Very fast SSD
True Tone display
Long battery life
Port selection still stinks
The 15-inch MacBook Pro delivers strong performance, fast storage and long battery life. But it’s as expensive as ever, particularly if you want a roomy SSD. And we’d like more ports.
Another year, the same design. The MacBook Pro’s aesthetic hasn’t evolved year over year, but it’s still an attractive machine. Our Space Gray review unit served as a reminder that Apple’s build quality still trumps other laptop manufacturers. The solid block of aluminum is plainly adorned with a reflective Apple logo on the lid. While the overall design is due for a refresh, it’s still serviceable and minimalist.
The bezels around the 15.4-inch IPS display are thicker than some competitors, like Dell’s XPS line, and could use some slimming down. The aluminum deck features a massive touchpad and speaker grilles on both sides of the keyboard. The function row is replaced with Apple’s OLED Touch Bar. Love it or hate it.
The port situation will be an issue for some professionals that use lots of external hard drives and other peripherals. There are four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two on each side of the machine. In my testing, I often used a dongle for USB Type-A, and you’ll probably need at least such adapter for a while. Still, the Thunderbolt 3 peripheral ecosystem is growing, and other laptop makers have started to jump onto the all-Thunderbolt train with premium machines.
15.6-inch, 2880 x 1800 IPS retina display with True Tone
CPU Intel Core i7-8850H
Graphics Radeon Graphics 560X (4GB GDDR5) / Intel UHD Graphics 630
Memory 32GB 2400MHz DDR4
SSD 512GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0
Ports (4) Thunderbolt 3
Audio Stereo speakers, Headphone/microphone combo jack
Camera 720p FaceTime webcam
Battery 83.6 Wh
Power Adapter 87W
Operating System macOS High Sierra (10.13.x)
Dimensions (WxDxH) 13.8 x 9.5 x 0.6 inches
Weight 4 pounds
Other Touch Bar with Touch ID Sensor, T2 chip
Price (as configured) $399
With a 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-8850H CPU, Radeon Pro 560X GPU, 512GB of SSD storage and 32GB of DDR4 RAM, our review configuration is a very capable machine, with far more power than I need for my day-to-day life as a writer. With 30 tabs open in Chrome, including one streaming a 1080p clip from The Late Late Show with James Corden, it hadn’t even begun to sweat.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Touch Bar
If you haven’t liked Apple’s butterfly keyboard for the last few years, the one on the MacBook Pro isn’t going to change your mind. If you’re like me, you’ve found that after a bit of practice, it’s business as usual. The one difference is that Apple claims the switches are quieter, and that was true to my ears during typing. iFixIt’s teardown of the laptop showed silicone membranes beneath the switches, and while Apple isn’t saying anything official, it’s possible that those could protect the keyboards from dust and debris.
With just 0.6 millimeters of travel and 71 grams of force required to press the keys, I was still able to blaze through the 10fastfingers.com typing test. In fact, I had one of my best runs ever, typing at 119 words per minute (I usually top out at 117 wpm) with a 1 percent error rate (cut in half from my usual).
The 6.1 x 3.9-inch touchpad is massive and, as usual, responsive. Whether I used five fingers to clear my windows and show the desktop or used three finger swipes to switch between full-screen apps, I never had to perform a gesture twice.
The OLED Touch Bar, though, is less useful. Look, it works. I can use it to change the volume and adjust the brightness. I can summon Siri. But I still prefer the function row, and I wish Apple provided options for either. The Touch Bar is something I accept, but without wider developer support, it still doesn’t feel essential.
Alongside the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the 15-inch laptop is one of Apple’s first notebooks with its T2 chip. This takes on functionality that would usually be handled by the CPU. Most notably, it lets the MacBook Pro listen for the “Hey Siri” command to bring up Apple’s assistant. I personally don’t use Siri very heavily on my Mac, but now you can use it the same way on as you do with an iPad and iPhone. Additionally, the T2 chip serves as the SSD controller and uses Apple’s secure enclave for encryption and secure booting.
These speakers are surprisingly strong for such a thin machine. They easily filled a mid-sized conference room with sound when I listened to Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby.” The vocals were clear, the guitars were balanced, the drums had a nice thump and I could e