MacBook Pro 2018 vs MacBook Pro 2017: is it a worthy upgrade?

Apple has just announced the new MacBook Pro 2018, and both the 13-inch and 15-inch models have some major hardware upgrades over last year’s model, making the MacBook Pro 2018 the “most advanced Mac notebook ever”, according to Apple.

That’s not to say the MacBook Pro 2017 was a slouch in the performance department, but last year’s model did feel more like an incremental upgrade of the MacBook Pro 2016. When pitting the MacBook Pro 2018 against the MacBook Pro 2017 we’re expecting a much larger jump in performance.

So, does the improved power of the MacBook Pro 2018 justify its high price tag, or will you be better off sticking to the more affordable MacBook Pro 2017? Let’s find out.


It may come as little surprise, but the MacBook Pro 2018 looks a heck of a lot like the MacBook Pro 2017. In fact, Apple told us that the dimensions of the MacBook Pro 2018 are completely unchanged from last year.

While that may disappoint those who are after a radical departure from previous models, for most of us there will be a sense of relief. After all, if it isn’t broke, why fix it?

So, expect a solid aluminum design, with the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018 weighing the same 3.02 pounds (1.37kg) as the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2017, and with a thinness of 0.59-inches (1.49cm) when closed.

It’s a beautifully thin and light design, and we’re glad that wasn’t compromised due to the more powerful components in this year’s model.

The 15-inch models of both the 2018 and 2017 editions are larger, with a 0.61-inch (1.55cm) thickness, and a weight of 4.02 pounds (1.83kg). That’s still impressive, considering the screen size.


Talking of the screen, Apple again indicated that this will be similar to last year’s model. So, there’s a 13-inch screen with a 227ppi (Pixels Per Inch) density, and a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600.

The 15-inch version gets a pixel density of 220ppi, which is slightly less sharp, but that’s due to its 2880 x 1800 resolution being spread over a larger screen.

Both sizes of the MacBook Pro 2018 will also feature Apple’s True Tone display technology, which debuted on the iPad Pro, and also features on the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X.

This senses the ambient light and brightness of the environment you're in, and adjusts the display accordingly, so you get the best possible image quality no matter where you’re working.

So, regardless of whether you’re working on your MacBook Pro 2018 under bright lights in a studio, or in sunlight outside, the MacBook Pro 2018’s screen should still look fantastic. We look forward to properly testing out this new feature soon.


This is where the MacBook Pro 2018 and MacBook Pro 2017 really diverge, as Apple has packed some of the latest, and most powerful, components available today into its latest notebook.

So you get 8th-generation Intel Core processors, with the 15-inch version getting a choice of 6-core Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processors up to 2.9 GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 4.8 GHz.

According to Apple, this will provide up to 70% faster performance over the MacBook Pro 2017. That’s a huge performance boost, so if you use your MacBook Pro for heavy-duty tasks and multi-tasking, the upgrade may well be worth it.

Meanwhile, the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018 gets quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors up to 2.7 GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 4.5 GHz. These are also 8th-generation chips, and will provide twice the performance of last year’s model, which Apple says is “ideal for manipulating large data sets, performing complex simulations, creating multi-track audio projects, or doing advanced image processing or film editing”.

The MacBook Pro 2017 models feature 7th-generation Intel Core processors, and these Kaby Lake chips are still great little performers, but on paper the gap between the MacBook Pro 2017 and MacBook Pro 2018 is pretty huge.

The MacBook Pro 2018 will also support up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, double the maximum amount of the MacBook Pro 2017. While 16GB of RAM may be plenty for many people, if you’re working on very demanding tasks the MacBook Pro 2018’s extra memory will certainly be a worthwhile investment.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro 2018 also gets Radeon Pro discrete graphics with 4GB of video memory, and while we don’t have the exact specifications just yet, that will either match or exceed the AMD Radeon Pro 555 and Radeon Pro 560, with up to 4GB of VRAM, found in the 15-inch MacBook Pro 2017.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018 comes with integrated graphics, Iris Plus 655 with 128MB of eDRAM, which is a leap over last year’s offering.

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The 13-inch MacBook Pro 2017 launched at $1,299 (£1,249, AU$1,899) for the lowest-spec model, with the 15-inch version going for $2,399 (£2,349, AU$3,499). With the launch of the MacBook Pro 2018 we should hopefully see some price cuts coming to the 2017 models soon.

Meanwhile, the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018 starts at $1,799 (around £1,400, AU$2,500, AED 7,999), with the 15-inch model starting at $2,399 (around £1,800, AU$3,250, AED 9,999).

So, while the 15-inch model looks set to keep the same price, the 13-inch is quite a bit more expensive. However, the boost in specifications may justify the extra outlay.

Should I buy a MacBook Pro 2018?

If you’ve been holding out for a radical reimagining of the MacBook Pro, the 2018 version may disappoint you. And if you’d rather save your money, then the 2017 version is still a formidable machine that will give you plenty of bang for your buck.

However, if you want cutting-edge components and powerful performance, then the MacBook Pro 2018 is definitely worth considering. Apple seems to have done a brilliant job of cramming even more powerful hardware into that slim and light exterior that we love the MacBook Pro for.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.