Without the quad-core beef of its stable mates, can the miniest MacBook Pro still tempt?
It's terribly easy for your eye to stray from this 13in MacBook Pro to the others on Apple’s webstore. The 15in and 17in versions flaunt their quad-core processors and AMD graphics switching in such a captivating way. But, hold fast. This is all the MacBook Pro anyone needs. It’s the 13in screen version: a perfectly usable 1280x800 pixel display, with a choice of two of Intel’s fastest dual core processors, 2.3GHz Core i5 or 2.7GHz Core i7.
Its size and 2kg weight make it a laptop that you can just about carry around all day, and yet it will dual-boot into either Windows or Mac OS, there to easily handle all your daily computing needs. Edit HD movies, create wunder-pop in GarageBand, batch process your 1000-photo holiday album – you name it. It’s just that the 15in and 17in will do it quicker, and you’ll feel smugger. But you don’t need them. Or, you may not be able to afford them at least.
So what’s new in 13in for 2011? The only external change is the little Thunderbolt logo printed next to the DisplayPort connector, because it’s a Thunderbolt connector, not simply a DisplayPort connector. But, given that there are currently no peripherals available that make use of Intel’s new 10Gbps Thunderbolt connector, you’ll be pleased to know that the Thunderbolt connector still works with DisplayPort connections.
Plus, it still has a Firewire 800, and two USB 2.0 ports, and the SD card slot has been upgraded to work with SDXC cards, up to 64GB. Although we’d still like an additional USB port on the other side, next to the Superdrive DVD-R slot-loader. Just to even things up a bit. It gets crowded on the port side. And yes, HD format fans, Apple still hasn’t included a Blu-ray drive option.
But, these minor niggles aside, the MacBook Pro remains a beautiful thing to behold. And use. It takes some time to learn all that the multi-touch, click-where-you-like trackpad is capable of, but it’s worth learning. As are the various keyboard shortcuts for things like window switching and, er, the absent delete key (fn-backspace).
And it fairly trucks along. Its integrated graphics chipset can handle hardcore games, albeit at a lower resolution and frame rate than its bigger brethren, but more everyday tasks are executed with free-flowing enthusiasm.
It’s a tough ask to find something this desirable and flexible this side of £1500 – a Sony Z-series is half a kilogram lighter, but half-a-grand pricier in its most basic spec. Which makes this 13in Macbook Pro all the laptop you’ll ever need (unless you give in to your desires and buy the 15in).
Apple MacBook Pro 13in 2011 review
Arguably the perfect MacBook, if you can resist its big brothers' quad-core processors