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Hands on with Apple's 15-inch 2018 MacBook Pro with i7 processor

Apple's latest MacBook Pro refresh launched a week ago, and we've now spent some time with the base 15-inch model with six-core i7 processor. Read on for our first look and impressions as well as benchmarks for what will be one of the most popular MacBook Pro configurations.




Design



From the outside, there are no discernible difference between the 2018 MacBook Pros and those from the last few years. It still features a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left side and another pair next to a headphone jack on the right-hand side.

2018 15-inch MacBook Pro



Colors still pop on the latest displays. The new unit now supports True Tone, Apple's color temperature-shifting feature that tints the display based on the environment. It uses a pair of ambient light sensors embedded into the display to detect the lighting in the room and then adjusts the display to match. This tech premiered in the iPad Pro a few years back, before coming to the iPhone, and now coming to the Mac.

True Tone definitely is easier on the eyes in our fluorescent-lit office. Previously, the display would come off a bit blue. But now, the color matches much better and isn't so strenuous when staring at it all day.

Apple has had some of the best built-in laptop speakers in the industry, and the new model improved on that. Apple is clearly putting their audio knowledge to use with a much fuller sound. There are noticeable improvements to both the mid-range, as well as the lows in these new speakers.

The trackpad is still as large as ever and sits right below the new third-generation butterfly keyboard. These are the same chiclet-style keys, but have a new butterfly mechanism underneath that is designed to be quieter.

Third-gen keyboard



We were very excited to test this new keyboard out, especially to determine any changes that lent themselves to improved reliability, which could be a serious issue for owners of previous models with the butterfly keyboard.

2018 15-inch MacBook Pro Keyboard



Not long after the first MacBook Pros were arriving at customers doorsteps, iFixit discovered that under each key was a new silicone membrane, that the repair company suggested was really intended to repel any debris that would try to lodge itself underneath. This errant debris is allegedly what caused many failures, so using this film to keep it out —if that is what is actually for —may go a long way towards reliability.

That film also contributes to the quieter keys, which were immediately noticeable. Tapping away quickly can still raise some loud clicks, but by-and-large, the new keyboard was a huge difference from before.

It still has the same key travel and typing feel as the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro, just with less noise.

Hey, Siri



Above the keyboard is the same Touch Bar many have come to love (and many haven't). Touch ID on the right-hand side of the Touch Bar is still powered by one of Apple's custom chips, the T2. This secure chip first debuted in the iMac Pro, with previous generation MacBook pros using the T1.

2018 15-inch MacBook Pro



Apple's T2 is able to take on more system processes and is actually able to enable "Hey, Siri" for the first time on a Mac.

Apple introduces this feature right after first booting up the new machines, walking users through the voice enrollment process similar to on iOS.

The setup is the same —macOS asks the user to repeat several different commands that also act as a bit of a refresher on what Siri can do on the Mac, like checking the weather and opening specific folders.

This worked out pretty well for us, even in a room filled with other Apple devices that support Hey, Siri. Voice recognition seemed spot on and definitely seemed to make it a bit more useful. It will become even more helpful this fall with macOS Mojave.

In macOS Mojave, Siri gains new features including new areas of knowledge, the ability to find your various devices, and support for HomeKit.

Performance



2018 15-inch MacBook Pro



For these tests, we were rocking a six-core Intel CPU inside our 15-inch MacBook Pro. It sports a Core i7 processor with a base speed of 2.2GHz with boost speeds up to powerful 4.1GHz.

Geekbench 4 returned 4,884 for single core and 22,179 for the multi-core. Even though we have the base model 15-inch, it still outpaces the top of the line 2016 model with an Intel 2.9GHz Core i7 which earned 4,360 and 11,979 for single and multi-core scores respectively.

That also is way above the scores we clocked earlier on the base 13-inch pro which earned 4,602 and 16,699 for the single and multi-core tests.

Graphics-wise, internally we have integrated Intel UHD 630 graphics. In our Geekbench OpeCL test, oddly, our late-2016 15-inch MacBook Pro with an Intel HD 530 actually continued to clock higher. The two-year-old model earned a 20,908 while the 2018 base model 15-inch earned a 20,179. There isn't much difference, but it is worth noting.

In the real world, thermal constraints may be limiting the maximum power that the MacBook Pro could have. We've already started looking into this, and how to solve the problem absent of any patch from Apple, and will get back to you about it.

This year Apple also upgraded the ram to DDR4 instead of LPDDR3, which is definitely going to draw a bit more power than years past. To help compensate, the internal batteries are a bit larger across the board. This shouldn't garner any additional usage time though.

More to come



2018 15-inch MacBook Pro



We here at AppleInsider are just getting started with these new MacBook Pros. Stay tuned for our coverage and benchmarks of the top-of-the-line i9 model. If you haven't already, be sure to check out our benchmarks on the 13-inch 2018 MacBook Pros.

Where to buy



Apple authorized reseller Adorama is currently offering AI readers $100 off Apple's 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar with coupon code APINSIDER. Shipping is also free and Adorama will not collect sales tax on orders shipped outside New York and New Jersey. For many shoppers, this can equate to an additional $290 to $635 in savings on top of the coupon discount. These are the exact same systems carried by the Apple Store and include Apple's standard 1-year limited warranty, just with additional savings. Want to see how these deals stack up? Check out our 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro Price Guide.

To activate the discount, you must use this shopping link and enter coupon code APINSIDER during checkout in the same browsing session (look for a link that says "Do you have a gift card or promo code?" next to the gift icon and click that to bring up a coupon code field). Need help? Send us a note at priceguides@gmail.com and we will do our best to assist.

Looking for 2018 13-inch MacBook Pros? Check out our Price Guide for up-to-date prices and availability.

2.2GHz Core i7 systems

Radeon Pro 555X graphics
16GB RAM


32GB RAM


Radeon Pro 560X graphics
16GB RAM


32GB RAM


2.6GHz Core i7 systems

Radeon Pro 560X graphics
16GB RAM


32GB RAM


2.9GHz Core i9 systems

Radeon Pro 555X graphics
16GB RAM


32GB RAM


Radeon Pro 560X graphics
16GB RAM


32GB RAM