APPLE MacBook Pro 15in (2018)

APPLE MacBook Pro 15in (2018)

4/5

recommended

VERDICT

It’s eye-wateringly expensive, but this is the most potent professional laptop around

WE’VE REVIEWED A lot of expensive laptops in these pages, but none has reached the lofty heights of this, the top-spec version of Apple’s latest 15in MacBook Pro.

For that, you get a six-core 2.9GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and a discrete Radeon Pro 560X graphics card with 4GB of GDDR5 RAM. This spec also includes an immense 4TB SSD, so it’s not like there’s much of an entry-level version.

Our review model is quite simply the most powerful laptop Apple has ever made, though there haven’t been many visible design changes from last year’s MacBook Pro. That’s fine by us; there’s still something special about this laptop and its vast expanses of plain, matt grey aluminium, its functional but minimalist collection of ports and its huge glass-topped touchpad. It’s a lovely thing and, for a powerful 15in laptop, its 1.83kg weight and 15.5mm thickness are incredibly impressive.

CLICKY SITUATION

It’s also one of the few cases where adopting a rubber membrane design for the keyboard has resulted in an improvement. The keys are now much quieter and less distracting, and the membrane helps prevent dust and grit from getting into the switch mechanisms – a common problem with the previous model.

Below the keyboard, the 15in MacBook’s touchpad hasn’t changed, but then it didn’t need to. Its huge surface dwarfs the touchpads on pretty much every other laptop on the market, and its clever multi-stage haptic mechanism means the mouse click is just as responsive, wherever you happen to press it. The TouchBar and Touch ID button also return, though over time we’ve become much more convinced by the latter than the former. It just seems as if it would be much easier and more intuitive for the MacBook Pro to go full touchscreen instead.

As for physical connectivity, that’s the same as before too, but it’s still impressive. You get four 40Gbit/s Thunderbolt 3-enabled ports, two on either side, offering the ability to charge from any port or connect any peripheral you care to think of, from 4K displays to external GPUs. Thanks to the genius of Thunderbolt 3, it’s also possible to daisy-chain up to six devices from each port, and even connect two MacBooks directly together for fast file transfer.

PICTURE PERFECT

The display is, as ever, brilliant. It’s a 15.4in, 2,880×1,800 panel and can be set to one of many professional calibrations to suit your workflow; by default, it’s set to DCI-P3.

We measured it covering 99% of this colour gamut, which is about as good as it gets, and with peak brightness reaching a searing 445cd/m2 and contrast hitting 1,409:1, it’s a gorgeous-looking display in general.

Finally, Apple has added TrueTone support to the MacBook Pro as well. Essentially, this matches the white point of the screen to that of the ambient light, so that your brain isn’t constantly adjusting whenever you look away from the display. This works well and is, Apple confirms, merely an eye-strain reduction tool. If you’re working on colour- critical graphics, video or photo-editing jobs, you’ll need to disable it.

Our performance testing was initially delayed by reports of excessive throttling on all Core i9 models, but now that Apple has issued a fix, it seems to work fine. Better than fine, in fact: the MacBook Pro scored 173 overall in our 4K application tests, the highest score of any laptop we’ve ever tested. The next highest is the new Razer Blade 15, a gaming laptop that scored 149, so the disparity isn’t small. The MacBook Pro’s multitasking score of 203 is a highlight, too.

Storage is also blazingly quick, returning an impressive 2.6GB/s read and 2.7GB/s write speeds in sequential transfers, beating most other rivals by a significant margin.

The GPU isn’t much good for gaming, but for professional pursuits, it offers plenty of muscle. Converting a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p in Adobe Premiere, for instance, took just 13 minutes.

Even with all this power and its big screen, the 15in MacBook Pro can get you through a full day away from the mains. It lasted for 8h 1m in our video playback benchmark, which is very good considering its hardware; the 15in Microsoft Surface Book 2 went even further, but isn’t anywhere near as powerful, and has batteries in both the keyboard base and behind the screen.

THINKING RICH

It would be understandable to baulk, but remember that half of that just comes from the SSD. You can get a Core i9 model with 512GB of storage for a relatively, and that still gives you the MacBook Pro’s excellent display, build quality and long battery life.

In truth, however, if you’re interested in buying a MacBook Pro, it’s because you’ve been using Macs for years, so you’ll be used to paying a premium. And the fact remains that the 15in MacBook Pro, especially its Core i9 variant, is the mightiest 15in laptop money can buy.

Jonathan Bray

SPECIFICATIONS

Battery life 8h 1m

PROCESSOR 2.9GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK • RAM 32GB • DIMENSIONS 349x240x18.3 mm • WEIGHT 1.8kg •

SCREEN SIZE 15.4in • SCREEN RESOLUTION 2,880×1,800 • GRAPHICS ADAPTOR 4GB AMD Radeon Pro 560X •

TOTAL STORAGE 4TB SSD • OPERATING SYSTEM macOS •  PART CODE MacBook Pro 15-inch

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