I'm convinced that there's no perfect mobile form factor. You can make arguments in favor of and against everything from the smartphone and tablet to 17" desktop replacement notebooks. There's simply a time and a place for everything.

Sometimes you don't need to do a lot but want to be able to couch around and browse the web on a tablet. Other times you need to do actual work but don't need a ton of CPU horsepower; that puts you into 13-inch notebook territory.

For even more productive beings there are larger 15 and 16-inch systems. And given how thin the system is, it's also not hard to make an argument for Apple's 17-inch MacBook Pro. You get a desktop-like screen resolution and mainstream desktop performance.

It's like having a set of screwdrivers. You may use some more often than others but having the entire set helps. Unfortunately having a set of notebooks and mobile devices isn't really an option for most. Inevitably you have to choose. And for portability, that choice often leads you to something a bit larger than a netbook for performance, but small enough to comfortably carry around.

For Apple users this portable sweetspot is the 13-inch MacBook Pro.


Apple's 2010 13-inch (left) vs. 15-inch MacBook Pro (right)

I've praised the 2010 15-inch MacBook Pro as being the one to get thanks to its combination of performance and battery life. When Apple made its 2010 upgrade public however, the 13-inch model was somewhat neglected. It got a faster GPU and bigger battery, but only a mild CPU bump. Priced at $1199 you get a 4.5 lbs aluminum unibody chassis, a 13.3" display and a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo CPU. Keeping up with recent tradition, a NVIDIA GeForce 320M chipset is also under the hoo..err, keyboard. While the rest of the MacBook Pro lineup got shiny new Core i5 and i7 processors (dual core + Hyper Threading), the new 13-inch is stuck with an older Core 2 Duo.

On the bright side, Apple finally outfitted the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a sufficient amount of memory: 4GB. It's still spread out over two DIMMs (making upgrading more expensive than it should be), but it's enough to get you going. I'd say that given the usage model for most notebooks, 4GB should be plenty with OS X 10.6.


The 13-inch MBP comes with all the ports the 15-inch model has, minus dedicated line in/out. You get GigE, FireWire 800, mini DisplayPort, 2 x USB 2.0, a SD card readerand a shared line in/out port. Click to Enlarge

Apple's 2009 Lineup 13-inch MacBook Pro (Early 2010) 13-inch MacBook Pro (Late 2009)
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo 2.40GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz
Memory 4GB DDR3-1066 2GB DDR3-1066
HDD 250GB 5400RPM 160GB 5400RPM
Video NVIDIA GeForce 320M (integrated) NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (integrated)
Optical Drive 8X Slot Load DL DVD +/-R 8X Slot Load DL DVD +/-R
Screen Resolution 1280 x 800 1280 x 800
USB 2 2
SD Card Reader Yes Yes
FireWire 800 1 1
ExpressCard/34 No No
Battery 63.5Whr 60Whr
Dimensions (W x D x H) 12.78" x 8.94" x 0.95" 12.78" x 8.94" x 0.95"
Weight 4.5 lbs 4.5 lbs
Price $1199 $1199

Today we're going to find out if the sweetspot got any less sweet as a result of the unusual upgrade. If you're unfamiliar with Apple's unibody MacBook Pro and integrated battery design I'd recommend reading our older articles on the topic.

Not Arrandale, but Better Graphics
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  • cheinonen - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Why do people treat Apple like they're the only person that uses Foxconn? HP, Dell, and others use them as well. I'm not excusing anything at Foxconn, but to single out Apple as only being able to do this because of who they use for manufacturing, when most other top companies use the same vendor, is ridiculous. Reply
  • james.jwb - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    @jabber

    Your comment pretty much applies to 80% of everything you buy, period. You are living in a bubble and possibly even a hypocrite to get on your high horse about this product, or Foxconn so singularly.

    But hey, it is being heavily talked about at the moment and it is in your face, so good for you for having this fleeting feeling of misplaced superiority that will no doubt disappear just as quickly as the misplaced headlines.
    Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    Fully aware that any electronic device has blood sweat and tears on it so I am fortunate enough to purchase it.

    I have been very aware of this for years.

    However, it's been pretty apparent that many havent been aware of this and seem to wish to keep their heads in the sand so they dont have to feel guilty about it.

    "I dont care what goes on as long as I get my new iPhone upgrade gimme gimme!"

    The suicides at Foxconn are not necessarily Foxconn's fault.

    It's OUR fault!

    Our fault for wanting to only pay the minimum for more and more good such as these Macbooks, motherboards, GPUs etc. etc.

    I just hope from events this past few weeks might make a few people think a little bit more before they purchase their next unnecessary electronic gadget.

    Same goes for cheap, shoes, clothes, jewellry etc.
    Reply
  • zorxd - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    95% of mac users don't use their GPU. The Intel GMA HD GPU would have been more than enough for this kind of laptop. The Geforce 320M is too slow for gaming anyways so I don't see the point. Reply
  • jabber - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Noooo, dont be silly. The Geforce 105M in my Dell is more than enough to play a lot of the games I mess around with such as BF2 and Eve online. Eve plays at high settings and gives around 60fps.

    We dont all play Crysis and Call Of Donkey Modern Warfare 4 whatever.
    Reply
  • Ninjahedge - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Maybe more would if it HAD a GPU to begin with.

    If the current Mac users do not buy their machine to game on (or any other GPU intensive task) because there is no good GPU present, what is to say they will not buy and utilize it if it is included?
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    Not true, the OS X desktop has always leaned heavily on the GPU. The other thing is OpenCL which shipped with OS 10.6. Apple has to be prepping some major GPU computing in the next version of OS X, especially since it is a part of 10.6.

    I believe this is the "thing" Anand is waiting for, we'll see. It makes sense why Apple would put such a relatively high baseline on their GPUs, otherwise they'd just go with the Arrandale's anemic graphics and call it a day.
    Reply
  • bang222 - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    They took away support for jumbo frames in the Broadcom ethernet chip.

    :-(

    Big minus if you tune your NAS.
    Reply
  • CharonPDX - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    There's not enough motherboard real estate to include an Arrandale Core i3/i5 CPU plus an NVIDIA discrete GPU like Apple does in the new 15 and 17-inch models.


    Uh, I call bull.

    Apple fit a three-chip solution in the first MacBook Air. Yes, the CPU was on a smaller mount, but it was still a three-chip solution on a microscopic board. If they really wanted to, they could slap a three-chip solution in the 13" MBP.
    Reply
  • solipsism - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    1) The MBA had the CULV C2D and GMA950 or 9400M. That's two!

    2) The MBA is 13" but it also using a SFF chip, has low power and low heat, thereby needs less venting and can use a smaller fan and heatsink.

    3) The MBA has a 1.8" drive, not a 2.5" drive.

    4) The MBA has no optical drive whilst the MB and 13" MBP do.

    — MBA internals: http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/WPhHIikf5jBW...
    — MBA MoBo: http://www.ifixit.com/igi/KJJyYGCKwbfhmAJI

    — 13" MBP internals: http://s2.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/FkpKKrqQlYsg...
    — 13" MBP MoBo: http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/XaPYhlwqukef...

    If you're going to call "bull" then i assume that you have detailed info as to where all this extra room is that a Core-i chip + dGPU + additional fan would go in this system.

    it seems to me that the only way they could add the items you think are so easily included which altering the dimensions of the internal space is to reduce the size of the battery (which is still too lower than most people would like it to be at) or remove the optical drive (which oft goes unused, is slow, mote prone to break due to moving parts, and takes up 25% of the internal space). I'm going with the latter.
    Reply

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