Updated 15-inch MacBook Pros and 27-inch Retina iMacs

Lower Cost Retina iMacs and New Features for MacBook Pros

27-inch iMac with Retina 5K
27-inch iMac with Retina 5K. Apple

As expected, Apple released updates to the 15-inch MacBook Pro lineup, as well as new versions of the 27-inch iMacs with Retina 5K display. In a bit of a surprise, Apple didn't update to the newer Intel processor family; it stayed with the older Haswell lineup instead of moving to the Broadwell family. This could be a pretty good indication that Apple is just fed up with Broadwell and all the production delays, and will likely wait for the next product cycle (Skylake) from Intel.

15-inch MacBook Pro Updates

The 2015 version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro includes technology we've already seen in the new 12-inch MacBook; specifically, the Force Touch trackpad, with its haptic feedback system that provides a tactile pressure that simulates the way older Mac trackpads moved with each click, all with very little physical movement.

Apple created the Force Touch trackpad primarily to save space by reducing the depth needed by a click-y trackpad, an important consideration for the thin-is-in design mantra from Apple. One useful upshot, however, is that the Force Touch trackpad gains a secondary click function, produced by applying more force to a click.

Along with the new Force Touch trackpad, the new MacBook Pros will include faster PCIe SSD storage capabilities. By upping the PCIe lanes used for the SSD from two to four, Apple says the SSDs can produce read and write speeds up to 775 MB per second.

One early benchmark result with a 1 TB SSD in the new MacBook Pro came in at 1 GB per second.

Graphics for the baseline 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro remains the Intel Iris Pro graphics, likely from the 5200 series. The upscale models make use of dual graphics, using the Intel Iris Pro along with the AMD Radeon R9 M370X.

Finally, Apple claims the new MacBook Pros have an additional hour of battery life, upping the runtime to 9 hours.

2015 MacBook Pro Pricing (standard models)
BaseTop End
2.2 GHz Quad-Core i72.5 GHz Quad-Core i7
16 GB RAM16 GB RAM
256 GB PCIe SSD512 GB PCIe SSD
Intel Iris Pro GraphicsIntel Iris Pro Graphics + AMD Radeon R9 M370X
$1,999.00 $2,499.00

2015 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina Display

The Retina iMac lineup also received an update this morning, one that saw a new lower cost baseline model, and a nice price drop on the rest of the Retina iMac models.

Just like the MacBook Pro updates, Apple stayed with the Haswell versions of the Intel processors for the iMac upgrades. In fact, the only real difference for the 2015 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display is the addition of the new baseline model, and the lowering of price on the remaining models in the lineup. So, let's take a look at the new baseline offering.

It appears Apple was looking primarily for a way to lower the entry price into its big Retina iMac; it did so by removing the Fusion drive as the minimum storage configuration and replacing it with just a 1 TB hard drive. The other changes are a slightly slower 3.3 GHZ Quad-Core i5, and the replacement of the original AMD Radeon R9 M290X with the non-X version of the graphics card, the AMD Radeon R9 M290.

I haven’t found any details on the AMD site about the difference between the two graphics cards. I suspect the M290 might have fewer streaming cores, or a slightly slower clock rate. We'll have to wait until benchmarks and more details about the GPU emerge to know what difference it will make. But I’m not expecting a major graphics penalty between the two options, at least for general use of the 27-inch iMac. Graphics pros may want to wait for a full evaluation of the graphics capabilities before scooping up a few dozen of the low-cost iMacs to use as rendering stations.

2015 27-inch iMac Pricing
BaseTop End
3.3 GHz Intel Quad-Core i53.5 GHz Intel Quad-Core i5
8 GB RAM 8 GB Ram
1 TB hard drive1 TB Fusion drive
AMD Radeon R9 M290AMD Radeon R9 M290X
$1,999$2,299.00

With the newest iMac taking the baseline slot, the original base model is now the top end in the standard configurations, and has a $200.00 reduction in price. The custom order options are all still available, and since the custom builds are based on the new reduced price, top-end model, you can expect a $200.00 reduction across the board. Isn’t technology wonderful?

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