If you've been waiting for Apple to wake up and address the concerns raised by the Apple community -- your wait is now over. This is the MacBook Pro we've all been wanting for years. This review is for the higher end model, stock.
- Keyboard. It's fantastic. The key travel has been extended to 1mm, which is about half of the original keyboard found on the 2015 and prior model years. It feels just as good to type on because apple improved the tactile feedback. The keys sort of spring back. The keyboard is quiet and very comfortable to type on. The keys are slightly smaller but do not make typing on them any more difficult. The directional arrows are now properly setup and the physical Esc key is back, making it a breeze to flip through open applications.
- Screen. The difference in size is subtle but noticeable. It's technically even more dense, but just barely. You won't notice much difference from recent MacBook Pros but true to Apple, the display is absolutely gorgeous. The 0.6 inch difference in size retains the same logical resolution, so everything should look just slightly bigger which I welcome.
- Processor. The base model has the same chipset as the 2019 15.4" model. The performance, however, is about 10% better due to significantly improved airflow and larger heatsinks. The issue of heat related throttling has been largely addressed. On the upper model, the machine now comes with 8 cores and serious performance bump. There is literally nothing you can throw at this MacBook that it won't handle with breeze.
- Graphics. The traditional setup is still here. You have the onboard Intel chipset, which operates when the demand for visual performance is low. You also have a discrete AMD chip which delivers significant improvement over the previous generation. In fact, the base model delivers performance in excess of the upper spec Vega chipset from last year. The leap is extraordinary. As before, the system will automatically choose which graphics card to use depending on demand.
- Sound. In one world, amazing. Imagine Apple took a HomePod and flattened it to fit it in the housing of the MacBook Pro. That is essentially the experience. Bass is pronounced and crisp and treble is sharp. The sound is rich and room-filling. There are six speakers instead of two in the last generation.
-Microphone. Major improvements with three mics instead of one in the previous generation. I use the MacBook to make calls using an iPhone and the sound on the other end is clear and free from background noice. I've been told it sounds a lot better than before, but that is of course subjective. On paper, you're getting better noise reduction and improved sound fidelity.
- Touch Bar. Controversial in the past, I think it may now be the "happy medium" between physical keys and the useful Touch Bar which adapts to the content on the screen. The Esc key is back and on the right hand side you'll find Touch ID and power button.
- SSD. You'll love the fact that now base starting size of the SSD has been doubled on both the entry model and the upper model with 512GB and 1TB respectively.
- Gaming. This has to be mentioned. The graphics card offers incredible leap in performance. Modern games that would get 14-16FPS on high setting now perform at 35-40FPS with ease. Same settings. Same games. Huge improvement. It's now possible to play AAA games on the MacBook Pro with reasonable performance and high visual settings.
- Productivity. This machine is a beast. I use the full Affinity suite and do some limited video editing. In addition, I have multiple productivity programs open, over a dozen Safari tabs, two email clients, and dozens of other apps, such as CRM, task managers, notes, etc. Everything runs smoothly.
- Value. Yes, value. This expensive laptop brings the best value in the lineup of the 15."4 (now 16") offering to date. If you carefully look at the costs of truly compatible Windows offerings, you'll find the MacBook Pro to be competitively priced.
- Weight. The machine is slightly heavier but I welcome the added bulky. Finally Apple went with functionality over its obsession with thiner and lighter hardware, giving us a machine with proper thermal management, proper keyboard and more. But if you plan on taking it with you places, you'll feel the extra bulk.
- BTO Updates. The cost of BTO options is still quite high, with the noted exception of the 8GB option on the GPU. You're still paying a significant premium for each incremental upgrade over the base model.
To sum up -- This is the best MacBook Pro in many years. It's a well-rounded, powerful machine that brings about incredible performance and value. I would highly recommend it to any Pro.
If you're upgrading from the 13" model and wonder how much more real estate you can expect, see attached side-by-side comparison photo.
Update 3/15/20 -- Absolutely a beast of a machine. I love it. It has been pretty much perfect and its performance continues to surprise me. I have the top-speced model and it smokes pretty much everything I've used to date. In fact, it will perform on par with the new Mac Pro base configuration. Don't believe me? Google it. This is by far the best MacBook Pro to date and an amazing value. Well worth the price of admission if you need it.
|Product Dimensions||9.68 x 14.09 x 0.64 inches|
|Item Weight||5.89 pounds|
|Item model number||MVVK2LL/A|
|Batteries||1 Lithium Polymer batteries required. (included)|
|Date First Available||November 13, 2019|