Gone are the days when announcement for a new MacBook Pro would be the event of the year from Apple. The pro line of computers now play second fiddle to consumer level MacBook Airs and the iPad and iPhone. That said, Apple haven't forgotten their creative users as their new super powerful 2018 MacBook Pro line demonstrates.
Just a few days ago, with little fanfare, Apple updated the higher end models of the MacBook Pro range. The external design is unchanged. The 13" and 15" now include the 8th generation of Intel processors. The 15" now features a 6‑core Intel Core i9 processor which Apple say makes it up to 70 percent faster than the previous generation. While the 13" sports a quad-core processor and is up to twice as fast as the previous generation.
The 15" can be configured with upto 32 GB of RAM (the 13" is stuck at 16 GB max and comes with 8GB as standard which seems low for a pro machine).
Then there's the infamous butterfly mechanism keyboard which some users find acts up when dust gets below the keys. Apple have even advised on ways to prevent problems occuring or continuing by using compressed air to clean it! Happily, Apple have made the keyboard quieter to type on. Unfortunately, there's no word on whether they've fixed this inherent issue with the keyboard becoming unresponsive due to small amounts of dust.
But let's pretend most musicians and producers don't need to type much... the new 2018 MacBook Pros are defintely powerful, high-end machines. According to the their stats, the 13-inch quad-core MBP can run twice as many instances of Alchemy than the previous generation while the 15-inch six-core MBP provides 70% higher Alchemy track count than the previous model.
All in all, that's very impressive indeed. But the performance comes at a cost.
The 13-inch 2.7 GHz quad-core i7 with 16GB RAM and 1 TB SSD will set you back a cool $2,899 USD. Although starting at $2,399 USD the 15-inch MBP can set you back as much as $6,699 USD when configured with the highest spec: 2.9 GHz six-core i9 with 32GB RAM and 4 TB of SSD storage.
Admittedly, the majority of that price is for the SSD. If you can make do with just 512 GB of SSD storage you'll pay about half of the above, $3,499 USD. Still a hefty amount to pay for a high-end laptop with excellent performance, excellent graphics capabilities, a wonderful screen... but a potentially suspect keyboard.
Early benchmarks show the 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro easily out performs similar PC laptops according to Laptop Mag who used Geekbench 4:
The SSD on the new MacBook Pro's are equally impressive, and Laptop Mag claims they are the fastest they've seen in any laptop to date! The average write speed of 2,519 MB/s simply smashes the Dell XPS 13 Core i7's paltry 399.4 MB/s!
The graphics performance for the 13-inch isn't so great which may be why Apple are offering the Blackmagic eGPU external which should give 2.8x faster graphics performance on the 15-inch MacBook Pro and 8x faster on the 13-inch. But this will cost you $699 USD.
Interested in seeing some benchmarks and hands-on performance with the 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro? Apple Insider are one of the first to oblige:
Whether a 2018 MacBook Pro is a good investment for musicians and producers remains to be seen. Of course, in the Windows PC world it's often possible to pay a lot less for similar (and sometimes better) spec. Then there's the hackintosh route to consider if you're feeling brave. If you definitely need a Mac for making music then the question is whether you need a portable solution, otherwise the current iMac and iMac Pro are worth checking out. For those requiring more grunt to power large film scores and huge sample libraries then the new modular Mac Pro expected in 2019 might be worth waiting for.
[Benchmark Source: Laptop Mag]
Prices: new 2018 13-inch starting from $1,799. 15-inch starting from $2,399 - $6,699 USD