MacBook Pro 2018 review: can it stand the heat?

The new MacBook Pros are here with modern processors, and a slightly newer keyboard, and True Tone displays. But here's a question: is what's here actually enough to make professionals trust these machines? You know what, before we get into all of that, we should honestly just start with the basics.

This MacBook Pro looks exactly like the last MacBook Pro. It has the same four Thunderbolt ports, it has the same touch bar, it has basically the same Retina display. The only external thing that has changed is the keyboard. Apple says they redesigned it to make it quieter, and in our testing, it is, in fact, just a little bit quieter. The other thing that's new here is they've added True Tone to the display, which we've mostly turned off because we care about color accuracy.

We were all set to really get into that issue of trust and talk a little bit about the stuff that's eroded it over the years for pros. But then, we got a curve ball. Last night, which is a week before you're watching this now, this happened. - The problem, though, is that this chassis, the MacBook Pro, cannot cool the I9 properly. When you look at renders, and I'm using Adobe Premiere, after a few seconds, we're starting to see some very serious throttling. - So, Riker sitting. It's Tuesday July 24th, and Apple has just admitted that there is, in fact, thermal throttling on every single model of the new MacBook Pros. They've released a statement, which I'm gonna read, and they've released a software fix that's available right now. So, here's their statement: "Following extensive performance testing "under numerous workloads, "we've identified that there is a missing "digital key in the firmware "that impacts the thermal management system "and could drive clock speeds down "under heavy thermal loads on the MacBook Pro. "A bug fix is included in today's Mac OS High Sierra," yada, yada, yada, "We apologize to any customer "who's experienced less than optimal performance "on their new systems."

Okay, key takeaways here, Apple's not changing their performance results, they say it's still the same. We are going to re-test all of that. We're gonna redo all of our tests, so stay tuned for that later in this video. To really get into it, we actually need to talk to one of those professionals who does professional stuff with it, and hey, look over there, it's Vjeran Pavic. He's one of those. He edits videos, and directs videos, and does photography. We should talk to him. - Thank you. All right, so in front of me, we have the new laptop, the video we were just talking about, and to my left, or your right, is my personal laptop, the 2016 MacBook Pro with the touch bar, the one that kicked off the entire redesign of this line. The 2018 build is thoroughly modern with super powerful specs. It's on par with the Windows laptops that came out earlier this year, and Apple is getting better at updating faster for the MacBook Pro line, but a better way to ask Dieter's question about trust is this: does the power of this thing offset the hassles? For the past few days, I literally locked myself inside one of the conference rooms in our office in order to compare these two machines. I benchmarked Premiere Pro Final Cut 10, and just used it for my everyday tasks.

But there are a couple of areas I really wanna focus on now. - Hey, Vjeran, actually, you know what, can we just talk about the specs for another minute, 'cause there's a lot going on here. - Hey, Dieter. - Hey buddy, how's it going? Okay, so, there's the T2, which handles a bunch of the internal machinations of the computer, there's faster DDR4 RAM, and there's this new, faster SSD, which does file operations, like, stupid quickly. There's also the fact that you can get a six core processor on this, which is actually more than a standard iMac. - Yeah, and you can get this I9 processor as well, which is really powerful. Scrubbing through footage worked really well, rendering files worked well, as you expect them to. Realistically, you probably wanna do a couple of things at the same time, so let's spread out that RAM power, 32 gigabytes of it in this case. So, I open up Spotify, Lightroom, After Effects, and I screen recorded my entire process, which might've been an overkill. I noticed the laptop struggling a bit, the mouse cursor was kind of jaggy. Jaggy? That's not a word. So, I just decided to stop the screen recording. Anyway, once the video was done, I started exporting them on both machines at the same time.

So, I was gonna show you the results of my MacBook Pro compared to the new MacBook Pro, but at this point, it seems like old news, so instead, let's talk about the performance of the I9 MacBook Pro before and after the software patch that Apple released earlier this week. All right, let's start with Premiere Pro first. In both of the tests, before and after the patch, the export times were basically the same, 11 minutes and 35 seconds. Once I switched to Final Cut Pro, I noticed some improvement. What used to be a four minute and 35 second export now was down to two minutes and 26 seconds, so yeah, thermal throttling was an issue, Apple released an update, and looks like they've fixed it. As for Premiere Pro, we still need to run a few more tests to have more conclusive results. To be blunt, though, it wasn't that much faster than my two year old MacBook. The improvement was as little as 10%. For now, the only thing that we can assume is that Premiere Pro isn't optimized for this machine yet. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming. A lot of the time, we work out in the field, covering events which require us to shoot, edit, and deliver videos in a matter of hours. More often than not, I just found myself leaving the 2016 MacBook Pro behind because the 2015 version had better battery life. Also, I didn't wanna deal with dongles, but that's another topic. - Dongles, I heard dongles! I'm always here to talk about dongle life. - You heard correctly. - Okay, but jokes aside, it is a genuine source of angst for people with these computers. - Yeah, the point is that there was kind of like a one, two punch here. I didn't trust the battery, I didn't wanna deal with a dongle, so just bring my old MacBook with me.

Okay, so what do you feel about it now with this new MacBook? - Well, the speed helps to make up for some of that, but you still have to deal with dongles, and for me personally, there isn't a perfect, portable dongle dock that I can use. I need SD card readers, super fast USB ports, but also Thunderbolt 2, which nobody supports. - For me, the big one is, like, can I really trust this keyboard long-term? - Right, and the speed did improve, as well as the keyboard. Not only the sound, but there's nice resistance to it, although this is a new machine, so that might change over time. - Okay, and then I guess the last thing on our list is the battery. How is that? - Oh yeah, the thing I was talking about before you interrupted me? (sighing) - Sorry, man. - It's okay. Anyways, so what we know about battery in this machine is that it's slightly bigger than before, but that's meant to offset the more powerful processors. And I really don't care if my battery lasts longer for, you know, reading, surfing the web, watching movies. I want it to last long for more intense video editing. The 2016 MacBook Pro lasts about three hours, maybe less, and as far as I can tell, this one is about the same. Not saying it's worse, but it's definitely not better. - Now, at the top of the video, I asked can you trust this machine that's sitting in front of Vjeran? - And I asked if all the extra power can offset the hassles that come with it? And yeah, this laptop finally proved that it can perform as you expect it to, or close to what I was expecting it to. - Right, but the question is, what were you really expecting? - Well, I was expecting a little bit more noticeable bump in performance and a better battery. I didn't get that bump in performance, and I definitely didn't get a better battery. - Yeah, but the question here, honestly is, maybe everybody's expectations were maybe too high.

Everybody's frustrations about the Mac got laid on top of this, you know, unibody frame. - The same frame that really can't handle thermals? Although, apparently they got fixed, so you know. - Yeah, but also, they've been really squirrely about the keyboard. They say it's only there to be quieter, but we also kinda know it was redesigned to be more reliable. It's like, with this Mac, Apple just keeps walking face first into controversies. - People who buy these machines, they don't really care about controversies that much. They buy it because of the way it looks and the way it's built, and this build kinda backfired this time. This thing is not gonna eliminate heat as much as a bigger, more chunkier laptop would. - That's okay, as long as you know what you're getting yourself into. Yeah, I mean, for my question about trust, do I trust this thing? Yeah, I guess. It feels like what we ended up with here is the same laptop that a lot of people genuinely love and a lot of people are genuinely frustrated with, only now it's faster. Maybe it's not as fast as deep down we know a pro laptop could be, but maybe that was just too much to expect. - All right, I guess it's time for the end card, so all you, buddy.


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