Apple boosts oomph in priciest MacBook Pros

Apple’s MacBook Pros have always been the most powerful and–to be sure–pricey laptops in the company’s lineup. With a refresh announced on Thursday, Apple gave such computers a big boost in oomph, though they’re certainly not any cheaper. 

Still, the updates potentially represent good news to developers and those of you who engage in video editing or other more vigorous computing actives.

Apple upgraded two models, the 3-pound 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar and the 4-pound 15-inch model with the Touch Bar. They start at $1799 and $2399, respectively.

The company claims the 8th generation, Intel “6-core” processor on the 15-inch model bolsters speeds by as much as 70 percent, while the “quad-core” on the 13-inch version is up to two times as fast.

The 15-inch model can also handle up to 32GB of memory, and up to 4TB of solid-state storage and has superior graphics capabilities. The 13-inch model goes up to 16GB of memory and 2TB of SSD storage.

Both computers feature Retina displays with True Tone technology that is supposed to properly match colors to ambient lighting conditions. And both have what Apple says is a “quieter typing” keyboard.

I haven’t yet banged away on one to see just how quiet that is, but frankly the bigger question around the keyboards surrounds their ultimate durability. Apple has faced widespread complaints and even a proposed class action lawsuit over allegedly defective keyboards on past MacBook Pro (and MacBook) models.

The computers also contain Apple designed T2 chips that had been introduced on the iMac Pro desktop. Apple says the chip bolsters security and on-the-fly encrypted storage, as well as letting you summon Siri on the Mac, without you having to press keys on the computer. In other words, as you can do on an iPhone, simply call out “Hey Siri.” 

Apple is claiming up to around 10 hours of battery life on the new systems. Each has four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

The latest changes are reserved for models with the Touch Bar, the multi-touch glass strip of shortcut keys above the Qwerty keyboard that dynamically change depending on the app you’re using. 

You can still buy less expensive 13-inch MacBook Pros without the Touch Bar, starting at $1299.

Apple did indicate that the new MacBook Pros are part of a broader Back to School promotion that begins today that includes a pair of qualifying Beats headphones with the purchase of any eligible Mac or iPad Pro for college.

All the new machines, and for that matter, most existing Macs in circulation, will run MacOS Mojave when the updated operating system launches in the fall.

Email: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter

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