512 Pixels blogger Stephen M. Hackett has posted a great review of the 13″ MacBook Pro, noting that in 2009 he picked up a 13″ MacBook Pro as a work machine and closed his review of it at the time with this comment:
Over the years, I’ve used a Clamshell iBook G3, a PowerBook Pismo G3, a Titanium PowerBook, both a 12- and 15-inch aluminum PowerBook, two pre-unibody MacBook Pros and a black MacBook.
I’m confident in saying this machine smokes them all and is finally a decent replacement for the 12-inch PowerBook. Simply put, Apple is shipping the best notebooks they’ve ever built, and you’re not going to find a better machine out there for $1,199.
I couldn’t agree more, being a highly satisfied user of a late 2008 aluminum MacBook for the past three years. My MacBook is pretty much the same machine as Hackett’s 2009 13″ MacBook Pro, only with a slightly slower CPU (2.0 GHz as opposed to 2.26 GHz) and sans its Pro successor’s FireWire port and SD Card slot, but with the advantage (IMHO) of a swappable battery.
I’ve owned a PowerBook 5300, a PowerBook G3 Series WallStreet, a PowerBook 1400c, three PowerBook G3 2000 Pismos, a Dual-USB iBook G3, a 17″ PowerBook G4 prior to the unibody MacBook, and notwithstanding the remarkable record of the Pismos especially (I still have two in active production use now in their 12th year of service), I would be inclined to agree with Hackett that the 13″ MacBook Pro, at $1,199, offers the most power and expandability that can be found in such a small Apple notebook, and I would go beyond that to call it the best value for the money that Apple or anyone has ever offered in a notebook computer.
However, Hackett notes that the landscape is shifting, with the MacBook Air having transitioned from an over-priced, under-powered notebook to the crown jewel of Apple’s notebook line and the with 13-inch MacBook Pro’s future having been in question for some time.
Hackett’s overview take is that this little MacBook Pro is insanely fast, feeling as quick as a MacBook Air, just with lots of ports and a SuperDrive, but all that power comes with a drawback. To wit: under load, this MacBook Pro runs loud and hot.
Whoa! I’ve had the 13″ MacBook Pro at the top of my shortlist of potential replacements for my Macbook, which is getting a bit long in the tooth, but the hot-running could be a deal-breaker for me. I absolutely hate, revile, and loath fan noise. Even with the 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook, since upgrading to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, I’ve kept it on a CoolPad laptop stand sitting on a Targus ChillMat fan-assisted (relatively quiet, large-diameter, slow-turning) cooling slab, and even then the internal cooling fan cuts in more than I prefer (which is to say at all).
That issue definitely has the potential to tilt me toward a MacBook Air, which has a happy reputation for running relatively cooler. On the other hand, Hackett’s 13″ MacBook Pro is a Core i7 model, and I would opt for the Core i5, which should be a bit less sultry.
I also agree with Hackett that the 13″ MacBook Pro—which is still, on spec, my favorite Apple laptop form factor ever—is probably on the bubble. Hopefully, Apple will see fit to replace it with a more Air-like model, but with Pro-style connectivity. Something like that could be a machine worth waiting for.
But in the meantime, the current Core i 13-inch MacBook Pro still offers the most power, connectivity, and expandability for your money that you can get in any compact Apple notebook.