certainly much lighter.

MacBook Pro 2018: Performance

If someone spends top Dollar to buy the latest MacBook Pro, it won’t be for its sleek design, its great audio, to touch the Touchbar or to show off the Retina display. It will clearly be for owning the most powerful laptop around. Imagine a scenario where you are editing multiple 4K video flows at the same time while listening to music and switching to check your mail in between. This is the kind of workload this machine will be able to handle on a daily basis thanks to its top of the line Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB memory and the six cores that work in tandem to take the load. While I did not edit 4K videos, with all the heavy duty work that I made it do, the MacBook Pro held steady and did not heat up.

In fact, that is one of the things Apple seems to have focused on: get the thermal footprint low. So despite the powerful chip, the better sensor and louder speakers, the new MacBook Pro offers the same battery life as before. Apple has achieved this by packing a larger battery despite the thinner frame. Apple claims a 10-hour battery life and in the two weeks I used the device, there was nothing to prove that this will be hard to achieve.

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Thanks to the SSDs everything happens faster on the MacBook Pro and the 32GB RAM will come in really handy for those working on video edit and cut down export times. Apple is putting its weight behind the Thunderbolt system again with the MacBook Pro and it comes with three Thunderbolt 3 ports for plugging in high-resolution monitor for instance. However, these USB-C ports will have to invest in more adapters to access anything from SD cards to USB drives. This can be frustrating when you are trying to get things done in a hurry.

Also, there is the T2 chip that takes the load of the main processor when it comes to mundane tasks like notifications and Siri. It is unclear how much less work the main processor will have to do, but clearly, it won’t be bothered by small things anymore.

MacBook Pro 2018: Final Verdict

The MacBook Pro aims to be the pinnacle of creativity, productivity and performance on a laptop. While it packs a punch with the most powerful processors, loads of really fast memory and a display that adds value to your workflow, there are small frustrations like the lack of commonly used ports. Still, for those in the Apple ecosystem this is the most powerful laptop upgrade available at the moment and hence highly recommended as your next Mac, but only if you are power user.

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