back to article Apple MacBook Pro 13in

Love or loathe Apple, you can't deny it makes gorgeous-looking computers. Are there cheaper machines? Sure. Better spec'd? Maybe not, now that the new MacBook Pros are here, complete with Intel's very latest mobile processors and an interconnect tech no one else has yet. Apple MacBook Pro 13in Apple's MacBook Pro 13in: metal …


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  1. RPF
    Thumb Up

    You've got to.... an SSD to these, If you can. The difference is unbelievable. Mine boots up in about 10 seconds and programs launch immediately. No more watching the bouncing dock icon whilst listening to the drive click about inside - fabulous!

    I went for the 15' because I just can't get along with those reflective "glossy' screens and the extra resolution is a nice bonus - 1680 x 1050 makes for a great amount of viewing space.

    1. Robin

      re: You've got to....

      A 15 foot screen? Those guys can cram so much into a tiny form factor!

      But I agree with you about SSD and that 'glossy' screen.

  2. christech81

    Checking the specs

    Great review and it was nice to see someone actually pointing out that comparing the headline specification of a MBP against another machine then calling it "expensive" is unjust.

    Quite often the average user will look at CPU, memory or hard disk size rather than the fact that the machine comes with infra red (compatible with Apple remotes from way back), decent web cam, very good gesture based trackpad etc. As the review points out most importantly the Apple has decent chipsets so that there are normally very good to excellent controllers (for wifi, SATA etc).

    Of course there is a price premium for the Apple design - every manufacturer needs a markup - but normally worth the extra cost given the build quality.

    Have one being delivered Friday and looking forward to it as performance is very good.

    1. Ammaross Danan


      I agree, it's great to dig into the hardware itself rather than just going by speeds'n'feeds. Although, some gains are fairly moot, such at the 5GHz capability, as many WiFi-N devices still only have the 2.4GHz range. Dual-band devices are out there, but not as likely to be purchased.

      Similar spec'ed PC laptops would likely run quite close to the MBP's prices, so it really comes down to a couple things: 1) Operating System (and with it Application Support, capabilities, etc) and 2) Cost of Upgrades and Peripherals.

  3. JDX Gold badge


    Integrated graphics in their TOP-line range is just a joke. This is just a regular MacBook in a metal box.

    1. David Ward 1
      Thumb Up


      couldn't agree more, think I will be going for the dell xps 15 for £799 with a i7-2630QM and real graphics.

    2. font9a

      Yeah, but it's a great MacBook!

      Yeah, but it's a dang good MacBook, at that!

      I have a MBP 17" 2.3 with dual SSDs in RAID-0 — and it's faster than my Mac Pro 2.8.

      My wife has a 2010 MacBook Air with a 256 SSD that's way faster than our son's 2008 MacBook (with an upgraded 3rd party 256GB SSD.)

  4. whats the point of kenny lynch?

    blu-ray maybe? eh?

    oh course you want blu-ray on a portable machine. apple's reluctance to include it is pathetic and a blatant attempt to tie you into content from itunes. they made the same mistake with cd burners......and will regret it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      LG vs Blu-Ray

      Seeing that Sony, the creator of Blu-Ray, still has their PS3 banned for import into Europe - because of LG's patents on it - shows that maybe it's not such a pathetic decision?

  5. RichyS

    Battery life test

    I can't imagine for a minute that Win 6.1 via Bootcamp can optimise the battery life the same way OS X can (for example, does Windows cut the headphone socket if there's no sound for a while, as per your comment?).

    As such, don't you think a better battery life test is required. One that can pit Windows, Linux and OS X laptops against one another in a real world scenario? I'm sure such a thing can't e beyond the El Reg Hardware desk...

    1. Ammaross Danan


      Alternatives would be a program that can run a consistent, scripted something (in this case a looping benchmark), that works the CPU, GPU, and hard disk, that functions similarly in Windows, Linux, and MacOSX (so the GPU part would have to be OpenGL). Only thing I can think of is a custom bit of OpenGL code that spins a very complex polymap while doing a looping disk write and something akin to Prime95 in the background.....

      Now that's my thoughts, care to actually posit a suggestion in your comment rather than just saying "your crap sucks, find something better"?

  6. Arnold Lieberman


    Fanbois, surely!

  7. Jonathan White


    Why would you want bluray on a device that has a display that

    a) Is only 13" diagonal

    b) Doesn't have 1080p resolution.

    A 13" laptop is a bloody useless way to view BluRay/HD media. In that circumstance you'd be much better off watching SD media, which it can display quite happily. Can we at least consider whether a technology is actually appropriate before we complain about it's non-inclusion?

    I concur with a lot of the criticisms in this review - I'd say unless you really need a small mac laptop the 15" makes for much better value - but we all need to keep a bit of perspective here.

    1. Iainn


      Bluray isn't just for watching 1080p movies, the storage they provide is excellent. This thing has Thunderbolt so why not Bluray too? In 5 years, yeah you can plug in your Thunderbolt drive but try to access content on a Bluray and you're stuffed.

      1. Jonathan White


        In five years time you'll be able to connect a bluray drive via thunderbolt? Just a thought. Just like you could connect a USB bluray drive now, you know, if you wanted to. Apple's not banning you from having a bluray on this thing, it's just not throwing one in for you.

        As for the storage they provide for 'non video' content being excellent, it's a very poor £/GB ratio compared to most USB hard drives, especially given you can effectively only access it in 25/50Gb chunks. And it's slower. And it burns more power, which is a significant issue in a laptop.

        There are a number of scenarios where BluRay as a storage medium works. None of those also include a 13" laptop. I'd maybe like to see BR as an option on the 17" model but it's really nowhere near a worthwhile option on the 13" one. It would be a 'box tick' that would only provide a nice feature for marketing but very poor usability. That's not generally the game Apple play, so I don't really see why people have an expectation of it happening in this case.

        1. Ammaross Danan

          I for one

          I for one enjoy piping HDMI to the telly to watch 1080p content....except there's no 1080p source in the MBP (such as Blu-Ray). Which is why my PC laptop does the task for now. Just because the screen is <1080p doesn't mean the Blu-Ray drive isn't useful. Currently, you're forced to rip/downconvert your already-owned Blu-Rays and stuff them onto DVDs/USB-HDD to watch on your MBP.

    2. Stacy
      Thumb Down

      Maybe you want to watch your movies on the move?

      And if you have a BluRay collection it would be nice to be able to do this simply.

      I don't want the hassle of ripping them and converting them, I want to put the disc in a drive and play it...

      And pointing out that the resolution sucks (is barely more than my current 11" ultra portable, and apples own 11" ultra portable) is not a valid reason for not including other tech that should be in an expensive toy.

      Apple do make nice looking, well built machines (excepting the iPhone 3G that felt awful in the hand, and seems to always break in the same place), but for the rest... Meh.

  8. Dibbles
    Jobs Horns

    Boring accusation but...

    "The price may be high, but comparison with seemingly similar specced but cheaper PCs is dangerous. Few of them, for instance, include a full 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor that works not only in the 2.4GHz band but also at 5GHz"

    This particular snippet comes across as protesting too much that you can't compare this Mac to a PC pound for pound. For a site like Reg Hardware, why not? Go for it - take the chance that the Mac *might* look overpriced (or alternatively knock everything out of the park) and actually compare the closest PC match on price. Because as a consumer, "facts" like 'it operates in the 5GHz band' mean nothing to me and my perceived value of the product.

    1. chr0m4t1c

      No title required

      Unfortunately, if you look at any other Reg review of a Mac you'll find the comments full of "but I can buy Machine X for half the price" type statements and they all miss the point, which is all of the stuff that isn't on the spec sheet.

      For example, my three year old MBP is happily running the latest version of OSX every bit as smoothly as it ran the original OS that it shipped with - without me having to take any special care of it or perform any optimisations - and it shows few signs of wear and tear.

      The same cannot be said of my similarly specified Windows machine bought at the same time for half the money, despite being used less it's not worn well and it isn't making a particularly good job of running W7, even though that was a fresh install about eight months ago.

      Overall the Windows machine really needs to be replaced and the Mac probably won't for at least another year, maybe longer.

  9. JDX Gold badge

    re: Dibbles

    >>Because as a consumer, "facts" like 'it operates in the 5GHz band' mean nothing to me and my perceived value of the product

    Really? Consumers who are technically savvy like Reg readers might very well consider this important.

    But I agree a bit with you... I don't think Macs do stack up badly on cost when compared with Windows high-spec machines anyway... those which include aesthetics as part of their appeal anyway.

  10. MN

    It is hard to compare on price

    I have this argument repeatedly with friends - and it's tough because while it's easy to spec a non-mac to, or above the specs of macbooks, there are certain things that are hard to quantify.

    For example, Dell have just started using Sandy Bridge i7s in their XPS laptops. As they don't do 13" ones, I've had to compare the 15" ones, giving the Dell the edge when direct comparisons aren't possible.

    Apple MBP 15", 2.2GHz i7, 4GB RAM, 500GB 7200rpm HDD, 1680x1050 screen, £1929

    Dell XPS15, 2.2GHz i7, 4GB RAM, 640GB 7200rpm HDD, 1920x1080 screen, £1149.

    Looks like a shoe-in, but this is where it becomes interesting.

    The Dell comes with 2GB GT540M graphics, the MBP has dual graphics cards - main one being the 1Gb HD6750M. It looks as if Apple has this one based on cursory glances at benchmark websites.

    Another thing it's hard to gauge based on manufacturers details is battery life - Apple are generally at the high end of this benchmark, too.

    The main thing, however, is resale value - I'm a PC person, and always have been. Yet when I'm done with a laptop, it goes in the loft. The idea that it has any residual cash value after 2 years is alien to me. Yet I have friends who have even made profits over 6 months when buying Macbooks.

    For me, the idea of upgrading every year seems like a colossal waste of time and money, but it's the only way I could justify a mac laptop. I think I may be overanalysing things here, though - despite the ream of figures I'd have created, I'm still susceptible to the "IT'S SO FLUFFY I'M GONNA DIE" sensations.

    1. Mike Moyle

      re: It is hard to compare on price

      "For me, the idea of upgrading every year seems like a colossal waste of time and money, but it's the only way I could justify a mac laptop. I think I may be overanalysing things here, though"

      Or, you may no be analyzing enough.

      It seems to me that your decision rests on two issues:

      1 -- "Do I *NEED* to keep on the leading edge every year, or is being top-tier for a six months to a year and 'still pretty damned good' for the following two or three years sufficient for my purposes?"

      2 -- "How much am I willing to spend amortized over those two to three years?"

      Given the resale value that you have, correctly, noted for Mac hardware -- even two- to three-year-old hardware; particularly their laptop range -- you could end up being out-of-pocket for only half the cost of buying your new machine. Divide that by how long you're willing to live with 'still pretty damned good' and you may find that you actually come out well ahead of where you think you would.

      Of course, if you always HAVE to have the newest, fastest, bleeding-edgiest hardware so you can lord it over all of your friends/coworkers, then this might not work for you.

    2. Chris Parsons

      Why do I need a title to reply to a post?


  11. christech81

    It is hard to compare on price v2.0

    Agree with post from MN for years I've had Dell Precision Workstations (like the M90 or equivalent) which costs thousands of pounds, the build quality and components are comparable to Apple but the products have been more expensive than those from Apple. True observation from MN, after two years my Dells were worth a fraction of the cost.

    The Apple PC's quite often have superlative displays, keyboards, track pads, comparing the CPU or how many USB's against a cheap PC is irrelevant.

    The Apple is about design too, form and function, in that respect PC manufacturers are catching up but again you find the rival manufacturers price their machines the same or higher (think HP Envy, High end Sony, Ferrari / Lamborghini range).

  12. Anonymous Coward

    £1000 and a 5400RPM drive?

    What's the point in having a Processor Of Doom when it's spending 80% of its time trimming its nails waiting for the slug-a-bed HDD to wake up? I'm sure that drive's in there instead of a 7200 drive to save battery life, but a grand for that?

    I think you do have to compare on price, because that's what normal people buying a normal computer do. I think you have to say to Apple "You must be pulling my plonker if you think that's worth £1000".

  13. Monkey

    Oh for crying out loud

    Sony did NOT create Blu-ray. Three, almost four years is it since the tech arrived? And still people make stupid, ill educated nonsense comments about who invented it.

    Nice one You know LG were part of the Blu-ray disc association and a technological contributor to the format don't you?! Round of applause there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Dear Monkey

      Facts (from Wikipedia):

      "Sony started two projects applying the new diodes: UDO and DVR Blue (together with Pioneer)[ a format of rewritable discs that would eventually become Blu-ray Disc (more specifically, BD-RE).

      The first DVR Blue prototypes were unveiled at the CEATEC exhibition in October 2000 by Sony.

      The first consumer device arrived in stores on April 10, 2003: the Sony BDZ-S77."

      Then there's the part where Sony included Blu-Ray at a loss on their PS3 to create the first affordable player. And finally where it saved the format by buying off larger movie studios

      than the competing HD-DVD.

      So ... In what way does all this not mean created the format?

  14. rsm1979

    USB Fail

    I use one of these regularly and the USB port arrangement drives me mad.

    You can't use a 3G dongle and a USB headset at the same time because the ports are too close together.

    Your only option is to use an extender cable which is a pain in the backside if you're on a train or something.

    Apart from that, the hardware is very good.

  15. E 2


    MBPs are very nice machines, I had a circa 2007 model MBP 15" and liked it a lot. Now though, I'm waiting for AMD Fusion CPUs in these machines. Also glossy screens reflect to much, prefer non-glossy.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Ergonomics & then some.............

    Different strokes for different folks

    As good as they are I'll pass on the MacBook Pros.

    Two glaring problems:

    1. Sharp edge at the front which cuts your hands off at the wrist

    2. Flat, cheap, chicklet keys which went out with PC Jr.

    Acer do the same on their notebooks.

    Bring back contoured keys.

    Love glossy screens as introduced by Sony.

    Don't need or want Bluray & certainly not on a notebook.

    Sticking with DVDs having been down the vinyl, 8 Track, cassette, CD routes.

    Want MacBook Air 11 inch with 500GB HD or 256GB SSD as minimum

    Want Apple TV with 500GB minimum

    Want iPod classic with 200GB plus

    Will live with 64GB on iPad 2 but would always take more

    1. chr0m4t1c

      Could have a long wait

      Given that Apple have just taken all of the storage out of the AppleTV, I seriously doubt you'll get you wish for that one.

      I'm with you on the iPod Classic, but to be fair the reason why they haven't made a bigger one available is simple: Until recently no-one made a bigger capacity drive in the right form-factor.

      There is a drive available now (Hitachi I think), so we might see a storage bump this year, but only to something like 220Gb.

      Only other option would be to switch to custom SSD, but then you'd probably end up with a price tag of £700+, which could have an adverse effect on sales.

  17. bex

    pro 13

    I have the cheaper £1000 i5 and compared to my old white macbook its much better. In normal use its whisper quiet and hardly gets warm at all. In my use the battery probably will do 5 hours whilst not earth shattering is pretty decent.

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