Apple has updated the MacBook Pro laptop line again, announcing that they have been upgraded to faster Kaby Lake processors – a refresh coming just eight months after the launch of the Touch Bar MacBook Pro in October 2016.
In this article we’ve got all the details about the 2017 MacBook Pros, including their specs and features, UK pricing and where to buy. (You can read more in our 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro review and 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro review. We also have a comparison of the two models here.)
2017 MacBook Pro price
When Apple updated the MacBook Pro in 2016 the entry-level price for the new model was £1,449/$1,499, while the company continued to sell an older 2015 MacBook Pro (in both the 13-inch and 15-inch configurations) at a lower price of £1,249/$1,299 for the 2015 13-inch and £1,899/$1,999 for the 2015 15-inch.
The older 15-inch model still remains, at the same price, but the great news is that Apple has discontinued the 2015 13-inch and instead dropped the price of entry on the newer Mac models. So you can now get a Kaby Lake 13-inch MacBook Pro for £1,249/$1,299.
The pricing is as follows:
- 2.3GHz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, £1,249/$1,299
- 2.3GHz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, £1,449/$1,499
- 3.1GHz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core processor, Touch Bar, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650, £1,749/$1,799
- 3.1GHz Kaby Lake i5 dual-core processor, Touch Bar, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650, £1,949/$1,999
- 2.2GHz Broadwell i7 quad-core processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage, Intel Iris Pro Graphics, £1,899/$1,999
- 2.8GHz Kaby Lake i7 quad-core processor, Touch Bar, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage, Radeon Pro 555, £2,349/$2,399
- 2.9GHz Kaby Lake i7 quad-core processor, Touch Bar, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage, Radeon Pro 560, £2,699/$2,799
The 2017 MacBook Pro models were announced at WWDC in June and are available from the Apple Store now.
2017 MacBook tech specs
The 2017 MacBook Pro models offer the following specs:
Apple has upgraded the range with seventh-generation Intel Kaby Lake processors, with the exception of the 15-inch non-Touch Bar model which retains its Broadwell processor. That model hasn’t changed from the 2015 model offered previously.
The graphics have also received a boost. The 13in MacBook Pro without Touch Bar now comes with the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 (an upgrade from Intel Iris Graphics 540); while the 13in model with Touch Bar now offers Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 (changed from Intel Iris Graphics 550).
The 15in models offers the Radeon Pro 555 or 560 (replacing the Radeon Pro 455).
All the 13-inch models offer 8GB RAM (although there is a build-to-order option for 16GB RAM). The 15-inch models ship with 16GB RAM as standard.
There have been calls for Apple to offer up to 32GB RAM in the MacBook Pro. Pro customers, such as video editors, were so disillusioned with the 2016 update to the MacBook Pro that in November 2016 Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller spoke out in defence of Apple’s decision not to offer more RAM, saying that this would be detrimental to battery life and require a power-hungry memory controller unsuitable for use in portable machines.
Schiller said: “To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board, which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.”
The problem lies with the CPUs. These processors support up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM at 2133MHz. There are processors capable of addressing more than 16GB of memory, but these rely on less efficient DDR4 RAM and are usually deployed in desktops because they can be plugged into mains power. Understandably Apple does not wish to hinder the battery life of its laptops in this way.
The calls for a 32GB RAM version of the MacBook Pro have grown loud enough for Apple to make a statement regarding it, but this doesn’t mean that a RAM update is imminent. Even the Kaby Lake processor upgrade for the MacBook Pro could not break the RAM cap of 16GB because the Kaby Lake processor doesn’t support LPDDR4 RAM and Apple is not expected to engineer a new RAM controller that does any time soon.
An Intel processor capable of supporting LPDDR4 RAM isn’t expected before 2018. (You can read more here: MacBook Pro 2018 rumours.)
Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo predicts that Apple will start to manufacture a 15in MacBook Pro with 32GB RAM in the fourth quarter of 2017, however. And he thinks Apple will adopt desktop RAM in order to do so.
In the meantime, Dell’s Precision 5520 laptop is directly comparable to the MacBook Pro and has a 32GB RAM build-to-order configuration.
The Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro was the biggest change to the range when it was updated in 2016. It’s a customisable strip-screen that allows for slicker fingertip control in certain software. It supports multi-touch gestures, which is handy when photo editing or using DJ applications, to name a couple of examples.
The Touch Bar is customisable, and you can click and drag preferred commands/functions into the bar, somewhat like the way you drag app icons into the dock on a Mac or iPhone. When the Touch Bar first launched it was limited to Apple applications, however over the months it has gained functionality with many other apps including Spotify and Photoshop, and it now offers additional functionality for Microsoft Office features. You can expect more software to offer Touch Bar support in the future.
For more on this, see How to use the Touch Bar. And if you’d like to get some Touch Bar action on other Macs, have a read of our Apple keyboard with Touch Bar release date rumours and How to get Touch Bar on any Mac.
When Apple introduced the MacBook Pro in 2016 customers were offered two 13-inch Touch Bar models and two 15-inch Touch Bar models. In addition, at the time, there was also a 13-inch non-touch bar version (aside from the 2015 model).
Some reports have suggested that the Touch Bar is not proving to be particularly popular, although this may be because those MacBook Pro models with the feature have a higher price.
It may be as a result of this that Apple is now, as of 2017, offering two non-Touch Bar models of the MacBook Pro with a lower entry price.
There are also two non-Touch Bar models in the 13-inch category and one non-Touch Bar 15-inch MacBook Pro model, the latter is an older MacBook Pro dating back to 2015. As such it offers a 2.2GHz Broadwell i7 quad-core processor.
You can add various build-to-order options to the 15-inch model at the point of sale, including a 3.1GHz Core i7 and 2TB storage, all of which will set you back £3,969/$4,199.