General Performance: A Mild Improvement

We know what the GPU upgrade is good for, but what about the mild CPU bump in the 2010 13-inch MacBook Pro?

General OS usage is a difficult thing to quantify, but one measure of performance has always been the number of bounces an icon in the dock makes before an application loads. I decided to take it to the next level and write a quick script to launch 15 applications in a row, timing how long the entire process takes.

I launched, in order: Mail, Safari, Activity Monitor, iTunes, iCal, DVD Player, iPhoto, Photo Booth, Quicktime Player, Disk Utility, Preview, iMovie, Front Row, Garage Band and Aperture.

The entire process stresses both the disk and CPU, which is why we see a huge improvement when going to an SSD as well as differences between CPU speeds.

Application launch performance improves tremendously compared to last year's model thanks to the now standard 4GB of memory. The 2GB last year's model came with just wasn't enough. Now if you upgraded your previous gen 13-inch MBP then you'll hardly notice a performance improvement.

Also pay attention to just how well the Late 2008 MacBook Air does in this test. That's thanks to its SSD. Add an SSD to any of these notebooks and you'll see a similarly awesome increase in performance.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Performance

The Retouch Artists Speed Test we use for our CPU testing under Windows also works under OS X. We're running the exact same benchmark here, basically performing a bunch of image manipulations and filters and timing the entire process.

Start doing real work with the 13-inch MacBook Pro and you'll note that it's significantly slower than the new 15-inch models. The Core i5 just rocks. Compared to last year's model the new MBP is much faster, but again that's due to the 4GB vs. 2GB of DDR3 that comes standard with the machine. An upgraded 2009 13-inch MBP would be basically the same speed.

Aperture 2 RAW Import

For my Aperture test I simply timed how long it took to import 203 12MP RAW images into the library.

Photographers and digital media creation professionals will want to opt for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, the faster CPU is definitely worth it.

Cinebench R10

In situations where we're not memory bound, the improvement over the previous generation 13-inch model is small. The performance improvement here is 6%. I'd say in most apps you'd see a 2 - 4% improvement over the 2.26GHz 13-inch from last year.

Quicktime H.264 Video Encoding

Our final benchmark is more consumer focused. Here I'm taking an XviD and converting it to an iPhone-supported H.264 format.

Encoding performance is improved over last year's 2GB/2.26GHz model, but no where near as much as the Core i5/i7 managed with the 15-inch model. If you're doing anything CPU intensive, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro isn't an upgrade.

Not Arrandale, but Better Graphics Notebook Performance, Netbook Battery Life
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  • Setsunayaki - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    While I am not a fan of Apple by any means in any sector, I like their consistency within battery life. They offer laptops that at least wont discharge rapidly. I don't like the 1280x800 resolution simply because I do more things, and if the resolution was so low...

    then I rather opt for something much cooler...

    Rather than spend money on this and everything needed to get started, I prefer spending that money to build my own desktop PC to have at home and buy a netbook as well. The combination of the two would be far more valuable for the money, considering in my own usage..

    I don't play many 3D games on the road, or do many heavy things on a laptop...unless I am working off-site with a team of course.
    Reply
  • intelpatriot - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Is there that meaningful a difference between a core 2 and an i5 (even an i7), anyway?

    I'm guessing it's going to be nothing like the performance gain stepping up a GPU price bracket/generation.
    Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    The performance gain for stepping up a GPU price bracket and/or generation might be zero if you don't even use Aero and the most difficult graphic activity on your laptop are sliding menus.
    Games are a totally different thing, and some people don't use games (or other applications) that benefit from high performance graphics.
    As for Core2Duo (E6550) versus Core i7 920:
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/47?vs=61
    Over 10% faster in worst case (Fallout 3 1680x1050 medium quality), and triple the speed in a couple of benchmarks (Sorenson Squeeze pro5, Cinebench R10 multithreaded). The E6550 is similar (slightly better) to one of the first "high performance" Core2Duo that appeared, and I think the price at launch was somewhat similar.
    Reply
  • Howierr - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Has anyone tried using a X-25M G2 (80gb or 160gb) in the early 2010 MacBook Pro 13", and installing Windows 7 through Bootcamp? I tried this with 2 different brand new X-25M SSDs, and the MacBook has a hard time detecting the SSD consistently on boot up. When installing Windows 7, sometimes no disks are detected, and it takes many reboots to get the SSD to be detected. But after a successful installation, whenever I reboot the MacBook Pro, there is a very good chance that the question mark icon shows up, meaning that it cannot detect any bootable devices.

    I installed one of the X-25M into a mid-2009 MacBook Pro 13", bootcamp Winodws 7 and it works flawlessly reboot after reboot.

    Could this be an isolated incident, or do all early-2010 MacBook Pro 13s dislike the Intel X-25M G2?
    Reply
  • Zok - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Not quite to your question, but I installed a 160 GB G2 into my 2010 i5 15" MBP and have had no issues whatsoever. There have been reports that the NVIDIA chipset's SATA implementation is somewhat subpar compared to Intel's, as is in the new 2010 15" MBPs. Reply
  • Jamor - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Would it be possible to get WoW results in OSX at similar settings?
    That'd give something to compare Portal/Half Life results to.

    My gut feeling is, the OSX/Win performance difference is more in the drivers and the way OS handles 3D, less in the porting.
    Reply
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    How can a 2 chip platform (core i series) not fit when a 3 chip platform (core 2) already does? Reply
  • BlendMe - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Well the Core i platform in itself is a 2 chip solution, but only if you stick with Intel's graphics. If you want something more powerfull you have to go with a discrete GPU which makes it a 3 chip solution (like on the 2010 15" & 17").

    The C2D platform in the 13" is a 2 chip solution, because you have the CPU and a Nvidia chipset with integrated GPU, which is much more powerfull than Intel's on-chip graphics.

    I am disappointed about the missing Core i in the 13", but then I kinda understand Apple's decision.
    Reply
  • gcor - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Last June I reluctantly bought a 13" MacBook Pro for university as it seemed the only 8+ hr machine with big enough screen and performance to get me through the day.

    Having been a Windows person since 3.11 (I used to be a sys admin & software engineer), I was not looking forward to the learning curve of OS-X and becoming savvy enough to fix problems.

    I got to say though, the laptop has meet all my needs admirably, with a tiny learning curve. Also, maybe I was just unlucky with the ~15 PC's I had beforehand, but the machine seems rock solid stable in comparison. It's definitely saved me a ton of time in terms of; no BSOD's, no driver compatibility issues, no anti-virus machine hogging, no bloatware, no OS patches killing the machine, etc.

    Basically, when I want to use it, I just lift the lid and I'm away. I never turn it off & have re-booted no more than a handful of times in a year.

    About the only trouble I've had is the occasional Office crashes (I wonder if the manufacturer has done this intentionally?)

    Anyway, after a one year experiment, I feel the additional price has been well worth it. It's an absolute work horse that is always ready to let me get the job done. Other than games, there is nothing I miss from Windows that would convince me to swap back.

    To all the die hard Windows folks out there (like I was), if you want a machine to get your job done without needing to mess about with the machine itself, I strongly recommend giving one a go. Keep a PC around for gaming and you'll be fine.
    Reply
  • killerclick - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    I've been trying to convince all my moron friends who can't handle Windows to give Mac a try. "It's so simple, an idiot could use it!" I keep saying but to no avail, most of them insist on struggling with an operating system which is clearly too taxing on their mental abilities. I wish we could simply force all Windows users to use a Mac for a day, that would do the trick! Reply

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