Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Review

Article Index

Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The MacBook Pro makes a very impressing performance showing whether it is running the Mac OS or Windows. Most consumer-level applications will run on it just fine. In terms of professional-level apps, that's going to depend on what kind of workload you're taxing the system with. In our tests, the MacBook Pro easily held its own in Photoshop CS5, and it even surprised us with its speedy Final Cut Pro 7 rendering time. But when it came time to encode the rendered Final Cut Pro project, the MacBook Pro faltered a bit--showing a limitation that is inherent in the mobile platform in general. The MacBook Pro's 3D gaming performance didn't disappoint, with more than respectable performance with an older DX9 title and on 3DMark06. There aren't many 3D Mac games to choose from--but that is changing, and the Mac is well on its way to becoming a legitimate gaming platform. (Until Macs have a greater selection of more robust GPUs, however, this evolution will likely take its sweet time.) Where the MacBook Pro truly shines is with its prolonged battery life.

That excellent battery life also has a trade-off, however, and that comes in the form of a battery that is not removable. For most users this probably won't be an issue; but for those who spend more time on the road than at a desk, this issue could prove more significant. Another "feature" of the MacBook Pro that can also turn into a minor annoyance for some users is that its sole video-out connection uses DisplayPort. Using the new-fangled DisplayPort interface is all well and good and forward-looking, but the vast majority of us have monitors that don't have DisplayPort inputs. This means that anyone who wants to connect a MacBook Pro to a display that has VGA, DVI, or HDMI inputs, has to make an additional investment in an adapter cable. At a time when so many laptops come standard with HDMI and VGA ports, this feels like an oversight on Apple's part. Another potential issue is that some users will be turned off by the reflective glossy display, though this is a common, small annoyance with the high quality panel employed in this MacBook model.

The only other significant detraction is the MacBook Pro's expensive price tag. Even with the 15-inch base model, you'll easily be spending over $2,200 once you add in the AppleCare Protection Plan, taxes, and shipping. But if you do make the investment, you'll have an elegantly designed laptop with a number of unique features, such as the MacBook Pro's sturdy "unibody" chassis and, its multi-touch/gesture trackpad. The Mac OS also has an intuitive interface that has earned many devoted fans over the years. Price not withstanding, the MacBook Pro is an impressive looking laptop, with great performance, excellent battery life, and it can serve the needs of everyone from the casual user to students, business workers, and multimedia professionals. Our recommendation is: If you can afford it, it's definitely worthy of your consideration.

  • Great overall performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Elegant design
  • Sturdy "unibody" design
  • Multi-touch gesture trackpad
  • Great Keyboard
  • Robust iLife apps included
  • Expensive
  • Battery is not removable
  • Glossy screen susceptible to reflections
  • Must purchase adapter cable for VGA, DVI, or HDMI out

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