We tested the revised Apple MacBook Pro 13in (Early 2011) after it was launched in February 2011. But there are actually two off-the-shelf 13in models to choose from – we originally reviewed the dearer version with 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-2620M dual-core processor.
Now we turn our attention to the entry-level Apple MacBook Pro 13in (Early 2011), with a slower 2.3GHz Core i5-2415M dual-core processor.
The only other difference is the size of hard disk: the faster model gets 500GB of storage, while this MacBook Pro 13in has 320GB.
But the cost saving is significant. While the 2.7GHz MacBook Pro sells for £1299, this entry-level model saves £300, with a retail price of £999.
The Apple MacBook Pro 13in versus sub-£1000 Windows laptops
Just squeezing into this category’s £1000 price ceiling is the 13in MacBook Pro from Apple. It’s an attractive, superbly built laptop for sure. But we think that the real beauty of the MacBook Pro lies in its excellent feature set and performance.
If you’re currently using Windows and are considering the switch to Mac OS but can’t bear to break with Windows, fear not. The Apple MacBook Pro, like all Intel-powered Macs, can also run a Microsoft OS.
Using Apple's built-in Boot Camp feature, you can easily create a separate partition on the hard drive to dual-boot both Mac OS X and Windows – a remarkably easy process.
You’ll have to take into account the extra cost of buying a copy of Windows. For example, you can find Windows 7 Home Premium OEM on Amazon UK from £68.
To run the usual PC Advisor benchmark tests we installed Windows 7 on the Apple MacBook Pro 13in – and achieved a more than respectable score of 117 in WorldBench 6. That's better than the Toshiba Satellite R830-143 and HP Pavilion dv7-6002sa contenders in this group test.
It's also better than the 115 point score earned by the 2.7GHz version of the Apple MacBook Pro 13in when we tested it. Since then, Apple released an update to its Boot Camp drivers which were said to fix an issue with Intel's Turbo mode when running in Windows 7.
Battery life tests were equally impressive, with a score of 389 minutes in MobileMark 2007, the second-best score of the laptops on test. That's well over six hours runtime in Windows, and a considerable improvement on the dearer Core i7-2620M model, which ran for only 282 minutes in the same test.
As well as a capacious battery, the Apple MacBook Pro 13in (Early 2011) is very portable, weighing just over 2kg, but very solidly built, so you don’t need to worry about it taking a knock or two.
Though it’s smaller than typical desktop replacement models the well-spaced out keyboard makes it very easy to use for typing long documents.
The large true multi-touch glass trackpad is appreciated too, although you have to get right in to the corners to effect physical left and right clicks. In either Mac or Windows setups, you can also use a two-finger tap to effect a right click though.
In July 2011, Apple will launch Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, its new operating system. This promises a whole host of new features including even more multi-touch control, along with full-screen applications.