MacBook Pro review
The previous MacBook Pros were actually very good. They consistently delivered professional quality and great features. Reviewing the next generation MacBook Pro is therefore something of a treat.
An initial look at the latest models shows nothing new. This isn’t disappointing: strong casings and smart design are exactly what you want from a top laptop. The keyboard looks neater, the result of a few minor changes, but other than that, everything looks as impressive as ever.
This could suggest that any internal changes are also minor. Not so. As you power up MacBook Pros and start testing each model, you soon realize you’re working with machines that exceed expectations.
For starters, the processors are 45-nanometer Intel Penryns. These are noticeably faster than the 65-nanometer Meroms installed in older MacBook Pros and easily outperform the Meroms in all benchmark tests.
Standard processors for the two 15-inch MacBook Pros are 2.4GHz and 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duos. The 17-inch has 2.5GHz. Alongside these are upgraded 200GB hard drives for the 2.4GHz 15-inch and 250GB for the 2.5GHz 15- and 17-inch.
Of particular interest to the multimedia user is the doubling of video memory on all three MacBook Pros. The 2.4GHz 15-inch has an NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB, and the 2.5GHz 15-inch and the 17 at 2.5 GHz have the same graphics processor but with 512 MB.
2 GB of RAM supports previous technology across the entire range. The overall results are portable, easily adaptable to advanced audio and graphics applications.
HardwareEach of the three MacBook Pros comes with standard hardware, such as:
- 8x dual-layer slot-loading SuperDrive
- iSight camera
- AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth® wireless connections
- stereo speakers
- FireWire 400 and 800 ports
- USB 2.0 ports (two on 15-inch models; three on 17-inch models)
- DVI port
- audio ports
- gigabit ethernet port
- ExpressCard/34 slot
There are also hardware “extras” that help the MacBook Pro stand out from the crowd. These include a powerful lithium polymer battery; an ambient light sensor that illuminates the keyboard in dark conditions; and an energy efficient backlit LED display.
These displays are mercury-free and anti-glare, and have resolutions of 1,440 x 900 pixels for the 15-inch models and 1,680 x 1,050 pixels for the 17-inch. With both you have bright, natural and sharp images.
Perhaps the best extra hardware of all, though, is the MacBook Pro’s new trackpad. It now has the multi-touch capabilities that have proven so popular on the iPhone. By pinching, swiping, and rotating your fingers on the trackpad, you have remarkably fast and positive control over the creative software features on MacBook Pro.
Multi-touch gives rise to a small problem: the size of the trackpad may seem a bit small for someone learning the proper gestures. That said, once you’re familiar with multitouch, it won’t be hard to work within the confines of the trackpad.
As with all new Macs, MacBook Pro comes with the best operating system around, Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard. If you’ve never used Leopard before, you’ll be blown away by its competition. If you’re already a Mac user, you still have something to please because the new MacBook Pros increase the speed of the Leopard and the applications that run on it.
Among these apps is Apple’s latest version of the world’s fastest browser, Safari. This comes with the usual batch of updated software from Apple, such as Boot Camp, Mail, iChat, iTunes, DVD Player, iPhoto, and iLife ’08.
Experienced MacBook Pro users can load their favorite applications on these latest models and immediately notice the speed improvements. For example, you can set up Photoshop CS3 in about eight seconds on the 15-inch, 2.5GHz display. Then you’ll find that Photoshop runs 20-25% faster than a 2007 2.6GHz MacBook Pro .
Compared to a 2006 MacBook Pro, the differences are even bigger. In general, you can experience speed increases of around 50% in a variety of applications. This is good news for all those who want maximum performance from a laptop.
With any laptop designed for professional use, it’s always worth looking at the manufacturer’s options because some people will need a middle ground of extra speed and power for specific applications.
The MacBook Pro’s configuration options are unlikely to disappoint you. For additional power, you can order an upgrade to the 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor for the 15-inch or 17-inch models at 2.5GHz. As for RAM, you can upgrade any of the three MacBook Pros to 4GB.
On the 17-inch MacBook Pro, you may want to increase the hard drive to 300 GB to provide additional space for space-stealing graphical applications. In the same way, you can ensure the perfect sharpness of your images by requesting a screen of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels for the same model.
Finally, if you prefer a glossy screen over a matte anti-glare one, you can request it when you place your order.
With all of these upgrades packaged in the same casings as previous MacBook Pro models, you might expect prices to rise. If it does, you would be wrong. The new MacBook Pros are undoubtedly better machines, but prices across the range haven’t changed. The old MacBook Pros were good value for money, but the latest incarnations are just great for the price.
Do you want the best laptops from a great manufacturer? Look no further.
- Faster than the previous generation of MacBook Pro
- Doubles video memory
- Smooth, multi-touch features on the trackpad
- Improved battery life
- Great configuration options
- More for your money: No price increase compared to previous MacBook Pro equivalents
- Trackpad can be a bit small for novice users