MacBook Pro 15 (MC723X/A)
We reviewed Apple's new 15-inch MacBook Pro, running both its native Mac OS X and Microsoft's Windows 7.
Zara Baxter | Thursday, June 09 2011 | 5 Comments
Product type: Laptop
RRP incl GST: $3,799
- Comes with Mac OS X and 4GB RAM standard
- Excellent battery life and performance
- Solidly built, if expensive
- Slower 5400-rpm hard drive
Performance is zippy, especially compared to other business laptops, but the price may make you wince.
As laptops go, the MacBook Pro has long held status as a well-designed, portable powerhouse of a machine. The downside of this is traditionally the price, and the fact that it runs Mac OS X, rather than Windows.
If the $3,799 price doesn’t put you off, the MacBook Pro can be teamed with Windows successfully. There are three ways of turning a Mac machine into a Windows one.
Firstly, you can simply install Windows as the sole operating system. This isn’t ideal, because Mac OS X has several advantages of its own, such as its easy access to a Unix-based environment, should you need it, some nifty hardware tweaks, and a reduced (though not entirely absent) need for security. But if you’re a Windows user, you can certainly install Windows onto your MacBook Pro without major problems.
The second alternative is to run Windows alongside Mac OS X using Apple’s own dual-boot system, Boot Camp. Boot Camp has been simplified immensely since its initial development, and putting Windows 7 onto a new MacBook Pro 15 took us little over 45 minutes. You just select the Boot Camp Assistant from within Mac OS X, then insert your Windows install disc, install Windows, reboot into Windows and then insert your Mac OS X disc to allow your Windows installation to access all the nifty aspects of your Apple hardware.
The final option is to install Parallels to run Windows and Mac OS together.
But with all that, how does the MacBook Pro actually perform as a PC?
The build is incredibly solid, with an aluminium unibody functioning both as structural core and as cooling for the Sandy Bridge processor inside. It works well on both fronts, and the surface is resistant to scratching, scuffing and other marks. And it looks good – the isolated keyboard is slick, the aluminium is stylish, and the overall impression is slimline robustness.
Battery life is impressive, with around six hours standard while running Mac OS, and a slightly less impressive four hours running Windows 7.
It’s not like performance suffers for all this style and battery life, either. We tested the Mac using Cinebench for both Mac OS and Windows, as well as running our business laptop tests on it. For Cinebench, the MacBook rated a decent 5.12 multicore CPU test result in Windows, and 5.32 in Mac OS X, managing around 44fps for the OpenGL test component in both operating systems. For 3DMark, the MacBook Pro 15 scored 2131 in the Entry Level tests. In all cases, this blitzes the competition in our recent business laptop test, no doubt thanks to the combination of 2.2GHz Core i7 processor and powerful Radeon Mobility 6750 graphics card.
The MacBook Pro 15 isn’t, strictly speaking, a business laptop, but it has many of the hallmarks you’d want for a system to fit that bill. The screen is high quality, the keyboard is crisp and comfortable, and the price at $3,799 is at the upper end of business affordability (you can get a less graphically powerful MacBook Pro with otherwise equivalent specs for $2,999).
There are certainly a number of reasons not to consider it, but the excellent build, design, and performance help to sway opinion towards the MacBook Pro.
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