By James Galbraith Macworld.com | on June 15, 2009
Price When Reviewed: 781 . 999 . 1130 . 1475
15-inch MacBook Pros
Apple previously offered two 15-inch models; this time, Apple added a third standard configuration 15-inch MacBook Pro that achieves a lower price point by providing only the GeForce 9400M graphics processor; it doesn't have the higher-power Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics found in the rest of the 15-inch MacBook Pro configurations. The low-end 15-inch MacBook Pro costs £1,130 and comes with a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of 1,066MHz DDR3 memory, and a 250GB hard drive.
Then there's the £1,305 15-inch 2.66GHz MacBook Pro, which comes with 4GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive. The high end of the 15-inch MacBook Pro line features a 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive for £1,475. Both of these 15-inch models have the dual graphics setup with the GeForce 9400M and GeForce 9600M GT, but the amount of video RAM for the 9600M GT differs -- the 2.66GHz MacBook has 256MB, while the 2.8GHz has 512MB.
When it comes to the benchmarks, there are subtle differences between the 15-inch 2.53GHz and 2.66GHz models in our Speedmark scores, but there are dramatic differences in 3D games scores, with the higher-powered graphics found in the 2.66GHz model helping that system to nearly double the amount of frames displayed in our Quake 4 timedemo tests. (More games scores will be included in our full review of these new MacBook Pros).
A bigger performance difference is seen when comparing the new 15-inch 2.66GHz MacBook Pro to the 15-inch 2.8GHz MacBook Pro, with the 2.8GHz model's Speedmark score coming in nearly 7.5 percent higher than that 2.66GHz model.
To check the progress these systems have made, we compared their performance to the systems they replace. The 2.53GHz model is arguably in a new class, but even so, it compares favorably to the previous low-end MacBook Pro, a 15-inch model with a 2.4GHz processor. The new 2.53GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro had a Speedmark score nearly 6 percent higher than the 2.4GHz model. The 2.53GHz model was about 7 percent faster in our Photoshop and Cinema 4D tests. The one test that the older 2.4GHz model outperformed the newcomer was in 3D game frame rate tests -- the 2.4GHz MacBook Pro has the faster GeForce 9600M GT graphics processor.
Comparing the new 15-inch 2.66GHz MacBook Pro to the older 2.4GHz system we see an 8 per cent higher Speedmark 5 score, as well as faster 3-D game performance-the new system couples the same faster graphics processor with a faster Core 2 Duo processors. The new 2.66GHz MacBook Pro performed nearly identically to the previous top of the line MacBook Pro, also a 2.66GHz model that cost $500 more.
The 15-inch 2.8GHz MacBook Pro is nearly 8 percent faster than the 2.66GHz model it replaces at the top of the 15-inch MacBook Pro line, with Photoshop scores that were more than 9 percent faster.