A new year and a new series of apple products. Unfortunately Apple decided to only make incremental upgrades to the macbook pro line with the star of the show being the new iMac Pro. So looking at the competition and new technology being released this year I am going to look at what we can expect from the Macbook Pro next year.

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Guaranteed changes

Before we make educated guesses on what next years Macbook Pros will have in store lets go through what we are guaranteed to get.

Size and weight

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Apple love trimming millimeters and grams off their products. Next years Macbook Pro is guaranteed to be smaller and lighter while upping the specs.

Touchbar

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The biggest change Apple made to the Macbook Pro (and laptops in general) in 2016 was the introduction of an OLED touchbar. Apple are likely to have iterated on this in some way and include it across the full range of Macbook Pros. Iterations will likely include an improved touchID sensor (mine never works as fast as my phones) and software improvements to the UI.

Webcam

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It’s 2017. A 720p webcam doesn’t cut it anymore. Considering how this has been ignored I am not expecting a huge bump in specs but I suspect we will at least see a bump to 1080p.

 

RAM

The Macbook Pro is still hindered by its 16GB RAM limit. Top end Macbook Pros are powerful enough to run things that people only ever considered running on desktops just a few years ago. To do this we need 32 and even 64 GB RAM options. We should see a 32GB option but don’t hold your breath for the 64Gb one this time around…

MacOS

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With High Sierra on the way with its plethora of under the hood changes it is likely the 2018 Macbook Pro will come with a MacOS with more on the surface changes. In particular Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality has recently been shown to be on Apples radar and getting closer to release so I suspect we will see an OS with this even more intwined.

Likely Changes

Now we get onto the things that are highly likely to change. These are things that take onboard recent tech announcements and current goings on in the tech industry that may find their way into the new Macbook Pros.

CPU

Seeing as we won’t be seeing the new Macbook Pro until 2018 will likely see the i5 and i7 8000 series processors. This should provide the new Macbook Pros with a small bump in performance while maintaining power efficiency. Ontop of this the next generation I5s will have hyperthreading turned on with I7s likley to have more cores in order to counter new AMD products as detailed below.

There has been a lot of movement in the CPU industry in the last few months, AMD released their Zen based Ryzen R5 and R7 series CPUs and Intel have countered this with new I7 and I9 processors. Impressively, the AMD CPUs provide comparable performance (although not quite up to intels IPC) for less power. For example the R7 1700 8core/16thread processor uses the same amount of power as Intels I7 7700 4core/8thread part.

It is unlikely the Apple would change its major CPU vendor so suddenly but Intel should be concerned that if they don’t do something we may be seeing AMD CPU powered Apple products in the next couple of years.

GPU

This part is interesting and ties into the new iMac Pro and what I discussed with CPUs. Apple uses AMD GPUs in all its products already, with the newest line of Macbook Pros having Polaris based 400 series cards and the iMac Pro housing the new VEGA powered GPUs.

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Interestingly AMD did suggest that CPUs with VEGA on the die would be available meaning VEGA GPUs for laptops likely exist in some form already.

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If we are lucky and the VEGA based laptop GPUs perform at a good power:performance level I think it is highly likely we will see VEGA in 2018 Macbook Pros. Unfortunately the release of 300watt and 375 watt desktop VEGA GPUs means this may not occur until the next generation of AMDs high end cards (Navi) but we should see a small bump to the 500 series of Polaris chips if we don’t see VEGA.

Display

The retina display tagline is well known but starting to sound a bit old. Apple like bing fresh and new. Apple, however, are smart when it comes to which areas to go for, rather than pushing pixels that will use up battery and GPU processing power for a negligible difference in quality (seriously everyone after 4k 15inch screens sounds a bit silly to me, they are harder to get good performance out of, cost more, and at 2880 x 1800 you already can’t make out any pixels) they will up the colour reproduction (as done in the 2016 model) or higher refresh rate (see the new Ipad Pro).

It is also worth noting that AMD have released a standard called ‘Freesync 2’. This Standard requires a few things. Firstly the display has to be HDR ready, that means we get more colours to choose from and the display is capable of displaying very dark and very bright colours in close proximity in the same image. Secondly the display needs to reach 1000 nits (double the current brightness level). Finally the display needs to adaptively change its refresh rate in line with the frame the graphics card is outputting, this can make for much smoother animations and stops any screen tearing or similar.

I don’t believe Apple will make a completely freesync 2 compliant display however I do think they will come up with a new standard to encapsulate retina display resolution with HDR and adaptive sync. I doubt Apple will provide 1000nits of brightness however simply because 1. it would make making the laptop thinner more difficult and 2. Battery life would suffer in a major way.

Wishlist

Everything mentioned so far is likely to change with other things staying the same. Below I am going to give a small wishlist of things that I hope to see in the next series of Macbook Pros.

More RAM in base models

There is no reason for a laptop to come with 8GBs of RAM nowadays. The base model should have 16GBs upgradable to at least 32GBs.

OLED screen

This is incredibly unlikely to appear in Macbooks before it appears in Iphones but an OLED screen would be absolutely beautiful.

Return of a dedicated HDMI port

I get that Apple wants USB-C to be the future and that’s great and all but everything TV wise uses HDMI with the newest using HDMI 2.0. A HDMI 2.0 port would be incredibly handy for when I have left my dongle at home or on my desk when I get to a meeting room.

Concluding remarks

So to conclude, the 2018 Macbook Pro model will hopefully take the strengths of the 2016 Macbook Pro (its powerful CPUs and decent onboard GPUs) and provide them with at least an incremental upgrade whilst also giving us bigger bumps in areas such as RAM to well and truly make this a Macbook Pro everyone will want.

 

 

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