Apple has quietly updated the MacBook Pro line, almost as if ashamed to be changing so little, adding the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors to the 15" and 17" models.
The i5 and i7 processors should produce a performance bump for the MacBook Pro, but in other respects little has changed (more on that below).
Well, it should provide a performance bump, but it remains to be seen if a 2.66Ghz Core i7 can always overcome its 15% gigahertz deficit vs the current model 3.06 GHz MacBook Pro. I wouldn’t assume too much here, though I am hopeful.
Deceitful marketing in my view: the benchmarks compare the new 2.66GHz model against the prior 2.8GHz model, not the prior more comparable 3.06GHz model. Since Aperture is shown as only 1.1X faster, and that clock speed difference is 8%, do the math! Most of the benchmarks emphasize graphics too, which the vast majority of buyers never use.
The 13" model has seen a yawner speed bump, but retains the older processor. Still, the 2.26GHz 13" model in the refurb store can be a steal at $999 (grab one when one shows up like today, and thanks for using the link to Apple from my refurb page). Stick in some memory and decent hard drive or SSD, and it’s way less costly than anything else in Apple’s laptop lineup. And believe it or not, it runs this site!
I have already ordered the new 17" model with the configuration shown at right, to arrive in a few days for a thorough report. The 17" model is the only model with ExpressCard/34 slot for eSATA support and 3G wireless card, and its 3 USB ports might save the hassle of an external USB hub. The anti-glare screen is mandatory. The 500GB drive is going to be replaced with dual SSDs, but I ordered 7200 rpm so I can stick it into a case I already have.
Update: I expect to receive my 17" Core i7 laptop on Tuesday from Shanghai, China. Designed in the USA at least.
If you want to buy my 2.93GHz model, contact me. It will be available in a week or two, after I’ve finished comparing.
My new MBP won’t stay “stock” for very long, because it will soon see dual 200GB OWC Mercury Extreme SSDs and 8GB memory for a ultra high performance Photoshop laptop. I’ll have a full report in my Mac Performance Guide, especially for photographers.
If you were going to buy one anyway, the new model is a nice step forward in terms of processing speed, but a disappointment in other areas.
Hits of the April 2010 MacBook Pro—
- The Intel Core i5 or i7 processor should provide a nice bump up in performance—maybe. I’ll be testing it thoroughly and writing my report for MPG.
- Memory is still 1066MHz, so you can swap memory from previous model if upgrading.
- Improved graphics support (mainly improved for marketing purposes!);
- Slightly better battery life.
Way too many misses; no new functionality—
- No USB 3.0. Major bummer. This just kills it for fast external convenient storage. While eSATA on the 17" model is reasonably fast, it’s extra cost and less flexible. Still, maybe USB is a year off for most everyone.
- Still limited to 8GB of memory (2 memory slots). Major bummer that makes it tough to use for the biggest jobs, though can mitigate that using dual SSDs.
- Still no ExpressCard/34 slot in the 15" mode, so you’re forced into the 17" model for eSATA support.
- Still no official support for more than one internal drive. No big deal, the MPG Pro Laptop solves that problem for you.
- Still no eSATA port built-in.
- Still no CompactFlash slot for photographers. FW800 remains the best option.
- The optional $1300 512GB SSD is not enterprise grade, and very likely to suffer the same performance degradation as with most SSDs (reconditioning with DiskTester helps). Get the Mercury Extreme instead (or a pair of them, internally, as I’ll soon offer with the MPG Pro Laptop).
I’ll be surprised if Apple doesn’t produce a new model within 3-4 months which addresses some of these issues, at least USB 3.0.