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
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  • Pirks - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    C'mon man, how else winzealots could defend themselves against such a thorough and lubeless pwning by that famous fruity company? They know they lost it in a fair comparison so they try to squeeze in any old and slow Pentium era junk they can found, just to pretend to not losing a face. Hilarious! You guys keep posting here, keep the show running, gimme some atom or another shittyslow Wintel laptop, I love your lame excuses! :))) So much fun today... ahhhh... Reply
  • BushLin - Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - link

    I have no loving affinity to any company... I like to buy good value, high performance parts, hence why I normally overlook Apple.
    If these rather expensive and well marketed machines could get even close to that kind of battery life under Windows I'd be impressed. Right now I just see some tests under a proprietary OS, a bunch of Fanboys with too much time on their hands who should be where they belong, in Starbucks, posing, rather than on a serious tech site.
    Reply
  • Hacp - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Samsung's new drives with the new controlelsr, the same ones that are in the ocz summit and corsair p256 have a built in cleaning function when the drives are in an idle state. This makes worst case scenario performance a non factor in these drives. Reply
  • iwodo - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    If that is true even for the 128Gb SSD that apple offer then it would be a good deal from Apple. Reply
  • misium - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Each time a Li-ion or polymer battery is charged its capacity decreases. Li-polymer batteries deteriorate even when they are not used - just by lying on the shelf.
    This explains why older laptops have lower battery time - their batteries are older.
    You should test the new laptop in a year or two to make a fair comparison.
    Also you could just put fresh batteries into the old laptops.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    All of the laptops here used brand new batteries, with the exception of the 2006 Core Duo based MacBook Pro. I did test the 2006 notebook with a new battery and found an extra ~25 minutes of battery life I believe.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • peroni - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    The new Acer timeline laptops based on Intel CULV processors claim a battery life of 8 hours, and that's when running vista!
    I bet with Win7 they could squeeze an extra hour out of it.
    The processor is only running at 1.4GHz but on the other hand they're very light (for the screen size)
    I'd love to see an Anandtech test on them.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 15, 2009 - link

    Already requested. Can't wait to see how it fares in our tests.... Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    but then again why let niggling little things such as facts get in the way of a nice and tidy Apple marketting piece. What a load of nonsense this is from a supposedly reputable tech site right from the start:

    "Apple did some clever work on its own here."

    Total and utter nonsense, Apple have done no such clever work at all as it's all been done already. Many years ago Ericsson showed how polymer batteries could be used to reduce size in their super slim T28 and Apple are far from the first to do so for laptops. I expect the every day person on the street to get taken in by Apple's marketting but not a site like Anandtech, I'm also surprised that the battery no longer being removeable isn't really criticised as I think that's a really bad loss. Aside from not being able to use a second battery which is very handy for those who want good batterylife and there are single batteries out there that easily exceed these Macbooks but also if you have a failure you can easily swap it out for another.

    "There’s no other way to say this. If you care about battery life and portability at all, buy the new MacBook Pro. Go to the Apple store and buy one. While I only tested the 15” model, I’m guessing the 13” model should leave a similar lasting impression."

    Well I had to laugh at this point although I guess it's expecting too much by now to expect AT to have any clue about other laptops on the market. I'm currently typing this on a Sony laptop I bought back in 2005 which can last around eight hours on its normal battery and on its extended battery which is currently fitted it's around 12-13 hours putting these Macbooks to shame. As the battery is also removeable both together means the machine can last a long, long time away from the mains. Why someone would want a 15.4 inch Macbook (or even 13.3in) for batterylife and portability when there's other machines that are smaller, lighter and better batterylife I've no idea - the article reads as an advert for Apple and reading the conclusion you'd think AT were on a commission from them. It must be annoying for the likes of Sony though and others who bring genuine innovation to the market, get ignored then when Apple release the same technology a few years down the line they then get all the praise for it.
    Reply
  • djuero - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Sure you're able to post links to comparable machines to prove that? Reply

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