MacBook Pro 15.4-inch review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: 1216 . 1693

  • Pros: Small, light, and pretty. Optimized software gives improved performance over previous Mac laptops. Innovative power connector.

  • Cons: Poor performance in standard applications such as Adobe tools. High price. Screen not ‘X-black’. Low real-time 3D power.

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Apple’s first laptop since the move from Motorola to Intel processors isn’t the groundbreaking machine that many were expecting. If anything, the move has made the mobile Mac more ordinary, and the chip switch will put off anyone reliant on Adobe applications.

The 15.4-inch MacBook Pro is of a similar size to the 15-inch PowerBook G4 it replaces – and is still as slim and sexy next to the majority of Windows-based laptops. Its resolution is mediocre – many 15-inch models have 1,680-x-1,050-pixel screens – and it’s not as good as ‘X-black’-type screens.

All of the PowerBook’s innovations – such as the illuminated keyboard, the scrolling trackpad, and the stylish, slot-loading DVD±RW drive – are still intact.

This latest model adds a magnetic power connector – so that you don’t trash your laptop if you trip over the lead while getting up to make a cuppa – but most of the new features are aimed at consumers. These include the iSight Web cam, the Front Row living-room media player software, and the remote control, though this can control Keynote too.

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You’d think that the MacBook Pro would be all about the new chip, but our tests show that this just levels the playing field when comparing this Mac to equivalent Windows-based laptops. Or at least it does if your application of choice has been tuned for the Intel chip.
There is now a ‘Universal Binary’ version of Cinebench, the benchmarking application based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D software. In its rendering test, the MacBook Pro’s score was almost identical to the Dell Inspiron 9400’s, which also has a 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core Duo T2500 chip. However, the Mac’s real-time 3D score was poor, as bad as the 9400.
Using our usual LightWave processing test though, which hasn’t been optimized, the MacBook Pro was almost three times slower than the 9400 – and slower even than a PowerBook G4.
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