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Introduction to the MacBook Pro i7

Last updated 2010-04-20 - Send Feedback
Related: laptop, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Macs

The April 2010 MacBook Pro is essentially a CPU upgrade with the new Intel Core i5 or i7 chip, which promises significantly higher performance. Except for the CPU upgrade and a yawner graphics change, it is all but unchanged from the March 2009 MacBook Pro.

This review tests only the Core i7 mode. The Core i5 model has less CPU cache, which might or might not matter for most tasks. The best way to give your MacBook Pro a personality transplant is to use a solid state drive.

Summary

Apple has quietly updated the MacBook Pro line, almost as if ashamed to be changing so little, adding the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors to the 15" and 17" models.

The i5 and i7 processors do produce a very worthwhile performance bump for the MacBook Pro, but in other respects little has changed (more on that below).

Can a 2.66Ghz Core i7 can always overcome its 15% gigahertz deficit vs the current model 3.06 GHz MacBook Pro? See the tests on subsequent pages for that answer.

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Marketing performance

The Apple benchmarks compare the new 2.66GHz Core i7 model against the prior 2.8GHz Core Duo model, even though the 9% faster 3.06GHz Core Duo model can now be had refurbished for substantially less than the new top-of-the-line Core i7 model, with a comparable new price before.

The Apple public benchmarks emphasize extreme use of graphics which make heavy use of the video card, giving an absurdly skewed view of the actual peformance gains. This is simply not realistic for the vast vast majority of buyers who will never run programs that exploit the graphics card so heavily

Recommended config
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Configuration choices

At right is the configuration tested here.

I replaced the 500GB drive with dual solid state drives eg the MPG Pro Laptop configuration, but I ordered 7200 rpm so I can stick it into a case I already have. Otherwise, order the 5400rpm model, and upgrade to an enterprise-grade SSD or a good 7200rpm drive, or do what I did: upgrade to an an MPG Pro Laptop.

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Lloyd recommends 32GB RDIMM modules for most users (more expensive LRDIMMS are for 512GB or more).


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