The new, new, new MacBook Pro hit the shelves today. This latest third revision to the MacBook Pro line follows quickly behind the updates to the regular MacBook; speed and memory. It's more of the same here with a processor upgrade from 2.33 to 2.4Ghz, an nVidia 8600m GT graphics processor replacing the ATI X1600 and a switch to Intel's new "Santa Rosa" mobile chipset offering 800Mhz front-side bus and support for 4Gb of RAM.
None of this can be seen from the outside but the new LED illuminated screen can be, promising lower power needs and a more 'white' light I've seen great results on other laptops but, well, it's very nice, which is a polite way of saying that the original was very good already and the new one, whilst also great is little different; it's great, perhaps a little let down but I'm not sure what I was expecting really. The MacBook Pro still sits at the top of all of 'Laptop-dom' though in the screen stakes.
Anything else? Well, it's been working out over the winter and has trimmed a little fat weighing in at 5.4 pounds (2.45Kg). This is reassuringly heavy but Apple, if you're reading don't fix that, it's not broken!
The range includes 15" 1440x900 resolution and 17" 1680x1050 resolution display units with the LED only available on the 15" at the moment. Processors have jumped to 2.2 and 2.4GHz on the 15" and 2.4Ghz only for the 17". One last change is the move from an Hitachi hard disk to a Fujitsu; largely the same specification and capacity so perhaps just a supply change. 120Gb or 160Gb for the 15" and 160Gb for the 17". Base pricing runs from $2,000 to $2,800 but all get 2Gb RAM and the 8x Dual-Layer SuperDrive, or DVD burner as we call it. Options include 4Gb RAM, 7200rpm disk drives at 160Gb and 250Gb hard disks though only 4200rpm. New is the option for a higher resolution (1920x1200) display on the 17" - worth it in my opinion.
Software installed is unchanged; Mac OS-X 10.4.x but remember, Apples aren't just for Mac OS-X anymore, Apples run Windows XP and Vista too. They run Vista particularly well and Apple have released the version 1.3 update to its 'BootCamp' software that includes the drivers for this new models Intel Chipset and, as plus for other MacBook PRO users; drivers for the keyboard lighting - Hurrah! BootCamp can be found at http://www.apple.com/bootcamp
No write up on any Apple product can get by without asking the question "Why would I spend so much on an Apple when I could buy an X from Y for just $Z?" Let's look at the new MacBook PRO; in 15" screen with 2Gb RAM and 256 meg graphics, it's $2,499... I could buy THREE Dell laptops for that sort of money; seriously; check out the Inspiring 6400 or whatever it's called but, I reckon that, as you've read this far, you're with me... you don't want a Dell, not even three of them. You want a cool laptop... join me as we go over to the dark side of premium consumer products.
The previous model MacBook Pro and the new MacBook Pro.
I'm a premium consumer, there I said it. I have a cheap laptop, it's fine, it does what it's supposed to do but I'm un-inspired by it. What I need out of my products is a certain 'X' factor, that thing that makes you forget about the cost ten minutes after the purchase and leaves you feeling good every time you use it and with Apple; the 'X' factor comes in spades... heaps of it. Did you know that the insides of the MacBook Pro are all cast aluminum? No, it is, the hard disk is held in place, not by plastic moldings, but by little rubber cones that suspend the hard disk in air, touching nothing... And you wonder why you can't hear it? That's quality, quality that makes you feel that your investment was worthwhile. There's loads of that stuff like that in the MacBook and the latest version just adds more.
Apple have always cherry picked the best parts; there is a reason that they've always been expensive! The latest MacBook PRO is no exception.
Here's how the new stacks up against the old... In short, it's just faster. The graphics sub-system and the memory show the greatest gains though, in some tasks the older ATI was better; typically, early graphics adapter drivers can show this trait, let's see if an update will turn that around. A rough number of 6% across the board as an improvement is nice. I used Passmark Performance test 6.1 under Windows Vista to benchmark the machine.
Here's how the new stacks up against the old... In short, it's just faster. The graphics sub-system was slower but I suspect that is more about how I jammed the desktop driver into the system so I'm going to ignore that which leaves me with a rough number of 10% as an improvement which is nice. If you'd like to see the complete benchmark results as a (large!) image, click here.
It's early to say how the LED screen will improve power but on full everything the previous model lasted about 2 hours, this one is reporting some more; about 2.5 hours; so, that's 6% more computing power with an extra 25% battery life.
To sum up, it's an incremental step forward; advancing an already top flight system, if you have a MacBook PRO already, enjoy it, it's a very nice piece of hardware, if you don't have one, well, Apple have just given you another great incentive. Buy it.
-- Michael Thwaite
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview
It shouldn't, but it still amazes me how uncritical Apple's reviewers are. viz
"2.45Kg [...] is reassuringly heavy but Apple, if you're reading don't fix that, it's not broken!". Yeah. If laptops are light, that's great. If they're heavy, that's great too. We worship you, Oh Apple, you can do no wrong.
"Software installed is unchanged; Mac OS-X 10.4.x". Where's the free upgrade when the new version is out in just a few months?
"it's just faster. The graphics sub-system was slower but I suspect that is more about how I jammed the desktop driver into the system". So sorry Apple, any improvements are to your credit, anything that's not so good is the reviewer's fault entirely.
And, the best bit: "No write up on any Apple product can get by without asking the question "Why would I spend so much on an Apple when I could buy an X from Y for just $Z?". The answers are:
"What I need out of my products is a certain 'X' factor, that thing that makes you forget about the cost ten minutes after the purchase". Not so much a reason to pay 3x the price as a prerequisite.
"the hard disk is held in place, not by plastic [...], but by [...] rubber". Wow!
"Apple have always cherry picked the best parts; there is a reason that they've always been expensive". Yeah, the very best 2.4GHz Intel processor, the very best nVidia 8600m GT graphics processor, the very best 'Santa Rosa' mobile chipset. Gotta get out early in the morning and pick them when they're dew-fresh and at their best.
"Apples run Windows XP and Vista too. They run Vista particularly well." Whatever does that mean? In what way do they run Vista better than PCs?
Another jealous Windows user who wants Apple quality (and probably Mac OS X) for his OS limited PC. You say the Macbook Pro is a little heavy compared to a few flimsy PC laptops but if you read the review properly Apple make a sturdy strong machine. Weight isn't everything unless you are wimp. It isn't that heavy anyway and the fact is the aluminium internal chassis is what gives it that little bit of extra weight and it also makes it a lot stronger than a laptop PC with cheap plastic insides. As far as I am concerned, strength and quality over a tiny weight increase is a better trade off.
I have owned Macs for 14 years and computers in general for 26 years. I support Windows PCs and Macs for a British ISP and I can tell you now. Mac OS X is the reason everyone should switch. I spend the day talking to frustrated XP and Vista users who have a real negative atitude like this guy. Seriously I can understand how he can't see why Mac users are so enthusiastic about their computers. We are cup half full people as our experience is generally enjoyable. Many of us have switched away from the dark side and they never look back. Whereas Windohs users are generally looking for something else to criticise. For them, what should be an enjoyable computing experience is mediocre at best. Fighting viruses and spyware gives them a sense of achievement as does managing to get MS to re-activate their OS after a re-install due to say the Windows registry getting all crappy and messed up. Yet even a tiny minority of them take it to the extreme. Despite Apple's small 6.3% market share this small chunk of Windows users still feel they need to criticise us and our choice. As if they feel threatened somehow. They feel they have to fight for Microsoft on every bulletin board slagging off the Mac using old myths, a lot of emotionalism and often bad language and insults to try in a futile attempt to prove a point that died out years ago. They refuse to even consider a Mac despite the rave reviews and general enthusiasm Mac users have for their machines and OS X. They call us fanboys and other silly names and generally act very immaturely. Stockholm syndrome anyone!!!
Working on support fully reinforces why I use a Mac. All the same people ring me with issues on their Outlook/MS exchange setups but my Mac users just ring me for advice on how much RAM they need or if there is any software I would recommend for such and such an application or maybe just a chat. Their's is a transparent user experience. The Mac just works for them but the Windows users have to spend a decent chunk of time every month keeping their machines tip-top playing with settings, defragging, updating virus definitions, running adware and spyware checkers or their machine. Otherwise they will slow down to a crawl. Or they have to shell out for someone else to do it for them. No wonder I.T. companies prefer Windows. It keeps them in a job justifying high salaries.
Also, as you can only run OS X on a Mac and Macs are high quality machines with a competitive pricepoint compared to PC's of similar quality then why buy anything else. PC users say it's about choice. Well you can run any software you like for OS X, Vista, XP, Linux etc on a Mac and everything but OS X apps on any other PC As there are a huge selection of extremely high quality OS X only apps out there to use and many at a very reasonable price, I say the choice is in what software you want to use. After all, it's about the software, not what hardware you want. Hardware is not worth diddly squat without good software. If you buy a Mac you can run any Win software you want. As well great Mac apps like Final Cut Pro, Logic, Aperture at the high end and iMovie, Garageband and iPhoto for free.
Why limit your choice with an OS limited box when you can have everything as your choice with a Mac.
Keep in mind that those benchmarks were run without the proper video drivers under Windows Vista, not Mac OS. Expect much better performance for graphics when running the OS that shipped with the MacBook Pro. Also expect better performance under Vista once the proper drivers are installed for the graphics card.
As for the rest, they're Michael's opinions, so he'll have to answer those.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview