Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Review

Article Index

Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The MacBook Pro did not disappoint on any of our benchmarks. Across the board it exhibited stellar application performance, even on our more demanding tests, such as the Cinebench CPU test or our Final Cut Pro rendering and encoding tests. And while it didn’t blow the roof off with its 3D graphics performance, the second-generation Core i7 (Sandy Bridge)’s integrated graphics has enough power behind it to keep up with mid-level game titles. Even though Apple doesn’t push it as a selling point, the MacBook Pro can even act as a very capable Windows laptop. The one major downside to running Windows on the MacBook Pro, however, is that you miss out on the power-conservation features that give the MacBook Pro such a long-lasting battery when running the Mac OS.

All in all, the new MacBook Pro impressed us on many fronts, not just its performance. It’s got a great-looking design, has one of the sturdiest chassis we’ve seen, a fantastic-looking display, and a keyboard and trackpad that are a pleasure to use. We’re also impressed that the cost of the unit we looked at is competitive with its similarly-configured Windows brethren. And don’t forget the Thunderbolt port--there might not be any peripherals today that can take advantage of this high-bandwidth I/O port, but the deluge will start very soon. You’re also going to start seeing systems from plenty of other manufacturers joining the Thunderbolt bandwagon soon as well. Thunderbolt is here to stay.

As much as we liked it, the new MacBook Pro is not perfect. We wish it was possible to swap the battery out. We also wouldn’t mind seeing the display with a higher native resolution, so that it matched up better with what we’ve seen on other 13-inch laptops. Lastly, we found the noise the fan made when it kicked in to be somewhat distracting.

But let’s put this in perspective. Seven and a half hours of battery life significantly minimizes the need for a swappable battery. There’s not that much difference between the MacBook Pro’s 1,200x800 screen resolution and the 1,366x768 resolution often found on other 13-inch laptops (1.024MP vs 1.049MP), and the quality of the MacBook Pro’s display is far superior to what you’re likely to find on any just about any other 13-inch laptop. As to the fan noise, that’s just the price you have to pay to ensure that the unit doesn’t overheat with such a powerful processor inside a small chassis--there’s probably not a whole lot that can be done about that. The MacBook Pro’s few distractions are minor at best, and far outweighed by everything else that is great about it. Apple has done a great job this time around and produced its best MacBook Pro model to date.


  • Great overall performance
  • Decent 3D gaming performance
  • Amazing battery life
  • Excellent-quality display
  • Elegant design
  • Thunderbolt technology
  • Sturdy "unibody" design
  • Multi-touch gesture trackpad
  • Great Keyboard
  • Battery is not removable
  • 1,280x800 native resolution
  • Fan Can Get Noisy Under Load
  • No Thunderbolt peripherals available yet

Related content