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13-inch Apple MacBook Pro review

The 2012 refresh gives Apple's most portable MacBook Pros an exciting upgrade

Our Verdict

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 800
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • New processors
  • Better integrated graphics
  • Unibody build
  • USB 3.0
  • Excellent screen

Against

  • No discrete graphics
  • Limited upgrade options
  • Only a small speed bump
  • Slow hard drives
  • Cheaper model only Core i5

Apple upgraded its entire range of notebooks with the mid-2012 refresh. Although the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display has grabbed most of the headlines, the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro shouldn't be overlooked.

The two new 2012 13-inch MacBook Pros retain the same form factor used by the previous generation, which was released in late 2011. Once again, we get a unibody enclosure milled from a single block of aluminium. This is far stronger and lighter than if it were built from separate parts.

The LED backlit screen is the same as before, as is the 720p FaceTime camera that sits above it. Just the thing for video calls. Apple's famous backlit keyboard is retained too. When the light dims, the keys are automatically lit to aid typing. You can dim this backlight if it's too strong, or switch it off altogether if (for example) you're watching a movie.

Apple macbook pro late 2011  13 inch  review

But although from the outside they look exactly the same as before, the 2012 13-inch MacBook Pros offer significant improvements over the 2011 laptops under the hood.

The processors have been upgraded. Although the speed bump is very small - 0.1GHz on each model - the new CPUs are Ivy Bridge chips, the third generation of Intel's Core i series. These processors have significantly better integrated graphics than their late 2011 predecessors.

Since the 13-inch MacBook Pros' logic board is too small to house a discrete graphics processor, this is a very important upgrade.

Apple macbook pro late 2011  13 inch  review

The top-of-the-range 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display made a few sacrifices for the sake of portability, losing its optical drive to make it lighter, dropping a couple of connectivity ports that were too big for the ultra-thin body and swapping the hard drive for solid state storage to reduce both bulk and weight.

But the two new 13-inch MacBook Pro models stay faithful to the regular MacBook Pro design. The 8x SuperDrive for reading and burning CDs and DVDs is retained, as are the FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The single Thunderbolt port introduced last year is also retained, as is the SDXC card reader. Once again, the 13-inch MacBook Pros have two USB ports, but these are now USB 3.0. Storage is still via a hard disk drive, at least in the standard, off-the-shelf computers.

Apple macbook pro late 2011  13 inch  review

The cheaper of the two 13-inch MacBook Pros costs the same as before; this entry-level 2.5GHz MacBook Pro is still £999 in the UK or $1,199 in the US. The pricier 13-inch 2.9GHz MacBook Pro has actually got a little cheaper, selling for £1,249 or $1,499.

Like all Macs, the new MacBook Pros come supplied with the latest version of OS X, which at the time of writing is 10.7 Lion. If you buy before the release of its successor Mountain Lion, which is due in July 2012, you can claim a free upgrade.

Apple's acclaimed iLife suite is also included; edit your videos with iMovie, make music with GarageBand and organise your digital photographs in iPhoto.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Hard Drive Capacity750 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD 3000
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeDVD-Writer
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time7 Hour
FireWire/i.LINKYes
WebcamYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
DisplayPortYes
Product FamilyMacBook Pro
Keyboard BacklightYes
ThunderboltYes
Operating SystemMac OS X 10.7 Lion
Brand NameApple
Processor Speed2.80 GHz
Processor TypeCore i7
Screen Size33.8 cm (13.3")
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Standard Memory4 GB
Weight (Approximate)2.04 kg
Cache4 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityEPEAT Gold, ENERGY STAR
Number of Total Memory Slots2
Optical Media SupportedDVD±R/±RW
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 384 MB
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports2
Memory StandardDDR3-1333/PC3-10600
Height24.1 mm
Width325 mm
Depth227 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMD314B/A
Product NameMacBook Pro MD314B/A Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTrack Pad
Product LineMacBook Pro
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part NumberMD314B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing InformationThe inside story. And the outside story too.

With its durable unibody enclosure, Multi-Touch trackpad and energy-efficient design, MacBook Pro looks beautiful. And works beautifully.

Strength. Lightness. Beauty. Seamlessly integrated.

MacBook Pro is machined from a single piece of aluminium, an engineering breakthrough that replaced many parts with just one. It's called the unibody. And the first time you pick up a MacBook Pro, you'll notice the difference it makes. The entire enclosure is thinner and lighter than other notebooks. It looks polished and refined. And it feels strong and durable - perfect for life inside (and outside) your briefcase or backpack.

Maximum Memory8 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Package Contents
  • MacBook Pro MD314B/A Notebook
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • 60W MagSafe Power Adapter
  • Display Cleaning Cloth
  • AC Wall Plug and Power Lead
  • Printed and Electronic Documentation
Limited Warranty1 Year