Apple MacBook Pro 13—Awesome Display

Oh man, where do I start? Compared to most PC notebooks, especially thin and lights, this display is simply superb. Apple uses a very high quality, high contrast panel in the MacBook Pro, and it’s one of the most noticeable advantages the MPB has over the PC notebook world. It just adds to the high quality feeling that the MBP practically exudes—it’s like Apple thought of everything to make it more enjoyable to use. I really wish other manufacturers would put in the money and effort into speccing their systems with high quality displays.

Laptop LCD Quality - Contrast

Laptop LCD Quality - White

Laptop LCD Quality - Black

The contrast ratio of 516:1 is chart topping, even higher than the excellent RGB-LED backlit screen in the Dell SXPS 16. It’s orders of magnitude better than basically any other thin and light or ultraportable notebook we’ve tested recently. Think about the same maximum white level as the Adamo, but with the black levels of something with half the brightness. I officially love this screen, even with all the super glossy stuff going around. (For the record, I still hate Apple for not offering the MacBook Pro 13” with a matte screen, but they could always make me happy and offer it as an option on the Sandy Bridge variant. I’m not holding my breath, though.)

There are of course other LCDs that can achieve higher contrast ratios, like the RGB LED panels in Dell's Precision M6500, HP's DreamColor offerings (i.e. EliteBook 8740w), and perhaps a few others. We've also seen plenty of decent panels in larger notebooks like the ASUS G73Jh, Clevo X7200, MSI GX640, etc. The problem is, few if any thin and light laptops have decent contrast, and those that do it with a 360nit maximum brightness are even harder to find. Also note that the MBP13 Anand tested under OS X scored even better than the results from this Win7 unit, but that may simply be variation among panels. The difference between 600:1 and 500:1 isn't all that striking; usually you need at least 50% more contrast before it becomes noticeable, and once you reach 1000:1 the only change is typically in fractionally darker blacks.

Laptop LCD Quality - Color Accuracy

Laptop LCD Quality - Color Gamut

Color accuracy is pretty good, as is the color gamut. In fact, the MBP has one of the best color gamuts we’ve seen on a 13” notebook. But here’s the takeaway from all this: the MacBook Pro is one of the only small notebooks with a decent display. I’m not going to say it’s the only one, since I haven’t tested all of them (and the Sony Z still exists), but of all the notebooks we’ve been through, it’s by far the best one. I really wish more PC manufacturers would “get it” and spec their notebooks with higher quality displays, or at least offer a better screen as an option.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Some Quirks as a PC Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Core 2 Duo Performance
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  • IlllI - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    umm.. some many months ago i made a comment in a review here in regards to glossy screens. specifically i suggested possibly using an anti glare filter (here is one for example http://www.photodon.com/c/LCD-Protective-Films.htm... ).

    the reviewer at the time (i forget who) said he'd buy one and then do a review about it later on anandtech.. well that was many, many months ago. maybe even almost a year ago. to this day i keep wondering what ever happened to that review

    i'd still like a review of these things, since i completely detest glossy screens myself.. but seemingly most laptops are going this way. i think only business laptops offer matte options now :(
    Reply
  • appliance5000 - Sunday, October 24, 2010 - link

    Based on the article's title the answer is yes - it's a decent windows machine. If you want to run OSX it's the only option (legal).

    I'd ask a few questions: is bootcamp more efficient than parallels and/or vmfusion?

    RE the old chip: Mac's are optimized for OSX and apps designed for OSX use the GPU via openCl. The new intels do not allow this.

    Mac is stingy with memory - always has been - nothing new.

    Check the resale value on ebay. The value becomes more apparent.

    Apple is not so much interested in pure performance, from ipod to ipad they use readily available components. What they excell at is user interface: they make products that people want to use.

    There are many things to hate about apple but until other software/hardware manufacturers take the user into consideration, apple will do just fine. Borrow a friend's apple product for a few days and use it. 2 things will occur:

    you will be able to use it well in a short time and enjoy the process ,

    and you will hate apple all the more because Jobs is totally annoying while being generally correct. That, my friends, is a toxic cocktail.
    Reply
  • deathdemon89 - Thursday, November 04, 2010 - link

    .. you had compared it to models that were actually in the same category as the MBP 13, like the Vaio Z. It would have been interesting to see how it stacked up to something its own size, but (seemingly?) superior in every other respect - processor, display, keyboard and all. Reply
  • newrigel - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    Why in the hell would you want it to be if you can but a 17 inch PC laptop for $500? Reply
  • ChuckDarwin - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    I think the answer to the question posed by the article's title is, "yes." The current 13" MBP makes a "decent" Windows laptop, in terms of performance, but it certainly can't justify the price for the performance.

    But here's the thing. How many people use a thin-and-light laptop to do heavy video encoding? Practically nobody. And that is where the newer i3-i5-i7 hardware matters. What do people actually use their thin-and-light laptops for? Office, surfing the net, and light gaming. All of which the 13" MPB delivers on Windows just as well as Brand X with a Core i5 and integrated graphic.

    Meanwhile, the MBP really delivers on things you notice in everyday use rather than checking off a features list. Only the Apple has a screen you actually want to look at for hours on end, and only the Apple has a multi-touch trackpad that is effortlessly responsive. Apple's close attention to "user experience," and build quality, are the real reasons why the 13" MBP is still competitive with other manufacturers' machines despite running on 2 yo hardware.

    For the record, I bought my 13" MBP 2 years ago when they debuted, replacing a 12" Sony Vaio. For my money, there was no comparison at the time between the Vaio line and Apples in terms of build quality, and back then the MBP was basically the same price as a similarly-specced Vaio. The MPB looks still delivers, as described above, as a work-oriented travel machine, whereas my 12" Vaio looked like it had been through a war after 2 years--it had a cracked case from a 2' drop, the screen latch wouldn't close properly, the hinge on the screen was a little loose, and the rubber on the keys was becoming discolored. Meanwhile the MPB has survived at least as much abuse and looks like new.

    Admittedly, though, I'd never buy a 13" MBP today until Apple updates to Sandybridge--but then again, I wouldn't buy ANY laptop from any manufacturer today for the same reason.
    Reply
  • dqnet - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    I'm really considering splashing out on the 13" but I've read countless articles and all I hear is the glossy screen is either horrible or awful. I dont want the 15", I need the portability and I dont know what on earth to do!??????????

    The comes the SSD issue, if I want this option I have to wait 6 weeks!
    I can always get this later down the line I guess?? well from what the article suggests??

    Any help (opinions) would be great as right now i'm lost! :(
    Reply
  • asuka10456 - Wednesday, April 06, 2011 - link

    I installed windows 7 on my gf laptop and attempted to play magic workstation. It was unplayable but it played decent on my hp 210 mini netbook. MWS is used to play card games and doesn't really use a lot of resources, I don't understand why it doesn't run Reply

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