Apple’s New MacBook Pro: More than Meets the Eye

After months of rumors regarding a MacBook Pro refresh, last Thursday Apple finally refreshed the MacBook Pro with three new versions of its high-end laptop. The update brought several aesthetic changes, new features, and under-the-hood upgrades that many don’t know about.

Three new versions of the MacBook Pro were released on Thursday. Customers have two new 13-inch MacBook Pro models and one new 15-inch MacBook Pro model to choose from. Both take several aesthetic cues from the 12-inch MacBook with the 13-inch MacBook Pro weighing in at 3 lbs. and is 14.9mm thick, and the 15-inch model weighed in at 4 lbs. and is 15.5 mm thick. Both models lost around a half pound of excess weight and became several mm thinner than the previous versions.

Source: Apple

Source: Apple

The first major upgrade for both models occurred under the hood. The 13-inch MacBook Pro can be upgraded to a 6th generation Intel dual-core i7 processor at 3.3GHz which can turbo boost up to 3.6GHz. The 15-inch MacBook Pro comes standard with an Intel quad-core i7 processor and can be upgraded to a 2.9Ghz quad-core i7 processor that can turbo boost up to 3.8GHz. The new generation processors are more efficient than the previous model and should help with battery life performance.

Both models also received upgrades in the graphics department. The 13-inch model now comes standard with Intel Iris Graphics 540 or 550 depending on the model you purchase. Apple claims the new generation of Iris Graphics is up to 103% faster, but benchmarks and time will only tell if this is true. The 15-inch was upgraded more than the 13-inch model in the graphics department. The 15-inch now comes standard with a Radeon Pro 450 or 455 GPU with 2GB of VRAM that can be upgraded to 4GB of VRAM depending on the model customers decide to purchase. Apple claims that the new dedicated graphics are up to 130% faster than the previous version.

The new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros now come with a new PCIe-based SSD. The 13-inch comes standard with a 256GB or 512GB PCIe-based SSD depending on the model you purchase, but it can be upgraded to a 1TB PCIe-based SSD with read speeds of 3.1GB/S and write speeds of 2.1GB/s according to Apple. The 15-inch comes standard with a 256GB or 512GB PCIe-based SSD depending on the model you purchase, but it can be upgraded to a 2TB PCIe-based SSD with read speeds of 3.1GB/S and write speeds of 2.2GB/s according to Apple. These speeds are very impressive on paper, and if they prove to be accurate in the real world these new SSDs could be one of the best SSDs available on the market.

Finally, both models were upgraded with a new battery that Apple claims can get up to 10 hours of battery life for both the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro. In reality, real life performance may be closer to seven or eight hours.

Apple also took a few minutes to talk about the displays on the new MacBook Pros. The new displays feature brighter LED backlighting up to 500 nits, up to 67% higher contrast ratio, and support for up to 25% more colors than the previous model. Don’t get too excited just yet as this new display could hurt the battery life of the notebook. Only time and testing will prove whether the new display is an upgrade or if it hurts the laptop more than it helps.  

A look at the new display on the new MacBook Pro. Source: Apple

A look at the new display on the new MacBook Pro.

Source: Apple

Both models now have speakers that rest on either side of the keyboard that, according to Apple, are up to 58% louder, have 2.5x louder bass, and have double the dynamic range. Both models have a new trackpad that is 2x larger than the previous model and DO have support for the Apple Pencil.

Both the 13 and 15-inch have two or four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports (depending on the model you purchase) and one headphone jack. The 13-inch without Touch Bar and Touch ID has two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, while the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Touch Bar and Touch ID have four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports.  Each port has a variety of functions including acting as a charge port. However, users will need to purchase an adapter to be able to connect ANY full sized USB deceive (iPhones, iPads, etc.) as the new device does not have a full size USB port. This has been a common theme with Apple over the last few years and many do not know if it will work for or against Apple long term.

Source: Apple

Source: Apple

Most importantly, are the new Touch Bar and Touch ID features. Apple announced a 13-inch model WITH OUT Touch Bar and Touch ID, and a 13 and 15-inch model WITH Touch Bar and Touch ID. Apple spent a large portion of the keynote last Thursday demoing Touch Bar and Touch ID. Both features will be available for developers to use, and the Touch Bar itself is a major selling point for many users. Touch Bar replaces the function keys on the top row of your keyboard with a small touch bar that is customizable and versatile in different ways depending on the application you are using. Touch ID is built into the power button allowing for fast-user switching, support for apps that use Touch ID (ex: 1Password), and support for using your fingerprint to complete purchases using Apple Pay online.

The new Touch Bar found on the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros. Source: Apple

The new Touch Bar found on the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros.

Source: Apple

Touch ID is now located in the power button on the new MacBook Pros with Touch Bar, and can be used for a variety of tasks including Apple Pay. Source: Apple

Touch ID is now located in the power button on the new MacBook Pros with Touch Bar, and can be used for a variety of tasks including Apple Pay.

Source: Apple


13-Inch - $1,499

13-Inch with Touch Bar and Touch ID - $1,799

  • 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 Processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.1Ghz
  • 256GB PCIe-bassed SSD
  • 8GB of 1866MHz RAM
  • Intel Iris Graphics 540
  • Force Touch Track Pad
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
  • 256GB PCIe-bassed SSD
  • 8GB of 2133MHz RAM
  • Intel Iris Graphics 550
  • Force Touch Track Pad
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID

15-Inch with Touch Bar and Touch ID - $2,399

  • 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
  • 256GB PCIe-bassed SSD
  • 16GB of 2133MHz RAM
  • Radeon Pro 450 with 2GB of VRAM
  • Force Touch Track Pad
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID

*Note these are the base configurations and can be configured differently on Apple's Webpage


If you are interested in purchasing a new 13-inch or 15-inch MacBook Pro all are available to purchase now. The 13-inch w/o Touch Bar and Touch ID starts at $1499 and is available in stores today. The models with Touch Bar and Touch ID will ship in 2-3 weeks and start at $1799 for the 13-inch and $2399 for the 15-inch model. If you do not need an upgrade imeddiatly, it may be smart to wait a few weeks for the first reviews of the product. However, the new laptops look to be a hit with a majority of people that have had a chance to use them.