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Apple launched its latest iteration of the MacBook Pro rather quietly, with no media event or even a press release. Instead, they quietly bumped up the specs in their flagship laptops. If you’ve recently bought a MacBook Pro, you’re not missing much. But if you’ve been mulling over a purchase, now might be the time. The improvements are modest, to be sure, but Apple has also brought back an option that we’ve been chomping at the bit to have for quite some time.
The outward appearance of the MacBook Pro remains unchanged. The unibody is still there, along with Apple’s now-standard compliment of ports: USB 2.0, FireWire, an SD card slot, and of course, Thunderbolt. Unfortunately, Apple may be on their second generation of Thunderbolt-equipped laptops, but Thunderbolt devices are still slowly trickling onto the market. There aren’t many consumer-level devices that take advantage of the new port, although several manufacturers have hinted at new products that could be arriving by the time you read this.
On the inside, this refreshed MacBook is quite similar to the model it replaced, except for a slight processor bump to 2.2GHz, and an upgrade to the Radeon 6750 HD graphics card. With the modest upgrade, our benchmark results were mostly in line with those of the previous MacBooks. The 2.2GHz model posted a Geekbench score of 10,269, compared to averages of 9,531 for the previous model. The new graphics card got a workout in our Call of Duty tests, hitting 82.7 frames per second. Overall, the performance was what we expected.
One very welcome surprise, however, is the return of the matte screen option. For designers, photographers, and, well, anyone who works under bright office lights, Apple’s insistence on glossy screens can be frustrating at times. Thankfully, they’re offering a high-resolution anti-glare 1680x1050 display option for $150 on the 15-inch models. You can also opt for a hi-res glossy screen for $100 extra. The 17-inch model can optionally be fitted with an anti-glare screen for 50 bucks, although the smallest MacBook Pros are still left to endure the harsh, glare-filled realities of your desk.
The bottom line. Modest updates make small improvements on an already-great machine, but the optional anti-glare screen is something many Mac users have been clamoring for.
15-inch 2.2GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro
Specs: 2.2GHz Core 2 i7 processor, 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM, 6MB shared L3 cache, 750GB SATA hard drive, AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, 1440x900 glossy 15-inch LED-backlit widescreen display, 2 USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt port, SD card slot, HD FaceTime camera, 802.11n AirPort Extreme, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone minijack with support for Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic, stereo speakers with subwoofer, omnidirectional microphone, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Speedier processor. Improved graphics performance. Optional high-res glossy or matte screen.
We’re still waiting for Thunderbolt to pay off.