On the 21st of May Apple discreetly updated its 2019 MacBook Pro lineup with new processors and keyboard.
This quiet update will not be unveiled at the Apple event, WWDC 2019, which is telling.
In my 2019 MacBook Pro rumors article I outlined the performance upgrades and possible redesign. However it seems only the former has materialized this year.
So what have we got?
As predicted, Apple has updated the processors to Intel’s 9th Gen processors.
The most notable changes have come to the 15’ model. The base model comes with a 2.6GHz 6-core 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, which can be turbo boosted to 4.5GHz.
Impressively you can now outfit your 2019 MacBook Pro with either a 2.3GHz 8-core 9th Gen Intel Core i9 processor, which can turbo boost up to 4.8GHz; and the top spec 2.4GHz 8-core 9th Gen Intel Core i9 processor, which can turbo boost up to 5.0GHz.
These are impressive processors in a laptop.
Early buyers are now posting benchmarks with various 2019 15’ MacBook Pro configurations. And surprisingly the results are not too bad.
Appleinsider’s top of the line 15’ 2019 MacBook Pro 2.4GHz 8-core 9th Gen Radeon Vega 20 Cinebench20 benchmark results showed that their 2019 MacBook Pro never fell below its base clock speed of 2.3GHz and actually averaged a baseline overclocked speed of 3GHz. The Cinebench score was a respectable 3096cb. There wasn’t any thermal throttling in this test.
Maxtech posted Cinebench benchmarks 3161cb for their 2.3GHz 8-Core MacBook Pro. Whereas SnazzyLabs’ 2.4GHz 8-Core MacBook Pro scored Cinebench benchmarks 3231cb. Which is not a huge difference.
The Vega chips will post better performance results as it runs increased fan speeds. The extra cooling would allow the processors to reach higher clock speeds.
So performance is much better. The consensus is that if you have the 2018 MacBook Pro you are not looking at enough of an upgrade in performance to upgrade.
However, performance wise, the 2019 MacBook Pro is reaching the advertised performance levels without thermal issues from last year’s model before the patch.
2019 MacBook Pro Butterfly Keyboard
Apple have not redesigned their much maligned butterfly keyboard. Instead we have the 4th generation butterfly keyboard with undisclosed ‘new material’ in the keyboard mechanism.
Apple have used a new polymer for the switch housing as discovered by iFixit. The new material is now more nylon based which is much stronger as far as polymers go.
The new material should then be less prone to breaking. And while it’s too early to tell, initial reports are that the keyboard feels different, sturdier and louder.
Tellingly the 2019 MacBook Pro is already on the Apple keyboard service program. Some are saying this is Apple admitting the new keyboard is still prone to issues. However this may be a little unfair as it is peace of mind that for 4 years any keyboard issues will be repaired for free.
Another interesting change to the 2019 MacBook Pro is benchmarks have showed that the MacBook Pro runs at slightly cooler temperatures of around low 90C, which means it could hit higher clock speeds but ‘throttles’ to keep it down. Apple have possibly done this to reduce the degradation of parts like the keyboard that are susceptible to failure because of the high temperatures.
Should you wait?
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple was working on a 16’ MacBook Pro, which would possible include an OLED or Mini LED screen and new chassis to get better thermals from Intel’s new processors.
Apple have been reported to be in talks with Samsung to provide OLED screens for future MacBooks. This would probably be available at the earliest next year.
Apple’s MacBook Pro is designed for Intel’s ‘Ice Lake’ 10nm chips which would have resulted in better thermals. These chips reportedly will not be available till the end of 2019.
So the chances of a 16’ MacBook Pro this year seems highly unlikely, as the tech for this new MacBook Pro is not available as yet.
However there is the possibility of another refresh in the Autumn/Fall. AMD’s Navi graphics should be announced at Computex 2019 and like in 2018 with the MacBook Pro refresh to the Radeon Vega 20 graphics, we could see a similar update.
But the current 2019 MacBook Pro is still a compelling purchase as the performance results are good and it still remains the best laptop available for content creators.
If you purchased a pre 2018 MacBook Pro there is enough of an improvement to upgrade. However even if you haven’t purchased a MacBook Pro yet, but you can hold on, the 2020 MacBook Pro will herald the start of the next 4 year cycle for the MacBook Pro.
In 2020 Apple will possibly have new screen tech and a chassis redesign to maximise the full potential of the Intel 10nm processor chipset. So this is probably the best route. But if you can’t wait, the performance levels of this MacBook Pro will still be good enough for years to come.