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
POST A COMMENT

197 Comments

View All Comments

  • Bewareofthewolves - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    Hello all, I just wanted a bit of advice. I am planning on buying one of the new Macbook Pro's, and wondered which one would best suit my needs. I am mainly making the purchase to use Logic Pro, which i will use extensively, i will also be using the internet regularly, should i go for a high end 13'' or the 15'' model. Advice would be appreciated, thankyou. Reply
  • abhic - Sunday, March 27, 2011 - link

    Hey Guys,
    I had to decide what to upgrade to this year and I kept on going back and forth between the 13" & the 15" MBP. You guys single-handedly made up my mind! Kudos on an insanely well researched post.

    I ended up noting down a few points on how I analyzed the choices as well - http://vritti.net/2011/03/2011-15-macbook-pro-i7-2...

    Keep up the great work.
    Reply
  • Mezoxin - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    Does switching between SNB HD3000 and the discrete graphics work in windows 7 ? Reply
  • tno - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    Nope. As they stated, in Win 7 it's dGPU only. Reply
  • Steve Katz - Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - link

    Anand states that the Thunderbolt port is not even visible under Device Manager.

    Does this mean that the 2011 MBPs cannot use an external monitor under Windows 7? Or did the author mean that the Thunderbolt port is limited to mini-DisplayPort functionality under Windows 7?

    Lack of support for external monitors under Windows 7 would be a deal breaker for me.

    BTW: I had to create a new log on to post this comment. Anyone care to explain why it's "apparently spam?"
    Reply
  • linked.account - Saturday, May 07, 2011 - link

    Well I think the subject of my question was enough to explain my question :D! Reply
  • linked.account - Saturday, May 07, 2011 - link

    And what about Airport Express 802.11n ? Reply
  • JCrichton - Monday, May 09, 2011 - link

    Would you happen to have a comparison or stats for the DGPU difference for the 6490M? Reply
  • cagecurrent - Friday, May 13, 2011 - link

    Got my first Mac ever yesterday: a Macbook Pro 13" with the slower CPU. As I had a X25-M G2 160 GB SSD lying around I had planned from the start to install it. It was super-smooth, and everything works perfect.

    Love Mac/OSX, really sold on it... probably getting a second Mac before the end of the summer.

    Per, Sweden
    @cagecurrent
    Reply
  • angad - Wednesday, June 08, 2011 - link

    I was kind of hoping for a better look at Windows 7 (and specifically gaming) performance on the 15-inch Pro, given that the 13-inch's anemic GPU should have been enough of a 'don't bother'.

    I want a Macbook but I want to game. I'm ok with 4-odd hours of battery life under Windows and I might get used to the funky fn+backspace to delete but I really don't want a rude shock when it comes to gaming.

    Can anybody tell me whether the base 15-inch model will handle games under Win7 without killing itself?
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now