2.33GHz Core 2 Duo 15-inch MacBook Pro

2.33GHz Core 2 Duo 15-inch MacBook Pro

As if you needed more proof that switching to Intel was the right thing to do.


This is something we're just not used to. We only recently learned to cope with minor update after minor update of the PowerBook G4 notebooks. Then, at the beginning of this year, the MacBook Pro came on the scene, and notebook users rejoiced - finally, here was a notebook with a long road of development ahead of it. Now we're looking at the first stop on that road: the switch over from the Core Duo to the Core 2 Duo processor. And our testing shows that there's a lot to be excited about.


For this review, we looked at the midrange 15-inch MacBook Pro, which has a 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo processor and comes standard with 2GB of RAM. The notebook we tested came with a 5,400-rpm 160GB hard drive instead of the 5,400-rpm 120GB hard drive that's in the standard configuration; the 160GB hard drive adds $100 to the $2,499 base price. We compared the 2.33GHz MacBook Pro's result to the model it replaces, the 15-inch Core Duo-based 2.16GHz MacBook Pro.


The speed increases with the new MacBook Pro are impressive. The Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro was 21 percent faster than the Core Duo MacBook Pro when creating a One Step DVD from a movie in iDVD and when applying a Sepia Tone video effect in iMovie HD. When exporting a video in iMovie HD, the new MacBook Pro was a whopping 43 percent faster. In our GarageBand Send-to-iTunes test, the new MacBook Pro was only 3 percent faster. These results were taken with the new MacBook Pro at 2GB of RAM and the old MacBook Pro at 1GB. We also tested the new MacBook Pro at 1GB - you can't buy the 2.33GHz MacBook Pro with 1GB of RAM, but we wanted to see how much of a difference RAM made. And as it turns out, our iLife '06 test results at 1GB were practically the same as our results at 2GB.


Does that mean the extra 1GB of RAM is wasted? Not when you consider the speed of non-Intel-native applications that must use Apple's Rosetta, which performs translations of PowerPC-native software on the fly so the MacBook's Intel processor can do its work. For example, in our Adobe InDesign CS2 PDF export test at 1GB for both MacBook Pros, the new MacBook Pro was 22 percent faster. When we boosted the RAM in the new MacBook Pro, the InDesign results at 2GB were 13 percent faster than the 1GB results. In our Adobe Photoshop CS2 Actions test at 1GB, the new MacBook Pro was only 2 percent faster than the old MacBook Pro. But at 2GB, the results with the new MacBook Pro were mind-boggling - a 67 percent increase over the new MacBook Pro's results at 1GB. More RAM is good.


The results in our Doom 3 video benchmark test were impressive, as well. The new MacBook Pro was 31 percent faster than the old MacBook Pro. However, before you think the new MacBook Pro makes a good gaming Mac, consider that we used an Intel-native version of Doom 3 for our test - non-Intel-native games will suffer under Rosetta.


We also tested battery life by watching a Lawrence of Arabia DVD (we never get tired of that movie). The new MacBook Pro was able to make it to the movie's intermission, and the battery lasted two hours and 24 minutes - seven minutes longer than the old MacBook Pro.


The bottom line. If you decided to pass on the first-generation MacBook Pro and hold on to your PowerBook G4, don't wait any longer - the $2,499 15-inch MacBook Pro is an impressive notebook. There's really no reason to putter along with that G4 notebook anymore, unless you're the sentimental type.


CONTACT: 800-692-7753 or 408-996-1010, www.apple.com
PRICE: $2,499 ($2,599 as tested)
SPECIFICATIONS: (as tested) 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4MB L2 Cache, 667MHz frontside bus, 2GB RAM, 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card, 160GB SATA hard drive, 6x double layer SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0, Apple Remote
Nice speed boost over previous generation. Improved Rosetta performance.
3GB RAM limit.





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"There's really no reason to putter along with that G4 notebook anymore, unless you're the sentimental type."

Or unless you can't afford it, you elitist jerks.

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