Apple released new 15" and 17" MacBook Pros in October 2006 updated with Intel Core 2 Duo processors ranging from 2.16GHz to 2.33GHz. Three models are available; a 15" 2.16GHz MacBook Pro for $1999, a 15" 2.33GHz MacBook Pro for $2499, and a 17" 2.33GHz MacBook Pro for $2799. In addition to the new Core 2 Duo processors, Apple increased standard RAM configurations to 1GB for the low-end 15" model and 2GB for the 2.33GHz MacBook Pros. Hard drive capacity has been increased to 120GB for 15" MacBook Pros and 160GB for the 17" model. Optical drives range from a 6x DL SuperDrive for 15" MacBook Pros up to an 8x DL SuperDrive for the 17" model. Configure-to-order options at The Apple Store include up to 3GB of installed RAM, the addition of a 200GB 4200RPM hard drive, and the option of a free Glossy Display. The MacBook Pro ushered in a new era for Apple laptops. The most important difference between the MacBook Pro and older PowerBooks and iBooks is the inclusion of an Intel processor. According the Apple, "It's actually two processors built into a single chip, which makes this by far the biggest leap in mobile Mac power you've ever seen." Other new additions include a built-in iSight camera, Front Row and Apple Remote, iLife '06, and new power adapter with MagSafe Connector (a magnetic DC plug that both ensures a tight connection and enables a clean break from the power port when there is undue tension). The MacBook Pro also features a full-size backlit keyboard, AirPort Extreme wireless networking (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, ExpressCard/34 slot, dual-link DVI video out, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0, FireWire 400/800, and optical digital and analog audio in/out.
MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo
by Charles W. Moore
Apple released its first refreshment and most recent revision of its MacBook Pro line of professional notebooks in October, 2006, upgrading them from Intel Core Duo to the cooler-running Core 2 Duo processors with 4MB of shared L2 cache.
While the speed bumps to 2.16 GHz and 2.33 GHz clockspeeds in the 15-incher, and 2.33 GHz only for the 17-inch machine represent only a modest speed bump form the former 2.0 GHz and 2.16 GHz specs, of the preceding Core Duo models, Core 2 Duo GHz are huskier than Core Duo GHz, and Apple claims performance up to 39 percent faster than the revision A 2.16 GHz MacBook Pros, and more than seven times faster than the ultimate 1.67 GHz PowerBook G4 models.
Along with the more powerful processors, standard memory configurations in MacBook Pros now come with 1GB of 667 MHz of DDR2 SDRAM standard in the 2.16 GHz unit and 2GB standard in both 2.33 GHz machines, all expandable up to an unprecedented - in Apple portables - 3GB. Rounding out the internal power is a PCI Express-based ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor unit with up to 256MB of dedicated GDDR3 graphics memory.
The smaller model comes with a 15.4-inch widescreen at 1440 x 900 resolution, while the 17-incher is equipped with a 17" widescreen at 1680 x 1050 resolution and 300 cd/m2 brightness. Both sizes are available in the customer's choice of matte or glossy screen surface.
Also new with the 15" Core 2 Duo models is a FireWire 800 port, which was already included with the revision A 17-incher. While the lack of FireWire 800 support was not a significant hardship for many users, it was an inconvenience for folks who had FireWire 800 peripherals. All models now come with a slot-load 6x or 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support.
On the downside is the oddball 3 GB RAM capacity limit, the lack of an internal modem, and more difficult access to the internals - especially the hard drive - than with the newer-design consumer MacBook.
Price points remain the same, at $1,999 for the "base" 15-incher, $2,499 for the 2.33 GHz 15" model, and $2,799 for the 17" king of the hill. As before, my take is that the $1,999 15" model is a bit of a bargain, the 17" machine a very decent value considering what you get, and the $500 premium you pay for the higher-end 15" unit more than a bit steep for 16 MHz more clock speed, and an extra gig of RAM.
A bunch of Build-To-Order options are available including upgrades to 200GB (4200 rpm) or 160GB (5400 rpm) hard drives, more RAM of course, a new $59 Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter that can connect to in-seat power ports aboard aircraft, the Apple USB Modem (which should be standard equipment with expensive machines like these, IMHO), glossy widescreen displays, and AppleCare. You can also knock the 17" MacBook Pro's price down to $2,699 by "downgrading" to a 100 GB 7200 RPM hard drive.
Good stuff carried over from the revision A models includes 15.4-inch 1440 x 900 and 17-inch 1680 x 1050 widescreen displays with 300 cd/m2 brightness,10/100/1000 BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet, built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), a FireWire 400 port to go with the FireWire 800 port, either two (15") or three (17") USB 2.0 ports, combination analog and optical digital audio input and output ports, an ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot, a built-in iSight video camera, the infrared Apple Remote, a backlit keyboard, Apple's Sudden Motion Sensor and Scrolling TrackPad, and a DVI video output to connect up to a 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display, video mirroring with full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors, and Apple's MagSafe Power Adapter.
As for bundled software, the MacBook Pros come with Apple's iLife '06 suite of "digital lifestyle" iApps including iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, GarageBand and iWeb, and the current Mac OS X version 10.4.8 Tiger with Safari, Mail, iCal, iChat AV, Front Row and Photo Booth, all of which run natively on the Intel-based notebook.
In appearance, there are no changes. Dimensions-wise, here are the specs:
15-inch MacBook Pro
Height: 1.0 inch (2.59 cm)
Width: 14.1 inches (35.7 cm)
Depth: 9.6 inches (24.3 cm)
Weight: 5.6 pounds (2.54 kg) with battery and optical drive installed
17-inch MacBook Pro
Height: 1.0 inch (2.59 cm)
Width: 15.4 inches (39.2 cm)
Depth: 10.4 inches (26.5 cm)
Weight: 6.8 pounds (3.1 kg) with battery and optical drive installed
The biggest advantage of the Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro versus its Core Duo forbear is arguably not the extra speed and power, as welcome as those improvements are, but the fact that the Core 2 Duos run substantially cooler than the torrid Core Duo models. As could be reasonably anticipated with a second generation, reliability is also evidently improved with the Core 2 Duo models. Small wonder Apple's notebook sales are booming.
MacBook Pro At a Glance
2.16 GHz or 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
4MB of shared L2 cache
667MHz Frontside Bus
1 GB or 2 GB memory expandable up to Up to 3GB
120GB or 160 GB Serial ATA hard drive
Slot-load 6x or 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVDRW/CD-RW) optical drive;
Built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0
PCI Express-based ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 128 MB or 256MB GDDR3 memory;
DVI-out port for external display (VGA-out adapter included, Composite/S-Video out adapter sold separately)
Built-in Dual Link support for driving Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display
built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR;
ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot
Built-in Gigabit Ethernet
Two or three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, and one FireWire 400 port;
One audio line in and one headphone out port, each supporting optical digital audio;
Scrolling TrackPad and illuminated keyboard with ambient light sensor;
Infrared Apple Remote
85 Watt Apple MagSafe Power Adapter.
For more information, visit:
MacBook Pro photos: