Best Mac Pro For Graphic Design

Posted By admin On 16.02.22

The search for the best laptops for graphic design can feel like a never ending task if you embark on it alone. Fortunately, we've taken on the hard work for you and created this one-stop shop of information. Whether you're on a tight or limitless budget, and whatever your specialism may be, our useful guide has the perfect option for you.

  1. Best Mac For Graphic Design
  2. Best Mac Pro For Photographers
Best laptops for graphic design: Top 5

A as fellow graphic design student I'll be quite frank. I'd go one up on all parameters. 15' screen, at least 256GB and as mentioned, you need a good amount of RAM. All students at my school are offered to buy a computer through the school and thus receive a small discount. This is a product that is amongst one of the best monitors for the MacBook Pro, and its capabilities are comprehensive and to the best in terms of needs of the customers. This curved WQHD Cinema Wide monitor comes with a 21:9 curved panel, making it extremely good to look at and futuristic in design.

01. Microsoft Surface Book 2
02. Lenovo ThinkPad P1
03. Dell Precision 3540
04. MacBook Pro (2018)
05. Huawei MateBook X Pro
Read on for more information on each of our picks

With all the options out there, it's understandable if you feel unsure of where to start. If that's the case, scroll to the bottom of this article and you'll find handy pointers on what to look for when choosing a laptop for graphic design.

Our overall pick for the best laptop for graphic design right now, taking into account its features and price, is the Microsoft Surface Book 2. Aside from being an excellent all-round laptop, it also doubles up as a ridiculously good tablet. And as a bonus, there are some great deals around on the versions that have a lower spec.

However, we understand your budget might not stretch to that high end option. If so, Dell’s new Precision 3540 (number 3) may be the right laptop for you. It’s an affordable quad-core laptop designed for graphics work, with some tasty options such as discrete AMD graphics and a FullHD display. And LG’s recently launched Gram is not only the lightest 17-inch laptop in the world, it’s also more than capable of top-end graphic design work. We were so impressed with it when we reviewed it that it has earned its own spot in our pick of the best laptops for graphic design.

If you can hold out a couple more weeks for a new laptop, it might be worth bookmarking our best Prime day deals page to see if the machine you've chosen is discounted. If not, you'll find the best prices right now on this page.

Prefer working on a desktop PC or Mac? Then take a look at our pick of the best computers for graphic design. And if battery life has you worried, then you may want to check our list of the best power banks available.

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01. Microsoft Surface Book 2

The Surface Book is the ultimate laptop for graphic design

CPU: Intel Core i7 Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 RAM: 16GB Screen: 15-inch PixelSense (3240x2160) Storage: 256GB - 1TB SSD

Doubles as a tablet
Expensive

Microsoft's Surface Book 2 is an incredible 2-in-1 laptop – even in its lowest spec option. If you're a designer who draws as well, this is the best laptop for graphic design you can get. It’s fast and immensely powerful, thanks to Intel’s quad-core Coffee Lake Core i7-8650 processor and 16GB of RAM. And it boasts an impressive battery life, plus a stunning, crisp display with superb colour accuracy.

It’s also incredibly versatile: use it as a graphics, video or photo-editing workstation on the go, or as a sketchbook. Just detach the screen and use it as a tablet with the Surface Pen (which doesn't come included, our one gripe) or buy the innovative Surface Dial and have an intuitive way of controlling your creative tools. Even better, flip the screen around, reattach it and you can use it to draw at a more natural angle.

Too expensive? If you can cope with less screen real estate, the 13-inch Surface Book 2 is significantly cheaper, with a similar core specification and only slightly less impressive overall performance. For even cheaper, Microsoft's original 13-inch Surface Book remains a ridiculously accomplished laptop, with a smaller price tag. But if you've got the cash, the Surface Book 2 is an utterly fantastic laptop for graphic designers.

Also read: Microsoft Surface Book 2 review

02. Lenovo ThinkPad P1

This amazing laptop is well worth the hefty pricetag

CPU: Intel Core i5, Core i7, Core i9 or Xeon Graphics: Nvidia Quadro P1000 / P2000 RAM: 8GB-64GB Screen: 15.6' Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) Storage: 256-4TB SSD

Fantastic screen
Oodles of performance

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is one of the most powerful Windows laptops around, and is aimed squarely at high-level content creators. It gives you the option of an Intel Xeon processor and a professional-grade Nvidia Quadro P2000 graphics, up to 64GB of memory and has all the ports you could need (two USB 3, two USB-C Thunderbolt 3, an HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort and SD card reader). This machine sports a slick design, with a slim chassis and a 4K display with 100% AdobeRGB coverage. The screen alone makes it a joy for creative work, but with all the performance it offers too, the ThinkPad P1 is a seriously good laptop for graphic designers.

03. Dell Precision 3540

The best laptop for graphic design if you're on a budget

CPU: Intel Core i5 Graphics: Intel UHD 620 / AMD Radeon Pro WX 2100 2GB RAM: 8GB Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) Storage: 256GB SSD

Large 1080p display
8GB RAM may be limiting

Dell’s new 15.6-inch Precision 3540 has a specification that can handle even the most advanced features in tools such as Photoshop and Lightroom. It has an Intel Core i5 quad-core processor with a 1080P display and an entry-level discrete AMD Radeon Pro WX 2100 2GB graphics card, which will help with 3D and anything that uses OpenCL. A 256GB fast M.2 SSD, 8GB of system memory and support for Thunderbolt 3 round off a package that’s priced incredibly well as an entry-level computer for visual design.

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04. MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2018)

The latest MacBook Pro doesn’t disappoint

Processor: Intel Core i7-i9 Graphics: Radeon Pro 555X-Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB of GDDR5 memory RAM: 16-32GB Screen: 15-inch 1920x1200 IPS display Storage: 256-4TB SSD

Very powerful
Expensive

Apple is back on great form with its 15-inch MacBook Pro 2018 with Touch Bar. If you need sheer power – and have the cash – this is one of the best graphic design laptops you can get. The new Macbook Pro offers a substantial upgrade over previous versions. Aimed at creative professionals, this is the most powerful MacBook device ever created, with more RAM, a choice of 8th-generation Intel Core processors (that Apple claims make it up to 70 per cent faster than the MacBook Pro 2017) and better discrete graphics cards. It also comes with blisteringly fast SSDs and a quieter keyboard.

On the downside, there are just four USB-C ports and one headphone jack port, so you’ll need an adapter if you want to plug in an Ethernet cable or legacy hardware. And while the screen is absolutely gorgeous, 4K would have been nice. Nevertheless, the Apple MacBook (2018) gives you the CPU and memory horsepower to make mincemeat of large files and complex tasks – and it absolutely looks the part too.

05. Huawei MateBook X Pro

Graphic design for mac

Design and performance to rival the mighty MacBook Pro

CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 , Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5 RAM: 8GB – 16GB Screen: 13.9-inch 3K (3,000 x 2,080) Storage: 512GB SSD

Fantastic display
No SD card slot

Huawei may not be the first name that springs to mind when considering the best laptops for graphic design, but with the Huawei MateBook X Pro, the Chinese company has proved it has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the biggest names in the laptop market. This is a gorgeously designed laptop with a stunning screen (albeit with a rather odd aspect ratio), and it comes packed with cutting edge components that allows it to perform brilliantly, and a battery life that runs rings around many of its rivals. It has a design and performance that rivals the mighty MacBook Pro. Also, it runs Windows 10, so you can install all the digital art apps you're used to using.

Read: Our sister site TechRadar’s Huawei MateBook X Pro review

06. HP ZBook Studio G4 DreamColor

Power meets portability – the G4 has repeatedly proven that it's a fantastic laptop for graphic design

CPU: Intel Xeon CPU Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro M1200 RAM: 32GB Screen: 15.6-inch 3840x2160 Storage: 512GB SSD

Excellent screen
Relatively slim for power

If you’re looking for all-out power, check out the rip-roaring HP ZBook Studio G4. The top-end model isn’t cheap, but it packs incredible specs including a 15.6-inch 4K DreamColor display that can easily be colour calibrated, a blazing-fast Core Intel Xeon CPU, 32GB RAM, a 512GB SSD and NVIDIA Quadro M1200 dedicated graphics with 4GB VRAM. If you like to connect up your favourite peripherals and monitors, then there’s also a healthy range of ports – it features a Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI port, a legacy VGA connector, SD card reader, one USB 3.0 port, and two USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports. Oh, and let's not forget the Bang & Olufsen speakers in case you want to crank up the tunes while you work.

At just over 2kg (4.6lbs), it won’t break your back carrying it around, and it’s pretty thin at 18mm. If you're worried about security, then you'll be glad of the built-in fingerprint reader and the optional (and extremely fast) HP Z Turbo NVMe PCIe SED (self-encrypting drive) SSDs.

07. Dell XPS 15

A stunning laptop with a top-notch display

CPU: Intel Core i5 Graphics: GeForce graphics RAM: 8GB Screen: 15.6' FHD 1920x1080 Anti-Glare 100% sRGB InfinityEdge display Storage: 1TB HD/32GB SSD

Amazing screen
Slim and light

The Dell XPS 15 is a truly stunning laptop – and now that the 2017 version has been replaced by the Dell XPS 15 (2018), it's much more affordable, too. For your money, you get the virtually borderless InfinityEdge display at Full HD resolution, a Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM and a 1TB HD and 32GB SSD. Spec it up a little (or a lot, actually) and you can have a 4K display with multi-touch, turning it – with the help of the Dell stylus – into a portable sketchbook. 15.6-inches of UHD definition (3,840 x 2,160) equals a lot of pixels, making for some incredibly sharp images.

Depending on the complexity of the projects you'll be working on, you can pump the Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU up to an impressive Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050. We can't imagine what you could possibly be designing that the latter wouldn't be able to handle. If you don’t need a 15-incher, look to the XPS 13, which is perhaps the perfect blend of power and portability.

08. Huawei MateBook 13

The best laptop for graphic design if you're on a budget

CPU: 8th-gen Intel Core i5 – i7 Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 , Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5 RAM: 8GB Screen: 13-inch 1440p (2,160 x 1,440) Storage: 256GB-512GB SSD

Relatively affordable
Optional Nvidia graphics

If you aren’t willing or able to fork out the high sums demanded by the most high-end laptops, but you don’t want to compromise on performance, the Huawei MateBook 13 is made for you. Huawei has sensibly built a mid-range MacBook clone that delivers the goods when it comes to processing, so is perfect for students and anyone on a budget. That means ultra-responsive Photoshop performance that can be used for any demanding graphics task you throw at it. With a bright 1440p screen, portable design and Nvidia graphics, it’s not much of a compromise in other areas either.

09. Apple MacBook Air (2018)

The new MacBook Air is perfect for portable graphics work

Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 (dual-core / quad-core) RAM: 8-16GB Screen: 13.3' 2,560x1,600 Retina display Storage: 128GB - 1.5TB SSD Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617

Lightweight and slim
Pricier than original Air

After a much-needed refresh, the MacBook Air (2018) has had a few choice updates that make it a real winner for graphic design work. Although it’s not quite the powerhouse the MacBook Pro is (or some high-end Windows laptops), it now has a bright Retina display, which is a great upgrade over the dated screen in the old Air and better for working with graphic design software. The processor is much faster and will cope with Photoshop, Illustrator, and so on with ease. But Apple has sensibly ensured the Air is as portable as ever, with a seriously lightweight design that makes it a great choice for graphics work on the go.

10. HP ZBook X2

HP's stunning 2-in-1 option takes on the Surface Book 2

CPU: Intel Core i7 Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro M620 with 2GB dedicated GDDR5 graphics memory Memory: 32GB RAM Screen: 15-inch 1920x1200 Storage: 512GB SSD

4K multi-touch Dreamcolor display
Bulky

Created specifically with creatives in mind, the HP ZBook X2 packs a serious amount of power, and with it a pretty hefty price tag. But if money is no issue and you're contemplating abandoning a desktop or laptop as a primary creative tool, the HP ZBook X2 deserves a look. It boasts some seriously impressive designer-focused specs, including a stunning 10-bit, 100% Adobe RGB, 4K multi-touch UHD dreamcolour display and extra ports to keep you well connected.

It also comes pre-installed with Adobe's Creative Cloud desktop application for easy access, and sports a fully detachable Bluetooth keyboard so you can switch from laptop to tablet whenever inspiration strikes. That's all backed up with the power of an Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB RAM – double that of its Microsoft rival – and NVIDIA Quadro graphics.

However, power requires more juice, so battery life on the ZBook2 is shorter than some of the other laptops featured in this list. It's also heavier than some of its competition, which isn't ideal when you're on the go. That said, while the X2 doesn't come cheap, it's still a serious option for designers looking to liberate themselves from a desktop without compromising on apps and performance.

11. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Microsoft’s touchscreen bargain is sleek, light and powerful

CPU: Intel Core i5 - i7 Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 RAM: 8GB - 16GB Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD

Touchscreen sketching with optional Surface Pen
Best Mac Pro For Graphic Design
Lovely new black colour scheme
Too few ports for its size

The Surface Laptop 2 is Microsoft's follow up to its popular original laptop, and once again the company has created a very good laptop for graphic design students. Microsoft has boosted the hardware of the Surface Laptop 2, making it an even better proposition for people looking for the best laptop for graphic design for their needs. As with its predecessor, even the lowest-end model is powerful enough to run Photoshop and Illustrator on a daily basis, and the fact you can use the optional Surface Pen to draw directly on screen makes it even more appealing. It no longer comes with Windows 10 S Mode as default either, instead you get the full Windows 10 experience, which means you can install Creative Cloud apps and other programs easily.

Read: Our sister site TechRadar’s Surface Laptop 2 review

12. LG Gram 17'

A highly capable 17-inch laptop that’s amazingly light and portable

CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U (quad core, 4.6GHz Max Turbo Boost) Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 RAM: 16GB Screen: 17-inch WQXGA (2560x1600) Storage: 512GB SSD

Amazingly light
Limited upgrade options

The LG Gram 17 is a high-spec silver laptop built from a strong and light alloy. 17-inch laptops that are actually capable of serious design work are usually too big, heavy and bulky to be considered portable – but LG has well and truly bucked this trend with this machine. It weighs an impressive 1.34kg, which is comparable to many 13-inch models, and it measures just 1.7cm at its thinnest point, again impressive for a 17-inch laptop. Expect all the performance you’ll need for heavy duty Photoshop edits and effects, all the while looking sumptuous on its 2560x1600 WXGA IPS screen that has 99% sRGB colour coverage. At time of publish, it wasn't yet available in the UK.

Read more: LG Gram 17 review

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Laptops for graphic design: What to look for

So how do you pick the best laptop for your graphic design work? Clearly you'll be guided by what you can afford, which is why we have the best options for all budgets here. But there are a few other things to consider too.

One is power versus portability: you need something that’s thin and light enough to throw in your backpack, but also powerful enough to run your suite of creative tools. You also need to decide whether macOS or Windows is right for you. The former used to be the staple of creative professionals, but it really doesn’t matter what platform you use these days.

Whatever your preferences, each of the machines here will give you all the power and performance you need to hit the ground running with your latest, greatest project.

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$2399.00
  • Pros

    Excellent battery life. Core i9 processing muscle. Sleek, thin all-metal design. Beautiful display with automatic color-temperature adjustment. Roomy SSD.

  • Cons

    High starting price, and painfully expensive as configured. Limited I/O options.

  • Bottom Line

    With the addition of an Intel Core i9 processor, the sleek 15-inch MacBook Pro is now one of the most powerful desktop-replacement laptops you can buy, making it an excellent choice for well-heeled, on-the-go creative pros.

The option for an Intel Core i9 processor with six cores and a clock-speed ceiling of 4.8GHz makes its way to the 2018 refresh of Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro (starts at $2,399; $4,699 as tested). Not only does it offer the best raw computing performance we've seen from an Apple laptop, but it also helps make the MacBook Pro competitive with similarly priced Windows machines—mostly gaming laptops and workstations. Even better, this beast of a chip fits into the same sleek enclosure that the MacBook Pro has sported for a few years now, making it the rare desktop-replacement laptop that's also handsome, thin, and light. Perhaps best of all for people who actually want to use this machine away from a power outlet, the machine returned excellent results on our battery-life testing. It costs a pretty penny, but overall it's one of the best 15-inch laptops that power users can buy right now.

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A Familiar Chassis Meets the Core i9

The new MacBook Pro's crowning achievement is shoehorning a much-upgraded processor and a potent graphics chip into the same enclosure as last year's model without changing the physical design. Our review unit is the very same size (0.61 by 13.75 by 9.48 inches, HWD) and weight (4.02 pounds) as last year's 15-inch MacBook Pro. Of course, the mobile version of the Intel Core i9 consumes far less heat and requires far less power than the desktop versions. Still, this is by far the sleekest Core i9-powered laptop, even though the chassis design has been around for a few years now.

Consider that the only other Core i9 mainstream laptop we've tested is the Asus ZenBook Pro 15, which comes in at 0.75 by 14.37 by 9.88 inches. Even though it weighs about the same as the MacBook Pro (4.1 pounds), the ZenBook Pro's taller and wider stature makes it feel considerably heftier. Other laptops with Core i9 CPUs and similar price ranges are bulkier still. For instance, the gargantuan Alienware 17 R5 gaming laptop measures 1.18 by 16.7 by 13.1 inches and weighs 9.77 pounds.

Normally, a years-old design would be a downside, especially for deep-pocketed early adopters who want both an Intel Core i9 and a PC that will look cutting-edge for several years. But the MacBook Pro, available in either silver or the darker Space Gray of our review unit, is one exception. Apple's design decisions are often in the vanguard, with pioneering flourishes like unibody construction and Thunderbolt 3 ports now present on a wide range of both inexpensive and high-end Windows machines. You can bet that even if Apple radically changes the MacBook Pro's design next year, the current model will still look very modern.

Some of the familiar downsides to the MacBook Pro's physical design aren't improved with the 2018 refresh, however. Chief among them is the extremely limited port selection. All you get is a 3.5mm audio jack and four USB Type-C ports, two on the left edge and two on the right edge. This is the same selection you get with the Touch Bar-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro. That's unfortunate, because many photographers use MacBook Pros as in-the-field editing workhorses and would therefore benefit from an SD card slot to offload photos. Even charging your iPhone requires an adapter, since iPhones still use conventional USB Type-A charging cables.

There are a few silver linings to this port setup. For example, any of the four USB Type-C ports can accept the MacBook Pro's power adapter, and all of them support Thunderbolt 3. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports is a rarity on any computer, let alone a laptop. More important, multimedia pros probably won't need any adapters if they've bought into the Apple ecosystem. Apple iPads, computers, and iPhones can quickly transfer data among themselves wirelessly using AirDrop (a proprietary interface that uses the MacBook Pro's built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0). And you can find several professional and prosumer external hard drives that connect via USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 and include built-in card readers.

Truer Colors

Besides the Core i9 CPU offering, the updated Retina Display on the MacBook Pro is the only other significant new feature offering for 2018. It now features the True Tone automatic white-balance adjustment that debuted on the Apple iPad Pro. True Tone uses a sensor to evaluate the color temperature of the light around you to provide what Apple calls, cryptically, a 'more natural viewing experience.' In practice, I found the color temperature becomes noticeably warmer (that is, more red) in fluorescent-lit environments like PC Labs, while it's noticeably cooler (more blue) in my softly lit living room.

Overall, True Tone improves what is already an excellent display, thanks to its 2,880-by-1,800-pixel native resolution, In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to prevent washout at extreme off-center viewing angles, and support for the P3 color gamut. The only thing missing from the MacBook Pro's display is support for touch input, but that's a moot nitpick, since the macOS operating system itself doesn't support touch input, and Apple has shown no sign of adding it anytime soon.

You can interact with the MacBook Pro using touch, however, thanks to the Touch Bar, a long, thin touchscreen that replaces the row of function keys traditionally located above the keyboard. Its usefulness depends on which apps you use frequently. Adobe Photoshop and the Safari web browser make extensive use of the Touch Bar, while other third-party apps don't use it at all. (For more on the Touch Bar's strengths and weaknesses, check out our review of last year's 15-inch MacBook Pro as well of our list of cool things to do with it.)

The Touch Bar includes a power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader, which you can use to unlock your MacBook Pro, permit app installations, and authenticate online purchases using Apple Pay, among other uses. The fingerprint reader is among the most accurate I've used on a laptop, which is good since the MacBook Pro lacks the face-recognizing webcam that many premium Windows PCs sport to make logging in even easier.

That said, the MacBook Pro's webcam is among the better laptop cameras I've used. Its 720p resolution trails the full HD (1080p) resolution that you'll find on the camera in the Apple iMac Pro, but it nevertheless captured videos and photos that were almost entirely free of the graininess that many portable webcams suffer from.

The sound system offers richly detailed and impressively loud audio, thanks to a total of four speaker grilles: two upward-firing ones that flank the keyboard, and two downward-firing ones that add bass. Unfortunately, vocals can be distorted when you max out the volume, as I found while watching the trailer to Ant-Man. I actually noted better sound quality on the Huawei MateBook X Pro, which mimics the MacBook Pro's speaker arrangement. I did not, however, experience any of the crackling issues that some early MacBook Pro owners have reported. Apple claims to have addressed this problem with a macOS update issued late in August 2018; the update had been installed in the unit I tested.

The enormous touchpad is unchanged from last year's model. I find it to be one of the most precise and comfortable pads of any laptop, thanks in part to the fact that it uses haptic feedback to simulate clicks instead of a physical clicking mechanism. Apple refers to this as Force Touch, and it means that you get a uniform clicking sensation no matter where your finger meets this 7.28-inch surface.

The MacBook Pro's keyboard is mostly unchanged, but it does get an updated switch mechanism that may alleviate some of the problems that owners of previous MacBook and MacBook Pro models have experienced with debris finding its way inside the keyboard. What hasn't changed is the extremely shallow key travel. Whether or not this is a problem depends on personal preference. I've largely become accustomed to tapping the MacBook Pro keys rather than striking them, but they're still not as comfortable as the luxurious keys on many of Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops.

Apple includes a one-year warranty with new MacBook Pros, which you can extend to three years for an additional charge. The company also offers accidental damage coverage.

Performance Where It Counts

Enough about all the warranties, ports, and Force Touch, though. The new Intel Core i9-8950HK is the star attraction of our review unit, boasting six cores and 12 threads. It's capable of clock speeds up to 4.8GHz, even though thermal constraints keep it much closer to its base 2.9GHz most of the time. Together with 32GB of 2,400MHz DDR4 RAM, it significantly narrows the performance-for-dollar gap that the MacBook Pro has long suffered when compared with Windows laptops, at least when it comes to the types of tasks that video editors, architects, digital artists, and other similar users care about.

Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than on our Cinebench R15 3D rendering benchmark, a relatively simple test that heavily favors CPUs with more cores and threads. The MacBook Pro achieved a score of 1,066 on this proprietary trial, which puts it squarely between the Alienware 17 R5 (1,036) and the Asus ZenBook Pro 15 (1,222), and represents a massive increase over the 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro's score of 760. The story is much the same on our Handbrake video-rendering test, which took each system about 45 seconds to complete, save for the 2015 MacBook Pro's much slower time of 1:06.

Cinebench and Handbrake are excellent predictors of how well a system will perform under sustained heavy workloads that max out the available CPU cores and threads. That explains why the hexa-core Core i7 in the 2018 Razer Blade managed to turn in similar scores to those of the MacBook Pro. But neither of these tests approximates 'bursty' workloads like applying filters to images in Photoshop. On our Photoshop CS6 test, which involves a series of 11 filters, the Core i9-powered systems all finished within a few seconds of the 2-minute-and-30-second mark, while the Core i7-powered Razer Blade and 2017 MacBook Pro were significantly slower.

Although our review unit is $4,699, much of that high cost is attributable to its gigantic 2TB SSD that uses Apple's custom storage controller. A Core i9 configuration with a more down-to-earth 512GB SSD currently retails for $2,999, compared with $2,299 for a similarly equipped Asus ZenBook Pro 15. The Core i7-equipped Razer Blade is $2,599, while the Microsoft Surface Book 2, with a much less-powerful U-series Intel Core i7, is $2,899. Neither of these last two laptops offers a Core i9.

For those extra few benjamins, not only do you get exquisite design and craftsmanship, but you also get excellent battery life, which means you can actually use this machine as a laptop rather than leaving it plugged in on your desk much of the time. At 16 hours and 27 minutes on our battery rundown test, the MacBook Pro far outlasted any of the systems listed here, and comes close to the 17-hour endurance of the dual-battery Surface Book 2.

Since the MacBook Pro isn't designed for gaming, it's equipped with an AMD Radeon Pro 560X GPU, which is intended mainly to accept processing tasks such as those that pro-level software assigns to it, instead of rendering an AAA game in maximum quality and full HD splendor. As a result, the MacBook Pro's GPU has far more oomph than the integrated graphics in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but it lags behind Nvidia's GeForce GTX 10-series chips, which are the favorite of gaming rigs like the Alienware 17 R5 and the Razer Blade.

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That means you can enjoy GPU-intensive games if you're willing to settle for medium quality settings and lower resolutions. The MacBook Pro achieved frame rates above 50 frames per second (fps) on our Heaven and Valley game simulations at these settings. It can't match the 100fps or more that you'll get from a GeForce GTX 1070 or GTX 1080, but it will do just fine for casual gaming.

Worth noting, on the subject of performance: In the days following the MacBook Pro's release in July, Apple discovered a serious oversight in the firmware governing the laptop's thermal-management system that resulted in significant CPU throttling under heavy workloads. A supplemental macOS update fixed this problem, which resulted in performance improvements of more than 25 percent on the 13-inch MacBook Pro. (See our analysis of the issue at the time.) With up-to-date software on our 15-inch MacBook Pro review unit, I didn't experience any throttling issues, but those early stumbles are a good reminder to regularly perform OS updates.

The Best MacBook Pro Yet

The MacBook Pro's signature achievement is fitting Intel's top-of-the-line consumer CPU into one of the slimmest and best-looking 15-inchers on the market. There are mobile Xeon chips with more threads and cores, to be sure, but you'll find them exclusively in far thicker mobile workstations like the Dell Precision 5530.

The new MacBook Pro therefore hits a sweet spot that we've rarely seen from an Apple laptop. It's powerful enough to match the performance of similarly configured $3,000 Windows machines on the types of tasks that its owners will likely care about, while remaining a standard-bearer in terms of design, portability, and battery life. This is the best MacBook Pro yet, and it's one of the best large laptops you can buy—period.

Apple MacBook Pro 15-Inch (2018)

Best Mac For Graphic Design

Bottom Line: With the addition of an Intel Core i9 processor, the sleek 15-inch MacBook Pro is now one of the most powerful desktop-replacement laptops you can buy, making it an excellent choice for well-heeled, on-the-go creative pros.

Best Mac Pro For Photographers

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