Other Hardware Changes

I was excited when Apple finally introduced an easily accessible drive bay for the MacBook Pro. Apparently that was short lived because it’s no longer there on the new unibody MacBook Pros.


The old removable battery and HDD bay, both gone

While the lack of any screwless removable panels makes the new MacBook Pro even more sturdy than its already herculean predecessor, it does mean that to swap hard drives you need to remove ten screws to get the bottom cover off then another two to get the hard drive out.


The base of the new MacBook Pro...just like the old MacBook Pro


The new MacBook Pro. Remove 10 screws and you can access everything. HDD (lower left), memory (center) and battery (lower right)

The integrated battery is actually very easy to remove, provided you have the right screwdriver. After you remove the bottom cover there are just two screws between you and removing the battery. There’s a big sticker telling you not to and doing so would probably void your warranty, but you can at least get to it if you’d like to. According to Apple, you wouldn’t have to for around 5 years though.


Two of these 5 tipped star screws hold the battery in place

The hardware hasn’t changed much since the Fall 2008 MacBook Pros. Apple ditched the ExpressCard/34 slot and replaced it with a SD card slot. The SD slot is nice but I do most of my shooting with a CF based DSLR, so I still need an external reader for my CF cards.


The old MacBook Pro


The new MacBook Pro, note the SD card slot.

 

All of the CPUs got a speed bump. The Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz used to be in the entry level 15-inch MacBook Pro, now it’s a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo. It’s barely more than a 5% increase in clock speed, so I wouldn’t expect anything more than a couple percentage points of a performance boost in apps. A quick sanity check on performance confirmed that; the new model is in the same league of performance as the old one. If you’d like to see how it stacks up to much older hardware, check out our review of the unibody MacBook Pro from last fall.

Apple did a number on its pricing. The cheapest 15-inch MacBook Pro dropped from $1999 down to $1699, and Apple only sacrificed two things: 1) the ExpressCard slot and 2) the GeForce 9600M.

The missing ExpressCard slot was mostly to make room for the SD card slot, but the 9600M was most definitely a cost saving omission. All of Apple’s unibody MacBook Pros use NVIDIA’s GeForce 9400M chipset; the chipset also has a GeForce 9400M graphics core in it. This was a significant upgrade over the Intel integrated graphics that had previously been used across Apple’s line.

The original unibody MacBook Pro had two GPUs, the 9400M integrated in the chipset and a GeForce 9600M. The latter was a separate GPU linked off of the PCIe bus and designed to be used if/when you needed the horsepower. The 9600M had its own frame buffer (either 256MB or 512MB of memory dedicated to the GPU) and was easily 2x the speed of the integrated 9400M. You could switch between GPUs in software under OS X.

For the most part, the 9600M was useless on the MacBook Pro unless you were gaming under Vista or did any heavy 3D accelerated work under OS X. I’m guessing the majority of MacBook Pro users didn’t do either and thus Apple canned the 9600M in the $1699 MBP. The 9600M is still present in the more expensive 15” models and is standard on the 17” MBP.

  Summer 2009 MacBook Pro 15"

Fall 2008 MacBook Pro 15"

Spring 2008 Penryn MacBook Pro 15" 2007 Merom MacBook Pro 15"
Dimensions H: 0.95"
W: 14.35"
D: 9.82"
H: 0.95"
W: 14.35"
D: 9.82"
H: 1.0"
W: 14.1"
D: 9.6"
H: 1.0"
W: 14.1"
D: 9.6"
Weight 5.5 lbs 5.5 lbs 5.4 lbs 5.4 lbs
Screen Size/Resolution 15.4" / 1440 x 900 (LED backlit) 15.4" / 1440 x 900 (LED backlit) 15.4" / 1440 x 900
(LED backlit)
15.4" / 1440 x 900
(LED backlit)
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz (3MB L2)
2.66GHz (3MB L2)
2.80GHz (6MB L2)
3.06GHz (6MB L2)
45nm Penryn, 1066MHz FSB
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz, 2.53GHz or 2.80GHz (45nm Penryn, 1066MHz FSB) Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz - 2.6GHz (45nm Penryn, 800MHz FSB) Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz - 2.6GHz (65nm Merom, 800MHz FSB)
GPU NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (mGPU) + optional GeForce 9600M GT dGPU (256MB or 512MB GDDR3) NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (mGPU) + GeForce 9600M GT dGPU (256MB or 512MB GDDR3) NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT (256MB - 512MB) NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT (128MB - 256MB)
Memory 4GB DDR3 1066 (up to 8GB supported) 2GB - 4GB DDR3 1066 2GB - 4GB DDR2-667 2GB - 4GB DDR2-667
HDD 250GB - 500GB 2.5" 5400RPM SATA
320/500GB 7200RPM SATA
128/256GB SSD

250GB - 320GB 2.5" 5400RPM SATA
320GB 7200RPM SATA
128GB SSD

200 - 250GB 2.5" 5400RPM SATA
200GB 7200RPM SATA
120 - 250GB 2.5" 5400RPM SATA
200GB 7200RPM SATA
Optical Drive Integrated SuperDrive Integrated SuperDrive Integrated SuperDrive Integrated SuperDrive
Networking 802.11a/b/g/n
10/100/1000 Ethernet
802.11a/b/g/n
10/100/1000 Ethernet
802.11a/b/g/n
10/100/1000 Ethernet
802.11a/b/g/n
10/100/1000 Ethernet
Built in iSight Yes Yes Yes Yes
Inputs 2 x USB 2.0
1 x FireWire 800
1 x SD Card
1 x Audio in
1 x Integrated mic
2 x USB 2.0
1 x FireWire 800
1 x ExpressCard/34
1 x Audio in
1 x Integrated mic
2 x USB 2.0
1 x FireWire 400
1 x FireWire 800
1 x ExpressCard/34
1 x Audio in
1 x Integrated mic
2 x USB 2.0
1 x FireWire 400
1 x FireWire 800
1 x ExpressCard/34
1 x Audio in
1 x Integrated mic
Outputs 1 x Audio
1 x Mini DisplayPort
1 x Audio
1 x Mini DisplayPort
1 x Audio
1 x dual-link DVI
1 x Audio
1 x dual-link DVI
Battery 73WHr 50WHr 60WHr 60WHr
Price $1699 $1999 $1999 $1999
Lithium Polymer: 46% More Capacity, 0% More Weight The Best Battery Life I’ve Ever Seen
POST A COMMENT

113 Comments

View All Comments

  • sxr7171 - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    While OSX may be nice, there are far better machines with better battery life, lighter, thinner, sturdier and much better materials (magnesium alloy, carbon fiber) and a removable battery so you can swap out fully charged batteries for all day computing.

    Apple's laptop hardware is overhyped.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    Words, empty baseless words from another one of a legion of DT wintrolls. No proof, nothing. Keep posting stupidity without any proof, I enjoy that. Or give some model names, specs, something concrete. Nah, you can't, you can only bark. You can't bite ;) Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    It's all there if you want to read it but I suspect you'd rather not as that would hurt too much. However I'm typing this on an old Sony TX1HP/W with a BPL5 and BPS5 battery which is good for aroud 18 hours of battery, before you start whining about performance the AT conclusion makes no such reference. I should also note this machine is smaller and lighter than a Macbook Air, packs in an optical drive and more ports. It was also one of the first laptops with an LED backlit screen long before Apple were making a song and dance about it.

    If you want to see genuine innovation Sony are a good place to start because there's a good chance that in a couple of years time their current features will be a new 'innovation' in an Apple system a few years down the line.
    Reply
  • SansSociety - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    I dunno where you guys get these outrageous 10+ hour battery life figures from. My Thinkpad T60 with the 9 cell (6 months old) gets no where close to 10 hours. I doubt you guys are getting the type of endurance you claim from T43s and the Sony TX's. 18 hours on the TX with extended battery? Come on... Time it.
    Reply
  • physics - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Your results are consistent with what I've been getting on my 2 month old 17" MBP. My machine has the BTO 2.93 Ghz processors & 7200 rpm HD options and reports a projected 10 hour battery life endurance on my light usage off the plug. My current usage pattern is a split dual Unix terminal with iTunes playing songs from my HD and the integrated GPU(NV 9400) active. I believe that this projection is pretty accurate, since after about a couple of hours on the battery I get a projected endurance of about 8 hours. The coffee shop where I use this mode has no outlets for the customers and there are no unlocked WiFi routers within range.

    With Airport on and normal internet access, with streaming internet audio, I would expect to see battery endurance figures down to about 8 or 9 hours. It's refreshing to see a manufacturer publishing honest performance figures on their products, makes me more inclined to believe their advertising claims on future products. I'm salivating for the quad-core 17" MBPs on the 32-nm process next year.
    Reply
  • cvt - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    There is no way apple should be bragging about Li-Pol.
    Its not a good, special, amazing, whatever move, its years late.
    They should be ashamed it has taken so long for them to bother.
    As for other notebook makers....
    I think this is all dismally pathetic, especially that it deserves a story. Li-Pol have been around for years, have proven themselves in harsh conditions, and to be safe for many years. This "custom made" etc... is sickening, trying to make it sound as if they did something special. There marketing should be more along the lines of "sorry it took us so many years to bother trying a different type of battery, but we were scared". At least there'd be some honesty in it then.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    I wish any other WinPC maker got really scared and produced a notebook of the same specs/weight/size with the same stellar battery efficiency as new MBP. Could you scare them for me, cvt? Puhleeaase? With sugar on top! :)) Reply
  • goku - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Great, so Apple boosted their usage times by putting a larger capacity battery via replacing with the easy to replace and cheaper Lion cell batteries with the Lion Polymer batteries which aren't replaceable. This Macbook is nothing special, with my IBM T42 and its 15" screen, 55whr battery and its 9600pro, I got around 7-8 hours doing the exact same thing and with a drive bay add-on battery (23whr) I got 12 hours. So while Apple got 7 hours on 73whr battery, I got 12 hours, mind you the T42 has R9600pro and Intel Pentium M 1.7. Reply
  • chumbud - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Would you people quit comparing portables that are either 1) substantially slower in speed, 2) smaller screen size, 3) smaller amount of RAM, and/or 4) weighs considerably more? Reply
  • goku - Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - link

    Would you people quit comparing portables that are either 1) substantially slower in speed, 2) smaller screen size, 3) smaller amount of RAM, and/or 4) weighs considerably more?

    No. This was a top of the line laptop at the time it was introduced, how is it that we've managed to go backwards in all of the time that has passed? Less you not forget those Apple laptops have WORSE equivalent graphics processors and you see this is something that REALLY isn't special at ALL. Also we're talking about battery life here, that it has such amazing battery life like they broke a record when I've demonstrated that IBM has had laptops that got much better battery life in recent memory.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now