Just got a new MacBook Pro - here's my review!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Simon Young, Oct 19, 2008.

  1. Simon Young macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2008

    So on Saturday I picked up a new 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.53GHz, 4GB RAM, 320GB@5400 rpm) from my local Apple Store. It replaces a 'Rev. A' 17-inch PowerBook G4, which has brought me nothing but joy and productivity over the past five years, but is now pretty long in the tooth (it doesn't even have USB 2.0). I recently had a 17-inch MBP on 14-day trial - I returned it due to screen and sound quality issues - so I knew roughly what to expect from the new MBPs. Let me start by saying that the new machine does not disappoint. I was most concerned about going from a 17-inch matte screen to a 15-inch glassy/glossy one, but my fears have so far proven unwarranted.


    With a couple of tiny exceptions, every aspect of the design and build quality is exemplary. The precision unibody case is beautiful and feels sturdier than a very sturdy thing. There was a little bit of discolouration in the aluminium between the trackpad and keyboard, but I wiped it with a slightly damp cloth and it seems to have faded. Not a big deal. Also the left-hand edge of the lid has a tiny imperfection, like a small rough patch of metal, which isn't visible during normal use. Again, no biggie, but surprising given the overall quality. The LCD screen is seated fairly straight and I don't appear to have any dead pixels. I have what appears to be a speck of dust in one corner but it is only noticeable if you go looking for it. Not enough for me to take it back! The lid itself closes perfectly uniformly - no gaps like the old MacBook Pro - and the magnetic latch is incredibly satisfying to use. The keyboard and ports are all solid and beautifully integrated.


    I'm not a computer expert so I'll just say that this thing is incredibly snappy. I don't know whether it's the better CPU, GPU or RAM - or a combination of all three - but the new MacBook Pro just flies. I'm sure there are dozens of benchmark sites out there covering performance in great detail, so I'll just leave it at that. The backlit chiclet keyboard takes a tiny bit of getting used to, but I'm already finding it just as easy to use as the old. The backlighting brightness varies a tiny bit on some keys, but that's just nitpicking. I really love the dedicated function keys for Dashboard, Exposé, brightness, volume and iTunes control. That will be old news to some folks, but hey. Also there don't appear to be any sensitivity issues with the keyboard, except for Caps Lock which doesn't respond half the time and needs a firmer, slower press. If it ends up bothering me I might see if I can get a replacement, but at the moment it's not an issue.

    The trackpad - one of the things I was dreading - is actually not all that bad. I absolutely have to have a physical button to click, so I found the notion of a buttonless trackpad extremely daunting. The actual click is way too clicky for my tastes - stiff and noisy - but that may loosen up over time. Trackpad feel is lovely and smooth, just the right amount of friction. The gestures are kinda hard to get used to, but seem to work pretty well. Even after a couple of days, I still find myself putting my thumb in the wrong place for clicking, resulting in erratic mouse pointer behaviour. I'm sure that I'll get used to it.

    The screen is incredibly bright and crisp, and colours are far more uniform than the last 17-inch MBP I tried. There is some slight dimming at the very bottom of the display, and some faint 'hot spot' stripes are visible from the side. But straight-on and during normal use, this is one of the nicest laptop displays I've used. My old PowerBook G4 screen looks so dim and yellow by comparison! The slight dimming at the bottom might be exacerbated by the typically poor vertical viewing angle. Whatever, it's acceptable to me given just how pure the rest of the screen is. And apart from the speck of dust (?) trapped under the glass, I've not been bothered by the glossiness. The glare seemed to be a problem in the Apple Store, but I have low lighting where I work and the brightness of the screen does prevent the odd reflection from being at all distracting. I'm not going to comment on colour accuracy as I'm a video editor and I know accurate grading can't be done on a laptop screen anyway. The way I see it, the glass cover gives a fair representation of how most users view video. Those of you working with print may feel differently.

    Last, but by no means least, the sound quality on the new MBP is just great. Having found the odd electronic beeps and bloops on the old MBP incredibly distracting, I'm loving the audio this thing puts out. Listening with my trusty Sennheiser HD 595 headphones, the sound is punchy, dynamic, detailed and free from imperfection. Music from iTunes sounds amazing. Even the in-built speakers are pretty good: a tad brighter than my old laptop speakers, and a LOT louder. OK, so they're not going to win any awards and most pros won't spend a lot of time listening to them. But still.


    As far as I'm concerned, the new MacBook Pro offers good value for money. I was in urgent need of a new system and, despite my initial shock over the news that Apple were dropping the trackpad button and using glass in every portable, I'm very happy with what I've ended up with. For every negative I can think of (stiff trackpad, small imperfections in display) the MacBook Pro offers many more positives (robust design, great performance, innovation).

    Do I have any regrets? Well, had I ordered online I might have gone for the 7200 rpm HDD and perhaps the 2.8GHz processor. But the convenience and speed of buying in store - plus the removal of temptation - made this stock configuration a sensible purchase. I can always upgrade the HDD myself at some point, and I'm not sure the extra speed is worth it (for the work I do). Part of me wishes I'd held out for the hi-res 17-inch option in a few months, but I'm finding the 15.4-inch screen very easy to use. Besides, I can put the money I've saved towards a bigger, better quality external monitor. Finally, I don't regret buying a 'Rev. A' machine. My old PowerBook G4 was 'Rev. A' and hasn't given me a day of hassle in over five years. It is clear that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the new MacBook Pro, and I'm not going to wait another six months 'just in case'.

    If anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them. :D
  2. Nate025 macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2008
    Hey very cool of you to share your experience. I appreciate the insight!

    Now how about some pictures! :D:p
  3. Sarah Palin macrumors newbie

    Oct 19, 2008
    You should've order it online. better CPU and Hard Drive.
  4. azharc macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2008
    I'm just curious how hot it gets during normal everyday use. Congrats on your purchase :)
  5. Simon Young thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2008
    This evening I've been using Safari, Mail, iTunes, iPhoto, Microsoft Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and VLC - all running simultaneously - and so far the wrist pad area has got fairly warm but not hot. The strip at the top of the keyboard is a little hot but nothing uncomfortable. The fans came on twice today - once while installing Final Cut Studio 2 and once while syncing photos with iPhone - and they died down pretty fast. I haven't used this thing on my lap yet but I'm guessing it'll be about as hot as the previous MacBook Pro. Remember though: the more heat it's giving off, the cooler the insides are. I think.
  6. eba macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2007
    I posted elsewhere that I planned to remain on the sidelines for this upgrade, but a combination of unique opportunity and lack of willpower conspired to make me the proud owner of a new 2.53 GHz MBP. I second most of the observations of the OP. A few other thoughts:

    1. This thing is a beast in terms of build quality. The unibody case is much, much sturdier and more durable than any previous MBP. I travel a lot, and this made the upgrade worth it to me almost by itself.

    2. Heat is a non-issue while running on the 9400 doing routine web surfing, email, etc. And I don't notice any loss of responsiveness. That's the real advantage of the dual GPUs, in my view.

    3. Heat is much greater running the 9600, especially under Vista. But that's always been the case with MBPs, and I honestly can't say that the heat is any more or less on this model. Expect fans and radiating heat when playing 3D games.

    4. The trackpad definitely has a more audible "click" to it, and it takes awhile to get used to the fact that the entire pad is a button. But I'm fine with it now. And the glass surface is a major improvement in terms of friction - it's very smooth.

    5. The keyboard is an improvement. The keys feel more solid, with less "give," and the black keys really enhance the backlighting.

    6. The screen may be the best I've had on a MBP. The lighting is definitely more uniform than on my early 2008 MBP, and the screen seems whiter, with less brown tinge, than on some earlier MBPs. I actually have preferred glossy screens for some time, so that's not an issue for me. Overall, the screen seems like a significant improvement.

    7. The hinge is looser than on previous 15s, but not nearly so much as on the 17s. It will wiggle if you carry it opened, but won't flop closed.

    I'm happy overall. No one thing just blows me away (except perhaps for the unibody uber-case, which is extremely impressive), but I'm happy with the upgrade overall.
  7. jTreu macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2006
  8. brendon2020 macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2007
    great review, just got my macbook pro this weekend and i'm very happy with it.
  9. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    You gave Apple the money for a RAM upgrade? Ouch! Never buy RAM from Apple. They charge $200 for what you can find for about $75 at any sane store.

    But welcome to the Intel world. I notice an extreme difference even between an iMac G5 and this 2.16Ghz MBP. Everything now is written for Intel, so you'll get the most out of the applications.
  10. stooley macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2008
    From what I have seen posted, there was only a $10 difference between Apples 4GB DDR3 and Crucial's........I think apple is charging $150 for the upgrade where you can purchase it for 140ish from crucial...yes you can keep the original 2gb if you buy it from Crucial, but some don't care to do that...heck, I bought 4 gb from crucial and plan on keeping the 2 gb in case something comes up warranty wise. Each to their own I guess.

    Good review.
  11. cg165 macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2008
    Actually that used to be the case, but isn't true for this model. Apple charges $150 for the upgrade or $135 with the education discount and the RAM is now DDR3 1066mhz which costs $142 from crucial.com
  12. a4abt macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2008
    thanks for your review!! I'm considering selling my MBP 2.2ghz for the newest MBP 2.53ghz.

    I'll wait for further opinions, but your review has been informative!! Thanks!

    Enjoy your new MBP! :p
  13. richard.mac macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2007
    51.50024, -0.12662
    ^ good observation! i think us Macs users need to get the "Apple RAM is more expensive" out of our heads for DDR3. i wonder why Apple is charging about the same price as third party for DDR3 but their DDR2 prices where sky high?
  14. jasonrm macrumors member


    Jan 26, 2008
    Arizona, U.S.A.
    I'm very much looking forward to the new MBP I expect to arrive monday or tuesday, but in the mean time I must thank folks like yourself for taking the time to post your experiences. I was a bit hesitant about the "rev A" factor, but based upon everything I've heard so far, I don't think I'll be disappointed when it arrives.

    And to the individual almost not worthy of mention with the ever so useless "You should've order it online. better CPU and Hard Drive." The thread poster addressed this, and even gave good arguments as to why purchasing in store made more sense, and this is the best feedback you could muster?
  15. pamon macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2006
  16. MoeOz macrumors member

    Nov 18, 2007
    u betta do be4 it burns juz like mine :(
  17. Steve686 macrumors 68040


    Nov 13, 2007
    US>FL>Miami/Dade>Sunny Isles Beach>Condo
    Thanks for the time you took to write the review. I love mine.

    One question.

    The screen is LED, and not, LCD, correct?

    I am curious because I have seen numerous posts refer to the new MBP screen as LCD.

    Could someone verify the terminology?
  18. eba macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2007
  19. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    LED refers to the way the the screen(LCD) is lit. So all laptop screens are LCD, but not all are LED lit.

    Nice writeup by the way. My experience mirrors yours, including the speck of dust under the glass! :D
  20. Coldwater macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2008
    LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, and every laptop has one.
    LED stands for Light-emitting diode and it powers the backlight of the MBPs vs the CCFL backlights of older model laptops. LED backighting is brighter and has no warm up time.
  21. MowingDevil macrumors 68000


    Jul 30, 2008
    Vancouver, BC & Sydney, NSW
    No he didn't, the 2.53 comes loaded w/ 4gb
    ...and if anyone got the 2.4 its not much cheaper for DDR3 anywhere else PLUS it saves the hassle of installing it and is covered by warranty. In the past you would have been right so get with the times man! :D
  22. bchamorro macrumors regular

    Dec 31, 2007
  23. SchneiderMan macrumors G3


    May 25, 2008
    so am i the only dumb guy here that ordered a 2.4 mbp? i did get the 250gb@7200 and 4gb ram.
  24. Be3G macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2007
    I believe this may be deliberate. I don't own my new MBP yet (ordered a 2.53GHz last night), but I do have one of Apple's wired aluminium keyboards, and it's exactly the same - the caps lock key requires a more deliberate press than the rest of the keys. I suspect it's to help people avoid hitting it accidentally as can happen.
  25. WildPalms macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2006
    Honolulu, HI

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