Apple MacBook Pro 15in
Sandy Bridge stunner
Review The 13in MacBook Pro I reviewed last week is a machine for folk who fancy a carry-around computer but who want a bit more welly than the way more portable 13in MacBook Air can provide. The 15in version, on the other hand, is a desktop replacement for the power hungry.
Sure, it's mobile. It has a decent battery life. But it's not a computer to keep with you at all times. Performance is its virtue, not portability.
Apple's MacBook Pro 15in: very metal
And what performance. Like the 13in MBP, the new 15-incher is built around Intel's second-generation Core i processors, this time all four-core, eight-thread boys. As you'll see from the benchmark results on the following pages, it makes a difference.
I took a spin with the 2GHz Core i7-2635QM-based version, but Apple also offers a model with a 2.2GHz quad-core chip. The latter is £300 more expensive, but you get an extra 250GB of hard drive storage - 750GB to the lesser model's 500GB - double the dedicated video memory - 1GB of it - and a more upscale AMD GPU, the Radeon HD 6750M.
The cheaper of the two 15in MBPs has the Radeon HD 6490M with 512MB of GDDR 5. Both version also have an integrated Intel graphics core clocked at 650MHz but capable of being overclocked to 1.2GHz here. It's built right into the CPU, and Mac OS X switches between the two graphics cores - Intel to keep the power consumption as low as possible, AMD when your app needs some visual performance - dynamically and entirely invisibly.
I have a previous-generation 15in MBP and use Cody Krieger's excellent free, open source utility gfxCardStatus to control which GPU my machine - which has a mix of Intel and Nvidia graphics - to set which is in play. Cody has just updated his app to support the new MBP's AMD chippery. If you get one of these machines, his app is a must-have download.
Next page: Maximum power
Like for like, Apple's good value for money
Expensive compared with what? A top-end Viao F series is (Sony's site is so damn slow it's timed out) - maybe it knows I'm just comparing prices. What a crap website.
Looking at other websites, there's no like-for-like comparison, e.g. with an equivalent processor, hard disc, memory, GPU, etc. From past experience their top-end machines cost as much if not more than Apple's machines and they're made from plastic and run "windows".
Checking Dell's website (that works although is very noisy) a "Precision M4500" specced up with an inferior 2.13GHz I7, etc. came to £2230. This is plastic and runs "windows".
Checking on the Apple website (it works and is fast - Sony take note), even when speccing up the machine to the max (8Gb, 2.3 quad-core I7, high-res screen) it's less than £2300. Perfectly reasonable price for a professional -- my plumber spends more than that on tools in his van.
BTW, speccing the Macbook with the slower 2.2GHz processor reduced the cost to under £2100, e.g. better performance for much less than the Dell.
From my own experience, Apple laptops are very much designed as workhorse machines.
The Viaos I've had in the past have really shown their age after a short amount of time as the plastic wears away and it cracks and creaks. IMO Dells are fugly, fully living up to their corporate drone persona, yuck.
Bad example, bad comparison
That's not a very good example to compare against. A 17.3" screen with 1600x900 resolution? That's bargain bin trash...
Can you give us real world battery life on that thing? Less than the Mac? Oh... no dual graphic cards that autoswitch to conserve energy AND a 17.3 inch screen to light up.. ok.
Also, fitting the components within a bigger chassis is easier. Dropping the pitch of the screen significantly reduces a part of the cost, and gives an indicator towards the cost saving measures taken in other parts of the device.
I seem to recall a story about people complaining about the 27" iMac being expensive, but a closer examination showed that if you wanted the same quality screen (IPS) in that size you could also buy a hard drive and a keyboard before hitting the price of the complete iMac.... The quality of each component counts.
Don't get me wrong, I really like ASUS. I used to sell and service their machines and if I were to buy a computer for Linux or, against all odd, Windows, then ASUS would be among the first I would examine. Relatively cheap, and extremely good for the price.
Just a crap comparison.
Re: Like for like, Apple's good value for money
I buy Apple laptops for the spec and build quality. As you point out, comparing like for like they are pretty good value. I actually run Linux on them, so to me Apple are just another laptop vendor, and I could certainly go elsewhere to make my purchase if the quality and spec wasn't so good.
for someone with "2 intel apples"
you seem unaware that apple's trackpads are two button. and three button.and four button. what part of "tap with two fingers for right-click" do you find "inelegant"? or even a work-around? have you ever used one?
A what replacement? I don't even remember what a desktop computer is. I replaced my last desktop with a PBG4 the day they came out, ten years ago, and never looked back!