Apple Announces the 2016 MacBook Pro with new Touch Bar

October 28th, 2016
Apple Announces the 2016 MacBook Pro with new Touch Bar

The release of the new 2016 MacBook Pro marks the 25th anniversary of Apple’s first laptop computer. As always, the refresh brings a reduction in weight and size, a boost in performance, but this time also introduces the new Touch Bar. But what does it mean for video editors?

2016 MacBook Pro

The October Apple event came right on the heels of their recent launch of the iPhone 7, but many already had a clear idea of what was to be announced. With the current series of MacBook Pros overdue for a refresh, it was fairly obvious that it was their turn to take centre stage.
The new range of MacBook Pros is quite a bit thinner and lighter than the previous generation, challenging even the dimensions of the MacBook Air. In terms of connectivity, the 2016 MacBook Pro features Thunderbolt 3 ports only, offering incredibly fast speeds of up to 40Gbps. Even when using any one the ports for charging the machine, the rest make up for it due to the to the daisy chaining functionality of Thunderbolt. What is a bit of a downer for video shooters, though, is that Apple has completely left out the SD card reader on the new 2016 MacBook Pro. Oh, and it still features a 3.5mm headphone jack, just in case you were wondering…
apple-models
In terms of performance, the 2016 Macbook Pro features an Intel Core I7 processor, AMD Radeon Pro graphics card with Polaris Architecture (for the 15 inch model) and faster SSD drives. Apple claims all of these improvements boost performance far beyond the previous generation in important areas for video production. The Retina display is also capable of quite a lot more contrast ratio and colour, responding to the ever increasing demand for higher dynamic range and wider colour gamut of today’s professional video industry. The graphics card included in the 2016 MacBook Pro was also mentioned to be capable of driving two 5K external monitors in addition to the MacBook Pro Retina display. Nice!
The feature that stole the show, however, was the new Touch Bar. This Retina-quality, multi-touch strip – located where the escape and function keys used to be – is a content-aware interface that allows you to control system and application settings with familiar gestures such as tapping and swiping. 
mbpfeat_
Being a lot more immediate and visual than keyboard shortcuts, and allowing faster access to slider controls and timeline navigation than reaching for the mouse, I can imagine this feature drastically increasing the speed of the editing workflow. The Keynote presentation included a demonstration of the Touch Bar with the new 10.3 version of Final Cut Pro X (read Olllie’s review here) as well as Photoshop, and the implementation seemed really quite impressive.
Also worth mentioning is that Touch Bar support will be available to developers via Xcode, with Adobe and Blackmagic Design’s Da Vinci Resolve already on the case, so expect to see new and creative ways to control your favourite applications soon on the 2016 MacBook Pro.
mbp
The base model 13 and 15 inch 2016 MacBook Pro are available next month for $1,799 and $2,399 respectively, although a stripped down version of the 13 inch with no Touch Bar, fewer Thunderbolt ports and lower graphics is available now for $1,499. You can purchase and preorder from B&H.

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 William McGough
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October 30th, 2016

The key feature here for Pro Video are the Thunderbolt 3 ports. This will finally (and “officially”) enable the use of external desktop graphics cards (eGPUs)! (A la While 1 Thuderbolt 3 port only has 4 lanes of PCI Express 3.0 (compared to the normal 16 lanes used for a graphics card), testing by Linus Tech Tips indicates that this external arrangement will only take about a 20% performance hit (meaning that your desktop GPU will operate at 80% of its performance – which is already likely to be a 400-500% improvement over a dedicated laptop GPU for something like the NVidia 1080 or Titan X Pascal).

macOS Sierra already has built-in eGPU support so I don’t think it will be long before thunderbolt enclosure companies such as Sonnet Technologies start to offer Thunderbolt 3 expansion chassis tested with graphics cards. The only question of “if” (as opposed to “when”) is with regards to NVidia cards based on the latest architecture “Pascal”. Right now, the latest AMD drivers are built into macOS. NVidia releases its drivers for Mac separately – but as of today (30 Oct 2016), their Mac drivers only include models up to the Maxwell architecture (which includes the 980 and original Titan X). Hopefully NVidia releases Mac drivers for their newest generation of cards; however, a 980 or Titan X (Maxwell) would still be an amazing boost for video editing (especially with Raw video) on the new MacBook Pro. (Albeit, when you are at your desk, with an additional expansion box…)

Member
October 30th, 2016

But you are missing the point.. I want a Desktop Video Editing station, not a portable one. I want two large calibrated monitors, and an external 4K TV with surround sound speaker setup… not a portable work in a hotel setup. I want 128GB of RAM, not 16GB. I want dual SSD drives running in RAID… Apple is sending out signals that this is never going to be an Apple product.. and so goodbye FCPX and hello Adobe Premiere. Not waiting anymore. And I use LightRoom and PhotoShop for work every day.. it works fine on Windows 10. Been a Mac guy since the Mac Plus… not waiting anymore.

 William McGough
Member
October 30th, 2016
Reply to  Derek McCabe

Derek, I definitely agree with you – the Mac Pro hasn’t been updated in 3 years and that is inexcusable. I suspect that a Mac Pro updated with up-to-date components and 10 Thunderbolt 3 ports (but otherwise similar) will launch in Q1 2017. It is most likely that Apple is waiting for Intel’s “Kaby Lake” Xeon processors to become available before they launch their next update. (If it was launched today, it would be 1 generation behind in a few months.)

That being said, you are right that a lot of people who need the horsepower are jumping ship to Windows. Adobe’s suite is great, especially now that Creative Cloud doesn’t lock your license into one operating system. (Also, DaVinci Resolve’s NLE features are maturing rapidly – another serious cross-platform option.)

It’s pretty inexcusable that Apple’s pro workstation is 3 years out of date – however, considering how many of the components are custom implementations, I am not surprised…

Member
October 30th, 2016

And yes I have been playing with DaVinci Resolve and it is getting better and better as a full blown editing solution. I use a lot of FCPX plugins… but I can learn to do the same effects in another app. Because I have lost faith in Apple… and to some extent Canon. Have been moving from Canon DSLR and cams to Sony.

Oscar M
Member
October 30th, 2016

History repeating. Witnessing Apple’s decline ver.2 . This time Jobs is not coming back.

 John James
John James
Member
October 29th, 2016

Not a simple way of getting files from Compact Flash cards on to the new models.

Member
October 29th, 2016

Apple & Canon are 2 peas in a pod. Neither listen to what the pros want but to what will sell to the masses the most. Both of these companies are now making products that are not that exciting and not giving any real need to upgrade.At this point We really are becoming wasteful humans and if we continue to buy into micro upgrades we will continue to waste more and more. Not trying to be preachy just think Computers should be lasting longer not shorter.

Alex Kalimat
Alex Kalimat
Member
October 29th, 2016

I also feel a little underwhelmed by the specs… BUT on my iMac (24GB) even with tons of apps open I rarely get above 12GB usage – so 16GB should be fine, particularly if (as mentioned elsewhere) using a 16GB controller chipset (vs 32GB) helps to improve battery life. DDR3 vs DDR4, I doubt this actually makes a noticeable difference to performance. ATI Radeon 400 graphics chipset – a bit disappointing on paper. I really hope the drivers and Open CL optimization do their work. My first gen retina iMac running FCPx feels like it outperforms my PC running Premier Pro (which has a significantly beefier graphics card). I hope this continues to be the case. The biggest issue for me is price. Apple and Brexit together means that I’ve spent £1000 more than I did 3 years ago on a nearly maxed-out laptop! (2.9GHz / 1TB / Radeon 460). Now to spend hundreds more on USB-C compatible accessories and cables ;-)

Wolf Berg
Guest
October 29th, 2016

Bei dem neuen MacBook muss man “PRO” wohl extra betonen sonst glaubt man es nicht. Wer will schon mit einer AMD GPU arbeiten und wer kommt mit 16 GB RAM aus? PRO? Apple + PRO – aber nur noch in der Bezeichnung.

Member
October 29th, 2016

underwhelming specs. maxed out at 16GB of RAM. low-end GPU. expensive.
.. NOT a Pro Solution.

Crimson Son
Crimson Son
Member
October 28th, 2016

Yawn. Without the touch bar, it is really just a regular refresh of the product line.

The touch bar itself is “meh” to me. The cool factor is very high but that is it.

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