Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Review

Introduction and Specifications

With the latest iteration of its 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops, Apple finally jumped onto the Intel Core i3 and Core i5 bandwagon—bringing its flagship line of laptops up to the same performance level as the Windows-based competition (the 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops still use Intel Core 2 Duo processors). With a starting price of $1,799 for the 15-inch model, and $2,299 for the 17-inch version, MacBook Pros are far from your garden-variety bargain-basement laptops. But Macs have always come with a premium price tag—at least when compared against comparably configured Windows systems—and many will argue that their elegant designs and the intuitive user interface are well worth it.

Many will choose a MacBook Pro over a Windows laptop, simply because it is a Mac. And this goes far beyond just members of "the cult of Mac" or those influenced by the iPhone's "halo effect." There are plenty of "switchers" too--former Windows users who, for a variety of reasons, have chosen to eschew the OS from Redmond, and gone down the path of the Cupertino OS. For some it is akin to taking the red pill or the blue pill. It also doesn't hurt that you can still run Windows on a Mac--either natively using Apple's Boot Camp utility, or virtually via a number of software virtualization options.

MacBook Pro 15-inch Laptop
Specifications & Features (as tested)

  • Mac OS X 10.6.4
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-520M (2 Cores, 4 threads, Turbo Boost up to 2.93GHz, 3MB Smart Cache)
  • 4GB (2x2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • 320GB 5,400-rpm Serial ATA hard drive
  • Integrated Intel HD Graphics and discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M GPU (256MB), with automatic graphics switching
  • 15.4-inch (viewable) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
  • 1,440x900 native resolution (16:10)
  • 8x slot-loading SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
  • AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)
  • 3-Mbps Bluetooth 2.1 + Enhanced Data Rate (EDR)
  • Built-in iSight video camera (640x480 resolution)
  • Built-in stereo speakers
  • Internal omnidirectional microphone
  • Built-in full-size backlit keyboard with 78 keys
  • Multi-Touch trackpad with support for Multi-Touch gestures
  • Built-in 77.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • 85W MagSafe Power Adapter with cable management system
  • 0.95 x 14.35 x 9.82 inches (HWD)
  • 5.6 pounds

Direct Price: $1,799 (as tested)

We had the opportunity to take a look at the base 15-inch MacBook Pro model, which comes with a 2.4GHz Core i5 processor, 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM, a 320GB hard drive, DVD±RW DL optical drive, and switchable graphics using the Intel GMA that is built into the Core i5 processor and a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 330M GPU. This base model sells for $1,799, but there are a number of configure-to-order options for components such as the CPU, memory, hard drive capacity and type (HDD and SSD), and even for the display's native resolution. Factor in the three-year AppleCare Protection Plan--which we recommend--and you can add another $349 to the total cost.

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