Lab report: 2011 MacBook Pro benchmark results

The benchmark results for Apple's latest MacBook Pros are in—and they’re impressive. In testing conducted by Macworld Lab, the laptops released Thursday turned in Speedmark scores between 13 and 53 percent faster than the systems they replace.

Apple overhauled its MacBook Pro offerings with new processors, new graphics, and a new peripheral connector. The new lineup consists of two 13-inch models, two 15-inch models (down from three in the previous generation) and one 17-inch model. The 13-inch models come with Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 3000, and either a 2.3GHz dual-core Core i5 processor and a 5400-rpm 320GB hard drive for $1199, or a 2.7GHz dual-core Core i7 processor with a 5400-rpm 500GB hard drive for $1499. Both 15-inch models come with Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 3000. The $1799 configuration sports a 2GHz quad-core Core i7 processor, a 5400-rpm 500GB drive, and a discrete AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR5 video memory, while the $2199 offering features a 2.2GHz quad-core Core i7 processor, a 5400-rpm 750GB drive, and a discrete AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 video memory. The $2499 17-inch model has the same specs as the $2199 15-inch model. All MacBook Pros have 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 memory.

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How we test hard drives

We at Macworld are always looking to improve and streamline our product testing, and as hard drives boast bigger storage capacity and increasingly faster transfer times, we're updating the way we test these devices in our lab. We believe our new tests will provide more information to the reader, while also offering more insight into what separates these products. We’ll be breaking down our results into more specific categories—that means more tests, more data, and more ways to compare products.

See our current hard drive benchmarks results.

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Iomega eGo BlackBelt Mac Edition 1TB

Last year, the Iomega eGo Mac Edition 500GB line really stood out amongst an increasingly crowded market of inexpensive portable hard drives. However, the slick design of their products proved to be more show than substance, as their slow copy and duplication speeds didn’t hold up against the rest of the competition at the time. Since then, Iomega’s portable HDs have increased their data transfer speeds across the board while keeping their trademark look intact.

Iomega’s eGo BlackBelt plays up its namesake right out of the box. Instead of a variety of color schemes, this model only comes in jet black, with a removable Power Grip Band wrapped around the shell of the drive. On the rear of the device, there’s a single USB port complemented by two FireWire 800 ports, rather than the FireWire 400/FireWire 800 split from last year. If you’re running a Mac with a FireWire 400 port, you can still use an adapter cable and a FireWire 800 port to achieve FireWire 400 speeds.

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Expo Notes: Scanning the showfloor for scanners

It’s been a good couple of years for consumer-focused document scanners, with many new and established companies entering the market. Working with cloud services like Evernote and Google Docs, the scanners on display all week at Macworld Expo drew large crowds on the show floor, as more and more people become interested in organizing their documents and reducing the paper clutter in their lives. Many of these products look alike, work alike, and cost alike, so the main differentiator becomes the software interface; at Macworld 2011, attendees could test drive all of them to see which ones best suited their needs and tastes.

The Neat Company demoed its $200 Neat Receipts for Mac—a portable, single-sheet simplex scanner—as well as the $400 NeatDesk for Mac. This desktop document scanner features an automatic document feeder and duplex scanning capabilities.

NeatDesk features an automatic document feeder and duplex scanning capabilities.

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HP Officejet 7500A Wide Format e-All-in-One Printer

The HP Officejet 7500A Wide Format e-All-in-One is a wide format, inkjet multifunction printer with fax capabilities. Aimed at small or home businesses, the Officejet can print on pages as large as 13 by 19 inches and can copy and scan 8.5-by-14-inch documents from either the flatbed or 35-sheet automatic document feeder.

The printer’s four individual ink cartridges are easy to install and you can connect via USB 2.0, 802.11 wireless, or ethernet. We ran into an issue where, when connected over USB, the printer would stop responding after a Mac restart. Interestingly, if we didn’t use the CD to install the drivers, but rather used the files downloaded through Apple Software Update, the issue went away. HP is looking into the issue.

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Epson Stylus NX625

The Epson Stylus NX625 color inkjet multifunction (print, scan, and copy) brings no-nonsense design, speed, and generally good output to your home office. Its price of $150 is economical. It compares favorably with the HP Photosmart e-All-in-One ( ), which costs less but has pricier inks. However, it can't quite compete with the Canon Pixma MG5220 ( ), which is slower but more well-rounded otherwise.

The Stylus NX625 installed easily via Wi-Fi through the on-printer network configuration utility. USB and ethernet connectivity are also available. The control panel is nicely laid out and easy to use, and the 2.5-inch color LCD makes advanced tasks a breeze. Our only minor complaint is that you must choose between monochrome and color copying using the LCD and cursor buttons; we'd prefer separate buttons for those tasks.

You must install the Epson Scan utility if you wish to scan wirelessly. One restriction surprised us: You can scan to a computer using the Stylus NX625's control panel only if you're connected via USB, though you may scan directly to an SD Card, XD-Picture Card, or Memory Stick inserted into one of the unit's media slots.

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Brother HL-4570CDW

In most respects the Brother HL-4570CDW color laser printer is a good value. Its $500 price tag is budget-friendly for small and medium-size workgroups, as are its reasonable toner costs. Its speed and features are competitive with those of pricier printers. Where the HL-4570CDW falls a little short is in photo quality; it's best suited for mainstream business graphics as a result.

Brother HL-4570CDW color laser printer
As mentioned, the HL-4570CDW's speed is exemplary for its class. Plain-text pages printed on plain paper emerged at 16.4 pages per minute on the Mac and 16 ppm on Windows. Snapshot-size color photos printed on Windows took 4.2 ppm on plain paper and 2.6 ppm at finer settings on glossy paper. On the Mac, color PDF pages flew out at 9.6 ppm, while our 22MB, full-page color photo printed at 1.6 ppm.

The text output of the HL-4570CDW is superb, appearing sharp and deep black, with nary a jaggy or other defect. Color graphics and photos printed on plain paper look slightly dull and exhibit distracting moiré (background patterning). You'll notice those shortcomings less on simpler graphics such as logos and pie charts. Changing to higher-quality settings on glossy laser paper improved the quality somewhat.

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