Two new exciting hardware releases, Apple announce 2018 MacBook Pros with speed bumps & 32GB of RAM and Blackmagic release an accompanying eGPU to accelerate professional software. 

Apple has had a tough time from creative users over the last couple of years due to the lack of new powerful machines. The iMac Pro and now the new 2018 MacBook Pros that have just been announced are a good start to address the problem. The addition of Apple working with Blackmagic Design to develop an eGPU especially for 'creative software' reinforces their commitment to support professionals.

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Let's take a look at both announcements :

Both the 15 and 13 inch refresh models feature eighth generation Coffee Lake Intel processors. Although similar to the previous Kaby Lake processors, the pin connections are incompatible, meaning that the motherboard has had a redesign.

The 6-core 15-inch model will give up to 70 percent faster performance. What does that mean to Final Cut Pro X users?

Apple has posted that the 2.9GHz 6-core Intel Core i9-based 15-inch MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM will playback 9 streams of Apple ProRes RAW video, at 4096x2160 resolution and 23.98 frames per second with the angle editor set to 16.

As for RAM, Apple has indicated that when working with a 6GB file in Photoshop, the 32GB 15 inch model will run 2.8 times as quick as the 16GB model.

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The models features True Tone which matches the colour balance of the display to the matching natural light - maybe we might have that turned off during colour correction!

With Thunderbolt 3, the 15 inch supports two 5K displays or four external GPUs!!!!! 

Apple has been criticised about the butterfly keyboards on the MacBook Pro being susceptible to dirt under the keys. Although the machines are being sold with a 'quieter' version 3 butterfly keyboard, hopefully they have improved the situation.

15-Inch MacBook Pro Highlights:

  • 6-core Intel Core i7 and Core i9 processors up to 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.8 GHz
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 memory
  • Powerful Radeon Pro discrete graphics with 4GB of video memory in every configuration
  • Up to 4TB of SSD storage
  • True Tone display technology
  • Apple T2 chip
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID

13-Inch MacBook Pro Highlights :

  • Quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.5 GHz and double the eDRAM
  • Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics 655 with 128MB of eDRAM
  • Up to 2TB of SSD storage
  • True Tone display technology
  • Apple T2 chip
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID

“The latest generation MacBook Pro is the fastest and most powerful notebook we’ve ever made,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Now with 8th-generation 6-core processors, up to 32GB of system memory, up to 4TB of super fast SSD storage, new True Tone technology in its Retina display and Touch Bar, the Apple T2 chip for enhanced security and a third-generation quieter keyboard packed into its thin and light aluminium design with all-day battery life, it’s the best notebook for pro users.” 

Granted the machine is expensive for a laptop with a 15" 32GB model with 1TB of SSD coming in at $3,600. But remember these machines are aimed at pros and in the editing world, that's a price a lot of people are more than happy to pay for the speed.

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Although there have been announcements about eGPUs with Macs, they have mainly been about VR and scientific applications.

Blackmagic's new $699 eGPU has bought more GPU processing power to any Mac with a Thunderbolt 3 connection if today's post release tweets can be believed. The launch today is no coincidence either as Apple and Blackmagic have been working on the eGPU together.

Not surprisingly, all of the performance figures for video editing are references to DaVinci Resolve without a mention of FCPX. We can understand this tactic at launch for Blackmagic, but it would be inconceivable if the Final Cut Pro X team hadn't already been running FCPX on this external GPU. 

There are some technical figures:

'The Blackmagic eGPU features a Radeon Pro 580 graphics processor that delivers stunning graphics and incredible computational performance. You get 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, 256-bit memory bandwidth and 36 discreet compute units for up to 5.5 teraflops of processing power. The Radeon Pro 580 can fill a massive 38.4 billion textured pixels per second! In addition, the Blackmagic eGPU supports Metal graphics technology from Apple, which provides near-direct access to the GPU for maximizing graphics and compute performance with games and applications.'

Sounds good, but not as impressive as the iMac Pro's 11 teraflop video performance. Blackmagic's website is indicating an average 2x speed increase for the 15 inch MacBook Pro on DaVinci Resolve tasks  and 5x for the 13 inch model. 

It is worth thinking about the eGPU for a moment.

For those users who have been contemplating getting a faster Mac for editing, the Blackmagic eGPU with the new MacBook Pro provides a fast and flexible alternative to the iMac Pro. 

Why? As it provides the best of both worlds. A fast portable editing machine that can be plugged in (with one cable) to a eGPU 'base station' for more processing grunt back at the office.

Remember everyone complaining about dongles? The short term pain of having to have adaptors for old peripherals is now eclipsed by the huge benefits that the 40 Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports bring. Well, when we say ports, we actually mean port, as that is all you need to connect to the eGPU, including powering the MacBook Pro. One downside, no 10Gb connection.

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Are we impressed? We have had to hide the company credit cards!