Every product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.

2018 MacBook Pro Review: Is Apple’s Most Powerful Laptop Worth It?

After using the 2018 MacBook Pro for the last several weeks, three power users share how it’s improved their day-to-day workflows, and if they think Apple’s most powerful laptop ever is worth it.

2018-Macbook-Pro-Review-Gear-Patrol-Lead-Full
Chandler Bondurant

Earlier this summer Apple rolled out new 2018 MacBook Pros that looked nearly identical to its 2017 MacBook Pros, but they were they were better in almost every way. They had newer and faster processors, capable of speeding up their performance by as much as 70 percent. They had more memory and SSD storage, better-looking displays and better graphics cards. And they had a few upgraded features, too, like a quieter keyboard and hands-free Siri. Basically, these were Apple’s best and most powerful MacBook Pros ever.

They aren’t for everybody, however. The 2018 MacBook Pros are more expensive than Apple’s non-Touch Bar model, first of all, which still haven’t been upgraded since 2017. More importantly, Apple really designed the 2018 MacBook Pros for their “pro” user, meaning app developers, photographers, videographers, music producers and other power users who are going to push their laptop to the full extent of its capabilities; in the company’s press release, Apple says that the 2018 MacBook Pros are “ideal for manipulating large data sets, performing complex simulations, creating multi-track audio projects or doing advanced image processing or film editing.” So if you’re not a power user or don’t really care for the Touch Bar, it’s probably better to just get a non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro (2017 model) or even a MacBook.

Admittedly, I’m not the ideal user for Apple’s 2018 MacBook Pro. I bought a MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar in late 2016 – love it – and it’s perfect for me, but I’m basically using it for writing, web browsing and some coding. I’m not editing photos or videos, or really doing anything that would push that new six-core processor or Radeon Pro graphics to its limit – so instead I asked people who do just that. The Design team at Gear Patrol recently upgraded to the new, 15-inch 2018 MacBook Pros and have been using them for the last four-to-six weeks. I asked them about their experience so far, how it’s improved (if so) their day-to-day workflow and if they think Apple’s most powerful MacBook Pro is worth it.

Buy Now: $1,799+ (13-inch) Buy Now: $2,399+ (15-inch)

Henry Phillips, Deputy Photo Editor

Q: What do you do at Gear Patrol and specifically, how do you use a MacBook Pro at work?
A: Deputy Photo Editor. Everything from bouncing around meetings to tethered photoshoots with plenty of Bridge, InDesign, Capture One and Lightroom in between.

Q: Did you have any complaints/frustrations with your previous setup?
A: I had a previous-gen iMac that I loved actually. It was the first retina generation to come out but we maxed out the ram and processor so it still felt pretty fresh three years later. The storage space was a huge plus (it was specced with the 3TB fusion drive) but obviously, the biggest downside was being glued to a desk. Every time I traveled it was back to my slightly-dinky MacBook Air (which does way better with all the above programs than you’d think).

Q: How has upgrading to the new MacBook Pro changed how you work?
A: It’s been an interesting transition. I somehow ended up being in charge of figuring out our creative team’s setups and the previous-gen 15-inch MacBook Pro gave me nightmares — is it powerful enough, is there enough ram, is it going to be exponentially worse than an iMac for significantly more money? It was a standoff between us and Apple. It felt like they were going to release an updated MacBook Pro this summer but we needed new computers (both as replacements and for new hires) and we were running out of time. We actually got one of the previous-gen MacBook Pros just as a test case to see if it would hold up (more on that in Chase’s section) but thankfully the new ones dropped just in time.

Honestly, the new ones totally exceeded expectations. The i9, the RAM and the insanely fast SSD storage all add up to a pretty amazing user experience. I was worried that in getting portability we’d give up a ton of efficiency but that hasn’t proven to be the case. And, as a desktop setup — paired with a Caldigit TS3+ hub, BenQ SW271 4K monitor and LaCie 6TB D2 Professional HDD — it’s been as good or better than the outgoing iMacs.

The one thing — and you’ve gotta say it was expected — is the battery life. It’s so, so, so bad. I imagine if we specced the i5 or i7 and 16gb of ram it would approach that 10-hour figure Apple touts but with this high-efficiency space heater off the charger it’s probably only good for a couple hours of real work.

Q: Thoughts on the Touch Bar?
A: I’m take it or leave it. I like the emoji keyboard (?), I hate that it takes two taps to change volume.

Q: Final thoughts: if you could further improve the new MacBook Pro, what would you do?
A: As a true “desktop replacement” computer, I think Apple got weirdly close with this one — definitely closer than I was expecting. I wish the rest of the world would catch up with USB-C but that feels close. I’d sacrifice some thickness if it meant more efficient cooling and it’d be great if SSD storage wasn’t so GD expensive.

Jarry Truong, Associate Videographer

Q: What do you do at Gear Patrol and specifically, how do you use a MacBook Pro at work?
A: I am an Associate Videographer at Gear Patrol. I use the MacBook Pro with the Adobe Creative Suite (Adobe Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Lightroom, Adobe Media Encoder, Audition, and After Effects) and multitask with all these programs editing video and photos.

Q: Did you have any complaints/frustrations with your previous setup?
A: I didn’t have many complaints with my old set up except that the iMac Pro was an older model and that I was glued to my desk. The iMac Pro was powerful for its time yet [began to show] its age and so it was finally time to upgrade. The new MacBook Pro was worth our investment since we wanted power and portability. The [ability] to take my workstation home and still do any last minute editing or if I’m traveling for work and have the power I need to work through projects is very helpful.

Q: How has upgrading to the new MacBook Pro changed how you work?
A: Upgrading to the new MacBook Pro helped immensely with our workflow, It may not have the power of a full desktop but it is the fastest MBP known to date. It also gave us the option to be more nimble with where we work given if we need to do any editing at any location we would want to. Being stuck to a desk isn’t the best and having power and mobility is a great option.

Q: Thoughts on the Touch Bar?
A: I rarely use the Touch Bar; if so, it’s only for volume, brightness and the escape key. What I do use a lot is the touch ID. I enjoy being able to access my MacBook Pro through my fingerprint.

Q: Final thoughts: if you could further improve the new MacBook Pro, what would you do?
A: Probably keep pushing the envelope on power while keeping strong design as Apple does. The MBP has held up well with all the things I have thrown at it. One thing I don’t like though is the keyboard. For some reason, I am not to keen on the feel, maybe because I enjoy a full keyboard.

Chase Pellerin, Staff Photographer

Q: What do you do at Gear Patrol and specifically, how do you use a MacBook Pro at work?
A: I am the Staff Photographer here at Gear Patrol. Photoshop, Adobe Bridge and Spotify run in continuous unison as I move back and forth from the office studio to my desk.

Q: Did you have any complaints/frustrations with your previous setup?
A: I have had some bad luck with a few of my previous setups. Primarily and rather unexpectedly, full-on deaths. I was a big supporter of the iMac. I don’t like change or worrying about battery life, especially when it comes to my workflow, but having my work computer when I travel has been a nice upgrade.

Q: How has upgrading to the new MacBook Pro changed how you work?
A: There are many more moving parts with my new setup and getting my monitor properly calibrated has been a continuous experiment. The lack of an SD reader still boggles my mind and the bleeding battery life has me avoiding leaving my desk. For everyday workflow, I haven’t seen a huge fall off from my previous iMac, but the bells and whistles of this new gen are more labor-intensive than intuitive.

Q: Thoughts on the Touch Bar?
A: The Touch Bar is unnecessary. Full stop.

Q: Final thoughts: if you could further improve the new MacBook Pro, what would you do?
A: I would suggest better battery life, returning the SD reader, a larger headphone jack and removing the Touch Bar completely.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Reviews