Price (RRP): $3,199
We’ve come to accept that Apple’s notebooks will always be prettier than their PC equivalents. They’ll always have better industrial design, be more pleasant to use, and offer cute extras that might not have much practical value but are undeniably cool.
The MacBook Pro is a step forward in this direction, a truly beautiful piece of technology that makes even the daggiest desk look better. What’s more, it packs a decent punch under the bonnet, using Intel technology to keep Apple in the numbers games.
The price is slightly high, but offset by the superior build quality and the free software that comes with OSX.
The 15 inch model of the MacBook Pro comes with either a 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo for $3,199 or a 2.33GHz model for $3,999. The more expensive machine also includes 2GB of RAM instead of just 1GB.
Beyond the silicon, this machine includes wireless connectivity via 802.11g, and also Bluetooth for use with other portable devices. There’s FireWire 800 for shifting massive amounts of data very quickly, and a DVI port for plugging into an LCD monitor via a digital connection.
The only aspect of the machine that is slightly disappointing is the graphics chip. The ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 is a solid performer, but won’t go too well with all the latest games.
Normally on a Mac, games aren’t really a consideration since OSX supports only a limited number of titles. But this machine runs Windows XP too. You’ll need to supply your own copy and it will need to be the version that has Service Pack 2 built-in, otherwise it won’t work.
Then it’s a simple matter of downloading Boot Camp from the Apple website and following the prompts. You can partition the hard drive to give plenty of data to Windows, and you’ll create a driver CD too.
After that, simply reboot the machine with your Windows XP CD in the drive, hold down Option, and begin a Windows install as normal. It’s smooth and relatively fuss-free, and Boot Camp is being continuously improved. No word on a Vista version yet, but the MacBook Pro should be Vista ready.
Meanwhile, OSX setup is simple as can be, with clear concise instructions.
Thanks to the powerful CPU and 1GB of memory, the 15 inch MacBook Pro is no slouch at all. Windows XP boot is about the same as on equivalently spec?d PCs, but OSX boot is incredibly quick. From pushing the power button to starting work is well under 30 seconds, and there’s none of that waiting for the hourglass to stop spinning that you find during a Windows boot.
Some applications do seem to run a bit quicker under Windows, Firefox in particular starts much faster in XP.
As for games, the MacBook Pro makes short work of everything released before Christmas 2005. The latest games will run, but you’ll need to turn down the graphical detail to improve frame rates.
The MacBook Pro is a little bit slower than a PC costing the same amount. But it’s much more fun to use. It feels expensive and well put together, it has an unobtrusive built-in camera and a keyboard that lights up when the room goes dark. Thanks to unofficial support for Windows XP it’s now a much more versatile machine, and the Core 2 Duo chip under the hood makes sure it can keep up with uglier, ‘plasticker’ notebooks from other manufacturers.