2018 MacBook Pro review roundup: Apple unleashes a speed demon

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2018 MacBook Pro
The latest MacBook Pro update may not fix all your problems.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s new MacBook Pro offers buyers significantly improved performance at the same price as last year’s models, as well as a “quieter,” improved butterfly keyboard and a True Tone display. But is it worth the upgrade?

Early reviews of the 2018 update are out now. Here’s what they say about Apple’s fastest and most impressive laptop yet.

2018 MacBook Pro reviews

If you already own a MacBook Pro from 2016 or 2017, you might think that the third-generation butterfly keyboard you get with the 2018 model makes an upgrade worthwhile all by itself. But what if you’re lucky enough to have never experienced keyboard problems?

Well, there’s lots more to look forward to. The latest Intel processors with even more cores make the new MacBook Pro significantly faster than its predecessors, while its True Tone display makes staring at a screen all day more comfortable than ever before.

2018 MacBook Pro performance: Insanely great

The Coffee Lake processors packed into the new MacBook Pro, coupled with faster DDR4 RAM, are what make it the most powerful Apple laptop yet. Not only do the chips offer up to six cores — two more than their predecessors — but they also boast higher Turbo Boost clock speeds.

All the upgrades under the hood represent “a significant upgrade from last year’s model,” writes Brian Heater for TechCrunch. “Individual performance will vary depending on a lot of different topics, but there’s no doubt these are powerful machines.”

“The new MacBook Pro is everything the mobile creative pro could ever hope for,” adds photographer Austin Mann. “It’s packing speeds that feel akin to the iMac Pro, and there’s virtually nothing in a day-to-day creative workflow you can’t do with it.”

As if faster processors and RAM weren’t enough, Apple also included even faster SSD storage. That upgrade might not sound that exciting, but it will dramatically improve the speed of everyday tasks.

“It’s rare that I don’t believe the results coming out of our lab, but in this case I had to do a double take,” writes Mark Spoonauer for Laptop Mag. “Based on our file copy test, which involves duplicating 4.97GB worth of files, the 2018 MacBook Pro has the fastest SSD I’ve ever seen in a laptop.”

True Tone is a nice addition

We’re already familiar with Apple’s True Tone technology, which was introduced to the iPhone last year after originally being exclusive to the iPad Pro. On the MacBook Pro’s larger screen, it’s even greater. Still, it’s probably not a game-changer for most people.

“I have two 15-inch MacBooks in front of me right now (that’s just how I roll), and it’s like night and day,” says TechCrunch. “You’ve got no idea how blue the screen you’ve been staring at is until you see it up against another True Tone-enabled display. For the majority of us, it’s a nice feature, but for photographers, video producers and designers who rely on a MacBook for their work, it’s a much bigger deal.”

Dieter Bohn of The Verge writes that “True Tone works as well here as it does on the iPad Pro — at least when you’re looking at the screen. The color temperature changes and whites are much easier on the eyes.”

Dana Wollman of Engadget agrees that True Tone is a nice addition, but has a warning for some creatives. “I imagine this feature will be great for everyday use,” she writes, “but people like photographers who are picky about color will probably want to disable it while they’re working.”

A better butterfly keyboard

Apple won’t admit it, but it seems its “quieter” butterfly keys are merely a side-effect of a silicone membrane that’s been added to keep out debris. It seems even the smallest particles can destroy first- and second-generation switches.

Whatever the case may be, the early reviews agree that the new keyboard is a joy to type on.

“You know that feeling when you put your hands on a keyboard and you feel like you can just fly on it? This is one of those,” Mann writes. “It’s quiet, yet still maintains a solid tactile response and the size feels right.”

“I have good news,” says Laptop Mag. “Not only is the 2018 MacBook keyboard quieter, but it should be less susceptible to debris and stuck keys. I also find the layout a bit more comfortable than my older MacBook Pro.”

“The new keys aren’t silent, but they’re a lot less likely to get you kicked out of the library,” adds TechCrunch. “There’s not a huge difference between the actual decibel levels between the two, but the older model’s more staccato typewriter clacking sound has become more dull and less harsh on the ears, which likely makes it sound that much quieter.”

’Hey Siri’ is nothing special

Alongside it’s faster Intel chip, the new MacBook Pro has an Apple T2 processor that allows for improved security and “Hey Siri” functionality. But the latter, unsurprisingly, is nothing special.

“This is a pretty handy feature to have, and I can see myself using it often, especially for those queries that are specific to the notebook,” explains Laptop Mag. “But some commands I was hoping would work didn’t.”

“Siri knows which side her bread is buttered on. Ask her to play a movie and she’ll confess that she can’t do that,” adds TechCrunch. “More functionality is surely on the way. For now, however, Siri on the desktop is more a nice addition than necessary feature.”

Is new MacBook Pro worth the upgrade?

Deciding whether to upgrade to the 2018 MacBook Pro is easy. Do you need a quieter keyboard? Do you need a faster notebook? If you answered no to those questions, there’s no need to fork out for Apple’s most powerful machine. If you said yes, it’s time to open your wallet.

“Those who expect a lot more from their machines will no doubt be excited to see what these laptops can do,” concludes TechCrunch. “The new MacBooks aren’t a fundamental rethink by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re a welcome acknowledgment that the company still considers creative pros a key part of its DNA.”

“This machine really only makes sense for the serious creative professional (and it’s the most expensive laptop Apple’s ever made), but in my opinion it’s the best by a long shot,” adds Mann. ”I don’t regret holding onto my late 2013 MacBook Pro all these years, but after experiencing these insane speed boosts and with today’s maturing accessory line-up, it’s definitely time for an upgrade to the new MacBook Pro.”

“The 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is not a laptop for the masses, by dint of its price but also its power. But if you’re a creative pro or power user who demands a laptop that’s fairly portable, this system should mostly satisfy,” says Laptop Mag. “The speed alone is great, and having Hey Siri on board proved more convenient than I thought it would.”

Have you ordered yours yet?