What are all the differences between the “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models and the “Mid-2017” models replaced?
All “Mid-2017” MacBook Pro and “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models have been discontinued. However, this Q&A has been updated subsequently, is up to date, and can be quite helpful for anyone considering one of these notebooks whether new or used.
There are four standard configurations of the “Mid-2017” MacBook Pro models but only three standard configurations of the “Mid-2018” line.
The stock “Mid-2017” MacBook Pro models are the MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.3 13”, “Core i5″ 3.1 13” Touch Bar, “Core i7″ 2.8 15” Touch Bar, and “Core i7″ 2.9 15” Touch Bar. After the introduction of the “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models, Apple continued to sell the MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.3 13” without a Touch Bar as new, but finally discontinued it on July 9, 2019.
The three standard configurations of the “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro line are the MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.3 13” Touch Bar, “Core i7″ 2.2 15” Touch Bar, and “Core i7″ 2.6 15” Touch Bar. All of these models have a “Touch Bar” and there is not a model without a Touch Bar in this series.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Touch Bar MacBook Pro Models)
With the exception of the non-Touch Bar models, it is difficult to tell these notebooks apart. However, there are major internal differences and an in-depth comparison can be useful accordingly.
The “Mid-2017” and “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models use essentially the same “sealed” aluminum and glass case design and practically are identical externally.
The 13-Inch models from both lines are 0.59 of an inch thick and weigh 3.02 pounds (1.37 kg) whereas the 15-Inch models are 0.61 of an inch thick and weigh 4.02 pounds (1.83 kg). Both lines are available in either a silver colored aluminum or a darker “Space Gray” colored aluminum housing.
All of these models have integrated stereo speakers and a 720p FaceTime HD webcam as well as large “Force Touch” trackpads.
The entry-level 13-Inch “Mid-2017” models without a Touch Bar (A1708) have two microphones and traditional function keys whereas all of the other models from both years have three microphones and an integrated “Touch Bar” that replaces the traditional function keys (and the escape key) with a touch-sensitive control that adapts for different applications. The Touch Bar provides Touch ID login and Apple Pay support, as well.
However, the later “Mid-2018” models have improved displays and keyboards compared to their predecessors. Both lines have high-resolution LED-backlit, P3 color gamut, widescreen “Retina” displays with the same dimensions, resolution, and brightness. The “Mid-2018” models add “True Tone” technology that automatically adjusts the display’s color temperature based on ambient light for an improved experience.
The “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models also have a “third generation” butterfly mechanism keyboard design with a rubber membrane advertised to provide quieter typing and keep debris from entering the keyboard, as well. The earlier models use a “second generation” butterfly mechanism that some have found to be unreliable.
There are subtle, but important differences in connectivity between the “Mid-2017” and “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro lines.
All of these models have a “traditional” 3.5 mm headphone jack that does not support optical audio as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi. All have Thunderbolt 3 ports, but there are important differences between these ports.
Specifically, the “non-Touch Bar” 13-Inch models from the “Mid-2017” line have two Thunderbolt 3 ports, the “Touch Bar” 13-Inch models also from the “Mid-2017” line have four Thunderbolt 3 ports but the two ports* on the right side of the notebook operate at reduced speed, and all other models have four full-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports:
Mid-2017 13-Inch (non-Touch Bar)
Mid-2017 13-Inch (Touch Bar)
4 (2*) Ports
Mid-2017 15-Inch (Touch Bar)
Mid-2018 13-Inch (Touch Bar)
Mid-2018 15-Inch (Touch Bar)
The “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models also support the newer Bluetooth 5.0 standard up from Bluetooth 4.2 on their predecessors.
It is possible to differentiate between the “Mid-2017” and “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models by Model Number if they are side-by-side, but not between the “Mid-2017” line and earlier models nor the “Mid-2018” line and later ones.
However, it is possible to uniquely identify the “Mid-2017” models by Model Identifier, in software, and by EMC Number for all of these models, externally, so these are more useful.
Just as the site has done for decades, EveryMac.com has diligently hand documented these details from the hardware itself for your convenience:
13-Inch (Mid-2017, Touch Bar)
15-Inch (Mid-2017, Touch Bar)
13-Inch (Mid-2018, Touch Bar)
15-Inch (Mid-2018, Touch Bar)
Additionally, EveryMac.com’s Ultimate Mac Lookup feature additionally can uniquely identify each one of the Touch Bar MacBook Pro models by their serial numbers, which are listed in software as well as on the bottom of the system.
The “Mid-2017” and “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro lines have little in common with one another internally. The “Mid-2017” models use the “Kaby Lake” architecture whereas the “Mid-2018” models use the newer “Coffee Lake” architecture as well as newer processors with more cores, faster graphics processors, a newer system management chip (T2), and the option of more RAM and larger SSDs on some models.
Interestingly, despite being formally documented as “onboard,” the entry-level 13-Inch “Mid-2017” MacBook Pro – without a Touch Bar – has a removable SSD storage module. All other “Mid-2017” and “Mid-2018” models have soldered storage that cannot be upgraded after the initial system purchase.
The major differences between the “Mid-2017” and “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models are summarized below. Please refer to the specs page for the model of interest for complete details.
13-Inch “Touch Bar” MacBook Pro Models
13″ Mid-2017 13″ Mid-2018 Architecture: Kaby Lake Coffee Lake Processor Cores: 2 4 Std. RAM: 8 GB 8 GB Max RAM: 16 GB† 16 GB† RAM Speed: 2133 MHz 2133 MHz RAM Type: DDR3L DDR3L Standard Storage: 128, 256, 512 GB 256, 512 GB Storage Upgrade: Removable/Soldered* Soldered Video Card(s): Iris Plus 640/650 Iris Plus 655 Ext. Display: 4096×2304 x2 5120×2880 True Tone: No Yes Battery Life: 10 Hours 10 Hours Battery Capacity: 54.5 W h/49.2 W h 58 W h Touch Bar: No/Yes Yes Touch ID: No/Yes Yes Butterfly KB: 2nd Gen 3rd Gen Hey Siri: No Yes Thunderbolt: 2 (3.0), 4** (3.0) 4 (3.0) Microphones: 2, 3 3 Wi-Fi: 802.11ac 802.11ac Bluetooth: 4.2 5.0 Height (In): 0.59 0.59 Width (In): 11.97 11.97 Depth (In): 8.36 8.36 Weight: 3.02 lbs 3.02 lbs Model No: A1708/A1706 A1989 EMC No: 3164/3163 3214 Model ID: MacBookPro14,1/14,2 MacBookPro15,2 Intro. Price (US): US$1299-US$1999 US$1799-US$1999 Intro. Price (UK): £1249-£1949 £1749-£1949 Intro. Price (CA): C$1729-C$2649 C$2399-C$2649 Intro. Price (AU): A$1899-A$2999 A$2699-A$2999
† All of these MacBook Pro models could be upgraded to 16 GB of RAM, but only at the time of initial purchase. RAM cannot be upgraded after purchase in any of these models.
* The storage on the non-Touch Bar models is removable. All Touch Bar models have soldered storage that cannot be upgraded after purchase.
** These 13-Inch “Mid-2017” MacBook Pro models with a Touch Bar have four Thunderbolt 3 ports, but the two ports on the right side operate at a slower speed.
15-Inch “Touch Bar” MacBook Pro Models
15″ Mid-2017 15″ Mid-2018 Architecture: Kaby Lake Coffee Lake Processor Cores: 4 6 Standard RAM: 16 GB 16 GB Maximum RAM: 16 GB 32 GB† RAM Speed: 2133 MHz 2400 MHz RAM Type: DDR3L DDR4 Standard Storage: 256 GB, 512 GB 256 GB, 512 GB Storage Upgrade: Soldered Soldered Graphics Processor(s): HD Graphics 630 AMD Radeon Pro 555/560 UHD Graphics 630 AMD Radeon Pro 555X/560X* GDDR5 VRAM: 2 GB, 4 GB 4 GB Ext. Display Support: 4096×2304 x4 5120×2880 x2 True Tone: No Yes Battery W Hrs: 76.0 W Hr 83.6 W Hr Battery Life: 10 Hours 10 Hours Touch Bar: Yes Yes Touch ID: Yes Yes Butterfly KB: 2nd Gen 3rd Gen Hey Siri: No Yes Thunderbolt: 4 (3.0) 4 (3.0) Wi-Fi: 802.11ac 802.11ac Bluetooth: 4.2 5.0 Dimensions: 0.61 x 13.75 x 9.48 0.61 x 13.75 x 9.48 Weight: 4.02 lbs (1.83 kg) 4.02 lbs (1.83 kg) EMC Number: 3162 3215 Model Identifier: MacBookPro14,3 MacBookPro15,1/15,3 Intro Price (US): US$2399, US$2799 US$2399, US$2799 Intro Price (UK): £2349, £2699 £2349, £2699 Intro Price (CA): C$3199, C$3699 C$3199, C$3699 Intro Price (AU): A$3499, A$4099 A$3499, A$4099
† The 15-Inch “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models could be upgraded to 32 GB of RAM, but only at the time of initial purchase. RAM cannot be upgraded after purchase in any of these models.
* All of these models have dual graphics. By default, the 15-Inch “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro models are offered with an AMD Radeon Pro 550X or 560X with 4 GB of dedicated GDDR5 SDRAM and an Intel UHD Graphics 630 graphics processor that shares system memory. On November 14, 2018, for the higher-end MacBook Pro “Core i7″ 2.6 15” Touch/Mid-2018 (MR942LL/A), Apple added the option to upgrade the stock graphics to a Radeon Pro Vega 16 or Radeon Pro Vega 20, either with 4 GB of HBM2 memory, for an additional US$250 or US$350, respectively.
For introductory pricing in dozens of other countries, see the “Global Prices” on the specs page for each Mac as well as the “By Global Original Prices” section of EveryMac.com.
Ultimately, despite their nearly identical appearance, the “Mid-2018” MacBook Pro line provides substantially improved performance and improved connectivity for the 13-Inch models, as well.
However, especially given lower prices on the used market, the “Mid-2017” MacBook Pro models remain well worth consideration for those interested in a potentially upgradable SSD, a more traditional keyboard, and/or a lower price tag.
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