The rumor mill ran wild following the highly anticipated Macbook pro refresh. Liquid metal, standard SSDs, higher-res, updated design were among the false reports. What has changed however are the internals. Questions like: is this model worth upgrading to, or should I wait for the new model, will be answered in this article. Let’s start with the changes. drivingschoolintoronto
The model under the microscope is the high-end 15″ model, which contains a 2.2ghz Sandy Bride quad core i7 processor, 4gb ram and a 6750m from AMD. That’s a big upgrade from the previous generation. I’ve also opted for the high-res screen, which is a given in my (mac!)book. *pun intended*
Apart from the high-end 15″ Macbook pro, Apple also offers two 13″ models and a single 17″ machine. Across the board each model enjoys a faster processor, faster ram and thunderbolt.
The latter is very interesting and a first for any laptop on the market! I’m actually not going into too much detail about it but basically it’s Intel’s answer to USB. The connection is capable of transferring video, audio and data, all simultaneously at very high speeds. That means that a DVD movie will transfer to external storage in about 6 seconds once supported hardware comes out.
When deciding between models realize that the 13″ models all share an Intel HD 3000 graphics as sole provider. This is a source of frustration for gamers out there because the chip is pretty weak for modern games. The smaller models also use the gaps between the keys as speaker holes and lack a subwoofer; expect a slightly more tin sound.
The 17″ model has a 1920×1200 display and similar specs to the 15″ Macbook pro. This is both a good and bad thing. The good thing is that you’ll have slightly more screen real estate but gaming on native resolution will definitely struggle.
As noted Apple has retained its famous unibody design for this generation of Macbooks. I don’t consider this a bad thing. Built from a single piece of aluminum, this laptop is very scratch resistant and clean looking. My previous Macbook Pro (same design) definitely withstood the test of time. (not a single scratch!)
In my view this is the best looking laptop apart from the Macbook Air. Its design is very symmetrical. Everything is exactly where you’d expect it to be. Like how the speaker holes match the vertical space used by the keyboard keys. The width of the hinge also perfectly matches the horizontal keyboard space. Using a combination of black and silver, Apple managed to create something very aesthetically pleasing. However I’d have loved to see some Macbook Air elements take over. The battery indicator for one seems unnecessary to me and the DVD super drive is bound to disappear. Guess we can expect those changes in a redesign later on. temp-mail
Still the Macbook Pro 2011 is among the sturdiest and best looking laptops out there, a real winner!
The 15″ model comes standard with a resolution of 1440×900. This can be upgraded to 1680×1050, something everyone should do. Apple uses a high-end TN display, so still no IPS unfortunately.
The viewing angles are decent. It’s possible to read text and distinguish details at any angle. However, inevitably, the screen washes out from the sides, especially grays become yellowish; notice the app store panel lines. I also noticed that the screen has a weak-spot for lower and upper angles. Even at a small degree colors started to fade. This is why we want IPS panels, they’re just noticeably better at this. Still the Macbook Pro has one of the better screens out there. Colors really pop and the pixel density feels just right. People looking for ultra-realistic color reproductions will have to look at production screens, what else is new?
For the first time ever Apple managed to jam a HD facetime camera into the glossy display. This is a logical step in the evolution of video calling between Apple devices. To test this I called my laptop using the iPhone 4 and configured the facetime app.
Calling is easy and direct. Simply click a phone number or e-mail in your contacts and the system will attempt to set up a facetime call. This process can sometimes take a little longer depending on the network, but after the initial process it’s usually a smooth ride. The image is crisp and pleasing; but without being overwhelming. The image is still soft, and comparable to Logitech solutions at best. Still for such a small camera that’s a solid achievement.
Now it’s time to put the internals to the test. This is Apple’s fastest notebook offering so my expectations were sky high. First thing I wanted to have a look at is the battery. Apple advertises 7 hours of battery for every Macbook Pro model it offers. That’s down from 8-10 hours for the previous generation. Most of this is probably due to the faster processor and a new way of testing that supposedly better represents real world results.
I fully charged the laptop and left the settings at default. The brightness sensor was turned on for more realistic results. During the test I used everyday apps like Microsoft words and Safari. To mix things up some light 3D work was thrown into the mix.
6 hours battery recorded
Very decent results. It’s still not at the point of an entire workday but does very well especially considering it has a thirsty quad-core working at all time. Macbook Air is king in the battery department.
This popular mac-benchmarking tool is often used as standard to calculate hardware speed. Unfortunately the free version only runs in 32bit, so the ultimate speed should be a bit faster even. Mind you: the other macs also ran in 32bit mode.
2010 model: 5395
2011 model: 9981
So for the people still in doubt whether this speed bump is considerable; here’s your answer. It’s almost twice as fast!
This free benchmarking tool is a great way to get a clear picture of the machine. Not only does it give a score, it also compares the strength and weaknesses of each mac. To prevent incidental scores, this test was run three times and averaged out the following score.
2010 model: 228 – 218 – 486
2011 model: 387 – 248 – 758
The Macbook Pro outperformed its predecessor easily. The cpu score increase may not look like much, but the i7 was already a screamer and to make a 30 point jump over that is a lot. Also considering that the dual core → i7 gap is equally large.
The time it takes to launch an app is essential for a proper user experience. The Air does really well at this so I used it as the benchmark. The Macbook Pro comes with a new generation of 750gb 5400rpm drives. The extra data density and latest Seagate technologies should give it the edge over previous Pro-models. But how close can it get to its SSD speedy thinner sister?
Both machines woke from a cold boot when they put down these scores. It looks like the Macbook Air is 2-3x faster. Now some smaller applications: