back to article Apple MacBook Pro 15in

The 13in MacBook Pro I reviewed last week is a machine for folk who fancy a carry-around computer but who want a bit more welly than the way more portable 13in MacBook Air can provide. The 15in version, on the other hand, is a desktop replacement for the power hungry. Sure, it's mobile. It has a decent battery life. But it's …


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  1. bex

    yes but no but yes

    Apple laptops are mindwateringly expensive but so well built they don't have a competitor at this level. only 2 usb ports on a supposedly desktop replacement though?

    1. Wibble

      Like for like, Apple's good value for money

      Expensive compared with what? A top-end Viao F series is (Sony's site is so damn slow it's timed out) - maybe it knows I'm just comparing prices. What a crap website.

      Looking at other websites, there's no like-for-like comparison, e.g. with an equivalent processor, hard disc, memory, GPU, etc. From past experience their top-end machines cost as much if not more than Apple's machines and they're made from plastic and run "windows".

      Checking Dell's website (that works although is very noisy) a "Precision M4500" specced up with an inferior 2.13GHz I7, etc. came to £2230. This is plastic and runs "windows".

      Checking on the Apple website (it works and is fast - Sony take note), even when speccing up the machine to the max (8Gb, 2.3 quad-core I7, high-res screen) it's less than £2300. Perfectly reasonable price for a professional -- my plumber spends more than that on tools in his van.

      BTW, speccing the Macbook with the slower 2.2GHz processor reduced the cost to under £2100, e.g. better performance for much less than the Dell.

      From my own experience, Apple laptops are very much designed as workhorse machines.

      The Viaos I've had in the past have really shown their age after a short amount of time as the plastic wears away and it cracks and creaks. IMO Dells are fugly, fully living up to their corporate drone persona, yuck.

      1. Cazzo Enorme

        Re: Like for like, Apple's good value for money

        I buy Apple laptops for the spec and build quality. As you point out, comparing like for like they are pretty good value. I actually run Linux on them, so to me Apple are just another laptop vendor, and I could certainly go elsewhere to make my purchase if the quality and spec wasn't so good.

      2. Robot

        There are better examples for you to choose from

        Stop cherry picking.

        Here in Canada, I can get the following from CDN$1299 (= 823 British pounds), Asus, 17.3 inch, 1600x900, i7-2630, 750 GB 7200 rpm, 8 gbs DDR3, Nivia GTX460M 1GB, 3xUSB2, 1xUSB3, 8-cell.

        Asus, like Apple, is consistently ranked high for reliability.

        1. Ari 1

          Bad example, bad comparison

          That's not a very good example to compare against. A 17.3" screen with 1600x900 resolution? That's bargain bin trash...

          Can you give us real world battery life on that thing? Less than the Mac? Oh... no dual graphic cards that autoswitch to conserve energy AND a 17.3 inch screen to light up.. ok.

          Also, fitting the components within a bigger chassis is easier. Dropping the pitch of the screen significantly reduces a part of the cost, and gives an indicator towards the cost saving measures taken in other parts of the device.

          I seem to recall a story about people complaining about the 27" iMac being expensive, but a closer examination showed that if you wanted the same quality screen (IPS) in that size you could also buy a hard drive and a keyboard before hitting the price of the complete iMac.... The quality of each component counts.

          Don't get me wrong, I really like ASUS. I used to sell and service their machines and if I were to buy a computer for Linux or, against all odd, Windows, then ASUS would be among the first I would examine. Relatively cheap, and extremely good for the price.

          Just a crap comparison.

          1. Ari 1


            I just realized; my "late 2006" model MacBook Pro has the same vertical resolution, on a 15" screen... That is, IMO, on the lower side these days. On a 17" screen that would be pure awful, blocky and nasty.

            1. Robot

              Nice try but...

              Go to, and search for Asus n53sv. I didn’t even try hard to find it (I simply searched for ‘Asus 1920 laptop’).

              i7-2630qm quad-core Sandy Bridge, 500 gbs 7200 rpm, 4 gbs DDR3 expandable to 16 gbs, 15.6-inch 1920x1080, nVidia GT540M 1GB, 2xUSB2, 1xUSB3, eSATA, and ALUMINUM. (Just how expensive is aluminum when 25 feet of aluminum foil is 99 cents at my local Uniprix pharmacy in Montreal?)

              Get ready for the price: US$1049 (648 British pounds).

              I can upgrade it to 16 GBs DDR3 and 256 gb SSD, and it'll still cost less than the new 15-inch MacBook. Plus I can use the 500 gb hard disk as external storage.

              I repeat: Asus is as reliable as Apple, according to several surveys, sometimes lower, sometimes equal, sometimes higher.

              I am not anti-Apple. I may be getting the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2 next month. That's because they are good value for the money, just like the Asus. It's that simple.

              1. Robot

                A few more things, if you don't mind...

                Concerning the above Asus: It uses Bang & Olufsen technology.

                By the way, aluminum is not the best of class. Apple never went for the best such as several types of magnesium alloy.

                By the way, for one or two dollars extra, the Chinese can produce more elaborate manufacturing than a complete aluminum shell. Remember, the fastest supercomputer in the world is in Tianjin.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                hmm worth a look but I doubt it comes close

                you can't buy this yet. I imagine the specs might change before that.

                they have also been clever with the name "silver aluminium" - still made of plastic just like the others.

                and the asus is nearly 1lb heavier to boot

                although the 16gb memory option and hires screen might make me have a long hard look at this instead of replacing my 4 year old MBP.

                also I bet battery life doesn't come close to a MBP

              3. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
                Jobs Horns

                Apple Lappies.

                Thru' the years I have had 3 of them, 2 intels, 1 PPC. They have all been quite reliable, although the PPC's keyboard is getting somewhat flaky.

                I agree with you though, Asus is just as reliable, within that same time period I have had 4 of them, 2 netbooks. Arguably, sometimes, they are almost (but admittedly not quite) as sexy.

                The only issues I would have had with Apple lappies recently is the same things I have had with them: lack of 2 button trackpad (work-round-able I guess, but still, the workaround is inelegant), and a somewhat non-standard keyboard with less keys than what I am used to, and recently (not exclusive to apple I must say), the difficulties of getting matte screens. The non-replaceable battery is also a double edged sword to some degree.

                Apple, take note. I was thinking of buying a new Core i7 macbook pro to replace my last macbook, but no more.

                Your machines are sexy no doubt, but you disgust me.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                  1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
                    Paris Hilton



                    You think that's elegant? Whatever...

            2. Robot

              Can you confirm one thing for me?


              The resolution of the new 15-inch 2011 MacBook is 1440x900. Is this the same resolution as your five-year-old 2006 Macbook Pro?

              Oh wait, I found the answer to my question at


              Look, I am not anti-Apple. I almost went OS X until I tried 64-bit Windows 7. I am not a Windows fanboy. I admit Windows 7 is not as good as OS X, but it's good enough, unlike Vista. Windows 7 crashed on me only once since I bought my latest notebook six months ago. (I know, I know, once is once too often.)

      3. MN

        Like for Like, not at all. There's more, though.

        I made a similar comment on the 13" macbook review, but it bears repeating:

        Apple MBP 15", 2.2GHz i7, 4GB RAM, 500GB 7200rpm HDD, 1680x1050 screen, £1929

        Dell XPS15, 2.2GHz i7, 4GB RAM, 640GB 7200rpm HDD, 1920x1080 screen, £1149.

        I then went on to state that the Macbook has slightly better graphics. Not £800 better graphics, mind.

        Having read this article, though, a lot of the concessions I gave the Macbook go out of the window. If it *is* a desktop replacement, the much better battery life, and build quality in the Macbook become pretty much irrelevant.

        My original point does still stand, though - Apple residuals are significantly better than pretty much any other hardware vendor. If you can afford to pay 1.66 times the price of the Dell for the similarly specced Macbook, you may get that back a few years down the road when it comes to selling the machine.

  2. Field Commander A9

    No review would be complete...

    without a run-down of the Crysis series!

  3. James Dunmore

    Proper UK keyboard?

    Nope - probably an international British layout, i.e. the @ sign in the wrong place, etc etc. Basically, a US keyboard with a £ sign.

    Apple - sort it out, it's very annoying!

    1. Wibble

      Remap the keys

      There's a script on the web to remap the @ and ". Once installed you never need to touch it (hence I can't remember its name!).

    2. John 62

      @ sign

      I like the Mac layout, except that # is Option+3 and it isn't even marked.

    3. ThomH Silver badge

      There's no such thing as a "proper" UK keyboard

      You're thinking of the de facto IBM PC layout. Apple's UK keyboards remain as they have been since time immemorial, with £ on the '3', @ on the '2', quote and double quote combined on a key, etc.

      Mac keyboards have an extra modifier or two, a few other extra keys including eject, don't bother with home/end, page down/page up (all of which are achieved with modifier + arrows), and tend to be more willing to hide the function keys since they're not really used for anything in OS X. So, sure, they could swap a couple of keys around and be closer to the IBM PC layout but they're not in a position to adopt it wholesale.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        @ThomH "no such thing as a 'proper' UK keyboard"

        I think British Standard 4822:1994 would disagree with you there.

  4. Peter Blackburn

    Silent? Methinks the man is deaf...

    "Like all Apple notebooks, the 15in MBP is generally a near-silent beast,"

    I can only assume you don't actually use them for anything then. Both my 12" PowerBook G4 and my 15" MacBook Pro are extremely noisy if I do anything more strenuous than look at them.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Desktop replacement?

    I don't consider a 15 in machine this svelt to be a desktop replacement - sure, it can fulfil that role, but these are some of the most portable 15 in laptops made, certainly being amonst the slimmest and lightest.

    I have a 3yo 15 in MacBook Pro and it's very portable indeed, you just need a lap protector if you're using it on the sofa/in bed for any great length of time, which to be honest, you should have for any laptop anyway as most of them vent underneath (unlike the MBP which vents out the back).

  6. John 62

    aluminium clad?

    Well yes, there are aluminium lids, but it also has an aluminium chassis. So it's not the exact analogue of Jack, Vera and Tyrone Duckworth's stone-clad place on Coronation Street.

  7. David Kelly 2

    Display Options

    Article failed to mention there are three different displays available on the 15". 1) The standard glossy, 2) high-res glossy (+$100), and 3) high-res anti-glare (+$150). Don't know if high-res really improves anything but having seen glossy displays I had to have anti-glare and don't regret it. Trivia fact: the high-res antiglare MacBook has an aluminum border around the display. The standard display has a glossy black frame.

    As for the cost of a Mac, I upgrade every 5 years. My new i7 MacBook Pro replaces the original intel MacBook Pro from 2006. My old still did everything asked of it but its 2GB memory limitation was starting to be a limitation if Parallels was running XP Pro and anything else was going on.

    The machined aluminum case appears to be much sturdier than the stamped aluminum of my old. Have had to pop dents out of the corners a time or two. The old has two rubber feet on the display lid while the new has a rubber gasket running around the perimeter. There doesn't seem to be anything about the new that isn't somehow improved over the old, yet my old is still quite serviceable.

  8. Ben Halstead


    Interesting that this review, and the previous 13" MBP review, didn't include comparisons with last year's 15" i7 based MBP.

  9. Rolf Howarth

    Desktop replacement?

    A what replacement? I don't even remember what a desktop computer is. I replaced my last desktop with a PBG4 the day they came out, ten years ago, and never looked back!

  10. Pat 3


    When the fans kick it it's anything but silent. I've seen the fans at full speed with only one core under load too. I've got the 2.3ghz i7 but I only expected the noise when I was using all the cores.

  11. christech81

    Hot lap

    Agree with the reviewer, all of my laptops have been high end and generate a lot of heat. At least with the Apple products there are plenty of risers specifically build for the Mac with nice soft leg friendly cushioning (try getting a nice riser to fit a large 17" Sony or Dell Precision !).

  12. z3cko

    hardware faults, overheats, screen flickering

    while the new 2011 apple macbook pro machines are really fast, they have hardware faults and suffer from severe overheating.

    see a roundup of the issues here:

    1. Sean Baggaley 1


      ... people only get off their arses to complain when something goes wrong. You never hear from people whose kit is working just fine. Anecdotal "My laptop has a dud component!" stories are not evidence of endemic issues, and never have been.

      E.g. I have an iPhone 4. Guess what? NO antenna problems AT ALL. In fact, it gets better reception than anyone else's around here in the back of beyond. SImilarly, my Macbook Pro (mid-2010 model) is also working just fine, with no issues whatsoever.

      As an aside, I think an SSD is probably a much useful upgrade than a slightly better processor or GPU. I made the mistake of speccing 8GB RAM on my Macbook Pro, (as getting Apple to fit it was no more expensive than buying it elsewhere, for once), but not updating the stock 5400 RPM HDD. I should have gone for the SSD option, even though it was eye-wateringly expensive. Having played with one of the new Macbook Airs, it's astonishing just how great a difference in perceived performance that SSD makes.

      The mechanical HDD cannot die soon enough, although SSD prices could certainly fall a lot quicker.

  13. RPF

    A superb set-up

    Just bought mine with an SSD and the non-glossy Hi-res Screen and it is fantastic. I got the non-glossy because I can't stand the reflectiveness of the normal set-up and the Hi-Res (1680 x 1050) is a nice bonus, making for a great desktop space.

    With the SSD, this thing IS silent and starts up in about 10 seconds. Apps launch almost instantly. I am very happy with it and hope it will be powerful and reliable enough to last 5 years or so, which will make it pretty good value.

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