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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  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    I have a brand new Macbook on my desk here at work, as well as newish (Phenom X3) desktop with Windows 7.

    For a while it's been the case that I don't really care which OS I use for random tasks.

    On balance, I prefer windows simply because I can game when I want to.

    I never have the huge number of problems people seem to run into. Infact, I've had to force the Macbook off by holding down the power button more than once, so neither is perfect.
    Reply
  • Ninjahedge - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Been there, done that.

    After my mother had her laptop crash consistantly when using school scheduling and grading software that the schools tech staff could not fix (many lost days in productivity) I have to say Apple is not necessarily always golden.

    Does that mean that PC is better for this? Not necessarily (as I do not have any direct experience with that. Apple has done a good job flooding the Education segment with their products from almost day one. Hell, I still remember "computer" class on an Apple IIe!!!!!)

    The only frustrating thing I find about the Mac is simply, well, simplicity. One person put it on another post it is the difference between "tone" and a 40 band graphic equalizer. Apple has a good amp, and a simple "tone" knob". PC's have that equalizer. Problem with PC's is that 4 BILLION different companies make those equalizers and YMMV (The Yiddish Equalizer puts Bass on the RHS!!! ;) )

    Anyway, that 1 day thing is a crock. I DO AGREE however, that you need to use BOTH for more than a few minutes to get a feel for them, their OS, their available programs and hardware and how they fit your lifestyle.

    If either stank, they would not be around this long.

    Period.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Don't blame you guys for wanting some simple and stable to run on. You have what is essentially given as-is to you. You work within its limitation as well, as with all Apple products. So while this type of "closed" product is good for some it's not so great with others.

    Then you have the Windows OS PC side where you should expect issues. That's because just about everyone has a thing for it. If they screw up the PC screws up. But there's great flexibility there and you do have spend time to find the right products; which in itself is a fun thing for some :)

    So other than bashing one of the other, just enjoy how the PC suits your needs currently. And if you need should change, as it usually does, just pray that whatever product you have will allow it :) This to me the the most crucial.
    Reply
  • gcor - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    That's a rather insulting reply.

    In the past I've been professionally employed as a systems engineer, integrating Windows, unix and mainframe (IBM, Fujitsu, etc) systems. I've architected, designed and developed large scale multi-tier transaction processing systems across all these platforms, including middle ware products.

    From there I moved into the R&D of a 3G mobile network, actively architecting, designing and implementing parts of one of the most successful 3G networks currently being operated.

    If this makes me one of the people you consider a "moron" and that Windows is "clearly too taxing on their mental abilities", then so be it.

    Thank you for your considered and polite input to the debate.
    Reply
  • BlendMe - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Do any of you remember Anand's first Mac article?

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/1500

    Good stuff!
    Reply
  • effortless - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    I do not see how people can even allow themselves to complain. The MacBook Pro 13 features great construction quality (UniBody), has got premium speakers and a premium display, along with the best battery in the business. After all, nearly 10 hours web browsing with that performance behind is an incredible unmatched ratio.

    That it is thin and does not all excessive bulk anywhere (pretty much a flat surface), is to me more important than some ultra-portables weighing a few 100g less. Volume is what matters when you put it into a bag or similar.

    Otherwise everything about it just reeks of quality. I've tried the trackpad and the keyboard, and they both instantly became my favorites among the few notebooks I've tried with chicklet keys.

    Additionally, if you go to college, you can get an iPod Touch, eligible for upgrade to the new iOS4, for free. Considering how the trends state that you get more money in return when selling your Mac, than a PC, I personally consider the price tag a steal.

    I am really not weary to understand the hate against Apple. Sure, they do not support all standards, as they place bets only on the horses they in the future predict will be predominant. An adapter can solve pretty much any video output issue, whereas you have BootCamp in case you need Windows for something. Since let us face it, few among you have heard about people returning from OSX to Windows, as the former is simply superior in terms of user interface. Then what is there left to complain about? That they use dirty tricks in their marketing? I think most businesses do, and Apple has made a clear effort to actually improve their products to become eco-friendly and efficient. So even if their thoughts are somewhere else entirely (money & profit), these changes to apply to changes in reality.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    No complaints from me this time. The review was nicely done with little to no "ohh, woww, OMG" type of personal inputs. That I can live with as I'm actually reading a review rather than having to sort through all the irrelevant, persuasive comments.

    This time, I don't see how some could bash the review hahaha Nice work Anand.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    The PC fanboys seem absolutely threatened by any Mac reviews on this site, its lunacy.

    I myself use and like both Windows PCs and Macs, so whatever
    Reply
  • Exodite - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    It seems clear to me that the new 13" MBP is really the best the new lineup can offer.

    While many of my pet peeves remain, such as the glossy display, poor resolution, lack of good connectivity choices etc. the improved graphics performance, battery and bumped minimum specs actually puts it back in the running as an option for a truly portable computer.

    While the lack of a 'modern' CPU is an issue on paper I have to say nothing about the actual performance seems that bad to me.
    Reply
  • sil0nt - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    I'd like to see an SSD comparison on one of the Mac platforms to understand which drives hold up the best in the non-TRIM aware OX S. There are some benchmarks out there, but none with your rigorous testing methodology.
    Reply

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