Final Words

The 13-inch MacBook Pro continues to be portable Mac of choice for most users. You get a decent performance over the MacBook Air while maintaining a good degree of portability and battery life. It doesn't hurt that it's also by far the most affordable in the Pro lineup.

Apple also keeps delivering with its honest battery life claims. I measured between 3.5 and 9.75 hours of battery life on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro depending on workload. The 13-inch gives you a good combination of netbook-like battery life but with the performance on tap when you need it.

The missing Core i5 is by far the biggest issue in my eyes. It's the only thing that makes the 13-inch MacBook Pro a good portable but not the perfect notebook. While it's fast enough for most tasks the Core i5/i7 are significantly faster in anything that's CPU intensive, and it's a difference that's noticeable. For me personally, it's the faster CPU and higher resolution that make the 15-inch model my choice. While I can appreciate Apple's desire to have a base level of GPU functionality across its entire lineup the fact of the matter is that today, the killer apps for GPUs continue to be 3D games. If you aren't spending a lot of time gaming on your notebook then Apple's CPU/GPU balance isn't optimal.

If you've got last year's 13-inch model you'd get more bang for your buck by upgrading to 4GB of memory and/or buying an SSD. The exception of course being if you play any 3D games.

The GeForce 320M in the 13-inch MacBook Pro is fast enough to play anything Valve has out for OS X today. If you reboot into Windows you can even get over 60fps at the panel's native resolution in Half Life 2 Episode 2. Stick around in OS X and you're looking at the mid-40s. Not bad. This is roughly twice the performance of the GeForce 9400M used in last year's model.

I'm very curious to see what Apple will do going forward. At some point it will have to abandon the Core 2 platform in favor of the new Core i3/5/7 family. Moving back to a 3-chip solution will require a board redesign, which I'd expect out of the next generation MacBook Pro. Apple is very committed to using powerful GPUs in its products, I'm more interested in finding out why. There's got to be a killer app brewing somewhere in there.

What About the new MacBook?
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  • oldbriones - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Glaringly missing in display evaluation is any mention of the viewing angle. Anandtech probably knows that the supposedly "Pro" models have cheap TN LCD type thus resulting in crappy viewing angles. I expect Anandtech to educate its readers about availability of better screens so that manufacturers will respond to the market demand. Reply
  • Zok - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Good point, but when was the last time you've seen a laptop not sporting a TN LCD? Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Only tablet-PCs don't and they are only on IPS-based tech since recently and in smaller sizes, as far as I'm aware of there is no 15" low power laptop panel in existence or being manufactured. They can't use something that aren't manufactured, and a display like that isn't in the catalogs of the Korean and Taiwanese panel manufacturers and are frankly out of most of theirs capability. Many of them simply don't make any IPS screens at all. Haven't seen PVA panels in those sizes and power envelope or anywhere near.

    IPS screens in devices like iPad was unheard of before LG put one together for Apple and hard to imagine. As netbooks and low cost devices use TN panels and e-readers use reflective technology.

    Every photoguy knows the macbooks screens aren't worth a shit and that they need a calibrated external screen for referencing and work. So I hope it doesn't come as a surprise to anybody. The MBP screens aren't worse then any others. But it's still pretty useless for a lot of things. Any way that's what the review of monitors is for. They have done more detailed reviews of laptop screens too, but they only confirm that they are horrible. I'm pretty sure also that the screens for high-end tablet PCs isn't that good when it comes to color accuracy their usage is for viewing angles. And that isn't everything.
    Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    And when I say based on IPS (IPS-based) I mean AFFS panels. They exist for up to 14". They are actually 262k color panels, while they have good viewing angles though. LG haven't invented a unique macbook screen yet. Reply
  • BlendMe - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    Now that Apple is shipping the iPad and iPhone 4 with IPS panels it might not take to long till they move the tech up to their MacBook line. The iMac already have it but they're not power limited like laptops. Reply
  • ksherman - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    "Every photoguy knows the macbooks screens aren't worth a shit..."

    That all depends. if you shoot in AdobeRGB, yeah you would be left wanting. I shoot almost exclusively in sRGB because that's what everyone seems to want anyway. As such, near 80% coverage of the AdobeRGB spectrum works just fine.

    The bigger problem is an uncalibrated display. Calibrate the display and it will get you close enough in almost ever situation.

    Of course though, it always depends on your medium/use for the pictures. I shoot for newspapers. They compress the details right out of the pictures online and the half-tone process kills and color correction or detail anyway.

    If I shot for a magazine, it might be a different story. I'd have a lot more money and probably wouldn't be editing and transmitting from my car more often than not.

    Anyway, I love my (first gen) unibody 15" MacBook Pro, but I'm lusting after the matte high-res display and awesome battery life.
    Reply
  • bji - Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - link

    What an interesting job you must have compared to those of us who sit in front of a computer in a cubicle all day ... Reply
  • rpottol - Monday, June 14, 2010 - link

    IPS were dropped from the Thinkpads because they could no longer be obtained in the quantities that they needed them, Apple would need them in far greater quantities (given that they were only on a few high end Thinkpads, as opposed to what apple ships).

    We may long after them, but for now, we are stuck with the cast offs from the TV market.
    Reply
  • oldbriones - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    It was only a few years ago (granted that is a long time in tech-years) that there were beautiful high quality IPS LCD options on laptops such as IBM/Lenovo T43, T60, etc. Lately most consumers got seduced into cheap but seriously compromised (display-wise) machines, and then suffer afterward searching for that elusive head and body tilt to view the movie at. Then again, many people probably don't even know what they are missing. Reply
  • Stokestack - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    The asinine glossy screen is a much bigger defect. What is with Apple's continued ignorance on this matter? I'm using a MacBook Pro with a glossy screen right now, and it is abysmal in ALL lighting conditions. From a pitch-dark room to a sunny office.

    To charge extra for a matte option on the other two MBPs is bad enough, but then they don't even offer it on the computer that's most likely to leave the house and be used in a variety of lighting. There's no excuse, because the size of the computer has nothing to do with this feature.

    Sad.
    Reply

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