Apple MacBook Pro 13in
Shiny, silver Sandy Bridge system
Incidentally, Bootcamp users may be annoyed to learn that the new model mandates Windows 7 - so if you have on old XP or Vista installer you've been using on a previous machine, you'll need to cough up to Microsoft.
Same stylish 'unibody' design as before
With the new Intel CPU, the 13in MBP hold its own against even quad-core notebooks based on the previous generation of Core i processor - be they Macs or Windows 7 machines such as the Asus NX90. Only graphics let it down. Intel may have improved its GPU technology, but here at least the GMA series still can't beat a discrete GPU.
And that's my only real criticism with the new 13in MacBook Pro - given that suffix, it warrants better graphical performance than it delivers. Many buyers will consider this as a cheaper or a more portable - or both - alternative to the 15in MacBook Pro. OK, you might not expect a quad-core CPU, but you should get Pro-level graphics.
Apple claims a seven-hour battery life - slightly lower than the previous model, though it says it has a new, more accurate measuring scheme. Reg Hardware relies on the worse-case scenario of thrashing the CPU, GPU and hard drive buy running PC Mark Vantage continuously until the test machine dies. The 13in MBP ran for 116 minutes - slightly better than the old 17in MacBook Pro, which delivered comparable computing performance but had a much larger battery.
This is a harsh test, and based on a more realistic usage model, I'd expect real-world usage to run to six hours or so at least.
Just as eye-catching as ever, the 13in entry in Apple's updated MacBook Pro line delivers a welcome performance boost across the board with no increase in price. But it's high time Apple gave it a proper pro-level graphics chip. ®
Many thanks to the Square Group for the loan of the review unit
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