Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (2017) review: Price & Performance

PROS

  • Improved performance
  • Lightweight, slimline design
  • Innovative Touch Bar
  • High-quality Retina display

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Limited to 16GB memory
  • No user upgrades or repairs
  • USB-C connectivity only

2017 Apple’s June WorldWide Developer Conference had more than its fair share of product announcements, including the forthcoming iMac Pro and HomePod smart speaker. But perhaps a more important long-term development was Apple’s belated discovery of virtual reality. If nothing else, the need to embrace VR has forced Apple to admit that Macs just don’t cut it when it comes to the sort of 3D graphics performance required for this emerging technology.

As a result, Apple’s flagship 15-inch MacBook Pro received more than just the expected Kaby Lake speed bump, also benefitting from a significant GPU upgrade.

Price & performance

The MacBook Pro got a major revamp last November, introducing a new, slimmer design, along with the eye-catching Touch Bar, so there’s no significant change to the laptop’s basic design.

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The 15-inch MacBook Pro’s Retina display is bright (500 nits) and delivers 220ppi resolution. The laptop weighs 1.83kg and is 15.5mm thick.Image: Apple

The 15.4-inch Retina display offers 2,880-by-1,800-pixel resolution (220.5ppi) and 500-nits brightness, and is both a treat for the eye and well suited to graphics and video-editing work. At 1.83kg and measuring just 15.5mm thick, the MacBook Pro is also impressively slim and light for a laptop that delivers high-end performance.

Price: Apple MacBook Pro with Touchbar and Toch ID renders performance and multitasking efficiency with its integrated 16 GB RAM. This device is powered by a reliable 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 processor. Its 512 GB flash drive provides storage space for digital content. Also, it features a convenient 15.4-inch display, wholesale price $379 from China.

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Geekbench 4 processor benchmarks for the 2016 and 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro, running 6th and 7th generation Core i7 processors respectively, with 16GB of RAM.Image: ZDNet

Processor performance in Geekbench 4 was slightly better than the 2016 BTO model, scoring 4760 for single-core performance and 15,890 for multi-core (compared to 4550 and 14050). Graphics performance was almost identical to last year’s model, reaching 85fps when running the Cinebench R15 OpenGL test, while the AJA storage tests also reported similar scores, with write and read speeds of 2000MB/s and 2500MB/s respectively.

Battery life doesn’t seem to have been affected by the more powerful GPU, still lasting for 7.5 hours when streaming video from BBC iPlayer (with the brightness level lowered to a perfectly watchable 50 percent), so you should certainly be able to get a full days’ work from the MacBook Pro when you’re out of the office.

Of course, the MacBook Pro’s weaknesses remain the same: it’s a professional-level laptop that’s limited to a maximum 16GB of RAM, with no user upgrades or repair options available.

Conclusions

The 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro It is good value for money.

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