Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, June 2009)

Previously known as the MacBook, Apple's basic 13-inch aluminium unibody laptop has been promoted to the "Pro" series, all while adding features and cutting the base price.


8.6
CNET Rating
8.9
User Rating

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NB: the 13-inch MacBook Pro is available in two configurations:
(As per this review) Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz, 4GB RAM, 250GB HDD, Nvidia GeForce 9400M — AU$2399
Or the lower specc'd, Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB HDD, Nvidia GeForce 9400M — AU$1899

Radically overhauled last year, Apple's MacBook line of laptops moved to aluminium construction, edge-to-edge glass over LED displays, and oversize multi-touch trackpads (with the exception of the lone AU$1599 white plastic model). The latest round of updates is more of a refinement than another revolution, but it adds some much-sought-after features, while lowering prices on many configurations.

Most notable, the 13-inch aluminium unibody MacBook has been promoted to join the MacBook Pro family. It's a move that makes sense, as the differences between the two lines were becoming increasingly blurred. To complete the transformation, the 13-inch Pro regains its missing FireWire port, making it even more useful for creative professionals on the go.

New to the Pro line is something we never thought we'd see on a MacBook: an SD card slot. Standard on the 13- and 15-inch Pro laptops, this corrects one of our main MacBook annoyances. We're also pleased to see the backlit keyboard — previously found in only the more expensive 13-inch versions — filter down to even the AU$1899 base model.

Some have strong feelings about the non-removable battery — similar to those already found on the MacBook Air and 17-inch Pro. It's a legitimate concern, but we think the promise of better battery life (Apple claims up to a 40 per cent improvement), and three times as many recharge cycles as older batteries is just as important.

There are still a few items on our 13-inch wish list — matte screens, mobile broadband options, Blu-ray — but Apple has done an admirable job filling in some of the major missing pieces. By offering more features for less money, the 13-inch MacBook Pro remains one of the most universally useful laptops available.

Design

The design and construction of the system remain largely the same as last year's model, with a solid block of aluminium carved down, rather than a thin outer shell that has had support struts added to it. It's both lighter and sturdier than the older plastic versions of the 13-inch MacBook.

The new Pro also retains the same oversize trackpad, where the entire surface depresses like a button — although a simple tapping (as on a PC laptop) will also work once you turn that option on in the settings menu. We've become accustomed to the two-, three-, and four-finger multi-touch gestures, which let you hide all your apps by sweeping four fingers up on the pad, or bring up the application switcher by sweeping four fingers left or right. Once you get used to that, going back to a regular touch pad is difficult.

Apple says the new display offers a wider colour gamut, and the screen certainly looks bright and colourful, but we wish the same matte-screen option offered on the 17-inch MacBook Pro was available across the line. The 13.3-inch widescreen LCD display offers a 1280x800 native resolution, which is standard for screens this size, but we'd love to see Apple try its hand at a 16:9 laptop display.

While the LED screen means a thinner lid and some battery life benefits, the edge-to-edge glass covering the entire display panel grabs stray light rays with ease, making the glossy screen hard to see in some lighting conditions.

Features

By bringing back the FireWire port (now FireWire 800) and adding an SD card slot, Apple has addressed most of our most pressing issues with the previous 13-inch model. Pro photographers will point out that they usually use CF cards, but the rest of us won't have to always remember to pack a USB card reader or cable to directly connect our cameras. Connecting to another video display, however, will require a sold-separately dongle for the Mini-DisplayPort video output.

Performance

The 13-inch MacBook Pro performed as expected in our benchmark tests, with the 2.26GHz GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU roughly on par with the 2.4GHz processor in the late-2008 version of the 13-inch MacBook. Trading up to the faster 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo available in the 15-inch MacBook Pro yields a marked improvement on paper, but for most anecdotal use (web surfing, working on office docs, multimedia playback) any of the current MacBooks will be more than adequate. An even faster 3.08GHz CPU is available on the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but the 13-inch model tops out at 2.53GHz.

We found the same Nvidia GeForce 9400 graphics as last time — a GPU that redefined the meaning of integrated graphics. The previous 13-inch MacBook gave us almost 60 frames per second in Quake IV (admittedly not the most hardware-intensive game) at 1024x768 resolution. Only the 15- and 17-inch versions offer the second, discrete GeForce 9600 GPU. But being able to play new games, even at lower resolutions, on this system is a major plus for non-hardcore gamers.

The new battery in the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros is non-removable, but Apple claims the system can last up to seven hours while surfing the web, and about half that for DVD playback. To assuage concerns about the sealed battery, the company says the new models are good for at least 1000 full recharge cycles — which they estimate to be about five years of use. We were able to run the system for four hours and 40 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, which is about 40 minutes longer than last year's 13-inch MacBook and more than an hour longer than the basic white MacBook — the only model Apple still offers with the older removable battery.

Unfortunately, we haven't seen any changes to the basics of Apple's warranty and support plans. New MacBooks still include a standard one-year, parts-and-labour warranty, but only 90 days of toll-free telephone support. This, along with the proprietary nature of Apple's products, makes purchasing an extended Apple Care warranty almost a necessity, but a necessity that will cost AU$419 for three total years of coverage for 13-inch systems and AU$579 for 15- and 17-inch models.

Multimedia Multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro - June 2009 - Core 2 Duo 15.4 inch - 2.8GHz (Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT)
390
Apple MacBook - 2008 - Core 2 Duo 13.3 inch - 2.4GHz (Nvidia GeForce 9400M)
431
Apple MacBook Pro - June 2009 - Core 2 Duo 13.3 inch - 2.26GHz
472
Apple MacBook - June 2009 - Core 2 Duo 13.3 inch - 2.13GHz
506
Dell Adamo
1864

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 15.4-inch, 2.8GHz (Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT)
116
Apple MacBook Pro (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.26GHz
137
Apple MacBook (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.13GHz
145
Apple MacBook (2008) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.4GHz (Nvidia GeForce 9400M)
146
Dell Adamo
345

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 15.4-inch, 2.8GHz (Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT)
135
Apple MacBook (2008) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.4GHz (Nvidia GeForce 9400M)
158
Apple MacBook Pro (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.26GHz
165
Apple MacBook (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 13.3 inch, 2.13GHz
178
Dell Adamo
357

Video playback battery drain test (in seconds)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.26GHz
280
Apple MacBook Pro (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 15.4-inch, 2.8GHz (Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT)
269
Apple MacBook (2008) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.4GHz (Nvidia GeForce 9400M)
243
Apple MacBook (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.13GHz
210
Dell Adamo
156

System configurations:
Apple MacBook Pro (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.26GHz
OS X 10.5.7 Leopard; Intel Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M; 160GB Hitachi 5400rpm

Apple MacBook Pro (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 15.4-inch, 2.8GHz
OS X 10.5.7 Leopard; Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8GHz; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M/512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT; 500GB Hitachi 5400rpm Apple MacBook (2008) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.4GHz OS X 10.5.5 Leopard; Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M; 250GB Toshiba 5400rpm

Dell Adamo
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9300; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 779MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 128GB Samsung SSD

Apple MacBook (June 2009) Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch, 2.13GHz
OS X 10.5.7 Leopard; Intel Core 2 Duo 2.13GHz; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M; 160GB Hitachi 5400rpm

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Mike
10
Rating
 

Mike posted a review   

The Good:Portable, Fast, SD card Slot

The Bad:Backlit Keyboard.

Got My 13" Macbook Pro for christmas 2010 and so far absolutely LOVE It. I also purchased the $99 Apple Magic Mouse also love it. The switch from PC to Mac was very easy :D

jack
10
Rating
 

jack posted a review   

The Good:Everything

The Bad:nothing

This is a portable easy to use laptop

macATTACK
10
Rating
 

macATTACK posted a review   

The Good:Great design, easy to use, light weight and portable

The Bad:If you find one tell me

I bought my 13" Macbook pro during the boxing day sales 2009. All i can say is this is the best computer i have ever owned. Usually when buying something expensive i have a massive feeling of "should i or shouldn't i" brewing in the depths of my stomach, but with this no such thing has occurred. I dont at all regret buying it and neither should you. Its fast, powerful, easy to use, beautifully designed and just an all out giving machine.
Me being a PC owned thought the transition to a mac (for music purposes) would be hard but to be honest it never felt easier. People complain to me about two things regarding this mac and they are;
1, non matte screen allows glare
2, its a mac you cant play games or do anything good that a pc can do.
my response..."are you serious?" i mean come on, glare?! cry me a river i can cope with it so can you and its only in certain situations. Also has anyone on a pc heard of something called bootcamp? In less than an hour you can set your mac up to do EVERYTHING a mac can do plus EVERYTHING a pc can do.... So before you buy just stop and think this..

"wow im about to own something amazing!"

Jordan

 

JarrodX posted a reply   

Best review! so true!
just buy it so portable and so awesome

 

Lachie posted a comment   

The Good:Beautiful laptop, well integrated software, love iPhoto, solid, (even with a faulty battery) - good battery life, great to type on, very easy to get used to the brilliant gestures, well designed charger, brilliant display.

The Bad:Mine came with a faulty battery which kind of ruined the honeymoon phase. Comparatively more expensive (specification wise)

I had two faulty Dell Studio 1555's before this. Dell provides crappy products accomponied by atrocious customer' service'. My Mac, although a bit more expensive, is well, well worth it. Everything just..works.

Alot simpler to use, very fast. I love the gestures, which make it very very simple to flick between programs. Puts the crappy plastic computers I've had previously to shame.

RobertoG Facebook
9
Rating
 

RobertoG posted a review   
United Kingdom

The Good:Keyboard backlight Aluminium unibody Keys on the keyboard are really 'soft' and easy to press. Enough connections and ports for several accessories

The Bad:DVD drive makes a strange noise when you put a DVD in and sounds like it is breaking the disc

High quality product with high quality finish. Would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a solid laptop and who is sick of cheap plastic laptops.

 

Lachie posted a reply   

Hi,

I'v owned three computers which have had a DVD drive which cannot be retracted. ie. you put the disc into the slot instead of the whole tray coming out. In all of these (including 2x Dell studio, 1x MBP) the sound has happened. This is due to the fact that the machine is 'clicking' the disc into the tray - similar to what you do when putting a CD into the tray of a computer with a retractable drive (ie. it comes out) or putting a disc into a DVD/CD case. The sound is inevitable, dont worry about it.

Rog
9
Rating
 

Rog posted a review   

The Good:Great machine.

The Bad:USB input too close together.

From microsoft to mac,ended the problems, bether performance. :)
Good purchase.

ThinkDifferent
9
Rating
 

ThinkDifferent posted a review   

The Good:Great display, no bloatware, If you have the patience it can be really cool

The Bad:Company advertised battery life based on just sitting there

The 2.53ghz, 4gb ram is great. I don't see how people can live with the 2.26ghz 2gb ram.


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User Reviews / Comments  Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, June 2009)

  • Mike

    Mike

    Rating10

    "Got My 13" Macbook Pro for christmas 2010 and so far absolutely LOVE It. I also purchased the $99 Apple Magic Mouse also love it. The switch from PC to Mac was very easy :D"

  • jack

    jack

    Rating10

    "This is a portable easy to use laptop"

  • macATTACK

    macATTACK

    Rating10

    "I bought my 13" Macbook pro during the boxing day sales 2009. All i can say is this is the best computer i have ever owned. Usually when buying something expensive i have a massive feeling of "shou..."

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