Between packing up to move apartments and keeping an eye on Twitter’s Chirp conference, I’ve been playing around with a new 15-inch Macbook Pro, one of the many new laptops introduced by Apple (s AAPL) earlier this week. The 15-inch devices, which use Intel’s (s intc) i5 and i7 processors while the 13-inch Macbook Pro uses the Intel Core 2 Duo chip, look virtually no different than they did before, with unibody styling and the same screen size, weight and number of ports. The only visible change is in the design of the mag-safe power connector, which is now clearly inspired by the MacBook Air charger.
The real change in these new laptops is under the hood — in the stuff you can’t see. It all starts with the integrated (Nvidia’s 320M) and discrete (Nvidia’s GeForce 330M GT) graphics chips, which can be found in both the 15- and 17-inch machines. What Apple has done in this most recent update to its line-up is make switching between two graphics modes automatic, depending on the task at hand. For instance, a simple application such as Mail or Safari by default uses the embedded/integrated graphics engine, while more graphics-intensive apps such as Premiere or Aperture automatically switch to the more muscular graphics chips.
So what’s the big deal about this? First, you get a smoother performance. But the big impact is on the battery life of these laptops. While the previous generation of MacBook Pros used Nvidia’s (s nvda) 9400M integrated graphics engine, the new line-up uses the new Nvidia 320M. The old chip had 16 cores while the new 320M has 48. And yet the 320M, despite being more muscular (it provides an 80 percent performance gain over the 9400M) is 40 percent more energy efficient. That boosts the battery life of the laptops by as much as three hours, which means Apple is offering total battery life of between 8 and 10 hours on the new MacBook Pros.
I’m pretty sure Apple made more tweaks than just that in order to get those 8-10 hours, but graphic chip optimization has to be right up there when it comes to squeezing more out of the battery. Maybe because it makes both the hardware and the operating system it’s able to get more from the batteries on its machines.
These tweaks reminded me of something uber-investor and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, who will be speaking at our Green:Net conference on April 29, said recently — that by innovating around the internal combustion engine, we can substantially improve car mileage. Others believe that by writing more efficient, smarter software, more life can be squeezed from the current generation of battery technology. Apple is certainly proving that.
Oh and in case you were wondering about the machine itself, it is really really really fast. Much faster than my old MacBook Pro, which has an SSD drive and 8 GB of memory. Apps start in a blink of an eye and even iTunes works as if it was suddenly Barry Bonds. If you want to know anything specific, go ahead and ask me, and I will do my best to answer your questions.
138 thoughts on “What's So Hot About the New MacBook Pros? The Stuff You Can't See”
How do I get more of my life back? :-). Making the machines faster doesn’t seem to translate into making them smarter. Why doesn’t Vinod invest into that? Ask him when you see him. I’m looking forward for the rest of the week to be without one of those click happy systems.
“Oh and in case you were wondering about the machine itself, it is really really really fast” compared to Macs updated a year ago, but still 100% slower than any PC
That is not true — this is as fast as any PC out there.
I have always had this, just never got the right person, glad-fully I found you. I am pretty sure Even a PC will run great under the configuration of MAC book pro. Can A Mac run smoothly under a Pc’s configuration, I i guess no, so PC’s are better than Mac rite?
How much is OSX worth to you? You can get a better specced win7 laptop this second for $1000 (as in, there’s one on slickdeals right now for $800, and $200 (being pessimistic) for a RAM upgrade)
faster than those from Dell’s Alien lineup? sure?
@N.F. Wait, you say Macs can run OS X and Windows and PCs can (with a few exceptions ) only run Windows and so PCs are better? I don’t get the logic.
I can’t take it anymore. Think about what you just read in the article. Speed is about much more than hardware a specs. How well is the hardware used by the firmware and OS? How well are the components matched? Where are the bottle necks? Memory? Memory bus? Context switching? Instruction pipelines? Graphics I/O? How good is the library code? Math functions? I can write efficient code that makes a 10 year old PC look much faster than the one you bought this year. You experience this every time you compare Flash on a Mac (lousy code) to Flash on a PC. Thankfully, Flash is one of the exceptions. Much of the OSX code base is much cleaner than that for PC’s. The result is that the overall experience on a Mac is very snappy. Not so for the PC’s I have to use now and then. I’m typing this on an iPad – a real slug of a CPU based on GHz by today’s standard. But it does amazingly beautiful things on the screen – while the PC is crawling because Kaspersky and 2 dozen other pieces of useless ( from the user’s perspective) code suck all the cycles out of the CPU and keep the disk rattling while I wait for IE to render it’s first page. Oh, and the PC software probably doesn’t know how to make my particular graphics chip sing, because it’s been programmed to handle just about every off-key voice in the entire PC universe. Closed ecosystems do have their benefits — they can be extremely efficient and resource conservative. I’ll go with Apple tlll another brilliant team comes along and does it even better. you can stick with your commodity PC from Best Try or Hell Computers Corp, Leanover, or whatever.
Oms Ucks? Really, ’cause he uses a mac??
100% slower only if you don’t turn the machine on!
Why hasn’t Apple embedded mobile broadband capabilities into the new MacBooks? Seems like a no brainer, particularly in light of their pending iPad 3G launch. Add in entire embedded laptop lines from HP, Dell, and Lenovo, Apple’s omission becomes simply baffling.
Good point, though it seems they think people want to use MiFi and USB modems. But I am with you — definitely feel that embedded 3G is the way to go.
what would be really really really great is the iPad prepaid $30/month unlimited data plan offered on macbooks and macbook pros.
but also great(perhaps even greater) would be a way tether to an ipad via WiFi. if the coming 3G iPad were to include a tethering mode to share the 3G i would go out and buy one extremely fast since it would be a great deral even if never used as more than a glorified MiFi.
Tether: I use my Sierra HSPA/ATT 3G with MacBook, set to Internet share & fly with my iPad since day ONE. Does that tether-up? Don’t tell!
i was talking about tethering in the other direction.i want the iPad with built in 3G to be the tethering host that lets my laptop go online.
this is all about the money aspect. i want to use a $30/month no commitment prepaid plan for all my mobile data needs not a $60/month plus taxes and fees with a two year contract.
in the end i do not really care what machine is the 3G to WiFi host; but i want it to be the one with the most attractive plan and also one that makes sense to be switch on all the time. i see myself carry around an iPad switched on all the time. but my laptop is on and off as needed.
as far as a phone. if i get an iPad I will most likely switch to a very small and simple phone for text and voice only and use the iPad for everything else i use a smartphone for.
Tom I thought about going the same route as you with getting a dumb phone and a 3g iPad. I think the better option though is to get a smartphone such as Verizons Pre Plus that provides a wifi tether spot FREE, or use a jailbroken iPhone, or wait for one of the other companies(probably Sprint) to match Verizons deal. That way you never lose your ability to remain connected if the iPad is too large to carry at any given circumstance.
AT&T can hardly handle the iPhone, can you imagine the strain on the network if they allowed Macbook and MBP on the network? As an AT&T customer, I hope they DON’T do that.
Embedded 3g? For what? Just use iPhone. :-p
iPhone even though 3G runs like 1.5G in San Francisco 😉
If I just want to use a laptop for e-mail and Internet usage, do I really need to pay another $600 for the 15″ over the 13″? I was all set to get the 13″ hoping it would have the i5. However, i’m not sure its worth the extra money in my case.
PRobably not. Actually you might go ahead and buy an iPad or a net book for just those two functions. These laptops are clearly for people with higher end demands from their machines.
Can you use an iPad without a laptop or desktop? When you first turn it on, don’t you need to connect to iTunes?
They can do the initial connect to itunes for you at any Apple store.
That’s interesting, I didn’t know that. You’ll still need iTunes at home to put your music on it, though, won’t you?
I was waiting for the new update!! is the new 13 in MBP better than the previous one?? is it fast, and I use microsoft excel and word a lot is it different and harder than the PC.
At the moment a PC owner but planning to switch to Mac (13 in)
Yes it is a massive improvement. I think it is pretty impressive — 10 hour battery life. I am sure you will get used to the Ms WORD in a day or so but Excel is a big learning curve.
Our CEO had to do it and he complained for a week or so but then got used to it and is now a total mac convert.
Worth pointing out that the new version of Office for Mac will be more like its Windows counterpart and will use the ribbon interface. Oh, and it will have Outlook too.
My son: “Apple makes computers?”
Wow that is profound. Kind of makes you wonder where all the money is going into. I mean is Apple still a Computer company. Reminds me of another company that got sidetracked and their OS went to crap, starts with an M.
I’m curious about the actual battery life on the 13 inch.
Asa it is said to be about 10 hours. Not sure how long it really is. I have a 15 inch review unit.
I’m curious about the actual battery life on the 13 inch. They added a nicer video card that is custom made kinda like the iPad’s A4 chip. So my question how long does the battery really last on this thing?
the Macbook Pro 15 inch is still going strong and it is close to 7 hours now. So can’t see I am disappointed in this one’s battery life.
Thanks for the update. Any news on the macbook air? I had seen rumor sites suggesting that the air might be up for a refresh as well.
Hey no idea on that — i totally want that updated Macbook Air as well.
I really want the new i5 and the nVidia 330M (15″), but do you think I could get away with the Core2 Duo and the 320M (13″ screen) with heavy internet, video editing, light photo editing, and some light gaming?
I want to save money and not pay for something I don’t need, but I don’t want to get marginal performance increases from my current laptop (a black macbook 2.4gHz Core2 Duo, 4GB RAM, intel integrated graphics)
I think so — I think the $1199 is a pretty solid machine and I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Unless you are a professional video editor, it should be okay. I am not so sure what do you mean by gaming. I am not much of a gamer so can’t speak intelligently about it.
I really wanted them to add the new Intel chips to the 13″, but may go with the 15″. Do you think it is worth the purchase now or do you think they’ll have an update in the Fall for the 13″? Also, would you recommend the i5 or i7 if I did go with the 15″ model?
No new updates for anytime soon. If you really want at 13 but want i5, go for the $1799. it is faster than any mac i have ever owned. I am not sure what else can i do with it. I processed some video on it – five minute clip, imported into iMovie and it was done is 25 minutes — fully produced. That is the most I can say.
THat said, I find the 13 inch are infinitely more mobile.
How is the heat coming out of this thing? I have an ’08 MacBook Pro, and heat it generates is ridiculous.
Is the screen brighter/more usable outside?
Less hot than 2008 version and not sure about the usage outdoors. I have been moving so not much in terms of outdoorsy stuff today 🙂 sorry
I liked your post, but I am still wondering if I should “downgrade” from a 15 inches late 2008 macbook pro 2.4Ghz, 4gb ram to a 13 inches new macbook pro… I think this wouldn’t cost me anything and would gain in mobility as well as in autonomy, performance (only graphics I think) and HDMI audio-video output… (and ability to put up to 8gb of ram, so double).
My main activity is programming, emails, web, watch movies (external screen), some video editing with the elgato turbo 264 usb dongle, …
My main question is “will I regret my 15 inches screen…. ?” I think I have to head up to an Apple Store and try it by myself, hands on 😉
If you have any suggestion, I will really appreciate.
Yes that is a good idea especially if you are bored with your old machine and have desperate need for portability. I think going with 1199 and maxing out RAM is the best way to go.
Hi Om, I have a 17″ 3.06 Ghz MBP with 8 Gb RAM and 500 Gb disc. Would you say the new quadcore will provide a significant performance increase? Thanks.
Nah … You got yourself a monster. Keep using it.
Thanks.. Just to clarify I was considering upgrading to the full spec 17 model with the new solid state 512 Gb hard disk. Would the combination of the new processors/architecture and solid state disc render a significant processing improvement?
I believe you are incorrect about the details of integrated graphics – on all three of the new machines, the integrated graphics are the “Intel HD Graphics,” a graphics processor integrated with the CPU. The discrete graphics, on all three machines, are provided by an NVIDIA chip (GeForce 320M on the 13″, and GeForce GT 330M on the 15″ and 17″). You article stated that the GeForce 320M provided the integrated graphics and the 330M provided the discrete graphics.
You are right and I made it clear and hopefully this will reduce confusion. Thanks for helping out and catching that mistake.
the NVIDIA GeForce 320M on the 13″ is integrated graphics, not discrete graphics, said on Apple’s site … there is no Intel graphics chips on the 13″ MBPs!
What about the price did they raise the price with these new models? And what happened to the 10% student discount?
I have an old 17inch powerbook g4 and am looking to upgrade but spending 1700 on the 15inch hurts. Especially when I’m upgrading not because I can afford to but because my current mac is dying =/
Nope the price is same and you get bigger hard drive and more standard ram
Why don’t you get a recent refurb? They’re plentiful in the online Apple Store right now…
You can also walk into an Apple Retail store and get a brand new previous model for a discount.
Two questions Om. 1) Is this machine running cooler than the last generation? Core 2 Duo tends to get pretty hot.
2) Does your review unit come with the optional higher res screen? If so, so does it look?
The machine is running mildly cooler than the previous generation of Mbps. Also the screen can be customized foe higher resolution — costs extra $100.
OM – thanks for the article.
Question – I’ve got a late 08 unibody 13″ Macbook (before they went Pro) Core 2 Duo 2.4, 4GB, 250GB HD. I run a lot of apps on it, and I when I joined a company that doesn’t care if I VM a version of W7, Outlook/Office to access Exchange, etc. However, I installed Parallels 5, have all the proper settings (so I think), and it just does not perform well. At times, it gets to a point where it is unuseable, and I have to reboot the VM or the Macbook. Then I thought maybe I need to go with Fusion. THEN, Apple announced these new bad boys. I’m with a few other people here – I would prefer a 13″, but I think I could go 15″ (especially since I can go lighter once my 3G iPad gets here, and the MB can stay in my office mainly unless I have to travel). So – do you think the 15″ i5 would solve my VM problem? Is it a horsepower issue? Thinking maybe eBay my 13″??
Om – thoughts?
I think the issue is more of using virtual machines. I am not so sure if this or any more powerful machine is going to solve the problem of using all that Windows stuff. If you do want to keep the set-up, I suggest two things: get the $1799 15-inch version and then load up on extra RAM> I am pretty sure that should make life a lot easier. And when MS introduces the new Office/Outlook, well time for you to switch.
I stopped using Fusion/Parallels once I got over “Outlook” though I still would like that app for a Mac. I am old fashioned enough to like Exchange 🙂
Agreed. Outlook for Mac should solve all of my work related hardware issues….can’t wait.
I currently use a MBP 17″ June 2007 model for my main machine, but for the last year I have been using a MSI Wind running OSX as my mobile machine for typical netbook and light productivity and I am now looking to replace the Wind.
I am considering the iPad with 3G for $829. When I saw the new MBP 13 I was thinking at $1199 it was pretty good deal until I saw it had the same Core2Duo as my 17″. I am looking for portable, so the iPad fits that bill, but the MBP 13 runs regular applications and is pretty sleek itself. However, the iPad has the 3G which is something I have been wanting. Better battery life is something I was also looking for and the MBPs seem to be close to the iPad now.
Since you have been using the iPad do you have any insight about the decision between using something like the iPad and the MBP 13?
I think it is not either or situation. Since you have a 17-inch machine and are happy with it, I am pretty sure a 3G iPad will make life more portable. Of course there are trade-offs. I have a 15 inch mbp and I am going to get an iPad to replace my MacBook Air.
Arrandale is new for the Macs, but hybrid graphics has been done before. Back in 2008 to be exact. Very wise of Apple to catch up with the offerings from the likes of Toshiba and Dell. 🙂
In fact, I’m willing to bet my 2008 notebook would give these “really really really” fast (you forgot to mention overpriced) Macs an embarrassing beat-down. Sorry Om, just being unbiased.
Well if you like PCs then I am not going to argue at all. I think price argument has been well debated and let’s just say we are both making choices that fit our tastes/wallets.
Very wise indeed. I was beginning to worry that the GigaOm network showed favoritism to one side.
“hybrid graphics has been done before. Back in 2008 to be exact. Very wise of Apple to catch up”
The hardware may be the same, but the software implementation is somewhat different and skewed to battery life. See:
“you forgot to mention overpriced) Macs an embarrassing beat-down. Sorry Om, just being unbiased.”
But then Apple has decided to optimize for battery and not speed, so the kidney punch Apple applies to your laptops power system, will make you fume for weeks. Sorry Luscious, just being obnoxious (like you).
LOL 🙂 I deliberately didn’t mention battery life, but thanks for getting into the argument. If providing an unbiased opinion is obnoxious to you, then you might want to refrain from calling people out.
I’m a little confused…
Does the 13inch Macbook Pro with the NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics card use the same graphics switching technology as the 15inch and 17 inch Macbook Pros?
The 15 and 17 inch Pros have the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics card AND Intel HD graphics card. Thus able to use the graphics switching technology. The 13 inch only has the integrated GT 320. So it cant use the new graphics switching technology, its just the 40% battery savings from the new chip. Correct?
Sorry for the confusion. I have re-written the copy to make it clear that the 320m is being used in the 13-inch laptops while the hybrid technology is used in the larger versions of Macbook Pros. Error is regretted. I could and should have been more clear.
Did you have a chance to compare i5 and i7 yet what’s the difference?!
No I have not. Maybe apple will let me see the 15 inch version at some point.
Do they still run very hot? Did they make any changes under the hood to keep users from getting burned on them?
Nope they don’t run hot at all. Mildly warm is how i would put it.
Did I read correctly that the mag safe adaptor is different now. Does that mean previous generation mag safe power bricks don’t work on the latest laptops?
No the old ones work just fine. The style is a little different.
Hi Om – I just bought a 15-inch MBP Core 2/2.8 GHz, like 3 weeks back & now I am contemplating turning it in for the 15-inch core i7. Good idea? Am i gonna get significant performance jump?
BTW, this is my first mac and I am loving it.
thanks for the review.
How fast is the SD card reader? How well does programs like Photoshop run on it? I’ve been using a early 2009 (first Unibody Mac) Macbook and it feels kinda slow now… I’m a crazy user – I useually have Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Safari, Sketchbook Pro, Word and a whole bunch of other stuff open at the same time… which is a lot, but that is the way I work. Will these handle my madness?
i’m awaiting a 15″ 2.53 with high res antiglare – my sons could not be happier because i’ve been sitting on this mbp for nearly 3 years and once my new one arrives, they’ll each have their own machine to waste time on (they’re sharing right now, and at their teen ages that is tough stuff – but suck it up, right? this has been the way for years and years, this will be the first time they’ve had their own machines to use in forever)
at any rate, when the new one arrives, i may have my boys beat on it for a full day on a full charge and see how it stacks up – this will include tons of open tabs, video and image rendering, online video, maybe burning some cd stuff, and my gut says that i’ll be looking at shy of 7 hours at best…
question: did you do the high res? how is it (if you did)?
My machine is the same resolution as the past models though you can get a higher resolution if you want to spend the money. I did get about 8 hours and 20 minutes today. Second day of use.
I bought a MacBook Pro when the new generation came out last October.
I returned it for only one reason: the sharp-edge design at the front, where the hand rests during touch pad use. This is a killer, seriously, I thought it was going to draw blood. I had a sore crease on the outer palm of my hand that was just not acceptable.
I thought the Apple folks were supposed to be the best in the world in design & ergonomics. Someone’s head should roll for this fiasco.
Shame on you Apple.
Thanks for your opinion.. all these days I wondered if I was the only one! I onviously cannot upgrade or return but by the time I am ready for my next machine, apple softens the edge a bit. It really sucks to rest my hands on a blade all day. I use an external key board for most of the day just for this reason.
Im one of the mac loving masses having a problem with the sharp, tendon-cutting edges on unibody the macbook pro, so much so that I had to return a 15″ last year. Do they seem more rounded to you on your new one?
nope they are just the same.
did Apple already published the model’s name of the Core 2 Duo processor on the MBP 13″?? cause I don’t have found it anywhere…
Thanks a lot! 😀
I’m one of the many who have been waiting for this update, and I”m very upset the 13” still has C2D.
I’m a pro video editor looking for something mobile. I know the i5 is faster, but exactly HOW MUCH faster for video editing compared to the 13” C2D. I know this is what everyone is wondering, but would the difference really be that significant for video editing for me to dish out an extra $700-$800?
CURSE YOU APPLE!
In many tasks there’s not that big of a difference. In something H.264 video encoding there’s a big performance increase.
Google pc benchmarks to get an idea for the performance increase in the new i5, i7 cpus.
Hi I’m upgrading from a 2005 Power Book G4, so needless to say I’m excited about the new MacBook Pro. I’m looking at the 15″ 2.66 GHz i7 and am wondering if the if it’s worth the $1300 to upgrade to the 512GB SSD in terms of system performance and speed? Thanks.
I’ve got a new 15″ machine on order, to replace my 2006-vintage MBP. Looking forward to the better performance.
Did I see right that the new MBPs have a non-replaceable battery? My experience with my last two is that you get about six months of use before the “memory” effect seriously drains the performance. I’ve never gone more than a year before I had to throw away the battery and buy a new one.
As far as I’m aware, all the unibody MacBooks, Pro, Air, or otherwise, have non-user-replaceable batteries.
If you have AppleCare and notice the ‘memory effect’ degrading battery life on your Mac laptop, you can either take it into an Apple Store or send it back to Apple and they should be able to replace the battery for you under the extended warranty — I was able to do the former with my MacBook Pro. It’s largely painless.
Nope, I took my machine in to the Apple Store with two dead batteries, and all they would do was handle the disposal. I have AppleCare.
I believe that was the last time I brought a technical issue to the Apple Store, BTW, because my experience there has been so consistently terrible.
Did you get the SSD model, the 500GB 5400RPM disk, or the 500GB 7200RPM disk? I’d be interested to know how you feel about the SSD – all my friends rave about it, but it is a hefty premium in price…
Om, I see that you have discovered Apple’s dirty little iPad secret! If you own an iPad, then there is no reason to choose the 13″ MBP over the 15″ or the 17″ (if price is a concern and you are considering a MBP, then you don’t own an iPad). Add to that the i5 (or i7) advantage, and the 15″ MBP becomes the new sweet spot in the MBP lineup.
Those evil rat bastards!
For all Mac notebooks:
Install ClickToFlash for massive heat reduction by controlling Flashes…
Click to Flash? Can someone explain in depth? I can cook my huevos with my last gen MBP!
Heard of this googling thing..?
http://clicktoflash.com/ is the first result.
@Aleksander – link’s broken…
I have the previous version of the macbook pro and among other uses I like to use it for gaming on a windows XP bootcamp partition. I was thinking of switching to windows 7 because a lot of games are starting to only work with directX11, but I’ve read a few places that the GeForce 330M GT doesn’t support directX11. Any thoughts?
I have always preferred the 13″ models over their bigger brothers! And the only demanding application I run currently is Aperture 3 on an iMac, I tried running that on my 2 yo MacBook and it’s just slow! I wonder if the new 13″ MBP’s are fast enough to run Aperture 3, or do I have to consider getting a 15″ MBP with an i5 processor? Thank you for your opinion.
Did you test this machine with an SSD configuration? Debating getting one with an SSD but not sure if I can justify the enormous price tag.
i intend to switch to mac from windows.my main use is movies music and internet+some office stuff.u think 13 inch macbook with core2 duo wud be fine as i find 15inch macbook to be too expensive.i have a 15.4 inch compaq notebook,u think 13 inch wouldn’t be tht gr8 for movie watching or is it gonna be fine.wht do u recommend??
I hope you’re still answering questions, Om! You’ve been a great help so far answering people! Like others above, I have questions on the SSD. Ok. Besides price, what are the drawbacks likely to be? I had heard of security being an issue by not being able to fully erase files due to movement of files around for wear-leveling. Do you know if that is true? Are the benefits, including speed and durability, as good as we hear?
I just ordered a “high end” MBP 15″. I decided to economize by sticking with 4GB of memory but splurge with a 256GB SSD. Was this a wise trade-off?
People who doubt Apple’s battery life specs need to go to anandtech.com and read the tests there. They explain how Apple achieves their great figures. Apple has REAL battery life numbers, not the usual garbage.
Odd that their laptop battery figures are accurate, whereas their figure for the iPod Touch is VERY optimistic.
To answer a couple of questions I saw here:
the 330M is a midrange graphics solution. As such, it is made for DirectX 10.1 not 11. So, not a DirectX 11 solution.
The new 13″ MBP is not a “lot” faster than the older model. The choice was made for massive battery life not speed.
MBPs compete favorably with midrange PC laptops but not with “gaming” style PCs like Asus’s G series (G71, G72, G73). They are not meant to compete on equal footing there. While you can play modern games fine on even the 13″ MBP don’t expect full high quality options nor the superb frame rates.
Windows 7 works great on MBPs. The stable hardware platform is the reason. When you buy a MBP you are paying for quality of workmanship, parts, and stability.
Day to day use is just fine. Even on a 13″ it will be pretty snappy and certainly is not a big deal. If you want faster get an SSD drive and you will be running very, very well indeed. I have both PCs and OS X notebooks and notice little difference when not playing games. Other than the Mac applications crash a lot less than the PCs applications.
Do you have the hi-res display in your review unit? If so, how is the text and stuff, does one have to squint to read?
Any idea which of the various Core i7 cpus are actually being used inside the new MacBook Pros?
Great discussions going on here. I am about to get a new macbook but I’m trying to figure out which on will be best for me the 15 with the i5 or the 13 with the Core 2 Duo. Is there enough speed increase to justify the higher price for the 15?
I was going to buy the 13″ before the updates were released. Now they have mainly changed the 15″ and 17″ I’m unsure about buying the 13″. I was mainly getting it for portability as I travel a lot. Is it still worth getting considering it doesn’t have the same updates as the 15″ and 17″?
Om: You said your old MacBook Pro has a SSD and on the new one “Apps start in a blink of an eye”. Does your new tester also have the SSD option? On the assumption you have a standard model, that would be impressive as the standard 5400 rpm drive should be a lot slower. If it does have a SSD, what model does System Profiler or Disk Utility report it to be?
To primate Re: MacBook Air update question: As it uses a 20 W TDP processor, there won’t be any updates in this range until Q1 2011 release of the Sandy Bridge-MB multi-threaded design.
To Jon, the 13″ still uses the same Core 2 Duo CPU series but the revised integrated graphics is 80% than before. If you video editing is also light, it should get by. The Core i5 based 15″ models have multi-threading and discrete on demand GPU with dedicated VRAM, so would make a big difference in performance from your previous “Blackbook”
To Greg Hochsprung: There won’t be any fall further updates.
To Harry: the 512 GB SSD access time is 100x faster than your 500 GB hard drive. The new machine’s multi-threading and faster graphics will make a big difference. You may find just replacing your drive with a SSD would give you a better value with your current laptop.
To Tom: been looking at 17″ model, and the base model is $200 cheaper than before. There is still a education discount, not sure about the percentage.
To Gary: The integrated graphics on the MacBook make it a poor choice for Parallels 5. The 15″ would be a better platform. Don’t give too much RAM to Parallels as it will run slower, contrary to what you may think.
To Jake: The speed difference may be slight, no benchmarks yet. The i7 is just 5.4% faster in CPU clock speed and has a 4 MB L3 cache compared to 3 MB on the i5. Unlike the iMac’s i5 and i7, they both offer multi-threading and Turbo Boost.
To Kapil Israni: New models fully 50% faster so try to swap within the 30 day limit.
To Chris Fourie: The SD card reader is super fast, can keep up with 600x rated cards. Make sure you get the 8 GB RAM upgrade and the SSD upgrade is also a power user’s dream.
To Kody, the hyper-threading Core i5 with the discrete GPU is the only way to go for serious video editing.
To Casey: The SSD will make a big difference, but if you have been living with a PB G4’s disk drive size, you may be able to make due with the smaller SSD options.
To Kevin Werbach: The new battery, while not user replaceable, will not wear out like the old style due to the intelligent charging system.
To Nosveemos: ClickToFlash add-on works in Safari to block Flash content from playing. As Flash uses the battery quickly and can cause crashes, this keeps it under control and you just click to enable it as needed.
To bearchow: Aperture 3 is a killer of lesser machines. Avoid the 13″.
To Hg Wells: The durability is better for SSDs than hard drives. MTBF is greater and of course the SSD is far more shock and vibration resistant and generates less heat. Access time is 100x better than even the 7200 rpm drive.
To Peter Kropf: The specifics are the Core i5-520M at 2.4 GHz or 2.53 GHz and the Core i7-620M at 2.667 GHz. The i7 can turbo up to 3.333 GHz. It has a 4 MB L3 cache.
thanks man! I am going to get the i5 15″ base model.
I appreciate your help.
Brad – also – thanks for that awesome tip on Parallels. I dropped my VM down to 512MB (from 2.25GB) and only gave it 1 processor, and the difference is night and day. Wow. Thanks again…
I’m currently a PC user. Have been wanting to change to Mac for a while and waited for the new Macbook Pro upgrades to come out. I have wanted the 13″ for portability as I travel a lot for work, but after finding out that the 15″ and 17″ had the main upgrades I’m torn between the 13″ and 15″.
I mainly use my computer for email, Internet, movies, photo editing, Photoshop, and a bit if audio editing.
I don’t know much about this kind of thing. I just use it!!
So…13″ or 15″. Is it worth carrying something a bit bigger and heavier just to have the new upgrades or would a fully spec’d 13″ do the job well?
Is it worth going to 8gb of ram?
Can you give me a quick explanation of the solid state drives. Are they worth getting? Pros/cons?
Hey Om, loved your article.
I was sadly one of those cases that simply couldn’t wait and bought a 13 inch MacBook Pro back in January. I got the 2.26 Core 2 Duo with 2 GB of RAM. I really have no complaints about my machine,.. love every inch of it so far.
I know you’re trying the 15 inch, but what have you heard about the new 13 inch machines? Think it’s worth selling my current MBP to upgrade to the new ones, or would you recommend I stick with it for the rest of the year until we see some Core i5 and i7 love on the 13 inch line?.. 13 inch is simply the perfect size for me..
Why even release processors so similar in speed (2.53 vs 2.66 i5)??? Is there really much of a difference between these 2?
Also – if you look at the 2 flavors of 15″ i5 (2.53 vs 2.66), it looks like the 2.66 configuration has 512MB RAM on the NVIDIA card, instead of 256MB like on the 2.53 model. Trying to figure out if its worth it for these two differences (plus a 500GB drive instead of 320GB – which I dont care about as much) for an additional $170???
The i7 2.66 GHz is about 8.7% faster than the 2.53 GHz i5. Because of faster clock speed and larger L3 cache. Only some games would take advantage of the 512 MB VRAM. You would be better off with the 2.53 GHz model but with a 8 GB RAM upgrade if that’s in the budget. A lot depends on what you do with the computer, particularly if you run several applications at the same time.
Interesting.. I think I’ll just stick around with what I got for now and definitely go for the RAM upgrade..
Hey Om, Thanks for this article! I am torn between the two 13″ versions. I am a student and need to use a Virtual Machine for some Windows programs. I heard this is pretty performance consuming. Nevertheless, I dont do any video or audio editing. Is the 2.66GHz really worth the 300€ extra charge or shouldnt I rather sufficiently go with the 2.4GHz and invest some money in a larger HD at some time?
The integrated graphics with shared RAM is going to kill the performance of VM, so the 2.66 GHz version won’t make difference. Should be considerably better than the older MacBook so that’s as good as it gets on the 13″ models.
Thanky for your reply! So you are saying I should go for the 2.4 GHz version and rather upgrade RAM later on? I am not quite sure what you are saying in the last sentence… (nonnative English speaker…. ;-))
You seem a lot more engaged in the comments. Do you know Gary Vee?
yes i do know Gary V :-). Thanks.
PS: I like to be as engaged as I can — though been missing in action due to personal reasons.
hii , I am little bit confused in new 13” and 15” Macbook Pro.I am gonna purchase for xcode development purpose.I don’t want iMAC …I need laptop.Should I go for 13″ or 15″ with core i5???
I’m a Graphic Designer and am currently finishing an Industrial Design Bachelor. I am in the market for a new computer. I have always been a MAC person due to my graphic design background. But I need a computer that will run programs like Indesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. But I also need it to run other industrial Design programs like Solidworks and 3D Studio Max. Am I better off getting a PC??
“The 13-inch Macbook Pros use the 320m chip”
Did you perhaps mean 32nm? 320nm would run very hot!
no. it is not referring to the size of the chip, rather that “320M” is the name nVidia gave it just like how the i5’s have a “330M” graphics chip.
what would be the speed difference between my 2009 macbook pro, 2.93ghz, 4gb ram, 320 7200rpm hd to a new core i7 2.66ghz 4gb ram, 500gb 7200rpm hd ?
Mac wins PC in battery life.. but not because of this new switching system that can be found in new Acer/Asus laptops (Optimus), but its because of Battery itself. PC vendors didn’t spend a penny for that , but Apple did… and now we see its shiny result.
I just pulled the trigger on a 2.4 i5, 320GB HD, 4GB RAM + Hi-Res graphics. Awesome deal through MacMall (plus no tax for me). I was torn between anti-glare or glossy, so I made a trip to the Apple store first. Glad I did. What I didn’t realize about the anti-glare option is that no longer do you have the beautiful piece of glass with the black surround on the display, but instead, there is an aluminum bezel around the display – I found it to be a little distracting from what I was looking at on the screen, vs the black (and it also reminded me of my crusty old Powerbook G4). As nice as it was to not deal with the glare – I dont find it to be a major issue for me (I have the 13″ unibody Macbook now) – so I went glossy, but with the hi-resolution (1680×1050 I think?)….lots of real estate. Can’t wait to get it and get set up, and transfer everything over!
BTW – separate question – what is the best way to move things over from my Macbook to the MBP – Migration Assistant?? Thanks to all for the guidance here. It was very helpful!
How about the new displays? I see two premium options which offer higher res and/or anti-glare.
I just ordered a MacBook Pro 15′ 2.66 Ghz with a boosted 7200 rpm, but I didn’t go for the high res display. Is there really a huge difference between it and the default display?
gr8 article. I am a doctor in india. i wanted to buy da mac book pro in january but someone told me wait and it turned out to be sound advise.
what i wanna know is that in this update apple has bumped the processor and da graphics card but hasn’t really done anything else.
is there something apple is hiding ? are they gonna come up with something completely new by fall 2010 ?
what i wanna basically know is should i jump and buy the MBP now or maybe jus wait a couple of months more ??
What would be the ave. life span the new macbook pro 15in i7? and can you get more coverage after the 2 year extended warranty is up?
I can’t believe some of the comments posted here by PC users! You CANNOT compare a Windows Vista, XP or 7 laptop with the MacBook Pro! There is just NO COMPARISON! I used to be an avid PC user, with a 17″ XP lappy still sitting on my desk, next to an almost defunct Vista desktop, and an iMac. Since using a Mac, there is just NO comparison! The MacBook Pro is THE BEST laptop money can buy! You Windows users and Microsoft worshippers will never understand this difference! Good luck with your Windows rubbish – don’t come crying when you see the blue screen of death or get a slower machine due to inferior innards!