MacBook Pro 13in 2.53GHz Inverness

The demise of the 12in PowerBook, following Apple's move to Intel processors and the introduction of the MacBook Pro, was much lamented by those Mac users who wanted a professional but compact Mac laptop.

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MacBook Pro 13in 2.53GHz

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The demise of the 12in PowerBook, following Apple's move to Intel processors and the introduction of the MacBook Pro, was much lamented by those Mac users who wanted a professional but compact Mac laptop. This 13in MacBook Pro would seem to be the spiritual successor to the much-loved smallest PowerBook, but is the addition of the 'Pro' label justified or is it a nifty marketing move by Apple?

A quick shufty at the specs leaves the question unanswered. Justifying its elevation into the Pro range are its 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of Ram, 1066MHz system bus, Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor and FireWire 800. Also in its favour is the new glossy, backlit 1280 x 800-pixel LED display, which Apple claims has a 60% wider colour gamut than previous MacBook Pro displays. Against this, however, are the fact that it only has 3MB of Level 2 cache and the lack of a GeForce 9600M GT alongside the 9400M. The slowest 15in MacBook Pro is also missing the 9600M GT, though, and only the fastest of the three 15in models has more Level 2 cache, with 6MB.

This 13in MacBook Pro also has an SD card slot, two USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth, mini DisplayPort connector, and MagSafe power adaptor. It also has a built-in iSight camera, backlit keyboard, and digital and analogue audio in and out.

The standard 250GB 5400rpm Sata hard drive can be upgraded to a 320GB or 500GB model, but there's no upgrade option for the 8x SuperDrive. There are no adaptors in the box for DVI or VGA displays or projectors, so if you need one, you'll have to cough up £20 for one, or £68 if you have a dual-link DVI display.

The 13in MacBook Pro, like its bigger siblings, benefits from the new battery design Apple first introduced with the 17in MacBook Pro in January. According to Apple, you can expect to get seven hours' work, surfing the web, emailing and using office-type applications between charges, and you should be able to charge it 1000 times before it reaches the end of its life. We left the test MacBook Pro running on battery power at 50% screen brightness and with AirPort switched off, without using it at all, and it lasted well over nine hours before the battery expired.

When we reviewed the recently updated white MacBook, we were surprised by how close its performance was to what was then the 13in aluminium MacBook. This MacBook Pro re-establishes the performance gap. As you can see from the speed test results (see right), the 13in MacBook Pro is much closer in performance terms to the fastest MacBook Pro, the 2.8GHz 15in model we reviewed last issue, than it is the MacBook.

There's more to the choice of which notebook to buy than raw performance, of course. The £400 jump from the MacBook to this MacBook Pro gets you the unibody enclosure, multi-touch glass trackpad, better battery, improved screen, FireWire 800, more Ram, a bigger hard drive and the SD card slot in addition to a more powerful machine. There's plenty there to justify the additional expenditure. A more difficult comparison is the £250 leap from the 2.26GHz MacBook Pro and this one. For that, you get better performance, more Ram and a bigger hard drive. If you don't need 4GB Ram and 250GB hard drive, the additional performance is expensive, and if you do, you can add them as a build-to-order option for £110, making the extra 300MHz performance £140.

There's no doubt the 13in MacBook Pro deserves its place in the Pro line-up, and it makes an excellent successor to the 12in PowerBook. If you're more concerned with mobility than the size of the screen, it's a better bet than the 15in model. If you want maximum value, though, go for the 2.26GHz model and upgrade the Ram and hard drive if you need to.

Verdict

A worthy successor to the long-departed 12in PowerBook, but of the two 13in models, the lower-priced one offers the best value.

Author: Kenny Hemphill

MacBook Pro 13in 2.53GHz