Apple’s latest MacBook Pro 13″ Feb 2011 release ( Model MC700 & MC 724 )

Posted on February 27, 2011

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On 24 Feb, Apple released its latest range of the MacBook Pro. I have always being interested in this range especially the 13″ models. The higher end models of 15″ and 17″ I find is more suitable for professional and high end users who demands higher computing power. The 13″ model is suitable for most users for general computing work plus throwing in some occasional gaming fun.

My first MacBook Pro was the first Alu model released in Mid 2009 with  a 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo,  GeForce 9400 video chipset and 2 GB ram. This  2.26 model was subsequently upgraded to the mid 20o9 2.53 GHz model with 4 GB ram. I followup later with another purchase of the mid 2010 model which comes with a 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo  with improved graphic GeForce 320M chipset and 4 GB ram  for my son.

A year later , now the 13-inch models come with 4GB memory,  Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 3000, and either a 2.3GHz dual-core Core i5 processor or a 2.7 GHz dual-core Core i7 processor
Base model pricing starts at RM 3699 for the 2.3 GHz and RM 4599 for the 2.7 Ghz

The new  Sandy Bridge processors comes with better graphics and a lightning fast Thunderbolt I/O port. However there are two dissapointments in this new range :

– the screen resolution remains the same at 1280 x 800 .  The 15″models has a higher resolution at  1440x 900 with option to upgrade to 1680 x 1050. The new MacBook Air 13″ has a better resolution at 1440 x 900
– default storage is a low speed  5400 rpm serial ATA  320 GB hard drive. I was expecting SSD drives as seen in the last MacBook Air release. However there is option to upgrade to SSD drives which is freakingly expensive :

128GB Solid State Drive [Add RM 763.00]
256GB Solid State Drive [Add RM 1,984.00]
512GB Solid State Drive [Add RM 3,816.00]

Upgrade of the hard drives to higher capacity is :

500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm [Add RM 153.00]
750GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm [Add RM 458.00]

Upgrade of memory ( 1333 Mhz  DDR3 ram )  to 8 GB will cost another RM 670.

What is impressive in this new range is the presence of a new multi-purpose connector , known as Thunderbolt . It is  a  new connection technology based on Intel’s “Light Peak”  which is designed to produce transfer speeds  in excess of those offered by either FireWire or USB. Thunderbolt will transfer data at up to 10 Gbps, more than 12 times faster than FireWire 800. At this speed, you could transfer a full-length high-definition movie from an external storage device to your Mac in less than 30 seconds. This Thunderbolt port can  connect up to six peripheral devices, such as hard drives.

There are  some other minor enhancements such as  a ‘FaceTime HD’ camera versus the iSight of previous models.

Brief rundown of the 13″ MacBook Pro specs :

  • CPU: 2.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with a 3 MB shared L3 cache or 2.7 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 processor with 4MB shared L3 cache
  • Display: 13.3-inch LED-Backlit with 1280×800 resolution; Glossy only
  • RAM: 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM clocked at 1333 MHz (2×2 GB), supports up to 8 GB
  • HDD: 320 or 500 GB, 5400 RPM Serial ATA hard drive; optional 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB solid-state drive
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384 MB DDR3 SDRAM shared memory
  • Other features: FaceTime HD camera, 8X slot-loading SuperDrive, Thunderbolt High-Speed E/A and Mini-DisplayPort, 802.11N WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, SDXC, FireWire 800, USB 2.0.

Performance

The integrated graphics processor in the new MacBook Pro has changed to Intel’s HD 3000 graphics .  In the last generation of MacBook Pros, Apple used Intel’s integrated HD graphics only in the higher-end models that had a second, higher-powered GPU, the Nvidia GeForce GT 330M, for graphically intensive applications. The older Intel HD graphics were not powerful enough to be the only option in the older 13-inch models, which couldn’t support two graphics chips, it was stuck with Core 2 Duo processors and used Nvidia’s integrated GeForce 320M graphics. With the new HD Graphics 3000, Apple found the improved performance good enough to finally invite the 13-inch models into the Core i era.

MacWorld has conducted a detailed performance comparison tests with the older and other models .
http://www.macworld.com/article/157893/2011/02/2011macbookpro_benchmarks.html

QUOTE ( edited ) : Speedmark 6.5 tests shows that the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.3 GHz Core i5 dual-core processor earned a score of 141 was 35 % faster than its predecessor’s mid 2010 model score of 106.  While the new system was faster at “just about everything,” it did fall short in playing the game Call of Duty 4, averaging 26 frames per second versus 33 frames in last year’s model. This is due to the use of Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 3000 in the Sandy Bridge processor, while last year’s model included a discrete Nvidia graphics card. The lower game performance will probably be seen by many as a reasonable price to pay for the increased performance found in other applications.
The 13-inch 2.7GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro was 13 percent faster than last year’s offering with a score of 155. It sports a 2.7GHz Core i7 processor, but again relies on Intel’s discrete graphics.

The biggest leap was in our iTunes AAC-to-MP3 encoding test, which was 57 percent faster on the new system. Our Handbrake test finished 47 percent faster on the newer system than on the one it replaces.

The 13-inch 2.7GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro’s improvement was less dramatic, scoring only a 13-percent gain over the model it replaces, a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo system. The new system was 36 percent faster in our iTunes test and 28 percent faster in our Handbrake test. Again, Call of Duty was 26 percent (7 frames per second) faster on the older Nvidia-powered 13-inch model.

We found the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro to be 31 percent faster overall than the 13-inch 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Air. The Pro was much faster in processor intensive tasks, but the MacBook Air was much faster at duplicating and unzipping files, thanks to the flash storage. The Air’s Nvidia graphics were also faster than the Intel HD Graphics 3000.

Specs and features : http://www.apple.com/asia/macbookpro/features.html

Purchase online :

http://store.apple.com/my/browse/home/shop_mac/family/macbook_pro?mco=MTM3NDc0NDI

Older Models specs :

2.26 13″ (Mid-2009) 2.4 13″ (Mid-2010)
Processor Type: Core 2 Duo Core 2 Duo
Processor Number: P8400 P8600
Processor Speed: 2.26 GHz 2.4 GHz
Video System: GeForce 9400M GeForce 320M
Video Type: Integrated Integrated
Video Memory: 256 MB 256 MB
Display Size: 13.3″ 13.3″
Native Resolution: 1280×800 1280×800
Ext. Display: 2560×1600 2560×1600
Default Memory: 2 GB 4 GB
Maximum Memory: 8 GB 8 GB
Hard Drive Size: 160 GB 250 GB
SuperDrive: 8X DL 8X DL
SD Card Slot: Yes Yes
ExpressCard/34: No No
Firewire 800: Yes (1) Yes (1)
USB 2.0: Yes (2) Yes (2)
Ambient KB: Yes Yes
Trackpad: Multitouch Inertial Multitouch
Size (Inches): 0.95 x 12.78 x 8.94 0.95 x 12.78 x 8.94
Weight: 4.5 lbs (2.04 kg) 4.5 lbs (2.04 kg)
Battery Life: 7 Hours 10 Hours
Battery W/Hr: 58 W/Hr 63.5 W/Hr
Apple Order No: MB990LL/A MC374LL/A
Intro Price: US$1199 US$1199
2.53 13″ (Mid-2009) 2.66 13″ (Mid-2010)
Processor Type: Core 2 Duo Core 2 Duo
Processor Number: P8700 P8800
Processor Speed: 2.53 GHz 2.66 GHz
Video System: GeForce 9400M GeForce 320M
Video Type: Integrated Integrated
Video Memory: 256 MB 256 MB
Display Size: 13.3″ 13.3″
Native Resolution: 1280×800 1280×800
Ext. Display: 2560×1600 2560×1600
Default Memory: 4 GB 4 GB
Maximum Memory: 8 GB 8 GB
Hard Drive Size: 250 GB 320 GB
SuperDrive: 8X DL 8X DL
SD Card Slot: Yes Yes
ExpressCard/34: No No
Firewire 800: Yes (1) Yes (1)
USB 2.0: Yes (2) Yes (2)
Ambient KB: Yes Yes
Trackpad: Multitouch Inertial Multitouch
Size (Inches): 0.95 x 12.78 x 8.94 0.95 x 12.78 x 8.94
Weight: 4.5 lbs (2.04 kg) 4.5 lbs (2.04 kg)
Battery Life: 7 Hours 10 Hours
Battery W/Hr: 58 W/Hr 63.5 W/Hr
Apple Order No: MB991LL/A MC375LL/A
Intro Price: US$1499 US$1499