Apple MacBook Pro 13—Awesome Display

Oh man, where do I start? Compared to most PC notebooks, especially thin and lights, this display is simply superb. Apple uses a very high quality, high contrast panel in the MacBook Pro, and it’s one of the most noticeable advantages the MPB has over the PC notebook world. It just adds to the high quality feeling that the MBP practically exudes—it’s like Apple thought of everything to make it more enjoyable to use. I really wish other manufacturers would put in the money and effort into speccing their systems with high quality displays.

Laptop LCD Quality - Contrast

Laptop LCD Quality - White

Laptop LCD Quality - Black

The contrast ratio of 516:1 is chart topping, even higher than the excellent RGB-LED backlit screen in the Dell SXPS 16. It’s orders of magnitude better than basically any other thin and light or ultraportable notebook we’ve tested recently. Think about the same maximum white level as the Adamo, but with the black levels of something with half the brightness. I officially love this screen, even with all the super glossy stuff going around. (For the record, I still hate Apple for not offering the MacBook Pro 13” with a matte screen, but they could always make me happy and offer it as an option on the Sandy Bridge variant. I’m not holding my breath, though.)

There are of course other LCDs that can achieve higher contrast ratios, like the RGB LED panels in Dell's Precision M6500, HP's DreamColor offerings (i.e. EliteBook 8740w), and perhaps a few others. We've also seen plenty of decent panels in larger notebooks like the ASUS G73Jh, Clevo X7200, MSI GX640, etc. The problem is, few if any thin and light laptops have decent contrast, and those that do it with a 360nit maximum brightness are even harder to find. Also note that the MBP13 Anand tested under OS X scored even better than the results from this Win7 unit, but that may simply be variation among panels. The difference between 600:1 and 500:1 isn't all that striking; usually you need at least 50% more contrast before it becomes noticeable, and once you reach 1000:1 the only change is typically in fractionally darker blacks.

Laptop LCD Quality - Color Accuracy

Laptop LCD Quality - Color Gamut

Color accuracy is pretty good, as is the color gamut. In fact, the MBP has one of the best color gamuts we’ve seen on a 13” notebook. But here’s the takeaway from all this: the MacBook Pro is one of the only small notebooks with a decent display. I’m not going to say it’s the only one, since I haven’t tested all of them (and the Sony Z still exists), but of all the notebooks we’ve been through, it’s by far the best one. I really wish more PC manufacturers would “get it” and spec their notebooks with higher quality displays, or at least offer a better screen as an option.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Some Quirks as a PC Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Core 2 Duo Performance


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  • MrDiSante - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Regardless, Apple is notorious for shoddy Windows drivers (and shoddy Windows software in general - iTunes, Safari, QuickTime, need I go on?) Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    The 13'er doesn't have a dGPU. Must be something else. Reply
  • dagamer34 - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    Charging $1200-1500 for what is essentially a 2 year old laptop is one reason why I can only buy a MacBook Pro every 2-3 years where the "Apple tax" really rears it's head when it comes to performance per dollar across all lines of notebooks. Reply
  • solipsism - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    “If ASUS can manage to fit a Core 2010 processor, the chipset, and a dedicated graphics card into a system with similar dimensions to the MBP13 and a 33% larger battery, then Apple could have too. Simple as that.”

    How is it as simple as that? I’ve seen the Asus to which you refer and it’s significantly thicker over most of the chassis. That means more vertical space for cooling and more room for heat sinks fan or whatever for placing a dGPU. It also means more vertical space for the battery so even if it’s 33% larger it could have a lower footprint thus allowing the Asus MoBo be larger for that dGPU.

    If you considered this and now for a fact that the MoBo isn’t larger then please post some images or links to images disproving this possible reason.

    "Apple products aren’t reknowned for their value for money quotient, but even by Apple standards, this is pretty bad.”

    If you are going to define “value” as the cost of a computer based on the type of processor used or it’s rating in a speed bench then you should denote that is exactly what you mean, because there is a lot of value that can be had from a system that focuses on a complete package and has a resale “value” much higher than other vendor’s systems. By what I assume must be your definition of “value” any notebook is crap because a desktop can be had at a cheaper price with a faster processor.

    Finally, you seem to be basing your price of the entire product on the performance of the CPU. How does this make any sense? Personally, I’d rather have a C2D with a better GPU than the i3 with IntelHD. I’m also willing to pay more for a better chassis, better display, better trackpad and those little things that this article triumphed and then latter pooh-poohed as being irrelevant to the cost of the entire system.

    if you need/want the fastest the processor that’s fine, but for many the CPU is already fast enough, it’s the other things that are lacking in most vendor’s machines. Same goes for the display resolution. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people determine which is “best” by only looking at the resolution and aspect ratio.

    Honestly, I wish more PC and CE companies would focus on details that aren’t easy to market on a spec sheet.
  • VivekGowri - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    What about the Sony VAIO Z? That's smaller, and has the Core i5, a dGPU, plus space for two solid state drives (yes, I know it's significantly more expensive). The Asus was just an example, there's plenty of other 13" notebooks to choose from that have Core 2010 and a dedicated graphics card.

    See, the MBP13 and 13" Aluminum MacBook were a decent value right until most of the world moved to Core i3/5/7. A $1200 notebook with a two year old processor is not a good value, regardless of how you try to spin it.
  • GeorgeH - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Smaller? The Z is ~120% of a 13" MBP. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Wait, what? The VAIO Z weighs 3.04lbs...that's 50% less than an MBP13. Same thickness as the MBP (don't believe the specsheet; the body is an inch across, but the rubber grips in the back raise it up higher), smaller footprint, etc. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Aluminum is heavier (denser) than plastic. You're right about the footprint, and I acknowledge the Vaio has the little foot, but I'd bet my lunch money the Z displaces more volume.

    Maybe you can get Apple and Sony to agree to a liquid submersion test? ;)
  • VivekGowri - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    Click the Specifications tab here.

    Do the math. If it's got a smaller footprint and is nearly the same thickness, how would it displace more volume?

    And for the record, the Z is carbon fibre, not plastic.
  • doobydoo - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    We have both the 13 inch macbook pro and the Sony Vaio Z, and the Sony Vaio Z is significantly lighter, smaller, and faster (we have one of the RAID SSD Models). It also looks more stylish, has at least as good build quality, and all the other features you might look for such as an illuminated keyboard.

    We have a case specifically for the Macbook pro which fits snugly, but when we put the Vaio in there there are inches of room all around the case, so I am very confident that the Vaio is significantly smaller in terms of volume, as well as the already proven weight and footprint.

    It's a better all round laptop, extremely long battery life, every good feature you would need, stays extremely cool (whilst running Windows 7), lightning fast even in Stamina mode (6-8 hours battery), smaller, much lighter, amazing screen, and excellent build quality.

    I'd recommend the Vaio every day of the week.

    To respond to another comment, where the guy said that Apples are partially more expensive due to the development costs of OS X, are you completely forgetting that every laptop comes with an OS, which adds to their cost too? And a better OS, at that.

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