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New MacBook Pro Hands-on: Touch Bar Is NOT a Gimmick

MacBook Pro 13-inch (2016, with Touch Bar) reviewApple’s new MacBook Pro is here at last. Unveiled at a dedicated press event on 27 October, the new MacBook Pro comes in 13- and 15-inch screen sizes, features sixth-gen Intel Skylake processors, a slim new design and a cool customisable Touch Bar above the keyboard… and costs a bit of a fortune.

Our new MacBook Pro 2016 review evaluates the looks, design, features and value for money offered by Apple’s latest line of professional-focused laptops.

Broadly speaking there are three models of the new MacBook Pro: a comparatively budget-focused 13-inch model without the new Touch Bar, and a 13-inch and 15-inch model with it. This review looks at all three models together, but we will make it clear when comments apply only to certain models.

The MacBook Pros are thinner and lighter than the previous generation: the 13- and 15-inch models are 14.9mm and 15.5mm thick (or ‘thin’, as Apple irritatingly styles it in marketing materials) and 1.37kg and 1.83kg respectively. (Last year’s MBPs weighed 1.58kg and 2.04kg, and were both 18mm thick, so Apple has achieved reductions of 17 and 14 percent respectively in thickness, and 13 and 10 percent in terms of weight.)

New MacBook Pro 2016 review: Dimensions

  • 30.41cm x 21.24cm x 1.49cm; 1.37kg (13-inch models)
  • 34.93cm x 24.07cm x 1.55cm; 1.83kg (15-inch models)

 

Externally the design is similar to last year’s, albeit on a slimmer scale, but there are numerous physical changes under the lid. The most obvious, and the flagship feature that occupied much of the unveiling event, is a touchscreen bar above the keyboard that Apple calls the Touch Bar, which we discuss in the next section.

One more thing before we move on: as expected, Apple has removed the traditional USB ports on the MacBook Pro, and the MagSafe charging port, and replaced them all with USB-C/Thunderbolt ports: four of them on the Touch Bar models and two on the 13-inch model without a Touch Bar. And you get a 3.5mm headphone jack too: phew!

Common Fixes for Common Macbook Problems

Some 2011 MacBook Pros Experiencing GPU Glitches, System Crashes

Many early and late–2011 MacBook Pro owners with discrete graphics cards seem to be experiencing GPU failures and system crashes on their machines. In addition to several tips received by MacRumors, there’s a lengthy thread on the issue on the Apple Support Communities, a Facebook group, and many reports of trouble on our own forums.

It appears that the MacBooks, first released on February 28, 2011, are displaying screen glitches primarily during graphics-intensive work or games. MacBook owners have noted visible striations and image distortion or an entirely blank screen, which can often be temporarily fixed with a reboot.

Along with graphical issues, MacBook Pro owners are also seeing frequent reboots to a gray screen. Apple has several suggestions for customers seeing a gray screen, including booting into safe mode and reinstalling OS X, which has not managed to solve the problem for MacBook Pro owners experiencing issues.

Apple has done logic board replacements in some cases for affected users, but reports indicate that the issue has reoccurred after a logic board replacement as well. It is unclear why the MacBook Pros are experiencing problems, but Apple forum users have speculated that it could be heat related.

The issue appears to affect 15 and 17-inch MacBook Pros that have discrete graphics cards. All of the 2011 MacBooks use AMD cards, including the AMD Radeon HD 6490M, the AMD Radeon HD 6750M (both 512MB/1GB variants) and the AMD Radeon HD 6770M.

Mid–2011 iMacs with AMD Radeon HD 6970 graphics cards experienced similar failures and in August of 2013, Apple initiated a Graphics Card Replacement Program for the computers, replacing the graphics cards of affected iMacs at no cost.