MacBook Pro is built to last

If the unibody MacBook Pro were a car, it would be an eight-cylinder, hybrid, luxury SUV with full body armor

Ins and outs

I've already alluded to the near-aerodynamic clamshell profile: It doesn't taper down to a slender nose as the MacBook Air does, but the MacBook Pro is much easier to carry without a case than its squarish predecessors, and it wedges between books and papers when hurriedly stuffed into an overstuffed backpack or bag. I recognize the hidden benefit of the clamshell: When closed, it's practically crushproof. It's not scratchproof, so don't put it in close quarters with anything metal, an iPhone included.

You need to watch out for one significant flaw in the chassis design: The battery/disk compartment cover has an easily pushed-in latch that's right where you pick the machine up when moving it with the lid open. For me, it has popped open accidentally twice. Apple points out that a Kensington lock prevents the battery door from opening. But it also blocks the DVD drive, so it isn't really a solution.

All the external I/O ports have been moved to one row along the left side: Ethernet, 800MHz FireWire, two USB 2.0, DisplayPort, audio-in/out (analog and optical), and ExpressCard. Apple has moved the battery charge gauge from the bottom to the left side as well. Current Mac users will need to buy adapter cables to connect to FireWire 400 peripherals and DVI (Digital Visual Interface) or HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) displays.

The USB 2.0 ports are side by side and too close together to be used at the same time unless you intentionally shop for cables with skinny boots. It worked better to have the USB ports on either side of the chassis.

Power efficiency is, and should be, an overriding concern in electronic equipment. Apple had already taken the key step of replacing fluorescent-display backlights with LEDs, eliminating mercury and lowering power consumption while creating two things that fluorescent-lit notebooks lack: the colors black and white. The black frame around the MacBook Pro's display really shows this off.

Power to the pixels

Apple reached deep inside the MacBook Pro for its next power chop, this time focusing on chip count and the GPU (graphics processing unit). Intel's chip set relies on separate north and south bridge chips for interfacing with memory and peripherals. Apple tapped Nvidia for a desktop-derived, single-chip solution that carries with it the benefit of a low-power integrated graphics processor that's twice as fast as Intel's own.

Integrated graphics is all that MacBook and MacBook Air users get, but as has always been the case, a gamer-class 3D GPU is core to the MacBook Pro's logic. Apple has reached out to Nvidia for this as well, and it leverages this single-source componentry to do a marvelous thing: When you need killer 3D, you flip on the 32-way discrete GPU. When you're working in productivity software or even playing HD movies, you can shut off the big, hot, power-hungry GPU and switch to the integrated graphics processor. Switching does not require a reboot, but it is necessary to log out so that all programs using the GPU are closed.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags macbook pro

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Yager

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?