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First Look: Apple's early 2011 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Thunderbolt

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
Apple's newly revised early 2011 MacBook Pros carry forward the same unibody construction, but offer Intel Core i5 and i7 Sandy Bridge quad core CPUs, faster RAM, more powerful AMD graphics chips, larger drive options, and the new high speed Thunderbolt interconnect. Here's an illustrated first look ahead of our in-depth reviews.

Pro vs Air

The 13, 15 and 17 inch MacBook Pro models serve pretty clearly differentiated groups of users, but on the small end, potential buyers of the 13 inch model may have a tough time deciding between it and the thin, light MacBook Air of the same size or its even smaller 11 inch sibling. Both Airs deliver fast SSD drives and extended batter life, but use a slower CPU and system bus, smaller disk options and less powerful graphics, but roughly the same screen resolution.

The 11 inch Air packs a resolution that is nearly the same as the 13 inch MacBook Pro: 1366x768 vs the Pro's conventional "13 inch resolution" of 1280x800. On the other hand, the 13 inch Air has the same "15 inch resolution" of 1440x900 as the middle sized MacBook Pro, but packed into a 13.3 inch display (although the latest 15 inch MacBook Pro also offers a higher resolution, 1680x1050 option).

The MacBook Pro models also differ from the Airs by offering fast Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire, optical drives, more disk storage (up to 750 GB using conventional hard drives rather than the Air's SSD) and additional, faster RAM (some Air models ship with a paltry 2GB, and can only be upgraded as a build to order option for a max of 4GB; MacBook Pro models can now accommodate a max of 8GB of 1333 MHz PC3-10600 DDR3 SDRAM.)

The new MacBook Pros also pack high-definition FaceTime cameras capable of 720p video conferencing.






On page 2 of 2: Thunderbolt joins standard set of ports; Unboxing; Savings

Thunderbolt

The new MacBook Pros also debut Thunderbolt, an enhancement of the existing DisplayPort that adds two bidirectional 10Gb data channels of switched fabric interconnect, making PCI Express available externally on a new cabling system that supports a high resolution display and multiple disks, disk arrays, docks, and media breakout boxes.

This entirely new interface allows the new notebooks to plug into a variety of workstation devices with just one cable, or power a remote drive with up to 10 watts while working on the go. Thunderbolt is like a very fast FireWire, with an improved connector, high resolution external display support, and more electrical power, with support for Target Mode booting and the ability to bridge other interfaces, including Ethernet and USB.




Unboxing






Savings on retail configurations

Several of Apple's larger authorized resellers are already reflecting stock of the company's five standard retail configurations for the MacBook Pro. And a handful are offering considerable early discounts of up to $150 on the new models.

For its part, MacConnection is offering the lowest prices on the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros, while MacMall delivers the best deals on the 13-inch models through its 3% instant discount coupons, which are included in the price guide links below and are exclusive to AppleInsider readers.



For those readers considering a discounted purchase through one of these authorized resellers, it's noteworthy to point out that the MacConnection requires that customers submit mail-in-rebates post purchase to achieve the prices listed in AppleInsider's Mac Pricing Guide, while the discounts shown for MacMall are instantaneous (including the 3% AI discount) and do not require any form of rebate.
post #2 of 64
The graphics card in the Macbook Airs is arguably MORE powerful than the Intel GPU built into the 13" Macbook Pro. The CPU speed is so much faster however, that the 13" Macbook Pro ends up about the same on graphics benchmarks than the 11" Macbook Air.
post #3 of 64
I gave up on a hackintosh solution and got the 13" MBP. Way faster than my Oct. 2006 MBP.
2011 13" 2.3 MBP, 2006 15" 2.16 MBP, iPhone 4, iPod Shuffle, AEBS, AppleTV2 with XBMC.
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2011 13" 2.3 MBP, 2006 15" 2.16 MBP, iPhone 4, iPod Shuffle, AEBS, AppleTV2 with XBMC.
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post #4 of 64
We've got around 50 entries, please contribute if you too are waiting for/have received a 2011 Macbook Pro BTO.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?...TWG95WEE&hl=en
post #5 of 64
I absolutely love my 3-month old 13" MBA. In my everyday tasks, the SSD setup actually makes my Core2Duo MBA so much more a pleasure to use than my 27" Quad-core i7 iMac.

It would have been nice to have a Thunderbolt port, but it's minor.

If mobility is more a concern, and 256BG (max) is enough primary storage, the MBA is a no-brainer. If your needs are more of a desktop-replacement, and you need larger, primary storage than the MBP's a better suited.

Apple did a great job with their product lineup. It makes choosing that much more difficult, but in a good way I think.

I look forward to an updated iMac with MBA-style SSD upgrade options. If Apple designs the SSD setup similar to user-replaceable RAM slots beneath the unit, and a Thunderbolt Port, it'll finally give (most) users zero reason to ever open their iMac.

It'll be a great 2011 for Apple!
post #6 of 64
Picked up my new 15" 2.3 i7 with hi-res matte screen last Thursday (yup, I jumped on it) on my way home from work. Very happy with it. I think the screen hinge is a bit stiffer than the previous model (I upgraded from last April's MBP (same configuration)), and the key feel also seems to be crisper.

Just got an 8GB RAM kit from OWC (the Apple store only had 4GB configs in stock), which I'll install tonight.

Thinking about installing an SSD kit from OWC to replace the optical drive, which I rarely use, and installing startup and application files on it.

Might have to let my wallet cool off first...
post #7 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scruffy View Post

Picked up my new 15" 2.3 i7 with hi-res matte screen last Thursday (yup, I jumped on it) on my way home from work.

Woah - were you able to get the hi-res screen in the store?? I thought that was a BTO-only option. I'm hoping I'll get lucky - I'm in Portland this weekend and can save on sales tax

Also, I'm looking at the 1gb VRAM option as I read somewhere the card in the lesser model is worthless. Anyone have an opinion on that?
post #8 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scruffy View Post

Picked up my new 15" 2.3 i7 with hi-res matte screen last Thursday (yup, I jumped on it) on my way home from work. Very happy with it. I think the screen hinge is a bit stiffer than the previous model (I upgraded from last April's MBP (same configuration)), and the key feel also seems to be crisper.

Just got an 8GB RAM kit from OWC (the Apple store only had 4GB configs in stock), which I'll install tonight.

Thinking about installing an SSD kit from OWC to replace the optical drive, which I rarely use, and installing startup and application files on it.

Might have to let my wallet cool off first...

IIRC, the hinge is a bit stiff on brand new machines, it loosens a bit with use.
post #9 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scruffy View Post

Thinking about installing an SSD kit from OWC to replace the optical drive, which I rarely use, and installing startup and application files on it.

That's what I'm looking at as well - but I imagine that would violate AppleCare unless you let them (or another authorised shop) do the installation...
post #10 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames4242 View Post

That's what I'm looking at as well - but I imagine that would violate AppleCare unless you let them (or another authorised shop) do the installation...

As I understand it, Apple can't legally deny an AppleCare claim simply because an non-authorized source did some work on the machine unless that work was done incorrectly and was the source of the problem.

-kpluck

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post #11 of 64
We are going to wait for a week or two and read the reviews, which hopefully will suss out any hardware issues. Typically, Macworld is great for this. If they give it a clean bill of health, we're going to take the plunge on the 15" for the office. My last PB was the 12" PPC so this is going to feel like a screamer. Very excited about running Lion on this thing!
post #12 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

I gave up on a hackintosh solution and got the 13" MBP. Way faster than my Oct. 2006 MBP.

Congratulations and thank you.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #13 of 64
MacStack.
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post #14 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames4242 View Post

Woah - were you able to get the hi-res screen in the store?? I thought that was a BTO-only option. I'm hoping I'll get lucky - I'm in Portland this weekend and can save on sales tax

Also, I'm looking at the 1gb VRAM option as I read somewhere the card in the lesser model is worthless. Anyone have an opinion on that?

They keep sets of certain configurations in stock, in store. One of those is the top-end version of each model, I was told.
post #15 of 64
now we just read advertisements here?
what value did this post have (other than to MacMall?)
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<del>wiki</del>OpenLeaks for Good
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Good for <del>wiki</del>OpenLeaks
<del>wiki</del>OpenLeaks for Good
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post #16 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames4242 View Post

That's what I'm looking at as well - but I imagine that would violate AppleCare unless you let them (or another authorised shop) do the installation...

What I was told in the Apple store is that if I had an Apple-authorized service tech install it, it wouldn't void the warranty.
post #17 of 64
Who the hell is "Al" ?
post #18 of 64
Does anyone know an online shop where I can order a macbook pro and not pay sales tax?
I live in NY
Thx!
post #19 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scruffy View Post

They keep sets of certain configurations in stock, in store. One of those is the top-end version of each model, I was told.

Good to know! That'll cost me more money then . I'm also hoping for the 7200rpm option. I believed the reports that said a 5400rpm 640gb drive wouldn't be slower than the 100gb 7200rpm drive that was shipped with my MBP. The reports were very wrong!
post #20 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by skunksaver View Post

Does anyone know an online shop where I can order a macbook pro and not pay sales tax?
I live in NY
Thx!

I guess amazon.com doesn't charge ST in some states. Legally, however, in lieu of retail sales tax, you are required to remit USE TAXES. Yep. They are equal to the sales tax rate.

Very few people know of or pay the use tax. Even some businesses try to dodge it. Until they are audited.
post #21 of 64
I want to get the 17 but it gets to be a bit big to lug. Pus the 15 has the SD slot and that means one less cable to forget when I am on the road. On the other hand I can SEE what I am working on with the 17 and its only a $200 diff.

Quad core = killer for Apperture. I am not a fan of the integrated graphics on the the 13", but they sure made a great choice bringing 4 cores to the MBP

Is the SD slot transfer rate the same as USB? I went through 3 16 GB cards on one shoot the other day. Took forever to get those files off the camera.
post #22 of 64
I'm considering a 13-inch MBA instead of the new MBP for school. Mainly for the size, weight, and portability. Don't really need all that power of the new MBP.
post #23 of 64
I think there needs to be a laptop design revolution. I was looking at those pictures and was thinking how old and square laptops are. The Utilitarian look may be cost effective, but it's getting boring.
post #24 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgl323 View Post

I'm considering a 13-inch MBA instead of the new MBP for school. Mainly for the size, weight, and portability. Don't really need all that power of the new MBP.

I just bought one... Best purchase I ever made..
post #25 of 64
I'm disappointed by the displays. The 13" should have the same 1440x900 screen as the air and the 1680x1050 should be standard on the 15"
post #26 of 64
I saw this article about the possible build quality issues. I hope they are not true!

http://www.product-reviews.net/2011/...in-2011-build/
post #27 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by waytogobuddy View Post

now we just read advertisements here?
what value did this post have (other than to MacMall?)

I agree, apart from the pictures there was nothing in the article you can't find on the Apple website. And they didn't even mention the lit keyboard on the Pro, which was the reason I didn't buy the Air.
post #28 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

I think there needs to be a laptop design revolution. I was looking at those pictures and was thinking how old and square laptops are. The Utilitarian look may be cost effective, but it's getting boring.

Oh, yes. We need more like this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Apple-Macintosh-...#ht_940wt_1141
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post #29 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

I'm disappointed by the displays. The 13" should have the same 1440x900 screen as the air and the 1680x1050 should be standard on the 15"

Oh good, you're the one. There's always someone who is.
post #30 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by K.C. View Post

Oh good, you're the one. There's always someone who is.

Nah, I'm right there too. The 15" MBP resolution hasn't changed since the days of the 15" PowerBook (in fact, it actually lost some real estate to make room for the camera). It's crazy that, for the price of these laptops, Apple isn't throwing us a bone and giving us a decent screen resolution comparable with that of similarly-priced (non-Apple) laptops.

That said, Apple must know what they're doing, because I'm about to pay the extra $100 for the hi-res screen
post #31 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by K.C. View Post

Oh good, you're the one. There's always someone who is.

He does have a point. Why does the 13 inch Pro have a lower resolution screen than the 13 inch Air? Is the reason technical or is it marketeering?
post #32 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames4242 View Post

Nah, I'm right there too. The 15" MBP resolution hasn't changed since the days of the 15" PowerBook (in fact, it actually lost some real estate to make room for the camera).

No it didnt. It lost a little display areas when the changed the aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:10, but this had nothing to do with the addition of a camera, but with changes to technology and consumer trends towards widescreen displays.

Quote:
It's crazy that, for the price of these laptops, Apple isn't throwing us a bone and giving us a decent screen resolution comparable with that of similarly-priced (non-Apple) laptops.

Resolution is only one metric for determining the price or value of a display. There are plenty of aspects and Apple is always topping the charts for the best displays. There is no reason to want a higher-resoolution display at the expense of getting some shitty panel for your money.

You can alway go with the HP EliteBooks $500 option for an high-grade panel, but I dont think you get some super-high resolution and I recall the tests show that they werent even close to the value you get from other vendors with good panels, like on Apples notebook save for the 11 MBA (which is a good panel but only in comparison to other notebooks with 11 displays.

Quote:
That said, Apple must know what they're doing, because I'm about to pay the extra $100 for the hi-res screen

I want a higher resolution display, too, but not until they allow for better options for the elements on the screen because the items on the display are just too small for my tastes. Lion will finally have something for that.
post #33 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post

No it didnt. It lost a little display areas when the changed the aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:10, but this had nothing to do with the addition of a camera, but with changes to technology and consumer trends towards widescreen displays.

My bad - I'm remembering a review of the early MBP (the machine I'm still using!) suggesting that the bezel needed to come down a few mm to make room for the camera, and that Apple was therefor eliminating a corresponding number of pixels to compensate. Perhaps this was simply speculation at the time.

Quote:
Resolution is only one metric for determining the price or value of a display. There are plenty of aspects and Apple is always topping the charts for the best displays. There is no reason to want a higher-resoolution display at the expense of getting some shitty panel for your money.

Oh I agree. This machine's display is gorgeous and blows away most other laptops I've seen. When traveling with the girlfriend, we always choose this machine for movies over her HP because this screen is so much better (and has a *much* wider viewing angle).

Quote:
You can alway go with the HP EliteBooks $500 option for an high-grade panel, but I dont think you get some super-high resolution and I recall the tests show that they werent even close to the value you get from other vendors with good panels, like on Apples notebook save for the 11 MBA (which is a good panel but only in comparison to other notebooks with 11 displays.

I'm not suggesting for a minute that I would jump ship because I think Apple should be including higher-resolution displays. I do everything with this machine, and I'd never change my workflow. If for some reason I found myself unable to replace this laptop with a comparable machine, I'd drop a grand on the 11" Air or 13" MacBook and live with the smaller screen.

Quote:
I want a higher resolution display, too, but not until they allow for better options for the elements on the screen because the items on the display are just too small for my tastes. Lion will finally have something for that.

I suppose that's my only concern. I'm judging my desire for a higher-resolution screen on the fact that I want more real-estate when working with Aperture, InDesign, and Final Cut Express (three apps I spend most of my time living in). I wish the Apple Store had the 15" hi-res machine on display for comparison.
post #34 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Pro vs Air

The 13, 15 and 17 inch MacBook Pro models serve pretty clearly differentiated groups of users, but on the small end, potential buyers of the 13 inch model may have a tough time deciding between it and the thin, light MacBook Air of the same size or its even smaller 11 inch sibling. Both Airs deliver fast SSD drives and extended batter life, but use a slower CPU and system bus, smaller disk options and less powerful graphics, but roughly the same screen resolution.

How long do they want to extend the life of a batter?
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post #35 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Oh, yes. We need more like this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Apple-Macintosh-...#ht_940wt_1141

This made me LOLz.

Sure, they seem totally ghey now, but I highly coveted one at the time. I'm fairly certain they were the first laptops (Mac or PC) with a wireless optionif I'm wrong, I'm sure someone here will correct me . And they were so pretty with their gum-drop colours!
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post #36 of 64
Um. Do the new MBPs have glossy skin, or am I just seeing a protective plastic film in the photos?
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post #37 of 64
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post #38 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by dm3 View Post

The graphics card in the Macbook Airs is arguably MORE powerful than the Intel GPU built into the 13" Macbook Pro. The CPU speed is so much faster however, that the 13" Macbook Pro ends up about the same on graphics benchmarks than the 11" Macbook Air.

Why is speed so essential to all you computer users constantly? Is is gaming or video editing? Most of what we do we can do with the core 2 duo processor.What really is important is the ISP that is what counts I think.
post #39 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

I think there needs to be a laptop design revolution. I was looking at those pictures and was thinking how old and square laptops are. The Utilitarian look may be cost effective, but it's getting boring.

Well, the keyboard is rectangular and so is the screen. I don't know how you would make a case that isn't "square" given the shape of the things the case holds...
post #40 of 64
Do these use SATA III?
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