The latest crop of MacBook Pro laptops from Apple boasts several new features, such as a new generation of Intel processors, improved dual graphics, and increased battery life. Most of the changes, however, are to be found in the 15in and 17in models. The 13in models remain the least expensive of the Pro line, but also the most similar to the previous generation.
Both new 13in MacBook Pro models include Nvidia’s GeForce 320M integrated graphics, which share a minimum of 256MB of main memory. This replaces the GeForce 9400M integrated graphics in the previous generation (which shared the same amount and type of RAM). In our testing, the new 13in models achieved much better frame rates on our Call of Duty test. For example, at 38.9 frames per second, the new 2.4GHz MacBook Pro did 15.2 frames per second better than the higher-end, 2.53GHz 2009 model – an improvement of 64 per cent. They still lagged behind the new low-end 15in MacBook Pro, though, which garnered 68.4 frames per second thanks to its discrete graphics.
The new MacBook Pros have the same Multitouch glass trackpad as before, but the line-up adds a new trick. All the new MacBook Pros now have inertial scrolling. Just as on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, if you swipe your finger down to scroll through a long web page, for example, the momentum continues the scrolling until it gradually dies off. The feature seems right at home on the MacBook Pro and will be familiar to anyone who has used Apple’s iPhone OS devices.
Another new feature, common to the entire MacBook Pro line, is the ability for the Mini DisplayPort connection to output multichannel audio in addition to the video signal it has always carried (the MacBook Pro supports mirroring or extending your desktop on an external display up to 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, but the adaptors needed are all optional accessories). To test it out, we purchased a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter. We connected the MacBook Pro to an HD TV using the HDMI cable and input that we usually use for the Blu-ray player. Although it worked for video (letting us play 720p video without problem) the audio didn’t play through the TV, instead coming out of the MacBook Pro’s built-in speakers. We asked Apple about it and the company recommends higher-quality cables such as the Griffin Video Display Converter (coming soon to the UK), saying that some lower-priced cables don’t deliver audio.
What’s the same?
Although the 15in and 17in MacBook Pros include Intel’s new Core i5 or Core i7 mobile processors, the 13in MacBook Pro continues to use the Core 2 Duo line of processors. In the 13in size, Apple offers a 2.4GHz dual core processor in the £999 model, and a 2.66GHz dual-core processor in the £1,249 model. Each has 3MB on-chip L2 cache shared between the two cores.