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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  • BushLin - Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - link

    Right now, you may not care that your battery isn't removable. After 13 months, when it's failed and Apple want to charge you the price of a netbook to take it in and replace it, you may do. Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    It's been done already long before Apple (as with most of their innovations) plenty of companies have produced laptops with extremely long batterylife but without fixing the battery.

    Apple's solution is nothing clever as all they've done is sacrifice the removeable battery, I just really hope other companies don't do this as well as has been happening in the mp3 player market particularly with Sandisk.
    Reply
  • iwodo - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    From an environmental standpoint, having battery built in means you will have to bring the Notebook back to Apple to buy a new battery. This would means your old battery is properly deposited.

    I am surely there will be third party, or possibly even apple would make an External battery for all Macbook that plugs into the power plug.
    Reply
  • djuero - Saturday, July 04, 2009 - link

    Those products (external batteries) are available from different companies already... Reply
  • sendai - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    Yup, they've been around for ages, though I'd say Apple have energised the market for them:
    http://www.batterygeek.net/SearchResults.asp?Cat=7...">http://www.batterygeek.net/SearchResults.asp?Cat=7...
    http://www.hyperdrive.com/HyperMac-External-MacBoo...">http://www.hyperdrive.com/HyperMac-External-MacBoo...
    http://www.quickertek.com/products/macbook_air_cha...">http://www.quickertek.com/products/macbook_air_cha...
    Reply
  • iwodo - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    Now it has been proven that there are massive amount of external power out there. I wonder why the need for a removable 2nd battery?
    With Internal battery, you get more space, longer battery, and more environmental friendly. Why would you need a 2nd battery when you can do the same with external power?
    Reply
  • PlasmaBomb - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    That is an interesting thought. Wonder how feasible it is... Reply
  • Pandamonium - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    I'm looking at the specs and can't help but think Apple moved the 13" unibody MB into their MBP line and added a price cut to boot. My wife just got a "free" 13" unibody. (Her MB was a legit lemon, and after 5 or 6 Applecare repairs, the store just gave her a replacement) Anyway, the specs of her replacement are in line with what I see here for the MBP version. We don't have the machine with us to compare removable batteries, but we'll definitely do that after our honeymoon. Reply
  • gcor - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    For a truly portable machine for getting stuff done, wouldn't an 11" netbook be a better option than a MacBook?

    Right now I don't think any of the MacBooks stack up as well as machines like the Acer Aspire 11.6".

    11-12 inch netbooks seems to; tick all my must haves (see below), have excellent weight, and great form factor. While I would prefer an OS-X machine, MacBooks that meet my must haves are twice the weight and 4 times the price of a comparable netbook.


    For my needs at university. I've settled on the following requirements:

    Absolute must haves are:

    - Display sufficient to view and skim read multi-column research papers:
    >= 1200x800
    >= 11"
    - Suffient performance to:
    - quickly flick thourgh PDFs and powerpoints
    - create and edit files using MS Office
    - surf the web
    - >= 8 hours battery for the functions above
    - fullsize laptop keyboard
    - OS-X or Windows (no Linux due to MS Office:-( )
    - WiFi, tackpad, >=20Gb free disk, USB, speakers.

    In addition, my nice to haves are:
    - OS-X over Windows
    - Light
    - Thin
    - Low price
    Reply
  • iwodo - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Snow Leopard were suppose to speed things up, May be it will bring some even greater battery life. May be a retest once SL is out?

    I can imagine future Macbook Pro having 12 hours battery life if it has an SSD and OLED display.

    Apple could surely make an interesting Netbook or Cheaper Macbook Air with Dual Core Atom with these Battery inside.
    Reply

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