MacBook Pro 15in 2.66GHz Core i7 review

We review Apple's 15in 2.6Hz MacBook Pro to see whether it lives up to the family name.

Doubling the memory is best considered by the Mac's traditional creative audience, though you might also find it useful as a systems administrator if you want to run several virtual machines for testing. Even so, consider that Apple uses dual-core Intel processors here, so there'll be some contention for processor time among your virtual machines.

Of course, these days you can install Windows and the Boot Camp feature makes it remarkably easy. However, the graphics drivers that are supplied only allow Windows to use the more power hungry GeForce processor.

On these larger notebooks, AppleCare rises steeply to 279. However, it's vital to put some sort of cover in place if you don't have an IT department with stock of replacements if your MacBook needs to be fixed.

Don't overlook budgeting for a Mini DisplayPort adaptor (21) if you're going to deliver presentations or connect to an external monitor.

Far and away the most frustrating thing about buying a 15in MacBook Pro is that its expansion options are no different to the 13in version. You still only get two USB ports and one FireWire 800 port, despite a 2.2cm deeper body.

Undoubtedly, if you want the best performance in a Mac notebook, the 15in models are where it's at. However, if your attraction to them is more to do with increased screen size and resolution and money is tight, check Apple's refurb store and with its Reseller network to see if you can save a pretty penny on remaining Core 2 Duo models.

The price of carrying a larger MacBook also comes from its weight. The 15in models are considerably heavier at 2.54 kilos, an increase of 500g on the 13in versions, so weigh that up carefully against your need for a larger on-screen work area before you rush out to buy one.

Verdict

This Core i7-powered MacBook is a sound investment if you can stretch to £1,799 and genuinely need the extra performance. Even so, give the Core i5 versions due consideration as they’re good enough for a lot of office work and you can spend the difference on more practical upgrades like the high-resolution screen. The least expensive model - £1,499 for a 2.4GHz processor - will be more than adequate in many cases.

Processor: Intel Core i7 Duo, 2.66GHz, 4MB L3 cache Memory: 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 (upgradeable to 8GB) Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with 512MB GDDR3 memory Optical drive: 8x DVD writer Hard disk: 500GB, 5400rpm Serial ATA drive Display: 15.4in 1440 x 900, LED-backlit, glossy (optional: 1680 x 1050 display, anti-glare finish) Features: Kensington lock, iSight camera, microphone, MagSafe power connector, Multi-Touch trackpad, backlit keyboard, built-in stereo speakers Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet port, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Ports: 2 x USB, 1 x FireWire 800, Mini DisplayPort output (requires optional adaptors for VGA, DVI and HDMI connectivity), SD card slot, audio line in, audio line out Dimensions: 364 x 249 x 24mm (WxDxH) Weight: 2.54kg Warranty: 90 days of free telephone support, one-year limited warranty OS: Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Software: iLife 09 (iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, GarageBand)

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