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Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A) review

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

1 of 10

Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15in (MC723B/A)
  • MacBook Pro MC723B/A 39 cm 15.4" LED Notebook - Core i7 i7-2720QM 2.20 GHz (1440 x 900 WXGA+ Display - 4 GB RAM - 750 GB HDD - DVD-Writer - Intel GMA HD 3000, AMD Radeon HD 6750M - Bluetooth - Thunderbolt - Webcam - Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard - 7 Hour)

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • Fast CPUs
  • Good graphics performance
  • Thunderbolt
  • Beautiful chassis design

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No Thunderbolt devices available at launch

Key Features

  • Intel 'Sandy Bridge' CPUs
  • Auto-switching integrated and dedicated GPUs
  • Thunderbolt I/O (up to 10Gb/s)
  • Unibody Aluminium chassis
  • Manufacturer: Apple
  • Review Price: £1,651.32

As the name suggests, the MacBook Pro is a serious laptop for serious people. The combination of Apple’s superb industrial design combined with the latest and greatest components available makes the latest MacBook Pro an invitingly stylish and powerful portable workstation. So where the MacBook Air could fairly be described as an expensive indulgence, the MacBook Pro should prove merely expensive.

Anyone hoping for major changes to the construction of the MacBook Pro this generation will be disappointed. As fans of the solidly built unibody chassis, however, we’re pleased to see its persistence. The MacBook Pro feels simply sumptuous, and the metal body not only inspires confidence in the build quality, but also goes a long way to justifying the price.

We particularly like the backlit keyboard (and still lament its removal from the MacBook Air) which, as well as being easy to see, also offers a crisp response and makes typing a real pleasure. Like the keyboard, the trackpad is also exactly the same as on previous MacBook Pros, and again this is no bad thing. Other laptop manufacturers have done their best to integrate multi-touch into their products, but Apple definitely still has them all beat.

Primarily this is a result of the tight integration between the trackpad and OS X, with pinch to zoom, two finger scrolling, and a huge number of other multi-finger gestures working as well in third party programs as they do in Apple’s own applications. We’re particularly fond of the three finger ‘forward’ and ‘back’ gesture in both Finder and our choice of web browser.

At 364mm x 249mm x 24.1mm in size, and weighing 2.54kg the 15in MacBook Pro isn’t a laptop you’d want actually sitting on your lap very often, but it isn’t so heavy that you’d be unhappy taking it to and from work every day, or carrying into a meeting room occasionally. It's certainly not a frequent flyers best friend, though. The power adaptor is light enough not to cause concern, and we definitely approve of its modular design, with either a plug built into the adapter or a long cable available.

An addition we’re not particularly enthralled with, but which might be of interest to some buyers is the new FaceTime HD camera. As the name suggests, this constitutes a 720p sensor, in the same place as every previous MacBook Pro had its standard definition one. A small mercy is that new MacBook Pros come with FaceTime installed, saving you the £0.99 cost owners of older Macs are subject to. Suffice to say that this works, and looks good, but that we’re not inclined to use it.

Sullivan McIntyre

March 4, 2011, 7:10 pm

"An addition we’re not particularly enthralled with, but which might be of interest to some buyers is the new FaceTime HD camera. As the name suggests, this constitutes a 720p sensor, in the same place as every previous MacBook Pro had its standard definition one. A small mercy is that new MacBook Pros come with FaceTime installed, saving you the £0.99 cost owners of older Macs are subject to. Suffice to say that this works, and looks good, but that we’re not inclined to use it."

What's this about? Not 'enthralled' with; what's wrong with it? Do you not like laptop webcams generally, that specific one, or just the fact they call it FaceTime? How does it actually perform? Is there something that is not better about it; this seems like a perfectly good upgrade to me. I'd look forward to using it with Skype. That paragraph seems a little odd.

Andy 10

March 4, 2011, 10:03 pm

"it's on par with any equivalent PC based laptop"

Does it mean Windows based laptop?

Hans Gruber

March 5, 2011, 12:42 am

FaceTime pre-installed at no extra cost!

Saving a whopping 99p from an overall spend that's going to be pretty close to £2K by the time you've properly configured it? Are you kiddin' us? :/

BOFH UK

March 5, 2011, 2:31 am

Just a quick one on pricing before the inevitable tidal wave of complaints: yes, it's expensive. Yes, you can get more bang for your buck in performance terms elsewhere. No, just because YOU wouldn't pay that much doesn't mean that the design, OS, user experience etc isn't worth it to somebody else. Just something to bear in mind...

Anyway, very nice update from Apple and the performance figures are superb. What will really be interesting is if / when they stick Sandy Bridge into the Mac Mini line, that could end up being a stealthy powerhouse if they do it right.

Gk.pm

March 5, 2011, 5:20 am

@BOFH UK
Yep, a Mac Mini with Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt will be great!

Ironduke

March 5, 2011, 12:28 pm

its a pitty the mac mini will get the horrible intel gfx

kaworu1986

March 7, 2011, 6:58 pm

How ergonomic is the high res option? I am about to buy one of these bad boys myself and am wondering if text will be too small to read comfortably at 1680x1050 on a 15 incher.

Gk.pm

March 7, 2011, 10:32 pm

@kaworu1986
If text becomes too small you can just use the expand gesture in the touchpad in many applications to increase text size, or just temporarily zoom via the Universal zoom ctrl+wheel forward combination.
I would go for higher res every time :-)

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