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

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 86
    Holy Mac!
  • Reply 2 of 86
    and, how has this changed from the previous version, other that the c2d logo on the side?
  • Reply 3 of 86
    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...
  • Reply 4 of 86
    dentondenton Posts: 725member
    "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).
  • Reply 5 of 86
    These are nice and all, but I'd really like to see some with a shallower depth of field.
  • Reply 6 of 86
    I like how the iSight indicator light has now vanished into the aluminum bezel. Go Mac!
  • Reply 7 of 86
    m01etym01ety Posts: 278member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 86
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,707member
    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/
  • Reply 9 of 86
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 86
    I'd look, just to see how ugly the arrangement would be and laugh.



    ...Since, well, I'll never un-box a Dell. lol
  • Reply 11 of 86
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 86
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,707member
    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
  • Reply 13 of 86
    s10s10 Posts: 107member
    what happened to s-video? according to Apple specs it should be there.. but I don't see it?!?!
  • Reply 14 of 86
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,707member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 86
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    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.



    Thanks,



    -K
  • Reply 16 of 86
    nchianchia Posts: 123member
    What I'd like to know is why you can't have twin hard drives inside the 17-inch version!
  • Reply 17 of 86
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 86
    nchianchia Posts: 123member
    Yeah, but you'd think there's enough space INSIDE!
  • Reply 19 of 86
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 86
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    Werid they removed that little dot led from next to the isight.
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