Apple MacBook Pro (1.83GHz)

The MacBook Pro delivers unparalleled style, a solid set of features and software, and a few transitional performance issues that keep it from rivaling the most powerful PC laptops.


9.1
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Apple's first new laptop since the company switched to Intel processors, the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro features a Centrino Core Duo processor and, in doing so, ushers in a new era of Apple computing. Replacing the 15-inch PowerBook in the company's lineup, the MacBook Pro delivers many familiar, beloved features (a scrolling track pad, the Sudden Motion Sensor, an excellent software package), along with a few new ones.

While the Intel partnership gives Apple the potential to match the performance capabilities of its Windows-based competition, the first MacBook Pro, like the iMac Core Duo, shows signs of the growing pains Apple faces in switching to the new platform. We expect the company to work out these kinks as it transitions the remainder of its laptops to Intel, but beware: If you use Photoshop or other apps that are not native to the Mac OS, you will see diminished performance, forced as they are to run through Apple's stopgap Rosetta translation utility (more on this below). On the plus side, Apple recently released another utility, called Boot Camp, which lets you run Microsoft Windows XP on the MacBook Pro (and other Macs with Intel processors). So, if you have a PC version of Photoshop or another nonnative application, you can now install and run it (with no performance impediments) on a MacBook Pro running Windows XP. If all of that sounds like too much trouble, the HP Pavilion dv1000t and the Acer TravelMate 8200 offer superior performance (compared to nonnative applications running on the Mac OS) and many of the same features for a lower or equal price.

Design
With the MacBook Pro, Apple's hasn't radically redesigned the PowerBook form factor -- it has just made a few refinements to it. As such, the sleek, aluminum MacBook Pro looks very similar to the 15-inch PowerBook G4 -- just a tad wider, to accommodate the slightly larger 15.4-inch (diagonal) display, and a few millimeters thinner. Striking a successful compromise between portability and usability, the MacBook Pro weighs 1.69 kg --an ounce less than the PowerBook and toward the upper end of the thin-and-light category. The MacBook's AC adapter, which is larger and 85 grams heavier than the PowerBook's, brings the total package to 2.54 kg. One awesome innovation: the MacBook's AC adapter connects magnetically to the laptop, so if you accidentally trip over the cord, it will simply detach instead of sending your MacBook flying or tearing out the laptop's innards.

Underneath the lid, the MacBook Pro extends the tradition of the PowerBook's minimalist design. The MacBook Pro has just a power button; a big, keyboard framed by stereo speakers; a very large touch pad with a single mouse button; and one new feature: a handy built-in iSight camera that sits above the display. Though the keys are a bit shallow, they're wide, and we found them comfortable to type on; we also love the keyboard's backlighting feature, which adjusts to changes in ambient light levels. The touch pad lets you scroll through long documents, Web pages, and spreadsheets by dragging two fingers down or across the pad, a terrific feature that's unique to Apple laptops. The MacBook Pro's 15.4-inch (diagonal) wide-screen display features a fine 1,440x900 native resolution and looks noticeably brighter than the 15-inch PowerBook's display and about as bright as the average PC laptop display.

Features
Apple updates some of the PowerBook's ports and connections with the MacBook Pro and scales back a few others; overall, we think the MacBook Pro comes up a bit short of what you'll find on similarly priced PC laptops, such as the TravelMate 8200 and the Pavilion dv1000t. That said, the MacBook Pro features two USB 2.0 ports (fewer than most comparably sized PC laptops); a FireWire 400 port; an ExpressCard slot; and DVI and VGA ports for connecting to an external monitor. It's also equipped with Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (enhanced data rate), and you can access the Internet via 802.11g Wi-Fi radio and Gigabit Ethernet.

As with the PowerBook, the MacBook Pro features a slot-loading SuperDrive that plays and burns DVDs and CDs. One new extra is a small remote control, which looks like an iPod Shuffle, that controls the included Front Row multimedia player; we wish the MacBook had a storage slot for it (like the Pavilion dv1000t has for its remote). Unlike most PC laptops, however, the MacBook Pro lacks a built-in media reader for flash memory cards; also, there's no S-Video output, composite-video connection, FireWire 800 port or built-in modem -- all of which the PowerBook had.

The MacBook Pro ships with Mac OS X Tiger, highlights of which include the incredibly cool Spotlight search utility and the customisable Dashboard, a collection of handy desktop tools. Also included is the robust iLife '06 software suite and a handful of other apps; an equivalent batch of PC software could easily run hundreds of dollars.

Performance
The MacBook Pro comes in two standard configurations, each running Intel's new Core Duo processor: a 1.83GHz model for AU$3,199, and a 2.0GHz model for AU$3,999 (which you can upgrade to 2.16GHz for AU$460 more). We tested the base 1.83GHz version, which was equipped with 512MB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM; an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card with 128MB of VRAM; and an 80GB 5,400rpm hard drive. In testing the MacBook Pro, we compared it against a number of older Apple laptops running the PowerPC processor, as well as a group of Windows-based laptops running Intel's Core Duo processor. As with the iMac Core Duo, which we tested in January, the results were mixed.

Apple has prepared its own software, such as iLife, to run with the new Intel processor and has developed a translation program called Rosetta to help the Intel Macs run older applications for the Mac. Not every software vendor has completed the necessary reprogramming to ensure full performance on the Intel Macs, however, so some applications, Photoshop and Sorenson Squeeze among them, run significantly slower -- slower than on even the lowest-end iBook. But Rosetta is required only when running the Mac OS; with Boot Camp, you can turn the MacBook Pro (and the other Intel-based Macs) into a dual-boot machine that runs full versions of Mac OS X and Windows XP.

After Boot Camp was released, we pitted a MacBook Pro running Windows XP against a MacBook Pro running Mac OS X, as well as the PC competition. We found that nonnative apps such as Photoshop run much faster in the Windows environment. We expect this performance delta to shrink or disappear altogether once more universal binary apps--nonnative Mac software built for the Intel platform--are released. Still, the transition is far from complete. Though Apple can boast of the hundreds of apps that do run natively on Intel-based Macs, Adobe's universal binary version of its next Creative Suite (which includes Photoshop) is likely more than a year away. Do note, however, that if you are currently frustrated by Photoshop performance on a MacBook Pro, you'll need to purchase the Windows version in order to do an end run around Rosetta and operate within Windows. You'll also need to pick up a copy of XP Home or Pro.

That said, the MacBook Pro runs native applications such as iTunes considerably faster than previous Apple laptops, and working within the OS just feels faster. We also found that applications that have been patched for Apple-Intel machines, such as Unreal Tournament 2004, show serious speed gains; in UT2004, the MacBook turned in about twice as many frames per second as the 17-inch PowerBook G4, making it the first Apple laptop possibly worth gaming on. (Our testing of a MacBook Pro running Windows XP reinforced this finding.)

It's only a matter of time until the software catches up, and most major vendors have committed to the transition. We do recommend looking into your favorite apps -- especially if you use them for work -- to see how the compatibility is shaping up before making a purchase. CNET's iMac Core Duo review contains many more details about Rosetta, universal binary, and other issues related to application performance on the new Intel-powered Macs.

For such a portable laptop, it's a shame that the MacBook Pro's battery life comes up short. In our DVD battery-drain test, the MacBook Pro lasted for 2.9 hours -- a bit more than the 15-inch PowerBook we tested last summer, but still inferior to the PC competition. The TravelMate 8200 lasted for almost 3.5 hours and the Pavilion dv1000t just shy of 4 hours.

Support
Apple backs the MacBook Pro with an industry-standard one-year warranty that covers parts and labour, but toll-free telephone support is limited to a mere 90 days -- well short of what you'll typically find on the PC side -- unless you purchase the AU$579 AppleCare Protection Plan, which extends phone support and repair coverage to three years. By way of contrast, you can upgrade most PCs' warranties to three years of support for around AU$300. Apple does offer online troubleshooting, and its Web forums are a good resource to get tips from other users and download the product's printed manual.

iTunes MP3 conversion
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
iTunes MP3 conversion
MacBook Pro Core Duo-1.83GHz (Tested 3/06)
20
iBook G4-1.33GHz 12-inch (Tested 8/05)
36
iBook G4-1.33GHz 14.1-inch (Tested 8/05)
37

Photoshop CS
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
Photoshop CS (in minutes)
iBook G4-1.33GHz 12-inch (Tested 8/05)
12.9
MacBook Pro Core Duo-1.83GHz (Tested 3/06)
15.18
iBook G4-1.33GHz 14.1-inch (Tested 8/05)
28.31

Unreal Tournament 2004
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unreal Tournament 2004 (In frames per second)
MacBook Pro Core Duo-1.83GHz (Tested 3/06)
37.01
iBook G4-1.33GHz 12-inch (Tested 8/05)
16.06
iBook G4-1.33GHz 14.1-inch (Tested 8/05)
12.78

DVD movie battery-drain test
(Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
DVD movie battery-drain test (In hours)
iBook G4-1.33GHz 14.1-inch (Tested 8/05)
3.9
MacBook Pro Core Duo-1.83GHz (Tested 3/06)
2.9

Updated April 12, 2006: The following charts represent our findings in pitting a 2.0GHz MacBook Pro (running Windows XP via Boot Camp) against the original MacBook Pro (running OS X Tiger) we tested, as well as against a few non-Apple systems.

In our Photoshop test, the original MacBook Pro struggled, forced to process the application through its Rosetta translation program, which resulted in performance that was about five times slower than the PC competition--slower than on even the lowest-end iBook. Because a native version of Photoshop for OS X isn't expected until sometime next year, the ability to run Photoshop smoothly on a MacBook Pro running Windows XP is a crucial step forward.

Photoshop CS
In minutes (Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
MacBook Pro (Windows XP Pro)
2.5
HP Pavilion dv1000t
3.19
MacBook Pro (Mac OS X Tiger, via Rosetta)
15.18

In our iTunes conversion test, the original MacBook came at the top of the heap, slightly ahead of the HP, the Acer, and the MacBook Pro running Windows XP. We'll chalk this up to the fact that Apple's applications will always run best on Apple hardware. Still, the difference is nominal.

iTunes multiple MP3 conversion test
In minutes (Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
MacBook Pro (Mac OS X Tiger)
1.8
HP Pavilion dv1000t
1.9
MacBook Pro (Windows XP Pro)
2.05

Perhaps the best news is that Boot Camp shows the potential for gaming on a Mac. Where the MacBook Pro running OS X Tiger turned in only 13.8 frames per second (fps) in our standard Doom 3 benchmark, the MacBook Pro running Windows XP notched 21.6fps. Yes, this is likely partially due to the difference in the processor speed, but more so due to the fact that Doom 3 was built to run on Windows XP. There's no question: You'll have a noticeably better gaming experience on a Mac running Windows XP than Mac OS X.

Doom 3
In frames per second (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
MacBook Pro (Windows XP Pro)
21.6
MacBook Pro (Mac OS X Tiger)
13.8
HP Pavilion dv1000t
7.8

The remainder of our tests, Sorenson Squeeze, Dr. Divx, and Cinebench, all test encoding performance. The charts speak volumes. The MacBook Pro running Windows XP delivers performance power that's identical to the PC competition.

Sorenson Squeeze video encoding
In minutes (Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
HP Pavilion dv1000t
4.13
MacBook Pro (Windows XP Pro)
4.41
MacBook Pro (Mac OS X Tiger)
27.6
Dr. Divx file conversion
In minutes (Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
HP Pavilion dv1000t
2.55
MacBook Pro (Windows XP Pro)
2.55

Cinebench
In seconds (Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
HP Pavilion dv1000t
48.3
MacBook Pro (Windows XP Pro)
48.7

System configurations
Acer TravelMate 8200
Windows XP Professional; 2GHz Pentium M-T2500 Core Duo; 2GB PC 4300 DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon x1600 512MB (256MB shared); Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB 5,400rpm

Apple iBook G4 (1.33GHz, 12-inch)
OS X 10.4.2; PowerPC G4 1.33GHz; 512MB PC2700 333MHz DDR SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 9550 32MB; Fujitsu MHV2040AT 40GB 4,200rpm

Apple iBook G4 (1.33GHz, 14-inch)
OS X 10.3.8; PowerPC G4 1.33GHz; 256MB PC2100 266MHz DDR SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 32MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AT 60GB 4,200rpm

Apple MacBook Pro (1.83GHz Core Duo, 15.4-inch)
OS X 10.4.5; Core Duo 1.83GHz; 512MB PC4200 333MHz DDR2 SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon x1600 128MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AT 60GB 4,200rpm

Apple PowerBook G4 (1.5GHz, 12-inch)
OS X 10.4.2; PowerPC G4 1.5GHz; 512MB PC2700 333MHz DDR SDRAM; Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 80GB 5,400rpm

Apple PowerBook G4 (1.67GHz, 15-inch)
OS X 10.4.1; PowerPC G4 1.67GHz; 512MB PC2700 333MHz DDR SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2080AH 80GB 5,400rpm

Apple PowerBook G4 (1.67GHz, 17-inch)
OS X 10.4.2; PowerPC G4 1.67GHz; 512MB PC4200 333MHz DDR2 SDRAM; ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB; Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion dv1000t
Windows XP Home; 1.5GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME up to 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2080AT PL 80GB 4m200rpm

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Colin
9
Rating
 

Colin posted a review   

The Good:The screen is so clear. Boot up time is fast. It just works.

The Bad:Don't use it on a plastic stable table. I melted it to the base of the laptop it got so hot. Managed to get the plastic off the base. You learn that way. I will stick on some large felt feet.

My first ever Mac and laptop. My friends have used them for years. Very sexy machine indeed and performs fast and well.

anonymous
4
Rating
 

anonymous posted a review   

The Good:- If you use only mac software, its fast and stable.
- Interface of OSX is slick, but it's also little bit tacky.
- Slim slick design.

The Bad:- Price
- Heat
- Can be slow/difficult with some software
- Lack of flexibility with technical/manual adjustment.
- Expensive to add external components and upgrade.
- on closer inspection, covering looks like cheap plastic.

Macbook Pro emerges as a great little until. All the general features are there (unlike the ones left out of the new "air") and speed and stability to great.

However, I am a user who enjoys downloading odd little programs, converters, software and so on and I found that it generally underperformed with software not made for OSX. As well as that, I enjoy some manual technical tweaking of certain things in windows, but Macs generally are a bit limiting in this regard. However, the mainstream market is not really after that so I can see that it's worth foregoing from Apple's perspective.

As for running Windows XP, my view is "what's the point?" I suppose that if i'm running windows xp all the time, there's no real point in buying a mac.

Also, internet explorer is not available for Mac (well it is, but the versions are outdated and not updated). Many may think that firefox is just as good and iphiles will say it's even better. But in fact, many websites, especially ones with a live time or interactive dimension, do not work well in firefox but work seemlessly in IE. I noticed that if you use firefox for some sites, it redirects you to the firefox version which is not as good as the IE version.

Then there are the two enormous negatives which definately drops it down to a 4/10 for me
1) The price - various laptop companies have laptops with equivalent specs on special for about $1200. This is more than twice the price.
2) Heat at the bottom - it just gets ridiculous for a laptop.

Also, while it is stylish, it is still plastic-ish and I really feel like your paying a lot for a fashionable name rather than a high end product.

John
10
Rating
 

"FAST & SOLID (2ghz)"

John posted a review   

The Good:Everything
Amazing OS as expected
Truly sleek looks
Lightweight
Flys through all native programs
Super slim
Just brilliant

The Bad:Adobe Creative Suite hasn't come out yet so Photoshop & Illustrator etc... runs slow
But once it comes out it should fly
Gets hot on the bottom - still worrying even though we are told not too

You probably can't afford not to...

Big_Boss
10
Rating
 

"Blazing fast; rock stable; totally reliable; brilliant software; beautiful"

Big_Boss posted a review   

The Good:Everything just works, just like they said it would.

The Bad:... I'm being picky but Universal versions of Office and Adobe Creative Suite would be nice

After 10 years of PC pain I wonder what took me so long to come over to Apple? Everything I heard was true. Everything is just so easy, so fast and so much more pleasurable to do and use. I use my machine virtually every waking hour and its not unusual for me to be simultaneously editing images in Photoshop while editing a website with Contribute while working on 5-10 Excel Spreadsheets and 5-10 Word documents while playing a movie through a second display and streaming the sound wirelessly to my amp. And all the while I'll have iCal, Mail, AddressBook and Limewire running and be switching between them. The MacBook doesnt even slow down! Its incredible! I can flick to Dashboard or view all screens and the animation will still be smooth even with 25-30 application windows open! Its simply brilliant.

And then there is the machines build quality which is so many light years ahead of the plastic-fantasic disposable PC's...

I just can't think of a single reason why anyone would waste their money on anything other than an Apple these days. This machine is the best on the market.

webdevil
1
Rating
 

"first mac, first laptop"

webdevil posted a review   

this is my first mac as well as my first laptop and while it is true that the underside gets considerably hot after a few hours of continuous use, this is one helluva machine. it's quick and sexy and no thicker than my thumb. if i were going to pick nits, other than the heat, which is never too hot to touch with your hand by the way, the battery life could be increased by an hour or 2, but this machine is killer!

melmac
1
Rating
 

"Speed, Style, Performance, Feature Heavy - Fully Loaded"

melmac posted a review   

This is my first Mac and i'm glad i made the decision to switch. The transition from Windows to Mac was pretty much seamless for me. Now I use a Mac at home and a PC at work - no issues what so ever.
Although not as fast as initially advertised, the Mac Book Pro is much faster than the T42 i used before this. I use the machine mostly for multimedia, internet access and some Office tools. Havent done any serious computing as yet. Browsing on Safari is really swift and I love the RSS news feeds. Built-in camera gives great quality pics in well lit areas. Extra features in the Photo Booth software are good too. Wireless access - no issues. And the magnetic power cord is really useful!! Sleek, sturdy and stylish. The screen is really bright and the light-sensing backlit keyboard is really cool!
On the downside - heat. The battery heats up much more than the thinkpad. I cannot keep it on my lap for long, whereas i could do it without any problem with the T42.
Overall,undoubtedly a good buy. If you are thinkking of switching from PC to MAC, the MBP is a great reason to do so!

Anonymous
1
Rating
 

"OSX and Windows"

Anonymous posted a review   

I have the 2ghz model and apart from being sexy this beast rips through windows booting faster than my 3ghz desktop both with 1gb RAM.

J,Rees
1
Rating
 

"Promising"

J,Rees posted a review   

Apple has a promising future with the introduction of this Intel-based MacBook Pro.

Anonymous
1
Rating
 

"good"

Anonymous posted a review   

Anonymous
1
Rating
 

"New heart in Old Clothes with Down grades?"

Anonymous posted a review   

Is buying the MacBookPro akin to:

(a) buying a new generation Boxster with last generation’s design?

So how can you tell the difference between a MacBookPro and a PB G4 akin to:

(b) buying a Aston Martin Vanquish and seeing your neighbour driving the cheaper but similar design DB9 or even worse Vantage V8?

And go backwards in technology....no DL 8x SuperDrive or FW800

Will I still want one?

Yes.


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User Reviews / Comments  Apple MacBook Pro (1.83GHz)

  • Colin

    Colin

    Rating9

    "My first ever Mac and laptop. My friends have used them for years. Very sexy machine indeed and performs fast and well."

  • anonymous

    anonymous

    Rating4

    "Macbook Pro emerges as a great little until. All the general features are there (unlike the ones left out of the new "air") and speed and stability to great.

    However, I am a user wh..."

  • John

    John

    Rating10

    "You probably can't afford not to... "

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