2015 13-inch MacBook Pro Review - Performance, Heat & Noise Review

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13-inch MacBook Pro (2015) – Performance

Intel Core i5-5257U; 2.7GHz dual core; Intel Iris 6100 graphics; 8GB RAM; 128GB PCI-e flash storage

Our review model is the entry-level version, which ships with 128GB flash storage, a 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, Intel Iris 6100 graphics and 8GB RAM. This compares favourably to the top-end MacBook Air – it costs the same and only has the advantage of double the storage (256GB), which is arguably less vital in an age of music and video streaming.

The key point you need to know is that this update introduces Intel’s new Broadwell processors, which promise a nudge in performance and serious efficiency improvements. Apple reckons the new integrated graphics is up to 40% faster than the last generation, too, but you won’t see that much improvement in every instance.

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The processor alone is only marginally faster – the 7,010 multi-core Geekbench 3 result suggests a 5% bump compared to last year’s equivalent model. But it’s supported by up to 2x faster flash storage as well, with Apple claiming up to 1.6GB/s and 1.5GB/s sequential read and write speeds. As ever these are theoretical maximums, but they’re hugely impressive all the same.

The result is an incredibly responsive system that boots and wakes very quickly. Results from the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test support just how fast the flash storage is – we saw 645MB/s write speeds and a scarcely believable 1.2GB/s on the read test. Anyone who tackles lots of video and photo editing will enjoy the extra pace on offer here.

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MacBook Pro

As for gaming, Intel’s integrated graphics chip is fine for light gaming with details and effects turned down, but nothing more than that. It managed an average of 17fps (frames per second) in the Unigine Heaven Basic test, which is comfortably better than Core M laptops such as the Asus Zenbook UX305 (9.4fps). That doesn’t mean you can fire up any leading game and get a great experience, though. Gaming remains the main weakness of the MacBook Pro, but that’s the case with any thin and light laptop.

13-inch MacBook Pro (2015) – Heat & Noise

All this power doesn’t result in a hot and noisy laptop in normal use. In everyday use, even with several tabs open, it’s nearly silent. The fan will kick in every now again, but normally at very tolerable levels – you won’t hear it in an office environment.

Any taxing task is a different matter. Stress the MacBook with image or video editing, or particularly gaming, and the fan quickly revs up to noticeable levels. It doesn’t sound as harsh as the MacBook Air can when pushed hard, but you’ll definitely notice it. At these times a pair of headphones is a good idea.

As ever, though, this is only a problem during sustained high-stress tasks – video encoding and prolonged gaming sessions, for example. Short bursts aren’t a problem and heat isn’t either.