Apple has unveiled updated MacBook Pro notebooks. This is finally a proper refresh to the popular line of notebooks, and although the design may look awfully similar exteriorly, it really is changed quite a bit. Most notably on the mid-tier and high-end models, the new MacBook Pros spot an OLED Touch Bar with an integrated Touch ID sensor, replacing the row of function keys.
To be sure, the new chassis is different. The entry-level MacBook Pro is 17% thinner than the current Retina MacBook Pro, while being 22% smaller in volume and 13% lighter. The “Retina” moniker isn’t part of the model name anymore, but don’t worry, even the entry-level MacBook Pro, which comes with a 13-inch display, has same same Retina resolution (2560×1600) in the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro of before.
The main excitement, though, is with the mid-tier and high-end models. They have the new OLED Touch Bar. It’s a strip above the keyboard, sitting where the row of function keys used to be. Instead of fixed keys, the Touch Bar displays contextual controls that change according to what you’re doing.
The Touch Bar isn’t just about showing different keys in place of the original function keys. Apps can use it in different ways. For example, in Photos, the Touch Bar can be used to quickly scroll through a bunch of your photos. In Final Cut, the Touch Bar lets you quickly move through your timeline.
Potentially, the Touch Bar could be confusing if you try to think of it as a part of your keyboard, what with the “keys” keep changing. But if you think of it as a touchscreen, which is what it really is meant to be, it’s a powerful new way to interact with apps. It’s actually quite an impressive display, responsive and capable of smooth animations.
There’s another trick in the Touch Bar. There’s a Touch ID fingerprint reader on the right end of the Touch Bar. It’s actually also a physical button, and it is also the new power button. Your fingerprints can now be used to login to the Mac, and you can also use it with Apple Pay and App Store purchases.
The mid-tier MacBook Pro comes with a 13-inch display, while the high-end model has a 15-inch display. Apart from marginal spec upgrades in the high-end model, the main difference is the addition of dedicated Radeon Pro 450 or Radeon 455 GPU with 2GB of GDDR5.
Not unexpectedly, Apple has ditched traditional USB ports and MagSafe ports. Fortunately, we have more USB Type-C ports than when it debuted with the MacBook last year. The entry-level has two USB Type-C ports while the mid-tier and high-end models have four. All ports support Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gbps), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps), and DisplayPort (via adapter). Any of them can also be used for charging.
On the entry-level MacBook Pro, you get a 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz, with 4MB shared L3 cache, configurable to 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz, with 4MB shared L3 cache. Storage option begins at 256GB SSD, upgradeable to 512GB or 1TB. 8GB RAM is included in the base, and upgradeable to 16GB.
On the mid-tier MacBook Pro, you get a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz, with 4MB shared L3 cache, configurable to 3.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz, with 4MB shared L3 cache, or 3.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, with 4MB shared L3 cache. You can choose from 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of SSD storage. 8GB RAM is included in the base, and upgradeable to 16GB.
The high-end 17-inch MacBook Pro has two sub-models. The first one comes with 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz and with 6MB shared L3 cache, and 256GB SSD storage upgradeable to 512GB, 1TB or 2TB. The other sub-model comes with 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz and with 8MB shared L3 cache, and 512GB storage upgradeable to 1TB or 2TB. All the 17-inch MacBook Pro come with 16GB of RAM.
Standard across the new MacBook Pro line is 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, 720p FaceTime HD camera, stereo speakers with speaker grills on the keyboard, 3.5mm headphone jack, and battery good for up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing.
In Singapore, the entry-level MacBook Pro sells from S$2188, while the mid-tier starts from S$2588, and the high-end model begins at S$2788. The entry-level is available from next week, while the order models are on pre-order with estimated 2 to 3 weeks delivery.