Apple MacBook Pro Winter 2011 review: Apple MacBook Pro Winter 2011

Mac gaming, no matter what anyone says, is still a pretty fallow field, with many big games still available only for Windows systems. Fortunately, one of our most anticipated upcoming releases, Dragon Age II, will be Mac-compatible. Civilization V is another recent high-end game that will run on OS X. In our older Modern Warfare Mac gaming benchmark, we got 51.8 frames per second at a 1,440x900-pixel resolution with high quality settings, which was significantly better than the 34.5fps we got with the Nvidia GeForce 330M in last year's 15-inch MacBook Pro (but when we turned the graphics settings down to medium, the two GPUs were much more similar).

Juice box
Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Avg watts/hour
Off (60%) 0.27
Sleep (10%) 0.8
Idle (25%) 6.58
Load (05%) 75.59
Raw kWh number 49.64
Annual energy cost $5.63

Annual power consumption cost
Apple MacBook Pro - Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4-inch - 2.2GHz
$5.63 
Dell XPS 15
$6.38 
Alienware M15x
$15.67 

For once, our battery life score actually exceeded a manufacturer's estimate. Apple says the system should run for 7 hours on average, and in our video playback battery drain test, it ran for 7 hours and 5 minutes. That's about an hour longer than last year's model, even with all the new, powerful hardware inside.

Service and support from Apple has always been a bit of a mixed bag. Apple includes a one-year parts-and-labor warranty, but only 90 days of telephone support. Upgrading to a full three-year plan under AppleCare will cost an extra $349 ($100 more than for the 13-inch MacBook Pro) and is pretty much a must-buy, considering the proprietary nature of Apple products and their sealed bodies. Support is also accessible through a well-stocked online knowledge base, video tutorials, and e-mail with customer service, or through in-person visits to Apple's retail store Genius Bars, which, in our personal experience, have always been fairly efficient, frustration-free encounters.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro - Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4-inch - 2.2GHz
130 
Dell XPS 15
669 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro - Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4-inch - 2.2GHz
63 
Dell XPS 15
105 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro - Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4-inch - 2.2GHz
90 
Dell XPS 15
140 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Apple MacBook Pro - Core i7 Sandy Bridge 15.4-inch - 2.2GHz
425 
Dell XPS 15
146 

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Apple MacBook Pro (2011) 2.2GHz Core i7 quad-core, 15.4 inch
OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard; Intel Core i7 2.2GHz; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6750M / 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Dell XPS 15
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 M460; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 420M + 64MB(Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Acer Aspire 5742G-7200
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 M460; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 420M; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Apple MacBook Pro (2010) Core i7 M620 15.4 inch - 2.66GHz
OS X 10.6.2 Snow Leopard; Intel Core i7 M620 2.66GHz; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce GT 330M + 256MB Intel GMA HD; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Alienware M15x
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-920XM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb 24, 2011
  • Operating System Apple MacOS X 10.6
  • Installed Size 4 GB
  • Weight 5.5 lbs
  • Optical Drive DVD±RW (±R DL) - fixed
  • Graphics Processor AMD Radeon HD 6490M / Intel HD Graphics 3000 - 256 MB GDDR5 SDRAM
  • CPU Intel Core i7 2 GHz
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