Apple MacBook Pro (13in)

Apple's smallest MacBook Pro laptop has plenty of power and a long battery life

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now
Apple MacBook Pro (13in)
  • Apple MacBook Pro (13in)
  • Apple MacBook Pro (13in)
  • Apple MacBook Pro (13in)
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Fantastic build quality and design, extremely long battery life, multi-touch trackpad, beefy processor and RAM options

Cons

  • RAM upgrades are expensive through Apple, no anti-glare display coating option, battery can't be removed

Bottom Line

The 13in Apple MacBook has gone Pro, with more memory, beefier processors and an embedded battery that outlasts similar-sized notebooks we've tested. We would prefer an option for a more powerful graphics card though.

Would you buy this?

Apple's 13in MacBook Pro is the smallest notebook in the company's "Pro" range, but it still packs quite a punch. This laptop is a fantastic compromise between size and power, though its upgrade options could be cheaper.

The 13in MacBook Pro can be configured with either a 2.26GHz or 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM and a choice of either a conventional hard drive (up to 500GB at 5400rpm) or a solid-state drive (128GB or 256GB). Upgrading its RAM is disappointingly expensive; price-conscious buyers may want to purchase third-party memory modules instead. The notebook has an NVIDIA 9400M embedded GPU; there is no option to get the beefier 9600M graphics processor available on larger MacBook Pro notebooks.

Our review unit came with the 2.53GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB, 5400rpm hard drive. With this configuration the 13in MacBook Pro scored 3463 points in Geekbench; the 2.8GHz, 15in MacBook Pro scored 3772. The notebook took 58.3sec to convert 53min of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3, which is about the same speed as Alienware's 2.8GHz Area-51 M17X gaming notebook.

Using the same aluminium "unibody" manufacturing process as the 15in, 2.4GHz MacBook Pro, the 13in MacBook Pro has a gorgeous design. It is also extremely sturdy; the display's shell isn't flimsy and the case is surprisingly resistant to scratching. Though there is admirable competition from the likes of Dell's Adamo, we prefer the MacBook Pro's design and construction .

The 13in MacBook Pro's display uses LED backlighting, which consumes 30 per cent less power than CCFL-backlit LCD screens. Colour quality is exceptional but the glossy coating can be distracting in bright environments. Professionals who need a colour-neutral display may be turned off by the lack of an antiglare coating.

Connectivity includes Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800 and two USB 2.0 ports. Apple's proprietary mini DisplayPort is also included, but it can only be connected to the company's 24in LED Cinema Display unless an adapter is used. An SD card slot has been included and it can be used to boot from removable media. There is a slot-loading SuperDrive, and 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

A non-removable lithium-polymer battery is integrated into the enclosure. Apple claims this battery can last seven hours off a single charge and has a five-year lifespan. In our tests the battery ran for 3hr 26min while playing a DVD with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off. The inability to swap the battery for another one might leave you with a dead notebook if you are away from a power point for an extended period.

Users of Apple or Sony VAIO notebooks will be familiar with the 13in MacBook Pro's keyboard. It has isolated keys that feel spongier than a standard keyboard's, but they are well-spaced and comfortable to type with.

The touchpad is quite large considering the notebook's size. You can individually enable or disable a number of preset multi-touch gestures including "tap to click", which registers single taps as a primary mouse click; it's a relatively new feature for Apple notebooks. Unfortunately, this feature is extremely sensitive and often led to inadvertent mouse clicks during testing. Fortunately, this gesture can be disabled. You can assign the secondary button to either the bottom-right or bottom-left corner of the trackpad.

The speakers located beneath the keyboard are surprisingly loud but excessively accentuate treble frequencies and lack any real low mid-range or bass frequencies.

Though we have qualms about the glossy display and the embedded battery, the 13in MacBook Pro is still a fantastic notebook. The attractive unibody design, lengthy battery life and powerful components all make for a portable powerhouse.

Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?