Are you MacBook, or are you Pro?

by Giles Turnbull

Now we have a complete family of Intel Apple notebooks to compare with one another, what is it about the MacBook Pro that makes it a "pro" machine? And in what respects are the MacBooks a better machine than their iBook predecessors?



The MacBook sports many very attractive new features, such as a magnetic latch, easy access to RAM slots, and - this is really impressive, this - user-replaceable hard disks. It also supports extended desktops, a feature previously denied iBook users. Apple claims it has a six hour battery life.



But here are the features that make a MacBook Pro a "pro" machine:




  • Slightly faster Core Duo CPU in upper-end Pro machines

  • 8x SuperDrive on 17inch MacBook Pro

  • Larger display; option that it should not be glossy

  • Supports larger pixel external display

  • Decent ATI Mobility Radeon graphics card and separated graphics memory

  • ExpressCard/34 slot; extra USB and FireWire 800 on 17inch MacBook Pro

  • Illuminated keyboard



And that's it. That's not a long list of differentiating features; and several of these are only really different on the top-of-the-range 17inch MacBook Pro. So what is Apple suggesting is the difference between a "pro" user and a non-"pro" user?




20 Comments

anon
2006-05-16 15:54:56
And one more feature -- the pro can come with a 7200 RPM drive.
Zac
2006-05-16 16:40:02
There does seem to be remarkably little difference between a $1299 MacBook and a $1999 MacBook Pro:


- 20GB more on the harddriver (a $50 CTO)
- larger screen
- ATI X1600
- ExpressCard slot
- illuminated keyboard
- dual-link DVI


So is $650 worth 2" of screen, a graphics card and some assorted odds and ends? Sure doesn't seem that way.

Adrian
2006-05-16 16:48:24
I really hoped that the MacBook would make mobile computing enjoyable again. I'm beyond being annoyed by the heat and the fan noise. I guess bringing out a slow but cool notebook is not an option. They could at least have thought of making the CPU frequency software switchable.
RabbiyLover
2006-05-16 17:23:14
Pro = Better credit rating with the Apple Credit (MNBA) to afford the extra cost...
Trevor
2006-05-16 18:22:43
There is also the fact that in the Pro models, a standard DVI connector is built-in. With the MacBooks, you have to carry around a Mini-DVI dongle everywhere you go.

2006-05-16 18:28:06
"They could at least have thought of making the CPU frequency software switchable."


I believe this is automatic in the Core Duos. They switch voltage and frequency on-the-fly based on CPU demand.


2006-05-16 18:31:57
don't forget aluminum case vs plastic

2006-05-16 19:52:19
and the fact that the pro has a sudden motion senser and possibly better speakers along with digital audio in/out and is thinner, better keys (curved to finger)
kugino
2006-05-16 21:08:33
the macbook has digital audio input and output now. sweet. also has the larger trackpad with two-finger scrolling...the keyboard is a newer one with nice tactile feedback...just a few more things to consider in the comparisons...
Rainy Day
2006-05-16 22:04:25
The MacBook has the sudden motion sensor too. And a polycarbonate case is less fragile than aluminum, IMO.


I feel the current MacBook Pro is an interim machine which will be obsoleted fairly soon. Expect a Core2 Duo processor - and maybe magnetic latch and user replaceable HD's - by fall or MWSF at the latest.

Allan Smith
2006-05-16 22:39:42
The ExpressCard slot is a big deal for video and music people who want to be able to connect external SATA or multiple Firewire hard drives. Cards are beginning to be available for this.
Adrian
2006-05-17 00:15:01
"I believe this is automatic in the Core Duos. They switch voltage and frequency on-the-fly based on CPU demand."


I was talking about setting a frequency maximum so that the processor will not get hot, ever.

gilest
2006-05-17 00:21:25
I'm inclined to agree with Rainy Day here. I think the Pro will be updated to include some of these MacBook features - especially the latch - in the near future.
Hal
2006-05-17 06:50:22
I'm a Pro user for video spanning. Do the new MacBooks allow spanning or just mirroring?
dburney
2006-05-17 12:12:26
Is there no main difference in bus speeds or other minute specs that may have fallen through the cracks? I agree that the GPU power is a big deal to graphics pros and is one main feature that separates the two. So is DVI and the card slot.
dburney
2006-05-17 12:14:58
http://store.apple.com/Catalog/US/Images/comparison_chart.html


nice comparison chart between all models

domo
2006-05-18 01:48:37
And that's it

Well, you can add Firewire 800, available only on the 17" MacBook Pro. (All models have a Firewire 400 port.)

Steve
2006-05-18 11:19:56
My only burning concern is about the wi-fi, which I hear doesn't work that well out of the box on the Pro's. I haven't heard anything about the MacBook though.
Grant
2006-08-13 08:55:19
"I believe this is automatic in the Core Duos. They switch voltage and frequency on-the-fly based on CPU demand."


I was talking about setting a frequency maximum so that the processor will not get hot, ever.


----Sweets....go to our Energy saving panel in Tiger and select 'Reduced' in the Processor Performance under the 'Options' tab...ther you go...a slower...cooler macbook is all yours.

Vlad
2006-09-17 12:51:05
Hmm, I can't seem to have such an option. Is it an out of the box OS X feature or did you install any magic software?