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Apple MacBook Pro 13 (Mid 2017, i5, without Touch Bar) Review

Annoying fan. The MacBook Pro 13 without Touch Bar gets the Kaby Lake update as well. Thanks to the lower price, longer battery runtimes, and function keys, the entry-level model could potentially be the better choice for many users. However, you also get a slightly less powerful processor as well as an annoying fan.

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For the original German review, see here.

Apple updated the "smaller" MacBook Pro 13 without Touch Bar with Intel's current Kaby Lake processors from Intel. Today we have a look at the entry-level model, which is cheaper than before. It now starts at $1299, but with a smaller 128 GB SSD. The upgrade to the 256 GB drive is $200, so the price tag is similar to the previous model. You should check other shops to save some money.

It looks like the Touch Bar above the keyboard is the only difference between the two 13-inch models when you have them next to each other. A look on the inside, however, reveals two completely different notebooks. The MacBook with the function keys is shipped with slightly weaker processors and a less powerful cooling solution. Apple also implements a bigger battery. Our review shows why the "small" model might actually be the better choice for some users.

MacBook Pro 13 without Touch Bar MacBook Pro 13 with Touch Bar
Processor Core i5 2.3 GHz (Kaby Lake, 15 W)
Core i7 2.5 GHz (Kaby Lake, 15 W)
Core i5 3.1 GHz (Kaby Lake, 28 W)
Core i5 3.3 GHz (Kaby Lake, 28 W)
Core i7 3.5 GHz (Kaby Lake, 28 W)
GPU Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650
RAM 8 GB LPDDR3-2133
16 GB LPDDR3-2133
8 GB LPDDR3-2133
16 GB LPDDR3-2133
SSD 128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB
Display 13.3-inch IPS 2560x1600 pixels 13.3-inch IPS 2560x1600 pixels
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C
3.5 mm headset
4x Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C
3.5 mm headset
Price from $1299 from $1799

The case and the port selection did not change compared to the previous model, so we will not cover all the review sections once again. Please see our review of the MacBook Pro 13 2016 for the corresponding information; the following pictures were taken from this article as well. We also reviewed the other 2017 MacBooks:

The review will be expanded and finished over the next couple of days.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017 (MacBook Pro 13 Series)
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, Core: 950 MHz, Memory: 1066 MHz
Memory
8192 MB 
, LPDDR3-2133, Dual-Channel
Display
13.3 inch 16:10, 2560x1600 pixel 227 PPI, APPA033, IPS, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel Kaby Lake-U iHDCP 2.2 Premium PCH
Soundcard
Intel Kaby Lake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
2 USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 Thunderbolt, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm Headset, Brightness Sensor
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.2
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 14.9 x 304.1 x 212.4 ( = 0.59 x 11.97 x 8.36 in)
Battery
54.5 Wh Lithium-Polymer
Operating System
Apple macOS 10.12 Sierra
Camera
Webcam: 720p FaceTime HD
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo speakers, Keyboard: Chiclet (Butterfly v2), Keyboard Light: yes, 61-Watt USB-C-PSU, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.37 kg ( = 48.33 oz / 3.02 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)
Price
1499 Euro

 

Size Comparison

Display

The basic features of the 13.3-inch display did not change. The native resolution is still 2560x1600 pixels, which results in very sharp contents. macOS in particular scales perfectly and you can always enjoy crisp texts and images. Our test models of the current MacBook Pro 13 (with/without Touch Bar) either used the panel APPA033 or APPA034, but there are no major differences between the screens. Our test model today was shipped with the APPA033. It manages a high luminance of 564 cd/m² on average. The black value suffers a bit, but 0.45 cd/m² is still okay and results in a contrast ratio of more than 1300:1.

539
cd/m²
567
cd/m²
560
cd/m²
561
cd/m²
588
cd/m²
563
cd/m²
566
cd/m²
560
cd/m²
547
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 588 cd/m² Average: 561.2 cd/m² Minimum: 4.8 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 92 %
Center on Battery: 588 cd/m²
Contrast: 1307:1 (Black: 0.45 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 1.7 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 1.9 | - Ø
Gamma: 2.33
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017
APPA033, , 2560x1600, 13.3
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2016
APPA034, , 2560x1600, 13.3
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017 Touchbar i5
APPA034, , 2560x1600, 13.3
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017-20HR0021GE
B140HAN03_1, , 1920x1080, 14
Razer Blade Stealth
Sharp SHP142F (LQ125T1JW02), , 2560 x 1440, 12.5
Dell XPS 13 9360 QHD+ i7
Sharp SHP144A, , 3200x1800, 13.3
Response Times
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
47.2 (21.6, 25.6)
48 (23.6, 24.4)
48 (22, 26)
37 (19, 18)
43.6 (13.6, 30)
Response Time Black / White *
51.6 (8.4, 43.2)
33.6 (16.4, 17.2)
30.4 (18.8, 11.6)
33.4 (13.2, 20.2)
29.2 (9.2, 20)
PWM Frequency
119000 (80)
200 (30)
Screen
-7%
12%
-32%
-51%
-40%
Brightness
561
564
1%
514
-8%
271
-52%
382
-32%
357
-36%
Brightness Distribution
92
89
-3%
88
-4%
91
-1%
88
-4%
84
-9%
Black Level *
0.45
0.57
-27%
0.48
-7%
0.16
64%
0.45
-0%
0.266
41%
Contrast
1307
1053
-19%
1148
-12%
1738
33%
893
-32%
1489
14%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
1.7
1.5
12%
0.8
53%
4.5
-165%
3.6
-112%
3.9
-129%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
1.9
2
-5%
1
47%
3.2
-68%
4.3
-126%
4.16
-119%
Gamma
2.33 103%
2.27 106%
2.16 111%
2.02 119%
2.1 114%
2.31 104%
CCT
6738 96%
6855 95%
6672 97%
7042 92%
6572 99%
6514 100%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
77
57
62.3
57.5
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
92
87.5
95.7
88.7
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-7% / -7%
12% / 12%
-32% / -32%
-51% / -51%
-40% / -40%

* ... smaller is better

Our display measurements with the X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer and the professional software CalMAN already determines low deviations compared to the P3 reference out of the box. The average DeltaE-2000 values are within the target range (smaller 3), only some shades of blue surpass 3.

CalMAN Grayscale pre-calibration (target color space P3)
CalMAN Grayscale pre-calibration (target color space P3)
CalMAN ColorChecker pre-calibration (target color space P3)
CalMAN ColorChecker pre-calibration (target color space P3)

Performance

Apple ships the "small" MacBook Pro 13 with 15-watt processor (dual-core) from Intel. The specialty feature is the more powerful Iris Plus Graphics 640 graphics card with dedicated eDRAM cache, so the performance is better compared to regular ULV-iGPUs like the Intel HD Graphics 620, for example. Dedicated GPUs are not available. Apple only uses fast PCIe-SSD storage, so the subjective performance impression is very good. The MacBook Pro 13 can handle many workloads as long as they are not too demanding. Everyday tasks like web browsing, mails, light picture editing and the like are no problem though.

LatencyMon with Wi-Fi connection and YouTube video
LatencyMon with Wi-Fi connection and YouTube video

Processor

The Kaby Lake processor from the entry-level model has the designation Core i5-7360U and the base frequency for the two cores is 2.3 GHz, but the maximum Turbo Boost is 3.6 GHz for both cores. However, this speed can only be maintained for a couple of seconds. Apple removes the usual TDP limitation at 15 watts, but the two CPU cores quickly reach core temperatures of more than 90 °C, so they have to reduce the clocks.

Intel XTU
Intel XTU
Intel XTU Advanced
Intel XTU Advanced
Thermal throttling at almost 100 °C
Thermal throttling at almost 100 °C
Intel XTU Benchmark
Intel XTU Benchmark

The CPU performance is a bit better than the regular Core i7-7500U, which can be found in many high-end Ultrabooks. The optional Core i7-7660U we reviewed in the current Microsoft Surface Book, is up to 13% faster in optimal conditions (CB R15 Multi), but the MacBook Pro 13 will probably not be able to maintain this performance for long periods. The difference compared to the more expensive Touch Bar model is very small at just 6%; here we can see the effect of the better cooling performance.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i7
Intel Core i7-7660U
163 Points ∼100% +12%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
159.95 Points ∼98% +10%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
156 Points ∼96% +8%
Dell XPS 13 9360 FHD i7 Iris
Intel Core i7-7560U
153 Points ∼94% +6%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017
Intel Core i5-7360U
145 Points ∼89%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017
Intel Core i5-7360U
140 Points ∼86% -3%
Dell Latitude 5580
Intel Core i5-7300U
142 Points ∼87% -2%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017 Touchbar i5
Intel Core i5-7267U
141 Points ∼87% -3%
Razer Blade Stealth
Intel Core i7-7500U
139 Points ∼85% -4%
Asus Zenbook UX3430UQ-GV012T
Intel Core i7-7500U
135 Points ∼83% -7%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2016
Intel Core i5-6360U
126 Points ∼77% -13%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2016
Intel Core i5-6360U
124 Points ∼76% -14%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017-20HR0021GE
Intel Core i5-7200U
126 Points ∼77% -13%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
732 (min: 729) Points ∼100% +102%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
726.78 (min: 704.77) Points ∼99% +101%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i7
Intel Core i7-7660U
410 (min: 335.35) Points ∼56% +13%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017 Touchbar i5
Intel Core i5-7267U
383 (min: 377) Points ∼52% +6%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017
Intel Core i5-7360U
362 Points ∼49%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017
Intel Core i5-7360U
346 Points ∼47% -4%
Razer Blade Stealth
Intel Core i7-7500U
348 Points ∼48% -4%
Asus Zenbook UX3430UQ-GV012T
Intel Core i7-7500U
346 Points ∼47% -4%
Dell XPS 13 9360 FHD i7 Iris
Intel Core i7-7560U
336 Points ∼46% -7%
Dell Latitude 5580
Intel Core i5-7300U
328 Points ∼45% -9%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017-20HR0021GE
Intel Core i5-7200U
321 Points ∼44% -11%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2016
Intel Core i5-6360U
309 Points ∼42% -15%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2016
Intel Core i5-6360U
309 Points ∼42% -15%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
140 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
346 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
62.34 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Help
0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360370Tooltip
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64 Bit

The cooling solution of the MacBook Pro 13 is challenged by the high clocks of the Kaby Lake processor. Sustained workloads simulated by a Cinebench R15 Multi loop results in a performance drop. It is rather small after 2 runs in macOS, but the Windows (Bootcamp) performance drops quicker. The optional Core i7 with a 400 MHz higher Turbo, which creates even more heat, does not make a whole lot of sense here.

The performance is not reduced on battery power. More information about the Core i5-7360U is available in our Tech section.

Emissions

System Noise

One big problem of our previous test model was the rattling fan, but our current model does not have any problems so far. However, the high-pitched sound characteristic stays, which is why the fan is not very pleasant under load.

The good news is that the fan is not audible under light workloads or short peak load (up to ~30 seconds), respectively. The fan is even completely deactivated in macOS, while it is always spinning with at least 1200 rpm on Windows (Bootcamp) – independent of the power profile. However, the fan is only audible at ~2300 rpm in very quiet environments. We will have a look at some scenarios below and start with macOS. You can see that the fan quickly reaches its maximum speed of 7200 rpm when you stress the CPU in particular. The fan control is seamless, so the results are average values.

We use the Cinebench R15 Multi test running on macOS. You cannot hear the fan for the first ~30 seconds, but the speed will increase to around 6000 rpm and 35 dB(A) until the end of the run. The second run results in the maximum fan speed of 7200 rpm at 39.3 dB(A).

More GPU demanding applications like Unigine Valley take more time to activate the fan. It is basically not audible at ~30.6 dB(A) (3400-4600 rpm) in the first 5 minutes. This is followed by jumps to ~4100 rpm, ~4900 rpm, and ~5800 rpm before we reach the full 7200 rpm after a total of 16 minutes.

3DMark 06 on Windows results in 32.9 dB(A) and 5200 rpm on average. The fastest method to reach the maximum fan speed is Prime95. The situation in our stress test with the tools Prime95 and FurMark is similar to Unigine Valley. Thanks to the reduced processor clock, the temperature situation is more relaxed and we can only measure 31.5 dB(A) at first. It once again takes about ~15 minutes before the fan reaches 7200 rpm.

We cannot hear any other unpleasant noises.

Noise Level

Idle
30.2 / 30.2 / 30.2 dB(A)
Load
32.9 / 39.3 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 30.2 dB(A)
dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2028.428.930.326.728.52529.730.330.529.328.53127.127.63026.926.94027.226.626.125.125.75025.223.526.525.524.56325.723.624.823.924.58025.223.425.823.623.510023.622.1262222.612522.121.622.121.120.716021.221.32119.720.320021.125.721.719.519.725020.722.320.118.218.731519.722.420.317.518.940019.72623.817.21850019.825.524.916.817.66301925.223.51617.380019.224.223.916.916.9100019.324.723.516.717.3125020.526.325.617.117.6160020.926.82717.918.1200022.128.928.618.318.7250021.829.228.518.518.831502128.526.918.918.9400021.428.326.918.919.3500020.429.828.61919.3630019.328.427.519.119800018.923.122.118.618.51000018.319.519.31818.31250017.818.718.517.617.91600017.317.617.417.217.3SPL32.539.338.430.230.5N1.73.12.91.31.4median 20.4Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017median 25.2median 23.8median 18.2median 18.7Delta12.92.90.90.9hearing rangehide median Fan Noise

Temperature

Stress test Windows
Stress test Windows

The two infrared pictures of the MacBook Pro 13 illustrate the difference compared to the more expensive Touch Bar model since there is only one fan dissipating the heat from the chassis. This is noticeable under load when you use the MacBook on your lap. The aluminum chassis dissipates the heat very well, but the right side is warmer at up to 43 °C. However, there are no limitations with less demanding workloads and the case basically does not warm up at all.

The processor performance in particular is significantly reduced during our stress test with the two Windows tools Prime95 and FurMark. The consumption of the Intel Core i5-7360U is steady at 23-24 watts, but the clocks change over the course of the test. The CPU starts at 1.3-1.5 GHz, but then levels off at 1.6-1.7 GHz after some time. We were not able to determine the GPU clock running on Windows.

A 3DMark 11 test immediately after the stress test did not result in a lower score, so there should not be any limitations in practice, even running on Windows.

Max. Load
 38.9 °C43.5 °C42.4 °C 
 39 °C41.7 °C41.5 °C 
 30.6 °C28.8 °C32.7 °C 
Maximum: 43.5 °C
Average: 37.7 °C
40.6 °C38.1 °C32.7 °C
36.8 °C37.2 °C33 °C
32 °C31.8 °C30.2 °C
Maximum: 40.6 °C
Average: 34.7 °C
Power Supply (max.)  46.5 °C | Room Temperature 21.7 °C | Voltcraft IR-900
Heat development top (stress test)
Heat development top (stress test)
Heat development bottom (stress test)
Heat development bottom (stress test)

Energy Management

Battery Runtime

The 54.5 Wh lithium-polymer battery of the Apple MacBook Pro 13 is a bit bigger compared to the more expensive Touch Bar model. The battery runtime in the Wi-Fi test at an adjusted luminance of 150 nits is around 11.5 hours, which is basically identical to the previous Skylake model.

Battery Runtime
WiFi Surfing v1.3 (Safari 10.1.1)
11h 21min
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017
7360U, Iris Plus Graphics 640, 54.5 Wh
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2016
6360U, Iris Graphics 540, 54 Wh
Dell XPS 13 9360 QHD+ i7
7500U, HD Graphics 620, 60 Wh
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2017 Touchbar i5
7267U, Iris Plus Graphics 650, 49.2 Wh
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
7700HQ, Radeon Pro 555, 76 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2017-20HR0021GE
7200U, HD Graphics 620, 57 Wh
Battery Runtime
1%
-24%
-24%
-5%
-20%
WiFi v1.3
681
686
1%
516
-24%
519
-24%
644
-5%
547
-20%
Witcher 3 ultra
87

Preliminary Verdict

In review: Apple MacBook Pro 13 Entry (Mid 2017, without Touch Bar). Test model courtesy of Cyberport.
In review: Apple MacBook Pro 13 Entry (Mid 2017, without Touch Bar). Test model courtesy of Cyberport.

The biggest difference between the two available 13-inch MacBook Pro models from Apple is not only the Touch Bar above the keyboard, but also the cooling. The more expensive model gets a superior solution with two fans, while the cheaper test model only gets one. This usually no problem in practice, where the fan is often deactivated anyway, but you can hear the small fan as soon as you start to stress the device. We do not like the high-pitched sound, which makes the noise more unpleasant than the numbers would suggest.

We can see a big advantage in the practical Wi-Fi runtime. We will also check how the MacBook Pro 13 performs in the other scenarios. As it stands now, the less expensive model might actually be the better choice for everyday tasks like web browsing or writing mails.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Apple MacBook Pro 13 (Mid 2017, i5, without Touch Bar) Review
Andreas Osthoff, 2017-07-15 (Update: 2017-07-15)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.