What About The 13?

Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pro received the biggest upgrade of the lot. Last year Apple opted against moving the 13-inch model to Arrandale and instead gave it a beefy GPU and a mildly evolved Core 2 Duo CPU. The presumed public reasoning was Apple didn't like Arrandale's GPU performance and needed a two chip solution to maintain the platform's size hence the NVIDIA GT 330M + Intel Core 2 Duo setup. Internally I'm wondering if there was a small amount of corporate politics being played there. Apple used to get a discount on Intel CPUs in exchange for exclusivity, that agreement expired with Nehalem. When Nehalem hit, Apple had to pay the same price as everyone else for CPUs. Now does the 2010 Core 2 based 13-inch MacBook Pro make more sense? Keeping Intel's flagship CPU out of Apple's highest volume MacBook Pro had to hurt. I wonder if Apple got discounted pricing on Sandy Bridge as a result...

Evolution of the 13-inch MacBook Pro Early 2011 Mid 2010 Late 2009
CPU Intel Core i5 2.3GHz (DC) Intel Core 2 Duo 2.40GHz (DC) Intel Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz (DC)
Memory 4GB DDR3-1333 4GB DDR3-1066 2GB DDR3-1066
HDD 320GB 5400RPM 250GB 5400RPM 160GB 5400RPM
Video Intel HD 3000 (integrated) NVIDIA GeForce 320M (integrated) NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (integrated)
Optical Drive 8X Slot Load DL DVD +/-R 8X Slot Load DL DVD +/-R 8X Slot Load DL DVD +/-R
Screen Resolution 1280 x 800 1280 x 800 1280 x 800
USB 2 2 2
SD Card Reader Yes Yes Yes
FireWire 800 1 1 1
ExpressCard/34 No No No
Battery 63.5Wh 63.5Wh 60Wh
Dimensions (W x D x H) 12.78" x 8.94" x 0.95" 12.78" x 8.94" x 0.95" 12.78" x 8.94" x 0.95"
Weight 4.5 lbs 4.5 lbs 4.5 lbs
Price $1199 $1199 $1199

While the 15-inch MacBook Pro is quad-core only, the new 13 is strictly dual-core. You get two options: a 2.3GHz or 2.7GHz dual-core Core i5 or Core i7. In Intel speak it's the Core i5-2410M or the Core i7-2620M (it's no wonder Apple doesn't list model numbers for these things).


The 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro Motherboard

Apple 13-inch 2011 MacBook Pro CPU Comparison
2.3GHz dual-core 2.7GHz dual-core
Intel Model Core i5-2410M Core i7-2620M
Base Clock Speed 2.3GHz 2.7GHz
Max SC Turbo 2.9GHz 3.4GHz
Max DC Turbo 2.6GHz 3.2GHz
GPU Base Clock Speed 650MHz 650MHz
GPU Max Turbo 1.2GHz 1.3GHz
L3 Cache 3MB 4MB
AES-NI No Yes
VT-x Yes Yes
VT-d No Yes
TDP 35W 35W

The primary differences between these two parts are clock speed, L3 cache size and AES-NI support once again. The 2.3GHz Core i5 lacks AES-NI, has a 3MB L3 cache and can only turbo up to 2.9GHz. The 2.7GHz Core i5 has AES-NI, a 4MB L3 cache and can turbo up as high as 3.4GHz.

I verified turbo frequencies on the 2.7GHz 13-inch. The highest I saw single core turbo hit was 3.4GHz, and dual core turbo was good for 3.2GHz. There's absolutely no funny business going on here, the dual-core 2.7 is allowed to hit its maximum frequencies.

You'll notice that the 2.7GHz DC chip has the same max single core turbo as the 2.3GHz QC chip from the upgraded 15-inch MacBook Pro. In practice this means that for light workloads the upgraded 15 won't feel any faster than the 13 (or that the 13 will feel as fast as the 15 depending on how you look at it). I'm talking about things like web page load times and application launch/install times. There may even be a slight performance advantage for the 13-inch setup as it's able to turbo up to higher frequencies easier than the quad-core 15. Crank up the threads and you've got a different story entirely of course. There's no replacement for more cores on highly threaded workloads.

Turbo and the 15-inch MacBook Pro Mostly No QuickSync
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  • zappb - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Give me a mac book pro with windows 7 as a base install, and id be all over it.

    Mac OS sucks ass, don't know how anyone can make any money using it. Windows or ill stick to lenovo, would rather send my hard earned dollars to apple but as it stands, not a chance.
    Reply
  • bymi - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Hi,

    thanks for the great review of the new MacBooks!
    I googled a lot, but was not able to find a working copy of the MSR Tools used in his article.
    Sorry if this hat been discussed before, but i didn't find anything using the search funtionality here.

    So where can i get these MSR Tools?

    Thank you everybody for a link.

    Best

    bymi
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?showtop...

    Note that it only works with Snow Leopard booted up in to 32bit mode, as the driver needed to read the MSRs is 32bit.
    Reply
  • philipus - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Does anyone know the approximate battery life when using Photoshop (I have CS5) with the dGPU enabled vs disabled?

    What is the approximate performance drop in Photoshop when not using the dGPU?

    These are my main questions before deciding to get the 15" MBP.

    Thanks for any insight.
    /p

    http://philipus.com
    Reply
  • fcarnival - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    Hello Anandtech, thanks for the Apple's revenue breakdown. Could you also post the profit breakdown of Apple's products? I would like to know which device brings the most profit to Apple. Thanks! Reply
  • macfanpro - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    I am very curious about this as well - with the tablet market supposedly tripling this year, I want to know what the ramifications are for earnings.

    Apple has a very nice page with related data (http://www.apple.com/investor/), but alas, I don't think they provide earnings breakdown by product (it's not in their detailed 70+ page annual report)...
    Reply
  • amanrai - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    could you confirm, definitively, whether or not the thunderbolt port will be able to support a discrete pci e based graphics card with or without a HDMI combination?

    thank you for all of your reviews. they are incredibly detailed and very helpful.
    Reply
  • macfanpro - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Thanks so much for such an insightful review! I'm trying to rationalize buying a MBP, and I have two questions:

    Question about power draw) The MBP comes with a 85W adapter, but its maximum power draw is 93.2W. Could this lead to throttling/maximum performance not being achieved even when one is on the adapter?

    Question about turbo boost) Some people have reported the turbo boost (for the i7 MBP 13) not working in Boot Camp. (Link: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/2011/03/10/apple-macb... Do you have any more news on this front?
    Reply
  • anaboo - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Strong article - appreciate the in depth of benchmarks and insight.

    I'm hoping you guys can run the same set of in-depth Windows gaming benchmarks on the 15-inch MBP (particularly for the radeon gfx card). Curious to whether there is sub-optimal performance against a similar set of comparables (2010 MBPs, the Mac versions of these games, etc.).

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • davidglennbailey - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    Best article on the internet on the new Macbook Pros. I'm ordering a 17" Macbook Pro on Friday. Here are my issues.

    1. Just take the cheap SATA hard drive now and upgrade to a fast SSD in the future when the prices fall a little farther? I will probably void a warranty? How difficult is the process to change one of those out and my chances of screwing something up? How do they even connect inside the machine and how reliable is it?

    2. I can understand increased functionality spread out over the life of a product, but even at 3+ years is the .1ghz for 250$ ever worth it? Maybe for the increased cache or any other features?

    3. Upgrading the memory was a breeze last time and shouldn't be an issue. Would there be any point or would it be even possible to go above 1333mhz or 8 gigs?

    Just to add my 2 cents into the debate. I've had this Macbook Pro for about 5 years. I've put it through hell and back. Sometimes, you just wind up getting what you pay for. Great time to buy if you've been waiting for the quad cores for a while.
    Reply

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