Still a great portable from Apple in spite of some quirks. (October 26th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Apple
Price: $1,999 (2.4GHz, 2GB RAM, 250GB drive)
- Sturdier, cooler, thinner aluminum chassis.
- Still the performance champion; option for power-saving graphics a boon.
- Trackpad a more effective use of space.
- Colors 'pop' on the display.
- Good notebook-class speakers.
- No FireWire 400.
- Glossy screen a potential distraction with no matte option.
- Can't use both GPUs at once like that coming for Windows notebooks.
- Expansion, screen still used to push users to a system they may otherwise not need.
graphics and performance
While the MacBook and MacBook Pro share identical multi-touch trackpads, the greatest difference between the two is undoubtedly the graphics hardware. The MacBook's NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor (with 256MB of shared main memory) provides enough graphic processing muscle to accomplish most graphics intensive tasks, including playing video games to displaying three-dimension computer-aided designs; the MacBook Pro, however, boosts it to another level with a second, discrete graphics processor.
The MacBook Pro contains two graphics processors.
Twin graphics processors gives you the choice between choosing battery life vs. graphics processing power. For ordinary use such as word processing or surfing the Internet, the integrated graphics processor will do a more than adequate job. Running off the integrated graphics processor alone will give you an estimated 5 hours of battery life.
You can switch graphics processor by choosing between battery life or performance.
If you need high-powered graphics processing power for video editing or intensive photo editing in Photoshop, there's no question: switch to the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT processor. However, this lowers your battery life to approximately 4 hours. In addition, changing graphics processors requires that you log out and then log back in again. The differences in speed between graphics processors will obviously vary depending on your applications, but many video games feel at least slightly more responsive.
More objective, abstracted tests bear this out. Using the free Xbench (www.xbench.com) benchmark program, we pitted the MacBook Pro with a 2.4GHz processor and 2GB RAM against a previous generation MacBook with a 2.0GHz processor and 1GB RAM as well as a Mac mini with a 1.83GHz processor and 2GB of RAM, Xbench predictably found that the MacBook Pro bested the performance of the other Macs, but in some cases not by much. Not surprisingly, the MacBook Pro scored higher running off its discrete graphics processor in visually intensive tests such as the user interface (UI) rather than its integrated chipset.
With dual graphics processors, one would hope Apple would team the two chips together to provide even more graphics horsepower, but unfortunately that isn't the case (yet). NVIDIA has already planned out such a feature, known as GeForce Boost, but so far is only immediately set to bring it to Windows. As such, your graphics choices are limited to using either one, but not both at the same time. Still, the MacBook Pro is undoubtedly Apple's most powerful and flexible portable.