In Depth: 15" uMBP Review

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by mpopkin, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. mpopkin macrumors 6502


    Nov 14, 2003
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Well, as everyone has seemingly recieved and used their new uMBP's and found a varying degree of problems, or concerns, I feel that it is time for a no problem review.
    To start, I ordered a 15" 3.06 w/500gb 5400 and 4 gb of memory. For everyone who questions why a 5400 over a 7200, heat, and noise were considerations coupled with the fact that i use external firewire 800 drives for FCP, thus I feel that the drive is more than adequate.
    This review is going to be broken into five parts
    1)Breakdown 2) Performance 3) Pros 4) Cons 5) Conclusion

    1) Breakdown:
    This is the third 15" apple laptop i have owned, but the first in five years, as i moved to a desktop and then to a macbook for portability. The last 15" i had was the powerbook g4 1.5 ghz, which was amazing, the screen was beautiful and such. Now taking this machine out of its sleek packaging was like magic, holding it for the first time was special, it is smooth, well rounded and a pleasure to touch and feel. Opening up the computer I saw the familiar keyboard, same as macbook orig but with even better keys and much tighter, which for me is worth a $$$. I turned on the machine, not a single dead pixel, it did the welcome thing and bam, i was off to the races, just itching to optimize. First optimizations I always choose is to calibrate the screen, followed with the trackpad and then of course energy settings. The screen was a cinch thanks to all on Macrumors forums for their display profiles that actually help enhance the screen, not that it needs enhancing(resolution please). The trackpad was the sticky part, i was lost, initially, but after a few minutes(okay maybe an hour) I was comfortable and actually found myself loving the trackpad more than any previous mac I have owned/used. A couple of energy things i do, first off, attached to a cable, i never sleep my machine, just let the display sleep, I absolutely hate backlit keyboards and this is one negative i found, the last powerbook g4 laptop backlit keyboard was a lot, lot better in the backlit department, but mostly i hate the waste of power. Installed my apps, and have been using the machine for two weeks now, so hence the next part.
    2) Performance:
    First, WOW, apple really hit a home run here, this has to be the fastest laptop(apple or pc) that i have ever used or owned, it simply owns the speed and performance department, and i mean owns. Smooth opening of all ilife applications, quick FCP optimization and utilization. Just to give a performance benchmark(totally unofficial, using my desktop(orig DP 2.0 G5 with less memory) and my new baby.
    Final Cut Pro Render Test: I used a 5 minute video shot with a Canon GL2, DV, five edit points(cuts with transitions, V-Wipe) same on both machines. FCP 6.06, it took my g5 to render i would say about two minutes, not too shabby for a five year old machine, but it took less than a minute on my macbook pro(9600GT) and that simply blew my socks off, i never expected it, but alas it happened.
    So in terms of graphics power and performance this machine gets a 5/5, home run
    Battery: to be honest i would have loved a express card slot, but i love portability so i chose this machine, instead of buying a prev gen 15" i loved the idea of a 7 hour battery, and i measured its usage this past saturday, I turned the machine on at 10:20 am, and ran it using wifi, higher brightness than i should, no bluetooth, and the occasional song, with pretty consistent internet usage, i had to turn it off at around 5:30 pm, so i pulled a good 7 hours plus with good usage, wow, 5/5
    Heat: What heat, i feel it very rarely, I would suggest to people to keep the screen as upright as possible to maximize ventilation, and use it indoors more than outdoors, especially in the summer, but it has performed admirably. 4/5, I always like cold, but it was warm
    Noise: Really, I never heard it, nor hear it, no noise, silent as a mouse. 5/5
    screen: Viewing angle is superb, colors jump out at me, and it is a pleasure to look at, and the LED is a great addition making it bright and beautiful. 4/5. resolution please

    3) Pros:
    Can handle multiple applications and uses, with minimal fuss, heat, or noise.
    Great Battery Life
    Great Keyboard
    Sound is loud and clear,
    perfect combination of power and portability
    4) Cons:
    Resolution: I expect at least 1080 out of a 15" high end these days, but the color improvement did make up a bit for that
    Scratching while typing, if you are wearing a metal watch, you will scratch your machine when typing, that is a con,
    they use Intel's T, instead of P for the 3.06, or at least mine, and that sucks
    no express card slot/esata option
    5) Conclusion:
    I love this machine, and would recommend to anyone who needs a good combination of portability and power, i am not arguing for or against a 13" or a 17" that is a personal preference, but for me, the 15" is the perfect portable. I would not recommend buying a 15" without the dedicated graphics option as it is a waste of money(personal opinion) why squander beauty and power, when more is available, but also, the practicality, I believe that a machine with a dedicated graphics card will benefit more from snow leopard than one without, even though i am impressed with the 9400m's performance.

    If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask, I hope that you enjoy this review,
  2. Tokiopop macrumors 68000


    Dec 6, 2008
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Could you please add paragraphs and use some grammar like capital letters to make it easier to read please? :eek:

    And you say things such as the keyboard is great, but why? More info please :p
  3. MWPULSE macrumors 6502a


    Dec 27, 2008
    thats quite a good review you got there. I will definitely be looking up a 15" inch soon to replacement my one that i have already :-D

  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Not a bad review but a little difficult to read with the lack of whitespace. The enter key is your friend.
  5. mpopkin thread starter macrumors 6502


    Nov 14, 2003
    Chapel Hill, NC
    The keyboard types smoothly, and is not only easy to use, and unlike my previous powerbook g4, the keys are not flimsy, but rather tactile. It makes for a simple interface, coupled with a nice set of extra controls/F1-12 function keys, it presents a superior, and pleasant user experience.
    Trackpad: the same goes for the touchpad, it is a wonderful experience, coming from the original macbook/previous powerbooks, it has an immediate response time, can be customized for individual use, like a keyboard or shortcuts, and will grow with the operating system(snow leopard and chinese handwriting anyone?)

    I forgot to rate it, on a scale of 1-5
    Design: 5
    Touchpad: 5
    Performance: 5
    Screen:(Color): 5
    Screen:(Resolution): 3
    Battery: 5
    Portability: 4
    Average: 4.6/5

    One more con: The plastic at the back where the screen hinges is a bit weak, and makes me feel uncomfortable to hold it from that end, so that could be a negative, but it is a small one, but is lessened by the 13" and worsened by the 17"
  6. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    Thanks for taking the time to write this up. It does look like quite an awesome machine and your opinions are both insightful and informative. Congratulations on your purchase. I'm green with envy. :D
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Thanks for the thoughtful and comprehensive review and for taking the time to write it up for us.

    Cheers and good luck
  8. dissdnt macrumors 65816


    Aug 3, 2007
    Very cool. In general do you think the screen resolution is good enough? Ie not crapped? I'm thinking of going from a 17 to a 15.

  9. mpopkin thread starter macrumors 6502


    Nov 14, 2003
    Chapel Hill, NC
    While I would prefer a higher resolution on a 15" inch, it is more than good, the color quality does counter the lower resolution, and the resolution is more than enough for FCP and photoshop. The portability is greater than the 17" despite others opinions, I feel that this is the ultimate combination of portability and power.
  10. rjsbass macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2006
    i thought this post was pretty ironic:

    in any case

    great review. i just ordered one of these things through my university...i should have it by next week. i'm slightly worried about the resolution but from what i hear it should be fine. very reassuring review, thanks!
  11. maratus macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    I completely agree with you. 1680x1050 would be much better.

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