I love Apple hardware, but damn – the company needs to stop calling all its stuff the same name and then adding “new” each time the next version comes out.
For MacBook Pro owners and techies, buying a new laptop from Apple takes a bit of concentration to ensure you get the correct model.
If you are a general consumer, however, you need to tattoo a technical cheat sheet to the inside of your arm to have any chance of getting out with the right device.
The naming standards reached maximum general confusion this past week, when Apple released its new MacBook Pro.
The new MacBook Pro in 2018 follows the release of the new MacBook Pro in 2017, and the release of the new MacBook Pro in 2016.
Apple’s top-end laptops released in 2016, 2017, and 2018 feature the same design and share many features – but all pack different hardware, and in the case of the 2018 model, a new-and-improved display.
While you may argue: “Well, I will just ask for a 2018 or 2017 model when I go to Store X”, this implies you trust the part-time employee behind the counter to have solid knowledge of the product they are selling.
Throw into the mix the fact that South African retailers also keep older stock of devices, and you may even end up being offered a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display – which was the model before the new MacBook Pro.
The 2016 one.
With a Touch Bar. But it is also available without a Touch Bar.
But only in a 13-inch model.
New MacBook Pro questions
If you shop online or walk into an Apple reseller in SA this month, you are likely to be offered the following if you ask for a MacBook Pro.
- MacBook Pro 15-inch with Retina Display. This is the “old” MacBook Pro, and includes the old-style keyboard, USB ports, and an HDMI connection.
- 2016 MacBook Pro 13-inch with or without a Touch Bar. These are the first generation of the latest MacBook Pro range, and feature 6th-generation Intel Core processors.
- 2016 MacBook Pro 15-inch with Touch Bar. The first 15-inch model of the latest MacBook Pro range. 6th-generation Intel Core processors.
- 2017 MacBook Pro 13-inch with or without a Touch Bar. These were the second set of new MacBook Pros, with 7th-generation Intel Core processors.
- 2017 MacBook Pro 15-inch with Touch Bar. Part of the second set of new MacBook Pros, with 7th-generation Intel Core processors.
- 2018 MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar. The latest 13-inch model, with 8th-generation Intel Core processors, an improved display, and new keyboard.
- 2018 MacBook Pro 15-inch with Touch Bar. The latest 15-inch model, with options up to an 8th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB of RAM, and 4TB SSD. Improved display and new keyboard.
Based on this information, there are questions you can ask to ensure you get the MacBook Pro you want.
The first one is to check the design of the device – the “old” MacBook Pro (the 15-inch with Retina Display) features an array of ports. The new MacBook Pros – 2016, 2017, and 2018 – feature USB-C ports only, along with a headphone jack.
The second question is to ask what year the MacBook Pro was released in the US, and what generation Intel Core processor it has – as described above.
If you start getting feedback along the lines of “this models has the Kaby Lake chip, and this one has the Skylake chip”, reference this Wikipedia page.
These names are given to the processor generations by Intel. For example, Kaby Lake is 7th-generation Intel Core CPUs.
Another important aspect to remember is that MacBook Pros are customisable.
There will be different processor options within the same generation, such as a 2.2GHz Core i7 and a 2.6GHz Core i7, which are both 8th-generation.
Users can also purchase different RAM amounts – 16GB or 32GB, for example – and different storage sizes – 256GB vs 512GB, for example.
The graphics chips in the laptops also vary. For example, certain 13-inch models only pack integrated Intel graphics, while the top-end 15-inch models sport Radeon Pro GPUs.
These details will require more research from your side, as you will need to define how much RAM and storage you will need, and how much processing and graphics power you require.
This may necessitate you asking your tech-savvy friend for advice, and requsting them to write down the specifications they would recommend.
Lastly, don’t worry about feeling “stupid” if you go into an iStore or other tech retailer and ask multiple questions about a product before you buy it. If they can’t answer your questions, take your business elsewhere.