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Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) 2.66GHz Core i7 review

£1833.29 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5 User Rating: Our users rate this 5 out of 10

Intel Core i7 processor, meet the Apple MacBook Pro: what happens when the world's fastest mobile processor meets the world's best designed notebook computer.

Intel Core i7 processor, meet the Apple MacBook Pro: what happens when the world's fastest mobile processor meets the world's best designed notebook computer.

Apple was a little late in slipping Intel's new mobile processors into its notebook line. The first Intel Core i7 for mobile use appeared late last year, but only now do we see one offered in a MacBook Pro, the Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) 2.66GHz Core i7.

The reason for the delay is not too hard to find: Apple's wise reticence in fitting an ill-suited processor just to follow tech fashion.

In the desktop range, the Intel Core i7 pretty much rules the roost in high-end personal computing. It's a quad-core processor equipped with HyperThreading (to virtually double four cores into eight) and TurboBoost, which autonomously ramps up one or two physical cores' clock speeds at times of peak demand.

Problem is, the first Core i7s tuned for mobile use were still blighted with challenging power demands – which equals terminal battery life and excessive heat and noise.

HP took the Core i7 plunge for its HP Envy 15 notebook, but that is one hot laptop that demands a huge strap-on battery pack to give half-decent mobile life.

The Core i7-720QM inside is a true quad-core architecture – but has a high thermal design power (TDP) of 45W to match. And its regular clock speed is only 1.6GHz.

Then Intel released the 2.66GHz Core i7-620M in January, with the ability to impulsively overclock to 3.33GHz. Note, though, that Apple cites 3.06GHz as its peak speed.

Nevertheless, Turbo'd thus it's still the quickest clocking chip ever to grace an Apple notebook. Its maximum TDP? A more manageable 35W, the same as the former-fastest Core 2 Duo used by Apple, a 2.8GHz T9600.

The only gotcha for quad-core fans is that this Core i7 inside the Apple MacBook Pro 2.66GHz Core i7 is actually a dual-core processor chip. Lucky, then, that despite the quadesque i7 badge, its proving to be one helluva way to power a performance laptop.

But before we look at those benchmarks, there's more to the new top-flight Mac portable than a new CPU.

Apple MacBook Pro 15in profile

All ports on the Apple MacBook Pro 15in are ranged along the left side: (from left to right) MagSafe power connector, gigabit ethernet, FireWire 800, Mini DisplayPort, two USB 2.0, SD card slot, mic input with Toslink digital optical in, headphone output with Toslink out, battery-level button and eight concealed LEDs

In essential form and running gear, the new MacBook Pro range is the same as last year's Unibody family – except for a new graphics switching engine, and with two entirely new graphics processors to switch between.

In the case of the top-spec 15in model, fitted memory is still 4GB and storage is a 500GB, 5400rpm, hard drive. It is possible to specify faster 7200rpm hard drives, SSD storage, and up to 8GB of RAM.

Other material differences in the new line-up are a fractionally larger integrated battery in the Apple MacBook Pro 2.66GHz Core i7 (up to 77.5Wh, from 73Wh), and a trackpad that now features inertia scrolling. Like the iPhone, a good stroke of the fingers sends a page coasting along even after you remove your hand.

Construction of the Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) 2.66GHz Core i7 is still the best in the business. Hewn from solid metal block and finished in a natural satin aluminium, this Unibody chassis is stiff, lightweight and durable. No chippable paint or chintzy plastic trim interferes with the complete professional look.

We're still reeling from Apple's decision to fit a glare screen on its pro notebooks, though. There remains an anti-glare LCD panel as a build-to-order option, although this higher-resolution 1680x1050 matt panel now adds £120 to the price.

NEXT PAGE: The graphics double act, and the benchmark results >>

Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) 2.66GHz Core i7 Expert Verdict »

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£2005
Apple MacBook Pro MC373B/A Scores 8.9 out of 10 based on 23 reviews
2.66GHz Intel Core i7-620M
4MB L3 cache
15.4in (1440 x 900) 16:10 glossy LED-backlit display
Mac OS 10.6.3 Snow Leopard
Intel HD Graphics with 256MB system DDR3 RAM + nVidia GeForce GT 330M with 512MB GDDR3 RAM
Mini Display Port
4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1066 RAM
500GB 5400rpm SATA 3Gb/s HDD
DVD±RW DL
gigabit ethernet
802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
1 x FireWire 800
2 x USB 2.0
SD/SDHC card slot
headphone jack with S/PDIF optical, mic in with S/PDIF optical
iSight webcam
built-in mic
stereo speakers
backlit keyboard
four-finger multitouch trackpad
light sensor
infrared sensor
77.5Wh lithium-polymer battery, non-removable
MagSafe power connector
364 x 249 x 24mm
2540g
  • Build Quality: We give this item 10 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Not only is the MacBook Pro 15in the best constructed notebook computer you can find, it’s now also one of the very fastest. In fact, it’s the most powerful laptop we’ve ever tested. There are alternatives with more powerful graphics systems, but none that maintain such a good balance between performance and extended battery life. If you need the best designed notebook money can buy, or just a safe and dependable operating system running on the fastest portable hardware, the MacBook Pro 15in Core i7 sets the new benchmark.

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£2005
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