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MacBook Pro i7 Features and Changes

The April 2010 MacBook Pro is a nice step forward in terms of processing speed, but a disappointment in other areas.

Hits

The speed gains are welcome.

  • The Intel Core i5 or i7 processor provide a nice bump up in performance for some tasks.
  • Improved graphics support (mainly improved for marketing purposes!);
  • Memory is still 1066MHz, so you can swap memory from previous model if upgrading.
  • Slightly better battery life.

Misses

Too many misses. I’ll be surprised if there is not a new model within 3-4 months after this one.

  • No USB 3.0. Major bummer. This just kills it for fast external convenient storage. While eSATA on the 17" model is reasonably fast, it’s extra cost and less flexible. Still, maybe USB is a year off for most everyone.
  • Still limited to 8GB of memory (2 memory slots). Major bummer that makes it tough to use for the biggest jobs, though the MPG Pro Laptop can mitigate that using dual SSDs. Unfortunately, this seems to be a CPU limitation, according to Intel specifications.
  • Still no ExpressCard/34 slot in the 15" mode, so you’re forced into the 17" model for eSATA support.
  • Still no official support for more than one internal drive. No big deal, the MPG Pro Laptop solves that problem for you.
  • Still no eSATA port built-in.
  • Still no CompactFlash slot for photographers. Firewire 800 remains the best, but crappy, option.
  • The optional $1300 512GB SSD is not enterprise grade, and very likely to suffer the same performance degradation as with most SSDs (reconditioning with DiskTester helps). Get the Mercury Extreme instead (or a pair of them, internally, as I’ll soon offer with the MPG Pro Laptop).

Memory up to 8GB — only

OWC 4GB DDR 1066MHz SO-DIMM

The MBP17 allows the use of 8GB memory using two 4GB 1066MHz SO-DIMM modules, same as the previous model.

Use of 8GB has been possible for well over a year, and it is disappointing to not see the capability for 12GB or 16GB. Apparently this is an Intel CPU limitation, according to Intel’s specifications. D Bummer.

Not having 12GB or 16GB with Photoshop CS5 or Lightroom means degraded performance with big jobs, though use of a quality SSD can greatly improve virtual memory performance. For such jobs, get the MPG Pro Laptop, a solution designed just for such tasks.

 


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