AnandTech: Using Apple’s MacBook Pro as a Mac and a Windows PC

“When I first started using a PowerBook G4 over a year ago it quickly turned into the best experience I’d ever had with a notebook. My biggest issues with notebooks were always related to reduced productivity, mainly because of screen size and resolution constraints. Despite its name, Windows does an absolutely horrid job of managing lots of windows, something which looks to be on the road to getting fixed in Vista but back then there was no hope in sight. It also just so happens that when I’m getting a lot of work done and when I happen to be my most productive, I have a ton of windows open at once. The move to tabbed browsers alleviated some of the problem, but for the most part it still existed. And on a notebook, with a small lower-resolution screen and an uncomfortable to use pointing device productivity suffered,” Anand Lal Shimpi reports for AnandTech. “My experience with OS X and the PowerBook G4 changed all of that; window management under OS X was significantly improved for reasons I’ve outlined before (Exposé, hiding vs. minimizing windows, the zoom to fit control, etc…) and it even addressed the issue of user input. With the large number of keyboard shortcuts that existed for virtually everything in OS X, I spent far less time using the trackpad and much more time actually getting work done.”

“The PowerBook G4 was the best notebook I had ever owned, and even when the MacBook Pro was announced it wasn’t a big enough leap (at least on paper) for me to justify the upgrade. Having just tested Intel’s Core Duo processor and wanting it used in every battery-powered device I owned, I still resisted. When it was finally announced that the first Intel based Macs had booted Windows XP, there was a lot of excitement from those who were on the fence about giving OS X a try. Had this all happened to me back in the summer of 2004 when I first gave Apple and OS X a try that probably would have been me showing my excitement as well. But for almost two years now I’ve been living a life happily as a dual user, so a hack that let me boot Windows on my Mac meant nothing to me,” Lal Shimpi reports. “Then Apple announced Boot Camp, effectively a very handy utility to partition, boot and run Windows XP alongside OS X on any Intel based Mac. Even more people wrote me, telling me that they were extremely excited that this had happened and that they wanted a review of the experience, much like I had done OS X in the past. You see, Apple is very careful about where and when they send review hardware, so any sort of MacBook Pro article was going to require me going out and buying a unit myself – thus an extensive cost benefit analysis had to be performed every step of the way.”

“But the straw that broke the cost benefit analysis model’s back was the announcement of Parallels’ Virtual Machine 2.1 beta. The beta would let you run Windows XP under OS X in a virtual machine with support for Intel’s Virtualization Technology (VT). After that announcement I knew there was no avoiding it, an article had to be done; not only on the MacBook Pro but on Boot Camp and Parallels’ solution,” Lal Shimpi reports. “What follows is that article.”

Full (and we mean “full” – it’s the usual extensive in-depth review we’ve come to expect from AnandTech; see you in half an hour or so) article here.

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9 Comments

  1. This article actually slaps MDN in the face for thier consistent “superior hardware” babbling and “why buy a Window’s PC when you can get a Mac with OSX and Windows” garbage. Anandtech points out the hardware is far from “superior” (inferior more like it as the faults pointed out show), and shows exactly why it wouldnt be the best thing to buy a Mac explicity for the ability to run OSX and Windows.

    While the Dell Inspiron E1705 performs pretty poorly given its CPU speed, the MacBook Pro is actually even worse. The E1705 holds about an 8% performance advantage over the MacBook Pro with an 8% faster CPU; however, neither Winstone test scales 1:1 with CPU speed increases so Dell’s faster CPU is most likely only buying it another 3% performance advantage here. Obviously neither notebook comes anywhere close to the performance of the ASUS offerings, which continue to be the fastest I’ve ever encountered in a Core Duo notebook.

    I don’t really have a good explanation for the MacBook Pro’s disappointing Windows XP performance, because all of its hardware is built out of the same major components that ASUS and Dell use for their notebooks. The only thing I can think of is that out of all these companies, ASUS is far more experienced with tweaking and tuning their motherboards for every last ounce of performance while honestly, Apple has never had to really care. Given that ASUS actually manufactures some of Apple’s machines, it may be time to enlist its help in performance optimization as well.

  2. Sammy, performance numbers aside. I am more concerned about Apple’s overall hardware quality problems. One cursory look at Apple support forums does yield numerous yet unfixed problems. Like Anand said, this in unacceptable for Apple.

  3. As the article sez, there are problems with 1st gen products. The heat and the whine are mentioned. But comparing the Mac XP install and comparing the performance to a regular XP vendor is a little over the top. The Mac software is a BETA! Just the fact they did this (working around the BIOS issues) is amazing!

    MW: Death. To Dell.

  4. “Sammy, performance numbers aside. I am more concerned about Apple’s overall hardware quality problems. One cursory look at Apple support forums does yield numerous yet unfixed problems. Like Anand said, this in unacceptable for Apple.

    I (sadly) have to agree with that. Make all the excuses you want, 1st Gen etc. etc. I think the MacBook Pro was a little rushed. I have checked the forums, and indeed there are too many problems – and they are NOT single isolated incidences. I hear they get hotter than a George Foreman Grill!! Apple’s quality image is suffering and they need to get somone on it ASAP. You don’t spend $2500 on a MacBook Pro and EXPECT to have problems just because it’s 1st Gen. The first GEN argument is BOGUS!!! This is Apple wer’re talking about here!! In fact, I wouldn’t care what manufacturer it was!

  5. well, what gen is Windows XP in, and the POS boxes they run on ? because no matter what the price, people EXPECT problems, then ACTUALLY GET THEM, but buy a NEW PC a few years later. How about them Apples.

  6. “well, what gen is Windows XP in, and the POS boxes they run on ? because no matter what the price, people EXPECT problems, then ACTUALLY GET THEM, but buy a NEW PC a few years later. How about them Apples.

    That reply makes no sense whatsoever. Care to rephrase that in a manner humans can apprehend? Thanks

  7. Article makes the point that switching to OS X starts with a desire to go to windows but eventually users realise that OS X is just better.

    I bought Virtual PC when I first switched. Now I see no need to run windows for anything. Games are best played on a game station, mac’s do everything else – mostly neater than XP.

    As for hardware failings, the Apple Care service is first class. If you have a problem they will fix it. The downside of their being only one supplier of MAC hardware is that every failing is on the net and published in minutes. The problems I’ve had with Gateway and other PC builders are as bad if not worse, people just don’t report them as WINDOWS or PC failures as a single entity – I’m sure that like for like they are as bad ( and probably a lot worse ) than Apple computers.

    VT or Boot Camp is just another add-on that will come with Leopard and my next machine whenever I feel the need to upgrade. Having switched to OS X and had a very good experience for the last 5 years I see no made rush to have XP on a new Mac just for that feature alone.

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