MacBook Pro Review (Early 2008)



MacBook Pro (Early 2008) "Penryn"
by Charles W. Moore

After a long interval, since the last refreshment in June, 2007, when the Intel "Santa Rosa" CPU-based MacBook Pros were released, Apple announced the latest revision of its professional notebook line on February 26, 2008, with the latest Intel Core 2 Duo "Penryn" processors, the first using Intel's new 45-nanometer 45 nm chip technology, but no change in form-factor. The chipset and rest of the platform remain as before. Intel's 45 nm process results in transistors so small you could fit a hundred inside a single human cell. With smaller distances for electrons to travel, and two execution cores designed to share resources and conserve power, the Intel Core 2 Duo achieves higher levels of performance without using more power. Battery life is projected to be 30-60 minutes longer than on earlier MacBook Pro models, and the machine will run cooler compared with their "Merom/Santa Rosa" 65nm predecessors.

Also new to the MacBook Pro is Apple's Multi-Touch trackpad that debuted in the MacBook Air in January, 2008. The Multi-Touch technology includes gesture support for pinch, rotate and swipe, making it easy to zoom and rotate photos and browse web pages. Multi-Touch trackpads will appeal especially to folks who use their 'Books in mobile mode a lot particularly if they do graphics editing.

Carried over are standard LED display backlighting on the 15" model (also newly available as a $100 option on the 17" model), the high-res 1920-by-1200 display option on the 17" MacBook Pro, a built-in iSight video camera; Apple's MagSafe Power Adapter, the latest generation of 802.11n wireless networking, built-in 10/100/1000 BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth; analog and digital audio inputs and outputs; USB 2.0; FireWire 400 and 800 ports, and a built-in SuperDrive

The MacBook Pro now features features CPU speeds up to a 2.6 GHz with 6MB of shared L2 cache; supports up to 4GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory and up to a 300GB hard drive is optional, plus NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics with up to 512MB of video memory (256 MB is now standard on the lower-end model). Every MacBook Pro includes an illuminated keyboard that automatically adjusts the brightness of the keys as well as the brightness of the display for optimal visibility.

Price points remain the same as with the previous models.


MacBook Pro Model Chart:

17" 2.5GHz

17-inch TFT Display
1680 x 1050 resolution
2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2GB memory
250GB hard drive
8x DL SuperDrive
NVIDIA GeForce 8600MGT
512MB SDRAM
Backlit keyboard
Gigabit Ethernet
FireWire 800/400
Digital/analog audio
dual-link DVI video out
ExpressCard/34 slot

$2799

15.4" 2.5GHz

15.4-inch TFT Display
1440x900 resolution
2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2GB memory
250GB hard drive
8x DL SuperDrive
NVIDIA GeForce 8600MGT
512MB SDRAM
Backlit keyboard
Gigabit Ethernet
FireWire 800/400
Digital/analog audio
dual-link DVI video out
ExpressCard/34 slot

$2499

15.4" 2.4GHz

15.4-inch TFT Display
1440x900 resolution
2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2GB memory
200GB hard drive
8x DL SuperDrive
NVIDIA GeForce 8600MGT
256MB SDRAM
Backlit keyboard
Gigabit Ethernet
FireWire 800/400
Digital/analog audio
dual-link DVI video out
ExpressCard/34 slot

$1999



Build-to-order options for the MacBook Pro include the ability to upgrade to up to 4GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, a 2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 200GB (7200 rpm), 250GB (5400 rpm) or a 300GB (4200 rpm) hard drive, Apple Remote, Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter, Apple USB Modem, glossy widescreen display, 17-inch LED-backlit 1920 x 1200 high-resolution display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

Additional build-to-order options for both MacBook and MacBook Pro include pre-installed copies of iWork '08, Logic Express 8, Final Cut Express 4 and Aperture 2.

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

So, is now a good time to buy a MacBook Pro? Never better! This latest revision adds substantial value and significantly enhanced performance, with modest increases in speed, but more importantly cooler running and longer battery life, while holding the existing price points.

On the other hand, if you have a Revision C Core 2 Duo Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, there's no need to be suffering buyer's' remorse. The speed improvements with these latest models are, as noted, modest, and the specification upgrades, while all welcome, are not in the must-have category. The LED display backlighting was introduced in the previous, Santa Rosa 15" model, so it might be worth considering as an Apple Certified Refurbished unit if you're on a tight budget.

Whichever you choose, with machines like these, it's little wonder that Apple's notebook sales are at record levels.

MacBook Pro At a Glance

2.4 GHz, 2.5 GHz, or (BTO) 2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo "Penryn" 45nm processor
3 MB of shared L2 cache
800MHz Frontside Bus
2 GB memory expandable up to Up to 4GB
200 GB or 250 GB Serial ATA hard drive (Up to 300 GB optional)
Slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
Built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0
NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB GDDR3 memory or NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 512MB 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;
Multi-Touch trackpad and illuminated keyboard
85 Watt Apple MagSafe Power Adapter.

For more information, visit:
http://www.apple.com/macbookpro