HOW MUCH FASTER IS 15" MacBook Pro (2017) vs 13" MacBook Pro (2016)

We’ve been pushing our 13" MacBook Pro (2016) to its limits lately, so we bit the $6,000 bullet to find out how much faster the new 15" MacBook Pro (2017) and the results were shocking.

Comparison Specs
13" MacBook Pro (2016)
Intel i7 3.3GHz Dual Core
Intel Iris 550
16GB Ram

15" MacBook Pro (2017)
Intel i7 2.9GHz Quad Core
Radeon 560 Pro
16GB Ram

To even the tests to be as close as possible, I setup the 2017 15" with a clone of my 2016 13". Migration Assistant only works via Wifi and not super-fast USB so it I left it overnight, however most interestingly I learnt that the 15" MacBook Pro can actually charge a 13" MacBook Pro.

For the test configuration I wanted to simulate real world usage I had 3 browsers open and Google Drive syncing… eek!

The 2016 MacBook Pro was hitting SSD Read speeds of 2600 MB/s
While the 2017 MacBook granted with a larger 2TB hard drive would only reach 2200 MB/s

This surprised me because I had heard that the SSD speeds had been improved for this generation.

Launching Final Cut took around the same time on both. The first launch took 1 minute on the 2016, and 58 seconds on the 2017. The second launch took 18 seconds on both.

Editing 4k Locally stored Proxy videos ran fast on both laptops.

However, on my 2016 laptop as I have lots of footage I tend to store my media on a Network Access Server. I sometimes store proxy footage on there from old projects and editing those are a complete pain. I wondered if the multiple cores would help out here, however… it didn’t.

Editing a Locally Stored 4k Project was much more doable on the 15" 2017, however the jitters were still there, making proxy files a necessity.

Transcoding on the 15" 2017 was 1 second faster.

Exporting a 40 second 4k project was 6 seconds faster on the 15" 2017.

In 9 seconds I managed to launch more tabs on the 2016, but more tabs loaded on the 2017.

Compiling code was twice as fast on the 15" thanks to its quad core. However, the iOS simulator was still unusable for OpenGL on both machines.

The most interesting thing was that on the 13" the CPU was idling between 5-15% (with Google Drive taking up 60+%), whereas the 15" was idling at 65% with GDrive only reaching 8%. So maybe with better multithreaded programming design patterns in software, we could get much better performance out of it. However, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

I set both machines up with Windows via Bootcamp, and while I didn’t time it, I didn’t notice any difference in performance during the installation. Where I did notice the difference, and it was a big difference, was in gaming. I could never get the frame rate up in Assassn’s Creed Unity on my 2016 13" MacBook, however out of the box it ran flawlessly on my 2017 15", thanks to it’s dedicated GPU. Note: I have Apple’s eGPU box on order and as soon as it comes I’ll let you know how it shifts the balance in this department.

All things considered we decided to keep our 13" and sent the 15" packing.