Last year at the iPad introduction Steve Jobs announced that Apple is a mobile device company. Just last week Steve returned to introduce the iPad 2 and point out that the majority of Apple's revenue now comes from products that run iOS. The breakdown is as follows:

AAPL Revenue Sources—Q1 2011
iPad iPhone iPod Mac iTunes Store Software/Services Peripherals
Percentage 17.2% 39.1% 12.8% 20.3% 5.4% 2.9% 2.2%

Just looking at iPad and iPhone, that's 56% of Apple's sales. All Macs put together? Only 20%. Granted 20% of $26.7 billion in sales is still $5.3 billion, but the iOS crew gets most of the attention these days.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that when Apple launched its 2011 MacBook Pro lineup last week that it did so with little fanfare. There was no special press event and no video of an unusually charismatic man on a white background describing the latest features of the systems. All we got two weeks ago were a few pages describing the high level features of the lineup, a short outage on the Mac Store and five new configurations available for sale.

Apple tends to not mix architecture updates and chassis changes. The 2011 MacBook Pro lineup is no different. These models fundamentally implement the same updated unibody shell that was introduced in 2009. The term unibody comes from the fact that the base of the chassis is machined out of a single block of aluminum. There's no way to gain access to the MacBook Pro's internals from above, you have to go in from below. As a result there's absolutely no chassis flex or squeaking while you pound on the keyboard, use the trackpad or just interact with the part of the machine that you're most likely to be touching. Apple has been shipping unibody MacBook Pros since 2008 and from my experience the design has held up pretty well.

From top to bottom: 13-inch MBP (2011), 15-inch MBP (2011), 15-inch MBP (2010)

The biggest letdown in the design has been the hinge connecting the display to the rest of the chassis. I haven't had it fail completely but I've had it become frustratingly loose. Even brand new, out of the box, the 15-inch MacBook Pro will have its display move by a not insignificant amount if you tilt the machine 90 degrees so that the display is parallel to the ground. A number of readers have written me over the years asking if Apple has improved the locking ability of the hinge in each new version of the MacBook Pro. It doesn't seem to be any better with the 2011 model—sorry guys.

Other than screen size, ports and internals, there's nothing that separates the 13-, 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros from one another. They all feature the same excellent backlit keyboard (keyboard size is constant across all models) and a variant of the same high quality display. All of them have the same front facing 720p camera and the same large glass-covered trackpad.

Battery capacity hasn't changed compared to last year, although power consumption on some models has gone up (more on this later).

2011 MacBook Pro Lineup
13-inch (low end) 13-inch (high end) 15-inch (low end) 15-inch (high end) 17-inch
0.95 H x 12.78 W x 8.94 D
0.95 H x 14.35 W x 9.82 D
0.98 H x 15.47 W x 10.51 D
4.5 lbs (2.04 kg)
5.6 lbs (2.54 kg)
6.6 lbs (2.99 kg)
2.3 GHz dual-core Core i5
2.7 GHz dual-core Core i7
2.0 GHz quad-core Core i7
2.2 GHz quad-core Core i7
2.2 GHz quad-core Core i7
Intel HD 3000 Graphics
Intel HD 3000 + AMD Radeon HD 6490M (256MB)
Intel HD 3000 + AMD Radeon HD 6750M (1GB)
Intel HD 3000 + AMD Radeon HD 6750M (1GB)
4GB 1333MHz DDR3 (8GB max)
320GB 5400 RPM
500GB 5400 RPM
500GB 5400 RPM
750GB 5400 RPM
750GB 5400 RPM
Display Resolution
1440x900 (1680x1050 optional)
Gigabit LAN, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt, 2x USB 2.0, SDHC slot, combined audio in/out jack
Gigabit LAN, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt, 2x USB 2.0, SDHC slot, separate audio in/out jacks
Gigabit LAN, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt, 3x USB 2.0, separate audio in/out jacks, ExpressCard 34 slot
Battery Capacity
Price $1,199 $1,499 $1,799 $2,199 $2,499

The new MacBook Pros are still equipped with DVD drives and thus Apple still distributes OS X and the application preload on a pair of DVDs. I was hoping Apple would go to an all-USB distribution starting with the MBA but it looks like we'll have to wait for another generation of Pro systems before we see that.

Turbo and the 15-inch MacBook Pro
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  • iwod - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    iPad is only just starting to sell and iPhone still has lots of space to grow. The trend is Apple are making more units and more money from ARM specific products.

    Nvidia has just recently stated that Project Denver will be ARM 64 bit. And aiming at HPC and Desktop. Full Compatible with current ARM instruction set.

    Currently Apple must have a ARM version of Lion testing, and few years down the road, they could switch their Mac over to ARM 64 bit. Using a single Instructions Set for their whole product line.

    For some reason i have been thinking that Apple and Intel aren't doing too well together like anand has felt. I dont think Thunderbolt is any indication of their current relationship. it is merely they have been working on it for such a long time, no one wants to lose our at the end.

    Of coz it could have been the other way round x86 moving into iPhone, although that depends how much intel is willing to bend towards apple.
  • jbh129 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link


    Can you guys run your high-end 15 through the Windoze tests that were used on the 13?

  • tajmahal42 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Hello guys!

    First, I have to say this review is really awesome, as usual! Just what I was hoping for. The thoroughness and practical sense of your reviews continues to amaze me every single time.

    For the 13" MBP, you mention "bouts of instability". Can you elaborate on that? Stuttering? Crashes? In what way do you notice that instability? I'm a little concerned now.
  • tno - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

  • alent1234 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    my wife has been bugging me about our wifi since we moved and get a poor signal in a lot of the new apartment. told her i can get a new router with 3 antennas but we will also need a new laptop as well with the antennas to take advantage of it.

    which brings me to my question. i know the 15" model has the 3 antennas. does the 13" do MIMO as well?
  • tipoo - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    They all use the new card.

    By the way, have you tried switching wifi channels, or installing DD-WRT and boosting signal? Even so, you don't need a new laptop after getting a new router if signal strength was the only problem.
  • alent1234 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    i'll try that, thx

    a lot of wifi around me these days. we only have work laptops now so that would be our only personal computer if we bought one. i was looking for the cheap SB models when they come out
  • name99 - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    "told her i can get a new router with 3 antennas but we will also need a new laptop as well with the antennas to take advantage of it."

    This is not completely true. A base station with multiple antennas CAN do the equivalent of phase-array beam steering to direct most of the output power towards the target laptop. The laptop will thus see a stronger signal, and one of the better modulation schemes (eg 64-QAM 5/6) can be used rather than one of the weaker schemes. Thus your laptop, even if it has only one (or two) antennas can still see better performance.

    Note, this is a theoretical possibility. I do not know the current state of the art in how well base stations utilize the various forms of transmit diversity that are available. And no review ever seems to talk about this stuff, either by testing how well the kit works with a single antenna device, or by talking to the manufacturer about what's in their product.
  • Brian Klug - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    The 13" does have 3x3 MIMO as well, the exact same broadcom solution as the 15" I tested extensively.

  • 7Enigma - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Anand and crew,

    I am very disappointed with the battery life numbers in this review. This is the first review of a laptop where it appears you have used a 3rd party app (Cody Krieger's gfxCardStatus tool) to significantly inflate the numbers of the new 2011 systems. 35-60% by your own numbers back on the discrete GPU battery life page, which you then fail to report in the battery life tables later on!

    When you are tasked to review a system (especially an Apple product I might add) it should be reviewed as is, with no tweaking or 3rd party add-ons to boost performance/benchmarks. When have you EVER installed an add-on for a Windows-based laptop to improve performance/life? I can't think of one.

    At best this was a simple oversight where you have benchmark numbers WITHOUT the gfxcardstatus, at worst this was a cover-up job which I have always argued in the forums against and on your site's behalf.

    Please update the tables to show what a stock newly-purchased laptop at the Mac Store would deliver.

    I am very disappointed in this coverage.

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