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Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz i9, Vega 20) Laptop Review

Andreas Osthoff 👁, Felicitas Krohn (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 06/04/2019

Are the i9 and Vega 20 good upgrades? Besides the regular Radeon Pro chips, Apple also offers its MacBook Pro 15 with the professional AMD Pro Vega graphics adapters. We review the top model with the Intel Core i9 and the Radeon Vega 20 Pro.

In a somewhat surprising move, Apple announced two new GPUs for the MacBook Pro 15 in the end of last year. They are completely new Vega GPUs from AMD. While the two regular Radeon Pro chips (555X & 560X) are still based on the older GCN4 architecture, the two Radeon Pro Vega GPUs are based on the GCN5 architecture. However, the thermal output is most likely similar (35 watts), so we will have to wait for the benchmark results to see how big the performance advantage really is. Apple only offers the two new GPUs as upgrades for the more expensive SKU, so you have to pay another 300 Euros (~$338/Radeon Pro Vega 16) or 420 Euros (~$473/Radeon Pro Vega 20) in addition to the base price of 3299 Euros (~$3715).

Our test sample is equipped with all the expensive options: Intel Core i9 processor (+340 Euros/~$383), 32 GB RAM (+480 Euros/~$541) and massive 4 TB SSD storage, which costs an insane amount of 3840 Euros (~$4324). This results in a total price of 8379 Euros (~$9435).

We will have a look at different aspects in this review, but the main focus is the performance of the two new components. We are particularly eager to see whether the new Vega GPU is more efficient than the previous Radeon Pro GPUs or whether the thermal capabilities limit the performance. We have already reviewed the Apple MacBook Pro 15, so we won't cover all sections in this article. Please see our previous reviews for more information on the case, the ports, the input devices, and the display:

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Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20) (MacBook Pro 15 2018 Series)
Graphics adapter
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20 - 4096 MB, HBM2, Enduro
Memory
32768 MB 
, DDR4-2400, soldered, up to 32 GB
Display
15.6 inch 16:10, 2880 x 1800 pixel 218 PPI, APPA040, IPS, TrueTone, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel Cannon Lake HM370
Storage
Apple SSD AP1024, 1024 GB 
Connections
4 USB 3.1 Gen2, 4 Thunderbolt, 4 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Broadcom 802.11ac (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), 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 10.14 Mojave
Camera
Webcam: 720p FaceTime HD Kamera
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Butterfly, Keyboard Light: yes, 87 Watt USB-C power adapter, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.83 kg ( = 64.55 oz / 4.03 pounds), Power Supply: 369 g ( = 13.02 oz / 0.81 pounds)
Price
8349 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Performance

When Apple offered the mobile Core i9 processor for the first time in mid 2018, there were numerous reports about Apple users disappointed by the low performance of the Core i9. We initially had problems with the Core i7 as well, but Apple eventually improved the situation with comprehensive software updates.

We were obviously eager to find out how the Core i9-8950HK in the MacBook Pro 15 performs after the updates and whether the additional charge of 340 Euros or 480 Euros (~$383 or ~$541/depending on the base configuration), respectively, is worth paying. The answer is definitely no, because the expensive Core i9 only has a small advantage in single-core scenarios thanks to its higher Turbo clock (even though it does not reach the max. 4.8 GHz, either).

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK
  (185 - 206, n=14)
196 Points ∼100%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Intel Core i9-8950HK
192 Points ∼98%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
Intel Core i9-8950HK
190 Points ∼97%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
Intel Xeon E-2176M
187 Points ∼95%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Intel Core i7-8850H
177 Points ∼90%
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
Intel Core i7-8750H
177 Points ∼90%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
Intel Core i7-8750H
176 Points ∼90%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Intel Core i7-8750H
175 Points ∼89%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
Intel Core i7-8750H
175 Points ∼89%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Intel Core i7-7820HQ (macOS)
160 Points ∼82%
Average of class Multimedia
  (36 - 201, n=369)
128 Points ∼65%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Intel Core i7-8750H (Undervolting)
1251 Points ∼100%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
Intel Core i7-8750H
1215 Points ∼97%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
Intel Core i7-8750H (Undervolting)
1218 Points ∼97%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
Intel Core i7-8750H
1135 Points ∼91%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK
  (1051 - 1391, n=14)
1210 Points ∼97%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
Intel Core i9-8950HK
1163 Points ∼93%
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
Intel Core i7-8750H
1131 Points ∼90%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
Intel Core i7-8750H
1127 Points ∼90%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
Intel Xeon E-2176M
1118 Points ∼89%
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%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Intel Core i7-8850H (macOS)
953 Points ∼76%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Intel Core i9-8950HK (macOS)
1051 Points ∼84%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Intel Core i7-7820HQ (macOS)
757 Points ∼61%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Intel Core i7-7820HQ (Win10)
630 Points ∼50%
Average of class Multimedia
  (73 - 1550, n=385)
488 Points ∼39%

Once you start to stress more cores, however, the Core i9-8950HK is slightly slower or on par with the Core i7-8850H, even during the first Cinebench run, which does not even last 30 seconds with fast CPUs.

A look at the competition does not paint a great picture for the Apple MacBook pro, either. All the rivals from Dell, HP, and Lenovo with Core i7 or Core i9 CPUs are faster. However, other manufacturers have problems with the i9 as well. Dell's XPS 15 with the i9, for example, is not much faster than the i7 SKU, and the mobile Xeon processor in the ThinkPad P1 cannot utilize its potential, either.

We use our Cinebench R15 Multi loop to check the performance under sustained workloads. You could say the performance does not drop a lot after the initial run if you want to say something positive, but the competition is still faster overall, despite higher percentage losses. Even the MacBook Pro 15 with the i7 processor manages a higher average result (1031 vs. 1007 points).

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Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20) Radeon Pro Vega 20, 8950HK, Apple SSD AP1024; macOS: Ø1007 (985.83-1051.33)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) Radeon Pro 560X, 8850H: Ø1031 (1009-1058)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR; Undervolting: Ø1218 (1194.56-1224.81)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR: Ø1065 (1052.44-1126.79)
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8950HK, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR: Ø1095 (1008.45-1230.43)
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G; Undervolting: Ø1168 (1123.47-1219.85)
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G: Ø1012 (980.27-1215.12)
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS Quadro P2000 Max-Q, E-2176M, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB2T0HMLB: Ø1026 (1012.5-1120.61)
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA Quadro P1000, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ: Ø1018 (1008.9-1100.84)
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5-P KXG50PNV2T04: Ø1015 (972-1114)

We had a closer look at the behavior of the processor during the Cinebench loop. The consumption jumps up to 90 watts at the beginning, but immediately levels off at 47-52W. This is enough for a clock of 6x 3.0-3.2 GHz – pretty far away from the maximum 4.3 GHz (for all six cores). It is not surprising that mobile chips cannot sustain their maximum Turbo clocks, but the Core i9 in the MacBook Pro 15 is operating just barely above its base frequency of 2.9 GHz.

Cinebench R15 Multi loop
Cinebench R15 Multi loop

You obviously have to consider the current development of mobile processors, because Intel increased the number of cores, but without significant efficiency improvements. The cooling solution of the MacBook Pro (which has been around for a few years) was designed for 45W quad-cores and after our tests we can say that the cooling can handle about 50W. The new Intel 6-core CPUs consume much more power at high clocks and therefore produce more heat, which cannot be dissipated by the cooling.

Still, we have to criticize Apple for even offering the i9 in the MBP 15. The manufacturer certainly noticed that the i9 only has a small performance advantage in certain scenarios during testing. If you expect more performance, especially when the task takes longer than a couple of seconds (the device is targeted at pro users after all), you will be disappointed by the i9. This also gives us a good idea how the two new Core i9 CPUs with eight CPU cores will perform. The multi-core performance will be a bit higher, even under sustained workloads (lower clocks, but four more threads), but a lot of the Turbo potential will be untouched. Only a review will show how big (or if there is any significant) performance advantage. We assume the clock for 8 active cores will hover around or slightly above the base frequency of 2.3 GHz, which should be sufficient for about 1300-1350 points in Cinebench R15 Multi. The optional 8-core (up to 5.0 GHz) for 220 Euros (~$248) is probably not much faster.

Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
12230
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
96.1 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
1051 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
124.81 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
98 %
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
192 Points
Help

System Performance

We also list the results of the synthetic PCMark benchmarks to give you the full picture, but please note that we performed the benchmarks with Windows via Bootcamp. This means the performance depends on the quality of Apple's Bootcamp drivers. We did not notice any major issues though, and it is no problem to use Windows on a MacBook Pro if you want that.

But back to macOS: It does not matter which SKU you get, all version of the current MacBook Pro 15 are very responsive and powerful systems thanks to SSD storage and fast components.

PCMark 10
Digital Content Creation
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
5605 Points ∼100% +18%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8950HK, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
5444 Points ∼97% +14%
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5-P KXG50PNV2T04
4920 Points ∼88% +3%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
4908 Points ∼88% +3%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Radeon Pro Vega 20, 8950HK, Apple SSD AP1024
4762 Points ∼85%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
 
4762 Points ∼85% 0%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
Quadro P1000, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4741 Points ∼85% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
Quadro P2000 Max-Q, E-2176M, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB2T0HMLB
4709 Points ∼84% -1%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Radeon Pro 560X, 8850H, Apple SSD AP0512
4473 Points ∼80% -6%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Radeon Pro 560, 7820HQ
4117 (min: 4109, max: 4130) Points ∼73% -14%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1001 - 7161, n=100)
3748 Points ∼67% -21%
Productivity
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Radeon Pro 560X, 8850H, Apple SSD AP0512
7569 Points ∼100% +18%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8950HK, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
7212 Points ∼95% +12%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
7037 Points ∼93% +10%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
Quadro P2000 Max-Q, E-2176M, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB2T0HMLB
6824 Points ∼90% +6%
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5-P KXG50PNV2T04
6770 Points ∼89% +5%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Radeon Pro 560, 7820HQ
6716 (min: 6701, max: 6814) Points ∼89% +5%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
6671 Points ∼88% +4%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
Quadro P1000, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
6573 Points ∼87% +2%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Radeon Pro Vega 20, 8950HK, Apple SSD AP1024
6422 Points ∼85%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
 
6422 Points ∼85% 0%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1407 - 8020, n=101)
6186 Points ∼82% -4%
Essentials
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
9087 Points ∼100% +9%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8950HK, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
8951 Points ∼99% +7%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Radeon Pro 560X, 8850H, Apple SSD AP0512
8894 Points ∼98% +6%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
8429 Points ∼93% +1%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Radeon Pro Vega 20, 8950HK, Apple SSD AP1024
8363 Points ∼92%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
 
8363 Points ∼92% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
Quadro P2000 Max-Q, E-2176M, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB2T0HMLB
8321 Points ∼92% -1%
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5-P KXG50PNV2T04
8281 Points ∼91% -1%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Radeon Pro 560, 7820HQ
8053 (min: 7988, max: 8068) Points ∼89% -4%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
Quadro P1000, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
7739 Points ∼85% -7%
Average of class Multimedia
  (2891 - 9829, n=101)
7530 Points ∼83% -10%
Score
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8950HK, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
5059 Points ∼100% +11%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
4966 Points ∼98% +9%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Radeon Pro 560X, 8850H, Apple SSD AP0512
4805 Points ∼95% +6%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
4785 Points ∼95% +5%
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5-P KXG50PNV2T04
4666 Points ∼92% +3%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
Quadro P2000 Max-Q, E-2176M, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB2T0HMLB
4618 Points ∼91% +2%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Radeon Pro Vega 20, 8950HK, Apple SSD AP1024
4545 Points ∼90%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
 
4545 Points ∼90% 0%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
Quadro P1000, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4462 Points ∼88% -2%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Radeon Pro 560, 7820HQ
4345 (min: 4330, max: 4370) Points ∼86% -4%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1144 - 5469, n=101)
3968 Points ∼78% -13%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5-P KXG50PNV2T04
4643 Points ∼100% +12%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8950HK, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
4620 Points ∼100% +12%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Radeon Pro 560X, 8850H, Apple SSD AP0512
4575 Points ∼99% +11%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
Quadro P1000, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4453 Points ∼96% +8%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
4418 Points ∼95% +7%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Radeon Pro 560, 7820HQ
4412 (min: 4384, max: 4412) Points ∼95% +7%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
Quadro P2000 Max-Q, E-2176M, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB2T0HMLB
4404 Points ∼95% +7%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
4381 Points ∼94% +6%
Average of class Multimedia
  (2213 - 5651, n=283)
4304 Points ∼93% +4%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Radeon Pro Vega 20, 8950HK, Apple SSD AP1024
4130 Points ∼89%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
 
4130 Points ∼89% 0%
Creative Score Accelerated v2
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Radeon Pro Vega 20, 8950HK, Apple SSD AP1024
5939 Points ∼100%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
 
5939 Points ∼100% 0%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
5284 Points ∼89% -11%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Radeon Pro 560, 7820HQ
4893 (min: 4885, max: 4914) Points ∼82% -18%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
Quadro P2000 Max-Q, E-2176M, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB2T0HMLB
4832 Points ∼81% -19%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
4725 Points ∼80% -20%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1765 - 6408, n=197)
4053 Points ∼68% -32%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Radeon Pro 560X, 8850H, Apple SSD AP0512
3836 Points ∼65% -35%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8950HK, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
3840 Points ∼100% +1%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
Radeon Pro 560, 7820HQ
3819 (min: 3816, max: 3827) Points ∼99% 0%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
Radeon Pro Vega 20, 8950HK, Apple SSD AP1024
3816 Points ∼99%
Average Intel Core i9-8950HK, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
 
3816 Points ∼99% 0%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Radeon Pro 560X, 8850H, Apple SSD AP0512
3735 Points ∼97% -2%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
3631 Points ∼95% -5%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB1T0HALR
3611 Points ∼94% -5%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
Quadro P2000 Max-Q, E-2176M, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB2T0HMLB
3536 Points ∼92% -7%
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, 8750H, Toshiba XG5-P KXG50PNV2T04
3433 Points ∼89% -10%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
Quadro P1000, 8750H, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3433 Points ∼89% -10%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1371 - 4693, n=304)
3383 Points ∼88% -11%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3816 points
PCMark 8 Creative Score Accelerated v2
5939 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4130 points
Help

GPU Performance

The optional AMD Vega GOUs are interesting upgrades for the Apple MacBook Pro 15, so we compared the performance with the previous Radeon Pro chips as well as the Windows-based competition in multiple categories. Most of the following benchmarks were performed with Windows; we used the Adrenalin software 19.1.2.

AMD Adrenalin
AMD Adrenalin
GPU-Z Vega 20
GPU-Z Vega 20
GPU-Z 560X
GPU-Z 560X

Architecture and Efficiency

Apple currently offers four different graphics cards for the MacBook Pro 15: The two familiar models Radeon Pro 555X and 560X as well as the two newer GPUs, the Radeon Pro Vega 16 and Vega 20. The latter two are not available for the entry-level model though, but only as upgrades for the more expensive SKU with a starting price of 3299 Euros (~$3715). The Vega 16 is a 300-Euro upgrade, while Apple charges 420 Euros (~$473) for the Vega 20.

But what are the differences between the Radeon Pro and the Radeon pro Vega? The manufacturing process is still 14nm (FinFET), but it is now a new architecture. The Radeon Pro models are still based on the GCN4 architecture and the two Vega GPUs on GCN5. The memory configuration is another important difference; only the Vega GPUs are equipped with HBM2 memory, which supports a higher memory bandwidth.

Apple limits the performance of the MacBook Pro 15 a bit with the 87W power adapter as we have seen in previous reviews, so we checked the efficiency of the MBP 15 i9/Vega 20 compared to the MBP 15 i7/560X with the Unigine Valley benchmark running on macOS. We listed the exact results in the table below. Considering some headroom for the CPU, we are talking about an efficiency improvement of around 30% for the Vega 20 compared to the Radeon Pro 560X.

Performance & power consumption in Unigine Valley (4 minutes)
MBP 15 i9/Vega 20 MBP 15 i7/560X
ø Performance 34 FPS 21.1 FPS
ø Power Consumption 82.6 Watt 69.3 Watt
FPS/Watt 0.412 0.304

OpenGL Performance

The benchmarks from the Unigine series (Heaven & Valley) are well suited to compare the OpenGL performance and are also available for macOS. A direct comparison with the Bootcamp result also shows a significant performance advantage in favor of macOS. Otherwise, the Vega 20 is comparable to the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q in the Dell XPS 15 and between the two mobile workstation GPUs Quadro P2000 and Quadro P3000. The two mobile workstations from Dell (Precision 5530) and Lenovo (ThinkPad P1) are only available with the Quadro P2000 or P2000 Max-Q, respectively, so the Apple laptop has an advantage in this respect.

Unigine Valley 1.0 - 1920x1080 Extreme HD Preset OpenGL AA:x8
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
40.5 fps ∼100%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
34.9 fps ∼86%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK (macOS)
34 fps ∼84%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK (Win10)
25.7 fps ∼63%
Average AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
  (25.7 - 34, n=2)
29.9 fps ∼74%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
29.5 fps ∼73%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
AMD Radeon Pro 560X, Intel Core i7-8850H
21.2 fps ∼52%
Average of class Multimedia
  (6.2 - 34.9, n=14)
17.4 fps ∼43%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
AMD Radeon Pro 560, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
7 fps ∼17%
Unigine Heaven 4.0 - Extreme Preset OpenGL
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
53.8 fps ∼100%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
44.6 fps ∼83%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK (Win10)
38.5 fps ∼72%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK (macOS)
37.7 fps ∼70%
Average AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20
  (37.7 - 38.5, n=2)
38.1 fps ∼71%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
27.4 fps ∼51%
Average of class Multimedia
  (9.5 - 44.6, n=11)
23.7 fps ∼44%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
AMD Radeon Pro 560, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
19.4 fps ∼36%

In addition to the Unigine tests, we also have a look at the benchmark suite SPECviewperf 12 & 13, which consist of CAD, CAM, MRI and geology applications. The performance can vary quite a bit depending on the scenario and the Vega 20 in the Apple MacBook Pro 15 is between the two Quadro GPUs P2000 and P3000 in the best case, but can also fall behind the smaller Quadro P1000 in some tests.

SPECviewperf 13
Solidworks (sw-04)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
110.59 fps ∼100%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
96.07 fps ∼87%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
76.64 fps ∼69%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
72.76 fps ∼66%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
68.26 fps ∼62%
Siemens NX (snx-03)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
204.35 fps ∼100%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
121.86 fps ∼60%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
102.92 fps ∼50%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
102.58 fps ∼50%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
36.27 fps ∼18%
Showcase (showcase-02)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
58.63 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
44.48 fps ∼76%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
30.26 fps ∼52%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
29.94 fps ∼51%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
27.23 fps ∼46%
Medical (medical-02)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
37.93 fps ∼100%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
18.47 fps ∼49%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
16.21 fps ∼43%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
15.87 fps ∼42%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
13.58 fps ∼36%
Maya (maya-05)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
148.22 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
120.2 fps ∼81%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
89.31 fps ∼60%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
81.45 fps ∼55%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
70.99 fps ∼48%
Energy (energy-02)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
25.15 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
11.82 fps ∼47%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
5.28 fps ∼21%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
4.97 fps ∼20%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
3.28 fps ∼13%
Creo (creo-02)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
154.8 fps ∼100%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
82.1 fps ∼53%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
74.08 fps ∼48%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
74.07 fps ∼48%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
66.94 fps ∼43%
Catia (catia-05)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
180.76 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
111 fps ∼61%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
104.04 fps ∼58%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
96.37 fps ∼53%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
78.13 fps ∼43%
3ds Max (3dsmax-06)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
108.02 fps ∼100%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
71.66 fps ∼66%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
69.06 fps ∼64%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
63.78 fps ∼59%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
50.71 fps ∼47%
SPECviewperf 12
1900x1060 Solidworks (sw-03)
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
107.33 fps ∼100%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
104.03 fps ∼97%
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
102.01 fps ∼95%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
75.2 fps ∼70%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
71.31 fps ∼66%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
70.68 fps ∼66%
1900x1060 Siemens NX (snx-02)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
108.36 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
73.27 fps ∼68%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
67.59 fps ∼62%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
56.96 fps ∼53%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
55.74 fps ∼51%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
19.47 fps ∼18%
1900x1060 Showcase (showcase-01)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
58.71 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
54 fps ∼92%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
44.59 fps ∼76%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
30.42 fps ∼52%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
30.01 fps ∼51%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
27.42 fps ∼47%
1900x1060 Medical (medical-01)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
43.68 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
29.32 fps ∼67%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
26.61 fps ∼61%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
23.11 fps ∼53%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
20.71 fps ∼47%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
14.89 fps ∼34%
1900x1060 Maya (maya-04)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
64.91 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
64.61 fps ∼100%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
60.57 fps ∼93%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
60.27 fps ∼93%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
47.2 fps ∼73%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
36.99 fps ∼57%
1900x1060 Energy (energy-01)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
10.25 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
7.6 fps ∼74%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
6.43 fps ∼63%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
5.62 fps ∼55%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
5.49 fps ∼54%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
3.66 fps ∼36%
1900x1060 Creo (creo-01)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
105.73 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
85.55 fps ∼81%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
65.17 fps ∼62%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
55.69 fps ∼53%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
51.22 fps ∼48%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
49.2 fps ∼47%
1900x1060 Catia (catia-04)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
105.1 fps ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
92.31 fps ∼88%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
78.43 fps ∼75%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
70.83 fps ∼67%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
64.5 fps ∼61%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
54.04 fps ∼51%
1900x1060 3ds Max (3dsmax-05)
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
110.31 fps ∼100%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
71.9 fps ∼65%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
50.84 fps ∼46%

OpenCL Performance

We use the two benchmarks LuxMark and SiSoft Sandra for the OpenCL performance, but the latter did not run properly on the MacBook Pro with Bootcamp Windows, so we can only compare the LuxMark 2.0 scores. The most important GPU for comparison is the Radeon Pro 560X, and the new Vega 20 is almost 60% faster. The comparison with the GeForce competition on the other hand is a bit sobering: The Quadro P1000 is beaten, but both the P2000 and the P2000 Max-Q are between 20-25% faster.

LuxMark v2.0 64Bit
Room GPUs-only
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
2206 Samples/s ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
1824 Samples/s ∼83%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
1280 Samples/s ∼58%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
1277 Samples/s ∼58%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
1167 Samples/s ∼53%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
1091 Samples/s ∼49%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
712 Samples/s ∼32%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
AMD Radeon Pro 560, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
686 Samples/s ∼31%
Sala GPUs-only
Dell Precision 7730
NVIDIA Quadro P3200, Intel Core i7-8850H
4369 Samples/s ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
3386 Samples/s ∼78%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
2636 Samples/s ∼60%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
2617 Samples/s ∼60%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
2100 Samples/s ∼48%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
2081 Samples/s ∼48%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
AMD Radeon Pro 560, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
1323 Samples/s ∼30%
HP ZBook Studio G5-4QH10EA
NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Intel Core i7-8750H
1260 Samples/s ∼29%

DirectX Performance

The AMD Radeon pro Vega 20 is surprisingly good in the synthetic 3DMarks and is just behind the current GeForce GTX 1650. Even the Quadro P3000 is in reach or is even beaten, which is obviously the case for the smaller Quadro models as well. We are also happy to report that the performance is steady and the MBP 15 has no problems to pass the 3DMark Time Spy stress test (98.7%). This was not the case for the MBP 15 i7/560X before Apple released the major software updates last year. The Vega 20 is once again almost 60% faster than the Radeon Pro 560X.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Dell G5 15 5590
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (Laptop), Intel Core i7-8750H
20196 Points ∼100%
Schenker Compact 15
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Laptop), Intel Core i7-9750H
18750 Points ∼93%
Asus TUF FX705DT-AU068T
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), AMD Ryzen 5 3550H
13337 Points ∼66%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
12104 Points ∼60%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
11162 Points ∼55%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
9079 Points ∼45%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i9-8950HK
9032 Points ∼45%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
8619 Points ∼43%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
8573 Points ∼42%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
8148 Points ∼40%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
AMD Radeon Pro 560X, Intel Core i7-8850H
7590 Points ∼38%
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
6874 Points ∼34%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
AMD Radeon Pro 560, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
5305 (min: 5279, max: 6622) Points ∼26%
3DMark - 1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Dell G5 15 5590
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (Laptop), Intel Core i7-8750H
15415 Points ∼100%
Schenker Compact 15
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Laptop), Intel Core i7-9750H
14193 Points ∼92%
Asus TUF FX705DT-AU068T
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), AMD Ryzen 5 3550H
9274 Points ∼60%
Lenovo ThinkPad P71-20HK0004GE
NVIDIA Quadro P3000, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
9022 Points ∼59%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20)
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20, Intel Core i9-8950HK
8979 Points ∼58%
Dell XPS 15 9570 i7 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
7428 Points ∼48%
Dell XPS 15 9570 Core i9 UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i9-8950HK
7374 Points ∼48%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000XGE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
7199 Points ∼47%
Fujitsu Celsius H780
NVIDIA Quadro P2000, Intel Core i7-8850H
6953 Points ∼45%
Lenovo ThinkPad P1-20MD002LUS
NVIDIA Quadro P2000 Max-Q, Intel Xeon E-2176M
6742 Points ∼44%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
AMD Radeon Pro 560X, Intel Core i7-8850H
5699 Points ∼37%
HP EliteBook 1050 G1-4QY20EA
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8750H
5677 Points ∼37%
Apple MacBook Pro 15 2017 (2.9 GHz, 560)
AMD Radeon Pro 560, Intel Core i7-7820HQ
3892 (min: 3869, max: 3895) Points ∼25%
3DMark 06 Standard
32864 points
3DMark Vantage P Result
33590 points
3DMark 11 Performance
11353 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
21984 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
7558 points
3DMark Time Spy Score
2732 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The Apple MacBook Pro 15 with the Radeon Pro Vega 20 handles gaming very well if you are willing to use Windows. Titles from the App Store obviously run as well, but the choice is much more limited. We only had problems with benchmarks in the resolution 1366 x 768 pixels, which is not supported. Otherwise, our benchmarks did not cause any problems. You can pretty much play most games in 1080p and high details – not a bad result.

low med. high ultra
The Witcher 3 (2015) 119 49.6 31.8 fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 120.4 87.3 74.6 fps
For Honor (2017) 179.3 64.9 61.3 49.1 fps
Rocket League (2017) 236.8 190.7 122.4 fps
Far Cry 5 (2018) 59 40 37 37 fps
F1 2018 (2018) 142 76 65 44 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018) 111 47 41 35 fps
Hitman 2 (2018) 64.2 52.7 48.5 45.2 fps
Battlefield V (2018) 127.1 73.7 62.6 59.6 fps
Darksiders III (2018) 161.9 52.6 44.2 37.1 fps
Just Cause 4 (2018) 76.1 50.7 47.2 43.9 fps

Pros

+ Vega 20 with significant performance advantage
+ excellent case
+ very good screen
+ huge trackpad with great precision
+ usually quiet cooling solution
+ high Wi-Fi transfer rates & Bluetooth 5.0
+ good speakers
+ Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 with DisplayPort 1.4 (AMD GPU)

Cons

- Core i9-8950HK is slower than the Core i7-8850H
- insufficient power adapter
- fans running while idling and loud under maximum stress
- neither USB-A, HDMI, nor SD-reader
- very expensive - especially the upgrades

Verdict

In review: Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018. Test sample courtesy of Apple Germany.
In review: Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018. Test sample courtesy of Apple Germany.

The introduction of the new AMD Radeon Pro Vega GPUs was a bit of a surprise, but the new GPU leaves a very good impression and turns out to be a good upgrade. You can expect about 20% less performance when you select the Vega 16 (20 vs. 16 compute units), but the smaller Vega would still have a comfortable lead over the Radeon Pro 560X.

The situation is easy for the processor, because the cooling solution is still the limiting factor. Apple did not change the latter for quite a while and Intel just increases the Turbo speeds or adds cores without major changes on the architecture, so the optional Core i9 CPUs are hardly worth the money. We could not review the MBP 15 with the brand-new 8-core i9 CPUs. We expect lower clocks for all active cores, but there should still be a performance advantage even under sustained workloads thanks to four additional threads. Still, don't expect much more than the base frequency of 2.3 GHz (~1300-1350 points CB R15 Multi), so the verdict is still the same: The MacBook Pro 15 is not the best choice when you need the maximum amount of CPU performance.

Avoid the CPU upgrade, but the optional GPUs are interesting options depending on the usage scenario.

This leaves us with the question whether the MacBook Pro 15 with the Radeon pro Vega is still a multimedia device or more of a mobile workstation. There will certainly be users for both cases, and this also affects the choice of rivals from the major brands Dell (either XPS 15 or Precision 5530), HP (EliteBook 1050 G1 or ZBook Studio G5) as well as Lenovo (ThinkPad X1 Extreme or ThinkPad P1). All these models offer slightly more CPU performance, but cannot keep up with optional Vega 20 GPU in most cases. We still think the MBP 15 is primarily a multimedia device, and the final result of 91% benefits from the increase in GPU performance. The rating would be different for a mobile workstation (Our Rating Criteria) and the specific workstation benchmarks (which were performed with Bootcamp Windows) would have a much bigger impact. The final score would still be good at 87%.

Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz, Vega 20) - 06/03/2019 v6(old)
Andreas Osthoff

Chassis
93 / 98 → 95%
Keyboard
90%
Pointing Device
100%
Connectivity
63 / 81 → 78%
Weight
65 / 20-67 → 96%
Battery
93%
Display
92%
Games Performance
88 / 85 → 100%
Application Performance
90 / 92 → 98%
Temperature
89%
Noise
81 / 95 → 85%
Audio
91%
Camera
53 / 85 → 62%
Add Points
-1%
Average
77%
91%
Multimedia - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.9 GHz i9, Vega 20) Laptop Review
Andreas Osthoff, 2019-06- 4 (Update: 2019-06- 5)
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.