Review: Apple’s new 15-inch MacBook Pro is a dream for media professionals … – 9 to 5 Mac (blog)

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It would be silly to say that Apple’s latest iteration of the 15-inch 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display is the best MacBook yet, because that’s mostly the truth with every new model. Unfortunately, you won’t find a shiny new processor setup this time around, as Apple stuck with the trusty old Haswell configuration, but there are some nice improvements here.

The good news is, there’s a bump in clock speed across the board if that matters to you and we have a new GPU setup thanks to AMD in the high-end model. Even with these modest upgrades, the MacBook Pro I purchased is a beast for content creation…

This year I decided to splurge and pick up the 2.8GHz configuration and 1TB of flash storage, but I felt like it was worth the extra cash considering what I do for a living. I plan on using this thing for the long haul as the last MacBook Pro I had was a late 2013. As expected we have a beautiful Retina display here, with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 that’s good for 220 ppi. For full specifications on Apple’s 2015 MacBook Pro lineup, check out the Apple Store online.

There’s also the new Force Touch trackpad which comes along with some cool features, but none of them are particularly useful to me. If you’d like to check out all of the Force Touch features available with the new MacBook Pro, check out our top features article/video here.

Instead of focusing this review on how great (or poor) this MacBook is for everyone, I’m going to tell you how it works for me. I make videos. Most of those videos happen to be in 4K resolution, so it should be no surprise that I’d need something powerful to get the job done when I’m on-the-go. Also, if you’re interested in the carbon fiber skin I’m rocking on this MacBook Pro (shown in the video below), you can find it here.

Check out our 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro review video below:

I actually edited the entire review video above and the original unboxing video on this MacBook. If you’d like to check out that unboxing video with benchmarks and comparisons to the other 15-inch configurations, you can find it here. Premiere Pro CC, After Effects, and Photoshop run like a boss on this thing. If you need something completely capable of any media-related task, I’d highly recommend it. I was able to export my 3:14 unboxing video of this MacBook with After Effects compositions in under 10 minutes.

My last MacBook Pro was clocked at 2.3GHz which is pretty fast, but I can definitely tell the difference in performance. As for benchmarks, Geekbench 3 produced a single core score of 3,894 and a multi core score of 14,807. Over in BlackMagic Disk Speed test we have read speeds as high as 1700 MB/s and write speeds over 1400MB/s.

I’m not a huge gamer, but I did test a couple of titles for those curious out there. In Counter Strike: Global Offensive, I saw a consistent 30-35fps with all settings on maximum and full resolution of the MacBook’s panel, but the game was a bit laggy, bringing down the resolution a bit made it completely playable. I also gave BioShock Infinite a run and it played buttery smooth at the max settings and full resolution available. I’m not a gaming expert, but from my testing this MacBook is more than capable of handing a few good titles.

This MacBook Pro has been a dream so far. It’s a very powerful laptop for my needs, but obviously it’s not for everyone. This specific configuration will set you back roughly $3,200 (or around $2,499 without the upgraded CPU and storage). If you’re in search of a 15-inch for everyday use, I’d recommend the base model 15-inch MacBook Pro which comes in at $1,999. Overall, it’s also nice to know that I’ll have a very reliable editing machine when on-the-go and a laptop that can handle pretty much anything I’d throw at it. I plan to keep this MacBook around for a while and it looks like it’ll be able to keep up with me.


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24 Responses to “Review: Apple’s new 15-inch MacBook Pro is a dream for media professionals and creators (Video)”

  1. PMZanetti says:

    Amazing how worthless PC Games are on even the fastest hardware any normal person would buy, yet the same games run beautifully without a hiccup on consoles with far less power.

    Maybe game developers need to stop doing what they’ve been doing for 20 years and start building with normal hardware in mind, instead of designing around only the fastest water cooled 8 core 3 GFX machine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Radeon M370X that this thing is packing is actually about half as powerful as the aging GTX 660 desktop card. The 660 did fine with games a couple of years ago, but even now it is starting to show its age. For reference, the PS4’s GPU puts out about the same number of FLOPS (~1.8 TFLOPS). So, it makes sense that the M370X can’t keep up.

      Also, it’s worth factoring in that console games get tuned specifically for the hardware they are intended for. PC games require a multitude of switches and driver optimizations to run well on a wide range of hardware. There is no such thing as “normal hardware” when you could be running on Nvidia or AMD and the horsepower available varies wildly based on model.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Abraham Song says:

      You really don’t know how games work. Console games are at a far lower resolution than PC games are. Therefore, if you don’t have a rig that can’t support the pixels, you’re gonna have problems.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Consoles are cookie cutter hardware — they’re all the same, and they run at very low resolution compared to PC games. This allows game developers to make games for these platforms rather easily.
      PC hardware is the exact opposite of cookie cutter…and games made for them, can run at whatever resolution you want, provided you have the power to drive them. Almost every game gives you the option to tune the game for your system — if that means running it on a lower resolution with not as many effects, well, then I think they might be saying hey borzef, if you got a few more graphics cards and ran them in SLI/CrossFire, you could turn the effects on ‘high’ and run it in a higher resolution at a higher frame rate.

      Like

    • hi,

      i want something that will drive a 4k tv, will this mac book drive a 4k tv at 60fps?

      thanks

      Darren

      Liked by 1 person

      • spaceblack says:

        The current HDMI standard does not support 4k@60Hz (only 30Hz max). So you will need to use DisplayPort. Unfortunately, there are very few (4k) TVs out there that accept DP inputs. And there are no Hdmi-Dp adaptors available via retail. What TV model are you trying to drive?

        Like

      • snepstein says:

        Spaceblack is only partially right. The current HDMI standard, 2.0, DOES support 4K@60hz. The MacBooks don’t support HDMI 2.0, however.

        Like

  2. Tim Jr. says:

    I have a late 2013, but I’m ok with it for now. Going to wait for the Skylake version.

    Hopefully Apple will use the new combined USB C/Thunderbolt 3 port that Intel announced. Basically, I’m sticking with this old unit, anticipating Apple doing a major shakeup in ports in Skylake MBP laptops.

    I think were going see a MBP in the not to distant future where all a Macbook will have is combo USB C Thunderbolt ports. (Hoping for at least 4 ports). /Crosses fingers. I think this would be crazy cool..

    If they actually implement Intel’s wireless device technology from Skylake (Wireless USB, Wireless 4k displays and wireless charging), thats icing on the cake for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • shareef777 says:

      Same here. I’m still on the original 2012 retina and finally looking to upgrade to the newer model.

      Like

      • Yeah, I pretty much “future proofed” by 2012 MBP Retina 15, so it’s still cruising right along. I actually got a new MacBook just for travel purposes (I don’t do any video editing, so that works fine). I’m waiting until they come out with Skylake and some of the neater, newer tech. It’s probably worth waiting another year or so to see what will happen. I suspect that Apple is also looking to change the current MBP form factor a bit since it’s been the same for the past three years (i.e. make them thinner, if nothing else)–I just hope they leave the ports alone.

        Like

    • Same here! Holding out for Skylake, which is coming with Thunderbolt v3 — that’s 40Gbps per port IIRC!
      Imagine how fast the SSD / RAID storage is going to be for that model! And I bet it can drive at least two external 4K displays at once as well…but we’ll have to wait and see. The Usb-C and Thunderbolt 3 port is going to seal the deal for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I just only have a question. Has Apple solved the image retention issue in the new 2015 MacBook Retina Display? This is important for me because I don not want to spend u$ 2000 and have IR

    Like

    • I believe that was caused by defective GPUs and also software bugs, Apple has a webform where you can check if your machine is one of the ones affected; or are you talking about a different issue?

      Like

      • magor34 says:

        Got a link for that webform? It appears like my 2012 Retina has the image retention issue.

        Like

  4. Although I really want this, I currently own a 2012 13″ retina (no GPU), and I think I am going to hold out for the next iteration, which will presumably have thunderbolt v3 onboard. This is definitely sick though.

    Like

  5. I just purchased my 2015 today and dropping over $3k was a little hard of a pill to swallow but I’m quite ok with it now that i can actually edit resolution over 4k, it’s still seeming to choke up a bit around 6k looks like the next purchase will be a Mac Pro or a custom PC that ill just run apple software off of because at this point I’m just going to end up buying another computer every couple years might as well build something

    Like

  6. Dom, you need to trade your DVR in for a newer model bro. The UI is nicer, the fast forward is faster, you can record more shows at once and the hard drive is WAY bigger.

    PS – Great review.

    Like

    • Dom Esposito says:

      LOL I know. I’ve been slacking hardcore on doing that. Don’t watch TV enough.

      Like

  7. I have a 2011 model 17″ MacBook Pro with matte screen, the last of its kind because Apple dropped the 17″ model because (small is beautiful) and then they decided that all their retina screens should be glossy (because it looks pretty, despite being harder to read when there is glare)

    We now have the iPhone 6 Plus and the upcoming iPad Pro, but as a mobile IT professional who uses a laptop as his primary development machine, what I actually want is a MacBook Pro Plus. I have no intrest in downgrading to a 15″ model and would gladly shell out for a 19″ or 21″ mobile workstation. Maybe its a niche product, but there are lots of mobile professionals who just need the biggest and best laptop on the market.

    Like

  8. scumbolt2014 says:

    Cool video

    Like

  9. Jesse Rhines says:

    Looks like it has no CD drive. Not worth a mention? How do you move stuff off of it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • snepstein says:

      It’s not worth a mention because MacBooks (regular/air/pros) have all ditched disc drives years ago.

      The last one was the 2012 non retina I believe. Apple hasn’t made a new laptop product with a disc drive in three years. If you wanna move data, use the Internet or flash drives, both of which are infinitely faster than spinning disks. You can get a 64GB flash drive for like, 15-20$.

      Liked by 1 person

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