Apple put Intel "Kaby Lake" processors into the MacBook Pro laptop range which hasn't been out that long; the question is, should you have waited for the new hardware, instead of buying the first generation of new MacBook Pros?

Probably not if you needed a new laptop.

The MacBook Pros launched last year are pretty good, but there are a few situations where only the newest machines will do.

First, the Kaby Lake MacBook Pros are almost identical to their older cousins. Same screen resolution (2560 by 1600 max) on the Retina screen, the case is the same beautifully constructed aluminum clamshell and you have a choice of function keys and the context sensitive Touch Bar that changes according to the app you use, and which has the Touch ID fingerprint sensor for logging in.


The number of USB-C/Thunderbolt ports (four) haven't changed either.

Apple's tweaked the keyboard on the new MacBook Pro, and it's quieter and nicer to use now. Under the hood, there's some new stuff however.

My review machine was the 13-inch model, with a 3.1 GHz Core i5 processor (dual core with hyperthreading), 8 gigabyte of 2133 MHz low power DDR memory and a useful 512GB of solid state storage.

That configuration sets you back $3349 including GST. Maxing out the memory - only 16GB is possible still, and not 32GB despite the new processors, because the power draw would be too great - costs another $340.

Normally I'd say go for 16GB to keep up with software resource demand and extend the life of your laptop.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has such a fast solid state drive, hitting 2.3GBps reads and 1.9GBps writes that 8GB should be enough for most tasks.

Either way, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch gives a faster processor (up from 2.9GHz), as well, for the same money.

Battery life hasn't gone up with the Kaby Lake processors - Apple still quotes 10 hours on wireless. Make the MacBook Pro work hard and you'll see half that. Modest usage and staying with Safari as the browser got me through a working day before it was time to plug in the USB-C cable for charging, which is acceptable.


Geekbench 4 scored the Kaby Lake processor at around 4400 for single core performance, and 9300 for multi-core. That's quicker than the older Silverlake processor the Kaby Lake Core i5 replaces, but not by a huge amount.

The uprated Intel Iris Plus 650 graphics device built into the Kaby Lake processor is around 20 per cent faster than the previous generation of video, and that's definitely noticeable especially with games.

Also, it's still amazing, and I wish I could test it, that you can hook up three very high-res screens to the MacBook Pro via the USB-C/DisplayPort/Thunderbolt ports.

There is a thing the "old" MacBook Pros can't do, and that's decoding the new, high-efficiency HEVC H.265 video format with 10-bit deep colour. Kaby Lake processors also handle Google's VP9 codec with 8 and 10 bit colour so if you need that, a new MacBook Pro will do the trick.

The updated 13-inch MacBook Pro is an improvement on its earlier incarnation, which isn't lacking as a premium laptop, and you get a bit more for your money too with the new model. Unless you really need the some of the new features (which won't be available until macOS High Sierra comes out anyway), the first generation MacBook Pro will be just fine.