MacBook Pro

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Fast - A Mobile Workstation
Measuring less than 1-inch thin, weighing as light as 4.5 pounds, and available in either a  13-inch, 15-inch or 17-inch form factor, the MacBook Pro is the ultimate combination of speed, performance, connectivity, and mobility.  The current MacBook Pro models are the fastest and most capable mobile Macintosh systems that Apple has ever released.  The latest generation models offer improvements and refinements over the prior generation models that were released in late 2009.  The MacBook Pro offers the speed, performance, and features demanded by enthusiasts, professionals, and gamers.  The features available on the MacBook Pro make it an ideal desktop replacement.
10mbpfam_hero.pngThe MacBook Pro was first introduced to the industry on January 10, 2006.  The most recent MacBook Pro revisions were released on April 13, 2010 when Apple updated the MacBook Pro lineup with new models that feature Intel Core i5 and i7 processors (15-inch and 17-inch only), new automatic graphics switching technology, and improved graphics.  The 13-inch MacBook relies on prior generation Intel Core 2 Duo processors.  Apple currently offers two 13-inch models, three 15-inch models, and one 17-inch model.  Each can be customized with specific configuration options based on the model.

In the Box

  • MacBook Pro
  • 85W MagSafe Power Adapter
  • AC wall plug
  • Power cord
  • Install/restore DVDs
  • Display cleaning cloth
  • Printed and electronic documentation
Key Configuration Options
  • Processor up to 2.66GHz, with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.33GHz (depends on model)
  • Processors with 6MB L2 shared cache (15-inch and 17-inch only)
  • Memory up to 8GB
  • Hard drive up to 500GB
  • Solid-state drive in either 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB capacity
  • Glossy Widescreen Display (standard) or optional Hi-Res Glossy Widescreen Display, or Hi-Res Antiglare Widescreen Display (15-inch and 17-inch only)
  • MagSafe Airline Adapter
Installed software
All MacBook Pro models ship pre-installed with:
  • Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system which includes key features and applications such as Time Machine, Quick Look, Spaces, Spotlight, Dashboard, Mail, iChat, Safari, Address Book, QuickTime, iCal, DVD Player, Photo Booth, Front Row, and Xcode Developer Tools)
  • iLife which includes iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, and GarageBand

Aluminum unibody enclosure

The MacBook Pro's look and feel has been taken to the next level thanks to the revolutionary aluminum unibody enclosure that is carved from a piece of aluminum.  It's an amazing work of engineering that has made the MacBook Pro lighter, thinner, stunning, and more durable than prior generation models.
0906mbp15_closed3q.pngDesign - Beautifully Aluminum and Packed with Features
Simply beautiful.  The sleek and elegantly designed brushed aluminum unibody enclosure will make heads turn but it's what inside that really makes the MacBook Pro shine.  The MacBook Pro tops many of the features found in the consumer level MacBook and MacBook Air portables.  Besides offering multi-core processors, a built-in iSight video camera, built in wireless and bluetooth connectivity, slot-loading SuperDrive, three USB 2.0 ports (17-inch) or two USB 2.0 ports (13-inch and 15-inch), battery indicator lights, optical digital audio in/out, Gigabit Ethernet Port, the MagSafe power adapter, and Mini DisplayPort, every MacBook Pro also offers: a FireWire 800 port, a backlit illuminated keyboard on all models, faster processors with up to 6MB shared L2 cache, larger hard drive and RAM configurations, and better screen resolution.  The 13-inch and 15-inch models include an SD Card slot whereas the 17-inch includes an an ExpressCard/34 slot.

Intel's latest Processors - Performance
The new 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models are up to 50 percent faster than the previous systems and are built around Intel's latest processors that rely on a 32 nanometer manufacturing process.  These Intel Core i5 and i7 processors bring faster access to system memory due to an integrated memory controller and Level 3 cache.  The processor's Hyper-Threading technology improves data throughput by creating four virtual processing cores on a dual-core processor as Turbo Boost optimizes performance between the two processor cores.  The Core i5 and i7 processors also provide Turbo Boost, that pushes clock speeds for the i7 models as high as 3.33 GHz for single-threaded tasks.

It's the ideal system for the most demanding mobile user.  It doesn't stop there, the MacBook Pro offers advanced and dedicated graphics support for the most demanding applications thanks to the combined NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M and energy efficient Intel HD graphics processors on the 15-inch and 17-inch models.  The Intel HD Graphics processor features 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM that is shared with computer's main memory.

For the 15-inch, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics processor features 256MB of GDDR3 memory on 2.4GHz and 2.53GHz configurations or 512MB of GDDR3 memory on 2.66GHz configuration.  For the 17-inch, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics processor features with 512MB of GDDR3 memory.  This new graphics processor offers upwards of 30 percent greater energy efficiency over the prior generation dedicated graphics processor, the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT.  The 15-inch and 17-inch models also provide automatic graphics switching, a technology that enables the MacBook Pro to seamlessly switch between the dedicated NVIDIA graphics processor and the integrated Intel HD graphics processor.  The upside to this automatic switching is efficiency, better battery utilization, and optimal use.  Prior MacBook Pro models that have included dual graphics required that users manually switch between integrated and discrete graphics.  This was a disruptive process in that it required a user to log out and then log back into their account to implement 'graphics' the switch.

The 13-inch model is packed with a single graphics engine, the NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB DDR3 memory that shares memory with the computer's main memory.  It offers 48 processing cores, three times that of the previous generation.  Apple is claiming upwards of an 80% performance boost and up to 40% less power consumption for this graphics processor.

Pay close attention to your graphics needs when you choosing between the models.  If you'll need more, you might want to bypass the 13-inch for either the 15-inch or 17-inch configurations.

Innovative Features
The MacBook Pro has a built-in ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness of the keyboard and display for optimal viewing in low-light environments.  The innovative MagSafe Power Adapter magnetically attaches to the MacBook Pro and easily detaches if someone accidentally trips over the cord. Your MacBook Pro won't fly off your desk or lap!  The large and glass Multi-Touch trackpad can intelligently interpret gestures to allow you to scroll through web pages, documents, and photographs with ease while also functioning as a button for clicks.  The latest generation models bring improvements to the trackpad specifically, inertial scrolling that bring an intuitive way to scroll through large photo libraries, large documents and web sites.  Inertial scrolling allows users to "flick" just like they do on an iPhone while scrolling, the trackpad is able to sense the gesture's momentum and scrolls accordingly.
The latest generation MacBook Pro models provide improved battery life over prior generation models via larger battery capacity and greater energy efficiency.  The new 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro can deliver 8 to 9 hours on a single charge whereas the new 13-inch can deliver up to 10 hours on a single charge.  On top of that, you can get up to 1000 full charge and discharge cycles on the battery, a number that is nearly triple the lifespan of typical notebook batteries.  The batteries are user-replaceable but are designed to last five years for typical users.  Apple does however offers a battery replacement service priced at $129 (13" and 15" models) or $179 (17" model) in the event that the battery needs to be replaced.

Amazing Display
The sharp high-resolution screens output images with stunning clarity and you have the option of choosing an antiglare display on the 15-inch and 17-inch models, the 13-inch is only available with the glossy display.  All MacBook Pro models use power-efficient LED-backlit displays that work great with the ambient light sensor.  The 15-inch now offers an optional  Hi-Res (high-resolution) display that provides an increase to 1680x1050.  The Hi-Res display is available in both glossy ($100 upgrade) and anti-glare ($150 upgrade) variants.  The 17-inch ships with a glossy (standard) or optional anti-glare screen ($50 upgrade)

Here's a quick rundown of the maximum resolution on each model:
  • 13-inch: 1280 x 800
  • 15-inch: 1440 x 900 or 1680 x 1050 pixels with optional Hi-Res display
  • 17-inch: 1920 x 1200 (Hi-Res display standard)

09mbp17display.pngExpand your Screen Real Estate
Need more viewing area?  Just connect your MacBook Pro via the Mini DisplayPort to an external display up to 30-inches such as the Apple Cinema Displays or even better, to the new generation LED Cinema Display. You have a choice of three options to view and do your work, dual-display mode, video mirroring, and you can even run the MacBook Pro with the lid closed.

Overall Design
The MacBook Pro adopts the keyboard style and magnetic latch first introduced on consumer MacBook, the environmentally friendly design of the aluminum iMac, as well as the iPhone's headphone mic.  The ports on the MacBook Pro are placed on the left side of the enclosure.  The SuperDrive is located on the front of the device, prior non-aluminum MacBook Pro's had the Super Drive on the right side.  The battery and hard drive are placed underneath for easy access.

The MacBook Pro also meets the expectations of audiophiles thanks to surround sound and top-notch sound quality.  It has a combined optical digital/headphone out and the user has the ability to select it to analog line in.  A built-in microphone is located at the top-center of the screen's bezel next to the iSight camera.

Environmentally Friendly
The unibody MacBook Pro just like the MacBook is constructed from highly recyclable materials and is more energy efficient (ENERGY STAR certified and EPEAT Gold rated) than its predecessors.  Key environmentally friendly specs include aluminum, arsenic-free glass, mercury-free, and PVC-free.

Expansion - No Problem
Need to expand your system or connect the latest and greatest device or peripheral?  No problem thanks to the wide array of ports on the left side of the enclosure.  You can connect Firewire capable devices such as external hard drives and camcorders thanks to the included Firewire 800 port.  The 17-inch model includes an ExpressCard/34 expansion slot instead of a SD Card slot that is standard on the 13-inch and 15-inch models.  The ports on the 17-inch are shown below:

What can you do with a MacBook Pro?
As a mobile powerhouse, the MacBook Pro allows you to do just about everything.  You'll be able to run the full range of Apple software from iLife to the most demanding professional Apple applications such as Final Cut Studio, Aperture, and Logic Pro.  Even the most demanding third-party titles such as Adobe Photoshop will run like a champ on the MacBook Pro.
  • Accomplish daily tasks such as email, web browsing, managing photos, making home movies, designing DVDs, designing websites, and listening to and composing music
  • Experience Front Row with the optional Apple Remote as you easily navigate through your photos, music, movies, and videos.
  • Use the built-in iSight camera to video chat with family and friends, or join your colleagues in a video conference.  You'll also be able to make a quick video clip or play around with the pictures you snapped in Photo Booth.
  • Burn CDs or dual layer DVDs (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
  • Use the built-in AirPort Extreme for wireless networking and to connect to nearby hot spots
  • Connect to the latest Bluetooth enabled peripherals and/or mobile phones
  • Listen to music with the crisp sounding built-in speakers
  • Add a second display (extended desktop mode and video mirroring)
  • Connect other devices such as VGA monitors and projectors
  • Use Apple's full range of software from iLife to professional titles such as Final Cut Pro and Aperture
Conclusion & Buying Advice
Powerful enough to serve as a mobile workstation and mobile enough for the go, the MacBook Pro is the ultimate mobile Mac.  The unibody enclosure makes today's MacBook Pro better built, thinner, rigid, stronger, and more appealing.  The feel, build quality, display, lid, and easier access to the the hard drive makes the MacBook Pro much easier to use than prior generation models.  If you need faster processors, better graphics, or simply more features, options, and flexibility than can be bought with the MacBook or MacBook Air, choose the high performance MacBook Pro.  It's the ultimate desktop Mac replacement.

You can find out more about the new MacBook Pro models here.

  • June 5, 2007 - Added information the June 5, 2007 models and specifications
  • June 6, 2007 - Added Key features section - content modifications
  • February 26, 2008 - Added information about the new models and specifications.  Content revision.
  • January 12, 2009 - Content revision based on information from Late 2008 models and January 2009 release of 17-inch model
  • April 12, 2010 - Content revision based on information from Mid 2009 refresh
  • April 13, 2010 - Content revision based on models released on April 13, 2010
Images used in this guide are Courtesy of Apple
Created: 9:33 PM on Nov 20, 2006
By: switchtoamac