Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro is the ideal notebook for Mac users who need a good balance of portability and power. The mid-2010 update brings us three new models, offering 2.4GHz and 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 processors as well as the high-end 2.66GHz Core-i7 version reviewed here.
All three releases feature Apple’s innovative new automatic graphics switching technology. When graphics requirements are low, the Intel HD Graphics facility built into the Core-i chipset is used. When more power is needed: such as for video editing or gaming, graphics processing switches to the more powerful but also more power-hungry NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M. Unlike previous MacBook Pros, you don’t have to switch manually through the System Preferences, although you can turn off automatic switching and stick with the discrete GPU to save battery if you wish.
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Apple MacBook Pro: Graphics and processor
The MacBook Pro’s graphical capabilities certainly impress. In our tests, the notoriously resource-hungry Doom 3 ran at almost 100 frames per second, despite our ramping up the screen resolution and turning graphical detail to maximum. But this power hasn’t come at the expense of battery life. Its internal 77.5Wh lithium-polymer battery still lasts around eight to nine hours on a single charge.
Core-i processors benefit from Intel’s Turbo Boost and Hyper Threading technology, which greatly increase their power. Hyper Threading allows two threads to run on a single core, so a dual core chip offers four virtual cores. The Turbo Boost feature switches off unused cores and transfers the power to those in use, giving a 2.66GHz chip a potential speed of 3.06GHz for dual core tasks and 3.33GHz when using a single core.
Apple MacBook Pro: Build and screen
Some things haven’t changed. The new 15-inch MacBook Pros are still built around Apple’s unibody enclosure, carved from a single block of aluminium for durability and lightness. The screen’s still a gorgeous LED-backlit glossy affair with excellent viewing angles, and the keyboard still illuminates in low-light conditions. Connectivity is the same too, with two USB ports, one FireWire 800 port , Mini DisplayPort and an SD card reader on offer.
The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is the ideal machine for the serious notebook user and the best so far. It’s compact enough to be comfortably portable, but packs enough power for even the most demanding user. But at £1800 it’s not cheap, although you’re getting a lot of Mac for your money.