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A closer look at Apple's Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro

post #1 of 87
Thread Starter 
Examined broadly, Apple Computer's new Core 2 Duo-based MacBook Pro notebooks are strikingly similar to their predecessors, though more careful inspection has turned up a number of notable tweaks and enhancements.

Introduced last week in 15-inch and 17-inch configurations, the new professional Apple notebooks utilize Intel Corp.'s new Core 2 Duo (Merom) dual-core processors with 4MB of Level2 cache compared to the Core Duo (Yonah) chips used in the previous version, which featured 2MB of Level2 cache.

The processor

The larger L2 cache means that the transistor count in the Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro has been expanded from 151 million to 291 million. This allows for an increase in cache-to-processor data transfers, maximizing main memory-to-processor bandwidth and reducing latency.

Additionally, Merom sports a slightly deeper pipeline than Yonah (increased from 12 to 14 stages), which also helps to increase clock speeds. However, just like the Yonah-based MacBook Pros, the chips inside the new Merom models are soldered to the main logic board.

Heat dissipation

Compared to the Yonah MacBook Pro at 31 watts, the new Merom models sport a slightly higher Thermal Design Point (TDP) of 34 watts. However, the increase is not significant when viewed against the increase in performance. Thus, the new MacBook Pro can be seen as more power efficient than its predecessor.

Aside from computational enhancements brought on by the Core 2 Duo, Apple has made several alterations to the design of its professional notebook line, both externally and under the hood.

Hard disk noise dampener

For starters, the new MacBook Pro ships with hard drives the come with a metal disk attached to their top cover to dampen hard drive noise. The disk is not removable, meaning replacement drives will need to be ordered directly from Apple until a third-party solution is developed and deployed.

The MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo's hard drive noise dampener | Photo: iFixIt

AirPort and Bluetooth changes

Located just above the hard drive is a newly designed Apple AirPort Extreme wireless card, which utilizes a color-coded three-wire antenna solution. True to rumors, the card identifies itself as an Atheros AR5008 with an 802.11n chip-set supporting the draft 802.11n wireless protocol.

The MacBook Pro's Bluetooth implementation continues to be handled by a separate component card, which in the new systems has been relocated from the bottom case near the hard drive to a position underneath the top case.

Audio alterations

Meanwhile, a significant design change has been made to the notebook's right audio speaker module, making it a single piece of hardware. In the previous version of the MacBook Pro, the speaker housing was mounted below the main logic board and the right speaker driver was mounted through the board into the housing with its wire running over the top of the board.

With the new single piece design, the entire right speaker is installed first and the logic board placed on top of it. This means the entire logic board must be removed to access speaker. Additionally, the wires for the speaker are now routed below the logic board, under the heat sink and along the back of the system.

The MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo's new AirPort Extreme Card | Photo: iFixIt

New connectors for fans and thermal sensors

While some operations have become slightly more challenging within the new MacBook Pro, Apple has taken measures to simplify others by utilizing the same JST wire bundle connectors used in the 13-inch MacBook. The connectors are easily plugged and unplugged like a power cord.

Casing alterations

Although new MacBook Pro can easily be mistaken for its predecessor, the inclusion of a FireWire 800 port on the logic board of the new model makes its bottom case incompatible with previous MacBook Pro models.

Similarly, internal revisions prevent the keyboard from the new 15-inch model from being used for repairs to the previous model because the caps lock key will fail to function properly.

The MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo's main logic board | Photo: iFixIt

System software

Both 15-inch MacBook Pro models, as well as the new 17-inch model, are shipping out of China pre-loaded with Mac OS X 10.4.8 build 8N1037, BootROM version 00A5.00, SMC firmware version 1.12f5 and infrared firmware version 110 software. They also include Trackpad v13 and Camera v184.

User-installable parts (memory)

The new MacBook Pro does not contain any internal user-installable parts with the exception of memory.

Although the notebooks will accept up to a 2 GB SO-DIMM in each of its two memory slots, the system will only recognize 3 GB of total memory.

For external shots of new MacBook Pro, please check out an earlier report published on Tuesday.
post #2 of 87
Holy Mac!

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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post #3 of 87
and, how has this changed from the previous version, other that the c2d logo on the side?
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post #4 of 87
hang on a minute, oh rite, thats how, woops

interesting about the 802.11n, nice to see apple planning ahead. i would say possible airport upgrade, but seeing as this 'standard' is still quite far away from release, ill just have to ponder...
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post #5 of 87
"Although the notebooks will accept up to a 2 GB SO-DIMM in each of its two memory slots, the system will only recognize 3 GB of total memory."

Does someone want to explain this to me? -- I can put 4GB of RAM into the MBP, but I only get 3GB out of it (because the computer will only recognise this much).
post #6 of 87
These are nice and all, but I'd really like to see some with a shallower depth of field.
post #7 of 87
I like how the iSight indicator light has now vanished into the aluminum bezel. Go Mac!
post #8 of 87
Quote:
With each of the notebooks, Apple includes two MacBook Pro Mac OS X Install Discs. Although the company's Hardware Test software was previously accessible on Install Disc 1 by holding the Option key on startup, it can no longer be launched this way with the MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo. Instead, users and technicians must hold down the "D" key to activate the hardware test software when starting the computer with Install Disc 1 in the optical drive.

Nonsense. The same was true for the Core Duo, and all of the Intel Macs so far. This is not specific to the Core 2 Duo.
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post #9 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denton

"Although the notebooks will accept up to a 2 GB SO-DIMM in each of its two memory slots, the system will only recognize 3 GB of total memory."

Does someone want to explain this to me? -- I can put 4GB of RAM into the MBP, but I only get 3GB out of it (because the computer will only recognise this much).


http://www.macfixit.com/
post #10 of 87
I wonder if anyone would be interested enough to put unboxing pictures of a Dell up on the Internet.

If someone did, I wonder if anyone would actually look at them.
post #11 of 87
I'd look, just to see how ugly the arrangement would be and laugh.

...Since, well, I'll never un-box a Dell. lol
post #12 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider

Hard disk noise dampener

For starters, the new MacBook Pro ships with hard drives the come with a metal disk attached to their top cover to dampen hard drive noise. The disk is not removable, meaning replacement drives will need to be ordered directly from Apple until a third-party solution is developed and deployed.

I am not really complaining about the hard disk noise in my CD MBP, so I really don't see the problem. It's probably just a metal disk with some fairly ordinary adhesive.
post #13 of 87
on each side
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM

I am not really complaining about the hard disk noise in my CD MBP, so I really don't see the problem. It's probably just a metal disk with some fairly ordinary adhesive.

It's probably a constrained layer damping material.

That usually consists of three layers, a thin layer of aluminum or SS on each side, bonded to an equally thin layer of elastomer in the middle.

This turns the vibration into a shear force. As the layers can only move so much, it is turned into a (very little) bit of heat instead, dampening the system.

The material isn't expensive (in aluminum, SS is several times as much), and I use it all the time. You can get it with a layer of very tough adhesive on one side from McMaster-Carr, and others.

EDIT: added a manufacturer

www.soundcoat.com
post #14 of 87
what happened to s-video? according to Apple specs it should be there.. but I don't see it?!?!
post #15 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by S10

what happened to s-video? according to Apple specs it should be there.. but I don't see it?!?!

Adapter from the DVI port.
post #16 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by m01ety

Nonsense. The same was true for the Core Duo, and all of the Intel Macs so far. This is not specific to the Core 2 Duo.

Removed.

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post #17 of 87
What I'd like to know is why you can't have twin hard drives inside the 17-inch version!
post #18 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by broadbean

What I'd like to know is why you can't have twin hard drives inside the 17-inch version!

You can have twin hard drives in it if you put the optical drive in an external enclosure.
post #19 of 87
Yeah, but you'd think there's enough space INSIDE!
post #20 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by broadbean

Yeah, but you'd think there's enough space INSIDE!

As thin as it is, no, I really don't think so. Otherwise you eat at something else, such as the battery size. The other companies that do manage to put in multiple drives have considerably thicker bases, making the task of stuffing another drive much easier.
post #21 of 87
Werid they removed that little dot led from next to the isight.
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post #22 of 87
Despite undestanding the 3GB limit its still kind of odd. youd think that they wouldve addressed this. I mean these numbers are just too crazy!
post #23 of 87
Jeez, there's hardly anything to these machines nowadays.

I'm constantly amazed at how much power they can pack in to such a small space.
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post #24 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross

on each side

It's probably a constrained layer damping material.

That usually consists of three layers, a thin layer of aluminum or SS on each side, bonded to an equally thin layer of elastomer in the middle.

This turns the vibration into a shear force. As the layers can only move so much, it is turned into a (very little) bit of heat instead, dampening the system.

The material isn't expensive (in aluminum, SS is several times as much), and I use it all the time. You can get it with a layer of very tough adhesive on one side from McMaster-Carr, and others.

EDIT: added a manufacturer

www.soundcoat.com

Ah yes, I know that construct well. --My father used to try something quite similar.
He would stand amidst my brothers, sister and me, cut a fart -and then try to blame it on one of us kids.
-bastard!
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post #25 of 87
[QUOTE] Similarly, internal revisions prevent the keyboard from the new 15-inch model from being used for repairs to the previous model because the caps lock key will fail to function properly. [\\QUOTE]


What's changed with the new keyboard caps lock on the core 2 duo?

Please tell me they didn't bring back the ADB keyboard!
post #26 of 87
I wonder why there's a 3 gig limit \
post #27 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by broadbean

Yeah, but you'd think there's enough space INSIDE!

Not really. If it isn't designed for it, then there isn't enough space. These things are packed solid. That's why they are so hard to cool.
post #28 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecking

Werid they removed that little dot led from next to the isight.

They didn't. It's behind the surface. It glows green when it's on.
post #29 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by superkaratemonkeydeathcar

Ah yes, I know that construct well. --My father used to try something quite similar.
He would stand amidst my brothers, sister and me, cut a fart -and then try to blame it on one of us kids.
-bastard!

Hmm. wouldn't work. This has to be adhered to the vibrating surface. If he coated himself like the Tin Man. Maybe.

You'd still have to deal with the aftereffects.
post #30 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross

They didn't. It's behind the surface. It glows green when it's on.

Oh, that's a lot better they should have done it like that in the first place.
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post #31 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM

I am not really complaining about the hard disk noise in my CD MBP, so I really don't see the problem. It's probably just a metal disk with some fairly ordinary adhesive.

this little disk that is on the hard drive...does this mean i can buy a bigger disk from somewhere like newegg or tiger direct and install it myself? why would this little disk prevent me from removing the hard drive?
post #32 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvthsgam

this little disk that is on the hard drive...does this mean i can buy a bigger disk from somewhere like newegg or tiger direct and install it myself? why would this little disk prevent me from removing the hard drive?

I don't know of any reason.
post #33 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by mariofreak85

I wonder why there's a 3 gig limit \

Theres a 3Gig limit as the Intel chip used in the MBP can only address 3.2 GB, so apple just advertise it as 3GB. If you put in 4GB the you get 3.2.

PC's are the same, they advertise 4GB, but if you read the small print they usually mention that "some ram may not be accessible" or something like that.
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post #34 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvthsgam

this little disk that is on the hard drive...does this mean i can buy a bigger disk from somewhere like newegg or tiger direct and install it myself? why would this little disk prevent me from removing the hard drive?

It sounds like a way for Apple to make more money to me. I think it's ridiculous if changing your hard drive voids your warranty. I'd rather have a noisy hard drive than that. It would actually encourage me to buy the Core Duo or Macbook over the new MBP. Were the drives that noisy in the first place?
post #35 of 87
I agree with others regarding the 3GB memory limit, maybe it is a firmware upgrade? It would be great if it were only a firmware issue that could be resolved.

Also, it would have been nice to have a user installatble hard drive like the MacBook has. Maybe next rev. will see that.

It would be nice if Apple would maybe change the connector for Firewire and call it Firewire 2 so that it will support either 400 or 800 and use only one cable connector much like USB 1.0 and 2.0.

Other than that, the laptop looks GREAT! It is hard to improve on a good design, but I am sure Apple will always figure out a way to make it better as they come out with updated models.

It is only a matter of time when the 4 core models will be shipping....... We'll probably have to wait another year or two.

Ah, the life and times of an Apple user. We are always going to be dreaming of the next model. When will it stop?

HOPEFULLY NEVER. Go Apple!!
post #36 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank

It would be nice if Apple would maybe change the connector for Firewire and call it Firewire 2 so that it will support either 400 or 800 and use only one cable connector much like USB 1.0 and 2.0.

I really don't think that is ever going to happen. Firewire 400 has established connectors, I don't think it makes sense to change it. The reason Firewire 800 has a different connection is because it's a lot like two firewire channels doubled-up, they doubled the number of signal pins to double the speed rather than double the speed of the existing pins.
post #37 of 87
They could use the Firewire 800 connector couldn't they? It still supports Firewire 400 does it not?
post #38 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank

They could use the Firewire 800 connector couldn't they? It still supports Firewire 400 does it not?

Yes, but you'd need people to user adapters all the time.
post #39 of 87
They could just use a Firewire 400 to Firewire cable couldn't they? It would sure free up some connector space on the laptop. I think that is a small price to pay for convienence.
post #40 of 87
Oops. FIrewire 400 to Firewire 800, I mean.
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