- Thin, rounded design
- Ecologically conscious
- Retains FireWire port
- Great new keyboard
- Easy to service and upgrade
- Large trackpad with numerous multi-touch gesture choices
- Faster top-of-the-line 15-inch model
- Gorgeous bright glossy screen
- Disappointing battery life compared to the last model
- No choice of screen finishes
- Trackpad button can be hard to press
- Some multi-touch gestures more difficult to maneuver than others
Essentially a replacement for the 2.53GHz unibody 15-inch model released in the fall of 2008, this MacBook Pro features the same processor speed as the 17-inch laptop. Otherwise, this 15-inch model is no different than what came before, with two graphics chips-one integrated in the motherboard (GeForce 9400M) and the other discrete (GeForce 9600M GT)–and a glossy screen.
As far as upgrades go, the top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pro’s makeover is far from extreme. But we’re not going to complain if Apple chooses to gently goose the processor speed a little bit without expecting a dime more for the effort.
Aside from the slight boost in processor speed from the model it replaces, the 2.53GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.66GHz MacBook Pro’s specs remain identical, including the unibody case, ports, bus speed, hard drive capacity and more. (For more about the MacBook Pro specifications, read our original MacBook Pro review.), which was $2,499 when it was released), the rest of the new
When comparing just the rated processor speed specification, the new 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processor is a little more than 5 percent faster than the 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo. That’s almost exactly the difference in Speedmark scores between the new and old top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pros.
The biggest improvements were, of course, in processor-intensive tests like our Cinema 4D Render test and Compressor MPEG Encoder test, where the new 2.66GHz MacBook Pro shaved 4 or 5 seconds off the time of the 2.53GHz MacBook Pro. Our test showed smaller improvements in tasks involving both processor and hard drive, and no difference in strictly storage-related tasks. The 2.53GHz model was a touch faster than new 2.66GHz model at Quake, but only by 1.5 frames per second.
The hard drive in the new 15-inch 2.66GHz MacBook Pro appears to be a bit zippier than the 17-inch 2.66GHz MacBook Pro (), with the new 15-inch model beating the 17-inch model by a few seconds in several of our tests.
The full-sized, faster spinning hard drive in the new 2.66GHz 24-inch iMac kept that system ahead of the new 2.66GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro in all but the most processor-intensive tasks and our Quake 4 test.
And as we’ve seen before, the unibody MacBooks () hold their own very well against its Pro siblings. The new 15-inch 2.66GHz MacBook Pro posted about a 10 percent faster Speedmark score than the 2.4GHz MacBook.
New 15-inch MacBook Pro/2.66GHz Speedmark scores
15-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/2.66GHz benchmarks
|Speedmark 5||Adobe Photoshop CS3||Cinema 4D XL 10.5||Compressor 3.0.4||iMovie HD||iTunes 7.7||Quake 4||Finder||Finder|
|OVERALL SCORE||SUITE||RENDER||MPEG ENCODE||AGED EFFECT||MP3 ENCODE||FRAME RATE||ZIP ARCHIVE||UNZIP ARCHIVE|
|MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo||235||0:56||0:47||1:36||0:44||0:57||65.8||4:40||1:18|
|MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo||224||0:57||0:51||1:41||0:46||1:00||67.3||4:41||1:18|
|MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo||224||0:56||0:48||1:42||0:46||0:59||72.4||4:41||1:22|
|24-inch iMac Core 2 Duo/2.66GHz (March 2009)||270||0:47||0:47||1:37||0:42||0:57||39.9||4:05||0:41|
|MacBook 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo||212||1:05||0:54||1:52||0:49||1:03||39.4||4:59||1:32|
|PowerBook 1.67 GHz G4 Power PC||91||3:02||3:57||7:47||1:59||2:26||19.9||7:14||2:21|
Best results in bold. Reference systems in italics.
Macworld’s buying advice
Except for a minor boost in processor speed, the new 15-inch 2.66GHz MacBook Pro is identical to the 15-inch 2.53GHz MacBook Pro it replaces. The minor speed boost, without a similar boost in price, can only be good news. And if you bought the 15-inch 2.53GHz MacBook Pro when it shipped in Fall 2008, you won’t have a bad case of buyer’s remorse.
[James Galbraith is Macworld’s lab director.]