Several of Apple’s professional-grade MacBook Pro laptops received some under-the-hood updates today, as the company brought Intel’s latest 8th- and 9th-generation Core-series CPUs to its higher-end 13-inch and 15-inch models. While entry-level MacBook Pros continue to use older 7th-generation Intel Core chips, Apple is offering an eight-core laptop for the first time, and has equipped the new machines with yet another revision of its troubled butterfly keyboard.
The new machines begin with $1,799 and $1,999 13-inch Pros, each of which includes a quad-core, 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.4GHz with a 4.1GHz Turbo Boost mode; the more expensive model has a 512GB SSD rather than 256GB. Users can customize each model with a quad-core Intel Core i7 running at 2.8GHz with a 4.7GHz Turbo Boost model for $300 more.
In 15-inch sizes, Apple is offering a $2,399 2.6GHz 6-core Pro and a $2,799 2.3GHz 8-Core Pro, the latter with a $200 option to upgrade to 2.4GHz with a 5.0GHz Turbo Boost Mode. According to Apple, the eight-core CPU promises twice the performance of a quad-core machine, and 40% better performance than a six-core model.
All of the new models have True Tone-ready Retina displays. The 13-inch versions ship with Intel’s Iris Plus 655 GPU, while the 15-inch models include AMD Radeon Pro 555X or 560X GPUs, with the option of Vega graphics. Each continues to have four Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports and an Apple T2 security chip, which have been included in previous models.
Notably, Apple has once again revised the butterfly keyboard found in prior MacBook Pros in an apparent effort to reduce complaints regarding failures of the typing surface. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has switched the rubbery material used in its third-generation butterfly keyboard to a new formulation, and is expanding its keyboard repair program to cover additional MacBook models — the MacBook Air and prior-generation MacBook Pro.
Despite annual CPU and GPU performance enhancements, keyboard issues ranging from sticky to entirely broken keys have caused professional users to question the MacBook Pro’s long-term viability as a business laptop. The company has been sued over the defects, but has attempted to address them with relatively small tweaks. Whether the new material is capable of fully remedying the prior issues or just delaying their onset remains to be seen.
The new laptops are available from Apple’s online store now with delivery later this week. They’re not currently listed as available in its retail stores, but should show up over the next few days.