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MacBook Pro 2017 review: The future starts with Kaby Lake

Posted June 13, 2017 | Mac

Did you hear cries of regret and maybe a few cuss words in the background during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote? If you did, it was from folks who bought a MacBook Pro in the past few weeks. You see, during WWDC, Apple revealed an upgrade to the MacBook Pro to replace the models that were released just last Fall.

Now, on the surface, the new MacBook Pro looks exactly the same, but all of the changes are found under-the-hood via performance bumps. And our test results do show an expected increase in speed, but it’s not enough to induce serious buyer’s remorse in anyone who recently bought a MacBook Pro of the previous generation—though it may spark a bit of envy.

(This review covers Apple’s top-of-the-line model, a 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.9GHz processor. This particular model sells for $2,799.)

What’s changed

The heart of the MacBook Pro is where you’ll find the major change. All MacBook Pro models now feature Intel’s Kaby Lake processors, which replace the Skylake processors found in the previous MacBook Pro. For this review, a Kaby Lake 2.9GHz quad-core Core i7 in the model I reviewed replaces a Skylake 2.7GHz quad-core Core i7.

Roman Loyola

Stock up on adapters: The MacBook Pro relies on Thunderbolt 3 for connectivity. The 15-inch models have four of them. Our MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 adapter guide will help you get the ones you need.

Another major change is the graphics technology. The $2,799 model now has the Intel HD Graphics 630 instead of the Intel HD Graphics 530 as integrated graphics. The discrete high-performance graphics chip is now a 4GB Radeon Pro 560, which replaces a 4GB Radeon Pro 460.

What’s the same

Just about everything else about the MacBook Pro is the same as before. The aluminum unibody case design (available in Space Gray or Silver), the 15.4-inch display with a 2880-by-1800 native resolution and P3 color gamut, the Thunderbolt 3 ports (four ports on my review model), and the Force Touch trackpad are unchanged.

macbook pro 2017 15inkeyboard touchpadRoman Loyola

The keyboard doesn’t have enough “life” for my taste, but I love the maxi-sized Force Touch trackpad.

Disappointingly, the MacBook Pro still supports a maximum of 16GB of RAM, which is what’s included in the $2,799 model. Apple uses LPDDR3 memory rated at a speed of 2133 MHz, and in order for the MacBook Pro to support 32GB of RAM, Apple would have to use memory that needs more power, thereby affecting battery life. (MacDaddy has a great article explaining the issues with 32GB of RAM on the MacBook Pro.)

The $2,799 MacBook Pro comes with a 512GB solid-state drive. Apple says that the performance of the SSD is 50 percent faster than the previous SSD. The speed increase comes from improvements in the SSD’s hardware controller.

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