PC

Latest MacBook Pro is Apple's best laptop to date

The new Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) is here. And it comes with several new features that users have been wanting for years.

I shall start with its new "old" keyboard. After several iterations of the troubled butterfly-switch keyboard in its MacBook Pro line-up, Apple has reverted to the scissor-switch keyboard with this model.

I did not have many issues with the butterfly-mechanism keyboard of the 2016 MacBook Pro, but I have read about plenty of instances of its premature failure.

Apple says this new scissor-switch keyboard is inspired by the Magic Keyboard that comes with the iMac Pro and offers a 1mm key travel.

I prefer the new keyboard as it has a "clicky" feel and a very satisfying clunk to each key press. I typed this review with just a few typos using this keyboard. In fact, it feels more like the Apple Wireless Keyboard I use with my eight-year-old iMac.

In addition, I like the tweaks to the keyboard layout. The Touch ID/Power button is slightly more isolated from the Touch Bar, so you do not mistakenly touch the Touch Bar when pressing the button.

The Escape key is now a dedicated key, instead of being a virtual key in the Touch Bar. This is a very welcome change, especially for video editors and programmers who use the key a lot.

I also like that the directional keys are now placed in an inverted-T arrangement for better navigation. Previously, the keys were in a rectangular arrangement, which is not very intuitive.

And, of course, the other big change is the 16-inch Retina display. This model replaces the 15.6-inch MacBook Pro line-up.

The new display has a resolution of 3,072 x 1,920 pixels, slightly higher than that of the 15.6-inch display, which has 2,880 x 1,800 pixels. But I thought not having a 4K display was a missed chance.

  • FOR

  • • Great scissor-mechanism keyboard

    • Slightly bigger display

    •  Superb speakers

  • AGAINST

    • Expensive

    • Heavier than its predecessor

  • SPECS

    PRICE: From $3,499

    DISPLAY: 16-inch, 3,072 x 1,920 pixels

    PROCESSOR: From Intel Core i7 2.6GHz six-core

    SYSTEM MEMORY: From 16GB

    GRAPHICS: From AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of video memory/Intel UHD Graphics 630

    STORAGE: From 512GB SSD

    CONNECTIVITY: 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)

    WEIGHT: 2kg

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4.5/5

It also has slightly thinner bezels. But, compared with some Windows laptops, the bezels are still quite thick.

The display is colour-calibrated at the factory. For video editors and photographers who need colour accuracy, they can use it right out of the box. The display looks gorgeous with factory settings and you can adjust its refresh rate according to the videos you are editing.

While the MacBook Pro's design remains relatively unchanged, there are slight differences with the new model. At 2kg, it is slightly heavier - 170g, to be exact - than its direct predecessor. It is also a bit larger and thicker as a result of the new display.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with a new set of speakers. And they are probably the best laptop speakers I have encountered. They produce stereo-quality audio and were loud enough for my wife to think I had turned on the stereo speakers of our living-room TV.

The laptop comes with the largest possible battery that flights will allow: a 100-watt-hour battery. The result is amazing battery life. In the video loop test, it clocked nine hours and 46 minutes before the battery went flat. Its predecessor lasted eight hours and 10 minutes in the same test.

As you would expect, the new MacBook Pro has faster processors and graphics processing units (GPUs), utilising the ninth-generation six-core Intel Core i7 or eight-core Core i9 processors, and the AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series GPUs.

The review unit is the higher-spec standard model ($3,999) offered as a default configuration in the Apple store, with a 2.3GHz eight-core Intel Core i9 processor, an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of video memory GPU, 16GB of system memory and 1TB of flash storage.

In the GeekBench 5 benchmarking test, it scored 1,122 (single-core) and 6,784 (multi-core).

In comparison, last year's flagship 15.6-inch six-core MacBook Pro scored 875 (single-core) and 4,400 (multi-core).

Waiting for Adobe Bridge CC to generate thumbnail previews for 200 RAW images took only three seconds with the review unit, compared with five seconds on last year's MacBook Pro.

Launching Final Cut Pro X took five seconds, compared with 12 seconds on last year's MacBook Pro. Editing 4K video footage is lightning-quick, whether you are applying transitions or effects.

The only issue I have with the 16-inch MacBook Pro is its price, which starts at $3,499.

Even though it is cheaper than before when it comes to upgrading its system memory or flash storage, a fully souped-up 16-inch MacBook Pro with 64GB of system memory and 8TB of flash storage will still cost a whopping $8,619.

But if you can afford it, this is the best Mac laptop money can buy now.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2019, with the headline 'Latest MacBook Pro is Apple's best laptop to date'. Print Edition | Subscribe