The MacBook Pro i use for work recently got upgraded. If you remember last week's post on "When should you buy a New Mac?" You'll remember that I had just placed my order at work for the newly introduced MacBook Pro 15" Core i7. Well it arrived last week and I thought I would take a few minutes to share my first impressions.
8GB RAM, 15.4" Antiglare LED Display, 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 500GB 7200 RPM drive
There's nothing really new with the design. My last MacBook Pro was the 1st generation uni-body enclosure. So I was already familiar with this design and Apple hasn't really changed it much. They replaced the ExpressCard slot with an SD card reader and I was already mentally prepared for that. Otherwise from a look and feel perspective It feels just like my old one. Don't take that as a knock. There wasn't anything wrong with the design (other than I still prefer the older trackpads with a separate button).
One of the first things that caught me totally by surprise was that I didn't know that Apple changed the default resolution of the 15.4" display. It's now 1680×1050 as opposed to the old one being 1440×900. Of course the advantage is that you see more on screen and the disadvantage is that everything is smaller. It took about a day to get used to it, now I don't give it a second thought and I do appreciate having more of my documents display without scrolling. However, if you have a hard time reading/seeing small things on screen this could be a problem for you. Sure you can change the resolution, but anything other than the native resolution will be soft unless you use an external display. The one thing I wasn't crazy about with my last MacBook Pro was the very reflective glossy display. I lived with it and it wasn't the end of the world, but apparently Apple listened to the cries of thousands of photographers and offered an anti-glare option. I went for that option this time around. Right off the bat I could tell I was going to like it better. Not only is it antiglare, but it's also recessed just like the previous aluminum MacBook Pros, which means my 3M privacy screen fits in it nicely again.
My last MacBook Pro seemed to always be running the fan. Yes, I do lots of processor intensive work, so the fan is on all the time even in this new one, but it's much much quieter than my last one.
The Battery Life is AMAZING!
I never ever ever pay attention to Apple's claims on battery life when it comes to a MacBook. I never pay attention to the claims, because I never get anywhere near what they specify the machine can do. I think my last MacBook Pro was rated at 4-5 hours of battery life. I'm always lucky if I can do 2.5-3 hours. On average it's probably closer to 2 hours. So when I saw the claims on this one doing 8-9 hours on battery I said "yeah right!" Do I get anywhere near that? NO! However, I do get double what I used to get. I can easily go 4 hours or more now on battery and for me that's huge! I haven't even tried any battery conservation techniques. The 4 hours I got was on full regular use, screen as bright as it can be, keyboard light on, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. This means that on a plane, with my battery saving techniques in place, I should easily be able to get 5 hours now. So while 8-9 seems like a pipe dream (at least from my experience), I'll definitely take 5 (maybe 6).
It's always a debate with me to either migrate over from my old Mac or start FRESH with the new one. Starting FRESH is better because you're not bringing over unnecessary baggage and problems from your years of migrating. However, starting fresh takes longer to get everything reinstalled and back to the way you like things. I always seem to bail on starting fresh because usually I don't have the downtime it would take to do so. Once again I migrated…sigh. I used Ethernet to do so figuring that Gigabit Ethernet on both Macs would be faster than Firewire 800. Even so, moving over 350GB's of stuff can take hours and it did (about 4 to be exact). However, everything came over nicely and is up and running.
The Speed is Awesome!
At the end of the day this update is all about speed for me. One of main reasons I waited till 2010 and didn't go with the 2009 model is because I figured Apple would put the Core i7 processor in the MacBook Pro just like they did in the iMac. I'm glad I waited! Knowing that Adobe Creative Suite 5 was coming and that the move to 64 bit was underway (Photoshop CS5, After Effects CS5 and Premiere Pro CS5 are now all 64 bit), I not only wanted as much RAM as I could get, but I also wanted the fastest processor I could get in a Mac laptop. That's the Core i7 and it doesn't disappoint. Everything is snappier! Here are my Xbench results:
Click the graphics below to enlarge
Here's the results from the the NEW MacBook Pro Core i7
Here are the results from my 2008 MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo
and just for giggles, I ran the same test on my "production machine", my 1st generation Mac Pro (yes, I'm in the market for a new one. Just waiting for the 2010 model)
My new MacBook Pro got a better overall score than my Mac Pro!
The Bottom Line
While this MacBook Pro isn't a revolutionary update over my 2008 model, it has all the right things in it to make the upgrade worthwhile. I try to plan my purchases to get the most out of the latest processor, graphics and RAM improvements. This move was worth the wait.