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CNET First Look
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (entry-level)The new entry-level $1,199 13-inch MacBook Pro's significant CPU updates and fantastic battery life are nearly as good as the more expensive $1,499 version.
Hi, I'm Scott Stein, senior associate editor at CNET.com and this is the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro that came out in 2011. Now, we've already reviewed the 13-inch MacBook Pro at the $1499 level, this is the $1199 version that's also available in stores. We thought it would be interesting to take a look at what that entry-level gets you for the price. Now, you'll be tempted to pay a couple hundred dollars more to get one that sounds like it has better specs and it does, pretty much. This is a 2.3 GHz Core i5 processor. The $1499 version has a 2.7 GHz Core i7 processor. Sounds like a nice upgrade. In our benchmark test, we actually found those two to be somewhat more similar than you'd expect. To really kind of more of a slight speed increase, certainly you might wanna pay a couple hundred dollars more for that but for our tastes, we might go with this entry level which is still really fast, one of the fastest laptops in this size class that we've tested at CNET. Now you also get a slightly larger hard drive at the $1499 point, 500 gigabytes. There's only 320 gigabytes in here but consider that on Apple's website, it only costs $50 more to upgrade to 500 gigabytes if you choose it as an upgrade option. You know, there, you're looking at $1250 if you care about the hard drive space, or you can pay $150 to go up to 750 gigabytes. That's if you're not getting into all the SSD options which would cost you up to a whopping $1250 extra, not that we would be tempted to do that at this point in time. The other big thing about the 13-inch MacBook Pro that you already might know is that it's got integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics. Now, that is significantly better than integrated graphics that we've seen in last year's Windows laptops which normally can't play games. This can play games, it's juts not as great as you would get from a really nice dedicated GPU. Those are available on the 15-inch MacBook Pros. Now, this is also a bit of a graphics step down from last year's 2010 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is okay. It's not really that noticeable when you use most applications but if you're a hardcore gamer, you might notice it a little bit. Also, of course, the ports and all of the other features on this model are exactly the same as on its $1499 cousin. Backlit keyboard comes with the entry-level model and you also have that new fancy Thunderbolt port which replaces the Mini DisplayPort and is sort of a future-based port. It's going to be a combination very high speed data throughput port at 10 gigabits per second along with HDMI-capable AV so you can connect monitors to it, you can daisy chain devices. We haven't seen any Thunderbolt-compatible peripherals or accessories yet but we will see them. It will probably be a great thing to use at some point down the line. Right now, it's just kinda nice that you have it. Add to that that this has a 7-hour battery life, a little under 7 hours, but really, you are gonna be getting some fantastic battery life on this, better than last year's 2010 13-inch MacBook Pro. That's one of the best battery lives that we've seen in any laptop, and you can pretty much take it out without a charger which, if you feel like you might not go past 7 hours of computing. Seven hours is a lot of time. That's kind of a full work day so that's a great thing to have. Overall, we'd go with the entry-level model on this one unless you really wanna bust up those graphic capabilities, then you might wanna consider one of the 15 inches. I'm Scott Stein and this is the entry-level 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro.