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Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro now has a 60% more powerful GPU option, but it will cost you

By Vijay Anand & Koh Wanzi - on 15 Nov 2018, 8:57pm

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro now has a 60% more powerful GPU option, but it will cost you

A few weeks back, we reported that Apple has silently added new 15-inch MacBook Pro configurations with the inclusion of AMD’s Radeon Pro Vega discrete GPUs, and would be available sometime in November.

We’re now glad to report they are now available for purchase, making the 15-inch MacBook Pro the first notebook to sport this new AMD mobile GPU based on the Vega graphics core.  Available with AMD’s new Radeon Pro Vega 20 and Radeon Pro Vega 16 graphics, these will offer a substantial performance gain over the Radeon Pro 500 series GPUs in use now. That certainly took a while to realize even if AMD announced their intention to offer Vega mobile GPUs well back in January at CES.  

The Radeon Pro Vega 20 and Radeon Pro Vega 16 are comprised of 20 and 16 Compute Units (CUs) respectively (just like how the desktop editions are named). They also feature 4GB of HBM2 memory, which supposedly takes up less space in a notebook compared to traditional GDDR5 memory. This means that the new GPUs are more suited for the thin and light notebook designs that are becoming increasingly common today, just like the MacBook Pro. In addition, HBM2 doubles the memory bandwidth compared to the Radeon Pro 560X on the baseline models.

What can users expect?

Apple claims that you can expect up to 60% faster graphics performance which would be a boon for those dealing with content creation applications that utilize the GPU to fast track tasks like video editing, photo processing, rendering, and animation. While the beefier GPU will naturally lend itself to better gaming performance, the notebook isn’t pitched as one and there aren’t many options on the Mac OS natively either.

Apple’s own test on Maxon’s Cinema 4D Release 20 - a 3D modeling, painting, rendering and animation software – using a similarly configured notebook but one running a Radeon Pro Vega 20 GPU and another utilizing the older Radeon Pro 560X is how they derived the 60% performance advantage. To get a relative performance point from the NVIDIA camp, we’ve also shared that this could potentially be speedier than a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.



The catch is that this is an optional add-on and it is only available to the higher specced MacBook Pro base config that’s equipped with the faster processor  (Core i7-8850H) and more storage (512GB). This costs S$3,988 with its default Radeon Pro 560X graphics.

Opting for the Radeon Pro Vega 16 with 4GB of HBM2 memory will see that price go to S$4,338 (which is an S$350 premium). If you opt for the Radeon Pro Vega 20 model, get ready to dish out S$4,478 for your MacBook Pro 15-inch as it commands an S$490 premium over the base edition GPU.

If you are a professional creator who dabbles in the right set of applications and prefers to work with a MacBook Pro or the Mac OS ecosystem and don't see cost as a pain point, then the new MacBook Pro additions are just what you might need to speed up your workflow.

All hail the most expensive MacBook Pro ever...

With the entry of the enhanced GPU options, a fully decked out MacBook Pro is no longer nearing S$11,000, but it has, in fact, exceeded it!

If you're all set for one, then do check out our full review with the previous GPU spec!

Read Next: Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (2018) review - Fast and powerful, but not for everyone

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