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  • tipoo - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Its a shame that their base 15 inch, a 2000 dollar laptop, has a 256MB card by default. Even for non-gamers, that's starting to become a bottleneck. Especailly as this "pro" machine will make it into the hands of creative professionals, doing video work, rendering, mudbox, etc.

    Interesting about the performance differences in the HD3000 and 320M under Windows vs OSX.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    p.s whats an SNB GPU? Is that a typo? SB, perhaps? Reply
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    When we say that, we're just referring to the Sandy Bridge (SNB) GPU. Essentially it's shorthand for the Intel HD Graphics 3000.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    The official short form for Sandy Bridge is SNB, not SB. SB is South Bridge. Reply
  • dcollins - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    For some reason Sandy Bridge is alway abbreviated as SNB. It took me a while to figure out. Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    The baseline 15" MBP is $1800, not $2000.

    In any case, it is an unusual update. Usually the performance delta between MBPs hasn't been so extreme. The last generation had a common GPU between all 15" models, the main difference being video RAM. Now they have completely different GPUs, one being REALLY fast and the other not much better than the one that was in the models from last year.
    Reply
  • saleem.kh - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    Dear, please consider approximately 9.5% US Sales Tax on $1,799. Then total price reaches to $2,000 approx Reply
  • PeteH - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    There is no such thing as US Sales Tax, only state and local sales taxes. State rates range from a low of 0% to a high of 8.25% (I don't happen to know the range of local sales taxes). Adding 9.5% to the price of a computer seems completely arbitrary. Reply
  • turtle44 - Thursday, June 02, 2011 - link

    sales tax in NY,NY is 11% don't say what you don't know. Reply
  • sfdiesel - Monday, July 25, 2011 - link

    Sales tax in Portland, OR is 0%. So, adding 9.5% to the price of a computer does seem completely arbitrary.

    Do say what you don't know.
    Reply
  • brettski - Thursday, November 10, 2011 - link

    Total NYC sales tax is 8.875%.
    NY state tax is only 4.5%
    Reply
  • brettski - Thursday, November 10, 2011 - link

    i'm sorry... state is 4%, city is 4.5%, plus Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District surcharge of 0.375%= 8.875% sorry... mixed up the city and state rates. Reply
  • gstrickler - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    What are you talking about? Most of us non-gamers don't even need a dedicated GPU, much less 256MB of graphics memory. I'm currently running on a late 2007, 15" MBP which has an 8600M GPU with 128MB of graphics RAM, and I only use it because there is no IGP on this machine. Once you get to the level of the Nvidia 9400M, IGP is plenty for a non-gamer, and even 32MB allocated to graphics RAM is more than adequate. The exception is if you need OpenCL support, since Intel's IGPs don't support OpenCL.

    I wish Apple offered a 13" MPB with a higher resolution (1440x900) matte display or a 15" with AES-NI and without a dGPU. I could use the faster CPU and HT, but I don't really need quad-core (but it's nice to have it available when on AC power), and battery life is far more important to me than a GPU or maximum CPU speed.

    In fact, what I would really like is a 15" with matte display, no dGPU, Core i7-2720QM (for AES-NI support) with the ability to disable 2 cores/4 threads when on battery power. The 2011 15" lets me get close, if I use gfxcardstatus to disable the dGPU. If I can get software to disable 2 cores when on battery, it'll give me everything I'm asking for, but at a fairly hefty premium ($+150 for the matte display, $+400 for the Core i7-2720QM and Radeon 6750M + 1GB that I'll never use). Of course, what that means is that I'll either get the entry level 15" without AES-NI support and use gfcardstatus to disable the dGPU, or I'll wait for the next update and see if the options are any better.

    Notes to Apple:
    1. Make a matte screen an option on all machines, for no more than a $50 premium (no forced upgrade to a higher resolution)
    2. Offer a 15" without a dGPU (e.g. make the dGPU a separate plug-in module)
    3. Offer a 1440x900 screen for the 13" MPB.

    I doubt I'll see any of those, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    "Most of us non-gamers don't even need a dedicated GPU"

    Most people don't need a truck, that doesn't mean no one does. This is branded as a pro machine, and at nearly 2 grand the GPU doesn't fit the bill.
    Reply
  • alent1234 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    MAcbooks are thin, long battery life, nice screen and good build quality first. specs second. until sandy bridge came out laptops with long battery life cost just as much as a macbook or more.

    a lot of the people that buy these are mobile pro's who need to use a laptop for hours while away from a power source
    Reply
  • sync216 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    256MB is fine for the 64xxM series GPUs. The performance improvement going to GDDR5 and a faster GPU is much higher than the improvement from 256 to 512 would have given. For customers who really need the additional graphics performance (and corresponding graphics memory) apple is offering the very fast 6750M with 1GB. Reply
  • Demon-Xanth - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    ...Apple is more like Sony than Acer? Their core buisness is no longer computers, but gadgets. Reply
  • michael2k - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Um, this was evident in 2001 when the Titanium PowerBook was first unveiled, then the iPod later that year, then the music store in 2004, etc.

    Also, you have it backwards, their core business is computers, they just happen to know how to turn computers into gadgets. They treat the iPod like a computer (firmware updates on a regular basis), which means they aren't disposable. Contrast that to the average phone OEM with Android who won't see updates for longer than 6 months, where Apple pushes updates to their iPhone for over 29 months.
    Reply
  • jameskatt - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    Nearly all of Apple's products are computers:

    Mac Pro = desktop expandable computer running OS X
    iMac = all-in-one desktop computer running OS X
    Mac Mini = non-expandable desktop computer running OS X
    MacBook Pro = high end laptop computer running OS X
    MacBook Air = high end netbook computer running OS X
    MacBook = basic laptop computer running OS X
    iPad = tablet computer running OS X
    iPhone = handheld tablet computer with phone running OS X
    iPod Touch = handheld tablet computer running OS X
    AppleTV = multimedia appliance computer running OS X

    OS X has two variations - Mac OS X and iOS. The core operating system is the same for both.

    Apps for both are written using Apple's XCode Development System.
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I'm surprised SSD isn't standard to begin with. $1199 for a 13" laptop and you don't even get dedicated graphics? Seriously? The HDDs aren't even 7200rpm. This is insulting to the nth degree.

    If you want a solidly built, well-spec'd, thin and fairly priced system, get the Envy 14. You get 7200rpm HDD, dedicated graphics, an HD webcam with TWO microphones (necessary for sound cancelling), a backlit keyboard and even Photoshop and Premiere.

    Until Apple drops their prices to a realistic and reasonable level, avoid it completely.
    Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Apple doesn't do something unless they can do it 100%.

    They won't default to SSDs until they are on the logic board like the MBA. We'll probably see the disk drive go at the same time.

    Maybe Apple will continue to use hard drives for storage? That might be the reason we are still seeing 5400rpm drives. Apple doesn't want to upgrade everyone to 7200rpm drives only to have 5400rpm drives the next year, even only for storage.

    But who knows?
    Reply
  • Tros - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I imagine they'd go for the MBA-SSD and the larger platter-based storage, and just partition. But to do that smoothly, they need a better partitioning system (to keep it user friendly); ZFS. Reply
  • Nentor - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Apple doesn't do something unless they can do it grand (or make it seem grand).

    Why put in SSD standard if they are still a luxury? As long as the average pc user is not fully aware of what SSD are and what are the great benefits you can still demand premium for them as an upgrade for people that do want one.

    Just watch, when SSD are becoming the standard Apple will put put them in and market the hell out of it and make it fit the whole Apple image.
    Reply
  • dsumanik - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Dude, if your hdd is integrated into your mobo... Not only do have the disadvantage of not being able to upgrade to faster/larger capacity drives...

    If the disk fails you need to replace the whole board - $$$
    If something on the board fails, you lose all your data - facepalm
    Apple dictates the price of of the hdd, even when it's a yer old - $$$

    A simple, 2 screw user replaceable hdd is the elegant solution and always will be.

    Wake up peeps...

    They aren't supporting other drives because they want to sell you outdated technology at a higher price.... End of story.
    Reply
  • JasperJanssen - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Dude, do you even have a vague clue what you are talking about?

    The MBA doesn't have an SSD soldered onto the mainboard, it has it on a standardised daughter card. And by standardised I don't mean standardised by Apple, although to be fair Apple is the main supplier of machines using it at the moment. It's a card not unlike minipci(e), and entirely swappable from one machine to a replacement. Also, Apple isn't the only one supplying these drives.

    It's entirely possible that other thing&light manufacturers will start using them, as it's a very useful form factor.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    There is no dedicated GPU in the 13" MBP because there isn't room for it. Look at other notebooks in the same size and price class such as the Lenovo x220. Same situation, integrated GPU only. An dedicated GPU means bigger motherboard, which defeats the purpose of notebooks that are so small. Reply
  • Wieland - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Sandy Bridge laptops haven't been on the market very long. It's way too early to make a conclusion about what is and isn't possible in terms of size. That said, the Sony Vaio S is basically the exact same size, lower weight, lower price, and offers almost as much battery life, and it is configurable with two different versions of AMD Radeon Graphics (6470M, 6630M). The new Vaio Z will probably be even more impressive in this regard. Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    The 13" MacBook Pro is a constant 0.95" thickness. The Vaio S ranges from 1.08" - 1.24" thick, a 14% to 31% difference. So the 13" MacBook Pro has significantly decreased internal volume which will definitely constrain how you lay out internal components and the thermal room on the machine impacting whether it's worthwhile to put in a discrete GPU. Reply
  • claytontullos - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Have you dealt with HP's tech support? It's like pulling teeth to get anything done.

    My ram in my Dv4 was bad, it would randomly cause windows to crash both in Vista and Windows 7. My ram failed memtest86 with over 4 million errors after a few minutes of testing... however my ram would pass HP's 5 second ram test with flying colors.

    HP's support first insisted I revert my laptop back to Vista and in any event would not service my laptop because the ram passed their "test."

    I will never buy another HP product.
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I won't judge a race based on the actions of few. At the same time, I won't judge a company just because one of their products didn't work that well for me. That's like saying I bought a 4 pack of Duracells and one of the batteries weren't working so now I buy Energizer.

    And to be fair, it isn't like HP made the RAM. If you were getting random crashes, you obviously didn't do anything and are clearly under warranty. Simply say "I turned it on and it keeps crashing" and they'll say "Okay here send it back" and 9/10 they will pay for shipping (depending on where you got it from).

    Now I'm not an HP fanboy (far from it, I own a Lenovo), but prior to that I owned a zd8000 for about 5 years with no problems. Does that mean that HP is utterly flawless and no one makes a product like them? No. But I know quality when I see one and I stand by what I said: The Envy 14 is probably one of the best laptops you can get. Hell, it's only $999 and it blows the MBP out of the park.
    Reply
  • claytontullos - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    The laptop was not constantly crashing, maybe 1-2 times per week. Had I sent it in to them nothing would have happened because they would have run their own woefully inadequate ram test. I replaced the ram and have not had any crashes since.

    HP also insisted that I reinstall vista when my led screen turned solid blue at a certain angle.
    Reply
  • alent1234 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    i've been dealing with computers long enough to remember lifetime warranties being standard and dell sending replacement parts with no questions asked.

    around 2000 is when it changed and i've had to lie to tech support even when i called for large customers with tens of thousands of dell computers bought.

    my own personal experience with HP tech support for a work laptop vowed me to never buy a HP laptop again unless it's from costco or dirt cheap to where i can buy one every year and junk it without thinking twice.

    same with dell. 7 years ago i bought a $1500 laptop with the 3 year warranty. 2 years into it i find out the battery is not covered. Unlike with Apple where the entire laptop is covered and going to the genius bar doesn't mean being on hold for hours and needing a translator to talk to someone
    Reply
  • erple2 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Huh. I've never had a problem with HP service before. I've had HP laptops ranging from the 2800T to an Elitebook 6930p to an Envy 15. In each case, there was an issue that had to be resolved, and I received prompt, accurate service, including a box they sent to me to ship the device back to them. Yes, they didn't cross ship a laptop, but that's not practical.

    My experience with Apple's Genius Bar, however, hasn't been so rosy. Personally, I'd rather wait on hold in my house for 2 hours than wait around at a Genius Bar for 2 hours for someone to actually help you. Granted, it was crowded, but it's irrelevant to this discussion.
    Reply
  • claytontullos - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    When the problem and solution is crystal clear to even the most ignorant person then HP's service is fantastic: ie: Won't Power On, Disc wont eject, Nothing on screen.

    However with intermittent issues HP's support is horrible. Even speaking with a supervisor nets little reprieve from ignorance.
    Reply
  • argosreality - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    The Envy line comes with its own dedicated support group that is not the usual, outsourced to India group. Quite a bit better. Also, strangely I have seen memory pass the Pc-doctor tests (usually what HP uses outside of the BIOS runs) but fail memtest. Not sure why, could just be different test algorithems Reply
  • starfalcon - Sunday, May 15, 2011 - link

    What kind of 13 inch laptops have discrete graphics anyway?
    Except maybe that smaller Alienware.
    Reply
  • Taft12 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    <i>My preference would be two cables: one for power and one for peripherals/display. Today, it's five.</i>

    What you've just said is that Macbooks need a Dell Latitude-style docking station option in the worst possible way. Your preference is 2 cables. Mine is zero. Just snap in. (I've had this for over a decade now)

    If Apple is serious about phasing out desktops as you suspect, that'll be something that needs to come first.
    Reply
  • secretmanofagent - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I've always been hesitant of docking stations. I've had a Dell that for the most part would undock somewhat correctly, and currently have an HP work computer that refuses to undock at all. For me, the convenience has always been hampered by the usability. Reply
  • gstrickler - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Actually, with MagSafe power and Thunderbolt, that's essentially possible. A dock that includes a connection to both ports could offer Mini-DisplayPort, DVI, VGA, USB, Ethernet, FireWire, eSATA, and Thunderbolt connections, and optionally, even a PCI slot or two. With 4x PCIe compatibility and 20Gb/s bidirectional throughput, a Thunderbolt port has plenty of bandwidth for that. Of course, Apple is currently the only company who could offer it with the MagSafe connection, but a third party could at least reduce it to 2 quick connections. Reply
  • erple2 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Huh. My windows laptop has only 1 connection that handles mouse, keyboard, monitor, power, ethernet and external storage. 'Course that's the beauty and convenience of a (working) docking station, something that I never really thought was worthwhile until I actually got one.

    I'm bummed that consumer products don't come with one.
    Reply
  • robco - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I made the mistake of buying a 15" MBP eighteen months ago and am stuck with a machine that has mediocre graphics and overheats constantly. Don't buy the MBP if you actually use it on your lap. That being said, the only reason I bought it over the MacBook was the dedicated graphics. With the awful performance of the Intel integrated chip, I hope Apple releases a 15" MacBook with the option of dedicated graphics for consumers. I'm not shelling out $2199 just to get something with a decent video card. I wouldn't recommend the 13" at all, as there are several alternatives in the 13-14" range that offer dedicated cards.

    I fell victim to the hype and now I have a fairly recent machine that can barely handle SC2 and an iPhone that can't make phone calls. Don't make the same mistake. Most of the tasks you can do on a Mac you can do on a Windows PC. Unless you are actually a pro and need a pro-grade machine, don't waste your money. For those who can justify the expense, they are nice machines, but if you actually put them to work, be ready to set them on a cool surface or get a cooling pad. They run awfully hot.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    My MBP from last year plays SC2 perfectly, above 60fps most of the time which is great. Same with Source games. People on Youtube have already uploaded video playing the Crysis 2 demo on the new MBPs and it looks great.

    Your machine is almost two years old. Be logical when complaining about performance. Just because your machine is slow doesn't mean that the new ones aren't screaming fast: http://www.pcmag.com/image_popup/0,1740,iid=287468...

    The 13" MBP is also decent with the SB IGP. I've seen clips on YT of people playing games even on the slower Macbook Air and it looks good. IGPs have come a long way from where they were in 2009.
    Reply
  • robco - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I'm a little miffed that a machine that was so expensive has become outdated rather quickly. I paid a lot just to get dedicated graphics. I could have and should have paid less to get a Windows notebook. I won't make the same mistake again. If you're a consumer and don't need a pro-grade machine but still want good graphics, the MBP is a poor value.

    The MBA actually handles games better than the new 13" MBP because it still uses the C2D and the NV integrated chipset. Once it switches to Sandy Bridge, performance will drop as it has with the MBP. The only area the MBA is slower than the MBP is raw processing power, graphics and disk access are much faster.

    With Apple you can get a notebook that performs well, you just have to shell out $2199 to get it. I did that once, I won't do it again. it just isn't worth it unless you're a pro user who will recoup that cost in a short time. For consumers, it's a waste of money.
    Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    If you only needed the graphics muscle, you should've gotten a Windows laptop.

    Macbooks are for more mobile-minded users. They are thin, strong and have excellent battery life.

    If you just need a solid mobile workstation that isn't going to be moved a lot, Windows laptops are a much better value.
    Reply
  • SimKill - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    ODM manufacturers like Clevo and Compal fit your bill perfectly. I got my system in 2009 August and even today I can play most of the games (ofcourse except godforsaken Crysis) at high settings at 1680x1050 (yep, 16:10) It cost me around $1400 but I'm very happy about it so far. Reply
  • SimKill - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Dam, they don't have an edit button. The hardware internals are pretty good with copper heatsinks and heatpipes and what not too... Reply
  • erple2 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Hrm. Mac's are more of a semi-pro-grade machine. They still lack some of the important pro-grade features of an actual pro-grade machine. Like a Docking Station. Or a spill-resistant keyboard. Or a thumbprint reader. Or a smart card slot. Or a high-gamut monitor.

    While they are well constructed, they still don't have some of the critical features required for a good business laptop - they lack the all important OpenGL performance GPUs for wireframe models (among other things). See some of the high end Elitebooks or Thinkpads (which also cost a bit more than these MacBook Pros).
    Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Ah, I just had a dumb, nevermind me. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4205/the-macbook-pro...

    "This is a weird one, since the same GPU gave us significantly better performance in the SNB test system."

    Oh gee, I wonder why. The SNB test system used quad core and the Core i5 2410M is a dual core. Quad vs. Dual does have some impact.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    It does have some impact, but not in this case. The HD 3000 is actually GPU bound in those tests - not to mention that most games aren't quite so well threaded that 2 v 4 cores should matter.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    You don't know that, testing multiple systems over the years should have shown performance differences between manufacturers with identical hardware is minimal(<5%). Meaning its not Apple's fault. GPU bound doesn't mean rest of the systems woud have zero effect.

    It's not like the 2820QM is 50% faster, its 20-30% faster. The total of which could have been derived from:

    1. Quad core vs. Dual core
    2. HD3000 in the 2820QM has max clock of 1.3GHz, vs. 1.2GHz in the 2410M
    3. Clock speed of the 2820QM is quite higher in gaming scenarios
    4. LLC is shared between CPU and Graphics. 2410M has less than half the LLC of 2820QM
    5. Even at 20 fps, CPU has some impact, we're not talking 3-5 fps here

    It's quite reasonable to assume, in 3DMark03 and 05, which are explicitely single threaded, benefits from everything except #1, and frames should be high enough for CPU to affect it. Games with bigger gaps, quad core would explain to the difference, even as little as 5%.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I should have another dual-core SNB setup shortly, with HD 3000, so we'll be able to see how that does.

    Anyway, we're not really focusing on 3DMarks, because they're not games. Looking just at the games, there's a larger than expected gap in the performance. Remember: we've been largely GPU limited with something like the GeForce G 310M using Core i3-330UM ULV vs. Core i3-370. That's a doubling of clock speed on the CPU, and the result was: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/236?vs=244 That's a 2 to 14% difference, with the exception of the heavily CPU dependent StarCraft II (which is 155% faster with the U35Jc).

    Or if you want a significantly faster GPU comparison (i.e. so the onus is on the CPU), look at the Alienware M11x R2 vs. the ASUS N82JV: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/246?vs=257 Again, much faster GPU than the HD 3000 and we're only seeing 10 to 25% difference in performance for low detail gaming. At medium detail, the difference between the two platforms drops to just 0 to 15% (but it grows to 28% in BFBC2 for some reason).

    Compare that spread to the 15 to 33% difference between the i5-2415M and the i7-2820QM at low detail, and perhaps even more telling is the difference remains large at medium settings (16.7 to 44% for the i7-2820QM, except SC2 turns the tables and leads by 37%). The theoretical clock speed difference on the IGP is only 8.3%, and we're seeing two to four times that much -- the average is around 22% faster, give or take. StarCraft II is a prime example of the funkiness we're talking about: the 2820QM is 31% faster at low, but the 2415M is 37% faster at medium? That's not right....

    Whatever is going on, I can say this much: it's not just about the CPU performance potential. I'll wager than when I test the dual-core SNB Windows notebook (an ASUS model) that scores in gaming will be a lot closer than what the MBP13 managed. We'll see....
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    I forgot one more thing. The quad core Sandy Bridge mobile chips support DDR3-1600 and dual core ones only up to DDR3-1333. Reply
  • mczak - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    memory bus width of HD6490M and H6750M is listed as 128bit/256bit. That's quite wrong, should be 64bit/128bit.

    btw I'm wondering what's the impact on battery life for the HD6490M? It isn't THAT much faster than the HD3000, so I'm wondering if at least the power consumption isn't that much higher neither...
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the correction :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • gstrickler - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Anand, I would like to see heat and maximum power consumption of the 15" with the dGPU disabled using gfxCardStatus. For those of us who aren't gamers and don't need OpenCL, the dGPU is basically just a waste of power (and therefore, battery life) and a waste of money. Those should be fairly quick tests. Reply
  • Nickel020 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    The 2010 Macbooks with the Nvidia GPUs and Optimus switch to the iGPU again even if you don't close the application, right? Is this a general ATI issue that's also like this on Windows notebooks or is it only like this on OS X? This seems like quite an unnecessary hassle, actually having to manage it yourself. Not as bad as having to log off like on my late 2008 Macbook Pro, but still inconvenient. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Huh? You don't have to manage it yourself. Reply
  • Nickel020 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Well if you don't want to use the dGPU when it's not necessary you kind of have to manage it yourself. If I don't want to have the dGPU power up while web browsing and make the Macbook hotter I have to manually switch to the iGPU with gfxCardStatus. I mean I can leave it set to iGPU, but then I will still manually have to switch to the dGPU when I need the dGPU. So I will have to manage it manually.

    I would really have liked to see more of a comparison with how the GPU switching works in the 2010 Macbook Pros. I mean I can look it up, but I can find most of the info in the review somewhere else too; the point of the review is kind of to have it all the info in one place, and not having to look stuff up.
    Reply
  • tajmahal42 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I think switching behaviour should be exactly the same for the 2010 and 2011 MacBook Pros, as the switching is done by the Mac OS, not by the Hardware.

    Apparently, Chrome doesn't properly close done Flash when it doesn't need it anymore or something, so the OS thinks it should still be using the dGPU.
    Reply
  • Pandamonium - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I own a 15" 2010 MBP and like the author(s) of "The Big Picture" section, I like using separate peripherals at home. I don't want to come off like I'm giving a sales pitch, but after a long wait, I bought a Henge Dock for my MBP. It's a $70 plastic mold whose only purpose is to hold your cables in place so you can easily/quickly "dock" a MBP.

    For security concerns, I made an encrypted volume with OS X's disk utility and keep my frequently accessed sensitive stuff there. Everything else sits on my NAS.

    I control heat and noise with SMC Fan Control. I've got a profile to keep "docked" fan speeds just a notch faster than default (the fan speed ramping up and down irritates me more than the absolute noise of the fan), and another profile for "lap use" to keep the machine at a comfortable temperature.

    I too think that Thunderbolt is a big step towards an Apple docking station, but for now, the Hengedock, a NAS, and SMC Fan Control give me a solution that while not as elegant, is 95% of the way there.
    Reply
  • Pandamonium - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I should add that I use a Synology DS 209. If I could do it all over again, I'd go with QNAP. See my comments on Ganesh's Synology review for my reasoning. Cliffnotes are that I believe that regular SMART tests (to detect bit rot) should be part of a NAS's software stack and Synology's PR begs to differ. I'd love for Anand to offer clear advice one way or the other. Reply
  • dagamer34 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Does high amounts of heat ever mess up the screen or affect the dissipation of heat? I'd get worried if I were running a render or playing a game that caused my MBP to hit higher than the 80C it does now and the laptop just shuts itself down because it's too hot. Reply
  • dagamer34 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Based on this review and using a 17" MacBook Pro (2011), here's my advice:

    13" MacBook Pro - the changes from the 2010->2011 are good if you do CPU tasks, but mediocre to lame for GPU tasks. If you want to game, I'd wait until Ivy Bridge with a better GPU. Hopefully, we'll also see something more radical with ditching the optical drive allowing for a larger battery and dedicated GPU, but we'll see how that turns out.

    Base 15" MacBook Pro - very good if you have CPU driven tasks, and what I'd recommend for most people. The only offsetting thing I see is that the next step up has a CPU, GPU, and VRAM bump, which may be very enticing for gamers.

    High-end 15" MacBook Pro - for gamers, with the most optimal CPU, GPU, and VRAM configuration there is while still being very portable.

    17" MacBook Pro - you love high-resolution screens for your work but still need to be portable. Very ideal because of the ability to have a full 1080p picture on the screen untouched for editing websites and such. Also good for photoshop. Likely for people that feel having an additional monitor is too much work, or their second monitor should be comparable in screen resolution to their main one.

    I do hope the 2012 MacBook Pros cut away a lot of the fat: optical drive, FireWire port, USB port, ExpressCard slot and just have most of that functionality replicated with ThunderBolt. I feel like they could have gotten away with it this time, but there were no peripheral style docks ready, which is rather disappointing.
    Reply
  • Ushio01 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Optical drives are still essential for those of us in the majority of the world who's internet is useless not to mention you never know if throttling or low data caps will be introduced in area's with currently good internet access subsequently making the loss of an optical drive a drawback.

    Also interesting phrase cutting the fat or in other word's continue paying for a premium product but get even less for your money, yay.
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    That's what the $79 External SuperDrive is for. Reply
  • Ushio01 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Yay pay $1200+ for a laptop then pay $80 for the ability to use anything on it. Reply
  • khimera2000 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Its apple your paying out of the @$$ any how. If you where going for a budget, or "price VS performance" you would not be considering an apple. I think people looking at these will have 80 bucks to spare... at least be able to scrounge up 80 bucks when the need arives. Reply
  • mianmian - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Yeh. Apple should have the upgrade option to replace optic drive to
    1. a 2.5" drive slot
    2. an extened battery.
    Reply
  • gstrickler - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I doubt you'll see either from Apple, however:

    For #1, an OptiBay from MCE (MCEtech.com), or a DataDoubler from OWC (macsales.com). The MCE offers an external USB case for the removed SuperDrive so you still have the use of the SuperDrive, and it's USB powered so it's still portable.

    For #2, HyperMac (hypershop.com) sells external portable batteries for the MB/MBP.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    So I roll with my optical drive replaced with a Vertex 2 SSD inside an OptiBay daily. It's an awesome combination if you can do it.

    One problem I noticed however is that Apple's EFI won't boot optical drives other than their own $79 external drive. That means if you want to use boot camp, you have to install Windows with the optical drive (internal SATA) connected, then do the swap to OptiBay SSD + HDD.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • AmdInside - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I'm just not that interested in this years lineup. The better CPU performance is nice but given how much more features Windows notebooks provide today, I feel I can rely on Windows notebooks as a desktop replacement much more than I can a Macbook Pro. I will still use my MBP 13 2010 for home use but for business, I rely on my Windows laptop. Reply
  • Braddik - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Amazing article! I love how thorough and detailed you are. Mad props! I work in a medium-large size organization and the Dell vs. Apple debate is hot right now. Our Mac user base is growing, but the majority of the organization is Dell. I would love an article that compares the performance/value/support of MacBook Pros vs. Dell Latitudes in the Enterprise environment. Which is better? Can/should organizations feasible make the move to a full Mac environment? I would love your input! Thanks! Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the kind words. I'm not sure I can offer much advice in terms of how the MBPs fare in an enterprise environment. While I know of many corporations that now issue OS X systems as an option, those systems typically have some form of Windows on them (either via Boot Camp or as a VM).

    Perhaps someone else may be able to offer more input?

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Chloiber - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I still think it's too early to completely throw away desktops.
    With my T410, I also made the change to use it as my main "working" computer. At home, I can dock it and use my big, comfortable screen. It's very fast in "normal" usage like simple programming, texting, surfing, some "medium" load graphical stuff, some MATLAB etc. etc. - it's just perfect.

    But as soon as I want to do really heavy stuff like hours of video encoding, I still switch to my desktop with 4 or more cores and a fast dedicated GPU. It's just not the same and I really don't like to stress my laptop that much (allthough it is a Thinkpad). I don't know - I'm even less comfortable with a quad in my notebook. I don't know, but it's just not the same as a Desktop for really heavy stuff.

    I do like the new MacBooks - I don't like the resolution of the 13" model though...it's awful...
    Reply
  • Ushio01 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    While i expect a Mac Pro refresh late 2011 early 2012 I wonder if it could be the last. With the discontinuation of xserve and as this review demonstrates a mobile CPU matching less than year old server level parts in performance and thunderbolt allowing highspeed access to a NAS box I can see Apple discontinuing there last product targeting solely the professional market and truly becoming a CE company. Reply
  • rural_oregon - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Yes, I have to agree with you. With macs only 20% of Apple's total revenue, and the mac pro only perhaps 5% of the mac revenue, at some point soon it just won't be worth the effort. I think it's even possible that there may not even be a sandy bridge mac pro. Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    It certainly seems like a possibility. Apples focus really has shifted to mobile devices, and its Mac revenues are only about a fifth of what the company makes. I can't imagine the Pro is any substantial percentage of their revenue, 1-5% perhaps. Might not be worth the effort for them. On the other hand, it would irk mac developers and creative pro's. Reply
  • wast3gat3 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Just a short thanks for such an in-depth review.
    I have a mid-2010 15" MBP and am upgrading this week to the 2011 15" MBP as the performance gain is just too good to pass up. Interesting though that Apple locks the TRIM support in to their own SSD. I'm still going with the 7200rpm 500GB option and will move that disk to an opti-bay and the 3GB controller now knowing that they are using B3 stepping and fit a 6gb sata SSD. Hopefully LION will fix that TRIM support or some clever cookie works out how to enable it.
    Once again thanks!
    Reply
  • Kuril - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I always wait for AnandTech reviews because they are almost aways the most comprehensive. I love how the technology behind the reviewed product is summarized, and that there is some footwork to better describe the exact hardware being used (e.g., CPUs for MacBook Pros).

    Thanks for the informative reviews. No one comes close.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Thank you for reading them, comments like this really do make it all worthwhile :)

    You wouldn't believe how much time was spent making sure Apple wasn't doing something funny with the max turbo frequencies. At the end of the day it was a non-issue, but we had to be sure.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Just to add some technical background to this, it's actually quite complex to get a CPU speed reading on modern CPUs. Mac OS X's Sysctl reports the base speed of the processor, regardless whether Turbo Mode is active or not. So on the 15" low-end QC model you will always see 2.3GHz.

    To actually read the instantaneous speed of any given core, you need to peek at the CPU itself and count the cycles - Intel actually has a handy document detailing an algorithm to do this(1). The issue with that is that it requires peeking at the Model-Specific Registers (MSRs), which require Ring 0 access; or in other words you need a broker at the driver level to do it.

    Linux already does this (/proc/cpu/0/msr), and on Windows it's fairly trivial to load a driver alongside an Admin-level application to do this(CPU-Z, etc). Under Mac OS X this requires installing an Extension (at least as far as I know) which gets messy. If you don't go through this process you'll never be able to read the core speeds accurately, which is why there's virtually no Mac software capable of this.

    Fortunately MSR Tools exists, and it has a 32bit extension to allow it to peek at the MSRs. The right answer of course is always the last answer you try, so this was only after trying several other ways of calculating the CPU speed and a couple different OS-agnostic benchmarks to try to rule out OS differences.

    1) http://download.intel.com/design/processor/applnot...
    Reply
  • tno - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    +1

    I've been planning to plunge into Mac ownership for sometime, especially with grad school looming I really want something that's more comfortable to work on than my netbook but still fairly portable. This review really helped me gauge whether it was worth putting in the extra cost for a 2011 13" MBP or settle for a discounted 2010.

    So am I all set? Hardly! Now I need to see what the 2011 13" MBA has to offer! I'm praying that cost stays roughly the same and a move to a ULV SNB leads to 12+ hour battery life and a similarly huge leap in performance as the move lead to in the MBP. I am a sucker for lightweight form factors.

    This article is also the first one to make me ever consider the 15" MBP. I have been fairly opposed to the bulk but the performance is quite something. If I went that route then I would probably have a C2Q, water-cooled, ATI and SSD driven rig to put up on AT forums. Taking offers!
    Reply
  • tno - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    Rezzing a dead thread! I bought the 13" MBP! $999 at MicroCenter, too good to pass up! So . . . who wants my rig? Reply
  • JasperJanssen - Saturday, August 06, 2011 - link

    I, on the other hand, have gone the other way. My MBA13 is being put together in China now. Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    A great review. I do have some additional questions though. First, given Apple was the instigator of OpenCL, it'd be great if you could run some OpenCL benchmarks. Are the Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro's disproportionately faster than the Arrandale MacBook Pro to indicate that OS X has CPU OpenCL drivers that can take advantage of AVX? Probably not, and this will hopefully come with Lion. Given nVidia's GPGPU push can the HD 6490 still keep up with the 330M GT in OpenCL? How does the HD6750 do?

    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/graphics/2011/01/...

    "'[Intel] will be releasing OpenCL graphics drivers to developers during the course of 2011. [Intel] continue to evaluate when and where OpenCL will intercept various products"

    And is there secret Sandy Bridge IGP OpenCL support? Bit-tech got a quote from Intel that Sandy Bridge IGP OpenCL support was inbound sometime this year and if anyone would be motivated to get it done it'd be Apple.

    And finally, does Apple now support hardware H.264 decoding on ATI or Intel GPUs? Previously, only a few nVidia GPUs were supported in Snow Leopard, such that the Arrandale MacBook Pro actually had to power up the 330M GT to decode H.264 wasting power compared to the perfectly fine Arrandale IGP if Apple just wrote the drivers. Do the new Sandy Bridge have the ATI GPUs doing H.264 decoding now, is the Intel IGP supported, or in the worst case is no H.264 hardware acceleration available now that nVidia GPUs are gone? Perhaps lack of hardware H.264 decoding is what makes the FaceTime HD CPU usage so high? QuickSync is only accelerating the encoding phase?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Some answers:

    1a) I don't know of any good GPU based OpenCL tests under OS X at this point. I'm not even sure if Apple's Intel HD 3000 driver supports OpenCL.

    1b) Intel mentioned SNB's GPU technically supports OpenCL however there are no plans to release a public driver at this point.

    2) Hardware H.264 decoding is enabled on the 2011s and it is used while FaceTiming, at least according to Apple.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the reply.

    http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/33632/smallluxgpu

    In regards to OpenCL testing, most people in OS X seem to use SmallLuxGPU which is an OpenCL raytracing benchmark. I don't have much experience with it, but it might be worth a try.

    In regards to hardware H.264 decode, do you know if the IGP is doing it or does the discrete GPU still have to be powered up as in the 2010 Arrandale MacBook Pros?

    Thanks
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    It's my understanding that the IGP can do the decoding, although note that while FaceTime is running the dGPU is enabled by default.

    Good call on SLG, I had forgotten about that :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • secretmanofagent - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Hello authors,
    On one of the pages, you mentioned this:
    "This isn't Mac specific advice, but if you've got a modern Mac notebook I'd highly recommend upgrading to an SSD before you even consider the new MacBook Pro. I've said this countless times in the past but an SSD is the single best upgrade you can do to your computer."

    Is there an article where you recommend the best update for my model? Should I even bother with the drive? I realize the X3100 is going to still hamper any sort of graphical performance, but wondering if it's worth the effort.

    Out of curiosity as well, would a Time Machine restore be possible if you update the drive?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Our top picks right now are either the Intel SSD 510 or something based on the SF-1200 controller (e.g. Corsair Force, OCZ Vertex 2). In the next month or so we should see the first wave of SF-2200 drives hit the market (e.g. OCZ Vertex 3). These things should scream. Keep an eye on our Storage section for new drives as we review them:

    http://www.anandtech.com/tag/storage

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • phoible_123 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I purchased the low-end 13" the day it was released, and am super happy with it. I had been waiting for a while for a suitable upgrade to my 2007 White Macbook. I considered getting the last 15" (almost bought it), but I was worried about heat, size, and weight. Turns out that these concerns were justified, but the Sandy Bridge models seem to be much better.

    The performance of the new 13" is comparable to the old high-end 15". It is noticeably faster than the last-gen 13" (I have one of those at work). I don't really play games on my laptop, so I don't care about graphics (I have a desktop with a GTX460 at home hooked up to my HDTV).

    I have played with all of the other laptops, and the build quality on the Macbook is just better than anything else I've seen. No question about it. Every time someone raves about some other laptop, I go to Best Buy and play with it, and I'm always disappointed (usually the keyboard and/or trackpad sucks, or the case is too flexy).

    Sure, I could get a faster laptop for less money, but it wouldn't be as good at what i actually use it for (mostly software development). I got the low-end 13", and will use the money I saved to buy an Optibay and 128GB SSD (already upgraded the RAM to 8GB). The only laptop that could potentially beat it is the forthcoming MBA.
    Reply
  • kigoi - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    ah except for when i bought it this is how it's gone for me too. and except for waiting to max memory if usage needs it. and maybe hoping for a slicker hybrid hard drive solution, something like the momentus xt but with more cache and a variable spindle.

    i wonder if the i5 model runs cooler than the i7. we stressed it with handbrake, experienced the fan, felt the underside. it didn't seem to get intolerably hot underneath unless there was zero airflow (like, on a bedcover).

    oh btw here is a document of the hidden keyboard secrets of the fn key.
    http://pludk.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/happy-accide...
    Reply
  • kigoi - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    oops error. the return of the hidden keypad was actually done by a software extension w/o my knowing. pretty thrilling to report that though, while it lasted. Reply
  • kanaka - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I got my 15" AG yesterday and one of the first things i was impressed with was how sturdier the hing was compared to my existing Late 08 model. Reply
  • owbert - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    what is the trade offs between high res antiglare option and high (glossy) res display? Reply
  • kanaka - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Glare vs no glare. Also colours are more saturated on the glossy screen. There's also a slight weight difference due to the glass vs no glass situation. Reply
  • mino - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Simple: you trade "Bling!" for usability. Reply
  • gstrickler - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    More brightness and color saturation on the glossy screen, but more money better color accuracy, reduced glare, and slightly lower wright on the matte screen. The matte screen is also higher resolution than the standard screen, but you can get the hires screen in glossy or matte.

    One side benefit of the matte screen, in environments where glare may be a problem on the glossy screen (e.g. The Apple Store, many offices, etc), I find it's necessary to turn up the screen brightness on the glossy to overpower the glare. With the matte screen, I can use a lower screen brightness, which means less power, and better battery life. I'm not sure how much difference since I don't have a MBP with a glossy screen to perform a side by side test, but I estimate it at 15-30 mins.
    Reply
  • dwade123 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    The new Sony S is better. Reply
  • Primetime89 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Why are there repeated graphs for the same settings/specs showing different results? Particularly the SC2 scores Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I will clarify on the page - those are actually two different SC2 benchmarks. One is our GPU test and one is our CPU test. They have different workloads.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • gstrickler - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Why do you set the screens at 50% brightness for your battery life tests (light web browsing and flash web browsing)? Since different models of laptop have such different brightness ranges, shouldn't you set them to a standard brightness (e.g 100, 150, or 200 nits) for testing? Seems far more useful and fair than 50%, which may be under 100 nits on some machines and over 200 nits on another. Reply
  • TMoney415 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Hey Anand and Crew,

    Terrific review. I loved reading your commentary, especially the conclusion discussing the real world benefits of moving from 2 to 4 cores. Its practical insights like that really separate you guys from the rest of the tech sites.

    One question though... You guys mentioned in the review that "OS X finally has TRIM support but Apple only enables it on it's own branded SSDs." As an owner of a 2010 MBP with an Apple SSD I still don't see TRIM support enabled in the system profile. What gives? Is TRIM only enabled for the 2011 models?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    The 2011s have a slightly newer version of OS X than everything else at this point:

    System Version: Mac OS X 10.6.6 (10J3210)
    Kernel Version: Darwin 10.7.1

    We may have to wait until OS X 10.6.7 to really find out if other Apple SSDs will enable TRIM support.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • rwei - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I'm not sure that your advice on SSDs being the best upgrade possible is applicable to all users.

    I recently installed a Vertex 2 128GB on a newly built Phenom II system for my parents. My own system, an i5 laptop with a 7200rpm Seagate HDD, still feels nearly as fast in most use cases. Naturally the Vertex 2 is faster, but to put things in perspective:
    - Windows 7 boots in maybe 15s on the Vertex 2, vs. 25s on my laptop
    - Word takes 0.5s to load on the V2, 2-3s on my laptop
    - Loading multiplayer SC2 map takes 3s on the V2 vs 6-7s on my laptop
    - Installing programs on the V2 happens so fast I can't even click "cancel"

    In all cases here we're talking a 2-10x speed increase, which seems nice. But realistically, if you aren't doing the things that Anand typically does (install a crapload of programs, load a crapload a programs, benchmark the crap out of a crapload of programs) you spend very little time actually doing any of the things that an SSD offers a speed boost to. In all, I might save 50-100s/day using an SSD vs. my HDD.

    Meanwhile, I have 4x the storage on my laptop, for 1/3 of the cost, and comparable power consumption (though the heat from the HDD is a pain in the butt).

    Especially on a machine with plenty of RAM, or at least enough to make good use of ReadyBoost, having an SSD really isn't the magic sauce that you consistently make it out to be, at least for an average user. I especially disagree with your point that a 7200RPM drive is not an important upgrade. It's a HUGE difference over a 5400RPM one, and especially the cheap kind that often come with laptops.
    Reply
  • Chloiber - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I do agree.

    I am using SSDs since "the Beginning" (4 years or so) and can't think of using anything else in my Desktop or my older laptop with a slow 5400rpm HDD. The difference is huge.
    But in my ThinkPad, the 7200rpm 2.5" HDD actually isn't that bad. Things load quickly after the initial boot (using Standby or Hibernation anyway) - I never have the feeling "Ah damn HDD, so slow!".
    I never thought I'd say this: but I don't need an SSD in my Notebook for Speed.

    BUT - and here it comes - I WANT one because a 7200rpm HDD is loud and heats up. The Notebook would be completely silent without the HDD...
    In addition, as soon as I get my Docking Station, I really want superb speed when using this thing as a desktop computer, and not just "good" speed...

    You don't need one, if you have a speedy HDD, but it certainly doesn't hurt and it still is probably the best upgrade you can make.
    Reply
  • tno - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Take a look at the SSD page again and look at Anand's graph on multiple applications opening.

    The typical user (and let's go ahead and define that set as almost everyone that has never heard of AT) installs whatever virus software came with their computer (no matter how bulky and slow), along with willingly installing "update" software provided by PC manufacturers that generally consists of a background task that pings various update servers all day long, downloads endless numbers of toolbars and wallpaper applications, and wants to open up their favorite browser (IE7) so they can load up all their favorite websites (Facebook) the moment they turn their computer on. But with tons of background tasks loading along with the OS, the wait to load up IE7 can seem interminable, with the user sitting at a seemingly fully loaded desktop, clicking the same icon over and over again.

    This is the classic "slow-down" scenario that Geek Squad promises to remedy with it's "tune-up" service that if Consumerist is right involves stealing all your porn, replacing it with other porn and then emptying your Recycle Bin. And going from a 5400RPM drive to a 7200RPM drive will not make a whole lot of difference in these multiple programs loading scenarios because it's the average Random Seek Time which makes this take forever and that value will be fairly equal in each drive.

    Swapping in an SSD, even a slower one, can make this process painless. So while you're right, you don't save that much time booting Windows, opening Word, installing a program. You do save tons of time doing all those things at once.

    Oh, and ReadyBoost (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReadyBoost) doesn't load to RAM it loads to any flash devices attached to the computer.
    Reply
  • zhill - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I agree that with a reasonable reserve of RAM the OS should be caching your frequently use files, so the 2nd time you open Word etc, it should be fairly quick, but the problem with saying SSD isn't worth it is that regardless of CPU and RAM, HDD performance is basically static and has been for several years. You can spend $2K on a superfast CPU but it will just be waiting on the disk all the time. But, I do agree that boot-time specs aren't all that important because how often do you actually cold-boot your machine in a given day anyway? Once? Twice? A decent HDD versus the crap in most PCs does make a difference (the cache and the RPM), so point well taken.

    That said, if all you do is gaming and web-browsing then the gains of SSDs aren't all that important other than levels loading faster etc. But if you do much content creation (Photoshop, video, etc) then it's a huge bonus because you can keep that CPU and RAM fed. The MB Air is a perfect example of how SSDs make marginal CPUs more usable. This is Amdahl's Law in action, speed up the slowest part of your system for the biggest gains.
    Reply
  • khimera2000 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    then you move over to notebooks. the advantages...

    HEAT in a place thats really confined having less heat comming of one item contrebutes to the life of the machine :D

    POWER an SSD uses less power... that simple.

    SInce where talking about a MBP I would agree with the author. an SSD is a good upgrade no matter who you are be it for power heat or perfromance. when moving to a desktop though the SSD thing becomes harder to justify. At that point I would weigh out pros VS cons of using a SSD vs HDD on a desktop.
    Reply
  • zhill - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Good article. I was thinking about your issue with the high cpu utilization, and could it simply be a reporting issue? Could the cpu performance counters or OSX be reporting QuickSync as part of the cpu rather than the GPU? This would certainly be strange and not accurate, but given that intel seems to list QuickSync and HD3000 separately, maybe the reporting stats aren't accurate. Presumably this would be an issue in both Windows and OSX, but at the driver level there could be differences. Just a thought.

    Have you, or anyone else, noticed heat issues with the MBP lid closed versus open? Aren't the vent ports along the back next to the hinge such that when open they can vent, but when closed airflow could be inhibited?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I thought about that too, but there seems to be a genuine increase in thermal output from the CPU - higher than I'd expect from idle cores and the quick sync engine active.

    I haven't personally noticed any heat issues with the lid open vs. closed, seems to behave similarly (although now that you mention it I feel like open I do get temperatures a couple of degrees cooler than when it's closed - that could just be psychological though as the comparison is completely unscientific).

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Omid.M - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Anand,

    So do the 15-17" MBPs have hardware acceleration support for Flash? I didn't see that explicitly in the review; sorry if I missed it, but I tweeted you asking for this.

    The last MBP update, Anand said the 13" he could highly recommend, but the 15" got way too hot under load.

    This update, Anand said the 13" he could highly recommend, but the 15" gets way too hot under load.

    Hmm. (not insinuating anything, Anand and crew)

    I find that odd. But, maybe it's a good thing: I'm not comfortable buying an MBP until Apple build TRIM support for 3rd party SSDs into OSX. I would not want the Apple SSDs.

    My early 2008 MBP is still running fine, although I'm tempted by the QC models. Maybe waiting until Ivy Bridge, in hopes of a cooler laptop, will be enough time to see if Apple brings TRIM for after-market SSDs.

    I'm disappointed, but I guess this review saved me some money until next year.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Sorry I think I missed your tweet! I measured around 40 - 60% CPU utilization of a single core when viewing a 1080p HD video in YouTube on the new 15-inch MBP (same CPU usage for both the iGPU and dGPU).

    The frame rate was perfectly smooth, but it's unclear to me how much lifting is being done by the GPU here.

    Last year's 15 was pretty warm, but this year's model definitely didn't take a step back in that department - transistor count nearly doubled after all!

    The move to 22nm should bring about marginal updates to architecture so I'm hoping for lower power consumption at similar performance levels.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Omid.M - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Anand,

    You mentioned in the last MBP refresh/review that the 13" showed support for TRIM in OSX (evidenced in System Profiler, I believe).

    You also said in this refresh/review that Apple supports TRIM for its own SSDs only.

    To my knowledge, the last MBP generation had the SSD option for both 13" and 15-17" models, meaning the same SSD was offered across all models.

    If TRIM is only supported for Apple SSDs, why did we see an evidence of TRIM in last year's 13" model but no evidence for the 15/17, assuming the same SSD was offered across the entire line and assuming the version of OSX shipped with the last models was the same across the line?

    Was that due to different chipset drivers because the 13" had the Core 2 Duo/Nvidia combo, and the older 15/17 had Core i5/i7 (thus, newer chipset) ?

    Does it make sense what I'm asking?
    Reply
  • tno - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Apple ships different versions (small tweaks) of OSX with different laptops, and there is the key. If you recall, the field in System Profiler was populated indicating that at some level the chipset (Nvidia sourced) supported the instruction, but SSDs that supported the instruction did not.

    So you're correct, Nvidia chipset driver supported TRIM, but the OS did not implement the instruction. The Core i5/i7 integrated chipset driver had no support for TRIM.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3762/apples-13inch-m...
    Reply
  • name99 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    "I saw a number of different MCS (modulation coding scheme) values with the 2011 MBP in the exact same place. Link rates from just below 300 Mbps all the way up to the expected 450. It seems to settle out at the expected 450 Mbps in the same room as the AP, it just takes a while, whereas other 2x2 stacks I've seen always lock onto 300 Mbps and stay there in the same room and position."

    Is the state of the art any better than this?
    The reason I ask is that the simple WiFi problem (1x1 antenna, what is the best modulation + puncturing I should use for this SINR?) is well understood.
    But once MIMO enters the picture there are so many more options available --- for example: should we try to use all receive antennas for different streams, and run those three streams at "robust" modulation, or should we transmit a single "fragile" (64-QAM, 5/6) stream, and rely on receive diversity to be able to detect it without error? If we send a "fragile" stream, should we use the transmit antennas to perform beam shaping to target more power at the target?

    As I understand it, optimal methods for handling the juggling between all the different types of diversity available in the MIMO space still do not really exist (if anyone has a reference stating otherwise, please provide it).
    If this is the case, it would not surprise if, on either the base station end, the laptop end, or both, you have a huge amount of bouncing around between different possibilities (of course with 3x3:3 the space is larger than with 2x2:2 or 2x3:2) because what is being used to make the choices are simply heuristics, not engineered algorithms, and the heuristics are extremely sensitive to the slightest changes in the SINR covariance matrix).
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I haven't really played around enough with other 3x3 WiFi stacks enough to say for certain. I agree with you that a lot of this is it making some decisions based on whether to prioritize connection robustness or throughput rate. At close ranges, it certainly selects MCS that gives most throughput, but I'm still shocked to not see more 450 Mbps when in the exact same room as the AP.

    Moving away, you'll quickly fall back to single stream rates (but obviously still get MIMO range extension). You're exactly right that everyone has their own heuristics for how to do this based on SINR. I still haven't figured out how to actually grab SINR out on here, all I can see for the moment is just RSSI. Completely agreed though.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • MrCromulent - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Once again a very detailed, comprehensive and yet easy to understand article!

    I'd like to inquire once more about the C300: In the initial test, the C300 was criticized for poor garbage collection. Now it's considered an option for Apple notebooks. Has the GC been improved by Marvell in the last few firmware updates?
    Reply
  • Griswold - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Interesting revenue information right at the start. Apple went from a computer- to a music&player- to a phone company. :P Reply
  • iwod - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    iPad is only just starting to sell and iPhone still has lots of space to grow. The trend is Apple are making more units and more money from ARM specific products.

    Nvidia has just recently stated that Project Denver will be ARM 64 bit. And aiming at HPC and Desktop. Full Compatible with current ARM instruction set.

    Currently Apple must have a ARM version of Lion testing, and few years down the road, they could switch their Mac over to ARM 64 bit. Using a single Instructions Set for their whole product line.

    For some reason i have been thinking that Apple and Intel aren't doing too well together like anand has felt. I dont think Thunderbolt is any indication of their current relationship. it is merely they have been working on it for such a long time, no one wants to lose our at the end.

    Of coz it could have been the other way round x86 moving into iPhone, although that depends how much intel is willing to bend towards apple.
    Reply
  • jbh129 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Anand,

    Can you guys run your high-end 15 through the Windoze tests that were used on the 13?

    Thanks
    Reply
  • tajmahal42 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Hello guys!

    First, I have to say this review is really awesome, as usual! Just what I was hoping for. The thoroughness and practical sense of your reviews continues to amaze me every single time.

    For the 13" MBP, you mention "bouts of instability". Can you elaborate on that? Stuttering? Crashes? In what way do you notice that instability? I'm a little concerned now.
    Reply
  • tno - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    +1 Reply
  • alent1234 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    my wife has been bugging me about our wifi since we moved and get a poor signal in a lot of the new apartment. told her i can get a new router with 3 antennas but we will also need a new laptop as well with the antennas to take advantage of it.

    which brings me to my question. i know the 15" model has the 3 antennas. does the 13" do MIMO as well?
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    They all use the new card.

    By the way, have you tried switching wifi channels, or installing DD-WRT and boosting signal? Even so, you don't need a new laptop after getting a new router if signal strength was the only problem.
    Reply
  • alent1234 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    i'll try that, thx

    a lot of wifi around me these days. we only have work laptops now so that would be our only personal computer if we bought one. i was looking for the cheap SB models when they come out
    Reply
  • name99 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    "told her i can get a new router with 3 antennas but we will also need a new laptop as well with the antennas to take advantage of it."

    This is not completely true. A base station with multiple antennas CAN do the equivalent of phase-array beam steering to direct most of the output power towards the target laptop. The laptop will thus see a stronger signal, and one of the better modulation schemes (eg 64-QAM 5/6) can be used rather than one of the weaker schemes. Thus your laptop, even if it has only one (or two) antennas can still see better performance.

    Note, this is a theoretical possibility. I do not know the current state of the art in how well base stations utilize the various forms of transmit diversity that are available. And no review ever seems to talk about this stuff, either by testing how well the kit works with a single antenna device, or by talking to the manufacturer about what's in their product.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    The 13" does have 3x3 MIMO as well, the exact same broadcom solution as the 15" I tested extensively.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Anand and crew,

    I am very disappointed with the battery life numbers in this review. This is the first review of a laptop where it appears you have used a 3rd party app (Cody Krieger's gfxCardStatus tool) to significantly inflate the numbers of the new 2011 systems. 35-60% by your own numbers back on the discrete GPU battery life page, which you then fail to report in the battery life tables later on!

    When you are tasked to review a system (especially an Apple product I might add) it should be reviewed as is, with no tweaking or 3rd party add-ons to boost performance/benchmarks. When have you EVER installed an add-on for a Windows-based laptop to improve performance/life? I can't think of one.

    At best this was a simple oversight where you have benchmark numbers WITHOUT the gfxcardstatus, at worst this was a cover-up job which I have always argued in the forums against and on your site's behalf.

    Please update the tables to show what a stock newly-purchased laptop at the Mac Store would deliver.

    I am very disappointed in this coverage.
    Reply
  • zhill - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Hmm... so I mostly disagree, but the fact that there is some confusion is problematic as well.

    I assumed (the need to assume is the problematic part) that the main battery life tests (Web loads, etc) were run with OSX doing whatever it wants. The point of the gfxCardStatus tests was to specifically point out the difference in power consumption with each card being used. The only way to expose that behavior explicitly is to manually enable/disable the dGPU.

    So, I think the methodology makes sense, but I agree that Anand should make it clear in the general battery-life section that OSX is managing the GPU in stock form with no gfxCardStatus inferference.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I ran the numbers. The values (in minutes) that were reported in the 1st and 3rd charts of page 15 which correspond to the light and Flash-based web surfing are dead on the bottom of page 9 numbers where the discrete GPU has been TURNED OFF.

    It is so bad that after running the numbers if you were to use the data from page 9 the 15" MacBook Pro would be so far in last place on the Flash-based chart (at 177minutes) that the next highest is over an hour and a half LONGER.
    Reply
  • zhill - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I believe he's using Safari in the web and flash web tests, and mentions:
    "Another contributing factor is the new 32nm iGPU which is active full-time under Safari. " When discussing the Flash problem (on pg 9) he specifically mentions Chrome + Flash activating the dGPU.

    So, the question is: what is the dGPU behavior for other browsers? Do Firefox and Safari only use the iGPU or is the dGPU activation only in Chrome? It needs to be addressed in the article more fully for no other reason than clarity and so users will know that choice of browser may impact battery life very significantly.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    That is a good point (missed the Chrome/Safari switch), but it is also puzzling that the numbers from both charts match up perfectly. I would have expected a bit of difference between Chrome and Safari even if the dGPU issue is taken away just due to coding differences, but if you divide the minutes by 60 from the earlier page you'll get the EXACT same number of hours posted in the later battery numbers. The only way to describe this without it being the same number would be if they are comparing numbers from 2 different browsers in the same chart without labeling as such which I find very hard to believe. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Seriously not a single reply from one of the authors? Reply
  • IlllI - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    theres hardly much difference between the 13in model and the 17in. so basically you are paying $1000 more for 4 inches. Reply
  • alent1234 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    i5 to i7, discrete GPU, more hard drive space

    almost same price difference if you went with dell/hp
    Reply
  • khimera2000 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Just so you know looking at the recommended configuration of hp envy cost 1932, a maxed out 3D vision dell xps 17 cost about 2480 but has a sell that brings it down to 2244 (dual HDD no SDD) where as the base configuration of the mac cost 2500. so..,. no even if you throw in the discreet, I7 increased harddrive space your still over the mark when you compare to windows notebooks.

    How did i find these numbers? opened up the web sight for each respective company and looked at what they had as of 5:00 PM 3/11/2011 applicable to US customers (after all they where the US versions of the sight) except for dell no others where offering an automatic discounts.
    Reply
  • jed22281 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Should've done the 13" and then jumped up to the 17".
    Is there some reason you're not interested in the 17" versus the 15"?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • jed22281 - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Anand, Brian, or Vivek?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • jb510 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    It would seem to me their is one currently shipping Thunderbolt periphral... A 2011 MBP in target disk mode. Maybe you could drop an SSD in one and do some preliminary testing? Reply
  • jb510 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    damn... wish i could edit that comment originally typed on my iphone... but their doesn't appear to be any way... (misspelling repeated for comedic effect) Reply
  • deadshort - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the genuinely informative review. Running both low-load and high-load battery tests is especially helpful to developers, etc.

    One question. You chose the 2.3Ghz/8MB cache system. Was that just 'cuz you swing that way, or do you expect significant performance benefits for some workload you care about? For these machines is it a 10% price goldplate, or a reasonable increment to keep these CPUs fed? I am seriously interested....
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I can speak for myself at least, but part of the reason for the 2.3/8 MB system choice was that it's the only preconfigured (Apple Store available) configuration that comes with the anti-glare display.

    Essentially, if you're a customer walking into the apple store and don't want the glossy/glare display, you're immediately forced into buying the highest-specced (and most expensive) MacBook Pro. It's frustrating because the only way to get lower specced systems is BTO online.

    Obviously we got these systems on launch date to immediately start working, and that was the reason for the 2.3 choice.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • synaesthetic - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    You know, I don't get this thin crap. I really don't.

    I mean, I can understand it. From a purely aesthetic point of view. Sort of, anyway.

    I'm sick of "thin" gadgets with weak performance and fragile builds. Thick gadgets means more tech fits inside. My HTC Glacier is quite thin, and you know what? I wish it was thicker. It'd be easier to hold onto, and HTC could have put a bigger battery in it!

    Stop making things so stupidly thin. Instead of driving the miniaturization of components on "thin," why not take that same miniaturization power and make things a bit thicker... with more power/cooling/battery inside?

    Thin may be sexy, but powerful is even sexier!

    Then again, Apple's never really cared to broadcast the specs of their devices, hoping instead to gloss over it to such a degree that nobody questions paying ridiculously inflated prices...
    Reply
  • Marc B - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    I am finally buying my first MacBook this year, and I am 70/30 leaning toward the 15" MBP. The 17" version has the high res screen and express port, but the 15" MBP is lighter/smaller and has the SDXC reader. Will the Thunderbolt port will provide enough throughput to allow simultaneous in/out?

    I am using this to log HD video on location, and was wondering if the express port is no longer necessary to use with a small ESATA array now that you can have high speed storage in and out using the Thunderbolt port.
    Reply
  • Belard - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    If Apple is pushing their notebooks to be more and more Desktop replacements...

    Where is a docking bay to handle all the connectors? How hard for a single connector to handle everything?

    Lenovo sells about 3 different Docking units $130~300 for their regular Thinkpad line (ie: NOT Edge or L/SL series).

    We have a few users who use them. Comes to the office, drop the notebook into the dock and turn it on, not a single cable to be attached. They include 4 USB ports (or more), PS/2 ports, HDMI and DVI ports, Ethernet and of course charge up the battery.

    So one user would have to plug in 7 cables everyday if he didn't have a dock... like his keyboard, wireless desktop mouse, 21" display, various printers and devices, etc.
    Reply
  • name99 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    " I still haven't figured out how to actually grab SINR out on here, all I can see for the moment is just RSSI. "

    Apple's Airport Utility does give you part of what you want.
    If you open it, go to "Manual Setup", see the summary page, and click on where it says "Wireless Clients: 2" (or 3 or whatever) you will be given a page that, for each connection, shows their signal and noise levels (along with a graph).

    Of course this doesn't exactly have any bearing on what we are discussing, because the numbers that are presented are the intermediate term SINR values, relevant to shadowing but not to fading. The numbers that are relevant to fading (and thus to MIMO tricks) change on a millisecond time scale, and so what one really wants is an indication of their standard deviation, along with other info like the connection diversity. This is all way more geeky than Apple (or any other consumer company) is going to provide.
    Reply
  • humunculus - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Any chance you could run a few of the tests on the 2.0 and 2.2 GHz models. I am interested in how much performance difference there is between the 2.2 and 2.3 GHz 15 inch Macbook Pro models. It is hard to assess if the 10% cost increase is warranted. Thanks Reply
  • Belard - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    The $400 price difference is for the extra 200mhz (Apple values that at $250 - these are notebook CPUs, so pricing from intel is a factor)

    And then $150 to sometimes double the performance of the GPU for games.

    Oh, and an extra 250GB of HD space (which is about $5 in the real world).
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Just LOOK at that. Visually it just makes things look worse...looks like it's taking up space for maybe two more cores, or a fifth core and more cache, or something.

    The only good thing about it is it may help AMD get back in the game. Assuming Bulldozer ends up relatively competitive, AMD's going to be able to have more cores or cache in the same die space, or else have a smaller CPU with the same performance.

    Personally I'm a big fan of Intel's rock solid stability, but it feels like AMD gets better and better with that, where they feel like a real competitor now, and I'd love to see them get parity with Intel or even surpass them!

    To people who have called the higher end config's GPU "high end", it's not. It's a decent mid range part. For the price it ought to have better...maybe that on the low end config and an 800 core part on the high end config (or a Geforce GTX 460), but at least it's a big jump up from the last gen models.
    Reply
  • Belard - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    UH... and what reliability issues are you talking about with AMD? What, intel never screws up? I buy, own and sell both brands. Reply
  • Wardrop - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    To be honest, I'm somewhat surprised that Apple don't offer a solution for reducing cable clutter, given their minilast design of the iMac, etc. A docking station sounds like an obvious solution. I'm sure Apple could come up with a really elegant way of docking your Macbook, or otherwise, just connecting all your cables via one main connection.

    I envisage a magnetic solution. You could either have a docking station, where the Macbook sits on something (a stand would be nice). Otherwise, a breakout box type of device, where you plug all your audio, USB and display cables into it, and then attach the breakout box to a single interface on your Macbook, whether it be a plug on the back, the side, or even a magnetised strip on the bottom of the notebook?

    I use my Macbook Pro primary as a desktop. It goes through my desktop KVM, to which my Windows desktop is also connected. I try to avoid unplugging my Macbook from my desk however, simply because it's a hassle. I not only have to unplug the cables, but I have to eject my external time machine drive. One of the most annoying things I find however, is that because the screen resolution on my MBP is significantly lower than my desktop monitor, it often screws up all the windows. I find I need to spend time resizing all my windows for the 13" MBP display, and then have to do the same when I connect it back up to my 24" desktop monitor. When you've got 10+ windows all perfectly arranged to suit your working style, it's a major pain, hence I avoid taking my MBP off the desk.
    Reply
  • tzhu07 - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    I was thoroughly unhappy with the current offerings for a docking station for my late 2006 macbook pro, and so I decided to go to home depot and build one myself. And I made it super elegant and wirefree. Also helps that my monitor is connected to an arm, keyboard wireless, and also mouse is wireless too.

    http://www.majorindulgence.com/file_exchange_data/...

    ahhhhhhhhhhh.....super clean
    Reply
  • bronze5420 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    this is definitely the best computer review i have ever read. very informative. answered all the questions i had and then some. keep up to good work. and does anybody know if OSX Lion will feature TRIM support for third party SSD's? Reply
  • 13579abc - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    First let me echo the sentiment of gratitude expressed throughout this forum. AnandTech really is a cut above other tech sites.

    Second, if I may add my two cents, heat and noise are such an important part of the mobile experience that they might deserve a little additional attention in this review, particularly given that apple tries to differentiate itself from competitors in these areas. This review touches on the surface temperatures of these new Macbook Pro models, but I wonder if there are any plans to more thoroughly examine surface temperatures in different areas of the notebook (i.e. palm rests, keyboard, bottom surface…). Also, does AnandTech have any comment on the effect of inappropriate quantities of thermal paste reportedly used in the notebooks? Some forum posts report amazing thermal improvements resulting from properly applying new thermal paste, but to be honest I have some doubts regarding the validity of these posts and think that they might be misleading.

    Along similar lines are there any plans for a quantitative analysis of the noise output from these new models.

    Again,thanks for a great review.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Seconded, some numbers on thermals and decibels would be nice. Reply
  • Balfa - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    I've just bought the new 17" that I use mainly for software development but even at 1920x1200 it is a little on the cramped side. So at home I connect it to a Cinema Display 27'' via mini DP cable to the new combo TB-MiniDP port. And the monitor cable use also a Magsafe connector and lastly a usb2 for camera, sound and 3 usb ports at the back of the monitor like most folks already know likely.

    Now what I really wish for the future Apple is extends that paradigm of a monitor-docking station with a new 27'' monitor with only the Magsafe and one Thunderbolt cable. At the back of the monitor implements every ports that could be needed: USB3, FW800 (1600 maybe why not), eSATA (unlikely I know). And lastly add a powerful discrete GPU in the monitor itself with a quick access door to upgrade it if needed. That way you could remove the one in the MBP for lower cost and better battery life and still have a powerful GPU solution at home for gaming, transcoding and the like.

    I think the monitor is the best place for docking a laptop, not needs for a separate device. I already put all my external disks behind it anyways (I place my monitor in the middle of the desk so there's a lot of empty space behind) and it will be the shortest route to plug them, less clutter that way. Gee it's a great idea isn't it!
    Reply
  • MrBrownSound - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Once again anandtech pulls off a amazing review. With this information I can cofortably say I will wait for Lion to come out. Reply
  • ProDigit - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    None of these machines is worth their price!
    The 13" has a price of a 16" laptop
    Reply
  • 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
  • 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 don’t want the 15", I need the portability and I don’t know what on earth to do!??????????

    Then 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
  • Mac Ike - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    If a person bought a MacBook Pro in the last 18-24 months,I don't see the reason to upgrade unless you're on the Bleeding-edge of performance needs and Mac your living with your Mac. Many Apps and advanced Software aren't even optimized to take advantage of multiple Cores,or Hyper-Threading/Turbo Boost. I don't care as much for Auto Switching Graphics,since I have total control of my Graphics with my March 2010 MacBook Pro 17"/Core 2 Duo/2.8 Ghz/4GB RAM/AG/500GB HD/512MB or 256(IG) VRAM-dual cards/express card. if I was buying new today,Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost schemes would be OK,but there's no way that I'd trade or sell my machine for these updates! To me,speed hasn't been an issue in 2 or 3 years! My 2006 20" iMac was at 2.0 Ghz,and the newest Macs are 2.0-3.0Ghz or so. I know that Sandy Bridge is faster than a Merom Core Duo,but most improvements seem to have come from adding more Cores and RAM,so that more tasks can be done simultaneously! I don't care for gimmicks,Turbo-Boosting,Hyper-Threading,and poorer graphics to convince me to upgrade my Macs. Unless you are a Digital Video Content Creator,or other high-powered user,or your Mac is 3 yrs. Old or so,you should Max-out your RAM,get a faster HDD or an SSD,rather than buying a Whole New Mac! If you have the money to spend,good for you,but a combination of Power,Battery-Life,and Portability,are the REAL issues! I wish people would stop telling others that they're Idiots for paying Mac prices,since it's our Money,and only YOU can determine what's good value for the Performance,elegance,and Stability of Apple Hardware! Reply
  • rredge - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    Today, the local Apple store acknowledged that my 15" MacBook Pro is not functioning properly and refunded the purchase price despite the fact that I was just past the 14 day return period.

    The problem is that the computer ceased to respond to the trackpad even when rebooted with the power button.

    In the course of trying to figure out what the problem was, I discovered that there are reports of people experiencing similar problems for all three models (13", 15", 17") on Apple's support forum, where one thread alone now runs 19 pages, as well as elsewhere on the internet.

    The Apple store personnel told me that Apple has not acknowledged that there is a problem with this line of computers, although they acknowledged in less than two minutes that my computer has a problem sufficiently serious to warrant a refund out of the return period. I declined a replacement because they expressed ignorance of the issue, indeed said that Apple did not acknowledge an issue, and were unable to give me any assurance that a replacement would perform any better.

    The questions at this point are how widespread this freezing problem is and whether Apple is going to acknowledge it and fix it.
    Reply
  • rredge - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    The second paragraph should have said that the computer ceased to respond to both the trackpad and keyboard. Reply
  • nitrousninja - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    I saw the benches but I dont know if that translates into a big real world difference in SSDs. I'm mostly doing stuff in Word/Excel, some light video editing/converting, and occasionally some WoW. This would be in the base model 13"

    Should i go with the stock 3GB 128GB SSD or the OCZ 6GB I can get at Microcenter and install it mysel?. I've never done that on a Mac.

    Thanks for the help!

    Matt
    Reply
  • tno - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    Doubt you're still wondering but, if you want to have any space left after installing an OS and still want an SSD then you should splash for the 128GB SSD or wait till a reliable larger SSD is available. I wouldn't go less than 120GB.

    As to whether you should get an SSD, just ask yourself this question:

    Have you ever sat, even for a moment, and wondered why an otherwise well specced (but magnetically driven) computer seemed slow?

    If yes, then you'll likely be able to set that question aside by putting in an SSD.
    Reply
  • tranksen76 - Friday, March 18, 2011 - link

    Hello Rredge,

    how frustrating your experience sounds!
    2011 was the year I was finally supposed to buy myself my 1st ever MBP after 18 years in the Windows environment.

    It took me long enough to choose between a 13-inch or 15-inch one but then I started reading about these freeze issues a lot of users have been facing. being French i only heard about this problem within French forums and i was hoping this would have to be a specific problem for a batch of units delivered in France but now I have to admit this really is a larger scope problem.

    For what it's worth there were comments on the forums I went through about I-Stats being a cause for these problems as it installs by default with a settings that take over the fans control.
    Did you have that app on your computer?

    Best regards
    Tranksen
    Reply
  • rredge - Friday, March 18, 2011 - link

    Bonjour Tranksen,

    The fan on my computer was acting normally when this happened and I do not have that widget installed. I was running Terminal, TextEdit and Safari and the processor was under extremely light load.

    You will find a good deal of discussion about this problem on the Apple U.S. support forum at http://discussions.apple.com/category.jspa?categor...

    This is not an imaginary issue. Apple agreed to the return of my computer for full refund despite it being outside the 14 return period.

    I would consider repurchasing one of these computers, but not until Apple clarifies what the problem is and fixes it.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    You said that noise was an issue with the larger MPB, but I'd like that to be quantified in decibels and compared to other laptops in a table, in future reviews. Reply
  • Omid.M - Monday, March 21, 2011 - link

    Can the AT team comment on this please:

    http://apple.slashdot.org/submission/1504006/2011-...

    Click on "Link to Original Source"

    Can you guys duplicate this issue? Is it just simple overheating and poor design on Apple's part? I really want to know...

    Also tweeted to the three of you. Thanks for your thoroughness, gang.
    Reply
  • 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
  • mga318 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Apple just recently released an update for windows and bootcamp that said would provide a performance increase. I'm wondering whether that might of had an effect on Windows gaming since the initial review. Reply
  • macboy123 - Sunday, July 24, 2011 - link

    I have macbook pro mid 2010 with NVIDIA GT 330M and its crashes randomly & frequently (black screen of death).  NVIDIA card on MacBook pro is really CRAP & USELESS!!!!. Reply
  • gradyboy - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I was checking in wikipedia about AES-NI and there was a link to intel site that now revises the info that the i7-2635QM has AES-NI support.

    I think the review should be updated to reflect that.

    link below:
    http://ark.intel.com/products/53463/Intel-Core-i7-...
    Reply
  • edgecrusherr160 - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    Not sure what the reviewer is talking about with the hinge. I've had a 13 Macbook Pro since Jun 10th 2009 that's seen HEAVY use. It opens and closes beautifully. I appreciate it even more when I use other types of laptops (even older Apples).

    I do agree on the gloss screens, and hate them. I love the fact that there's glass over the screes, really makes them feel solid and protected compared to other laptops. From my experience, no one comes close to the quality of an Apple laptop. I used to work at a computer store too. I wish they made the glass matte though. I have a matte screen protector on mine that distorts the color a little, but I've gotten used to it over the years. Still a shame I have to even use it though.
    Reply
  • abbylegg - Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - link

    Hi,
    Great review really helped out. I'm looking for a macbook pro but everywhere and shop is too expensive.. so i'm trying out freebiejeebies.co.uk which has been proven by The Gadget show, NBC News, BBC news and a couple more big channels and stations. If you would like to help me out on my task trying to get a macbook pro please sign up and fill out a offer for free on this link h t t p : / / g i f t s . f r e e b i e j e e b i e s . c o . u k / 3 8 5 0 2 9 (without spaces just incase this website banes the link) and i promise ill come back and review so you can do the same thing and receive a macbook pro!

    thankyou for your time

    Abby.
    Reply
  • Funkyfreshh8 - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    Did anyone else notice that in that first picture with the three MBP's stacked on top of each other, the caption says that the 2011 MBP is I the middle, but in the picture it's on the bottom. The one in the middle has a mini-display port, and the bottom one has a Thunderbolt logo instead. Reply
  • MiddletonBanks - Thursday, April 19, 2012 - link

    If you want to transfer big files quickly, have faster boot up and be able to open apps quickly then go for the top of the 15” macbook pro range with the 750GB drive. You can buy it here http://www.middletonbanks.com/acatalog/Apple_MacBo... for only £1,480 including VAT and delivery. Reply

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