Computerworld: Apple’s new 17-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo ‘about as future-proof as they come’

“It has been said that buyers should generally avoid the first year of a new model car, Version 1.0 of just about any application and most Rev. A computers — especially Rev. A computers,” Ken Mingis reports for Computerworld.

“Well, if you held off buying the first Intel-based versions of Apple Computer Inc.’s MacBook Pro laptops, you can safely venture forth to the nearest computer store and take one home. I base that on my hands-on experience with Apple’s latest updated consumer MacBook lineup, the recently revamped 15-in. MacBook Pro and — now, finally — the 17-in. variation of Apple’s professional laptop line,” Mingis reports.

“To paraphrase Victor Kiam, the late Gillette CEO, I liked the latest 17-in. MacBook Pro so much that I bought my own,” Mingis reports. “In case you’ve missed the latest specs on these portable workstations, the MacBook Pro — both 15-in. and 17-in. models — sport Core 2 Duo processors from Intel Corp. that are marginally faster in terms of clock speed but noticeably faster in real-world use. One factor behind that speed increase is the 4MB of dynamically allocated Level 2 cache RAM used by the new chip — twice what the Core Duo offered. It’s not a huge jump in processing power, nor would you expect it to be when moving from Rev. A to Rev. B hardware. But it’s more of an increase than Apple used to provide back in the not-so-halcyon PowerPC days.”

“When buying technology, it’s always best to try to future-proof yourself as much as possible. Apple’s 17-in. MBP is about as future-proof as they come. It offers 64-bit hardware and maybe even, eventually, 802.11n wireless networking capabilities (though 802.11g is just fine for now),” Mingis reports. “Apple is due to release its next operating system, Leopard, before spring. Once that 64-bit operating system is out, the MacBook Pro will really shine. And it’s pretty darn bright already.”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Washington Times: Apple MacBook, MacBook Pro portables are ‘superb values’ – November 21, 2006
Apple now shipping 17-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo units – November 13, 2006
PC Magazine Editor’s Choice: Apple Macbook Pro Core 2 Duo; best mainstream laptop – November 07, 2006
CNET: Apple MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo ‘provides great overall computing experience, at a premium price’ – November 03, 2006 (We dispute the “premium price” bit within the article)
Computerworld: Apple’s new MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo ‘one cool customer, fastest Apple laptop ever’ – November 02, 2006
Apple MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo dissection photos – October 30, 2006
Why MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo units are limited to 3 GB RAM – October 30, 2006
Apple redesigns, hides iSight indicator on MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo models – October 28, 2006
Apple does it again: New Macbook Pros much cheaper than Dell – October 25, 2006
Yager: New Apple MacBook Pro is ‘mobile landing pad for Leopard in plenty of time for Macworld Expo’ – October 24, 2006
Apple MacBook Pro notebooks go Intel Core 2 Duo; up to 39-percent faster – October 24, 2006

43 Comments

  1. The current system can take 4GB of ram but only use 3GB of it. If you want a full all out 64 bit machine, you need to wait for the Intel Santa Rosa chip set.

    It is also interesting that Intel is pricing its quad core chips the same as its dual core product. So it is obvious that when Santa Rosa and a mobile quad core version of the CPU are available, they will appear in a Leopard powered MacBook Pro.

  2. “IF it could handle 64 bit, it would sell like hotcakes…”

    Oh yeah… despite the fact that none of you geeks has been able to clearly explain to us why we need 64 bits in the first place… You got your finger on the pulse…

  3. @ ping:

    “Merom does not just have a bit more cache, it also has an improved internal execution architecture which also contributes to the speedup (which is apparently quite significant in practice).

    Intel Tiger doesn’t have any 64 bit code right now as far as I know, so exploiting the more efficient 64 bit instruction set instead of the old IA32 now will give another boost once Leopard will be out.”

    Granted, Merom has some improvments over Yonah, but what you mention is related primarily to integrating the 64bit instruction set. When it comes to branch prediction, integer performance, FPU performance, SSE1,2,3 etc… it’s pretty much the same beast as before. Therefore, what you say next (and what I also mentioned) about Leopard being a true 64bit OS should allow Merom to get more of a boost over Yonah than we currently see. I think we’re in fundamental agreement on this.

    BTW – Tiger (and even Panther to a lesser degree) does have 64bit features. They’re just not integral to the OS.

    “To memory: Lay the blame at Intel – the support chip set is the issue here. That and the rather expensive prices for DIMMs with more than 1GB each. It is silly to complain about the current models – they’re the best Apple could reasonably provide at this point, and they are very, very good and will see mostly speed bumps in their successors, but no significant architectural changes for a long(ish) time.”

    I do lay the blame at Intel’s poor design. But this wouldn’t be a problem for Apple’s products if Apple hadn’t adopted it. I don’t agree that it’s the best Apple could have reasonably provided, and I’m certain there will be a major revision in the future, as Intel is well-aware that no one is happy with the present state of their FSB affairs. Also, there was nothing inevitable about this for Apple; they once designed all their own mobos, and also did signifigant tweaking of the Intel-based MacPro & XServe Mobos to partially overcome FSB problems there. So while I’m willing to make some allowances for the more consumer oriented MB, for the MBPro – no. This 3GB limitation shouldn’t be there & Apple should have done more to address it if Intel couldn’t.

    As for the expense of more memory: It’s best to leave that problem up to the people who pay for it. Professionals certainly would buy it if it were offered, and the rest of us would upgrade as soon as prices came down (as they always do, eventually) if we had that option. Unfortunately, b/c of this techical failing, we don’t.

    “That’s why this is an excellent point to jump for anyone waiting for the changeover to be complete.”

    I agree that it’s the best point so far. What with some professional grade programs (>cough< ADOBE >cough<) still being better on a PPC platform than a Macintel by far, the Merom/Woodcrest change has actually been where I’ve actually encouraged people to begin buying Macintels. As I said, 64bit is the future and 32bit Yonah was clearly not going there, so buying rigs based on it (except for the iMac which can be upgraded to Merom), with all the other UB/Rosetta issues bundled in, made no sense to me.

    So yes, I’m on board now, and will continue to be until AMD’s next Great Leap Forward comes in next year ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” /> . Nonetheless, more needs to be done. Apple needs to get rid of the memory limitation on the MBPro, and the graphics limitation on the MB. And since I’m bitchin, I’ll also throw in that the sooner they dump FBDIMMs in the MacPro & XServe, the better – that technology is a dead end and their are plenty of DDR2 (soon-to-be-3) options available.

    But hey … first things first. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool smile” style=”border:0;” />

  4. @ ping: “And by the way: iBooks with separate GPUs were not particularly “generous”, they were simply a necessity since a) there were no integrated graphics chip sets for PowerPC CPUs and b) the severely limited memory bandwidth would not have allowed it in the first place. All that changed with the Intel switch and helped compensate for some of the added expense for the Core Duo CPUs. For by far the most users of a MacBook its limited 3D capability is not a problem, and for the rest there’s always the MacBook Pro. So what?”

    I didn’t say they were generous, only that they were better. And they were. The 9550 ATI on my iBook is essentially a lower clocked version of the 9600, and there isn’t a website around that will say that when it comes to transform & lighting effects and so forth that Intel’s integrated GPU measures up to the lowball version that I have.

    Jobs used to make a big deal about how no Mac had crappy integrated graphics. It had nothing to do with no integrated graphics being available – the lower cost of PPC parts meant that Apple didn’t need it to hit their price points. It was only when the high costs of switching to Intel became fully realized did he drop that, and even then the MacBook was still about $200 more expensive than it’s predecessor. And now I should be expected to pay another $500 on top of THAT … just to get a decent GPU?

    Sorry. I think you’re being an apologist here. there are plenty of options from both Nvidia and ATI that makes Intel’s solution a complete waste of time. Apple is using it, most likely, b/c Intel wouldn’t give them good deals on the CPUs unless they adopted the whole ball of wax. I anticipate the same strong-arming was used to make sure the Woodcrest MacPro & XServe used much more expensive (and also lower performing) FBDIMMs.

    Well, maybe Apple had no choice in the beginning. But now their sales are going through the roof, and AMD is wooing them at every turn. If I were Jobs I would be telling Intel Apple will no longer be using it’s crappy graphics, FSB, and memory technologies, and still expected good prices on the chips, otherwise the company will be walking once again.

    And like I said, for me, until they do correct probs one and two, I won’t be buying a new MacBook or MBPro. In the past I have happily paid a premeium for the Apple hardware/software combo. Now that they are using the same hardware as everyone can sell, I have even higher expectations regarding what I’m paying for.

    Welcome to the Jungle, baby! The x86 world can be a real bitch ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool grin” style=”border:0;” />

  5. I’m tired of all these negative reviews! Have these reviewers even USED a Mac?? This is why we’ll always be just low small market player in the big world of computers. Sad. Very sad. Well, as for me, I’m not paying any attention. I’m getting one of those nice new PowerBooks with that upgraded screaming G3 processor! I don’t care what reviews like this say! Idiots all!

  6. I have a 2Ghz Core Duo MBP 15″ with 2GB of RAM. The second that a MBP appears that can handle 4GB of RAM I’m upgrading. I run a few sessions of Parallels at all times, and it eats available RAM like Oprah in a donut shop.

    MDN Magic Word: “million” as in “Hi. I’m Oprah Winfrey, and I just spent a MILLION bucks on donuts!”

  7. sounds like you still have your nose out of joint over the switch from PPC to Intel. Well, get over it! You were wrong when the change was announced, and you’re still wrong to bitch an’ whine now. The fact is that the integrated graphics chip sets on the current MacBooks is AT LEAST AS GOOD as the lame 32 MB graphics cards on the old iBooks. As long as you have enough RAM, you’re not giving up anything, certainly not for movies and the like.
    As former Prez Clinton use to say, it’s time to move on…
    Kate

  8. The Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros run much cooler. 64bit applications are rare right now, but with Leopard we’ll see more. Double-precision math is (duh) faster with 64bit, typically 10-30% faster. The bigger L2 cache helps too. The new 128bit vector processing instructions of SSE3 are a big help when you use them – especially for code that was making use of the Velocity Engine of the G4/G5. The graphics system is clocked 40% faster in the 15″ MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (versus the previous Core Duo models), it makes a big difference for games, I haven’t heard about the 17″ model yet (regarding graphics clockspeed).

  9. Odyssey67, stop being such a dork. Go hang out at http://www.digg.com for a while, comment on some posts and get yourself massively buried, maybe you’ll get a clue.

    I hardly ever look at this stupid site, digg is where to find intelligent discussions. People can “digg” other comments up or “bury” them down, when comments reach -5 they are not shown by default anymore, it’s totally democratic. This is like writing on a bathroom wall.

  10. To quote from the really, really, really funny Brit TV show, “Big Train” episode one, series one. Did i mention it was Funny with a capitol F.
    Do a YouTube search for – Big Train, tags include – hot cakes, small train, Showjumpers, postman, goodbye mr chips, jockeys or jockey or spooked them, False Athletic Start, Do you speak English, Working Class.

    They are, IMO freaking’ Funny.

    Or … cough, cough, you could check out my day job. as lighting Dir. on an Aussie mornings tv show “Mornings With Kerri-Anne”. clock on at 7, on air at 9. normally only one rehearsal and then do it, live. Tags under –
    Dannii Minogue Can’t Sleep At Night 2006 08 17 Mornings With Kerri-Anne Hits beyond –

    Out of interest, what do you other people do, that keeps you off the streets?

  11. a) The physical addressing range limitation is a feature of the chip set (most notably the north bridge), not of the front side bus (which links the CPU with the chip set).

    Apple simply can’t do anything about the limitation until Intel comes up with a new chip set (short of starting up its own chip set development which would be a massive waste of resources). Simple as that.

    b) Very many people don’t care much about 3D. A good video capability is much more relevant in practice. So it would simply be a waste of money and an unnecessary drain on the battery to saddle every MacBook with an external GPU most users simply don’t need.

    Yes, the old iBook GPU is faster than the new integrated one on some operations; But those where it really counts for most users are faster on the integrated one.

    c) Going up from the MacBook to the MacBook Pro gives you a lot more than just a dedicated GPU; If you just want to bitch around, please, be my guest. But for anybody who really needs a MacBook Pro the price difference is simply appropriate for the whole package (separate GPU, bigger screen with higher resolution, metal case, ExpressCard slot, FireWire 800, illuminated keyboard…).

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