The previous MacBook Pros were really very good. They offered consistent professional quality and great features. Reviewing the next generation of MacBook Pros is therefore a pleasure.
An initial look at the latest models shows nothing new. This is not disappointing – the rugged cases and smart design are exactly what you want from a superior laptop. The keyboard looks neater, the result of a few minor changes, but other than that, everything looks as impressive as ever.
This could suggest that any internal changes are minor as well. Not so. When you turn on the MacBook Pros and start putting each model through its paces, you soon realize that you are working with machines that exceed expectations.
For starters, the processors are 45-nanometer Intel Penryns. These are noticeably faster than the 65-nanometer Meroms installed in older MacBook Pros, and easily outperform the Meroms in all benchmarks.
The standard processors for the two 15-inch MacBook Pros are 2.4 GHz and 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duos. The 17-inch has 2.5 GHz. Alongside these are the upgraded 200 hard drives. GB for the 15-inch 2.4 GHz and 250 GB for the 15-inch and 17-inch 2.5 GHz.
Of particular interest to the multimedia user is the doubling of video memory in all three MacBook Pros. The 15-inch 2.4GHz has an NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB, and the 15-inch 2.5GHz and 17-inch 2.5GHz have the same graphics processor but with 512MB.
2GB of RAM is backward compatible across the range. The overall results are notebook computers that are easily adapted to advanced audio and graphics applications.
HardwareEach of the three MacBook Pros comes with standard hardware, such as:
- 8x Dual Layer SuperDrive with Loading Slot
- iSight camera
- AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth® wireless connections
- stereo speakers
- FireWire 400 and 800 ports
- USB 2.0 ports (two on 15-inch models; three on 17-inch models)
- DVI port
- Audio ports
- Gigabit Ethernet port
- ExpressCard / 34 slot
There are also hardware “extras” that help the MacBook Pro stand out from the crowd. These include a powerful lithium polymer battery; an ambient light sensor that illuminates the keyboard in dark conditions; and an energy-saving LED-backlit display.
These displays are mercury-free and anti-glare, and have resolutions of 1,440 x 900 pixels for the 15-inch models and 1,680 x 1,050 pixels for the 17-inch models. With both you have bright, natural and sharp images.
Perhaps the best additional hardware of all, however, is the new MacBook Pro trackpad. This now has the multi-touch functions that have proven so popular on the iPhone. By pinching, sliding, and rotating your fingers on the trackpad, you have remarkably quick and positive control over the MacBook Pro’s creative software features.
Multi-touch technology leads to a small problem: the size of the trackpad may seem a bit small to someone who is learning the proper gestures. That said, once you are familiar with multi-touch technology, it is not difficult to work within the confines of the trackpad.
As with all new Macs, the MacBook Pro comes with the best operating system, Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard. If you’ve never used Leopard before, your competition will delight you. If you are already a Mac user, you still have something to please yourself because the new MacBook Pros increase the speed of Leopard and the applications that run on it.
Among these apps is Apple’s latest version of the world’s fastest browser, Safari. This comes with Apple’s usual batch of updated software such as Boot Camp, Mail, iChat, iTunes, DVD player, iPhoto, and iLife ’08.
Experienced MacBook Pro users can load their preferred applications on these latest models and immediately notice the speed improvements. For example, you can set Photoshop CS3 to about eight seconds on the 15-inch 2.5GHz screen. You will then find that Photoshop runs 20-25% faster than a MacBook Pro 2007 at 2.6GHz.
Compared to a 2006 MacBook Pro, the differences are even greater. In general, you can experience speed increases of around 50% in a variety of applications. This is good news for all those who want maximum performance from a laptop.
With any laptop designed for professional use, it’s always worth looking at the manufacturer’s options because some people will need an additional speed and power buffer zone for specific applications.
The MacBook Pro’s setup options are unlikely to let you down. To give you more power, you can order a 2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor upgrade for the 15-inch or 17-inch 2.5 GHz models. As for RAM, you can upgrade any of the three MacBook Pros to 4GB.
On the 17-inch MacBook Pro, you may want to increase the hard drive to 300GB to provide additional space for space-stealing graphics applications. Similarly, you can ensure perfect clarity of your images by requesting a 1,920 x 1,200 pixel display for the same model.
Lastly, if you prefer a glossy screen rather than an anti-glare matte, you can request it when placing your order.
With all of these updates packaged in the same cases as previous MacBook Pro models, you might anticipate a spike in prices. If you do, you would be wrong. The new MacBook Pros are undoubtedly better machines, but the prices across the range have not changed. The old MacBook Pros were good value for money, but the latest incarnations are just great for the price.
Do you want the best laptops from a great manufacturer? Look no further.
- Faster than previous generation MacBook Pros
- Double video memory
- Smooth, multi-touch functions on the trackpad
- a higher battery time
- Excellent configuration options
- More for your money – no price increase compared to previous MacBook Pro equivalents
- Trackpad can be a bit small for novice users