Saturday October 20, 2018 7:13 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple has added 2018 models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to its refurbished store in the U.S. for the first time. Prices are discounted by roughly 15 percent compared to the equivalent brand new models.
Quantities are limited, so we recommend acting fast or using Refurb Tracker to monitor when inventory is replenished.
Apple says refurbished MacBook Pro models are thoroughly inspected, tested, cleaned, and repackaged, with all manuals and cables included in the box. In our view, a refurbished MacBook Pro is virtually indistinguishable from a brand new model, so this represents a good opportunity for savings.
Note that third-party resellers sometimes offer better deals than Apple's refurbished prices, so be sure to monitor our deals roundup.
A refurbished MacBook Pro comes with Apple's standard one-year warranty effective on the date the notebook is delivered. The warranty can be extended to three years from the refurbished purchase date with AppleCare+ for Mac, which costs $379 for the the 15-inch MacBook Pro in the United States.
Apple has also added refurbished 2018 models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro to its Canadian store at a 15 percent discount.
Wednesday October 17, 2018 7:00 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple has added 2018 models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to its refurbished store in the U.S. for the first time. Prices are discounted by roughly 15 percent compared to the equivalent brand new models.
A refurbished base model with a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 256GB of flash storage, 8GB of RAM, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 is available for $1,529 in the United States, reflecting savings of $270 off Apple's regular price of $1,799. Available finishes include Silver and Space Gray.
A refurbished maxed-out model with a 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 2TB of flash storage, 16GB of RAM, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 is available for $3,139 in the United States, reflecting savings of $560 off Apple's regular price of $3,699. This configuration is currently limited to Space Gray.
A variety of other models, including built-to-order configurations, are currently available. Quantities are limited, however, so we recommend acting fast or using Refurb Tracker to monitor when inventory is replenished.
Apple says refurbished MacBook Pro models are thoroughly inspected, tested, cleaned, and repackaged, including the manuals and cables included in the box. In our view, a refurbished MacBook Pro is virtually indistinguishable from a brand new model, so this represents a good opportunity for savings.
Note that third-party resellers sometimes offer better deals than Apple's refurbished prices, so be sure to monitor our deals roundup.
A refurbished MacBook Pro comes with Apple's standard one-year warranty effective on the date the notebook is delivered. The warranty can be extended to three years from the original purchase date with AppleCare+ for Mac, which costs $269 for the the 13-inch MacBook Pro in the United States.
Apple has also added refurbished 2018 models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro to its Canadian store, also at a 15 percent discount.
Saturday October 6, 2018 1:35 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Earlier this week, MacRumors obtained an internal document from Apple stating that Macs with the Apple T2 chip, including the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro, must pass Apple diagnostics for certain repairs to be completed.
The document states:
For Macs with the Apple T2 chip, the repair process is not complete for certain parts replacements until the AST 2 System Configuration suite has been run. Failure to perform this step will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair.
• For notebooks: Display assembly, logic board, top case, and Touch ID board
• For desktops: Logic board and flash storage
Apple's diagnostic software is limited to internal use by Genius Bars at Apple Stores, Apple Authorized Service Providers, and qualifying institutions, suggesting that independent repair shops without Apple certification would be unable to repair certain parts on the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro going forward.
Moreover, the document reignited a debate about planned obsolescence, as there were concerns that when Apple stops servicing the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro, repairs through alternative channels might not be possible.
The news was quickly opposed by "Right to Repair" activists who believe that Apple and other device manufacturers should be legally required to make replacement parts, repair guides, and tools available to the public. Apple has and continues to actively oppose "Right to Repair" legislation in the United States.
Those activists will be delighted to hear that, for whatever reason, what Apple said in its document isn't actually the case right now.
iFixit is not an Apple Authorized Service Provider, so at this time, it appears that independent repair shops should remain able to repair the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro without issue. It's unclear why Apple's document suggests otherwise, but it's possible the requirement could kick in at a later date.
So why is Apple doing this? It could simply be a mechanism for tracking parts used by their authorized network, to check quality or replacement rates. It's possible that units with swapped parts may operate normally, but still report a failure in Apple diagnostic tests for having 'unauthorized' components installed—much like earlier units did on earlier versions of AST for third party HDD/SSD, RAM and batteries.
Thursday October 4, 2018 11:12 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Due to advanced security features of the Apple T2 chip, iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro models must pass Apple diagnostics for certain repairs to be completed, according to an internal document from Apple obtained by MacRumors.
For the 2018 MacBook Pro, the requirement applies to repairs involving the display, logic board, Touch ID, and top case, which includes the keyboard, battery, trackpad, and speakers, according to the document. For the iMac Pro, the requirement only applies to logic board and flash storage repairs.
If any of these parts are repaired in an iMac Pro or 2018 MacBook Pro, and the Apple diagnostics are not run, this will result in an inoperative system and an incomplete repair, according to Apple's directive to service providers.
Apple's diagnostic suite is limited to internal use by Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers, as part of what is called the Apple Service Toolkit. As a result, independent repair shops without Apple certification may be unable to repair certain parts on the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro.
Moreover, when the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro are eventually classified as vintage products, meaning they are no longer eligible for hardware service from Apple, repairs through alternative channels might not be possible.
MacRumors has reached out to Apple for comment.
This requirement is a result of the T2 chip, which integrates several previously separate components, including the system management controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller. It also features a Secure Enclave coprocessor for secure boot, encrypted storage, and authenticating Touch ID.
Update: Despite the specific wording of Apple's document, which says failure to run Apple diagnostics after certain parts are replaced in T2-equipped Macs "will result in an inoperative system," the repair experts at iFixit swapped out the display and logic board on a 2018 MacBook Pro, and it remained operational without passing diagnostics.
iFixit is not an Apple Authorized Service Provider, so at this time, it appears that independent repair shops should be able to repair the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro without issue. It's unclear why Apple's document suggests otherwise.
When contacted by MacRumors for clarification, Apple said the Supplemental Update improves system stability and reliability across a number of areas, and addresses several issues, including crackling audio and kernel panics. Apple said it recommends all users install the update on their MacBook Pros.
Apple Support Communities user takashiyoshida, for example, claimed his MacBook Pro "no longer outputs the crackling noise" after updating.
"This evening, I set the microphone and speaker's sampling format to 44100 Hz and began playing back music on iTunes," he explained. "Before the update, I would normally hear the noise in about an hour. I left my MacBook Pro to play music for about three hours and so far I am not hearing any noises."
Reddit user onceARMY, however, commented that he was "still getting audio crackling noise while playing YouTube content on Safari." He did note that there were "no issues with the Spotify app" after installing the update.
As far as kernel panics are concerned, a handful of users have reported experiencing at least one since installing the Supplemental Update.
"Installed today's update… and then it happened," wrote MacRumors forum member King724, referring to a kernel panic. He shared a log indicating a system crash related to bridgeOS, the device firmware on the logic board that controls many functions on the 2018 MacBook Pro, including the Apple T2 chip.
For context, the T2 chip integrates several previously separate components, including the system management controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller. It also features a Secure Enclave coprocessor for secure boot, encrypted storage, and authenticating Touch ID.
Prior to yesterday's Supplemental Update, Apple support representatives provided customers with a wide variety of potential solutions to mitigate these issues, ranging from disabling FileVault to turning off Power Nap, but none of the workarounds appeared to permanently fix the problems.
Apple also asked some customers if they would be willing to send in their MacBook Pros so that its engineers can look into the issues. Some customers were apparently told that fixes were in the works, and at least based on what Apple told us, they are included in the Supplemental Update.
This is the second macOS High Sierra Supplemental Update for the 2018 MacBook Pro in as many months, with the first addressing a bug that contributed to excessive throttling of clock speeds under heavy thermal loads.
The Supplemental Update is not available to macOS Mojave users, but the issues could be resolved in future beta versions.
Tuesday August 21, 2018 3:28 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple has added two China-based manufacturers to its list of MacBook chassis suppliers in an effort to push down prices quoted by Taiwan-based makers, according to a new report today by DigiTimes.
China-based Shenzhen Everwin Precision Technology and AAC Technologies are said to have obtained Apple certification in 2017, and this year they began small-volume shipments of the metal-alloy chassis for Apple's notebook line-up.
Previous years saw Taiwan-based Catcher Technology, Foxconn Technology and Casetek Holdings dominate the supply of MacBook chassis, and Apple reportedly intends to continue relying on them because of their excellent manufacturing capabilities, but not before it has capitalized on the Chinese makers' lower production costs.
DigiTimes' sources indicate that for Taiwan makers, competition from China rivals will have more impact on their gross margins than on order volumes. To offset the impact, Taiwan companies have increasingly sought orders from Chinese brand vendors of high-end devices like laptops. Responding to the rumored potential of Chinese competition for Apple's business, for example, Catcher said its outlook for 2018 remained unchanged.
Apple is expected to release a new low-cost MacBook Air later this year that will be similar in design to the current MacBook Air, but with slimmer bezels around the display. Based on the latest rumor, the new machine will be a straight MacBook Air upgrade aimed at students and schools, with a lower price tag than MacBooks in the MacBook family.
It remains unclear how a new 13-inch Retina MacBook Air fits in with Apple's existing 12-inch Retina MacBook lineup, so the company's plans for its upcoming notebook range could still throw up a surprise or two.
The crackling appears to occur spontaneously during audio playback on both 13-inch and 15-inch models, based on a handful of videos shared by customers. As with many crowdsourced issues, there are a lot of variables involved, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what may be causing the problem.
Some customers appear to experience the issue while playing music in iTunes, while others are affected when using GarageBand, or playing a YouTube video. Some users also hear the crackling when running Windows via Boot Camp. It's unclear if the crackling is limited to specific volumes or frequencies.
MacRumors forum members have speculated about possible causes, including radio interference due to a lack of shielding, audio drivers, and the T2 chip.
A few years ago, some customers experienced similar crackling from the built-in speakers on the 2016 MacBook Pro, oftentimes when running Windows via Boot Camp. The crackling was so loud that it often permanently damaged the speakers, resulting in the MacBook Pro needing to be repaired or replaced.
If you installed Windows 10 using Boot Camp Assistant before November 25, 2016 on a MacBook Pro introduced in October 2016, it's important that you install the Audio Driver Update for Boot Camp using Apple Software Update for Windows to avoid issues with your speakers.
The speaker issues with the 2018 MacBook Pro don't appear to be as dire, or nearly as widespread, but enough complaints have surfaced that we wanted to bring some attention to the matter in the interest of those affected.
At least one user claims the issue may have been fixed in the latest macOS Mojave betas, which is unconfirmed. Another user claimed that Apple engineers are looking into the matter. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Of course, in a production run of millions of new MacBook Pro units, a small percentage may have defective speakers, but this does appear to be an actual issue that hopefully can be or has been addressed in a future software update.
Available in Midnight Blue, Saddle Brown, and Black, the Leather Sleeves are similar to the previously available Leather Sleeves for the 12-inch MacBook lineup. The colors match some of the colors of Apple's Leather iPhone case options.
Apple's Leather Sleeves are simple and no-frills, made from a high-quality European leather with careful stitching around the outer edges and an Apple logo front and center. Inside, there's a soft microfiber lining.
Four circles at the bottom of the sleeve match the feet of the MacBook Pro, so this is a sleeve that's only going to work with the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models from 2016 and on.
When not in use, the Sleeve can be used as a little mat for your MacBook Pro, protecting it from the surface beneath. Unfortunately, there's no access to the USB-C port when the MacBook Pro is in the Sleeve, so it can't be used while charging.
All in all, the Leather Sleeve is going to offer up protection from scratches and bumps, but there's no drop protection here. Most people may want to go with a cheaper option, but at the $179 to $199 price point, Apple hasn't skimped on quality.
What do you think of Apple's Leather Sleeves for the MacBook Pro? Let us know in the comments.
It's also the first time Apple has sold fewer than four million Macs in a quarter since the third quarter of 2013, a span of five years.
Apple reported sales of 4.29 million Macs in the same quarter a year ago, so this is a pretty significant 13 percent decline on a year-over-year basis. Mac revenue also dropped five percent over the year-ago quarter.
There are a number of possible explanations for the decline, including consumers increasingly shifting towards the iPhone and iPad. Together, those devices accounted for 65 percent of Apple's revenue last quarter, compared to just 10 percent for the Mac. Apple even markets the iPad as a computer replacement.
Apple hasn't updated its 12-inch MacBook and iMac lines since June 2017, while the MacBook Air has gone unchanged since March 2015, except for a minor increase in clock speed on the base model last year. Worse, the Mac mini hasn't been refreshed since October 2014, and the Mac Pro has gone unchanged since December 2013 while Apple works on a new modular version for 2019.
While the MacBook Pro was recently updated, the new models didn't launch until 12 days after the third quarter ended. Last year, new MacBook Pro models launched at WWDC in early June, well within the third quarter.
Apple's financial chief Luca Maestri highlighted this "difficult launch comparison" in the company's earnings call on Tuesday:
Our year-over-year sales performance was impacted by the different timing of the MacBook Pro launch, which did not occur until early Q4 this year as opposed to June last year.
The month-later MacBook Pro refresh isn't enough to justify Apple's fewest Mac sales in any quarter since 2010, however, as the notebook has been updated at various times over the years. 2016 models were released in October of that year, for example, while 2013 models launched in February of that year.
Mac sales were the lowest in a quarter since 2010 - hard to blame the MacBook Pro coming out in July versus June. https://t.co/E6QDBJ9VYd
Apple said it still recorded double-digit year-over-year growth in its active installed base of Macs last quarter, reaching a new all-time high, with nearly 60 percent of purchases coming from customers who are new to the Mac.
Apple today released an important bug fix for 2018 MacBook Pros, which was designed to address an issue that caused the machines to excessively throttle when doing system intensive tasks.
The bug fix came in the form of a supplemental update to macOS High Sierra 10.13.6, which many new MacBook Pro owners have now installed on their machines. Multiple MacBook Pro owners and media sites have been testing the new patch, and the results appear to be largely positive -- the throttling issue has been resolved for the most part and the machines are performing better.
CNET for example, did some before and after testing with a video encoding test. Prior to the patch, the Core i9 machine the site tested saw frequent fluctuations in internal temperature and CPU clock speed, while after updating, the CPU throttling in the Core i9 MacBook Pro ceased, with the clock frequency of the cPU and internal system temperature remaining stable.
Original throttling tests showing frequent fluctuations on left, after patch test on right. Image via CNET
Macworld shared some preliminary test results from its 4K Adobe Premiere test and had similar results, with even clock speed at or above base rather than spiky throttling. Macworldestimates that prior to the patch, the 2018 Core i9 15-inch MacBook Pro was 11 percent faster than the last year's comparable 2.9GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro. After the patch, "it's more like 20 percent faster."
Preliminary results from our 4K Premiere test: 2017 2.9GHz Core i7: 90 min 2018 Core i9 before patch: 80 min 2018 Core i9 after patch: 72 min Also, very even clocks at or above base instead of spiky throttling. pic.twitter.com/4CtgJ72pRt
Geekbench Labs founder John Poole tested the 2018 Core i9 MacBook Pro after the patch and found that it was faster with a more stable processor frequency. It was slightly slower than the 2018 Core i7 MacBook Pro. Poole says that while long running heavily multi-threaded tasks are going to see similar performance on the Core i9 and Core i7 machines, single and lightly-threaded tasks should be faster on the i9.
After applying the latest update from Apple, I re-ran the Geekbench build test on the i9. It’s slightly faster, but processor frequency stays stable when building (which is comforting).
MacRumors reader Aea shared pre-patch and post-patch Cinebench benchmarks done with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Core i9 chip showing the jump in score following the update.
Multiple Reddit users with 2018 MacBook Pro models have been sharing their benchmarking and testing results after installing the supplemental update and have seen significant improvements. This image from Reddit user XNY, for example, depicts a before and after from a 13-inch 2018 MacBook Pro with a Core i5 chip.
Another Reddit user (apple_) confirmed that following the update, his Core i9 machine is performing consistently better.
I did all the original tests and I can confirm, for myself, that I am continuously getting the base clock speed or above in the torture test with Prime 95. Even so much as getting between 2.9 - 3.9 when I was 4 tests in. Also ran cinebench and OpenGL got 106 fps and the cpu test I got above 1000 for every test ran. Thank you Apple for this quick fix and thank you for everyone bringing these issues to light.
The throttling issue was first discovered just a few days after the MacBook Pro models were released, when YouTuber Dave Lee tested the top-of-the-line 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with 2.9GHz Core i9 chip using Adobe Premiere Pro and found that it was underperforming compared to a 2017 MacBook Pro due to what Lee said was an "unacceptable" level of throttling.
Apple reached out to Lee to and worked with him to replicate his workflow, getting to the source of the bug. Apple discovered that there was a missing digital key in the MacBook Pro firmware that impacted the thermal management system, driving down clock speeds under heavy thermal loads. This was a problem that appears to have affected all 2018 MacBook Pro models.
The problem appears to have been successfully addressed in today's macOS High Sierra supplemental update, and Apple has issued an apology to customers who experienced less than optimal performance on their new 2018 machines.
Customers who have a 2018 MacBook Pro and have not installed the update should do so immediately to see the performance improvements for themselves.
Update: Dave Lee, who first found the throttling issue, also uploaded a new video and says the supplemental macOS High Sierra update has successfully fixed the throttling issues that he saw prior to the patch.
Using the same Adobe Premiere render time test, Lee found that the Core i9 MacBook Pro was significantly faster than the 2017 Core i7 model that had beaten it prior to the patch.
Lee went even further and tested six laptops equipped with an i9 from various manufacturers. Unsurprisingly, thicker laptops with better cooling did outperform thinner laptops, including the MacBook Pro. The Alienware 17 R4, Acer Helios 500, and Asus G703 (all very thick) saw higher average clock loads.
The Dell XPS 15 and the Zenbook Pro were right on par with the 2018 MacBook Pro. None of the laptops tested beat the MacBook Pro when it came to noise level though, with the MacBook Pro winning out as the quietest of the bunch. Lee says that overall, the Core i9 MacBook Pro is performing the way that a 6-core MacBook Pro should, but he wishes Apple had engineered a better thermal solution for the i9.
Apple this morning released a new supplemental update to macOS High Sierra 10.13.6, which is designed to address a bug that caused the new eighth-generation quad-core and 6-core Intel processors in the 2018 MacBook Pro models to throttle inappropriately.
The new macOS High Sierra update can be downloaded through the Software Update function in the Mac App Store on all 2018 MacBook Pro models. Today's supplemental update (build number 17G2208) is limited to those machines and is not available for other Macs. A direct link to download the update is also available.
According to Apple, the throttling seen in the higher-end 2018 MacBook Pro with Core i9 chip and other 2018 MacBook Pro models is unintentional.
The throttling issue first came to light on July 17, a few days after the first new 2018 MacBook Pros began shipping out to customers. YouTuber Dave Lee tested the top-of-the-line 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with 2.9GHz Core i9 chip using Adobe's Premiere Pro and found that it was underperforming compared to a 2017 MacBook Pro with a Core i7 chip.
Multiple other tests followed from customers and media sites that obtained one of the Core i9 machines, and many came to the same conclusion, that there was an unusual amount of throttling that was impacting the machine's performance. It was not entirely clear if other 2018 MacBook Pro models were throttling unintentionally, but Apple's patch today suggests that was the case.
While there were many theories as to what was causing the throttling, Apple has discovered that there was a missing digital key in the firmware that impacted the thermal management system, driving down clock speeds under heavy thermal loads. This is what has been addressed in today's update.
Apple has apologized to customers who have experienced less than optimal performance on their new 2018 machines.
Following today's update, customers who own a 2018 MacBook Pro should see an appropriate level of throttling that is common to all devices under heavy load and does not impact performance to the point where the machine is underperforming compared to earlier, less powerful models.
Apple says that customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70 percent faster and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 2X faster than 2017 models, as outlined in the performance results on the company's website.
MacRumors received the following statement from an Apple spokesperson:
Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we've identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro.
A bug fix is included in today's macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended. We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems.
Customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70% faster, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to be up to 2X faster, as shown in the performance results on our website.
The controversy began a week ago, when YouTube tech guru Dave Lee shared a video demonstrating that the new 15-inch MacBook Pro, maxed out with a six-core Intel Core i9 processor, was unable to maintain its base 2.9GHz clock speed while rendering a five-and-a-half minute 5K video in Adobe Premiere Pro.
In fact, the previous-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i7 processor rendered the video in around 10 percent less time, a fact that wasn't well received by customers, some of which threatened to cancel their orders.
Apple says the bug affected performance on not only the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro configured with a six-core Intel Core i9 processor, which has faced the most extreme throttling in tests, but also quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 configurations, extending to the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models.
Some amount of throttling is to be expected on notebooks under heavy thermal workloads, especially ones as thin as the MacBook Pro. Lee, however, argued it is the degree of throttling he experienced that is unacceptable.
Apple says it contacted Lee within 48 hours after he published his video, working with him to replicate his workflow. Apple eventually set up a system with a similar workflow, applied the fix, and both the 15-inch and 13-inch models then matched Apple's advertised performance rates.
Marques Brownlee, who hosts the popular channel MKBHD, said the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i9 exported his 8K sample video about 15 percent quicker than the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i7. Faruk Korkmaz, who runs the YouTube channel iPhonedo, also found the Core i9 to perform "fantastic."
Apple for its part said it never experienced any issues with excessive performance degradation in its pre-production testing of the 2018 MacBook Pro, completed in June. The company did identify what it calls an isolated bug after digging deeper, and came up with what it calls a simple fix.
To be expected, Apple also talked up the new MacBook Pro, noting how most of what it has been hearing about the notebook from customers—including many professionals—has been very positive, including about performance.
Prior to Apple acknowledging this bug, speculation had mounted as to possible causes. One user believes that the throttling may have related to the power delivery chip, known as a voltage regulation module, reporting an over-power condition, throttling the CPU clock speed to scale back power.
In any case, it appears that Apple has addressed the problem.
MacRumors attracts a broad audience
of both consumers and professionals interested in
the latest technologies and products. We also boast an active community focused on
purchasing decisions and technical aspects of the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac platforms.