MacBook Pro

A Quieter Keyboard on the New MacBook Pros - Sign Me Up!

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As students prepare to head off to college, Apple has updated the Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro line to provide even more powerful options for students and professionals alike. The changes are primarily under the hood, focusing on faster performance, more RAM, and larger SSD-based storage, but there are a few modest physical changes too, including a quieter keyboard and a True Tone display.

 
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Despite these improvements, pricing remains the same as for last year’s models.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro that has function keys instead of a Touch Bar remains the same, as do the 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Air.

Performance Boosts

The new MacBook Pros move to Intel’s 8th-generation Core i7 and Core i9 processors. Previously, the 13-inch MacBook Pro used dual-core CPUs, but they now get quad-core chips. And the 15-inch models jump from quad-core chips to processors sporting 6 cores. More cores are better because more tasks can be split up between them, preventing one processor-intensive task from bogging down others.

 
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Processing power is just one aspect of overall performance. If your Mac doesn’t have enough RAM for the apps you’re using, it has to fall back on much slower virtual memory. For those who use memory-intensive apps, the new 15-inch MacBook can now take up to 32 GB of RAM, up from a maximum of 16 GB. RAM in the 15-inch models is also DDR4, which is faster and uses less power than the DDR3 RAM used before.

Finally, if you don’t have enough fast SSD storage in a MacBook Pro, you may be forced to store large items like your Photos library and Parallels Desktop virtual machines on a slow external hard disk. The new MacBook Pros can have a lot more built-in SSD storage, but it’s pricey. The 13-inch models max out at 2 TB, which will add $1400 to your bill, and the 15-inch models can go to 4 TB, assuming you have $3400 to spare. The 512 GB ($200) and 1 TB ($600) upgrades are more reasonably priced.

Physical Changes

Apple continues to tweak the controversial butterfly-switch keyboard. Some people haven’t liked the shallow key travel and how much noise it makes, and its keys have a tendency to stick. The new MacBook Pros feature a keyboard that’s quieter and hopefully more reliable.

You’ll also notice the new Retina displays with True Tone. First introduced with the iPad Pro and added to the iPhone in 2017, True Tone adjusts the white balance of the screen based on ambient light to make the screen more comfortable to view. It should be particularly appreciated by students working late into the night.

 
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Other Improvements

You know how you can issue commands to Apple’s virtual assistant on your iPhone or iPad by saying “Hey Siri”? That’s possible in the new MacBook Pros also, thanks to the inclusion of Apple’s new T2 chip. The T2 also manages the Touch Bar, facilitates a secure boot feature, and encrypts files on the fly to increase security.

These MacBook Pros are the first to support Bluetooth 5.0, which is backward compatible with Bluetooth 4.2. As Bluetooth 5.0 peripherals become more widespread, they’ll be able to communicate with the MacBook Pro at higher data rates and longer ranges—think of Bluetooth working across your entire house, rather than being limited to a single room.

Price and Availability

The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1799, and the 15-inch model at $2399. With both models, you can choose between silver and space gray, and they’re available now.

Our take is that, like most of Apple’s speed-bump upgrades, these new MacBook Pros are simply better than the previous models—who turns down better performance for the same price? The True Tone display is also welcome, as is the quieter keyboard. And it’s nice that we can finally talk to Siri without having to hold down a key or click a button.

WWDC Part 3: iMacs and Notebooks

For those who have been waiting patiently to buy a new iMac or Mac notebook, now’s the time. Apple refreshed the entire iMac line with Intel’s latest processors, faster storage, higher performance graphics, and brighter, more colorful screens. They all provide a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports for driving external displays and connecting to speedy external storage.

The most-improved award goes to the 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display, which should see the most performance gains from faster CPUs and high-performance Radeon Pro graphics processors. Plus, that model can now take up to 32 GB of RAM, up from 16 GB — it’s far more compelling than before, if you don’t need the larger screen and better performance of the 27-inch model.

You can buy a 21.5-inch non-Retina iMac starting at $1099, a 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display starting at $1299, and a 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display starting at $1799.

Looking for more performance than even a tricked-out 27-inch Retina iMac can provide?. Wait for December, when Apple promises to release the new iMac Pro. It’s a workstation-class machine that retains the form factor of the 27-inch Retina iMac but swaps the brushed aluminum look for a space gray finish. It will be the fastest Mac ever, thanks to 8-core, 10-core, or 18-core Intel Xeon CPUs. Other performance enhancements include a next-generation Radeon Pro Vega graphics chip, up to 128 GB of RAM, a 1 TB SSD upgradeable to 4 TB, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, and 10 Gbps Ethernet. It won’t come cheap, with prices starting at $4999 and rising quickly with build-to-order options.

On the portable front, Apple’s top-of-the-line MacBook Pro notebooks should run a bit more quickly thanks to the addition of Intel’s latest processors running at slightly higher clock speeds. These models also get new graphics processors that improve rendering performance. The 13-inch MacBook Pro still starts at $1299 or $1799 for a model with a Touch Bar and beefier specs. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar starts at $2399.

For those who value portability over all else, the MacBook has become more attractive due to improvements that address its previously underwhelming performance. Along with sprightlier CPUs, it has a new SSD that Apple claims is up to 50% faster, and you can now buy it with 16 GB of RAM, up from the previous limit of 8 GB. It’s still a bit pricey for its performance, with two models priced starting at $1299 and $1599.

If you don’t have much to spend, consider the $999 13-inch MacBook Air. Apple gave it a minor speed bump, replacing the stock 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 processor with a 1.8 GHz version. It remains upgradeable to an Intel Core i7 running at 2.2 GHz.

By the way, if you’ve been jonesing for a full-size wireless keyboard, you’ll be pleased to learn that Apple also just released the new wireless Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. It’s $129.

Dongles, Dongles, Dongles

Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models rely on a new kind of connection port: Thunderbolt 3. Unfortunately, while this switch is great from a technical standpoint, it has caused confusion in the Mac world. Let’s sort it all out.

The root of the confusion is the fact that Thunderbolt 3 uses a different physical connector than Thunderbolt 1 and 2. They relied on the physical Mini DisplayPort connector, which made sense since they are commonly used to connect monitors. Thunderbolt 3 instead relies on the reversible USB-C connector that has previously appeared in the Mac world only on the 12-inch MacBook, where it replaces USB-A.

Here’s the key fact to remember: All USB-C devices, cables, adapters, and chargers should work when plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 port, but Thunderbolt 3-specific peripherals will not work when plugged into the USB-C port of a 12-inch MacBook. In short, Thunderbolt 3 is a superset of USB-C.

The only visible difference between a Thunderbolt 3 cable and a USB-C cable is that a Thunderbolt 3 cable is labeled with the same lightning logo used on previous Thunderbolt cables. USB-C-only cables may be labeled with SS+ for SuperSpeed+.

If you buy a new MacBook Pro and want to connect it to older devices that lack Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, you’ll need a special cable, adapter, or dock. Apple makes a number of these, and more are available from numerous independent manufacturers. The two most important adapters to get are Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter and a USB-C to USB-A adapter.

With those handy, you can connect to any Thunderbolt device (including many older Macs and Apple’s Thunderbolt Display) and any USB device. You can also add Apple’s older Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter and Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter to connect to Ethernet networks and FireWire hard drives.

Connecting to other displays requires additional adapters, which are specific to the different video standards. Apple makes adapters for USB-C to HDMI and VGA, but not for USB-C to DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, and DVI, so you’ll have to turn to another manufacturer for displays that rely on those last three standards.

The practical upshot of all this is that if you have a new MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3, you may need to get a couple of adapters to be able to migrate data from an older Mac, connect to your existing accessories, and drive external displays and projectors. (Macworld has a nice guide to all the possibilities.) That’s an unfortunate fact of life right now, but in a few years, once most peripherals support USB-C and new Macs come with Thunderbolt 3, there will be one cable to rule them all.

Did you know? Your machine could be fixed... for free.

If you have either a 2011 MacBook Pro (15-inch or 17-inch) or a Mid 2012-Early 2013 15 inchMacBook Pro with Retina Display, you could qualify for Apple's Repair Extension Program.

 
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What does this mean for you? If your machine fails to pass certain tests, Apple pays to get your computer repaired.

Symptoms:

  • Distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen
  • No video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on
  • Computer restarts unexpectedly

Of course, it's possible that your computer could fall in this range and be perfectly fine, but even if you aren't experiencing the symptoms, it's important to note the program expires at the end of the year. Which means, if January 1st rolls around and your machine suddenly starts getting distorted video, you might be out of luck. 

Next steps:

  1. Bring your computer into your closest MacExperience
  2. Your computer will be tested at the counter, if certain parts of the test fail....
  3. You qualify for the program and your computer will get new parts, which means your machine might perform better, and...
  4. It's FREE for you! 

Visit your nearest location today!

New MacBook Pros Sport Dynamic Touch Bar

With the release of the new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros, Apple has rewarded those who have been waiting patiently for new models. They’re smaller, lighter, and faster than the previous MacBook Pros, but what really sets them apart is the new Touch Bar. What’s a Touch Bar, you ask?

It’s a thin, touch-sensitive screen above the keyboard, where the function keys used to be. The Touch Bar displays buttons, sliders, and other tools that change not only with what app you’re using, but also based on what you’re doing in that app. If you’re accustomed to using the function keys, you’ll be relieved to know that pressing the physical Fn key on the keyboard displays F1 through F12 on the Touch Bar. Most of the time, though, you’ll want to let apps customize the Touch Bar for you.

In Photos, for instance, the Touch Bar lets you scrub through your photo collection, mark photos you love, and edit photos. Once you select a photo for editing, the Touch Bar changes to provide editing tools, such as exposure and color sliders and rotation controls. In a video editing app like Final Cut Pro X, the Touch Bar can provide a timeline scrubber along with trimming tools. Plus, you’ll be able to customize the Touch Bar however you like in different apps.

Integrated into the right edge of the Touch Bar is a Touch ID sensor, just like on an iPhone or iPad. Touch it with one finger to log in to the MacBook Pro, or with another to switch to a second account via fast user switching. Other people can use it to log in to their accounts too. The Touch ID sensor also communicates with a new Apple T1 chip in the MacBook Pro to store Apple Pay information for use in Safari when buying stuff on Web sites.

The new MacBook Pro models sport an industrial design that takes cues from the 12-inch MacBook to reduce size and weight. In fact, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is now thinner, narrower, and less deep than the 13-inch MacBook Air and less than an ounce heavier at just over 3 pounds. The new 15-inch model weighs in at 4 pounds.

Those size and weight savings don’t come at the cost of reduced performance or battery life. Battery life is the same as the previous models at up to 10 hours, and performance is notably better, thanks to faster processors, improved graphics chips, and speedier solid-state storage. Speaking of storage, the new Macs generally start at 256 GB, with 512 GB or 1 TB SSD upgrades, and you can opt for 2 TB in the top-of-the-line 15-inch model. 8 GB of RAM is standard, but you can bump that to 16 GB.

You’ll notice that the Force Touch trackpad looks huge. That’s because it’s twice the size of the trackpad in the previous MacBook Pro models, making it easier to move around and use multi-touch gestures.

Both models feature improved screens. The resolutions remain the same as before—2560 by 1600 pixels for the 13-inch model and 2880 by 1800 for the 15-inch—but Apple says the displays are 67 percent brighter, have a 67 percent higher contrast ratio, and show 25 percent more colors, a boon to graphics professionals.

For charging and expansion, Apple learned a lesson from the 12-inch MacBook, which has only a single USB-C port. These new machines feature four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two on each side, and you can use any port for charging, driving an external display (via an adapter for HDMI or VGA), or connecting to storage or other devices. Thunderbolt 3 uses the same physical connector as USB-C and supports older USB devices too. It boasts so much bandwidth—40 Gbps—that it can even drive two additional 5K displays or four 4K displays simultaneously!

Everything else is roughly as you might expect: 802.11ac Wi-Fi for connectivity, Bluetooth 4.2, a more responsive backlit keyboard, 3.5mm headphone jack, louder stereo speakers with greater dynamic range, three built-in microphones, and a 720p FaceTime HD camera.

Prices start at $1799 for the 13-inch model and $2399 for the 15-inch model, and you have a choice of silver or space gray colors. For those who are looking to save some money, Apple also introduced a cheaper version of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro that lacks the Touch Bar, has only two Thunderbolt ports, and uses a slower processor. The previous MacBook Pro models remain available, as do the 13-inch MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook, so if you’re having trouble figuring out which of Apple’s laptops makes the most sense for your needs and budget, come talk to us!