MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.4GHz [2008] full review


Performance and speed tests


The MacBook Pro 2.53GHz turned in the fastest numbers of any standard Mac laptop in every test category. Our benchmark tests were run with the high-performance setting (the GeForce 9600M GT graphics chip). In our Speedmark test, the 2.53GHz topped its 2.4GHz sibling by 7.5 percent and the previous 2.4GHz MacBook Pro by 15 percent. It bested its slower sibling by 16 percent in our suite of Photoshop tests. It was nearly twice as fast in its Photoshop operations as the previous generation's 2.4GHz model.

The new entry level 2.4GHz MacBook Pro scored 8 percent faster in Speedmark than the older 2.4GHz model, and 12 percent faster at Photoshop. We also compared the new models to an older 2GHz MacBook Pro (February 2006). When that older model was set against the new low-end MacBook, we noted a 48 percent improvement in Speedmark scores, a 32 percent improvement in Photoshop. Quake frame rates were almost two-and-a-half times faster in the new entry-level system (more gaming benchmarks are available for your perusal).
But part of good performance is also energy efficiency. The backlit display saves energy. For the first time, MacBook Pros are Energy Star compliant, and ship with less packaging, while at the same time most components are recyclable. Apple reports it has removed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants from enclosures, circuit boards, and connectors.

Battery life


Macworld employs a different methodology in testing the batteries of the new MacBook Pros than Apple does, so it’s no surprise that our results differ from Apple’s battery life estimates. Because of the dual graphics chips, we tested the battery using each one separately. Our standard tests involve watching a DVD movie clip ripped to the laptop hard drive and looped until the battery is drained in a situation where it would be impossible to recharge the battery.

The results with movie watching on the 2.53GHz MacBook Pro was about 2 hours, 12 minutes, while the results were roughly the same—2 hours, 18 minutes—on the 2.4GHz model. If you want to conserve battery life, as Apple thinks you might, you can use the GeForce 9400M to watch your movie. Our results indicate that you’ll get an extra 17 minutes of cinematic enjoyment using the less powerful chip on the high end MacBook Pro as opposed to an extra 13 minutes watching on the low end model. As noted in our battery benchmark story, the results between the MacBook Pro’s 9400M battery life and that of the MacBook models is similar.
How does that stack up to the previous MacBook Pro? Not favorably. The same test on the 2.4GHz model (with an Nvidia 8600 GT graphics chip) was 2 hours, 49 minutes. The older MacBook Pro yielded an extra 18 minutes of battery life as compared with its direct clock speed counterpart.

  Speedmark 5 Adobe Photoshop CS3 Cinema 4D XL 10.5 Compressor iMovie HD iTunes 7.6 Quake Finder Finder
  OVERALL SCORE SUITE RENDER MPEG ENCODE AGED EFFECT MP3 ENCODE FRAME RATE ZIP ARCHIVE UNZIP ARCHIVE
15-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/2.53GHz (4GB RAM, unibody) 231 00:56 00:53 01:41 00:44 01:00 65.7 04:37 01:15
15-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/2.4GHz (Unibody) 215 01:07 00:54 01:53 00:49 01:04 59.2 05:05 01:18
15-inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo/2.4GHz (February 2008) 200 01:16 00:56 02:09 00:49 01:02 62.3 04:59 01:49
MacBook Core 2 Duo/2.4GHz (Unibody) 212 01:05 00:54 01:52 00:49 01:03 39.4 04:59 01:32
15-inch MacBook Pro Core Duo/2GHz 145 01:39 01:13 03:23 01:07 01:39 24.2 06:14 02:26
PowerBook G4/1.67GHz 91 03:02 03:57 07:47 01:59 02:26 19.9 07:14 02:21
  >Better           >Better    

Speedmark testing


Speedmark 5 scores are relative to those of a 1.5GHz Core Solo Mac mini, which is assigned a score of 100. Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D XL, iMovie, iTunes, and Finder scores are in minutes:seconds. All systems were running Mac OS X 10.5.2 with 2GB of RAM, unless otherwise indicated. The Photoshop Suite test is a set of 14 scripted tasks using a 50MB file. Photoshop’s memory was set to 70 percent and History was set to Minimum. We recorded how long it took to render a scene in Cinema 4D XL. We used Compressor to encode a 6minute:26second DV file using the DVD: Fastest Encode 120 minutes - 4:3 setting. In iMovie, we applied the Aged Film effect from the Video FX menu to a one minute movie. We converted 45 minutes of AAC audio files to MP3 using iTunes’ High Quality setting. We used Quake’s average-frames-per-second score; we tested at a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels at the Maximum setting with both audio and graphics enabled. We duplicated a 1GB folder, created a Zip archive in the Finder from the two 1GB files and then Unzipped it.—MACWORLD LAB TESTING BY JAMES GALBRAITH, CHRIS HOLT, AND JERRY JUNG

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