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Apple MacBook Pro 13in

Apple MacBook Pro 13in

Shiny, silver Sandy Bridge system

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Mid-range master

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.

Apple MacBook Pro 13in

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.

Verdict

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

More Mac Reviews

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Intelligent flash storage arrays

85%
Apple MacBook Pro 13in

Apple MacBook Pro 13in

13in aluminium-clad notebook equipped with Intel's latest generation of mobile processors.
Price: £999-1299 RRP

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