Apple Releases Updated MacBook Pro CPUs, New Keyboard Design
Apple has once again updated the MacBook Pro lineup, this time with a set of CPU tweaks across the 13-inch and 15-inch product families. The company’s keyboard also came in for another set of tweaks, alongside modifications to the repair program.
As part of its mid-year refresh, Apple has swapped to slightly faster 9th Gen processors for its various notebooks. The table below summarizes the changes.
In addition to these adjustments, there’s a new top-end CPU choice for the most expensive MacBook Pro. Previously, the highest-end CPU you could put into the 15-inch MacBook Pro was a six-core chip with a 2.9GHz base clock and 4.8GHz turbo. It’s been replaced by a 2.4GHz eight-core CPU with a 5GHz Turbo.
Apple claims that the new eight-core Macs offer up to 40 percent more performance than the previous six-core variants, though there’s good reason to be dubious about that kind of claim. The bump from 6 to 8 cores is good for a theoretical 1.33x performance boost, assuming perfect scaling, but you’ll only see a 40 percent gain if the laptops can take full advantage of higher core counts and additional clock speed. Thermal throttling makes this intrinsically unlikely. Laptop CPUs can’t typically maintain the same clocks as their desktop counterparts. Real-world improvements are likely to be smaller than this.
Apple claims to have once again made material changes to its keyboard that will prevent debris or other detritus from becoming stuck under keys and leading to either non-responsive keys or multiple key-presses being logged from a single button touch. The company, however, refused to comment on the specifics of these changes or why it made them.
At this point, Apple’s failing keyboards are an industry joke. I wouldn’t recommend buying an Apple laptop until a third-party like iFixit has had an opportunity to dismantle it and confirm that the keyboard has been substantially improved. This is where we are with the company — and while it’s made changes to its keyboard repair program, including extending it to cover machines that weren’t previously covered, the company is also still selling machines with the broken keyboards in place, most likely because it doesn’t want to admit that it sells defective merchandise.
If Apple was serious about fixing its keyboards, the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar would have been updated to the new keyboard design along with the rest of these systems. It wasn’t. When Apple launched its third update of the MacBook Pro keyboard, it was reviewers who said the key jamming issue should be reduced. Apple pointedly refused comment. Apple is still refusing comment, most likely to avoid saying anything that might be used against it in a court of law.
Even if you love Apple products, it makes sense to wait and see what the verdict is on this fourth redesign before dropping four figures on a new laptop. Better to wait a few days for iFixit than to spend that time running back and forth to an Apple Store, especially if you don’t have an Apple Store nearby. The company may have streamlined its repair procedures, but having a machine out-of-commission for even a day can be a major hassle, depending on whether you have a spare rig. There’s also no word on whether these Macs fix the audio bug that afflicts systems equipped with Apple’s T2 security chip. There’ve been no major media reports on the issue since we discussed it in late-February, which implies (but does not confirm) that it remains unaddressed. That may be another reason to avoid upgrading until the issue can be confirmed as solved.
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