In May 2019, Apple updated its Touch Bar MacBook Pro laptops with new, more powerful Intel processors and an improved keyboard. In July 2019, the company also updated the entry-level MacBook Pro 13-inch, so now all MacBook Pros share similar features.
The new MacBook Pros do not present external changes compared to previous models, but they do have more powerful internal hardware with up to eight-core processors to compete on equal terms with their rivals.
Also, all models feature Touch Bar and Touch ID, bright displays with a wide color gamut and True Tone, two or four USB Type-C ThunderBolt 3 ports, and a headphone jack.
I have had a chance to test the MacBook Pro with a 13 ″ Retina display with True Tone, a 1.4 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of SSD storage. Next, I bring you my conclusions after several weeks of thorough use.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Design and Build
The new 2019 MacBook Pro maintains the same design of the previous model, which in turn was practically identical to the one that debuted in 2016. This is not at all a bad sign since, in my opinion, the MacBook Pro is one of the most attractive equipment you can find on the market.
The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch has a slim aluminum body that is available in two possible finishes: silver or space gray. As Apple is accustomed to us, the build quality is excellent and the materials have an eye-catching look and finish.
Apple pays special attention to detail and a good example of this is the hinge mechanism, which is completely hidden from view both when the computer is closed and when it is open, as it is located at the bottom.
One of the changes that Apple introduced in the previous model and that is still present in the new MacBook Pro 13-inch has to do with the apple logo, which no longer lights up but has a mirror finish similar to that found in the iPhone or iPad.
The model that I have tested is the one with a 13 ″ screen and, therefore, it is the more compact device of the two that you can choose. With dimensions of 30 × 21 × 1.5 cm and a weight of 1.4 Kg, it is a fairly thin and light laptop that you can carry comfortably in your hand. Therefore, it is not surprising that this is the computer of choice for many people who have to move frequently with their computers.
Apple has improved the MacBook Pro keyboard mechanism with new materials. The keyboard’s butterfly mechanism offers more stability when typing than the traditional scissor mechanism, but in the past, there have been problems with keys that were pressed twice or did not work due to particles that got inside them.
This new third-generation butterfly keyboard should not only solve these problems, it is also quieter. If you’re concerned that your new keyboard might suffer from any of the problems of its predecessors, you’ll be happy to know that Apple’s keyboard repair program will replace any faulty keyboards for four years from their original date of sale - that is, until 2023. in the case of the new MacBook Pro.
The MacBook Pro trackpad is one of the largest you can find in a laptop, which greatly improves usability. Using a trackpad of this size is a real joy, and I would like other manufacturers to continue down this same path.
The key to achieving such a large trackpad lies in Apple’s pressure sensitivity technology, which allows you to get the same tactile feel wherever you press.
The trackpad features Force Touch technology. Although most users will not realize it, the trackpad does not sink when pressed but instead uses Apple’s haptic technology to simulate a “click” when pressed.
The trackpad not only acts as a mouse but offers additional functionality. For example, you can vary the scrolling speed in QuickTime Player, or speed up the zoom in Apple Maps. And if you press hard on a word in the browser you will see its definition.
The new MacBook Pro features two large speakers on either side of the keyboard, breaking the monotony of the aluminum surface. The small holes in the speakers do not clash with the rest of the notebook but blend in perfectly with the whole.
Depending on the processor you choose, the new 13 ″ MacBook Pro comes with two or four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The 15 ″ models always come with four USB-C ports and, in my opinion, this is the number that you should aspire to since one port will always be occupied by power.
The MacBook Pro does not have standard USB connectors, SD card reader, HDMI port, or DisplayPort. This means that if you want to connect conventional accessories like USB sticks/drives or even an iPhone, you will need a special cable or adapter.
The USB-C connector is gradually becoming the standard in the world of smartphones and offers great advantages for computers such as very high transfer speeds. However, to this day, most peripherals still rely on the old traditional USB connector, which is somewhat frustrating.
On the top row of the keyboard, we find the Touch Bar touch screen with OLED panel and resolution of 2170 x 60 pixels, which replaces the usual row of function keys.
Touch Bar shows on the right some permanent virtual buttons that can be customized. By default, we find buttons to access frequent functions such as volume adjustment, screen brightness, and Siri activation. On the left, we find the ESC key.
In the central area of the Touch Bar, there is a space that shows virtual keys with shortcuts to frequent functions, and the keys change depending on the application we use at all times or even what we are doing within the application.
Also, in some applications, the bar extends the user interface with additional elements, for example showing a timeline in Final Cut Pro X, a collection of images in Photos, word or email suggestions in Mail, or other functions. that make use of an application easier.
The Touch Bar keys are customizable, so we can add, remove, or reorder the shortcuts at our convenience. The process of adding new buttons is very intuitive since you just have to drag the button to the bottom of the screen and it “jumps” to the Touch Bar.
I find the Touch Bar especially useful in applications where it adds additional functions (such as thumbnails in Photos or video tracks in Final Cut Pro X) that we cannot obtain with keystrokes. I find writing aids - for example, word suggestions - less useful since, when I type, I’m not looking at the keyboard but on the computer screen.
In case you are not convinced by the use of the Touch Bar, you can configure its appearance so that the traditional function keys are permanently displayed, although you will lose much of its potential.
Finally, to the right of the Touch Bar we find the power button that incorporates a Touch ID fingerprint reader to access the computer, fill in user data and passwords automatically in Safari or even confirm purchases using. This button is protected by a sapphire crystal to improve its durability.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Screen
The MacBook Pro comes with a 13.3 ″ IPS screen that has a Retina resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels, which gives us a very high pixel density: 227 dpi. The 15 ″ model has a similar screen with a 2,880-by-1,800 pixel resolution and a pixel density of 220 dpi.
The display glass reaches to the edge of the frame, and while the bezels aren’t excessively wide, I wouldn’t mind if they were even narrower. Hopefully, Apple will follow the same path as with the iPad and reduce the frames in future laptops to incorporate larger screens without increasing the size.
The display on the new MacBook Pro looks amazingly good from every angle, and icons, text, and images are displayed razor-sharp.
The sub-pixel matrix of the screen is RGB type, as is usual for IPS LCD panels. In RGB screens, the sub-pixels are arranged one after the other in red-green-blue (RGB) rows, as can be seen in the following image.
The maximum brightness of the screen has turned out to be 502 nits according to my measurements, a value that matches the 500 nits that Apple advertises on its website.
The MacBook Pro’s panel color gamut is very wide, covering 100% of the sRGB color space, 98% of the P3 color space, and 86% of the Adobe RGB color space according to my tests. This means that the MacBook Pro display is an ideal device for photo or video editing.
Not only does it cover a wide gamut of color, but also the color fidelity is excellent since the mean error dE turns out to be 1.2 (a value below 3 dE is considered excellent and above 9 is considered unacceptable), and the maximum error dE turns out to be 3.1, a very low value.
The display’s color temperature is 6,630ºK, which is very close to the reference level of 6,500ºK, which means that the white is quite pure and does not have a color cast.
The MacBook Pro display also features True Tone functionality, which uses a multi-channel ambient light sensor that determines the color temperature and light intensity of the room. As a result, it adapts the color and brightness of the screen (and the Touch bar) to match the environment and make it look natural, like paper.
The gamma value, 2.4, is very close to the ideal value of 2.2, and the black color is quite deep (0.3 nits), so the contrast turns out to be quite high, around 1,700: 1.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Hardware and performance
As we mentioned in the introduction, most of the changes that come in the new MacBook Pro are inside.
Starting with the processors, the 15 ″ MacBook Pro is equipped with an Intel 9th generation 14nm processor. with six or eight cores, while the 13 ″ MacBook Pro has an Intel 8th generation quad-core processor.
The entry-level 15 ″ MacBook Pro uses a 2.6GHz six-core Intel Core i7 processor with 4.5GHz Turbo Boost, while the more advanced model features a 2.3GHz 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.8 GHz. Both models can be upgraded with a 2.4 GHz 9th generation Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost up to 5 GHz.
Focusing on the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, the entry model was renewed in July 2019 and features the 8th generation Core i5 processor with 1.4GHz quad cores and Turbo Boost up to 3.9Ghz. There is also an upgrade option with a 1.7 GHz quad-core Core i7 chip.
The more powerful MacBook Pros were renewed in May and use the 8th generation Core i5 processor with 2.4 GHz quad-core and Turbo Boost up to 4.1 GHz. There is also an 8th generation Core i7 processor upgrade option here with four 2.8 GHz cores and Turbo Boost up to 4.7 GHz.
Regarding RAM, all 15 ″ MacBook Pro configurations include 16 GB of 2,400 MHz LPDDR4 RAM, which can be expanded up to 32 GB, also offering a 2.8x speed improvement. 13 ″ MacBook Pro models include 8GB of 2,133MHz LPDDR3 RAM that can be expanded up to 16GB.
Regarding the graphics card, all 15 ″ MacBook Pros include the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 chip along with a separate card from AMD. The entry model includes a Radeon 555X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory, while the more powerful models feature a Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB GDDR5. In both cases, you can opt for an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16 and 20 cards with 4GB HM2.
The MacBook Pro 13-inch Pros do not have separate graphics cards. The entry model has an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 card with 128 MB of RAM DRAM, while the more advanced models have an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 with 128 MB of RAM DRAM.
In terms of storage, MacBook Pros use SSDs with sequential read speeds of up to 3.2 GB / s and sequential write speeds of up to 2.2 GB / s. The 15 ″ models start from 256GB but can be configured up to 4TB, while the 13 ″ models start from 128GB and can be configured up to 2TB.
One thing to keep in mind is that both the RAM and the SSD storage are soldered to the board, so they cannot be replaced or expanded later. This means that you should choose your laptop configuration carefully to avoid falling short.
The MacBook Pro incorporates Apple’s T2 Security Chip, a chip responsible for safely storing Touch ID fingerprint data, encrypting data stored on the SSD disk in real-time, protecting the boot process from attacks, performing Real-time image adjustments by using the FaceTime HD camera and making Siri always available just by saying “Hey Siri. “
It is also responsible for disconnecting the microphone when the lid is closed to ensure that no one can hear the users. Because this deactivation occurs by hardware, no software can access the microphone, not even tools with root privileges
As we discussed when reviewing the design, the MacBook Pro 13-inch has two or four USB-C connectors. All ports are identical and support charging, Displayport, Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb / s), and USB 3.1 Gen. 2 (up to 10Gb / s).
The Thunderbolt 3 ports are very versatile when connecting external displays as they support DisplayPort over USB-C, and are compatible with HDMI, VGA, and Thunderbolt 2 video outputs using adapters. MacBook Pro supports up to four 4K monitors or two 5K monitors.
You can also use these ports to connect the external GPU (eGPU) created by Blackmagic Design that offers graphics power comparable to that of a desktop computer and is especially useful for gaming, virtual reality, or advanced 3D graphics editing.
On the older 13 ″ MacBook Pros, the left-side ports offered lower bandwidth because the chips only supported 12 PCI Express lanes, but the new MacBook Pro supports 16 PCI Express lanes so on quad models ports, all of them offer maximum speed.
When it comes to wireless connectivity, the MacBook Pro supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, and Bluetooth 5.0. However, it doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6 and it doesn’t offer cellular connectivity either.
I have had the opportunity to test the simplest configuration of the MacBook Pro with a 1.4 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, an integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 graphics chip, and 8 GB of RAM. As for storage, the model I tested has a 256 GB SSD, although there is a variant of only 128 GB that I do not recommend if you do not want to run out of space soon.
The previous 13 ″ MacBook Pro featured a 2.3GHz two-core Core i5-7360U processor, while the MacBook Pro I tested has a 1.4GHz quad-core Core i5-8257U processor. On the other hand, the MacBook Current Air uses a 1.6 GHz Core i5-8210Y processor.
Although the clock speed is lower, the presence of two more cores and more modern architecture with a greater amount of L3 cache (6 MB vs 4 MB) makes performance higher.
Therefore, it will be users using multi-core ready applications who will benefit from the jump to the new MacBook Pro. I am referring to applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, iMovie, Final Cut Pro X, AutoCAD, Solidworks, MATLAB, or Excel.
The SSD disk used by the new MacBook Pro is very fast, as shown by the test I have carried out with the Blackmagic tool, which has offered excellent results: 1,740 MB / s in reading speed and 1,220 MB / s in write speed.
On a day-to-day basis, the performance of the MacBook Pro is high and you will not have problems when using demanding applications or having many applications open. However, depending on the type of applications you use, you may want to choose a configuration with a more powerful processor and/or more RAM.
In this regard, I find that the maximum 16GB of RAM on the 13 ″ MacBook Pro can be a major limitation for users planning to use resource-intensive applications such as 4K video editors.
Although the 13 ″ MacBook Pro is not a notebook aimed at gaming enthusiasts, it is possible to play 3D titles with its integrated graphics card. I have played some games in the game Tomb Raider: Underworld, a game with quite demanding 3D graphics, which has moved without problems.
When playing Tomb Raider: Underworld, I have measured the game’s frame rate per second (FPS) with the Count It tool, and got an average rate of 51 fps at the standard resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels and medium smoothing (x4 ). Most of the time you get values between 40 and 60 fps, so the game is perfectly playable.
In any case, if you need more graphics power, you can take advantage of the Thunderbolt 3 ports and macOS capabilities to connect a compatible external eGPU.
I have also used the MacBook Pro to edit a video with Final Cut Pro X. The speed at which the videos are rendered and the ability to show previews in real-time is good, although if you are going to use the laptop for this purpose I recommend that you invest in a configuration with a higher processor and more RAM.
MacBook Pro incorporates a fan to keep the computer at a suitable temperature. However, after a few minutes of playing, the bottom of the notebook starts to feel quite hot. I have measured a temperature of up to 47ºC on the back, which is a fairly high value that makes it difficult to use the laptop on your lap.
Apple claims that the MacBook Pro offers 10 hours of wireless web browsing (or 10 hours of iTunes movie playback) thanks to its built-in 58 Wh battery. This value is somewhat lower than what we achieved with the MacBook Air but is in line with the previous MacBook Pro.
One aspect in which Apple’s laptops stand out compared to their Windows rivals is in standby time. While Windows laptops drain their battery fairly quickly when closed, the MacBook Pro can stand up to 30 days.
Battery charging is done via a 61W USB-C power adapter, which connects to any of the ports on the MacBook Pro.
In practice, the autonomy of the MacBook Pro is good and it can withstand an intense day of work without problems. During the time that I have used the laptop, I have obtained more than 10 hours on a single charge by setting the screen to a medium brightness level and using not very demanding applications such as Safari, but it depends a lot on how you use the device in your day a day.
The sound quality of the MacBook Pro is excellent thanks to the stereo speakers located on the sides of the keyboard that offer powerful bass and high volume. The depth of sound is good, especially considering that this is a very thin device. If you prefer to use headphones, you will be happy to know that the 3.5mm jack is still present.
Apple has incorporated a high definition FaceTime camera (720p) that allows you to make video calls with FaceTime or other collaboration tools. Nonetheless, I would have liked to see a 1080p camera. MacBook Pro has three microphones to capture voice more clearly when making video calls, using dictation, or speaking to Siri.
As mentioned above, the MacBook Pro has a Touch ID fingerprint reader built into the power button to the right of the Touch Bar. During the setup process, Touch ID captures a high-resolution image of your fingerprint. fingerprint generates a unique code from it, and stores it in the secure chip T2.
Every time your fingerprint is validated, the chip generates a token that is used by the operating system to verify your identity. The advantage of this system is that your fingerprints are never revealed to the operating system, nor stored in the cloud, nor shared with anyone.
You can register up to 3 fingerprints per user, and a total of 5 fingerprints for all users of the computer. You can even use the fingerprint reader to switch between users.
As with the iPhone and iPad, if you restart your computer, stop using Touch ID for a long time, or the reader cannot detect your fingerprint, you must enter your password on the keyboard.
To wake up the computer, just place your finger on the reader and hold it there for several seconds. If you prefer, you can wake up the computer first and place your finger later. In addition to accessing your desktop, the use of Touch ID allows you to authenticate your purchases in the Mac App Store or make purchases with Apple Pay.
macOS also allows you to unlock your computer if you are wearing an Apple Watch, which is convenient enough so you don’t have to do anything except stand in front of the computer.
Since the latest iPad Pro has opted for Face ID instead of Touch ID, I would have liked to see this technology in the MacBook Pro to compete against Microsoft’s Windows Hello technology. I guess it’s a matter of time before Face ID reaches Macs too.
The MacBook Pro runs macOS Mojave, the latest version of Apple’s desktop operating system until macOS Catalina arrives in a few months.
One of the advantages of using macOS if you are an iPhone or iPad user is that you can comfortably access Photos, Reminders, Lists, iCloud and other items from your computer.
Since we have already reviewed several devices with macOS Mojave, we will only comment here on the main new features that macOS Mojave introduced.
First of all, one of the novelties it introduced was the Dark Mode, which darkens the interface and the macOS applications so that they are more pleasant to use in low-light environments, and the Dynamic Desktop, which modifies the background of the screen depending on the time of day.
Mojave also brought order to the desktop thanks to Stacks, a feature that allows you to stack items on the desktop by file type. They can also be organized by date or by metadata (for example, customer names) if that’s more convenient for you.
Finder incorporates a new feature called View as Gallery that allows you to scroll through large previews of files to quickly identify the one you are looking for and allows you to run Quick Actions on files. For example, we can rotate images, create a PDF, shorten videos, and more without having to open any app.
The new version of macOS offers more facilities for working with screenshots. The new capture tool includes a menu with screen recording functionalities and options to, for example, set a start timer, show the cursor, or even choose where to save images.
Another novelty is Camera Continuity that allows you to use the iPhone to record a nearby object or scan a document and have it automatically appear on the MacBook Pro.
The new version of macOS incorporates new security controls to protect access to certain elements, such as the camera or microphone of our device, as well as improvements to preserve our privacy in Safari. Apple has also brought some iOS apps to macOS Mojave like Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home.
Price and Competitors
The Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with 1.4GHz Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 graphics card, Touch Bar, and 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports costs $1777.
From this base configuration, we can upgrade the processor to a 1.7 GHz quad-core Core i7 (+ $427), expand the RAM to 16GB (+ $285) or increase the storage to 256GB (+ $297), 512GB (+ $593), 1TB (+ $889) or 2TB (+ $1482)
On the other hand, the 15 ″ MacBook Pro with a 2.6 GHz six-core Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, Radeon Pro 555X graphics card with 4GB GDDR5, Touch Bar, and 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports costs $3199.
If we compare the cheaper MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, they both feature 13 ″ Retina displays, two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a similar thickness at the thickest point. In favor of the MacBook Pro, we have a more powerful processor, a more advanced screen, and Touch Bar, while in favor of the MacBook Air we have a slightly higher autonomy.
When you look at laptops from other manufacturers, there are some Windows 10 models on the market that are worth considering.
One device that comes to mind is the Surface Laptop 2, which has a 13.5 ″ screen with 2256 × 1504 pixels, Intel Core i5 / i7 processor, 8 / 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage, 1 USB 3.0 port, 1 Mini DisplayPort, 1 Surface Connect and 1 headphone jack.
Another device to consider is the HP Specter x360, which comes with a 13.3 ″ screen with 3840 x 2160 pixels, Intel Core i5 / i7 processor, 8/16 GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage, 2 USB-C ports. with Thunderbolt, 1 USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 fingerprint reader, micro-SD card reader, and 1 headphone jack.
Finally, another interesting option is the Dell XPS 13, which has a 13.9 ″ screen with 3,200 × 1,800 pixels resolution, Intel Core i5 / i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, 2xUSB-C, and 1 headphone jack.
The MacBook Pro family is aimed at those demanding users who need a powerful but easily transportable computer. Therefore, it is not surprising that Apple has decided to update its computers with more powerful internal components this year without introducing other external changes.
The new MacBook Pro has an attractive design identical to its predecessors, with a slim aluminum body available in two colors: space gray and silver. Weighing 1.4 kg and 1.49 cm thick, the 13 ″ MacBook Pro is not as light and thin as the MacBook Air but it is very close.
Apple has improved the butterfly mechanism on the MacBook Pro keyboard, which is now quieter and supposedly stronger too, so hopefully, it won’t suffer from the problems of previous generations. The trackpad is still one of the largest you can find on a laptop, which is very comfortable.
Whereas last year’s more affordable MacBook Pro models didn’t have a Touch Bar, now all new models have a Touch Bar touchscreen in the place where other notebooks have function keys. Touch Bar is an interesting addition to access frequent shortcuts and additional functions in certain applications.
To the right of the Touch Bar, we find the Touch ID fingerprint reader that is very useful when unlocking the laptop, since it is enough to support the finger to quickly access our desktop, buy applications in the App Store or confirm payments with Apple Pay. However, I would like to see a MacBook Pro with Face ID to unlock the laptop with your face only.
Apple has always paid special attention to its computer screens, and the new MacBook Pro is no exception. Not only does it offer a high brightness of 500 nits but it covers the DCI P3 color gamut in true-to-life colors. Also, it offers True Tone functionality to adapt the white balance to the environment and make the screen look more natural.
As with last year’s model, the MacBook Pro lacks conventional USB ports and is fully committed to two or four USB-C ports compatible with charging, Displayport, Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40 Gb / s), and USB 3.1 Gen. 2 (up to 10 Gb / s)
This means that you will have to resort to adapters to connect external drives, USB keys, SD memory cards, wired mice, and most peripherals that still use conventional USB connectors.
The new MacBook Pro incorporates 8th or 9th generation Intel processors, which greatly outperform last year’s models as they feature more cores and more advanced architecture with more L3 cache memory.
In practice, the performance of the MacBook Pro is high, especially if you use applications that take advantage of all the cores. Perhaps the biggest limitation is the 16GB RAM cap on the 13 ″ models, especially for photo and video editing users.
On a day-to-day basis, I’ve had no problem using multiple applications at once - email, browsing with Safari, playing iTunes movies and music, video editing with Final Cut Pro X, etc. - and I have even been able to enjoy some 3D games like Tomb Raider: Underworld very smoothly, around 50 FPS.
A strong point of the MacBook Pro is the sound, which sounds better than expected considering that it is a fairly thin device. Stereo speakers are located on the sides of the keyboard and reproduce richly toned music or movies.
Finally, the autonomy of the MacBook Pro is unchanged from last year’s model and offers 10 hours of web browsing or video playback. The MacBook Pro can handle a day’s work well, although if you are looking for greater autonomy, the MacBook Air has a slightly longer battery life.
In conclusion, the MacBook Pro is a laptop with an attractive design that can also offer great power. It is especially aimed at demanding users, who need to enjoy high performance wherever they go and for whom price is not the most important variable.