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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001


With the launch of new MacBook Pros last week, some observers immediately questioned Apple's decision to continue using Intel Core 2 Duo processors in its 13-inch models while bumping up to Core i5 and i7 chips in the larger form factors. At the time, Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted that the company had opted for "killer graphics" and the extended battery life versus what would have been a very small bump in CPU speed. Ars Technica now provides a thorough look at the factors that played into Apple's decision, showing how space constraints and other issues made the Core 2 Duo processors the only real option.

Much of the issue stems from a licensing dispute that has prevented NVIDIA from offering its integrated graphics packages alongside Intel's new family of Arrandale processors that includes the Core i5 and i7 chips used in the larger MacBook Pros, as well as the Core i3 chips that are a step below those adopted by Apple. The dispute left Apple with only two options if it wanted to use Arrandale processors in the 13-inch model, using Intel's "HD" integrated graphics or offering a separate discrete graphics chip from the likes of NVIDIA.

With Intel HD Graphics proving inferior for more demanding tasks to even the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M used in the previous-generation MacBook Pro, the former was not an option. And the latter meant that Apple would need to find room in an already-cramped 13-inch MacBook Pro body for a discrete graphics chip, a feat that was simply not possible, especially given the effect it would have had on battery life both from increased power consumption and from having to reduce the size of the battery to fit the expanded logic board.
Graphics performance would have taken a significant step backwards if Apple opted to rely solely on the Intel HD IGP that comes with Core i3 or i5, so Apple would have also had to include a discrete GPU like that used on the 15" and 17" models. Besides the added cost, there's simply no room on the 13" MacBook Pro logic board to include an additional discrete GPU.
Together, those factors mean that Core i5 and i7, and even the Core i3, were not feasible options for Apple in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, leaving Core 2 Duo as the fallback processor option where Apple could use NVIDIA's graphics technology. While Apple was able to use a slightly bumped CPU speed for the new models, it recognized that it needed to do more on the graphics front to improve performance, and so it engaged NVIDIA to create the GeForce 320M, a beefed-up, custom version of the company's GeForce 310M. The 320M offers tremendously superior performance over the Intel HD Graphics that would have been implemented with Arrandale processors in the 13-inch model had Apple gone that route, as well as offering more efficient power usage.
Clearly, Apple wasn't actively trying to cripple the 13" MacBook Pro by leaving it "stuck" with yesterday's Core 2 Duo technology. Instead, an Apple spokesperson told Ars that the company wanted to maintain the 13" MacBook Pro's unique combination of performance, portability, and extended battery life, as well as its $1,200 starting price. The combination of a faster Core 2 Duo processor and the NVIDIA 320M allowed Apple to do that.
The Intel-NVIDIA dispute that in large part forced Apple's hand with regard to the 13-inch MacBook Pro component choices has been cited as one of the major factors for Apple's rumored consideration of AMD processors over Intel's offerings for future Macs.

Article Link: Another Look at Apple's Core 2 Duo Choice for New 13-Inch MacBook Pro


macrumors regular
Apr 2, 2003
Tustin, California
Along with the lack of matte screen, this is a major reason why I decided not to upgrade my old 12" PowerBook G4 from 2004, even though I waited months for a refresh. Until they get it right, I'll keep using what works best for me. I'm not going to buy a litigation-influenced product.


macrumors 6502
Feb 15, 2009
Personally I think for me this is a much better option. A MacBook Pro with the intel integrated graphics would not interest me at all, it wouldn't really be feasible.


macrumors newbie
Apr 19, 2010
Is the new MBP 13" a good option for video editing?

I currently have an HP PC running Vista (hate it) and having a lot of issues with video editing due to memory and graphics handling so I was planning to buy a MBP. I was looking at the 13" due to the price and size/form-factor but now I'm unsure given the mixed feedback in this forum.

I'm not talking heavy professional video editing but definitely need something that can handle heavier graphics -- btw I was planning to use an external monitor when editing @ home but still have the portability as I travel a lot.

Is the 13" MBP a good option for me or should I look at one of the 15"s ?


macrumors 68040
Mar 13, 2007
Thanks Intel :mad:

Between your crappy integrated graphics and your lack of USB 3.0 support.....I'm starting to think maybe AMD isn't all that bad of an idea to look into.



macrumors 65816
Feb 26, 2008
Unfortunately Apple is kind of neglecting the 13" because they don't make as much money off it. However, I would gladly pay $2000 or more for a 13" if it had the same specs as a larger MBP but in a smaller package. Apple's excuse for not upgrading the 13" (to i5 processors or discrete graphics or giving it an expresscard slot) is that they can't fit everything in and maintain the battery life. The solution is to ditch the optical drive since it is becoming less relevant every day. For as often as I use it, I'd rather buy an external and use the space in the computer for something else. If they could fit discrete graphics, an i5, an expresscard slot (or alternatively USB3, eSATA, or LightPeak), 2 hard drives, and a high res matte display (1440x900 or 1680x1050 or more), that would be the ideal computer for me, and I would pay a lot of money for one.

Apple needs to stop watering down their products to sell to more people, and focus on what real "pro" users want. The macbook is their consumer line.


macrumors newbie
Apr 8, 2010
Sure I would have loved en i3 or an i5, but tbh - with a 2,4 core2 cpu, im not sure how much I would feel the difference in the daily work.

I read email, I write, I surf the web, I just my calender, I sort out my music and podcasts, I play a bit of Heroes of Newerth, WoW, Starcraft 2

I dont see the big need for a really fast CPU. Even my WoW is running great in raids, and I use a bunch of addons.


macrumors regular
Feb 11, 2010
Even if there were Arrandale processors on 13" MBP, they would most likely be entry versions. Compared to C2D's, they are not superior. I don't think that Apple were thinking about putting i7's to 13". Therefore, this move, combined with 10 hours of claimed battery life is already superior. I don't think that 13" buyers should be disappointed with C2D's.


macrumors 604
Apr 19, 2004
You think if Intel wants to keep Apple's business they will settle the dispute with NVIDIA in order to prevent Apple from going to AMD?


macrumors 68000
May 20, 2002
middle earth
Along with the lack of matte screen, this is a major reason why I decided not to upgrade my old 12" PowerBook G4 from 2004. Until they get it right, I'll keep using what works best for me. I'm not going to buy a litigation-influenced product.

Every product is litigation influenced. Good luck finding one that isn't.

Apple has a choice; keep the small design, get 10hr battery life, and have reasonably good (not killer, but good) graphics - or lose one of those three and get Core i3. They weren't going to make the MBP 13" any bigger - so the choice was to reduce battery life or ship with a crummy GPU from Intel.

This time around sticking with Core 2 Duo was an option, and with it they get to keep their 10hr battery and put in a decent graphics GPU, so they took it. They won't have that choice at all next time around, so it'll be interesting to see what they do. AMD here we come? Or can they get Intel to kiss and make up with NVIDIA?


macrumors member
Feb 12, 2008
still like the form factor, but not temped to move on from my old blackbook.

i'm looking forward to what happens with the next AIR.


macrumors regular
Oct 17, 2007
Poor trade-off. Smaller battery? Big deal. Most people don't need a notebook that lasts 10 hours off a single charge. 4-5 hours of battery life was considered good until the last year and a half, and I can think of almost no instances where > 5 hours of battery life would actually be useful to me. I'd rather have a decent cpu. Just my opinion of course, but this seems like the route apple should take for the macbook, not the pro.


macrumors 6502
May 31, 2005
I think it is a lame excuse. The 12'' iBooks and PowerBooks contained discrete GPUs in an even smaller package all the time and offered battery live well ahead of the competetion during that time. It can be done.

If they really cannot fit a large enough battery they could make the unit a tenth of an inch or so thicker. Nobody would care.

What will they do in the future? They will have the same problem again with the next update.


Captain Planet

macrumors 6502a
Mar 24, 2007
I'm glad I decided to go for a 2.53 GHz 13" back in late October '09 seeing as the spec bump wasn't that big of a deal. And really, would we have seen that much of a difference? I know for the usage I make out of my MBP, the C2D is more than enough.


macrumors 68040
Jan 10, 2005
I think it is a lame excuse. The 12'' iBooks and PowerBooks contained discrete GPUs in an even smaller package all the time and offered battery live well ahead of the competetion during that time. It can be done.

and by todays standards, their battery-life sucked. So what exactly is your point?


macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2010
Well, I ordered my 13" MBP on the weekend, and I hope it'll arrive this week sometime. As far as I'm concerned, this is plenty good enough. The most taxing thing I do is photos, and even on my older C2D 15" MBP it's not annoyingly slow--that's with 18MB images out of the camera. I imagine having twice the memory and a processor speed increase will make the workflow better on the 13" than it is on the 15.


macrumors member
Jan 16, 2010
Still that's a lot of money for an old processor!

Exactly. It's not so much that I have a problem with the route Apple chose to take (they really didn't have a lot of options), but still...the price should have taken a cut. Even a token reduction in price for the 13" would have made this a better deal (and a little less insulting to the consumer, most of whom will be ignorant anyway).

macrumors newbie
Apr 19, 2010
I agree with Apple's decision, but I have a much better idea:


It will make room to:
- Discrete GPU
- Right side USB ports
- ExpressCard slot
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