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Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) Laptop Review

Handbrake Deluxe. Apple finally ships the MacBook Pro 15 with the new Intel processors. They feature 6 cores and should increase the multi-core performance significantly. At least in theory, because a comparison with the predecessor shows that the advantage is not always that big.

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Apple did not just update the smaller MacBook Pro 13 2018 (here in review), but the 15-inch sibling received new components as well. The highlight is obviously the new processor with 6 cores, so the performance should be much significantly better in multi-core applications. Besides two Core i7 CPU, you can also select a Core i9 processor for the first time. However, the big question is whether the cooling solution of the MacBook Pro 15 can handle the new CPUs.

The step from LPDDR3 towards DDR4-RAM (2400 MHz) is another important step and the MacBook Pro now finally supports up to 32 GB memory. The PCIe-SSD has a maximum capacity of up to 4 TB, but there is not much to tell about the GPUs. The two AMD Radeon Pro GPUs are based on their predecessors Radeon Pro 555 and Radeon Pro 560, respectively. The clocks are a bit higher and the smaller Radeon Pro 555X is now equipped with twice the VRAM (4 GB). The TrueTone feature of the display is also new and familiar from other Apple products.

We review the more expensive SKU of the two pre-configured models for 3299 Euros. This will buy you a Core i7-8850H, 16 GB RAM, the Radeon Pro 560X, and 512 GB SSD storage. Apple charges a hefty premium for options, especially the memory and storage. If you select all the possible upgrades, you will have to pay 7959 Euros. Even mobile workstations with better components and service options are usually less expensive. We purchased our test model directly from Apple; it is not a press sample from the manufacturer.

MacBook Pro 15 Mid 2018 MacBook Pro 15 Mid 2018
Processor Core i7 2.2 GHz (Coffee Lake, 45 W)
Core i9 2.9 GHz (Coffee Lake, 45 W)
Core i7 2.6 GHz (Coffee Lake, 45 W)
Core i9 2.9 GHz (Coffee Lake, 45 W)
Graphics card AMD Radeon Pro 555X
AMD Radeon Pro 560X
AMD Radeon Pro 560X
RAM 16 GB DDR4-2400
32 GB DDR4-2400
16 GB DDR4-2400
32 GB DDR4-2400
SSD 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB / 2 TB / 4 TB 1 TB / 2 TB / 4 TB
Display 15.4" IPS 2880 x 1800 pixels 15.4" IPS 2880 x 1800 pixels
Ports 4x Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C connector
3.5 mm headset
4x Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C connector
3.5 mm headset
Price starting at 2799 Euros starting at 3299 Euros

We will obviously compare the new MacBook Pro 15 with its predecessor from 2017, but there are also Windows alternatives if macOS is not required. The biggest competitor is obviously the Dell XPS 15 9570. We have already reviewed the entry-level model with the Core i5 and the 1080p screen, but we are currently reviewing the better equipped model with the Core i7-8750H, 4K display and the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q. Razer's Blade 15 is another contender and has some visual similarities with the MacBook. If you prefer high and steady CPU performance, you might also want to check out some gaming laptops like the Gigabyte Aero 15X v8. The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580 with its dual-screen is another contender.

Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) (MacBook Pro 15 2018 Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
16384 MB 
, DDR4-2400, soldered, up to 32 GB
Display
15.4 inch 16:10, 2880 x 1800 pixel 221 PPI, APPA040, IPS, TrueTone, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel Cannon Lake HM370
Storage
Apple SSD AP0512, 512 GB 
Connections
4 USB 3.1 Gen2, 4 Thunderbolt, 4 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Broadcom 802.11ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 15.5 x 349.3 x 240.7 ( = 0.61 x 13.75 x 9.48 in)
Battery
83 Wh Lithium-Polymer
Operating System
Apple macOS 10.13 High Sierra
Camera
Webcam: 720p FaceTime HD camera
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Butterfly, Keyboard Light: yes, 87-Watt USB-C PSU, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.83 kg ( = 64.55 oz / 4.03 pounds), Power Supply: 369 g ( = 13.02 oz / 0.81 pounds)
Price
3299 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

The design of the new MacBook Pro 15 did not change compared to the predecessor un or 2016 model. It seems the manufacturer slightly reworked something, because the battery is a bit bigger and heavier, so some material had to be removed elsewhere. We do not notice a stability difference though. The quality of the MacBook Pro 15, which is available in Silver and Space Gray, is still among the best you can get. It is extremely sturdy and the surfaces still look excellent after longer usage periods. We recommend our review of the predecessor for more details and pictures.

The MacBook Pro 15 still holds up extremely well in our size comparison. There are some differences, and many rivals are a bit wider and not as deep, but the MacBook is still the most compact and slim laptop overall. Dell's XPS 15 9570 is slimmer at the fron of the chassis, but gets thicker at the rear. The Apple laptop is also the lightest machine at little more than 1.8 kg.

Size Comparison

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Connectivity

The port situation did not change, you still get four Thunderbolt 3 ports (full bandwidth) with USB Type-C connectors as well as a 3.5 mm stereo jack. This means you can pretty much attach anything to the current MacBook Pro and there are more and more USB-C accessories, but you will probably need adapters or dongles for now. There is still no SD-card reader, either, despite the large case.

Communication

Similar to the smaller 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018, Apple also equips the 15-inch laptop with an updates WLAN module including support for the modern Bluetooth 5.0 standard. The transfer rates in our standardized test with the router Linksys EA8500, however, are a bit slower compared to last year's model. Still, even these results are ahead of the Windows competition.

Apple managed to reduce the Wi-Fi connectivity issues in 2.4 GHz network when USB-C devices are attaches. We still see occasional package losses, but the connection itself is stable.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Broadcom BCM15700A2 802.11ac
949 MBit/s ∼100% +16%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Broadcom 802.11ac
817 (min: 664, max: 835) MBit/s ∼86%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
752 (min: 651, max: 774) MBit/s ∼79% -8%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
662 MBit/s ∼70% -19%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
525 MBit/s ∼55% -36%
Average of class Multimedia
  (44 - 949, n=109)
495 MBit/s ∼52% -39%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Broadcom BCM15700A2 802.11ac
845 MBit/s ∼100% +40%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Broadcom 802.11ac
602 (min: 543, max: 628) MBit/s ∼71%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
598 (min: 271, max: 625) MBit/s ∼71% -1%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
584 MBit/s ∼69% -3%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter
575 MBit/s ∼68% -4%
Average of class Multimedia
  (46.1 - 949, n=108)
466 MBit/s ∼55% -23%

Security

Apple equips the 2018 MacBook Pro with its own T2 chip, which combines several functions including storage encryption and secure boot features. The user does not notice anything though. The access to the laptop is still secured by the Touch-ID fingerprint scanner, which is quick and reliable.

Warranty

Apple only ships its devices with a 12-month warranty, despite the high price. It is possible to extend the warranty to 36 months (Apple Care Protection Plan), which costs 349 Euros. An on-site service, which is available from companies like Dell, HP, or Lenovo, however, is not included.

Input Devices - Butterfly with silicone membrane

Keyboard

New silicone membrane (source: iFixit)
New silicone membrane (source: iFixit)

There have been a lot of discussions about the keyboard on the current MacBook Pro lineup. Apple uses keys with a very shallow travel to realize the slim base unit. The manufacturer uses its own Butterfly keys with very precise (and loud) key strokes, but the typing experience is just not comfortable for every user. Apple unfortunately sticks with the decision to waive a dedicated numpad, even though there would have been enough space. We still appreciate the keyboard illumination with multiple brightness settings and automatic adjustment to the ambient light.

Then there is the problem with defective keyboards on the MacBook Pros, and Apple even introduced a special repair program. Even small objects (dirt, crumbs, etc.) can result in problems (keys won't work anymore). Apple did not mention this issue when they announced the 2018 models, but advertised a quieter keyboard. Our colleagues from iFixit already disassembled a 2018 model and found a new silicone membrane underneath the keys. They ensure a quieter typing noise, but also seem to prevent the intrusion of dirt, so it might be an reaction to the problems after all. We can obviously not check whether this solution works in the long term.

Subjectively, there is a distinct difference between the old keyboard (e. g. in the 2017 MacBook Pro 15) and the new one. The key stroke is much more muffled and not as light as before. The sound difference is actually only noticeable when you type with a lot of force. All in all it is tough to say whether the key stroke has improved, but it certainly requires a little adjustment period.  

Update: Internal service documents from Apple confirm that the new membrane is supposed to prevent debris from entering the butterfly keys.

Touchpad & Touch Bar

The big trackpad did not change this year. It is still the benchmark among touchpads and is easy to use. Even gestures with multiple fingers are no problem thanks to the large surface area. Basic controls also work well running on Windows (Bootcamp), but the drivers are not as well optimized as for Apple's own operating system. Drag-&-drop commands in particular are more complicated.

You also still get the Touch Bar above the keyboard, which can show different contents based on the application. It shows basic controls like brightness or volume by default, but you can also display the standard function keys (F1-F12). Whether the Touch Bar improves the productivity mainly depends on the software support.

Display - MacBook Pro 2018 adds TrueTone

Apple is the only laptop manufacturer that still ships 16:10 display. 2880 x 1800 pixels (220 PPI, also called Retina by Apple) ensure a very sharp picture on the 15.4-inch IPS screen. The TrueTone support is the only new feature and we already know it from the iPhone or iPad, respectively. The white balance automatically adjusts according to the color temperature of the ambient light, which is supposed to create a more natural picture. The manual Night Shift mode, which reduces blue color contents, is still available. The latter can also be adjusted in the settings (automatic activation depending on the time, warmer or cooler picture). The panel in our test unit carries the designation APPA040 and differs from the previous models. Similar to the smaller 2018 MBP 13 this might just be a new revision or it might be necessary for the added TrueTone functionality.

Our test model reaches the advertised luminance of 500 nits at some points, but the last year's panel was a bit brighter. The black value is better in return, which improves the contrast ratio as well. The Dell XPS 15 9570 does not have to hide behind the Apple panel; its 4K screen is a bit darker, but has small advantages in terms of black value and contrast. Asus' ZenBook Pro 15 is equipped with a decent 4K screen, but cannot keep up with the two devices from Apple and Dell. The other two comparison devices use the same 1080p screen and fall behind when it comes to luminance and contrast.

479
cd/m²
477
cd/m²
470
cd/m²
533
cd/m²
520
cd/m²
484
cd/m²
492
cd/m²
492
cd/m²
481
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 533 cd/m² Average: 492 cd/m² Minimum: 4.7 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 524 cd/m²
Contrast: 1333:1 (Black: 0.39 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 1.2 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 1.3 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
Gamma: 2.18
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
APPA040, , 2880x1800, 15.4
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
APPA031, , 2880x1800, 15.4
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
LQ156D1, , 3840x2160, 15.6
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
LGD05C0, , 1920x1080, 15.6
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
LGD05C0, , 1920x1080, 15.6
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
AU Optronics B156ZAN03.1, , 3840x2160, 15.6
Response Times
-6%
-36%
63%
66%
13%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
43.2 (20.4, 22.8)
48 (23.6, 24.4)
-11%
46.4 (22.8, 23.6)
-7%
16.8 (8.4, 8.4)
61%
13.6 (7.6, 6)
69%
44 (22, 22)
-2%
Response Time Black / White *
31.2 (16.4, 14.8)
33.8 (19.6, 14.2)
-8%
32 (18, 14)
-3%
11.2 (6, 5.2)
64%
12 (7.6, 4.4)
62%
22.8 (12, 10.8)
27%
PWM Frequency
117000 (75, 150)
119000 (80, 210)
2%
980.4 (25)
-99%
Screen
-19%
-137%
-7%
-28%
-86%
Brightness middle
520
545
5%
494
-5%
313
-40%
304.3
-41%
357.6
-31%
Brightness
492
523
6%
457
-7%
300
-39%
293
-40%
350
-29%
Brightness Distribution
88
86
-2%
88
0%
78
-11%
80
-9%
85
-3%
Black Level *
0.39
0.44
-13%
0.34
13%
0.33
15%
0.38
3%
0.35
10%
Contrast
1333
1239
-7%
1453
9%
948
-29%
801
-40%
1022
-23%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
1.2
1.6
-33%
5.2
-333%
1.29
-8%
1.79
-49%
4.12
-243%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
2.3
3.8
-65%
17.5
-661%
2.04
11%
3.69
-60%
9.91
-331%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
1.3
1.9
-46%
2.7
-108%
0.69
47%
1.1
15%
1.8
-38%
Gamma
2.18 101%
2.26 97%
2.1 105%
2.43 91%
2.27 97%
2.17 101%
CCT
6738 96%
6834 95%
7038 92%
6550 99%
6665 98%
6613 98%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
71.2
60
59.8
87.5
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
98.8
94
92.8
100
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
4.23
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-13% / -16%
-87% / -109%
28% / 7%
19% / -9%
-37% / -66%

* ... smaller is better

We tested the screen with our X-Rite i1 Pro2 spectrophotometer as well as the professional CalMAN software. The factory results are already very good and all the color deviations except for blue are already below the important mark of 3 (vs. P3 reference). The color temperature could be a bit better as well, but you cannot see a color cast.

CalMAN Grayscale (target color space P3)
CalMAN Grayscale (target color space P3)
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps (target color space P3)
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps (target color space P3)
CalMAN ColorChecker (target color space P3)
CalMAN ColorChecker (target color space P3)

We checked and calibrated the display with our X-Rite i1 Pro 2 photospectrometer and managed to improve the majority of results. The average grayscale deviation is even lower and the slightly cool color temperature is corrected as well. We see a similar picture for the colors, where the average deviation compared to the P3 reference dropped to just 1.0, but the deviation of 100% blue is even slightly higher than before and is the only outlier above the important threshold of 3.

CalMAN Grayscale calibrated (target color space P3)
CalMAN Grayscale calibrated (target color space P3)
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps calibrated (target color space P3)
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps calibrated (target color space P3)
CalMAN ColorChecker calibrated (target color space P3)
CalMAN ColorChecker calibrated (target color space P3)

CalMAN confirms an almost full P3 coverage. We also checked the other two popular color spaces and the narrower sRGB gamut is completely covered as well. If you plan to work in the AdobeRGB reference, however, you have to use an external display.

Almost full P3 gamut (CalMAN)
Almost full P3 gamut (CalMAN)
vs. sRGB: 100%
vs. sRGB: 100%
vs. AdobeRGB: 77.5%
vs. AdobeRGB: 77.5%

The MacBook Pro 15 performs well outdoors. The display is glossy, but there are laptops with much more reflective panels. You can work very comfortably in the shade and the contents are still visible in bright environments. You should, however, avoid direct reflections from light sources.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
31.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 16.4 ms rise
↘ 14.8 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 80 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (25.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
43.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 20.4 ms rise
↘ 22.8 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 62 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (41 ms).

Performance

The MacBook Pro 15 has always been a very powerful laptop. One of the issues of the recent models was the limited amount of RAM, and especially users with virtual machines quickly will run out of 16 GB very quickly. Apple finally switches to DDR4-2400 RAM this year with an option for 32 GB. DDR4 consumes more power than LPDDR3 on the 2017 model, but Apple also slightly increased the battery capacity.

Apple replaces the Kaby Lake quad-core CPUs with hexa-core Coffee Lake chips; all three available processors are models with six cores and should provide a significant performance bump in multi-core scenarios. The dedicated GPUs are once again provided by AMD. The two models Radeon Pro 555X (now also with 4 GB VRAM) and 560X should only be slightly higher clocked versions of last year's GPUs. There is no official information on the GPUs yet, so we have to wait for our tests.

Processor

Our test model is equipped with Core i7-8850H, which is the second fastest CPU option. It is a hexa-core processor from the Coffee Lake series, which is still manufactured in a 14nm process. This is one of the issues, because the basic architecture did not change for more than 2 years, but we still get more cores and higher Boost clocks. All the hexa-cores also have a lower base frequencies compared to the old quad-cores to ensure the same 45W TDP classification. Our processor has a base frequency of 2.6 GHz, but can reach up to 4.3 GHz when you only stress one core and up to 4 GHz for all six cores (2 cores: 4.2 GHz, 4 cores: 4.1 GHz). More technical information on the Core i7-8850H is available here.

We use the benchmark Cinebench R15 for the assessment of the CPU performance since it is available for macOS and Windows 10, so we can compare the results with Windows systems. The single-core result of the new MacBook Pro 15 is okay, but the multi-core score of just 953 points is pretty low. The old MacBook Pro 2017 with the Core i7-7700HQ is beaten by almost 30%, but many rivals are faster.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Alienware 15 R4
Intel Core i9-8950HK
197 Points ∼100% +11%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
Intel Core i9-8950HK
191 Points ∼97% +8%
Average Intel Core i7-8850H
  (176 - 184, n=7)
179 Points ∼91% +1%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Intel Core i7-8850H
177 Points ∼90%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
Intel Core i7-8750H
176 Points ∼89% -1%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
Intel Core i7-8750H
175 Points ∼89% -1%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Intel Core i7-8750H
175 Points ∼89% -1%
Schenker XMG Neo 15
Intel Core i7-8750H
172 Points ∼87% -3%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.9 GHz, 460)
Intel Core i7-6920HQ (Windows)
163 Points ∼83% -8%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.9 GHz, 460)
Intel Core i7-6920HQ (OS-X)
156 Points ∼79% -12%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ (Win10)
159.95 Points ∼81% -10%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ (OS X)
156 Points ∼79% -12%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
Intel Core i7-6820HQ (Win 10)
154 Points ∼78% -13%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.6 GHz, 450)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
141 Points ∼72% -20%
Average of class Multimedia
  (36 - 191, n=334)
124 Points ∼63% -30%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Intel Core i7-8750H (Undervolting)
1251 Points ∼100% +18%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Intel Core i7-8750H
1215 Points ∼97% +14%
Schenker XMG Neo 15
Intel Core i7-8750H
1154 Points ∼92% +8%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
Intel Core i7-8750H
1133 Points ∼91% +6%
Average Intel Core i7-8850H
  (929 - 1276, n=10)
1113 Points ∼89% +5%
Alienware 15 R4
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1083 Points ∼87% +2%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1074 Points ∼86% +1%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Intel Core i7-8850H (macOS Software Update)
1064 Points ∼85%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Intel Core i7-8850H (macOS Software Update 2)
1057 Points ∼84% -1%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Intel Core i7-8850H (macOS)
953 Points ∼76% -10%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
Intel Core i7-8750H
915 Points ∼73% -14%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.9 GHz, 460)
Intel Core i7-6920HQ (OS-X)
740 Points ∼59% -30%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.9 GHz, 460)
Intel Core i7-6920HQ (Windows)
729 Points ∼58% -31%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ (OS X)
732 (min: 729, max: 733) Points ∼59% -31%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ (Win10)
726.78 (min: 704.77, max: 731.97) Points ∼58% -32%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
Intel Core i7-6820HQ (Win 10)
704 Points ∼56% -34%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.6 GHz, 450)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ (macOS)
666 Points ∼53% -37%
Average of class Multimedia
  (73 - 1550, n=345)
456 Points ∼36% -57%

We use the tool Intel Power Gadget to observe the clock behavior of the processor. The following screenshot shows a single Cinebench R15 Multi run, which takes about 35 seconds. The processor starts with the full 4.0 GHz on all cores for about 1 second, which immediately results in a CPU temperature of 100 °C. We can see a clock reduction as a result and it starts to fluctuate between 1.8 - 3.5 GHz and the base frequency cannot always be maintained. This is also a result of Apple's philosophy to use all the possible performance until a certain temperature limit is reached (100 °C), before the clock has to be reduced again.

CPU behavior during Cinebench R15 Multi (1x run, macOS)
CPU behavior during Cinebench R15 Multi (1x run, macOS)

We know this behavior from almost every laptop, but many manufacturers decide to limit the CPU consumption to a certain level of 45 Watts, for example. The situation is a bit more problematic in our Cinebench loop, which is displays by the red curve in the diagram below. The second run already scores less points and it will eventually level off at around 820-830 points. If you compare the average scores, the new model is just 13% ahead of last year's entry-level MBP 15. The comparison with the current XPS 15 9570 is even more problematic (for Apple), because the model with the quad-core i5-8300H is basically on par except for the first run. Dell's XPS 15 9570 with the Core i7-8750H is even faster after 50 runs compared to the best result of the MacBook Pro.

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Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) Intel Core i7-8850H; macOS Software Update: Ø1006 (962.51-1065.02)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) Intel Core i7-8850H; macOS Software Update 2: Ø1031 (1009-1058)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) Intel Core i7-8850H; macOS: Ø832 (773-940)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555) Intel Core i7-7700HQ; OS X: Ø731 (729-733)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555) Intel Core i7-7700HQ; Win10: Ø724 (704.77-731.97)
Dell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97Wh Intel Core i5-8300H: Ø812 (765.87-840.02)
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD Intel Core i7-8750H; Undervolting: Ø1168 (1123.47-1219.85)
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD Intel Core i7-8750H: Ø1012 (980.27-1215.12)

We also repeated the Cinebench loop in Windows 10 and the average score is a bit better at 845 points, but still comparatively low. The details about the clock, consumption, and temperatures are more interesting though. The test runs for 42 minutes and we see an average clock of about 2.7 GHz for all 6 cores, which is slightly above the base frequency. The other two values are more interesting, because the average core temperature (CPU cores) is more than 90 °C, with a consumption of 37.5 Watts. This means there is still a gap to the specified 45 Watts.

CPU information Cinebench R15 Multi loop (Windows 10 Bootcamp)
CPU information Cinebench R15 Multi loop (Windows 10 Bootcamp)

Apple's cooling solution is definitely not powerful enough to cool the processor at the specified 45 Watts, even when the discreet GPU is not running. It might have been better to enforce stricter TDP limits to avoid high temperatures at high clocks. Another problem is Intel's chip itself, because a consumption of almost 90 Watts when all cores run at the maximum is almost impossible to handle by a thin laptop because the TDP is just doubled. The chip manufacturer has to come up with something new soon, because it seems the architecture is at its limit (even though the high clocks are good for the marketing department).

Apple's software update stabilized the performance and we get multi-core results comparable to the current XPS 15. However, we still encountered a performance drop after a while, which was fixed by the second major software update.

Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.5 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
98.44 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
1057 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
177 Points
Help

CPU Tuning

Similar to the smaller sibling we tested the 15-inch model with other TDP settings to improve the performance. We limited the power consumption of the CPU to 45 W both in macOS (Volta) as well as Windows 10. The detailed results for the two 2018 MacBook Pro model are available in our dedicated article.

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Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64 Bit macOS (grau) vs. Win10 (rot) vs. macOS 45W (blau) vs. Win10 45W (gelb)

The diagrams clearly show that the CPU now maintains its clock and is about 20% faster on average. We also tried to improve the consumption in Windows (not possible in macOS), but it was not successful. Once we increase the short-term value, it can only be used for a short time since the temperature is immediately spiking. This results in fluctuations, so even the first Cinebench score is worse compared to the fixed 45 W test. An increase of the long-term value did not work, either, because the fluctuations started at 46 W. The cooling solution is right at the edge with the 45 W setting, at least on our test unit. This value can differ slightly (in both directions) depending on the processor.

One benchmark where the fixed TDP results in a lower score is Geekbench 4. The MacBook Pro 15 scores 22633 points in the CPU Multi test with the default settings, but only 19869 points with the 45 W limit. A look at the CPU utilization during the benchmark shows that the peak load is very short (only up to 1 second). The fans are not even spinning up for this load and the chip temperature only surpasses 80 °C a few times during the three-minute benchmark. The benchmark therefore benefits from the high Turbo clock, but does not test the cooling capabilities of the machine by any means.

System Performance

Thanks to the hexa-core processor, the dedicated graphics card and the fast PCIe-SSD storage in particular, the current MacBook Pro 15 is subjectively a very powerful and responsive system, which executes inputs without any noteworthy delays. The installation of Windows 10 was no problem, either. A Windows image file on your laptop is all you need, a USB drive is not necessary anymore. Our installation worked well and we did not notice any bugs when we ran apps. AS SSD is the only exception, but this was also the case for previous models of the MBP.

The synthetic benchmark scores are a bit lower than expected. The new model falls behind the two previous generations in the older PCMark 8, for instance, which has to be related to missing driver optimizations by Apple. Our MBP 15 2018 beats the 2017 model in the newer PCMark 10 and is average within the comparison group.

PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
5705 Points ∼100% +25%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
5676 Points ∼99% +24%
Dell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97Wh
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), Intel Core i5-8300H
5271 Points ∼92% +15%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.9 GHz, 460)
AMD Radeon Pro 460, Intel Core i7-6920HQ
4755 Points ∼83% +4%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
AMD Radeon Pro 555, Intel Core i7-7700HQ
4648 Points ∼81% +2%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
AMD Radeon Pro 560X, Intel Core i7-8850H
4575 Points ∼80%
Average Intel Core i7-8850H, AMD Radeon Pro 560X
 
4575 Points ∼80% 0%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Notebook), Intel Core i9-8950HK
4456 Points ∼78% -3%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
4418 Points ∼77% -3%
Average of class Multimedia
  (2213 - 5651, n=251)
4234 Points ∼74% -7%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
4650 Points ∼100% +24%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
4504 Points ∼97% +21%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.9 GHz, 460)
AMD Radeon Pro 460, Intel Core i7-6920HQ
4066 Points ∼87% +9%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
AMD Radeon Pro 555, Intel Core i7-7700HQ
4054 Points ∼87% +9%
Dell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97Wh
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), Intel Core i5-8300H
4030 Points ∼87% +8%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
AMD Radeon Pro 560X, Intel Core i7-8850H
3735 Points ∼80%
Average Intel Core i7-8850H, AMD Radeon Pro 560X
 
3735 Points ∼80% 0%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Notebook), Intel Core i9-8950HK
3661 Points ∼79% -2%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
3631 Points ∼78% -3%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1740 - 4693, n=271)
3350 Points ∼72% -10%
PCMark 10 - Score
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Notebook), Intel Core i9-8950HK
5358 Points ∼100% +12%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
5184 Points ∼97% +8%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
5059 Points ∼94% +5%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
4966 Points ∼93% +3%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
AMD Radeon Pro 560X, Intel Core i7-8850H
4805 Points ∼90%
Average Intel Core i7-8850H, AMD Radeon Pro 560X
 
4805 Points ∼90% 0%
Dell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97Wh
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), Intel Core i5-8300H
4479 Points ∼84% -7%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
AMD Radeon Pro 555, Intel Core i7-7700HQ
4122 Points ∼77% -14%
Average of class Multimedia
  (2046 - 5358, n=66)
3824 Points ∼71% -20%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3735 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
3836 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4575 points
Help

Storage Devices

Disk Speed Test
Disk Speed Test

The PCIe-SSD in our MacBook Pro 15 2018 has the designation AP0512 and offers a storage capacity of 512 GB. Depending on the benchmark, we sequential read transfer rates between 2.5 and 3 GB/s or 1.5-1.7 GB/s write, respectively. You should not be scared off by the low 4K values in the Windows benchmarks, because we know this phenomenon from the previous models. The AS SSD benchmark does not finish properly, either, so this should be an issue with the BootCamp drivers.

Apple uses proprietary SSD modules for the MacBook Pro and the controller for the SSD is now integrated into Apple's own T2 chip. The latter also handles storage encryption and does not need CPU resources, so there is no performance deficit.

Apple SSD AP0512
Sequential Read: 1511.4 MB/s
Sequential Write: 1465.6 MB/s
512K Read: 1014.86 MB/s
512K Write: 1165.66 MB/s
4K Read: 10.97 MB/s
4K Write: 19.53 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 525.27 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 212.44 MB/s

GPU Performance

Radeon Pro 560X
Radeon Pro 560X
Radeon Pro 560
Radeon Pro 560

The Radeon Pro 560X is not a new graphics card, but a faster version of the Radeon Pro 560. The comparison of the two GPU-Z screenshots shows another revision of the Baffin GPU and especially higher clocks for the core as well as the memory. The basic memory equipment with 4 GB GDDR5-VRAM, however, did not change. The MBP 15 with the Radeon Pro 560X is faster in the synthetic benchmarks compared to previous generations, but still not as powerful as the competition equipped with the GeForce GTX 1050 or the GTX 1050 Ti.

However, the performance is – similar to the CPU – not steady. We performed the 3DMark Fire Strike stress test, which should not be a huge challenge (Time Spy stress test is more demanding), but the MacBook Pro 15 already fails here and there are fluctuations. The final result is 82.6 %, so the test is not passed.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Alienware 15 R4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), Intel Core i9-8950HK
23308 Points ∼100% +207%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
19162 Points ∼82% +152%
Schenker XMG Neo 15
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), Intel Core i7-8750H
14367 Points ∼62% +89%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
14180 Points ∼61% +87%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
9079 Points ∼39% +20%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Notebook), Intel Core i9-8950HK
8854 Points ∼38% +17%
Dell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97Wh
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), Intel Core i5-8300H
7790 Points ∼33% +3%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
AMD Radeon Pro 560X, Intel Core i7-8850H
7590 Points ∼33%
Average AMD Radeon Pro 560X
 
7590 Points ∼33% 0%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.9 GHz, 460)
AMD Radeon Pro 460, Intel Core i7-6920HQ
6749 Points ∼29% -11%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
AMD Radeon Pro 455, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
5388 Points ∼23% -29%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
AMD Radeon Pro 560, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
5305 (min: 5279, max: 6622) Points ∼23% -30%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
AMD Radeon Pro 555, Intel Core i7-7700HQ
5185 Points ∼22% -32%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.6 GHz, 450)
AMD Radeon Pro 450, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
4502 Points ∼19% -41%
Average of class Multimedia
  (352 - 18234, n=602)
2777 Points ∼12% -63%
3DMark
2560x1440 Time Spy Graphics
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
2278 Points ∼100% +41%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Notebook), Intel Core i9-8950HK
2075 Points ∼91% +29%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
AMD Radeon Pro 560X, Intel Core i7-8850H
1614 Points ∼71%
Average AMD Radeon Pro 560X
 
1614 Points ∼71% 0%
Average of class Multimedia
  (281 - 4734, n=41)
1564 Points ∼69% -3%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
AMD Radeon Pro 560, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
1376 (min: 1209, max: 1383) Points ∼60% -15%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
AMD Radeon Pro 455, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
1118 Points ∼49% -31%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
AMD Radeon Pro 555, Intel Core i7-7700HQ
1078 Points ∼47% -33%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.6 GHz, 450)
AMD Radeon Pro 450, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
952 Points ∼42% -41%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Alienware 15 R4
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop), Intel Core i9-8950HK
17675 Points ∼100% +210%
Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
15156 Points ∼86% +166%
Schenker XMG Neo 15
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop), Intel Core i7-8750H
11558 Points ∼65% +103%
Razer Blade 15 GTX 1060
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
11315 Points ∼64% +99%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
7428 Points ∼42% +30%
Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Notebook), Intel Core i9-8950HK
7291 Points ∼41% +28%
Dell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97Wh
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Notebook), Intel Core i5-8300H
6216 Points ∼35% +9%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
AMD Radeon Pro 560X, Intel Core i7-8850H
5699 Points ∼32%
Average AMD Radeon Pro 560X
 
5699 Points ∼32% 0%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.9 GHz, 460)
AMD Radeon Pro 460, Intel Core i7-6920HQ
4584 Points ∼26% -20%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
AMD Radeon Pro 560, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
3892 (min: 3869, max: 3895) Points ∼22% -32%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.7 GHz, 455)
AMD Radeon Pro 455, Intel Core i7-6820HQ
3759 Points ∼21% -34%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.8 GHz, 555)
AMD Radeon Pro 555, Intel Core i7-7700HQ
3721 Points ∼21% -35%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 (2.6 GHz, 450)
AMD Radeon Pro 450, Intel Core i7-6700HQ
3252 Points ∼18% -43%
Average of class Multimedia
  (337 - 14463, n=378)
2679 Points ∼15% -53%
3DMark 11 Performance
7910 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
18251 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
4961 points
3DMark Time Spy Score
1775 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Even the Radeon Pro 560X does not transform the MacBook Pro 15 into a gaming laptop. In contrast to heavy CPU loads, however, the GPU performance (e. g. Witcher 3) can be maintained for longer periods (see diagram).

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