Today at their annual Worldwide Developer Conference, the company announced a slew of hardware updates for their entire range of laptops. Every last laptop, from the mighty MacBook Pro to the humble MacBook Air is getting some sort of CPU or platform update. As a result, Apple has a full family of refreshed laptops for the summer, all of which improve on their predecessor in one or more ways.

We’ll start with the MacBook Pro and MacBook, Apple’s two modern laptop families. Both of these laptops have received their long-awaited update to Intel’s 7th generation Kaby Lake platform. Kaby Lake, for a quick refresher, uses the same Skylake CPU core as Intel’s 6th gen Skylake platform, but enjoys a modest frequency boost due to Intel's 14nm+ manufacturing process. Meanwhile on the graphics side of matters, all of these CPUs come with a newer media block that offers full hardware encode and decode of 10-bit HEVC. This is an important distinction since Apple will be supporting HEVC on macOS 10.13 High Sierra. There are no other major changes to the underlying Kaby Lake platform, so other than the clockspeed boost and improved media decoder, Kaby Lake is a conceptually simple update from Skylake.

2017 MacBook Lineup
Model 2016 (Base) 2017 (Base)
Dimensions 0.35 - 1.31 cm x 28.05 cm x 19.65 cm
Weight 2.03 lbs (0.92 kg)
CPU Intel Core
m3-6Y30 (Skylake), cTDP Up
Base: 1.1GHz
Boost: 2.2GHz
Intel Core
m3-7Y32 (Kaby Lake), cTDP Up
Base: 1.2GHz
Boost: 3.0GHz
GPU Intel HD Graphics 515 Intel HD Graphics 615
Display 12-inch 2304x1440 IPS LCD
sRGB Gamut
Memory 8GB LPDDR3-1866 8GB LPDDR3-2133
SSD 256GB PCIe SSD 256GB PCIe SSD
(Newer Generation)
I/O 1 x USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-C
3.5mm combo jack
Battery Capacity 41.4 Wh
Battery Life 10 Hours
Price $1299 $1299

Accordingly, Apple has only made minimal other internal changes to these laptops. The MacBook does get a newer SSD – presumably the latest Apple design to replace its existing Apple SSD – which Apple states is up to 50% faster than the previous SSD. Surprisingly, the company is now also offering a 16GB memory option on the laptop, an interesting development since they were already using a full suite of chips to get to 8GB; so a teardown will be necessary to see how they’re getting to 16GB.

2017 MacBook Pro Lineup
Model 2016 13"
(non-touch)
2017 13"
(non-touch)
2016 15" 2017 15"
Dimensions 1.49 cm x 30.41 cm x 21.24 cm 1.55 cm x 34.93 cm x 24.07 cm
Weight 3.02 lbs (1.37 kg) 4.02 lbs (1.83 kg)
CPU 2.0GHz Core i5-6360U (Skylake) 2.3GHz i5-7360U (Kaby Lake) 2.6GHz Core i7-6700HQ (Skylake) 2.8GHz Core i7-7700HQ (Kaby Lake)
GPU Intel Iris Graphics 540 Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 Intel HD Graphics 530 + AMD Radeon Pro 450 (2GB) Intel HD Graphics 630 + AMD Radeon Pro 555 (2GB)
Display 13" 2560 x 1600 IPS LCD
DCI-P3 Gamut
15" 2880 x 1800 IPS LCD
DCI-P3 Gamut
Memory 8GB LPDDR3-1866 8GB LPDDR3-2133 16GB LPDDR3-2133
SSD 256GB PCIe SSD 128GB PCIe SSD 256GB PCIe SSD
Touch Bar No Yes
I/O 2x Thunderbolt 3 (supports DP1.2 & USB 3.1 Gen 2 modes),
3.5mm Audio
4x Thunderbolt 3 (supports DP1.2 & USB 3.1 Gen 2 modes),
3.5mm Audio
Battery Capacity 54.5 Wh 76 Wh
Battery Life 10 Hours 10 Hours
Price $1499 $1299 $2399 $2399

Meanwhile the 15” MacBook Pro is receiving a dGPU update. Apple has replaced the AMD Radeon Pro 400 series options with the Radeon Pro 500 series, which is comprised of the Radeon Pro 555 and Radeon Pro 560, Like the previous 400 series, both 500 series parts are based on AMD’s Polaris 11 GPU.

Otherwise, Apple hasn’t made any internal or external changes to these laptops. They all have the same screens, same ports, same finishes, etc, as the 2016. And the Touch Bar is still present on all of the 15” SKUs and the higher-end 13” SKUs. So if you want a Touch Bar, you need to buy a more expensive SKU (or alternatively, a lower-end 13” if you don’t want the Touch Bar).  Finally, Apple has added a second low-end MBP 13” SKU with a smaller 128GB SSD, which has pushed the price of the cheapest model down from $1499 to $1299 as of the refreshed laptops.

All of these updated laptops should be available from Apple on June 7th.

MacBook Air

Meanwhile in a surprising turn of events, Apple has given the 13” MacBook Air a minor speed boost. The laptop has languished without a real update for a couple of years now, still using Intel’s 5th generation Broadwell CPUs and a now dated low-DPI TN screen. Nonetheless, it’s still one of Apple’s more popular laptops due to its sub-$1000 starting price, which seems to be disrupting any plans to actually discontinue the laptop. As a result, Apple has given it a minor, late-lifetime speed boost.

2017 MacBook Air Lineup
Model 2016 (Base) 2017 (Base)
Dimensions 0.30 - 1.70 cm x 32.5 cm x 22.7 cm
Weight 2.96 lbs (1.35 kg)
CPU 1.6GHz Core
i5-5250U
1.8GHz Core
i5-5350U
GPU Intel HD Graphics 6000
@ 950MHz
Intel HD Graphics 6000
@ 1000MHz
Display 13-inch 1440x900 TN LCD
Memory 8GB LPDDR3-1600
SSD 128GB PCIe SSD
I/O 2x USB 3.0 Type-A
1x Thunderbolt 2
SDXC Card Reader
3.5mm Audio
Battery Capacity 54 Wh
Battery Life 12 Hours
Price $999 $999

The updated laptop retains the use of Intel’s Broadwell processor, but the base configurations now uses a faster chip, Intel’s Core i5-5350U, instead of the slower i5-5250U. As hinted at by the minor model number change, this is not a massive difference – both the base and the boost clock are 200MHz faster, for 1.8GHz base and 2.9GHz boost – but it is none the less a tangible performance improvement for Apple’s entry-level laptop.

Otherwise, Apple has not made any other changes. It’s still the same size with the same panel and the same I/O, including the now dated Thunderbolt 2 port. Still, it buys the laptop a bit more time, at least until Apple can figure out what the future of their entry-level laptop model should be.

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  • ltcommanderdata - Monday, June 05, 2017 - link

    Is HEVC support in High Sierra going to be Kaby Lake exclusive and require full hardware encoders and decoders or will the partial/hybrid acceleration in Skylake and Broadwell be supported as well?

    Back when H.264 acceleration was added to OS X, Apple did not support partial hardware acceleration for the GeForce 7xxx or Radeon X1xxx series, although this was so long ago it probably isn't a good comparison.
    Reply
  • mdriftmeyer - Monday, June 05, 2017 - link

    If you watch the keynote it's software for non-HEVC hardware enabled and hardware based for systems that have that on-board. Reply
  • ThreeDee912 - Monday, June 05, 2017 - link

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/9483/intel-skylake-r...

    Anandtech previously reported that Skylake apparently does have a full HEVC encode/decode support.

    A footnote on Apple's High Sierra page says that "The playback of 4K HEVC content requires a Mac with a sixth‑generation Intel Core processor or newer", so I guess older systems will use software decode instead and might have issues with 4K.
    Reply
  • ThreeDee912 - Monday, June 05, 2017 - link

    6th gen being Skylake, of course. Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, June 06, 2017 - link

    Full 10-bit support requires Kaby Lake. Reply
  • Santoval - Tuesday, June 06, 2017 - link

    It depends on how you define "full". If you define it by 8 bit HEVC encode/decode but no 10 bit then you are technically right. Reply
  • Sarah Terra - Thursday, June 08, 2017 - link

    Where's my 32gb of ram? like seriously apple...every "pro" out there is running multiple VM's for development. Not upgrading until 32gb is an option. Reply
  • corradokid - Friday, June 09, 2017 - link

    Apple is sticking with LPDDR3 which the memory controller only supports up to 16GB RAM, where the devices you're referring to are using DDR4 which Apple is waiting for a LP version for their laptops to use. Apple does not compete in the portable workstation segment of computers at the moment. Reply
  • Morawka - Monday, June 05, 2017 - link

    i dont understand why apple is using broadwell CPU's in the new Macbook Air. The only reasons i can think of are anti-consumer/anti-cannibalism practices. Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, June 05, 2017 - link

    Because a newer CPU would require designing a new mobo to support it; and the MBA is on life support at the moment; and will presumably be killed off whenever they're willing/able to drop the price of the 1port macbook by a hundred dollars or two. Reply

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