Apple gives MacBook Pros a much-needed shot of Coffee Lake

Apple delivered some much-needed updates to its highest-end MacBook Pros this morning. The 15″ MacBook Pro will now offer six-core Coffee Lake CPUs and up to 32 GB of DDR4 memory, while 13″ models with Apple's Touch Bar will use four-core Coffee Lake parts with 128 MB of eDRAM on package. The smaller MacBook Pro will still use LPDDR3 RAM.

We've already seen how Coffee Lake CPUs can boost mobile computing to new heights, and Apple is taking full advantage of that CPU range with the 15″ MacBook Pro. Going by the boost speeds the company cites for its CPU choices, Apple will offer the Core i9-8950HK as a top-end option for demanding pros in this notebook. The company also says its 15″ wonders will all come with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory for configurations with Radeon Pro discrete graphics, up from 2 GB in lower-end discrete graphics configurations of the past.

The move to DDR4 in the 15″ MacBook Pro made me wonder about these systems' battery life, since off-charger endurance was one of the reasons the company cited for sticking with a maximum of 16 GB of lower-density LPDDR3 to begin with in its late-2016 and mid-2017 notebooks. Coffee Lake chips didn't add support for the more frugal LPDDR4 in their integrated memory controllers. The Verge says Apple increased the battery capacity of both models to make up for the extra power draw of the new CPUs and the 15″ machine's memory subsystem, and the site reports that Apple expects no change in either system's battery life as a result.

Apple claims it's introducing a third generation of its recently-maligned butterfly keyboards with these notebooks to make for quieter typing, too. While many might have requested a new keyboard design that's harder to incapacitate with specks of dust and easier to repair, Apple told The Verge that those issues “have only affected a tiny, tiny fraction of its user base.” Apparently, the clack of short-travel keys was more annoying.

Both MacBook Pro sizes now incorporate the T2 system-management processor that made its debut with the iMac Pro. The T2 handles solid-state storage controller tasks and on-the-fly disk encryption, and it allows the 15″ MacBook Pro to house SSDs as large as 4 TB and the 13″ model to stuff in as much as 2 TB of NAND. The T2 also processes the video stream from the notebooks' FaceTime web cams and provides hardware roots of trust for the operating system. On top of those weighty responsibilities, the T2 lets the new MacBook Pros handle “Hey Siri” invocations for the first time.

The screens and Touch Bars on these notebooks now incorporate Apple's True Tone display technology to shift white points in response to ambient lighting. They maintain the 500-nit maximum brightness and 100% DCI P3 coverage that have long been hallmarks of the modern MacBook Pro.

The new processors and other goodies don't occasion an increase in the base prices for either size of MacBook Pro. Apple says the 13″ model with the Touch Bar will command a $1799 base price, while 15″ models will start at $2399. Although neither model's configuration page is live yet, expect eye-watering prices if you start ticking option boxes. Both machines should be available today.

Comments closed
    • End User
    • 1 year ago

    I got a good deal on my 2017 13″ MBP and upgraded to a 2018 13″ MBP (8559U).

    True Tone is a massive improvement.

    Cinebench R15 performance is lower than that of my T480 (8650U) (606 vs 697). I’m putting that down to the T480 having a more robust cooling system. I may see an improvement once macOS 10.14 goes gold.

    • tipoo
    • 1 year ago

    It’s almost comical, but the PR was telling everyone there was no fix for the dust jamming and any changes were just for noise, when ifixit just found a silicone membrane over the mechanism…Beyond any doubt they just had PR say that to avoid admitting to the issue for the class action suits.

    [url<]https://ifixit.org/blog/10279/apple-macbook-keyboard-cover-up/[/url<]

    • rudimentary_lathe
    • 1 year ago

    I have very little enthusiasm for these new MacBook Pros where the RAM and SSD is soldered to the board. Not to mention the RAM and SSDs cost literally 2-3 times more than elsewhere. If I need more RAM or down the road, I’m screwed. If a single component fails down the road, I’m screwed. No thanks to that.

    I’d be all over a user upgradable Mac. In fact I’m still using an old mid-2012 MacBook Pro for my development work. With the 16GB of RAM and 500GB SSD I’ve added it’s still more than adequate for my needs (with the glaring exception of not supporting an external monitor resolution of more than 1440p). I don’t mind paying extra for MacOS and great hardware, but the current prices are ridiculous. I can literally go out today and by a better equipped Dell XPS for less than half the price of a MacBook Pro.

    I need to experiment more with the Windows Subsystem for Linux more to see whether it would meet my needs and wouldn’t pose an onerous performance penalty (managing servers and VMs with Ansible/scripts/ssh, code deployment tools, git, etc).

      • End User
      • 1 year ago

      You are not screwed. Take it to apple for repair. No cost repairs for the first year. Covered by AppleCare (if you bought it) for the next two.

      If a part fails after warranty you can pay for the fix.

      I get what you are saying, I own a T480. The trade off is that the T480 is super bulky compared to a MacBook Pro. I prefer using my 13” 2017 MacBook Pro to my T480.

        • rudimentary_lathe
        • 1 year ago

        I tend to keep my laptops for 5+ years. No cost repair is only for the first year, and AppleCare just adds to the price difference between other devices.

        If a part fails after warranty coverage, the entire board and all soldered components (CPU + GPU + RAM + SSD + whatever else is soldered) needs to be replaced. That’s going to be very expensive.

        There have been nice and sleek (though granted, not as nice as MacBook Pros) Windows laptops for a couple years. The Dell XPS, Surfacebook, HP Elitebooks, etc. The gap in hardware quality isn’t what it once was.

        • tipoo
        • 1 year ago

        Yep. I appreciate a lot about my T480S from work. But in terms of niceness to use it’s just not the same, and removable components are an unfortunate sacrifice needed for the sleekness.

        Also I can’t seem to get remotely good battery life out of the Thinkpad, I thought that may have been the DDR4 but now Apple switched to it on the 15.

    • tipoo
    • 1 year ago

    So
    Radeon Pro 560 – 1.9Tflops
    Radeon Pro 560X – ??

    Radeon RX 560 – 2.4Tflops
    Radeon RX 560X – 2.6Tflops

    So I would expect this Radeon Pro 560X is somewhere around 2.2Tflops. Already see sites reporting it as the 2.6Tflops of the last one, I expect them to be wrong. Gotta love when Apple launches with a GPU name that doesn’t exist in any other companies lineup and it causes confusion through the internet and a bit of research for anyone who cares, lol.

    • Kretschmer
    • 1 year ago

    Don’t forget your dongle bag!

      • smilingcrow
      • 1 year ago

      Is that you Dirk Diggler?

    • llisandro
    • 1 year ago

    [i<] My 3.1 GHz Broadwell MBP looks fearfully at my screen...[/i<] "Don't worry little one, I'll never leave you."

    • tipoo
    • 1 year ago

    On the 15″ they increased the battery from 75Wh to 83, without a listed change in weight. I wonder if this year it got the rumored terraced battery?

      • blastdoor
      • 1 year ago

      Or maybe helium?

        • tipoo
        • 1 year ago

        “What’s a hindenburg?” – commercial girl, probably

    • Chrispy_
    • 1 year ago

    “The Verge says Apple increased the battery capacity of both models to make up for the extra power draw of the new CPUs and the 15″ machine’s memory subsystem, and the site reports that Apple expects no change in either system’s battery life as a result.”

    I thought Apple already put the maximum 99.5WH battery in their laptops that TSA will permit on a plane?

    Or did Macbook batteries also suffer when Laptop anorexia became the norm?

      • tipoo
      • 1 year ago

      Nah, that was the 2015 model. The 2016 until now went down to 75Wh on the 15, and now goes up to 83.

    • Chrispy_
    • 1 year ago

    As always, a day late and several hundred dollars long.

    • JosiahBradley
    • 1 year ago

    2 more cores, no more USB ports.

      • shank15217
      • 1 year ago

      Pssh, USB is soo 2016

      • K-L-Waster
      • 1 year ago

      Why would anyone want to connect things to a Macbook? </sarc>

    • tipoo
    • 1 year ago

    Looks like a great CPU bump at last, but barely a GPU bump, apart from the 555X getting 4GB. The 555X and 560X look like very slight clock bumps , just like the 555 and 560 were themselves.

    I guess dedicated Vega in 35W isn’t ready, but it’s weird that AMD makes this and only sells it to Intel

    [url<]https://www.techpowerup.com/gpudb/3056/radeon-rx-vega-m-gh[/url<]

    • Phr3dly
    • 1 year ago

    Until recently one could still buy the non-touch-bar 15″ model. It looks like as of this morning that model is no longer listed at the store.

    I was hopeful that they would continue to offer that model and bump the CPU there as well. Yes, I realize that was a long shot. I received a 13″ touchbar macbook as part of a new job and am frustrated both by the port situation and the keyboard.

    The latter being the biggest problem. After 2 weeks the ‘h’ key is already stubborn and the lack of a real esc key (not to mention fn-keys) is a major annoyance for me.

    • techguy
    • 1 year ago

    It’s a (long overdue) step in the right direction, but still not quite what I am looking for in a “professional” laptop (i.e. portable workstation). I would like to see Apple offer mobile Xeons and more, ECC RAM. Lenovo offers these options in their P51 and P71 Thinkpads.

      • modulusshift
      • 1 year ago

      Unfortunately, you’ll see those about when Apple brings back the 17″ size. (Most likely never.) It’s nice to dream though.

        • techguy
        • 1 year ago

        I agree. A 17″ model is needed as well.

          • tipoo
          • 1 year ago

          It sounds timely for all the reasons.

          Able to go back up to the 99Wh battery
          Higher TDP GPUs, able to use Vega at current TDPs
          Key travel
          Ports
          And maybe a mobile Xeon with ECC.

          A Macbook Pro-Pro at 17″ would address a lot of frustrations.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 1 year ago

        Still have a functional 17″ G4 at home! Its a nicely shaped machine to this day. Not good for much any more though.

          • tipoo
          • 1 year ago

          Excellent Nanosaur machine!

      • Kretschmer
      • 1 year ago

      You’re looking at the wrong company. Apple will never touch those parts.

        • techguy
        • 1 year ago

        Me points to iMac Pro.

        You were saying?

          • derFunkenstein
          • 1 year ago

          when’s the last time they had a Xeon in a laptop?

            • techguy
            • 1 year ago

            Never. And a year ago you could have said the same thing about the iMac line but then iMac Pro was launched, hence my reference.

            The iMac Pro is proof that not only does Apple have the ability, but also the willingness to add “pro grade” components to their Pro product lines.

            My comment about Macbook Pro needing this addition is simply an expression of my desire.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 1 year ago

            it’d be great, it just doesn’t seem very Apple-y.

            With the iMac Pro I think they just figured out a quick stopgap sort of thing that would tide over people who wanted something newer than Ivy Freakin’ Bridge with lots of cores.

          • Kretschmer
          • 1 year ago

          But this IS Apple’s Pro version of a laptop. It’s in the name. The iMac Pro was an entirely new stopgap for Apple to not lose their six remaining desktop users that required pro hardware.

            • tipoo
            • 1 year ago

            Hey man!
            [url<]https://i.imgur.com/R1fdEt3.gif[/url<]

      • blastdoor
      • 1 year ago

      Well…. you are certainly best positioned to assess your needs, so I can’t argue with that.

      But I suspect that there are too few people who would really be willing to accept the tradeoffs of Xeons + more, ECC RAM in a MacBook Pro. By “too few” I mean maybe fewer than 50k sales per year. A new Mac Pro, on the other hand, should be able to do better than 100k sales per year — maybe a lot better.

      So, I’m sorry to say that I just really don’t see this happening.

      • elites2012
      • 1 year ago

      why a mobile xeon? im just curious to know and its a knew idea to me.

        • techguy
        • 1 year ago

        Only Xeons support ECC, and ECC is a requirement (or at least best practice) for many workloads. Also larger DIMMs tend to be manufactured for this market so you could get 64GB RAM instead of “only” 32.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 1 year ago

    I can’t imagine how much quieter they could have made the keyboard. Many things are “off” about the keyboard in the 15″ 2017 model, but the sound was not one of them.

    Anyway, this is nice and all. The offloaded encryption is cool assuming that it doesn’t affect disk performance. The improvements to the display are nice. Coffee Lake and additional memory capacity for those who need it is way overdue.

    But I can’t get too excited, because in the end I don’t think I’d notice the added performance for what I do, because iOS builds are largely single-threaded. It’s the graphics performance that needs to improve for me to notice, and bumping GPU speeds by 50MHz and adding an X to the model number isn’t going to do that. A GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti could, though.

    edit: All that applies to the 15″. The 13″ actually looks pretty great. That’s where the CPU bump is going to be more noticeable, and the extra eDRAM will improve graphics performance beyond that.

      • modulusshift
      • 1 year ago

      The disk controller is the same chip (in name, at least) that’s handling the much higher demands of the iMac Pro. It’s an in house ARM chip that serves as the disk controller itself, as well as the CPU and GPU for the Touch Bar. And we all know how OP Apple’s ARM chips are.

      I think this is a really solid update, excepting the keyboards. Prices are kinda absurd across the board now. The base level 13″ Touch Bar is at $1799, when it’s filling the performance space of the old $1299 13″ Pro. (The processors in the non-Touch Bar models were formerly used in the Airs, which is a big reason they stopped updating the Airs in 2015.) And even the 15″ is $2399 where it used to start at $1999, though admittedly with dedicated GPUs across the board now making that more reasonable. They also stopped selling the 2015 15″ which they were using to hit that price point of $1999, but had the side effect of being the last laptop they sold with the old keyboard. Gone now. :/

      So while I’m moderately hyped about the update itself, on the merits of it being a good laptop, I’m lukewarm on the effects on the lineup and price points. I hope they’ve got some non-Touch Bar updates in the back for the next event. And the iMac, too, of course.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 1 year ago

        The price points haven’t changed. It’s more speed for the same money, unless you want an entry-level computer. The Mac mini is proof that Apple does not care about any entry-level model.

        edit: that’s not excusing it, it’s just the way Apple looks at it. “well what do you want? you can still get the old model!” is how they treat those things, and I agree, it does kinda suck.

    • chuckula
    • 1 year ago

    Geekbench exists.
    You’re non-ARM notebooks are invalid.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 1 year ago

      *your

      If you had an ARM-based Mac, it could have caught that for you with its lightning-fast spellcheck.

        • chuckula
        • 1 year ago

        Spellcheck? Try [i<]grammar[/i<] check. And I think I'll leave it, because it states that Apple [i<]is[/i<] a non-ARM notebook and is therefore invalid. That's actually correct.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 1 year ago

          ok that’s fair.

      • jihadjoe
      • 1 year ago

      A11 Bionic >>> Coffee Lake & Ryzen

        • chuckula
        • 1 year ago

        Four iPads in a cardboard box >>>> Ripper 2.

          • Redocbew
          • 1 year ago

          Well yeah, the addition of a cardboard box makes anything awesome. Just ask a cat.

      • blastdoor
      • 1 year ago

      I don’t think you give Intel enough credit. Geekbench clearly shows the Core i9-8950HK beating the A11. On single thread, Intel wins by 22% and on multithread Intel wins by more than 100%.

      [url<]https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/8985421[/url<] [url<]http://browser.geekbench.com/ios_devices/50[/url<]

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