Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Summer 2012)
Typical Price: $1,199.00
CNET Editors' Rating: 3.5 / 5
The good: The new 13-inch MacBook Pro has a faster third-gen Intel Core i5 processor, and USB 3.0 ports.
The bad: Not much else has changed: the price, battery life, and older, thicker appearance, however well designed, remain the same.
The bottom line: While the 13-inch MacBook Pro remains a well-built laptop, it's fallen behind the MacBook Air and Retina Display MacBook Pro in design, lacks higher-end upgrades, and feels too expensive compared with the competition.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
Editors' note (October 23, 2012): While the MacBook Pro reviewed here is still available, Apple now offers an all-new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display as well.
13-inch MacBook Pro, we need to have a talk. I want to like you. I really do. And you're making it so hard.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro, back when it was simply called the MacBook, was a truly envy-inducing laptop. Debuting in the fall of 2008, it turned heads at coffee shops. It was the 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro of its time. No, it was better: it was the return, in a way, of the MacBook family to the more portable space once occupied by the 12-inch PowerBook G4.
I digress because the looks of the 13-inch MacBook Pro haven't changed at all, really, since that fall. They haven't changed since last year, either. The 2012 MacBook Pro has newer third-gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, USB 3.0 ports, and better integrated graphics. That's it. The weight, the size, the battery life, and even the price remain the same. This is more of a spec bump than a new product. While the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is a little bit better than last year's 2011 model, the landscape for laptops is changing faster than ever.
Windows laptops with similar components to the $1,199 13-inch Pro cost around $700. While the 13-inch Air has seen a price reduction, the Pro's continued status quo is all the more frustrating. Yes, the 13-inch Pro can be easily upgraded with more RAM or a larger hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD), and it has an optical drive and more ports, but it lacks the type of upgrades you'd expect on the higher, "Pro" end: no discrete graphics, no quad-core processor options, and no screen higher-res than 1,280x800 pixels.
The original unibody MacBook Pro was simply called a MacBook. I suggest a return to that name until the 13-inch Pro lives up to its more impressive 15-inch siblings.
If you really crave a 13-inch MacBook this year, I'd suggest you get the Air, or think 15-inch instead.
|Price as reviewed/starting price||$1,199|
|Processor||2.5GHz Intel Core i5 (third-gen)|
|Memory||4GB, 1,600MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||500GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel HD 4000|
|Operating system||OS X Lion 10.7.4|
|Dimensions (WD)||12.8x8.9 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||13.3 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||4.5 pounds / 5.3 pounds|
Apple's smart design of the unibody MacBook Pro has paid big dividends over the last four years: the 13-inch Pro still seems attractive and very cleanly designed, although it no longer feels lightweight or all that compact thanks to the Air. It's hard to imagine any other laptop from 2008 that would still look as good today.
The sturdy body feels dense at 4.5 pounds, although the Pro is still only 0.95 inch thick; and every year, it feels a little bit heavier. Ports only line the left side, while the right side houses the slot-loading DVD drive. Sandwiched between the MacBook Airs and the Retina Display MacBook Pro, the thick 13- and 15-inch Pros are the last MacBooks with optical drives. If that matters to you, buy one now while you can, as optical drives have become an endangered species on Macs as of late.
Ports remain the same, except for a swap to USB 3.0 from USB 2.0. Even the power adapter still uses MagSafe instead of MagSafe 2, introduced on new MacBook Airs and the Retina Display MacBook Pro.
The wide, comfortable, backlit, raised keyboard feels as good as always, and still stands out as a top laptop keyboard. So does the large, excellently responsive multitouch clickpad. Some Windows laptops have since adopted similarly sized touch pads, but none work as well.
The 13.3-inch display remains one of the only laptop screens that doesn't have a 16:9 aspect ratio. The resolution is still 1,280x800 pixels, which is roughly equivalent to 1,366x768 pixels in laptops with wider screens. That's normal, but you'd expect a higher-resolution option out of these highly priced Pros. Oddly, the 13-inch Air still has a better 1,440x900-pixel resolution. Colors and text look very bright and crisp, and viewing angles are stellar, but the edge-to-edge glass-covered display produces more glare than the 13-inch MacBook Air. There's no antiglare option, even though the 15-inch MacBook Pro offers that upgrade.
Stereo speakers sound good enough for music, video, and FaceTime calls, but they're not all that loud. In a crowded room, you'll need headphones. The 720p Webcam looks sharp, and shows off FaceTime calls well.
|Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, June 2012)||Average for category [13-inch]|
|Video||Thunderbolt||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone combo jack||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 3.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, Bluetooth, 802.11n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
After a few years in which the 13-inch MacBook Pro saw a reduction in ports, the port selection now feels very adequate: two USB 3.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port, an SD card slot, an Ethernet jack, and a high-speed Thunderbolt I/O port for video output and peripherals. The Thunderbolt port can work as a Mini DisplayPort, and adapters can convert video to VGA, HDMI, DVI, or DisplayPort. Still, even a year later, Thunderbolt peripherals are high-priced and not all that common. The addition of USB 3.0 is a boon as an alternative. Still, the 13-inch Pro lacks a dedicated HDMI port.
Upgrade options on the 13-inch MacBook Pro are, sadly, surprisingly limited. The base $1,199 version, which we reviewed, has a 2.5GHz dual-core third-gen Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a regular 500GB, 5,400rpm hard drive. The step-up $1,499 13-inch Pro has a 2.9GHz dual-core third-gen Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 750GB, 5,400rpm hard drive. The $300 bump-up does get you a larger hard drive, twice the RAM, and a faster processor, but after that there's not much left. Going from 4GB to 8GB of RAM costs $100; the 750GB hard drive on its own as an upgrade costs $100, or SSDs are available from 128GB ($200) to 512GB ($1,000). No discrete graphics, no quad-core processor options; basically, there's no way to turn your 13-inch MacBook Pro into anything close to the 15-inch Pro, which comes with a quad-core CPU and Nvidia graphics standard. Even if it had been expensive, I would have welcomed the option.
The shift to a third-gen Intel Ivy Bridge 2.5GHz Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost-able to 3.1GHz) means boosted performance over last year, but nowhere near the dramatic increase the 2011 13-inch Pro showed over the 2010 model. It outperformed the 13-inch MacBook Air, but by a margin so narrow that the two systems feel practically identical. In the base $1,199 configurations, the 13-inch Pro and Air provide equivalent experiences as far as everyday tasks go. At the higher-end $1,499 configurations, you're likely to see significant performance gains in the Pro.
For most people, the 13-inch Pro offers plenty of computing power; that's not the point. For its starting price, we'd expect at least a bumped-up graphics option; instead, this laptop uses Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics, which are admittedly improved over last year's Intel HD 3000. Call of Duty 4 ran at 41.8 frames per second at native 1,280x800-pixel resolution and no antialiasing, compared with 31.7fps on the February 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro. Many mainstream games, including Diablo III, will be very playable, but some may require lower graphics settings. The 13-inch Pro isn't stellar at playing games, but it does the job most people would expect perfectly well.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Apple's laptops have gotten progressively better in battery life with every year that passes. This year, the gains leveled off. In our video-playback battery drain test, our entry-level Pro ran for 6 hours and 57 minutes. The February 2011 version ran for 6 hours and 42 minutes. Apple claims the same 7 hours of battery life as for last year's Pros; our results got even closer to that claim this time. This is too close to be called a true increase, but the important point is that this is an excellent amount of battery life for a good day's work. However, other competitors are catching up to these lofty numbers.
Service and support from Apple have 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 $249, 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.
Here's the rub with the 13-inch MacBook Pro: it's a little better than last year's model for the same price, but given the lack of dramatic improvements or any price cuts, especially in light of a less-expensive MacBook Air and a bold, thinner 15-inch MacBook Pro, it fades into the background. Those who want a more customizable Mac only have these thicker Pros as their final bastion, but this 13-incher is too limited in its upgrade options to be of much use. The torch has been passed to the MacBook Air at the portable end, while the MacBook Pro with Retina Display has stolen the spotlight at the top end. This MacBook's lost in the middle.
Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch (Summer 2012)
OS X 10.7.4 Lion; 1.8GHz Intel Core i5; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Apple SSD
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (Winter 2011 - Core i5)
OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard; 2.3GHz Intel Core i5; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 320GB Hitachi 5,400rpm
Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch w/ Retina Display (June 2012)
OS X 10.7.4 Lion; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 650M + 512MB Intel HD 4000; 256GB Apple SSD
Sony Vaio T13112FXS
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm
Lenovo ThinkPad X230
Windows 7 Professional (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-3320M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 320GB Hitachi 7,200rpm
Apple MacBook Pro 13.3-inch (Summer 2012)
OS X 10.7.4 Lion; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Toshiba 5,400rpm
|Product Description||Apple MacBook Pro MacBook Pro (13 in, Summer 2012) - 3rd Gen Core i5 2.5 GHz - 13.3 in|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||12.78 in x 8.94 in x 0.95 in|
|Processor||Intel 3rd Gen Core i5 2.5 GHz ( Dual-Core )|
|Cache Memory||3 MB - L3 cache|
|RAM||4 GB, 8 GB (max) - DDR3 SDRAM - 1600 MHz - PC3-12800 ( 2 x 2 GB )|
|Card Reader||Card reader|
|Hard Drive||500 GB - 5400 rpm, - Serial ATA-300|
|Optical Storage||DVD±RW (±R DL)|
|Display||13.3 in, 1280 x 800 ( WXGA )|
|Graphics Controller||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Networking||- Bluetooth 4.0, - IEEE 802.11a, - Fast Ethernet, - Ethernet, - Gigabit Ethernet, - IEEE 802.11b, - IEEE 802.11n, - IEEE 802.11g|
|Input Device||Backlit keyboard, Trackpad|
|Voltage Required||AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )|
|Run Time (Up To)||7 hour(s)|
|OS Provided||Apple Mac OS X Mountain Lion|
|Manufacturer Warranty||1 year warranty|
Average User Rating: 3.5 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 5
4 Star: 3
3 Star: 0
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 0
Rating: 5 / 5
on July 21, 2012
4 out of 4 users found this review helpful
Pros: Crisp, Clean, Upgradable, Fast
Cons: Expensive Accessories.
Summary: Bought the 2012 13" Pro as my first Mac ever. Had previously only touched a Mac maybe 2-3 times in my entire 32 year life. Decided on the 13" Pro model b/c you can upgrade it, DVD drive, more ports, and I liked the beefier feel of it over the Air. Maybe that's just the PC user in me. Anyway, it's a smooth powerful and intuitive computer!! After NEVER using a Mac for more than 5 minutes in my life I was comfortable after only an hour behind the wheel. The feel of the solid case, keyboard, and screen size are all comfortable on the road as well as at home. Everything is designed to be at your fingertips and just a single keystroke(dimming,open apps,volume,pause/play) or swipe away. Including the trackpad gestures are simply easy to learn and make the entire system quickly navigable. It just works with ease and in style.
Didn't let me down.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on August 19, 2012
2 out of 2 users found this review helpful
Pros: Trackpad sensitivity and performance,
Mountain Lion is easy to use and intuitive,
Keyboard has excellent travel,
Performs with little lag,
Screen is bright, has wide viewing angles,
Battery life is great (about 5 1/2 to 6 hours average-never below 5)
Cons: Glossy screen attracts fingerprints and dust easily, and is not the easiest to clean,
The aluminum case attracts smudges and scratches a bit more easily then I would like,
Trackpad can be a bit finicky when changing from two to three finger inputs.
Summary: I've been saving up for this computer for months, and i was afraid that I had overplayed it in my mind, that there was no way this computer could possibly live up to my expectations that i had created. Well needless to say it has done the impossible. The screen is beautiful regardless of the mediocre pixel count, battery life is superb (Around 5 1/2 to 6 hours), the trackpad is nothing short of amazing, Mountain Lion is incredibly easy to use, and the size and weight of the computer (while not ultrabook like) is great for day to day use, especially considering the upgradability the Pro possesses over the Air. In fact, the main reason I got this computer over the Air is the upgradability aspect. In 3 or 4 years, when the Air will require a RAM or hard drive upgrade, a new system would be required, while with the pro, you sacrifice a pound and a half in return for a longer system lifespan. If you're considering this laptop, don't hesitate, you will not be let down.
MB Pro reg. still faster and more stable than others.
Rating: 5 / 5
on June 21, 2012
2 out of 2 users found this review helpful
Pros: MacBook Pro (last years model)
Doesn't bog down
Is faster than it's competitors
much better looking too
Cons: Price? Not really. You get what you pay for.
PC has more games.
Summary: I have both a PC (Dell's 17" XPS with 3D display - 2012 model with 3rd gen i7, rigged out with 16 GB of RAM and 3 GB of NVidia Video) and a MacBook Pro 13" 2011 model (everything came standard with 8 GB of RAM).
Both are very nice, but my MB Pro boots up faster and it's applications (like Adobe Suite) loads faster than my PC. My MB Pro has never crashed, not even once. As for my PC, I can't even let it go to sleep, because sometimes it may wakeup and sometimes not.
I'm neither a PC nor an avid Apple fan. I like what both has to offer. MB Pro for work (because it's simply reliable), and PC for games (the library of games are important to geeks like me).
Best value for money for a mac product
Rating: 4 / 5
on July 23, 2012
1 out of 2 users found this review helpful
Pros: faster, more memory, more connectivity than air
Cons: its heavier, but not by much
I upgraded the RAM into 16 GB, & replaced HDD to SSD.
Rating: 5 / 5
on April 6, 2013
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Excellent performance for both designer and gamer
Cons: a little expensive, but worth it.
Summary: I love it.
|FREE $60 Essent Acsrys. Auth APPLE Dealer.|
|Datavision Computer Video||Yes||$1,139.00|
|J&R Music and Computer World||Yes||$1,159.95|