Apple has just updated its line of MacBook Pro laptops, putting in new, current-generation CPUs and a new key switch mechanism that might have fixed the laptop's most consistently annoying problem.
If you're like me, you've grown used to the awful keyboard on the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. It wasn't deliberate - it just happened. I was basically torn between accepting the keyboard or spending every day of my ownership focusing on how unpleasant the typing experience is and how easy it is to break a key with nothing more than a crumb.
Apple has sort of recognised the problem with its keyboard. It launched a repair program in June after getting hit with a class action in May.
Now Ars Technica claims the key switches have been replaced. The updated machines feature key switches that are similar in size and presumably travel (the distance the keys take to actuate), but with a "softer, less click-y feel that is a little closer to the pre-2016 models' chiclet keys."
That could fix current owners' concerns - though, having not yet tested the keyboard, I can't be certain. If the travel of the keys continues to be shallow, the switch might still continue to be unpleasant to type on, and it would mean there would still be the chance for a crumb to disrupt your typing.
Besides the keyboard update, the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has also seen an update to the latest processors. And I'm not just talking Kaby Lake R, the 8th Gen CPUs Intel announced last year. No, the MacBook Pro is getting the 8th Gen Coffee Lake CPUs Intel announced only back in April of 2018.
The 13-inch MacBook Pros will receive the 28W 4-core i5 U-series CPU (though presumably there will be an option to upgrade to the i7). These CPUs use Intel Iris 655 graphics and should definitely be a little faster than the current MacBook Pro with a 7th Gen processor. What was noteworthy about the 28W U-series when it was announced in April was that it provides support for Intel's wicked-fast Optane memory and storage. There's no word on if Apple's updated devices will support Optane, but as Apple did not make a show of announcing it, it is safe to say support will be unlikely.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro gets a much more significant upgrade. Apple has moved from a 4-core CPU to Intel's new 6-core 45W H series of CPUs, including the 6-core i7 and the option for the 6-core i9. These CPUs are a lot faster than their previous generation of CPUs. When we tested two non-Mac laptops with the 7th Gen 45W CPU and the new 8th Gen 45W CPU, we saw the Geekbench score jump from 12850 to 18031. That should mean videos will render faster, Photoshop will process images more quickly, and even browsing the web should feel a hair speedier.
The 15-inch will have the option of being fitted with as much as 32GB of RAM and you'll be able to choose from a Radeon Pro 555X GPU or Radeon Pro 560X - AMD's latest Polaris GPUs.
Apple has also, according to Ars Technica, updated the processor for the Touch Bar from a T1 to the T2 found in the latest iPad Pro. It's not clear how this will improve performance, but Ars claims it will handle Touch ID and any calls to Siri.
Notably, Apple made no announcements about updates to the non-Touch Bar version of the MacBook Pro, which means if you want a baseline, 13-inch MacBook Pro, you'll be stuck with last year's guts.
In addition to update Touch Bar MacBook Pros, Apple also announced that it would be supporting another eGPU on the Apple store. Apple developed the new eGPU with BlackMagic Design. According to BlackMagic Design, it has a built-in Radeon Pro 580 GPU, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI 2.0, 85W of charging power, and four USB 3.1 connections.
If a refresh has you reaching for your wallet, Apple says the updated laptops will be available in its stores starting later today.