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13-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 (2011 Edition) Review

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13-inch MacBook Pro Core i7 (2011 Edition) Review

After getting stuck with Core2Duo, the 13-inch MacBook Pro finally uses Intel Core i5 and i7 Sandy Bridge processors, a mix that makes this little laptop even more desirable.

Design

You won’t find too many aesthetical changes with this new laptop. The aluminum “unibody” still feels durable and solid, while the ports are placed with enough precision and most importantly the laptop is just 2.41 cm thick. Unfortunately, just like in the previous MacBook generation: the corner is still a bit too sharp. With a weight of 2 kg, 13-inch MacBook Pro may not be an ultra-portable laptop, but it still comfortable for you to carry during a travel.

Components

The new MacBook Pro uses a decent Intel Core i7-2620M Sandy Bridge processor clocked at 2.7 GHz. However, the laptop does not have a dedicated graphics card due to the availability of integrated graphics embedded inside the Sandy Bridge processor, which is rather special as previous Intel graphic solutions were located in the chipset. It is nevertheless a significant change as the previous version of this laptop used a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 320M, while the Sandy Bridge used the HD3000 graphics. In the end, it does not necessarily a bad thing as the performance is comparable the 320M. Still, despite the more powerful processor, they’re totally inadequate for playing recent games, but Sandy Bridge processors and HD3000 are great for encoding and decoding video. There is no change on the internal storage: it still uses a 5400 rpm 500GB hard drive, however you can choose a SSD model for better performance and lower power consumption. The RAM is 4 GB DDR3, although you can use up to 8 GB.

Display

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro has one flaw: the screen! It has a good display quality, but the glass panel covering makes it difficult to see under certain lighting condition. It is not a problem for mobile devices like the iPhone or the iPad, but for laptops that are often confined on tables or bench, a very bright light source can make most of the screen unreadable. In addition, while the 13-inch MacBook Air already offers a resolution of 1440×900, the MacBook Pro is still stuck at 1280×800.

Applications

The bundled software is the same as on all current MacBook with Mac OS X 10.6.6 pre-installed, and you can also get a good support for Mac App Store. With FaceTime you can talk with users of iPhone 4, iPod 4G, iPad 2 and Macs. The 2011 edition of MacBook Pro are the only ones at present, to integrate an HD webcam, to fully take advantage of FaceTime, which makes conversation much more pleasant, provided you have a fast Internet connection.

Battery Life

Apple promises us that the battery life of the MacBook Pro 13” to be somewhat similar with the previous edition. With typical usage (alternate uses between video playing, browsing and files transfer, with Wi-Fi enabled), the new laptop can run for about 4.5 hours.

Conclusion

MacBook Pro 13 inch remains one of the most attractive types among other Mac models. Admittedly, its price is quite high, but with a new processor generation this machine is quite competitively positioned on the 13” niche market. Price difference between MacBook and other comparable Windows-based laptops can be as high as $500, but if you prefer a compact, elegant and powerful laptop, MacBook Pro 13 Core i7 is surely a good choice.

Of course, there are a few things you should consider, it uses a 5400 rpm hard drive, which is slow for today’s standard. Although it is possible to choose a model with SSD, you need to add about $150 more.  The screen is difficult to see under certain situations, for example when there is a bright light source from behind your back and despite its new processor generation, the embedded graphic won’t be strong enough for latest 3D games. Those who want to have a better gaming experience should get Acer Aspire 5950G, with a much more powerful Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor (Intel Core i7-2630QM) and ATI Radeon HD 6650 at approximately the same price. However, you won’t be disappointed with MacBook Pro’s impeccable finish, both on outside and inside.

Pros

  • Elegant design
  • New Intel Sandy Bridge Core i7 processor
  • Good battery life
  • Innovative connectors

Cons

  • Intense glare on the display under certain lighting condition
  • Modest integrated graphics solution
  • Slow hard drive

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