MacBook Pro (2017) vs. MacBook Pro (2016): What’s changed and what matters most

MacBook Pro (2017) vs. MacBook Pro (2016): What’s changed and what matters most

Do you really need the latest, greatest 2017 Kaby Lake MacBook Pro or can you save a few bucks on the 2016 Skylake model? Here’s the deal!

The new MacBook Pro, launched in 2016, came with Intel’s previous-generation Skylake architecture. That was thanks to Intel, who hadn’t yet shipped quad-core versions of Kaby Lake or Iris Pro versions, which is what Apple uses in the MacBook Pro. Flash forward to 2017, though, and Kaby Lake is now a reality for MacBook Pro.

Other than that, last year’s MacBook Pro and this year’s are virtually identical. So what difference does a processor generation make?

Skylake vs. Kaby Lake

Once upon a time Intel was on a tick-tock processor clock. One year it would shrink the process, the next year revamp the architecture. But then things got hard. So now Intel is doing tick-tock-tock… maybe even tock. The result is that, while processors are still improving, those improvements are composed of several small steps instead of a couple strides.

And that’s what Kaby Lake is to Skylake — a step forward. It’s a better step than I actually expected on the MacBook Pro, but still a step.

What you get is a small, although decent, increase in base and turbo frequencies, so Kaby Lake will run a little faster than Skylake did and with slightly better efficiency, so you still get the same battery life.

You also get 10-bit HEVC (H.265) video support with Kaby Lake as opposed to 8-bit HEVC with Skylake. What that means is, while both can hardware accelerate 4K video, only Kaby Lake can do it for 4K HDR (high dynamic range). So Kaby Lake is better equipped for the future of video… when and if it ever…

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