The Bottom Line
Sep 6 2012 - With the latest product releases from Apple, the MacBook Pro 13 is certainly looking like a product that will soon reach the end of its life. The 2012 update has very little change to it other than a new processor with corresponding graphics and USB 3.0 ports. Beyond this, it is nearly identical to last years version. In the meantime, the company improved and dropped the price of the MacBook Air 13. So, why buy this system? Well, if you require extra storage space from the hard drive and a DVD burner, it is one of the few remaining options with a smaller 13-inch display.
- Excellent Keyboard
- Long Battery Life
- USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt Ports
- Display Panel Lower Resolution
- Hard Drive Really Slows Down The System
- Pricing Didn't Drop Like MacBook Air 13
- Intel Core i5-3210M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 13.3" WXGA (1280x800) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt, SDXC Slot
- 12.8" x 8.9" x 1" @ 4.5 lbs.
- Mac OSX 10.8, iLife
Review - Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch
Sep 6 2012 - In Apple's latest round of product updates, the MacBook Pro 13 seems to be the forgotten stepchild. The system essentially remained unchanged from the past 2011 version except an update of the processor with its corresponding graphics system. Even the price hasn't changed which is even more disturbing considering the base MacBook Air 13 dropped by $100.
Powering the base Macbook Pro 13 is the new Intel Core i5-3210M dual core processor that is based on the Ivy Bridge processor. Performance hasn't really gone up all that much from the previous Sandy Bridge version but it is slightly more efficient. The processor also provides higher overall performance than the ultralow voltage processors found in the MacBook Air but not by a huge margin. This may mean that it does have a bit of an advantage when it comes to more demanding tasks such as desktop video work. The system still comes with just 4GB of DDR3 memory which is a bit disappointing since most full fledged 13-inch laptops now feature 6 or 8GB. At least the memory can be upgraded unlike the slew of ultrathin designs.
One surprising aspect of the 2012 version of the MacBook Pro 13 is the storage. While the majority of Apple's computer products have moved to solid state drives, this system still uses a traditional hard drive. While the 500GB of storage space is a good deal larger than what a SSD would have, the performance is noticeably slower than say a MacBook Air 13. This is especially true for simple things like booting the operating system. One difference than it welcome though is the move from USB 2.0 to faster USB 3.0 ports. This allows for a greater range of high speed external storage devices to be used with the system. It still features a Thunderbolt port that can be used for external storage as well. Unlike most of the 13-inch laptops, the MacBook Pro does come with a slow loading DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media. So if you want a small laptop with this item, it is one of the few that still has it.
The display of the MacBook Pro 13 still uses its unusual 1280x800 native resolution display compared to the majority of systems that feature 1366x768 or higher. This makes the screen seem much smaller as there is less room for applications on the screen. It would be nice to see this design eventually move to a higher resolution. At least the color and viewing angles are better than most. The graphics system has been upgraded thanks to the new Intel processor. Now it features the Intel HD Graphics 4000. This has improved 3D performance for the ability to play some of the older games at the panels native resolution. The graphics does improve the ability to transcode video with Quick Sync enabled applications but they are very limited on the Mac OSX platform.
Thankfully, the larger frame of the MacBook Pro 13 still allows for a larger 63.5WHr capacity battery pack. In digital video playback tests, this allowed the system to run for roughly six hours which is roughly the same as the MacBook Air 13 with its more power efficient setup. It certainly should provide more than enough time for the average user and should achieve Apple's claim of seven hours of wireless web browsing.
With Apple holding the pricing of the MacBook Pro 13 at $1199 but dropping the MacBook Air 13 to the same price, the reasons for choosing the larger of the two designs is even harder to justify. With its extremely thin profile, long battery life and fast boot times the MacBook Air is the better choice. The only reasons to go with the MacBook Pro 13 now are if you require the higher storage space and optical drive.