My 2009 15" Macbook Pro Review

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by unagimiyagi, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. unagimiyagi macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Hey everyone, just a little customer's review of this notebook.

    15" MBP, 9400m model (lowest model).
    I previously owned the classic macbook pro (penryn processor, LG matte screen. I skipped the first unibody b/c of the glare screen and the anemic battery life).
    I replaced the hard drive in 10 min with no instructions.

    Screen: Glassy glare, people obviously feel very strongly about this. I don't like it for sure and prefer matte, but it's not an absolute deal-breaker at this time. That said, if techrestore can develop more experience, I very well may fork over the $200.

    I have the LG screen, and it is a stunner. I was sprinkling comments earlier that this is the same panel as used before, but I think that it is not now. Go see the Sony Vaio Z in a store somewhere. Notice how the reds, oranges, yellows, blues, all pop. Blue is almost purplish. This mbp is the only other laptop that I have seen that has this quality. The colors are not as overtly exaggerated as on the Sony, but they do definitely pop more than I am used to.

    The viewing angle is wow good -- in every direction. The panel backlight is very even and very white. The brightness is at least as bright as every macbook pro before it. Black levels are in a word: very.

    Compared to the classic macbook pro (2 gens ago): I would not upgrade your macbook pro solely for the screen. While the colors are more vibrant, and my particular panel seems to be amazingly evenly lit, it is not in a complete other league. Both A++ screens and I think the best you're going to get in a 15" laptop today, for sure. I do not believe that calibrating and all these settings fundamentally affect the underlying quality of the image. I think that the colors on the new screen really are more vibrant, but again, the old one was already really good. I would say the colors are 10-15% more vibrant.

    Keyboard: The new keyboard is very nice. But the keys are a bit clacky and I prefer the classic macbook pro's keyboard, but it's close. My spacebar is a bit loose, but I think it's normal b/c I played around with all the display models and theirs were loose, too. But overall, deep travel and the backlit is a very convenient feature that I guarantee you will be happy you have.

    Trackpad: The glassy surface is very smooth. It's huge, it's accurate, and it's very responsible for the ergonomics of this machine. I don't need a mouse, it's that good. But to take out the button is just dumb. I think that they're trying to get too cute. There was nothing wrong with the old trackpad, and I prefer the old trackpad.

    Audio: The speakers are improved in the low end, do not distort, and probably are louder as well. They sound more full, but it's not night and day, but 'statistically significant,' (though I have no numbers).

    Noise: Dead silent. There is only one fan in my model, and it's a dead silent laptop. And the classic macbook pro was already very silent if you got the penryn revision. I have absolutely no complaints about that. The heat dissipation seems to be better, too. Don't ask me why, but it doesn't fry as bad as the classic macbook pro.

    Battery life: I'm a full brightness guy. Wi-fi on. Bluetoooth off. I chat, surf, read pdfs, word process, do a little rudimentary eclipse, and email. 3 hours, 30 minutes is what I got. Less than I thought for sure, but I am hoping that this improves after I cycle through the battery more than once. The battery charges from empty in about 3 hours. This, while acceptable, is still slower than alot of other brands. Was it done for safety reasons? The adapter is the same size and is now only 60 watts (85 watts if you have the 9600gt).

    The real deal is if this battery doesn't lose capacity so quickly like most laptop batteries. My classic macbook pro with the 60 wh battery was not bad with regards to battery life--at first. But after 2 months, I did notice that it was dwindling quickly. A year later, it was pulling a little more than half of the original times. Faulty battery, I doubt it, b/c I've had other laptops that did the same thing. Maybe I just noticed more on the mbp b/c of the price I paid for it.

    Build quality: the unibody really is made better than the classic macbook pro. It feels sturdier for sure. Less creaking. Unfortunately, don't drop anything on your laptop or the aluminum will dent easily. The innards are also very elegantly laid out and is much easier to upgrade. Battery upgrades are going to be a piece of cake. IF you don't change your battery in the field (most of us), I see no reason to whine about the 'non-user replaceable battery'. It is easily replaceable, just not in the field.

    Video: I faced the fact that I never play games and future-proofing just didn't make sense to me. Normally I would have bought the highest card within reason, but I asked myself how many times in the last few years I used the 8600gt, and the answer was 0.

    Odds & Ends: webcam is as good as ever. I think that they must be using a better quality webcam compared to the windows world. My video quality always looks better on a mac. Always. Magsafe connector is definitely not just a gimmick. It's saved me a few times. Dashboard widgets, expose, spaces, definitely useful productivity inventions.

    Price: The macbook pro is a premium product and commands a premium price. However, the price premium is definitely less than it used to be. I think that the price cuts this time around make the mbp reasonably priced considering all that you get. The base model 13" mbp to me is just an astounding value now.

    Design: prettiest laptop on the market, as always. I don't know many people who'd disagree.

    Conclusion: if they could just get rid of the glare, this would be the ideal laptop. As it stands, keeping in mind that there's no perfect laptop, I think that this macbook pro overall takes the cake. If there was a laptop decathalon, the macbook pro would take the gold. It is frequently outstanding (screen--but da** you glare screen, audio, design) and always solid (battery life, keyboard, trackpad).

    Edit: Battery life update: really unchanged. So right now I've got word, preview, eclipse (but not using it at all), firefox open, and I've just been surfing. No flash video at all. Macrumors, gmail, cnn articles. No music playing, no chatting, strong wifi signal. Battery life at full brightness (wifi on, bluetooth off) is about 3 hours 40 minutes. This is calibrated. An improvement over the last gen for sure, but not some savior battery like people are saying. i'm going to say 35 minutes more on full brigthness than on the last generation. Just by contrast, I get that time or a little more from my Dell latitude penryn with a very similar screen (mbp screen) and a 56 watt-hour battery, but intel 4500hd graphics and just surfing at full brightness. Sony Vaio Z was very similar with a 13.1" screen and a 53 wH battery. To me, the 9400m is classified as integrated, but there is no way that it is consuming as little energy as the intel 4500hd solution. Assuming that mac os x and windows 7 both know how to optimize power consumption, then it's really all about the battery. I don't believe that apple has a special way of conserving battery life that no other manufacturer has. It's a 73 wH battery, so it should perform considerably better than my dell latitude, but it doesn't. So I think that the 9400m graphics are to blame. In it's favor is the fact that it performs twice or 3 times as powerful as the intel 4500hd solution, but to think that it consumes juice like an integrated solution is wrong.
  2. murphoia macrumors newbie

    Jun 7, 2009
    Great review.

    I myself is looking to buy a MacBook Pro. This will definitely be considered.

  3. fpnc macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    Thanks for sharing.

    As for the display, I doubt that it is truly the best in the 15" notebook market. There are PC notebooks that have RGB LED backlights and which use full 8-bit panels. However, I believe that the 13" and 15" MacBook Pros have single-source ("white") LED backlight and use 6-bit panels. I'm sure, however, that in comparison to most of the PC market the MacBook Pro screens are at least very good.

    By the way, I'm not suggesting that 6-bit panels are necessarily bad. They seem to be pretty much the norm in the notebook market and 6-bit performance is getting better all of the time.
  4. unagimiyagi thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Duly noted. I'm not a screen buff in that I know all the ins and outs of flat panels. I guess I should say that it has got to be in the top of the top tier of screens.
  5. opt1m4l macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2008
    Hmm, seeing that you replaced your HDD, what screwdrivers did you need? Torx #6 or Philips, or both? The Apple manual suggests only a philips screwdriver is required, though some guides say a Torx #6 screwdriver is needed. Confused now.

    Anyway, congrats on your purchase, might be getting one soon!
  6. uiop. macrumors 68020


    Jul 22, 2008
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Great review, but the glass, button-less trackpad is miles ahead of all other trackpads. I now hate all other ones, including the one on my old MBP.
  7. unagimiyagi thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Just a philips screwdriver. I did not need a torx.
  8. unagimiyagi thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Update on the screen:

    I have an early 2008 penryn macbook pro to compare with. It also has the LG screen.

    The colors on the 15" unibody mbp that I just got have more vibrancy and pop to them. Viewing angles are the same. Brightness is the same. The backlight might be a bit more even. I am still unable to tell whether the glossy/glassy thing is what is giving part of the appearance of more vibrant colors or not. Contrast ratio (black levels) are the same.

    In short, I don't feel like the new screens are worse at all, but if you have the older screens, don't worry at all about what you're missing, b/c it's not much in my opinion. Throw in the matte finish, and I think that the old screen is arguably the better choice.
  9. dissdnt macrumors 65816


    Aug 3, 2007
    Only 3 1/2 hours battery? Isn't it supposed to be 7 hours? Ooof
  10. unagimiyagi thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    3.6 hours is no lie, but I was using it a full blast brightness. I am unsure if this is about what to expect. Anandtech said that under his heavy workload, he got a shade under 5 hours. Typically I say just halve whatever a manufacturer says, b/c esp. with the glare you just keep seeing yourself at anything less than full brightness, esp. on a dark background.

    I'd like to hear what battery life people can expect if using the mbp 15" at full brightness.

Share This Page