The ‘next generation’ MacBook Pro has combined the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro to create a lighter, thinner MacBook Pro, available only with SSD storage and non-upgradable RAM. It’s also taken out the DVD drive and network adapter, and made a thinner, wider MagSafe power adapter.
On the inside, the new MacBook Pros use Intel’s new Ivy Bridge range of quad-core i7 chips, customisable from 2.3GHz to 2.7GHz. Also, if your budget allows, the SSD can be configured up to 768Gb.
The model tested is the 2.6Ghz i7 with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD. My usual machine is the previous generation MacBook Pro with Intel Sandy Bridge Core i7 running at 2.2Ghz, therefore I was able to do some side by side tests – things like launching apps, loading web pages, doing spotlight searches, zipping some files and compressing some video.
With my unscientific testing, the new machine was noticeably quicker. Apps would launch anything from a second quicker to a few seconds quicker. Once a full review and testing suite is run on this machine, I would expect a nice jump in speed, but nothing too staggering. Probably not worth upgrading if you have a recent Sandy Bridge equipped Mac.
Likewise, the form factor is definitely thinner, with the main body being noticeably lower when placed next to the last generation MacBook Pro. For those of you wanting Air-style lightness, I’m sorry to disappoint. Picking up the heavier, older machine, then picking up the new one, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. When looking at the specs, the new machine is 500g lighter, and maybe if you carry your laptop a lot, you might notice the difference over time, but I really couldn’t.
So, you may be asking: if it’s only evolutionarily faster, not that much lighter and is missing a couple items from the spec sheet, what is so great about this machine? I can answer that in one word: screen.
The screen is frankly, amazing. It has a resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels. In ‘standard mode’, the screen will use four physical pixels to display each one pixel of your applications, similar to the new iPad and iPhone 4/4s. When viewed in this mode, the screen is gorgeous. It’s like reading a high quality magazine, and you really do have to remind yourself that it’s a laptop display.
You can adjust the screen so that it scales the output, anything from 1024 x 768 up to 1920 x 1200. Even at 1920 x 1200 the screen is a pleasure to view. I have dodgy eyes from years staring at computer displays, and at 1920 x 1200 the MacBook is crystal clear and doesn’t produce any eye strain.
Once you get past the screen, there are some other nice features. New to the MacBook line is a USB 3.0 port, and HDMI out. There are also two Thunderbolt ports; this bad boy can drive up to three external monitors. I tested it with two external displays and it didn’t miss a beat – no lag or stuttering at all.
There are some other nice design features: the internal fans are asymmetrical, which means they produce noise across a wider range of frequencies to minimise the decibel output. The battery is also custom built by Apple to maximise the internal space, so the machine gets the same seven hours of battery life as the previous model, even though it’s pushing more pixels.
These are all great features, but I think they’ll be lost by the party piece that is the display.
We’re waiting on test results to come out of the PC World
labs, but in my opinion, this is not only the best MacBook ever made, it is arguably the best laptop ever made.