Apple MacBook Pro 13in (Late 2011) full review

If appearances matter in your line of work, then arming yourself with a MacBook Pro is a smart choice. But the 13in version of the MacBook Pro (Late 2011) is so much more than just a pretty face. The construction might be handsome but it is also very sturdy. Everything about the MacBook Pro just oozes quality. 

On top of that, you have some top-notch components as well. The Intel Core i7-2640M dual-core processor is one of the newest chips around and is based on Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture. 

There's no shortage of power on offer as a WorldBench 6 score of 132 points testifies – it might not be the fastest around but it’s certainly no slouch either. There's a more than adequate 4GB of RAM and a large 750GB hard disk. You can opt for more memory, or switch to an SSD drive if you wish, for greater reliability and data access speeds. 

In fact, substituting a 128GB SSD at time of purchase is only an extra £80, and will be rewarded with far higher performance, both actual and subjective.

The keyboard is a dream to use – the keys provide just the right amount of feedback but don't make too much noise, even if you are a frantic typist.

The Return key is perhaps a touch on the small side, although as it is positioned at the edge of the keyboard you shouldn't find yourself hitting another key accidentally. The multi-touch touchpad is generously proportioned, although if we have one complaint, it is that you have to be super-accurate when clicking - the area reserved for mouse buttons is quite small. 

As a full multi-touch trackpad, you can up to five-finger gestures in OS X, as well as simple click-to-tap, or two-finger click, for left and right mouse button input.

The screen is great to look at, even if its glass front makes it dazzlingly reflective. The colours are deep and rich and the lines sharp and accurate - glossy screens don't come much better. Even though the MacBook Pro isn't the most portable of Apple's laptops - that honour goes to the MacBook Air - the 13in model we looked at will not weigh you down, coming in at a touch over 2kg.  

Battery life, an area where Apple traditionally excels, is very decent, lasting just over six hours in our MobileMark 2007 tests in Windows 7. Expect as long, or longer, in the MacBook Pro's natural OS X environment.

It’s a non-removable type so you won't be able to get extended life by carrying a spare. But lithium-polymer technology here, rather than older lithium-ion, means this battery should last for years before wearing out.

Connectivity options are unusual - there are only two USB ports, and both of the older USB 2.0 standard. 

However, there is one Thunderbolt port, offering incredibly speedy data transfer to compatible peripheral devices. It'll also double up as a Mini DisplayPort so you can hook it up to external displays, including Apple's new Thunderbolt Display. Additionally, there is a FireWire 800 port. 

All current Wi-Fi standards are catered for thanks to 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual-band wireless, which allows for 11a and 11n at the highest speeds.


Apple MacBook Pro 13in (Late 2011): Specs

  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2640M dual-core
  • 13.3in glossy LED-backlit
  • 1280 x 800
  • Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
  • 4GB DDR3-1333MHz
  • 750GB HDD 5400rpm SATA 3 Gbps
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • Thunderbolt
  • stereo speakers, headphone jack, mic
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x FireWire 800
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • gigabit ethernet
  • SDXC card slot
  • HD webcam
  • iLife software
  • 63.5Wh lithium-polymer non-removable battery
  • 368 minutes MobileMark 2007
  • 132 points WorldBench
  • 325 x 241 x 23mm
  • 2.05kg

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