Apple MacBook Pro 13in (2011) review

10 Mar 2011

It gets very hot and noisy when pushed hard, but there’s little else to criticise on this magnificent piece of hardware

Price when reviewed: 
1,300(£1,299 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 

Of the three new models, it’s the MacBook Pro 13in that’s sure to elicit most interest from the Apple-curious mainstream. That’s partly due to its beautiful design – now with much faster components inside – but it’s just as likely to be down to its price. Starting at £999 inc VAT, it’s at least approaching affordability.

It’s a truly remarkable piece of engineering. With a 13.3in glossy screen overlooking a precision-hewn aluminium body, it’s the tightest, most impressive of the three new MacBook Pros, and the one on which the keyboard and touchpad feel perfectly sized. The keys are a joy to type on, as ever, and that large, responsive touchpad features the usual range of gestures that work perfectly even in Windows.

Apple MacBook Pro 13in (2011)

The ports are limited, as we’ve come to expect, but there’s just about enough here for the travelling worker. Two USB 2 ports sit on the left flank, next to FireWire, Gigabit Ethernet and an SDXC card reader, and they’re all joined by the new and as-yet-untested Thunderbolt port. You’ll be limited to hooking up your DisplayPort monitor until peripherals arrive.

We’re a little disappointed to find the screen resolution is still at 1,280 x 800, with not even a single upgrade option. That said, the quality is just glorious: with our colorimeter we measured a maximum brightness of 312cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 650:1, with an average Delta E rating of just 3.6 – about as colour-accurate as we’ve seen from any laptop display. Blacks are deep, whites are sparkling and vibrant tones leap out from every video and image.

The screen is superb, but what’s inside impresses even more. We have on test the dearer of the two 13in specifications, available for £1,299, and it packs quite a punch. It has a dual-core 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-2620M and 4GB of DDR3, which powered it to an overall score of 0.70 in our new benchmarks. To put that in perspective, this 13in laptop is only around 20% slower than the top-end quad-core MacBook Pro 17in.

Physical specifications

Dimensions 325 x 227 x 24mm (WDH)
Weight 2.040kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-2620M
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Resolution 1280 x 800
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 3000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1


Capacity 500GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0


Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
FireWire ports 1
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Multitouch touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.9mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 10hr 12min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 26min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 30fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Mac OS X
OS family Mac OS X

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