We’ve spent over three months with the latest Macbook Pro model and our long-term review reveals the highs and lows of that time with Apple’s super-powered laptop.
At the end of 2016, Apple launched its latest range of Macbook Pro laptops. Featuring a snazzy context-sensitive Touch Bar and powerful specs, the 15-inch model is Apple’s most impressive creative device to date, built with more demanding users in mind. We were certainly won over in our original review, published over three months ago
We’ve used the new 15-inch Macbook Pro on a near daily basis since the beginning of 2017, for both work and for play. Here’s our long-term thoughts on this premium laptop and whether you should splash out on the Touch Bar model.
Some manufacturers come close, but Apple is still the governor when it comes to gorgeous laptop design. The latest Macbook Pro is just as stunning as ever, not to mention impressively slender. Surrounding the screen you get quite slim bezels, so the height and width aren’t too imposing, while the device isn’t much thicker than your average pencil.
Certainly, three months of carrying the 1.8kg Pro in my backpack hasn’t left its impression on my spine. This laptop is lighter than many of the mid-range laptops I end up lugging around, while also remaining significantly thinner.
So far the device seems reassuringly resistant to damage too. I haven’t dropped the Macbook Pro and have tried my best to handle it with care, but by now I’d expect to see a few light scratches, scuffs and the rest. In fact, give the surface a quick polish and it’s just as fresh as the day I pulled it from the box.
A new way to interact
Apple’s fresh new enormous touchpad remains one of the best I’ve ever used, period. Switching from the Macbook Pro to any other laptop, I find I get frustrated with constantly having to lift my finger to move the cursor across the screen. With Apple’s latest laptop, that’s never an issue. And while my palms frequently stray onto the touchpad’s surface, the Pro is smart enough to ignore these unintentional sweeps.
As mentioned in my original review, I did disable the touchpad’s Force Touch compatibility after just a couple of days. My standard taps are a little on the hard side, so they were often confused with Force Touch pokes instead. I tried turning it on again a month later, but with the same result; thank the Apple gods you can tweak the gesture settings in Mac OS.
I’m still very fond of the Macbook Pro’s spacious keyboard, too. This seems to be perfectly sized and spaced for fast touch typing, with minimal mistakes as you go. However, there is one problem with the board and that’s the volume of each key press. Type at any kind of serious speed and a quiet room will be filled with a loud and disruptive clack, clack noise. This is particularly grating if you’re in a meeting or some other quiet room, attracting raised eyebrows from your colleagues as your fingers dance across the board.
The only solution I have found is to really slow down my typing and force myself to tap the keys as gently as possible. However, even this produces a louder noise than most other laptop keyboards.
One of the major new features of Apple’s latest Macbook Pro is of course the Touch Bar housed above the keyboard. I’ve already fully reviewed the Touch Bar and after three months I’m still a fan.
While the Touch Bar alone isn’t reason enough for upgrading to this model, it’s a great little tool for creative users. Interacting with the likes of Final Cut is a more pleasurable experience thanks to the ability to quickly skim through timelines. And if you’re useless at remembering shortcuts, the ability to add these to the bar is a great feature.
The Macbook Pro is ideal for work purposes, but also a great way to unwind on the commute or at the end of a long day. That’s thanks to the rather spiffing 15-inch display.
Visuals are absolutely stunning, with seriously impressive contrast levels and natural colours to make your movies, photos and everything else really shine. A small group can happily sit back and enjoy a film on that spacious screen, especially thanks to the wide viewing angles.
Plus, working or playing on the go has never been easier. That 500 nits display is perfectly clear, even in direct sunlight, so I’ve never once had to squint to see what was going on.
You don’t even need to connect any external speakers when enjoying films, music and other media. The dual blasters which run either side of the keyboard are pleasingly powerful, easily filling a kitchen or lounge with audio on top volume. That’s even counting lots of background clamour, including boiling kettles and angry cats. Sound quality is strong, even at maximum volume. Clarity is perfect and audio is accurately reproduced, shunning the need for headphones.
As you’d expect from one of Apple’s Pro laptops, the latest Macbook Pro is one seriously powerful beast. We reviewed the top-end model with a Core i7 chipset, 16GB of RAM and a Radeon Pro 460 GPU. This is capable of editing 4K video in the likes of Final Cut with no slowdown whatsoever, not to mention any other graphically intensive task we threw its way.
You can also kick back with some of the latest games, in your well-earned downtime. In fact, it takes some serious resource-sucking titles to make the Pro struggle at all. Most games can be played with detail levels cranked right up and only the likes of Obduction have required a scaling back of the graphics.
That’s not to say the Macbook Pro never stumbles, of course. I’ve seen a few crashes here and there over the past three months, two of which have required a hard reboot to correct.
When I first reviewed the Macbook Pro, I was getting around four hours of mixed use on a single charge. Thankfully the battery seems to have ‘settled’ since that first fortnight and now I get closer to five full hours per charge. That includes some light gaming, a bit of media editing, Netflix streaming and other bits. Battery health is still at one hundred percent and hopefully there won’t be any issues with efficiency and charge over time.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to extend the Pro’s battery life if needed.
Still a winner
The Macbook Pro certainly isn’t cheap and most of the killer features – that gorgeous display, impressive performance and well-designed interface – will suit only the most demanding of users. If you want something for browsing the web and checking out cute cat videos on YouTube, you should look elsewhere unless you’re completely minted.
However, if you’re after a portable machine for editing video, gaming or getting creative on the go, this is a solid all-round package and one that will happily stand the test of time. Three months on we’re yet to discover any serious issues. In fact, the more we use the 2017 Macbook Pro, the more we love it.