Thursday, July 12, 2018

MacBook Pro 2018

Apple (Hacker News, MacRumors, 9to5Mac):

The new MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar feature 8th-generation Intel Core processors, with 6-core on the 15-inch model for up to 70 percent faster performance and quad-core on the 13-inch model for up to two times faster performance — ideal for manipulating large data sets, performing complex simulations, creating multi-track audio projects or doing advanced image processing or film editing.

Already the most popular notebook for developers around the world, the new MacBook Pro can compile code faster and run multiple virtual machines and test environments easier than before. Additional updates include support for up to 32GB of memory, a True Tone display and an improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing.

If this is what Apple had announced in 2016, I would have immediately upgraded my MacBook Pro, even though I’m not happy about the Touch Bar, the ports, or some other details. However, now that I’ve switched to an iMac for my main Mac, I don’t see much reason to get one of these, especially given the continued uncertainty about the keyboard. If I had to get a new one today, it would be tempting to get the 13-inch without the Touch Bar, but it doesn’t support 32 GB of RAM and was not even updated this time.

In any case, it’s great to see Apple bump the specs at the high end and add features like the T2 and True Tone, rather than holding those back for the next physical redesign.

Dieter Bohn:

In both cases, the battery capacity has been increased to compensate for the extra power draw from the new processors and RAM. Apparently, the bigger batteries and the thirstier chips will end up canceling each other out. Apple says that it’s not changing its battery life estimates for these machines.


We got only minutes (and no more) to interact with the new hardware. So at best, I can tell you that the keyboard does seem quite a bit less clacky than current MacBooks, though key travel is the same.

That’s all for the good, but it’s not what people are worried about. Instead, it’s just hard to trust a keyboard after so many reports that it can be rendered inoperable by a grain of sand and that is incredibly difficult and expensive to repair or replace. This new third-generation keyboard wasn’t designed to solve those issues, Apple says. In fact, company representatives strenuously insisted that the keyboard issues have only affected a tiny, tiny fraction of its user base.

Benjamin Mayo:

In writing the 2018 MacBBok Pro story, my butterfly keys decided to bbreak and repeat the letter ‘b’ twice every time I hit it. You can imagine how annoying that is for a story about Macbbbooks.

Shane Vitarana:

100% of MBP owners I know have. this issue. Either Apple is lying, has false data, or the. issue is usage based.

Rene Ritchie:

The 15-inch, by contrast, is all about power. So, it has Radeon Pro discrete graphics with 4GB of video memory (on all configurations) and a hexa (6) core processor, with options for i7 and Core i9 processors up to 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.8 GHz.

That makes it up to 70% faster, something environmental photographer Daniel Beltra said was notable to him.


Apple T2 replaces the T1 chip from the previous generation models. In addition to taking over the Touch ID, Apple Pay, and other Secure Enclave tasks, they also handle realtime encryption, secure boot, and a lot of the controller functions, just like on iMac Pro.

Juli Clover:

Base prices for the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models are unchanged from last year, with pricing on new 13-inch models starting at $1,799 and pricing on new 15-inch models starting at $2,399, but build-to-order customizations can tack on thousands of dollars.

The maximum stock $2,799 15-inch MacBook Pro ships with 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, a Radeon Pro 560X graphics card, and a 6-core 2.6GHz Core i7 processor, but with upgrades, an ultimate machine with top-of-the-line components costs $6,699.


If you skip out on the SSD upgrades in the new machines, you can get a 15-inch MacBook Pro with maximum RAM and the best processor for $3,499, or a 13-inch model for $2,499, which is just a few hundred dollars more expensive than similar upgrades cost last year rather than a few thousand.

Leah Culver:

I was lucky enough to get to try out a new MacBook Pro for the past week (thanks !). I used it as my primary development computer. AMA.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple has confirmed that its new 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models feature support for hands-free “Hey Siri.”

Jason Snell:

It took Apple 13 months between updates this time, but it seems clear now that Apple is committed to an annual update cycle for the MacBook Pro that takes into account the latest high-performance laptop chips from Intel.

Previously: New MacBook Pros and the State of the Mac, Unreliable MacBook Pro Keyboards, Apple Launches Keyboard Repair Program for MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple has stopped selling the sole 2015 MacBook Pro that remained available for purchase on its online store, marking the end of an era for the notebook.

Ryan Jones:

Here’s the strange thing…this is peak “back to school” season, yet the MacBook Airs, MacBook, and low end Pros remain the same. And the cheaper old 15” was removed.

Previously: The Best Laptop Ever Made.

Jeff Johnson:

Unfortunately, Apple no longer makes 17-inch screens for laptops. Worse, Apple no longer makes matte screens for any Mac! Four years after buying my current MacBook Pro, the glossy screen still bothers me all the time. The reflections are very distracting. I want to see what’s in front of me on my screen, not what’s behind me. You can’t magically avoid light and reflections just because you have a laptop.

Update (2018-07-13): John Gruber:

Maybe, as Apple says, the only problem they sought out to solve was the noise. But, if they also sought out to improve the reliability of the keyboards — to fix the problem where keys get stuck, among other problems — I think they would only admit to fixing the noise problem. Marketing-wise, I don’t think they would admit to a reliability problem in the existing butterfly keyboards (especially since they’re still selling second-generation keyboards in all non-TouchBar models), and legal-wise (given the fact that they’re facing multiple lawsuits regarding keyboard reliability) I don’t think they should admit to it. So whether they’ve attempted to address reliability problems along with the noise or not, I think they’d say the exact same thing today: only that they’ve made the keyboards quieter.

Lloyd Chambers:

For the first time ever, the MacBook Pro really looks like a pro machine. The key factors are the 6-core CPU, the 32GB memory option, P3 gamut display, and 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports. I wish I could pay to remove the touchbar, but we cannot have everything.

Joe Rossignol:

As with any new product launch, there is a wealth of information to sift through, so we’ve created a list of key takeaways about the 2018 MacBook Pro lineup, particularly as it compares to the 2017 MacBook Pro lineup.

Update (2018-07-14): Paul Haddad:

Fun fact: The high end 13” 2018 MBP is faster than the high end 2017 15”.

Colin Cornaby:

In a lot of ways (except for the GPU), the new MacBook Pro is a better system than the iMac non-Pro, which is shocking. Six cores vs four on the iMac. Much faster storage.

The MacBook Pro has a lot more in common with the iMac Pro than the iMac.

Mark Spoonauer (tweet, MacRumors, Steve Troughton-Smith):

I had to do a double take when I saw how quickly the new 13-inch MacBook Pro duplicated 4.9GB worth of data. It took 2 seconds, which comes out to a rate of 2,519 megabytes per second. That’s insane.

So we also ran the BlackMagic Disk Speed test for macOS, and the system returned an average write speed of 2,682 MBps.

I’m seeing conflicting reports about whether one or both of these results is invalid due to APFS cloning preventing the file data from actually being copied.

Juli Clover:

The keys of the new 2018 MacBook Pro, which uses a third-generation butterfly keyboard, appear to be cocooned in a “thin, silicone barrier” according to a teardown that’s underway over at iFixit.

According to iFixit, the quieter typing Apple has been advertising in the 2018 MacBook Pro models is a side effect of the new membrane, which the site believes is actually an “ingress-proofing measure” to prevent the butterfly keys from seizing up when exposed to dust and other small particulates.

See also: Stephen Hackett.

Update (2018-07-16): Wojtek Pietrusiewicz (tweet):

The late 2016 MacBook Pro models introduced flash storage capable of reaching 3.2 GB/s read speeds. For some odd reason, Laptop Mag discovered this fact only after testing the mid 2018 models[…]


I really tried to get used to the Touch Bar, having experienced it on the late 2016 Touch Bar MacBook Pros for a month before I gave up on it.

Steven Frank:

i9 MBP Geekbench: 5324/22589 ($3099 base, $3899 with 32/1TB); iMac Pro 10-core: 5263/35205 ($5799 with 32/1TB) Kinda wild? (of course you also have to figure GPU, screen size, and keyboard (lol))

But I guess if I have to buy an un-upgradeable computer, I’ll take the one that’s almost as good for $2,000+ less and not throw out my back taking it to the store when it breaks.


Even more wild when you compare it to the iMac. Should get a bump soon, otherwise 6 cores on their laptop are faster than the 4 on their desktop.

Joe Rossignol:

When asked if Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers will be permitted to replace second-generation keyboards on 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models with the new third-generation keyboards, if necessary, Apple said, no, the third-generation keyboards are exclusive to the 2018 MacBook Pro.

Update (2018-07-17): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Michael Margolis:

Looking closer at 2018 MBPs.

CPU: Mobile 6-core i9 is impressive. It’s 80% as fast as a desktop class 6-core i7 8700k.

GPU, however, is another story. GeekBench OpenCL score is 1/4 the speed of a desktop GTX 1080 Ti.

GeekBench OpenCL scores

2018 MacBook Pro 15": 56,361
Desktop GTX 1050: 72,702
2017 Surface Book Pro 2 15": 102,248
Blackmagic eGPU (radeon pro 580): 107,901
2018 Razer Blade 15": 145,782
GTX 1060: 126,977
Desktop GTX 1080 Ti: 222,808
Desktop Titan V: 362,782

Tom Nelson:

Sharp-eyed readers may notice that the 2017 models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro had slightly faster base processor speeds, clocking in at 2.8 GHz and 2.9 GHz. But the earlier generation i7 Kaby Lake processors had smaller level 3 caches, two fewer cores, and slower memory architecture than what is present in the new Coffee Lake models.

With the processor and memory architecture upgrades in the new 2018 MacBook Pro, Apple claims a 70 percent increase in performance.

iFixit (Hacker News):

Grab your best tinkering tools and let’s dig in—we’re tearing down the 13” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, 2018 edition.

Joe Rossignol:

2018 MacBook Pro models feature the biggest yearly CPU performance gains since 2011, according to Geekbench founder John Poole.

Stefan Constantine (MacRumors):

Someone bought the expensive Core i9 MacBook Pro and found out that when put under load, it underclocks itself due to poor cooling.


It’s slower than the 2017 i7 under load.

Update (2018-07-18): Fouzan Alam:

It clocks down to 800Mhz. There’s a massive reddit thread, and several other users are confirming that this is a problem. In each case, sustained performance (anything over 5 minutes) is better on the i7 vs the i9.

Marco Arment:

If this isn’t a one-off flaw in this particular unit, that’s pretty bad.

The 2016–2017s would often reduce or lose Turbo Boost with external monitors connected, which was embarrassing enough, but nothing like this.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple says the new MacBook Pro has a multi-channel ambient light sensor, next to the FaceTime HD camera, that can assess brightness as well as color temperature, adding that the display should be open to enable that functionality. Apple added that True Tone does not use the FaceTime HD camera for its operation.

Update (2018-07-19): Joe Rossignol:

In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers, obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source, Apple has confirmed that the third-generation keyboard on 2018 MacBook Pro models is equipped with a “membrane” to “prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism.”

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Romain Dillet (via Hacker News):

You will never get perfect CPU performances on a laptop compared to a desktop computer due to size contraints. But it becomes an issue when you buy a laptop expecting great performances and it doesn’t deliver.


According to Apple documentation, the newest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar features full speed on all four of its Thunderbolt 3 ports. The boost is due to the bump up to Intel’s eight-generation Core i5 and i7 processors in the new models, which support up to 16 PCIe channels.

Juli Clover:

iFixit exposed the keyboard to a powdered paint additive that glows, allowing the site to track where and how dust accumulates. On the 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard, the dust settled at the edges of the membrane, leaving the butterfly mechanism of the keys protected. The same test was performed on the 2017 MacBook Pro keyboard, demonstrating less protection.

John Poole:

If the CPU is at 800MHz, the CPU isn’t throttling, the CPU is idle. The test isn’t using the CPU but rather the on-chip hardware encoder.


So, I did a Clean ‘Build for Running’ four times in Xcode of a given project at the same git ref on two machines each, and the new i9 was 24%-30% faster than the top–end i7 CPU in the previous 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Update (2018-07-20): hellodeveloper (via Keir Thomas):

The premise of this post: MacBook pros since 2010 haven’t had enough power to support the machine under full load . They pull from the battery and will eventually die after a long term running operation.

Marco Arment:

6-core i9 thermal drama aside, the eye-opening factor to me is how much faster it isn’t than the lower-end 15” CPUs or the high-end 13” quad-core[…]Seems like the best ones to consider for power users are either the maxed-out 13” or the 15” base model.

Zac Cichy:

There’s no getting around the fact that designing products at the level Apple designs them is a symbiotic process. Intel promised 10 nm, Apple designed for 10 nm, and Intel delivered... 14 nm, multiple years in a row. And... added more cores to 14 nm.

John Gruber:

For what it’s worth, I’ve heard from a little birdie or two that my take is correct. Whether this design does make the keyboards more durable and reliable, only time and real-world use will tell. But they were designed to be.

Russell Ivanovic:

I typed on it too…I think I might actually like this new keyboard . I hated the MacBook one onwards.

Joe Rossignol:

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro theoretically supports DisplayPort 1.4, which Apple confirmed, but at least for now, it still can’t drive an 8K display.

Update (2018-07-23): Joe Rossignol (tweet, Juli Clover):

Multiple sources claim that data cannot be recovered if the logic board has failed on a 2018 MacBook Pro.


The data recovery port was likely removed because 2018 MacBook Pro models feature Apple’s custom T2 chip, which provides hardware encryption for the SSD storage, like the iMac Pro, our sources said.

Update (2018-07-24): Josh Centers:

Some owners of the just-released 2018 MacBook Pro with the Intel Core i9 processor are reporting severe performance problems due to excess heat causing the system to throttle clock speed—in one case dropping from the base 2.9 GHz all the way down to 800 MHz.

Colin Cornaby:

Also most people don’t know plugging in your MacBook Pro makes it run worse which is kind of a problem... My 2013 had this same issue, just on a slightly smaller scale. […] The power supply creates more heat which causes more problems while charging. I’ve had times where I’ve had to unplug to get better performance if I’m stressing the CPU and GPU.

Jonathan Morrison:

New video! Everyone is Wrong About the i9 MacBook Pro 🤦🏻‍♂️

Peter Steinberger:

The problem on the i9 MacBook Pro doesn’t seem to be CPU cooling, but rather the VRM (voltage regulator module) overheating as the CPU draws too much power. That can be regulated in software, so guess Apple can fix the 800MHz throttling. Still really bad.

See also: Hacker News.

Jason Snell (Hacker News):

Apple on Tuesday acknowledged that the slowdowns exist—and that they’re caused by a bug in the thermal management software of all the 2018 MacBook Pro models. That bug has been fixed in a software update that Apple says it’s pushing out to all 2018 MacBook Pro users as of Tuesday morning.


The good news is, this doesn’t appear to be evidence that Apple’s laptop design is incapable of handling fast chips, but that someone at Apple had a bad day and failed to include a specific digital key that caused a cascade of bad behaviors in some very specific circumstances. (All laptops throttle the performance of processors in order to regulate temperature, of course, but it’s not supposed to happen to anywhere near the extent seen in Lee’s video.)

Joe Rossignol:

Apple says the bug affected performance on not only the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro configured with a six-core Intel Core i9 processor, which has faced the most extreme throttling in tests, but also quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 configurations, extending to the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models.


Apple says it contacted Lee within 48 hours after he published his video, working with him to replicate his workflow. Apple eventually set up a system with a similar workflow, applied the fix, and both the 15-inch and 13-inch models then matched Apple’s advertised performance rates.

See also: John Gruber, Rene Ritchie, Juli Clover, Jim Dalrymple.

Update (2018-07-25): Sam Rutherford:

While they wished to remain anonymous, they told me they weren’t surprised at all to hear that the Core i9 MacBook was suffering from throttling. Based on their testing, they said that the cooling tech needed to get optimal performance from a hot-running chip like Intel’s Core i9-8950HK crammed inside laptop that are less than an inch thick simply isn’t available right now.

The source also added that during experiments with the Core i9, so far they have only been able to reach around 90 percent of the chip’s max performance when installed in a thin-and-light system, which largely eliminates the performance gain the company was hoping to get by offering a Core i9 versus a Core i7 CPU.

Dieter Bohn:

Apple claims that it discovered the issue after further testing in the wake of Lee’s video, which showed results that Apple hasn’t seen in its own testing. In a call with The Verge, representatives said that the throttling was only exhibited under fairly specific, highly intense workloads, which is why the company didn’t catch the bug before release.

Ash Furrow has posted some Xcode benchmarks that look impressive for the i9.

John Poole:

After applying the latest update from Apple, I re-ran the Geekbench build test on the i9. It’s slightly faster, but processor frequency stays stable when building (which is comforting).

Still technically slower than the i7, but close enough that, practically, it doesn’t matter.

Only on long-running and heavily multi-threaded tasks. Single-and lightly-threaded tasks should be faster on the i9.


So, before patch the 2018 i9 MBP was about 11% faster than last year’s 2.9GHz i7. After the patch it’s more like 20% faster.

Juli Clover:

Dave Lee, who first found the throttling issue, also uploaded a new video and says the supplemental macOS High Sierra update has successfully fixed the throttling issues that he saw prior to the patch.

Using the same Adobe Premiere render time test, Lee found that the Core i9 MacBook Pro was significantly faster than the 2017 Core i7 model that had beaten it prior to the patch.

Lee went even further and tested six laptops equipped with an i9 from various manufacturers. Unsurprisingly, thicker laptops with better cooling did outperform thinner laptops, including the MacBook Pro. The Alienware 17 R4, Acer Helios 500, and Asus G703 (all very thick) saw higher average clock loads.

Update (2018-07-26): Ben Lovejoy:

Some owners are reporting repeated kernel panics – as often as once or twice a day. The same issue has been experienced by a number of iMac Pro owners, with some clues suggesting it may be the fault of one component found only in these two machines …

Joe Rossignol:

Many of the crash logs shared by users mention bridgeOS, which is the device firmware on the logic board that controls many functions, including the T2, fueling speculation that the chip is the root cause of the problem.

Riccardo Mori:

All these laptops are thicker and heavier than the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro. All of them — at least according to Dave Lee’s tests — feature minimal to no throttling. In fairness, when it comes to i9 configurations, the only competitor here is the Dell XPS 15, but Dave notes that it, too, throttles the CPU under heavy, sustained load. The only other laptop with an i9 CPU that offers an astounding, unbridled performance, is the Acer Predator Helios 500, which is a true monster of a machine. And yes, it’s a gaming laptop with the trite, angular ‘badass gamer look’; yes, it weighs 4 kg — but it’s also a 17-inch laptop, with a generous array of ports; the RAM is upgradable (it has four RAM slots, two easily accessible) and supports a maximum of 64 GB; it has three drive bays (two NVMe, one SATA); performance and thermal design are excellent (again, according to Dave Lee, who has tested it); and, from what I understand, it costs less than a fully-specced MacBook Pro.

Update (2018-07-27): Dave Mark:

The dongle thing is definitely an issue. I bough an Apple-branded dongle specifically to connect my old Cinema Display to my new MacBook Pro.

Did not work. Feh.


Finally upgraded my six year old Mac. Here’s how the new MacBook Pro i9 benchmarks against it

Rene Ritchie:

For some, MacBook Pro (2018) will be the best of the best. For others, the best of the worst. Three years into this design generation only one thing is for certain: This remains the most controversial and divisive pro portable Apple has ever made.


I love True Tone. I want it everywhere. I want Continuity True Tone for devices that don’t or can’t support it.


And if you really want an Iron Man-style briefcase... er... laptop, you’ll need to get it from a company with a high-end gaming line.


When I first tried [they keyboard], I didn’t like it as much as last year’s model. It just didn’t feel as crisp.

Update (2018-07-30): Michael Lynn takes a deep dive into Secure Boot and imaging (Hacker News).


MacBook Pro (2018) turns on when you press any key on the keyboard or press the trackpad.

Peter Steinberger:

Compile time difference is outstanding:

2018 Coffee Lake i9 2,9 GHz: 11min

2017 Kaby Lake i7 3.1 GHz: 17min

John Gruber:

This is how I live now.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast, The Talk Show, The Menu Bar, Brendan Nystedt (via Marco Arment), Stephen Hackett.

Update (2018-08-01): Michael Love:

Tried 2018 MBP keyboard over the weekend. Not noticeably better than 2017. Holding out hope for a low-cost model this fall with a regular keyboard, otherwise it seems I’ll probably be buying a Hackintosh.

Mark Alldritt:

So here I am about to spend >CDN$6K on a machine that feels like a total compromise. I need the speed and the memory and the ability to drive a 5K monitor but almost everything else about it feels like a step backward.

Apple in 2018 is not delivering a compelling mac laptop in way it did 5 years ago.


In the distant past, the price of “pro” Mac laptops always seemed to be about the same ~CDN$3K. Each time you got more, but the price stayed roughly the same. My 2012 MacBook was CDN$4K which I thought was extreme, but its lasted longer than any mac laptop I had before it. But recently, the prices have gone crazy. The 2TB, 32GB, i9 machine I’m considering is over CDN$6K! And all this for a machine that I’m not terribly excited to own.

Update (2018-08-03): Catlord Joe:

Not Intel’s fault:

Low resolution 2880 wide panel
Lack of Apple Pencil support (not even touch, just Pencil!)
Only four Type-C ports
Meh dGPUs
Inadequate cooling
Failure prone polarizing keyboard
Lack of Inverted-T arrow keys
Premium Price for unwanted components

Wil Shipley:

Am I crazy or are the speakers on the 2018 MacBook Pro like WAY better than the 2016 model?

See also: The Talk Show (tweet).

Update (2018-08-06): Lloyd Chambers:

I’ve started testing the 2018 MacBook Pro. It is fast, for sure, but so far it is much slower on my most important task than my trusty 2017 iMac 5K, so don’t believe all the hype out there!


It turns out that although the 2018 MacBook Pro can be booted off an external Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD, there are several bugs in macOS that lock the machine up (it’s unclear if the issues are specific to any particular Thunderbolt 3 SSD). So far I’ve had 5 system lockups. The MBP will boot off the Thunderbolt 3 SSD, but will lock up within 5 minutes.

Update (2018-08-08): Joe Rossignol:

Following the release of 2018 MacBook Pro models last month, some customers have turned to the MacRumors Forums, Apple Support Communities, Reddit, and YouTube to report intermittent crackling from the built-in speakers.

Update (2018-08-15): Lloyd Chambers:

MPG did a 500 iteration test which is GPU intensive. The scatter plot below shows how performance declines somewhat within a minute or so, then holds steady at the reduced rate. It turns out that the decline is far less than with the 2016 MacBook Pro or 2017 MacBook pro […] Kudos to Apple for delivering a desktop-class machine—the 2018 MacBook Pro is a winner.

Update (2018-08-17): Stephen Hackett:

The Number of Days Between Purchasing my 2018 MacBook Pro and the Spacebar Starting to Get Stuck?


John Gruber:

The S key on my review unit got stuck 3 times so far, but not once in the last two weeks.

Update (2018-08-22): Bryan Jones:

The new MacBook Pros with T2 chips do indeed kernel panic randomly, as shown in the attached image. I’d hold off buying if you can; Apple has work to do.

Dave Teare:

I fixed the Touch Bar on my MacBook Pro.

It requires 8 layers of electrical tape to completely prevent touches from being registered. The lid won’t close @ 8, however, so I went with 7.

See also: Marco Arment’s review of the 13-inch.

Update (2018-08-23): Thom Holwerda:

I got the 13.3" 4K Dell XPS 13, with 512GB PCIe SSD, 16GB of RAM, and the Core i7 processor - for about €1850. Should be fully supported under Linux as well.

Apple’s offer simply cannot compete in any way. Apple doesn’t offer a full TDP i7 like the XPS 13 does, and to get to their slower i7, 512GB SSD, and 16GB of RAM, Apple charges €2849.

See also: Hacker News.

Update (2018-08-31): Juli Clover:

As we await the launch of macOS Mojave this fall, Apple has quietly released an updated version of macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 that’s designed for the 2018 MacBook Pro models.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple said the Supplemental Update improves system stability and reliability across a number of areas, and addresses several issues, including crackling audio and kernel panics.


Prior to yesterday’s Supplemental Update, Apple support representatives provided customers with a wide variety of potential solutions to mitigate these issues, ranging from disabling FileVault to turning off Power Nap, but none of the workarounds appeared to permanently fix the problems.

Update (2018-09-07): Ole Begemann:

The touch bar and I haven’t become friends yet I can see its usefulness for some tasks, and I don’t mind the tap-hold-pan gesture for changing the volume or display brightness as much as I expected. But any extra convenience is far outweighed for me by accidental (and sometimes destructive) touches.


I started using Turbo Boost Switcher Pro to disable the CPU’s turbo boost feature on battery power after Marco Arment wrote about it, which stretches the battery for another hour or two.


Performance-wise, I’m a little disappointed. I expected a bigger jump from my old machine, especially because the SSD in the 2018 MacBook Pro should be much, much faster than my old third-party SSD.

Mohammad Kurabi:

I went from a 2013 13" MBP to a 2018 13" MBP, and the dual core -> quad code jump is very noticable performance wise. Swift projects compile much faster I’d say ~50% faster. So your results surprise me. Objective-C compile times do seem similar though. I too love the new keyboard

Update (2018-10-12): Ted Pallas (via Michael Yacavone):

If you are doing graphics on a daily basis, I advise using Windows. I no longer consider the MacBook Pro a viable choice for doing live media work with modern software packages. If you are looking at a computer from 2016 or earlier and wondering “will these tools run well on this thing?” – I’m going to manage your expectation towards “not really.” If you are on on one of these older Macs, I’d consider focusing energy on VDMX, Lumen, and Photoshop – fake real-time by getting good at using VDMX’s LFOs to beatmatch visual FX parameters to music. A very new MacBook will do a slightly better job, but I still wouldn’t expect stellar performance – to push frames you need a solid graphics card. For real time I wouldn’t spec below a GTX 1080 – it’s pricey, but I honestly find myself topping out my rig all the time.

Update (2019-01-23): Ilja A. Iwas:

According to this (German) article, the current 6-core MacBook Pro still doesn’t offer any more CPU performance than the 4-core version, because of (unfixable?) heat management issues. I would be quite upset if I paid premium for one of these machines.

Update (2019-02-21): Collin Allen:

Thinking about putting a strip of masking tape along the top of this 2018 MacBook Pro trackpad. With nowhere to rest my right ring and pinky fingers, they touch the trackpad area constantly. And on the left side, my thumb on the Command key touches the trackpad as well 😫

Update (2019-02-26): Andy Ihnatko:

If Apple sticks to this MacBook design, then when my 2015 MacBook Pro dies I’m replacing it with a Thinkpad or a Chromebook. It’s just not useful for my laptop needs, and it’s a terrible value.

Update (2019-03-06): Greg Koenig:

Apple spent about a decade undoing the Mac’s reputation for being overpriced, underpowered, and designed for looks and not utility.

Tim Cook has managed to basically squander all that and move us to the bad old days when soft benefits now come at hard costs.

Update (2019-03-07): Stefan Constantine:

This is exactly how I feel.

When I dropped $2,700 on my 17 inch MacBook Pro in 2010, it felt like a steal compared to other similar machines during that time.

My $3,000 15 inch 2016 MacBook Pro has been nothing but regret. Two repairs. Very poor value for money. Hate it.

34 Comments RSS · Twitter

Three things:

1) "Already the most popular notebook for developers around the world" -- Apple is so good at straight up lying. It's only "#1" because PC developers have a CHOICE between Lenovo, Dell, HP, etc. So of course any individual PC is not going to be #1 according to Apple's screwed up metrics.

2) Why the hell have MBP become so expensive? Tech parts become cheaper every year which cancels out inflation. My mid-2009 MBP cost me $1,799 new and finally died 6 months ago when something happened to the battery charge controller (common problem; I replaced it with a used 2014 MBP for $1k). Now the cheapest new MBP are $600 more expensive than 2009? That's just insane. No MBP under $2,400 now. [yes, I know this price point isn't totally new, but a trend the past few years].

3) Why is Apple still charging exorbitant prices for memory and SSD upgrades? $400 extra for 32 GB RAM is NUTS. Because the baseline already includes 16 GB, so you're paying basically $600 for 32 GB RAM which should be less than $300 (Amazon has 2x16 GB 2400Mhz DDR4 for ~$300 retail, and one would assume Apple gets a substantial wholesale discount much cheaper than this).

"In fact, company representatives strenuously insisted that the keyboard issues have only affected a tiny, tiny fraction of its user base."

I tend to believe that Gruber is right when he suggests that this is what they are required to say by the company legal department.

The batterygate and bendgate should have made it clear that Apple is not being fully honest when it comes to known quality issues with their products.

@Ben G

"Why the hell have MBP become so expensive?"

Because Apple keeps making them more and more high end. The 1799 model you mention had a TN screen at ~100 dpi, today's models have IPS screens at over 200 dpi. Solid state storage is more expensive than spinning storage. Unibody cases cost more to make (and are more durable) than old style enclosures. The 2009 models had perfectly ordinary core 2 duo processors. IIRC, people criticized apple at the time for sticking with Core 2 Duo well after Intel came out with the next generation i-series. Today's models have i5, i7, and i9 processors with 4 cores and up - exclusively the top end of Intel's lineup, no dual core, no i3 or pentium/celeron parts.

"Why is Apple still charging exorbitant prices for memory and SSD upgrades"

Every Apple product you see has between a 35 and 40% profit margin. Whereas the margin for all other consumer laptops in the world these days is 1% or less. Apple's margin has stayed pretty consistent for two decades now. Deduct 40% from the cost of the RAM or storage upgrade and it's in the ballpark of buying sticks from Crucial or an SSD from Samsung. You notice the markup more with components because you have a better idea of what those normally cost, but the laptop itself is just as exorbitantly priced. The cost of getting a computer that runs OSX without fuss or hassle is paying 40% more than you would pay for an identical laptop from any other company.


But, with costs of tech coming down over the past decade, aren't today's SSDs basically the same cost as 2009 spinning drives? Retina vs non-retina? etc etc etc. That argument would make sense when SSD and Retina were new, and still being sold alongside the older tech. But everything has caught up now in market price equivalency. Has it not?

FWIW, the 2.53 Ghz Core2Duo processor in my mid-2009 MBP was more than adequate, despite what the specs would lead you to believe. The bottleneck was always the disk drive. When I replaced it with SSD in 2013, it was like I got a whole new computer for $250. I was very shocked. And that MBP continued to do almost everything I asked of it up until a year ago. Sure, it wouldn't do FCP 4k video editing... but it never hiccuped or stalled on normal tasks like web browsing, iTunes, Word, Pixelmator, etc... it was "snappy" until the very end. I have never owned a Mac that long and been completely satisfied with it. Normally I would upgrade every 3 years, max... and I've been using Macs since the LC II.


The 2009 MBP was also unibody, so the current casings should have no real relationship to a price increase. If anything, the current designs should be cheaper because they have soldered so many things on it now and made SSD and RAM irreplaceable (simpler design = cheaper). The T2 chip is taking the place of like 3 or 4 discreet chipsets as well.

Apparently, the Apple SSDs really are a lot better. [Update (2018-07-13): Or not?]

"But, with costs of tech coming down over the past decade, aren't today's SSDs basically the same cost as 2009 spinning drives? Retina vs non-retina? etc etc etc. That argument would make sense when SSD and Retina were new, and still being sold alongside the older tech. But everything has caught up now in market price equivalency. Has it not?"

Entry level SATA SSDs are still slightly more expensive than entry level hard disks. PCI-E SSDs are rather more expensive than SATA SSDs. The SSDs in Apple computers have custom apple-designed controllers and are among the fastest PCI-E SSDs out there.

IPS screens are quite a bit more expensive than TN. Plus, every display panel in every Apple device is individually calibrated, which raises the cost quite a bit over uncalibrated displays. The *only* other manufacturer that does individual calibration of each panel is Microsoft for their surface line (source: anandtech) Other laptop manufacturers do batch calibrations, if they calibrate their screens at all.

Most laptops you buy come with a generic, industry standard wifi card. Apple used to use generic cards, but then they switched to using their own custom designs. I'm not sure what benefit they got from moving away from standard parts besides shrinking them smaller, but you can be sure the custom parts are more expensive. The amount of custom designed parts has been going up, not down, in Apple laptops.

There are *lots* of tiny little details like the above that don't show up on a spec sheet but which add to the cost (and nearly always also the quality) of Apple products.

Putting it simply, Apple has been moving upmarket with the specs, quality, and finish of their laptops, and thus the price they charge has been moving up as well.

Right, my point is nuanced though. They're already making their 35% profit on the base system, which is fine — Macs are worth a premium. Why do they need to charge 2-3x market rates for commodity chips like RAM and SSDs? Especially when they make MBP totally non-upgradeable now. This fact makes it seem greedier than in the past where we had more choice to do our own upgrades. Hell, I made my 2009 MBP last for 7.5 years because I was able to swap out the disk drive for an SSD in 2013 which increased performance dramatically. Otherwise, I would have had to throw it away after 3-4 years. That is impossible with the newer MBP.

@Glarung: A 250 GB 5400rpm SATA internal drive for MBP was $250 in 2009 (retail). A 256 GB SSD chip for internal storage today sells for $100 (retail). So it appears that SSD storage is now much cheaper than equivalent spinning disks from 9 years ago. And oddly enough, these are both the base sizes from 2009 and today (which is another insult from Apple, 256 GB is not enough for anyone).

@Ben G

" Why do they need to charge 2-3x market rates for commodity chips like RAM and SSDs?"

Because if they don't mark up every single thing to have a minimum margin of 40%, it makes their stockholders cry.

"Otherwise, I would have had to throw it away after 3-4 years."

First, tell me where you live so I can come by on garbage day to root through your trash. (*mutter* All these nerds talking about throwing away perfectly good electronics. Have they not heard of pawnshops and second hand stores and ebay?)

Second, now that Apple has gone all in on solid state storage for their laptops, every laptop they make will stay snappy and fast until the day it breaks. So from that perspective, there's no reason for the new MBPs to ever require upgrading. Making them non upgradable saves Apple a ton of money (and their customers half a ton of money).

"(which is another insult from Apple, 256 GB is not enough for anyone)."

Sigh. Please try to avoid projecting your experience onto that of everyone. There are a great many people for whom a 256gb SSD is more than adequate. If I kept all my media files on a NAS, I would be fine with 160gb or even 80gb. Offering the base model at 256gb enables Apple to give the people who don't need more than that a slightly better deal.

Yes, they gouge you for upgrading beyond the base model, but that's Apple for you - see above about crybaby investors.

As for why the new MBP are so expensive - the price did go up quite a bit compared to the old non-touchbar ones. OLED screens, even tiny ones, are expensive. Calibrating every screen is a fixed cost that doesn't go down no matter how much the technology gets cheaper, and the current MPB have two screens instead of one. The touchbar requires an ARM processor, so every MPB now has a second CPU, add more for that.

But that's not the only new feature in the current MBP that adds to the cost. With every new version of the MBP, Apple is cramming yet still again more high end features. As those high end features become cheaper and more standardized, Apple adds new high end features. First they went from TN to high DPI IPS, at a time when it was hard to get an IPS panel at all, let along a high DPI one. Now that even cheap clone makers offer high DPI IPS displays as an option, Apple has made wide gamut displays the new floor for all their devices.

I'm not in favour of their charging so blasted much - I can barely afford a used Mac Mini, myself. But if you delve past the headline specs of CPU, RAM, and storage, Macs contain many, many extra bits, each of which has a cost. The overall effect is that a) it's nearly always flat out impossible to get a computer from any other maker that you can fairly compare spec to spec with a Mac, and b) Macs cost quite a bit more than any other maker's computers.

@ Ben G

Don't forget inflation. $1,799 in 2009 is like $2,113 in 2018 US Pesos.

Adrian Bengtson

"The 1799 model you mention had a TN screen at ~100 dpi, today's models have IPS screens at over 200 dpi."

That does not necessarily mean that the current cost of the display is higher, just because technology has advanced since then. Looking at it that way the cost of tech should rise almost exponentially, and that is not the case. I don't have any direct knowledge of manufacturing but I would be that surprised if the cost for the display is more or less the same. Making a hard drive at 10 GB was at some point as expensive as a 1000 GB hard drive is today, it's not 100 times more expensive to make just because it can store more bits.

That's not to say Apple isn't aiming for high end more these days, that could also be true. Putting the TouchBar in the MBP is clearly adding costs that was not there before (if it adds value is another discussion).

@Ben G

>Why the hell have MBP become so expensive? Tech parts become cheaper every year which cancels out inflation.

That is exactly the problem people who are old enough to remember what is called "Moore's Law". We got used to it for two decades, and then it stopped. It didn't become cheaper every year. NAND and DRAM price are both 2-3x priced compared to 3 years ago. Intel CPU's prices has actually increased relatively. Retina display Panel, didn't becomes cheaper either for reason I can't comprehend. Leading node transistor no longer gives you 50% discount per transistor basis, designing leading node chip however continue to cost 2x every generation. Thunderbolt Controller USB Controller, WiFi / Bluetooth, all of them had not become cheaper over the past years. Battery price remain the same as well. Trackpad and precision keyboard has actually becomes more expensive. Commodity price like Fan and Heasink has also gotten more expensive. Which is inflation for the majority of things NOT included in government calculation. Testing and Q&A has also becomes more expensive. T2 doesn't replaces the cost of 3-4 chipset, because SSD Controller were already an Apple's IP long before T1 and T2.

Then there is the cost of Touch Bar which I believe will need another year before Apple can fully recoup its R&D and BOM. That touch bar is expensive. I believe , and as other estimated it adds $200 to the MBP retail price. Remember the touch bar is basically a long OLED Apple Watch. Once Apple recoup its R&D they will lower the price, and normally it takes 2-3 years for anything that is non iPhone product as the scale is much smaller. You could expect sometime in may be mid 2019, they could lower the touch bar MBP by $100.

As per Dieter Bohn said, I am actually interested how they get a bigger battery capacity inside the MBP without any changes of weight. Something must have shaved off 100g somewhere.

Will Notbepublished

"Once Apple recoup its R&D they will lower the price, and normally it takes 2-3 years for anything that is non iPhone product as the scale is much smaller."

Tell this to people who bought a Mac Pro Late 2013 in 2016 at a higher price than the introduction one and with exactly the same specs.

@Ben G:
"Apple is so good at straight up lying. It's only "#1" because PC developers have a CHOICE between Lenovo, Dell, HP, etc. So of course any individual PC is not going to be #1 according to Apple's screwed up metrics."
So... not comparing your product against ALL of your competitors' products put together is "screwed up metrics"? You can only claim to be #1 if you have more than 50% marketshare in the entire product category?

@Doodpants: MBP is the #1 laptop for running MacOS or the #1 laptop for Mac / iOS developers who have no other choice. That's it. There is no way there are more developers in the world using Macbook Pros than there are developers using PC-based laptops, yet this is what Apple is insinuating even though what they legally mean is "Macbook Pro is the #1 individual laptop model from a single vendor"... well of course that's true, when Apple is the only company selling laptops that legally run MacOS. That's like saying "Coca-Cola is the #1 choice of people who drink a soda with the same ingredients as Coca-Cola."

"@Doodpants: MBP is the #1 laptop for running MacOS or the #1 laptop for Mac / iOS developers who have no other choice. That's it. There is no way there are more developers in the world using Macbook Pros than there are developers using PC-based laptops, yet this is what Apple is insinuating even though what they legally mean is "Macbook Pro is the #1 individual laptop model from a single vendor"... well of course that's true, when Apple is the only company selling laptops that legally run MacOS. That's like saying "Coca-Cola is the #1 choice of people who drink a soda with the same ingredients as Coca-Cola."

a) No one has to develop for Macs or for iOS. In fact, it's likely there are so many iOS/MAc devs because they have CHOSEN apple products over similar offerings from competitors.
b) "well of course that's true, when Apple is the only company selling laptops that legally run MacOS" -> yes, but users have a choice between windows machines, linux machines, TempleOS machines (ha), and Apple machines, and they in large numbers choose Apple machines running macOS.
c) That's like saying "Coca-Cola is the #1 choice of people who drink a soda with the same ingredients as Coca-Cola." -> wouldn't it be more accurate to say "Coca-Cola is the #1 choice of people who drink soda"?

@Ben G

Sorry, but I just don't buy the idea that Apple vs. all other laptop manufacturers combined is a fair comparison, nor that Apple is insinuating that they win based on such a comparison.

Plus, a large number of developers are not Mac devs or PC devs, but are instead web devs, and aren't tied to a particular platform. And the majority of them choose Mac.

"Why do they need to charge 2-3x market rates for commodity chips like RAM and SSDs?"

Because they can. The price of a product is whatever the market is willing to pay for it.

This is Business 101.

Geeks think they understand tech industry, but they don’t have a clue; because they don’t understand how business works.

> Worse, Apple no longer makes matte screens for any Mac!

BTW, there are matte overlays you can buy for MacBooks. I'm using one on my 2015 MacBook Pro, and it looks and feels almost like a "real" matte screen. Not quite as good as a real matte screen, but still much better than the mirror I'd be looking at otherwise. It's great.

You missed this tweet by Steven Frank:

> i9 MBP Geekbench: 5324/22589 ($3099 base, $3899 with 32/1TB); iMac Pro 10-core: 5263/35205 ($5799 with 32/1TB) Kinda wild? (of course you also have to figure GPU, screen size, and keyboard (lol))

About Apple’s statement that the silicone on the 2018 Macbook Pro keyboard -

Let me say first that I really liked the “butterfly” keyboard when it was new, when I tried it in-store. The second gen butterfly keyboard on the Macbook Pros added noise, the click and clack we’ve heard or heard about. I did not like the added noise. On the 2017 Macbooks this noise was added there too (but not on the 2016 version afaik). I bought the 2017 Macbook Pro in spite of the clicky noise because I did not want to have a computer with “High Sierra” - suspecting that High Sierra was going to be a disaster (depends on your opinion, but I didn’t want it). I did ask in-store if the noise could be disabled and was told no.

The keyboard click and clack noise was extremely annoying. I sought and found a way to eliminate most of it with a Mac utility called TinkerTool; in that app there’s an option to disable “sound effects” and this removes the click noise. There is still a sound when the keys touch bottom, but that seems like the result of a physical touch; the sound is slightly different when the laptop is on different surfaces.

tl;dr - Apple’s claim that the silicone on the third generation butterfly keyboard is a blatant BS lie.

@Peter I don’t understand how you eliminated the noise using TinkerTool; I’m not aware of any software keyboard sounds that it controls. It looks like there are some words missing from your tl;dr so I’m not exactly sure what part of Apple’s claim you’re disputing.

@peter are you talking about the trackpad click? I think you’re very confused.

@Michael, You’re right, I messed up with that last line. I meant to say this was about Apple’s statement that the silicone padded keys are only to remove/reduce the clicky sounds.

TinkerTool doesn't mention keyboard sounds. Apparently the keyboard clicky sounds are synthetically produced "sound effects". That's what I'm talking about.

In TinkerTool under Finder options, it’s the second line/checkbox “Disable Sound Effects”. It works for removing most of the key press sound. As mentioned there is still a sound when pressing keys all the way down, but if you press a key softly there’s almost no sound at all.

I’ll send you a TinkerTool screenshot and a little one of the computer’s specs in case it only works on this configuration. The TinkerTool version I have is 6.21.

@andy I don't like the trackpad either, I'm not confused about that. imo, the trackpad is a worse hindrance to typing productivity than keyboard clicks, but then, my keyboard only recently started to exhibit stickyness etc.

> It works for removing most of the key press sound

I find that extremely difficult to believe. I very much doubt any of Apple's laptops every created artificial click sounds for keyboard key presses. iOS and the Newton do that, but they have virtual keyboards.

Skye Williamson

@Ben G
"But, with costs of tech coming down over the past decade, aren't today's SSDs basically the same cost as 2009 spinning drives?"

You're making the very wrong assumption that the storage in the current MBPs is the same tech as what you find in a standard SATA 2.5" SSD. It is most certainly not.

Go look up prices on 2TB of 8.0 GT/s NVMe PCIe x4 storage. Spoiler: it's about $1000, and was a few hundred more than that a couple years ago when it debuted in the MBP. $1200 was the price for upgrading to 2TB, which yes was on top of the base 256GB, but even considering that, it's not far from "market rates" and most certainly nowhere close to "2-3x".

@Skye Yeah, I think the issue is not so much that the MBPs are expensive for what you get—you really do get a lot—as that all this premium stuff is bundled together. If you want a 15-inch display, you have to get the fancy SSD, T2, the Touch Bar, Touch ID, wide gamut, True Tone, 6 cores, etc. along with it. For a secondary Mac, I don’t really need any of that. With a PC laptop, you can get the large display combined with consumer components. Apple used to offer a 14-inch iBook (albeit not with a great resolution); now you can only get a 12-inch MacBook.

[…] been updated recently. The iMac was updated in June 2017 and still has a defective processor. The MacBook Pro was updated this July, but the keyboard remains a question mark; we don’t yet know how […]

[…] Mac Sales Down in Q3 2018 Amid a Lack of Updates, MacBook Pro 2018, Unreliable MacBook Pro […]

Having followed with interest the discussion here and elsewhere for some time, I went into a recent purchase of a MacBook Pro 2018, 15", Apple refurb with trepidation. I've been pleasantly surprised-—so far. The dreaded keyboard took a little getting used to, but I've adapted and, in fact, like it. I hope not to curse it later for malfunction. Performance (2.66 GHz/16/512Gb) has been stellar, which I suspect is mostly the silky fast SSD. Display with small fonts used in Terminal or Emacs is likewise a delight. Add a Dark mode Mojave, and I find the whole package an elegant winner. Yes, it's expensive, though less so refurbished for a middle of the line model. Color me solidly satisfied.

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