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15-inch MacBook Pro gets more powerful with new AMD Vega GPUs

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Confirming an otherwise quiet announcement made during Apple’s fall event in Brooklyn, New York, the 15-inch MacBook Pro has officially gotten more powerful. New configurations for the top-range 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro laptop are now available, complete with AMD Pro Vega 16 or Pro Vega 20 graphics cards on board.

As listed online at the Apple Store, the 15-inch MacBook Pro with AMD Pro Vega 16 and Pro Vega 20 graphics cards are rather expensive. When configuring models at checkout, the Radeon Pro Vega 16 graphics with 4 GB of HBM2 memory adds in $250 to a total $2,800 base price. Similarly, an option for with the Radeon Pro Vega 20 Graphics with 4GB of HBM2 memory adds in $350 extra to the total price of the laptop.

Both graphics cards are built on the 14nm process and are more powerful than the Radeon Pro 560X offered with the previous top configuration of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. The chipsets are leveraging HBM2 memory, which provides more speed and power, but without sacrificing battery life. AMD designed the graphics cards just for MacBooks and is claiming on its website that this is the ultimate premium graphics solution, for remarkable graphics performance for premium ultra-portable notebooks.

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Despite the cost, the AMD Pro Vega 16 and Pro Vega 20 graphics cards hold big promise and performance for consumers who use MacBooks for graphics editing and gaming. In an initial press release from October, Apple promised the chipsets should account “60 percent faster graphics performance for the most demanding video editing, 3D design and rendering workloads.” Apple also mentioned that the graphics cards should be good for gaming at 1080p in esports titles.

AMD also had a similar tone about its graphics cards. It hyped up the potential use and performance potentials for consumers.

“Radeon Vega Mobile graphics raise the bar for performance in notebooks… They provide the best of both worlds: Amazing performance for creative applications and visually stunning, responsive gaming for today’s biggest titles in a mobile form factor,”  Scott Herkelman, corporate vice president and general manager of Radeon Technologies Group at AMD, said in a statement.

The AMD Pro Vega 16 and Pro Vega 20 are not to meant to be confused with the Vega Pro 56 or the Vega Pro 64 which are available on the iMac Pro. More time is obviously needed to test how truly powerful the graphics cards are, but it definitely looks to be promising for consumers who want a MacBook that packs a punch.

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Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
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