Apple MacBooks and 17-Inch MacBook Pro

Apple MacBooks and 17-Inch MacBook Pro

All of Apple’s notebooks feature Intel Core 2 Duo processors.

 

It’s not fair, really. Weeks after Apple updated the MacBook and MacBook Pro, the world turned its attention to this little gadget you might have heard of called the iPhone. But we haven’t forgotten about Apple’s notebooks, which feature new processor speeds and impressive performance. In this review, we’ll look at the $1,099 and $1,499 MacBooks and the 17-inch MacBook Pro with the high-resolution display upgrade.

 

MacBook Pro.

 

The MacBook Pro uses Intel’s Mobile 965 chipset, which is often referred to by the overall platform’s code name, Santa Rosa. The 17-inch MacBook Pro we reviewed has a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4MB of shared L2 cache, an 800MHz frontside bus, and 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory (expandable to 4GB). In case you noticed, the RAM operates at a different speed than the frontside bus - that’s because RAM just isn’t that fast yet. Apple says that a majority of people won’t notice any effects on speed. We didn’t.

 

On the other hand, you will notice the change in the MacBook Pro’s display graphics. ATI-based graphics subsystems are gone, replaced by an nVidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics card (the 17-inch MacBook Pro’s nVidia card has 256MB of dedicated video memory). In case you’re tracking such things, the 8600M GT is an HDCP-compliant graphics card. HDCP, or High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection, is required to play HD-DVD or Blu-ray content via HDMI or DVI output. However, the MacBook Pro doesn’t come with an HD-DVD or Blu-ray drive. Perhaps that will be an option in a future MacBook Pro.

 

Unfortunately, the 17-inch MacBook Pro doesn’t use the new mercury-free LED-backlit technology found in the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s display (we hope to have a review of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with the LED-backlit display in an upcoming issue). The 17-inch MacBook Pro uses the older display technology and has a native resolution of 1,680 by 1,050 pixels. Our test model came with the optional 1,920-by-1,200-pixel resolution, which adds $100 to the base price of $2,799. The resolution boost is great for working in Final Cut Studio 2 and other pro-level apps. We found that having the extra resolution in iMovie HD and GarageBand was a nice plus when working in more complex projects.

 

The 17-inch MacBook Pro comes standard with a 5,400-rpm 160GB hard drive, but our test model had the upgraded 7,200-rpm 160GB hard drive, which adds another $150 to the price. Apple also has available a 4,200-rpm 250GB hard drive for $150 if you need the capacity. Every MacBook Pro model has a double-layer SuperDrive that can burn double-layer DVDs.

 

If you’re familiar with Intel’s Santa Rosa specification, you’ll be disappointed to hear that the refreshed MacBook Pros don’t have Turbo Memory, a feature that uses solid-state flash memory to increase system speed and hard drive access. It’s an optional part of the Santa Rosa specification that we had hoped Apple would adopt. No such luck.

 

17-INCH 2.4GHZ CORE 2 DUO MACBOOK PRO
COMPANY:
Apple
CONTACT:
www.apple.com
PRICE:
$3,049 with specs below ($2,799 base price)
SPECIFICATIONS:
2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 4MB shared L2 cache, 7,200-rpm 160GB hard drive, double-layer SuperDrive, 256MB nVidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics card, 17-inch glossy widescreen display with 1,920-by-1,200-pixel native resolution, three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, ExpressCard/34 slot, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0

 

Gloriously large display. Speedy. Acceptable speed for gaming.

 

Unwieldy size for some. Screen doesn’t use the new LED-backlit technology found in the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

 

 

 

MacBook.

 

If you were expecting the new MacBooks to be based on Intel’s Santa Rosa platform, we’re sorry to break it to you that they’re not. Pretty much all Apple coughed up in this MacBook revision was faster processors.

 

The new $1,099 MacBook now has a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4MB of L2 cache, 1GB of RAM, a 5,400-rpm 80GB hard drive, and a Combo drive. The black, high-end $1,499 MacBook has a 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB of RAM, a 5,400-rpm 160GB hard drive, and a double-layer SuperDrive. Both MacBooks still have the Intel GMA 950 graphics processor that shares 64MB of memory with the MacBook’s main memory.

 

It’s important to point out that Apple’s intended audience for the MacBook is made up of general consumers, not professionals who run apps that need a lot of iron. Take, for example, Apple’s Final Cut Studio 2. Some of its features won’t work on a MacBook at all. If you want to run Final Cut to its fullest on a notebook Mac, you need a MacBook Pro.

 

Performance. We tested the three notebooks by performing real-world tasks in popular apps. Each machine had 2GB of RAM, allowing us to more evenhandedly compare performance across the three.

 

As we expected, the $1,499 black MacBook has a speed advantage over the $1,099 MacBook. The black MacBook was 10 percent faster when exporting a movie in iMovie HD, 25 percent faster when exporting a song from GarageBand to iTunes, 36 percent faster when importing 196 JPEGs into iPhoto, and 10 percent faster when exporting a PDF from Adobe InDesign CS3. In our Adobe Photoshop CS3 Action test, both MacBooks finished in 57 seconds, and when we created a disc image in iDVD, both MacBooks took 27 minutes.

 

Curiously, we didn’t see an especially wide performance gap between the MacBook Pro and the higher-end MacBook. In our iPhoto import test and the GarageBand test, both finished in the same amount of time (80 seconds for iPhoto, 13 seconds for GarageBand). The MacBook Pro was just 8 percent faster in both our iMovie movie export and our Adobe InDesign CS3 tests. The biggest speed differences came in tests where we expected the MacBook Pro to excel - and it didn’t disappoint. The MacBook Pro was 28 percent faster in our Adobe Photoshop CS3 Actions test, and 19 percent faster in our iDVD tests.

 

The MacBook still isn’t a good machine for gaming or any video-heavy task. At 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution and more detail, Doom 3 is unplayable on a MacBook - we got framerates of 5.3 frames per second. Ugh. If you knock the resolution down to Doom 3’s lowest setting and turn off many of the effects, you can get a playable 27 fps. The 17-inch MacBook Pro gave use a nice rate of 66.7 fps at 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution.

 

To test the battery life, we played a Lawrence of Arabia DVD until the battery went kaput. Both MacBooks lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes - not bad. The 17-inch MacBook Pro lasted 2 hours, 50 minutes, which impressed us considering its larger display.

 

The bottom line. If you were expecting more bang for your buck from the upgrade to the MacBooks and MacBook Pros, you’ll have to wait until Intel ships Penryn, the first 45-nanometer processor, probably near the holiday season or around the beginning of 2008. And, of course, there are always those who will want to avoid paying $129 for Leopard by waiting to buy a new Mac that has it preinstalled. But if you really need a new Mac notebook now, why wait? The MacBooks (we especially like the combination of price and speed with the $1,099 model) and the 17-inch MacBook Pro offer excellent performance today.

 

2.16GHZ CORE 2 DUO MACBOOK

COMPANY: Apple

CONTACT: www.apple.com

PRICE: $1,499 (black model)

SPECIFICATIONS: 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1GB RAM, 4MB shared L2 cache, 5,400-rpm 160GB hard drive, double-layer SuperDrive, Intel GMA 950 graphics processor with 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory, 13.3-inch glossy widescreen display, two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0

 

Good overall speed.

 

Shared main/video memory affects performance..

 

 


 

2GHZ CORE 2 DUO MACBOOK
COMPANY:
Apple
CONTACT:
www.apple.com
PRICE:
$1,099
SPECIFICATIONS:
2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1GB RAM, 4MB shared L2 cache, 5,400-rpm 80GB hard drive, Combo drive, Intel GMA 950 graphics processor with 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory, 13.3-inch glossy widescreen display, two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0

 

Good overall speed.

 

Shared main/video memory affects performance..

 

 

11

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Prospective MacBook Buyer

I know Windows is a big taboo word with some, but I was curious if anyone knows the performance of Vista on a MacBook. I would need Windows to do stuff with school work. I'm planning on buying a MacBook, but the idea of running Vista on a MacBook with the Intel GMA 950 graphics is kinda getting me worried.

avatar

Anonymous

I am currently running Windows XP service pack 2 in my macbook using bootcamp. I encounter no problem at all. The only thing that bothers me is all I cannot use the F7, F8 button to control the volume or brightness like i did in mac os x, i need to use the taskbar in windows

avatar

Anonymous

The only silly thing these have unless Apple has changed something, is that you cannot update the DVD to be region free and there are no firmware updates. In a laptop that you can take around the world, it is totally stupid and impractical that you have to worry about these STUPID regions and cannot play DVDs from anywhere. The film industry that has imposed this should go the way of the dinosaur, as they are making our lives more difficult for no good reason.

avatar

David Blangstrup

World of Warcraft and its new addition Burning Crusade runs beautifully on a MacBook, both of the small ones. What happened to MacAddict and the writers being young and playing games? ;)
You don't even have to turn the options down in wow, you can run it default smoothly.
- David

avatar

CosBoi

Really?

I would love to have a little MacBook but have been holding out for the unlikely event that a dedicated graphics card is added at some point so that i can run WoW when i'm not at home on the iMac as well as doing all my other apps i now love since switching to the world of apple :-)

Is it really that playable on a MacBook?

(I know the pro version had dedicated graphics but i prefer the more portable MacBook)

CosBoi

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Anonymous

my macbook is very quiet if i place it on my coffee table, but everytime i place it on my bed and try to use it before i sleep, the fan goes crazy and stuff.

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Anonymous

We have in our house a mac book and a 15 inch mac book pro They are a snap to use and to set up out of the box. We use air cards to go on line both the mac book and mac book pro are pre loaded set up for air card support. Out of box to online in about 15 minutes. Cost of these laptops over a pc laptop is a little higher but well worth the price. I am never going back to that other os. you know!! For some one that wants a great computer I highly recommend Mac book or mac book pro.
Please start showing more tips for mac books and the mac book pros. I was just wondering about temp on these systems. My books fans rarely come on. hard drive temp run around 98 degrees F. but the processor temp is well over 120 F. I have read articles on the paste around processor causing the macs to run hot. Is this still a problem.

avatar

Anonymous

Start out with the iStat Pro widget that monitors temps at 8 sites,the speeds of both fans and about 20 other functions. Then download smcFanConrol. At about 2000 rpm, the default speed, the fans are inaudible and remain so until you adjust them up to about 4000 rpm. 3000 rpm seems to be an optimal speed to keep your processor at about 50 degrees C.

You may have thought that they are not functioning, because they are so quiet. Quiet Macs has been one of Steve's passions since the beginning.

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