Macbook Pro with Touch Bar, Review: an excellent laptop that does not leave almost anyone happy

After several years without any renewal, Apple introduced the new Macbook Pro a few weeks ago. It renewed the most ambitious range in performance (and price) of its line of notebooks. And it did with a model that brought a series of novelties where the most striking is undoubtedly the touch screen called Touch Bar and that is situated replacing the last row of the physical keyboard.

But there is a lot more around an analysis of the new Macbook Pro. Performance, battery holding, the new keyboard, the larger touchpad or how it is coexisting with a laptop where the only port is USB-C and you need adapter for everything.

Macs are becoming more iPhone

How will the laptop or computer work for the next few years? Apple, like the rest of companies, has been thinking about it for some time. The smartphone and tablets have varied the time and manner in which we interact with the information or how we are facing a team that should serve us both for leisure and work tasks in many cases. Increasingly.

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The new Macbook Pro somewhat change the idea of Apple’s high end notebook. It is no longer a matter of teams where power over the most basic models, but support their exclusivity in functions that we can not get in other teams of the company (or in many cases the competition). In return are assumed enough more commitments that will make doubts more than one and an entry price that even in the model without Touch Bar seems high.

The Macbook Pro with Touch Bar is a great laptop that nevertheless does not content nor who wanted an updated substitute of the Air nor to who looks for a laptop of maximum performance graphic for its work

The current and real situation in the Mac laptop family is that except for the 13-inch Macbook Air that is still in the company’s catalog (but we see a rather black future), Apple laptops are quite in line with the idea Of premium equipment for the whole public. As with the iPhone. Perhaps Apple has decided that the one who requires great graphics power and expandability in laptops is not among its consumers. Gamers have never been.

Macbook Pro (2013) in the background and new Macbook Pro (2016) in the foreground
Macbook Pro (2013) in the background and new Macbook Pro (2016) in the foreground

If you want to opt for a decent screen Mac laptop updated on basic components like processor or SSD, there are no longer options that are not high-end. With the same strategy, Apple in the iPhone range the move works for you. For the first figures of reservations of these new Macbook Pro, it seems that also in Mac.

SCREEN 13.3 inches IPS (2,560 x 1,600 pixels)
PROCESSOR Intel Core i5 dual core at 2.9 GHz
MEMORY 8 GB LPDDR3 integrated at 2113 MHz
GRAPHICS Intel Iris Graphics 550
CONNECTIVITY WiFi 802.11ac + BT 4.2
61 W power adapter
PORTS 4 USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 2, DisplayPort and Thunderbolt),
headphone jacks, microphones
CAMERAS FaceTime 720p
OTHERS Backlight keyboard
DIMENSIONS 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.49 cm
WEIGHT 1.37 kg
PRICE From 2120 USD

The question is, can the Macbook Pro without Touch Bar cover the space left by the Air taking into account its starting price? And, is the Touch Bar enough and two more ports to be able to talk about the reference Mac laptop?

Lighter, more compact, thinner

For the design of the new Macbook Pro Apple has followed the expected script. No wedge like the Air. No reduction of extreme thickness as in the Macbook. Of course not a hint or wink of any kind for a convertible design.

In the design of the new Macbook Pro commands the equality and balance of the Macbook that was presented last year. And we like it a lot. At least in appearance, with its industrial air, great finish and an exquisite taste for details, no one can say that Apple has left something behind in this aspect for the price that asks for the equipment.

The finish and taste for details (along with the screen) is what comes closest to the high price of this laptop

The thickness is reduced to 1.5 cm in the version we tested 13 inches, and the weight is set at 1.37 kg. They are dimensions according to many rivals under Windows and balanced enough not to make too many sacrifices that would not compensate for 300 grams less. The Macbook Pro we can carry it from one side to another with maximum comfort but we can not say that it is a featherweight as there is in the market.

The Macbook Pro with Touch Bar reduces thickness and weight but is not something outstanding if we look at the competition
The Macbook Pro with Touch Bar reduces thickness and weight but is not something outstanding if we look at the competition

In addition to a smaller thickness, smaller weight and less frame for the screen that slightly reduces the dimensions of the new Macbook Pro, there are some other developments to highlight in the design of the new Apple notebook. We have for example the speakers on both sides of the keyboard taking advantage of that space, the keyboard itself with larger keys, the touch screen where there is usually the row of function keys, a giant touchpad and that is no longer mechanical or the symmetrical profile Of ports (2 USB-C on each side).

SCREEN 13.3 13.3 12.5 13.3 13.3 13.9 13.5
WEIGHT 1370 gr 1200 gr 910 gr 1100 gr 1100 gr 1400 gr 1516 gr
THICKNESS 14.9 mm 8.5 mm 11.9 mm 10.4 mm 9.98 mm 14.3 mm 13-22.8 mm

The design of the Macbook Pro, available in two shades of gray, would question a section: the lateral slots and under the screen that serve as cooling for the computer are not anything delicate. Close the equipment, simply pick it up and the edges under the screen area are very annoying and even aggressive to the touch. They are the same as in MacBook Pro from previous generations but the feel to the touch is quite different.

Power and battery: the usual in Apple

One of the controversies surrounding the new Apple Macbook Pro is in the internal configuration. The basic model, which starts at 2119 USD, uses an Intel Core i5 processor that is not of the latest generation (which is already available in the market), 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB PCIe SSD. The three elements can be improved, but there are many limitations.

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Nothing to object to on the performance level in the Macbook Pro with Touch Bar for the consumer market. But you have to know that the processors are not cutting-edge, that RAM can not be changed and is limited (due to not having the most modern Intel processors) and there are no dedicated graphics of sufficient levelThe most serious is in the RAM, which is integrated into the motherboard so the choice we make will be forever. And we can not opt for more than 16GB. The SSD is also integrated and can be up to 1TB at most. In terms of the processor, we can opt for a model with Core i7 in both the 13 and 15 inch models. An example of the more ambitious 13-inch Macbook Pro model (Core i5 at 2.9 GHz, 512 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM) would cost 2330 USD.

The controversy that affects the technical configuration of the Macbook Pro Touch Bar does not end here. No dedicated graphics cards on 13-inch models, which have to be satisfied with Intel Iris Graphics 550 solutions. To opt for graphics like the Radeon Pro 450 or 455 you have to climb up and go for the Macbook Pro with 15 inch screen. There is no more choice within the Mac ecosystem. This leaves us with a possible Macbook Pro with such a chart, 512 GB of SSD, Intel Core i7 of the previous generation and 16 GB of maximum RAM, for 3390 USD.


Put the cards on the table, it’s about real performance. Game is seriously discarded, and edition requirements or multimedia creation where the graphic is primordial in a continuous way, too. Assuming the consumer market with slight skirmishes in some 4K video editing with native Apple solutions, the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar more than meets the eye. The power in the day to day is not a problem for Apple, as already demonstrated in the smartphone market thanks to the control of hardware and software.

In the benchmarks that we have passed it gets great note. Geekbench puts it with more than 7500 points in the multicore test, being at the top of the table of ultra-books tested in TechGIndia¬†recently. Let’s look at the comparison with other teams recently tested in TechGIndia.

GEEKBENCH 3243/7228 2579/5080 2397/4520 3412/6904 2744/4430 3718/7096 2762/4912 3539/7578

When it no longer stands out so much is in eminently graphic evidence. At GFXBench the Iris solution can not perform at the same pace as dedicated solutions, and in the Manhattan test it gets 1208 phrases on the screen when computers with graphics like the GTX 770 rise above 15000.

Leaving aside the game and professional editing tasks, the experience is fantastic. Yes, we expected perhaps the new Intel Core, as well as configurations with dedicated level charts to take advantage of, or RAM without limitations. This is what you have to take into account when evaluating the new Macbook Pro technically. It will perform in general tasks for many years, as the Pro of previous generations have done, but if you aspire to something else you will not be able to get it now. Purchase options) or in the future for not being able to improve benefits for yourself.


Something that Apple has been able to maintain at an excellent level in the configuration of the new Macbook Pro is the operating noise, nonexistent thanks to the SSD (quite fast, with read rates of 2.9 GB / s and 1.9 GB / s Of writing in our tests), and heat. These days using the Macbook Pro we were not aware if the computer was off or on. Even passing synthetic tests that hurried the graphical part, silence is absolute.

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We noticed that he was suffering from the heating of the upper back, where he has the main air outlet. But the heat is completely logical and we have not found situations where it was not possible to work with the equipment on the knees.

Autonomy correct, but not dazzling

Something to always look with a magnifying glass on the laptops is the battery. The Macbook Pro with Touch Bar is 49.2 watts / hour, lower than the model without Touch Bar, but the objective in hours of endurance is similar. And it is also true of previous generations. The figures that gives Apple of ten hours in navigation mode and multimedia reproduction we have been able to reproduce almost: in our case, a playlist of Youtube to full screen in loop with brightness to 50% and WiFi connectivity activated left us 9 hours and 15 Minutes of endurance.

Since the Macbook Pro seems that with this generation falls more side of the area of the Air for general purpose, we would have liked to find an inheritance of the magnificent autonomies that were obtained with this family and that has been reference and reason for purchase during years. In any case the workday almost assured this Macbook Pro.

On battery power, the MacBook Pro complies. They are about 6-7 hours of effective work, nothing differentiating today but correct

In our field test, working with variable brightness level but never very reduced, Wifi connectivity all the time, many tabs in the browser, social networks, image editing and video playback, we have been able to survive without the charger since 8 From morning until after noon, about 6-7 hours effective. It’s the same as the battery of previous generations of Macbook Pro.

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The load is responsible for any of the four USB-C ports. Actually we are worth anything, something that is fine. But as happened with the Macbook last year, the magnetic connection to avoid cable pulls with accidents or the LED indicator to know if the battery has finished loading already or not, they miss.


With a charger of 61 W as standard, the total charge of the equipment exceeds slightly two hours: 130 minutes is what has taken in our tests from 3 to 100%.

Apple, it is not a matter of more or less ports if all are USB-C

In its mission to maximize the Macbook Pro, Apple has been quite extreme in the work of eliminating connections. In this Macbook Pro, the MagSafe connector that has done so much for not dropping laptops on the ground, the SD card reader, direct HDMI output or classic USB ports that still have multi-year travel by the amount of peripherals and equipment that Use them to connect to the laptop.

The new Macbook Pro with Touch Bar only maintains the 3.5mm port (which is still very curious having removed from its iPhone 7) and adds as main ports four USB-C. These will be the ones you have to use for everything from the Macbook itself to video output to connect the computer to external displays, peripherals or to charge smartphones. Except for the charging of phones with USB-C port, which is not the case of the iPhone (again very striking), you must use yes or yes adapters. Many.

Relying on specific adapters in Apple products is nothing new. But it has reached excessive levels in this Macbook Pro where there are only USB-C ports that force you, yes, compel, buy and go loaded adapters to be fully functional

Given my experience this week with the Macbook Pro I must be a poor and outdated user because after several days using the new Macbook Pro as I did with my previous model of 2013, it is not that I miss the ports. It has been an ordeal to run without them.

This is not a problem of numbers like with the Macbook to dry. Here is a question of if you put four equals, I do not care. I still do not have an Ethernet port, an HDMI output, an SD card slot, a USB-A port … we could continue for a longer time.

To connect screens, charge the iPhone, read from SD cards, connect a USB hard drive or use Ethernet cable ... adapters everywhere with the Macbook Pro and its 4 USB-C ports
To connect screens, charge the iPhone, read from SD cards, connect a USB hard drive or use Ethernet cable … adapters everywhere with the Macbook Pro and its 4 USB-C ports

For all the problems that could arise, such as connecting a printer that is not Wifi (one that must be behind), transfer information to a simple USB memory, use my favorite mouse (which needs USB adapter) or be able to upload to the Internet Some photos taken with the SLR and using SD cards, there is always a solution. It was missing. In fact it is a great value that the USB-C port is multipurpose and we actually have a kind of port 4 in 1 with load, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt and USB 3.1 Gen2, but not at once. Not in such an ambitious and general purpose computer where there are no other viable options within the Mac ecosystem.

The USB-C port that is actually like a standard 4-in-1 is an excellent idea. But to this day it may not be the only option in an ambitious team that covers in the Mac ecosystem both catalog

If everything that is not to charge the Macbook or use a USB-C peripheral requires not only to buy an adapter but to have it on hand when we need it, there is too much discomfort. And it is clear that these limitations or need for adapters for almost everything is not something new in Apple. But we do not like it.

The wonder of the Macbook Pro is your screen

Surely the only element that, if you allow me, can continue to fit into the definition of professional equipment within the new Macbook Pro is the screen. It was the main reason to opt for the Pro of previous generations versus the lightest and most capable Macbook Air battery.

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In this Macbook Pro Apple maintains the diagonal and resolution (2,560 by 1,600 that leaves us 227 pixels per inch, great sharpness both to work and enjoy multimedia content), but as it usually does in its range of phones, improves everything else .

As usual on their phones, enhancing the screen of the MacBook Pro does not draw attention to the figures or specifications. But it proves to be enough in the day to day. Fantastic

To begin with we have something quite obvious: they reduce the frames to get a more compact equipment with the same diagonal, and it feels good. It is not yet a design without frames, which would give an important packaging to visual level, but it is advancing.

The true quality jump on the screen of the new Macbook Pro, which was not simple, is at the level of brightness, contrast and color reproduction. The increase in brightness is very prominent (more than 65% according to Apple up to 500 nits, the same as in contrast), as well as color (25%), with the entry of the color space P3.


In practice it is surely the best panel we can find right now on a laptop, and it has gained enough visibility outdoors, but without being able to totally eliminate reflections. Also to emphasize the fantastic angle of vision, which allows to have any inclination in the screen and to continue seeing everything.

The improvement of the panel of the new Macbook Pro with Touch Bar reaches to the consumption, being more efficient than the previous generation in spite of the increase of brightness, for example.

That great visual experience is accompanied by improved sound through two speakers at the sides of the keyboard. Its power is great and they offer a brilliant sound and it complies with what we can look for in this type of general purpose notebooks.


Another essential: Touch ID

A simple difference between the Macbook Pro without touch screen and the model with Touch Bar is the fingerprint reader. It may be a comfortable person, too, but they are those additions that make one want with less sense of guilt to raise the budget for a new Mac and opt for the version with Touch Bar.

If you’ve hooked up to the convenience of identifying yourself and accessing sites with your finger instead of remembering or inserting passwords, the Touch ID on the Macbook Pro with Touch Bar will delight you

Although it may appear from the outset that the fingerprint reader is integrated into the OLED touch screen, it is not. The reader is not tactile but mechanical and acts as the power button. But we did not find any problem in that way. To identify you do not need to press the button but just place the fingertip on top. As with the iPhone Touch ID, we can register multiple fingers, and the identification and access is accurate and immediate.

As with the iPhone (and the Android terminals), once you test the fingerprint identification, it’s all so comfortable (and safe) that you can not stop using it and computers that do not include this functionality seem to you from another planet. Being able to enter your user without typing a password, or identify yourself and make purchases as you do on your smartphone seems like something we already want on any laptop we try. That does not mean that the experience of use still has elements to polish.

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A sound keyboard and very personal

Along with the issue of ports and adapters, the keyboard is positioned under my experience of use as the most personal element when considering the purchase of this Macbook Pro. Apple debuts in its most ambitious range of portable keyboard with system Type butterfly with which the Macbook achieved a very reduced thickness. Here we have the same system but improved.

The profile of the keyboard is minimal, and the route is quite reduced. But you can write fast and adapt easily. But he will not like everyone
The profile of the keyboard is minimal, and the route is quite reduced. But you can write fast and adapt easily. But he will not like everyone

The profile of the keys is minimal, and that makes it look great in the design. The size of each key is considerable, something very grateful, and the route we found is reduced from the usual but correct. The reality is that it is comfortable to write with him, the transition is done in a very short time and these days with him I have managed to repeat and even exceed my usual writing speed. But I still do not convince myself on a personal level because of the tamer touch (not fragile) and the dry and forceful sound that makes it more evident than other keyboards in quiet environments.

The new keyboard of Apple arrives very improved to the MacBook Pro, and you will adapt to the instant even surpassing the speed of writing. But the touch, little travel and sonority is very peculiar and some are not convinced

I also found strange the little route in important keys like the space bar, which at times seemed even broken by the null response that offered us when pressed.

I imagine that, over time, the tiredness and some forced positions of the wrists will eventually disappear and I would get used to not push with so much energy and thus reduce the clac-clac with which I now very clearly ameliorate my long sessions writing .


It is of course a keyboard with illumination that we can regulate with several levels of intensity, individual and that includes sensor to keep it off when by the ambient light does not have any sense the backlight.

A giant touchpad that remains the best

A differentiating sign on Mac laptops has always been the touchpad. By tact and behavior I have never found the same in the Windows world. In this new Macbook, in spite of the change of the mechanical system to the vibration response, the work with him in all the sections stays at the maximum level. The sliding is smooth, very precise, and the gestures work to perfection always.

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Its size has increased considerably. I do not think it means anything that improves its performance because those of previous generations were also generous. The change to the Force Touch system is subtle, in a few hours you are accustomed and the operation is identical to a mechanical one but with the advantages that it works evenly over the entire surface of the click and admits different pressures that are best performed with a System that is not mechanical. Or directly supports functions like the advance in video playback that with a mechanical one is impossible.

The increase in size of the TouchPad is more than evident
The increase in size of the TouchPad is more than evident

The Touch Bar works. You decide if you want to pay for it

The big surprise in the Macbook Pro is something that gives the computer a certain name: the Touch Bar. Years carry with concepts and patents about the possible arrival of something similar and is here. Definitely the touch screen as such does not seem to reach the Apple laptops.

The Touch Bar is basically a pretty quality OLED screen placed just where in the rest of the notebook is the row with function keys, among others. The idea behind this bar is that there are appearing options control and functions that best fit the application or tasks that we are doing at any time.


For anyone who is alarmed by the removal of the function keys or ESC, there is no problem. They only disappear physically, but the second one is present in its natural corner whenever it can be used by an application or the operating system. As for the function, they can appear by simply pressing the Fn key on the physical keyboard. This option can be configured so that, if we do not use the Function keys much, we can use it as a shortcut to expand the main control strip. I found it more useful.

The Touch Bar does not hurt the experience of using the laptop. Even improvement in certain aspects. That you want to integrate it into your work routine is up to you

Generally, the main strip that we have on the screen, folded in the right area of the Touch Bar, picks up just the controls that Macs carry physically in that last row of the keyboard. I speak of the control of brightness, volume … The clear advantage that lets us that bar has become virtual is that it can be customized for what it gains in front of the static physics that there was before. From a wide selection, and just by dragging and dropping, I can add the shortcuts I want and where I want.

With touch technology you can also slide instead of touching and touching. Some controls such as volume or brightness can be controlled by holding down and sliding. This is very intuitive and fast.

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By the way, for anyone who is concerned about the operation and battery consumption of the Touch Bar: it is not always on and after a few moments without using it, on the order of about 20 seconds, it goes off. Pressing on it or touching the physical keyboard reappears.

Many Apple applications like Mail, Photos or Safari have their own control strips in the Touch Bar; And we can also customize them by going to a new option that appears in the Display menu. Third-party Touch Bar integrators, such as Pixelmator, also include this possibility in their menus. In the latter case it is very powerful and almost allows to add to the toolbar any image editing tool.


As with other developments of Apple, the Touch Bar is not a success day and the novelty will depend on whether Apple and especially the application developers care and work on it in something really relevant.

In the use of the Touch bar we have found absurd options where it was clear that using the touchpad can be performed faster than with the touch screen. Accepting an action or confirming it does not make sense to appear on the touch screen when the touchpad is within range. Except that you work with one hand on the touchpad and the other pressing on the Touch Bar. We are also doubtful about the predictive text because in the end we will go faster by typing.

In other cases, such as combined actions or shortcuts to functions that are usually in menus or as second and third options, the Touch Bar is quite practical. We especially liked to make screenshots, or to complete actions with a file or folder, from sending it through third party services to assigning labels. At the end you get a workflow close to the keyboard without having to go to the screen.

The Touch Bar is also practical for controlling video elements that we are playing. It allows us a very intuitive and precise gesture to go to a certain point of a video or musical theme. And we can switch easily and directly between media that are currently playing. A very practical use is to manage music playback in the background with many more options in the Touch Bar than we could have with the usual multimedia controls in the physical row of buttons. Or stop / forward multimedia playback in the background without having to go to that browser tab or application.

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Another powerful use of the Touch Bar has been found in browsing and editing photos within the Apple application. With a quality of the miniatures quite impressive, we can move for a wide catalog of photos at full speed and with absolute fluidity. In addition we can make adjustments and retouching directly from the touchpad, which has been especially powerful when applying filters, adjustments or to compare the retouched photo with the original.

Regarding Safari and its relationship with the Touch Bar, we have a lime and sand. Opening a new tab and power of a single touch to access a web that we have in favorites does not excite us or we do not seem relevant, but it is that the navigation between tabs seeing the thumbnails on the screen of the Touch bar.

Touch Bar yes, Touch Bar no

The doubt about Touch Bar yes or Touch Bar does not, here is irrelevant. With a price difference of 318 USD between versions, I would choose the touch screen not for itself but for the two extra USB-C ports, the fingerprint reader and the fastest processor.

But above it turns out that it is an extra that works. It has its moments where it is most useful, and others where it does not fit in the head why should use it. It’s a matter of “changing the chip” and getting used to it. It costs to put it in the workflow when it is not essential to change the brightness or control the volume (there is no choice but to use it for it), but once done, I have felt comfortable moving between Safari tabs with their thumbnails, accessing To webs from your favorites on the touch screen, by repeatedly pressing the writing suggestions or by editing more accurately and fluidly images.


And the emoticons, have you used them in the bar? That you can not doubt. WhatsApp web, emails or instant messaging have filled up with happy faces and gestures with the same ease that I usually do from the smartphone. It is very striking.

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When we analyze a laptop of a certain operating system and without competition or options within it, it is difficult to value it in its right measure. Mac users who are looking for a renewal of their main laptop and do not consider making the jump to Windows, they will not have another option. The MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is expensive but there are no longer level alternatives to using MacOS.


If there is someone tempted to come from Windows you know what you will find: power to spare beyond numbers except very specific use scenarios, many limitations to expand the equipment (eye, very similar to some high end ultrabooks with Windows), Keyboard and the craziness of USB-C ports. But it will also have a screen of the highest level, maximum optimization between software and hardware that augments a longer lifespan surely than in a Windows computer, and a fantastic touchpad to which is now joined a Touch Bar that may or may not like but not It worsens the experience but improves it.

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Vaibhav Mishra

Fan of new technologies and player since small, I do not move without at least one smartphone in the pocket to always stay connected ... and keep some games at hand.