15″ MacBook Pro 2.66GHz Core i7 Review

Apple’s latest batch of 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pros step up from the Core 2 Duo processors in favor of Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors.  The new 15″ MacBook Pro is currently the only model available with an Intel Core i7 processor – and it is wicked fast.

15″ MacBook Pro Key Features

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 Processor
  • Available 15.4″ LED Backlit Display w/ 1680 x 1050 Resolution
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR3 (2.66GHz Core i7 Version)
  • Intel HD Graphics with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
  • 4GB RAM (expandable to 8GB)
  • AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi 802.11n
  • 8-9HR Battery Life
  • MagSafe power port
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • One FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps)
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
  • SD card slot
  • Audio line in
  • Audio line out
  • Kensington lock slot

The new MacBook Pro models look and feel much like the previous generation Core 2 Duo models.  The black keyed keyboard is an attractive touch against the aluminum finish.  Additionally, the backlit keys help you find your way around in low light.

The trackpad is unchanged as well, but it offers a new software-based feature with inertial scrolling, which gives the impression the you are pushing the page down and it will continue to scroll after you’ve lifted your fingers from the trackpad based on how much of a “push” you give it.

The overall design and functionality of the MacBook is still what makes the product so genius.  I was talking to Joe about his impressions, and as someone who’s never owned a MacBook, he was really impressed with the MagSafe power port.

I hadn’t really thought about that feature as something special since it has been around for a while, but it just goes to show that some of the brilliant design qualities that have been in Apple products for a few product cycles still surpass the competition by miles and continue to be hooks in capturing new customers.  (Incidentally, Joe has put the MacBook Pro on his wish list to replace his Windows 7 laptop.)

The 15″ MacBook Pro is just the right size too.   It fit easily into my everyday Crumpler backpack, and was an easy integration into the way and where I use a laptop.

It’s still missing some things though.  I would like to see more USB ports, or at least properly-spaced USB ports.  Often times, I want to plug in a thumb drive and my CF card reader, but can’t because the two USB ports are too close together.  Additionally, I would like to see a native HDMI-out port – like the new Mac Mini already has.  Finally, I think that it’s time that Apple step up to the Blu-ray game and give use some options beyond the staple SuperDrive.  Exporting to DVDs was cool in 2005, but I’m ready to burn some Blu-rays on my laptop since HD video is about all that anyone shoots nowadays anyway.

Intel’s Core i7 processors are the current top-tier in Intel’s lineup.  Core i7 processors are designed to maximize multitasking and intense demands placed on them by media creation.  Thanks to the powerful Core i7 processor, the MacBook Pro really shines in video and photo editing programs.

There are a lot of sources elsewhere that let you geek out between the benchmark specs of the Core i7 and Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro models, so I’m not going to bother with rehashing the previously documented speed improvements of these two models.

What I was really interested in is how it can handle how I work with photo and video processing.  I put the MacBook Pro Core i7 to work with several projects in Photoshop CS5, Premiere Pro CS5 and After Effects CS5. While there are several rendering tasks that push the processor, I was happy to see just how much I could throw at the Core i7 MacBook as it came back asking for more.

I know the previous Core 2 Duo models had some heat issues, and while they are better in the Core i7 model, that aluminum casing can still get too hot to set on your lap.  I found this particular true when working with Premiere Pro and After Effects.  So, keep this in mind when chewing on intensive tasks.

Overall, the Core i7 MacBook Pro is the best laptop that I’ve ever used.  And, it will probably remain at the top of the pile until the next iteration of the MacBook Pro is released.  There are a few quibbles (USB ports, extra cost for antiglare screen, no HDMI), but all in all, the Core i7 MacBook Pro is the power user’s laptop.

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Apple MacBook Pro at B&H Photo / Video

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  1. Lucy Lou says

    I have just purchased a 15″ MacBook Pro – and no USB plug fits into the ports…Is it me, or are just old appliances (printers, speakers) no longer compatible?

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