Apple MacBook Pro 13—Introduction

Anand has already given the latest Apple MacBook Pro 13 a comprehensive review, but I wanted to give a different take on it: I wanted to evaluate it as a Windows laptop. Oh yeah. Basically, I wanted to take the vaunted MBP and put it in an apples-to-apples comparison with our favorite thin and lights from the PC world. Now, since Anand has already reviewed it, I’m going to gloss over the hardware—if you want an in-depth analysis of the notebook and its features, I point you towards his review.

Here’s my one major problem with the MacBook Pro 13, at least on paper: it’s still running a Core 2 Duo processor. The C2D P8600 debuted as part of the Penryn-3M lineup on June 13, 2008. They’re selling a notebook with a 2 year-old processor for $1199. And that’s just the low end model; the high-end MBP13 SKU costs $1499. Only Apple can get away with pulling a stunt like that; I don’t think the other manufacturers would even dare to try it. By the time Apple updates the MBP line to Sandy Bridge, the P8600 will be nearly three years old.

But other than that wrinkle, I basically love the MacBook Pro. The industrial design is absolutely peerless (except for maybe the original Dell Adamo). The overall aesthetic just seems so cohesive, so well thought out. There’s nary an extraneous button or design element in sight, giving way to a clean, sleek, and elegant notebook that could only come out of Cupertino. The build quality is excellent, definitely one of the most solid notebooks this side of a ThinkPad. The keyboard is one of the best chiclet keyboards out there, and the glass trackpad with two finger scroll is awesome. None of this is new for the MacBook Pro, but it’s still striking to think that this chassis debuted two years ago and there still isn’t a PC notebook that is designed or built on the same level as this. (Yes, we know about the HP Envy and we're still working to get a review unit, but while similar the Envy line still isn't like a MacBook Pro.)

So what is new then, if the processor is from the Stone Ages and the chassis is basically unchanged from before? A faster IGP, a bigger battery, and 4GB of RAM standard (finally!). Let’s start with the new IGP, NVIDIA’s 320M. As Anand detailed in his review, it’s got 48 CUDA cores versus the 16 CUDA cores in the old 9400M, and as such should offer far better performance. In fact, it outdoes the G 310M by a significant amount, but we’ll get to that later. The battery has now been increased in capacity to a sealed-in, 63.5 Wh lithium polymer unit that claims 10 hours of battery life under OS X. We’ve noted that OS X gets better battery life than Windows, so we expect less out of the MBP as a PC, but it should still be pretty competitive. Just how competitive is what we're here to find out.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Some Quirks as a PC
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  • piroroadkill - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    I have some Pavilion DV6 right here that have only superficial markings for left and right, and infact are capacative to sense the side of the touchpad, and essentially is one button.

    I'm not a fan. I actually LIKE having seperate buttons, because it means I can have a finger on the button and one on the touchpad, to have accurate click timing (it's possible to game on a touchpad, just about, but not on a mac style one button touchpad).
    Reply
  • marraco - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    It's obsolete.

    And it have problems and Gray Screen of Death.
    When you have problems, you are again in DOS age. Macs forces you on command screens, to write cryptic unix commands that never work.
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Leave it to anandtech to try and justify paying $1500 for a $800 notebook. Reply
  • Sufo - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    now, are you saying that just because you disagree with some of the conclusions or because you feel anandtech frequently oversells hardware?

    If the latter, then i'm somewhat suprised - i find anandtech to be one of the most comprehensive and objective reviewsites i've come across (if not the most). If there is some other source that you feel is even more objective and trustworthy, please throw a link this way because i'm actually in need of a few more sites to browse at work.
    Reply
  • fujii13 - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Anyone point out the fact that the audio drivers only allow for 50% volume compared to OS X, and that not all the speakers are powered in Boot Camp? Reply
  • mrsmegz - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    read about 5 comments up, I mentioned the Speaker problem, I was hoping they would address if this was still a problem w/ the crappy bootcamp drivers. Its one of the main reasons I got rid of the macbook. I listen to a lot of music, and wanted to use foobar in windows, but forget it w/ bootcamp. Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    I get the impression from reading this article that the reviewer is feeling conflicted. Apple has obviously created an awesome small laptop that oozes quality and design, but the Core 2 processor makes it impossible to give the machine an overall favorable review.

    I would second this notion, and that's why I bought the 15" model. Hopefully next week, the 13" MacBook Pro will get some core i3/i5 love and discreet graphics.

    Then there will be nothing to prevent the looming Macpocalypse.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Yes, absolutely nothing...

    Except distasteful corporate arrogance and customer-gouging prices. People should vote with their wallets, which is why I'm always disappointed to see Apple products on the street.

    Any company that would actually put "We care about our customers" as a major bulletpoint in a presentation cannot and should not be trusted.
    Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Saturday, October 16, 2010 - link

    Where do you get this Corporate Arrogance thing? I just don't see it! When I look at Apple I see a company that is trying to produce something that is unique and better than the average. Sure they talk the BIG talk about their products, but they are supposed to, they want to sell them, that's Marketing 1.0. Would you buy a computer from a company that thought their products were complete crap?

    Every Apple product has at least a few worthy qualities. The author of this article clearly gets that. I can't say the same thing for many of the PC products I have used over the years.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, October 16, 2010 - link

    iPhone 4, Steve Jobs: "You're holding it wrong!"

    There have been numerous cases of Jobs blaming the users for problems with the product, and the elitist mentality of Jobs often extends to the users. That's not to say Apple can't make good product, but that there are plenty who refuse to buy an Apply product just because of the "culture" that goes with it.
    Reply

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