Reader Review: 15-inch MacBook Pro unibody, 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

Reader Review: 15-inch MacBook Pro unibody, 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

Special collaboration by Alexandre Godoy. Review originally posted on our forum.

After two weeks of exhausting my new son, I decided to write this “Mega review” MacBook Pro unibody (or Aluminum, as you prefer) 15-inch, with 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

Long text, so plug the notebook in and have a good read.

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If there's one thing I don't like about conventional notebooks, it's the thousands of often crooked tags that stick to your body. advertisement of the video card, processor, Wi-Fi and even the operating system. It seems that if they're not there, you don't know what you bought.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

Well, MacBooks are simplicity in person. Nothing as minimalist as Apple.

I received my direct from Apple California, so there is no box to make a unboxing.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

On the connectivity side, the MacBook Pro has its weakest points. The MagSafe power connector, Gigabit Ethernet network, a Mini DisplayPort connector (damn default) and just two USB 2.0 ports. Did I mention the damn lack of standard? Yes, we also have a FireWire 800 port with a small 9-pin connector, an ExpressCard 3/4 port, headphone connectors and sound input. All on the left side, as well as the battery meter, which used to be below the notebook.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

On the right side, only SuperDrive and lock slot.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

In the body of the notebook you can see only the small (very small) button outside, the grid of speakers on the sides of the keyboard (the microphone is hidden there in the middle) and the increasingly microscopic iSight camera and its green LED.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review


Almost all of the text described here should apply to any unibody, either 13-inch MacBook or 17-inch MacBook Pro.

Initially I intended to have a smaller one, but unfortunately Apple did not think about the possibility of putting a professional specification in this size and, as I already have a white MacBook of 13, I really wanted to buy a Pro, either to become a gamer in the few free hours, to be able to run my video editions (which I do as a hobby) or to be able to travel on the Flight Simulator that I appreciate so much.

At first glance, with the notebook closed, we have the idea that it is much smaller than it really is. First, because it is very compact, whether due to the rounded edges, the aluminum body or the minimalist Apple design: no labels, no colors, just the apple and nothing else. The notebook does appear to be small.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

The appearance of brushed steel gives at the same time a feeling of robustness, of something with quality, of a real notebook and, on the other hand, gives a (fortunately false) impression that the slightest hitting with something harder will scratch or dent forever the housing. You keep looking for scratches, dents, anything, for a long time, until you are convinced that the body is really resistant.

Compared side-by-side with the white MacBook, it is impossible not to think that one of them is a real notebook while the other is a notebook more… as I would say… made for the boss or the children.

Precise manufacturing: in every curve and detail we have the true feeling of a product well made, well thought out. Each cut in the body very well finished. Really, at this point I don't know another notebook that conveys the same idea of ​​finishing.

In the speaker grid (on the sides of the keyboard), available on Pro models, you can take a precision rule and check that there are simply no faults. everything is perfectly symmetrical.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

The only thing that stands out in the body of the MBP is the piece of black plastic that serves as a hinge for the screen. The reason for the plastic is another: it is there to hold the Wi-Fi antenna, since the aluminum body causes problems in signal transmission.

You will not notice much about this little piece, since it is very discreet, but on the other hand there is no way of not realizing that it simply should not be there. Of course, with a week of use, you get used to it.

Keyboard for notvagos

The separate keys are no longer new to Apple, but the difference from the MacBook bank to this Pro goes far beyond black and white. Starting with color, the black keyboard gives enormous charm to the notebook body, taking into account that the combination of brushed + black is wisely chic.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

With my white boy I had many concerns because of dirt that appeared day after day. I used white rubber several times to keep the notebook and especially the keyboard clean. Now, with the aluminum body and black keyboard, it is much easier to maintain the appearance of cleanliness.

The click of the keys is still strange to me. They are a little more resistant than on the MacBook. It seems on purpose, as I’ve already tested the keyboard of unibody non-Pro and I noticed that there is a difference in the resistance of the keys that is not even unpleasant or more pleasant. simply different.

Naturally, the noise of the clicks is very low, that is, it can be used in bed without upsetting the boss.


The novelty for me is the presence of luminosity on the keyboard. So I, who love reading and writing in bed, received the news with open arms.

The intensity of the light controlled by the keys F5 and F6 and in combination with the light sensor installed (and invisible) next to the camera.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

It is interesting that the keyboard allows a little light leakage under the keys, as well as through them. an interesting effect, as it allows you to see the entire layout, as well as key to key, in addition to providing a very nice and beautiful effect to the notebook as a whole.

It is a debatable feature, useful only for those who want to use the notebook in the dark or in total darkness, but extremely useful in these cases.


The trackpad area is very large, since it does not have a physical button. In practice, the entire trackpad is a button, but it only works well if you click from the middle down. At the top, you just can't get the click.

The multi-touch function is very welcome: you will quickly get used to using three and four fingers. Not always rotating photos or zooming well on the first attempt, however, it is possible that you will have to use the fingers of both hands to achieve the desired effect. Only in practice, to better understand this issue.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

In Windows via Boot Camp I found the sensitivity too high: you easily click on something when you simply want to navigate with your mouse from one location to another.

Another factor that can be annoying with time is the fact that the bottom left and right corners of the trackpad are used for the secondary click (right button). Then, several times when you want to click on something, the menu corresponding to the secondary click opens.

Fortunately, the trackpad is very customizable and the fact that it is made of glass gives it a nice texture but it is safe to use. Point to Apple.


Here comes the most controversial part of the new unibody: until then! First I will talk about the consensual point: its brightness and contrast. Apple really managed to develop a Wow! Display. The first time anyone looks at the screen, there is this reaction. unanimously.

The combination of glass screen with black frame and LED backlight simply leaves the MacBook Pro display sensational, visible in any environment, under any circumstances. With maximum brightness, it gets to the point of being too light to work or write this text, for example.

In comparison to the white MacBook, both side by side, it is frustrating to see the previous generation. I even considered that my white guy was having a problem with the brightness, but then I realized that, when comparing him to another of the same generation.

Another feature that the black frame provides: printing of a larger area. More than one person even asked if he was 17. That impression was really strong.

Just to inform you, my notebook came with the Mini DisplayPort adapter and I immediately connected it to my 46 Full HD TV and … it works wonderful. Make HTPC with him what h !!

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

On the MacBook, the 1080 information does not say whether p or i, but the TV recognized it as p. The MacBook, in turn, reports the maximum resolution of 1080i, and so the TV recognizes.

My mirror…

It really reflects. Depending on the position of the monitor, you will see yourself and everything else through the glass screen.

But, to calm the plant puritans, the solution is so simple that it seems magical: correct the inclination of the monitor. It sounds silly, but many people complained so much about this type of screen, when it is so simple to solve the problem. There is no position that has no way, it is always possible to arrange it in a way that the reflection is almost imperceptible.

Still, for those who are really perfectionist-extremists, in the case of unibody, to be without any reflection in the same roll.

Speaks, I hear you

The sound was, without a doubt, the most pleasant and positive surprise I could have had with this computer. I expected nothing from the sound. Were it for the MacBook, which has a mediocre sound in my opinion, or for the sound in general of any notebook I have ever seen work. Even notebooks for gamers, like those of Gateway, have a very low sound, in my view (listen).

Well, I only put a song in the MBP boxes after a week of use, because I simply didn't remember to test this feature. And what was my surprise when I noticed that the sound was very clear and very, very loud.

surprisingly nice to hear music on your speakers. Just using the original operating system volume and the native iTunes equalizer, I got a very audible sound. Using iWOW, afterwards, I realized that I could do a near-miracle with this notebook.

The screen, I already knew; the finish I expected; the sound was undoubtedly the one more thing coolest of all the equipment.


Well, anyone who already knows Mac OS X knows that it is fast and very stable. What is the difference between using this MacBook Pro and the white one two years ago? Basically, the faster processor together with the faster memory allows me to open several applications at the same time without the system starting to slow down, or even run video and photo edits in less time.

A computer with 4GB of RAM runs perfectly any application and, in the case of Mac OS X, the benefit extends to the use of virtualizers such as Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion. If I set 2GB for the virtual machine and keep 2GB for the main OS, I can work smoothly on both systems at the same time without noticing any slowdowns.

Of course, this goes for office applications, so don't even think about running AutoCAD on one side and Final Cut Pro on the other without the machine starting to moan.

The more powerful processor allows you to play much more smoothly in the FCP, for example, but in practice, the difference between 2.66GHz and 2GHz is the final rendering time, since with 4GB of RAM the two notebooks work well and without no solution.

Another point that is obvious: for games, any hardware gain makes a difference. In this regard, the faster processor and DDR3 memory make a big difference, in addition, of course, to video cards. Speaking of them …

Which board do I go with?

Minimalist Apple in all its products. Ever! Thus, it does not boast about the fact that the notebook has two video cards.

of course, when the unibody it was launched, all the sites talked about the two video cards. The Apple website talks about it a lot, but once you have the notebook in your hands, you just don't remember it. He makes no mention of the fact that there are two video cards (unless, of course, in Viso do Sistema), and the way you switch between one and the other can be anything but obvious.

In the system settings (in the Energy Saver), you define longer battery life or higher performance. That's it. The system informs you that it will end the session, but does not even say why. You never know that the system will use another graphics card. That is, if you do not read manuals (which afflicts 99% of users) and do not follow digital media (such as MacMagazine), it is likely that you will not even know that you have a notebook with two graphics cards.

And what does that represent?

Well, with the more powerful card the NVIDIA GeForce 9600GT with 512MB of DDR3 dedicated to playing Call of Duty 4 (in Boot Camp) with graphics in the medium / high standard at 60fps which is very good. However, it took several manual settings in the driver and in the game to reach this value.

In other words, you can play with current games with medium to high graphics. For those who like to play games, this notebook will not replace a desktop and there are still other laptops with much more graphic power, such as the Gateway and its 9800 with 1GB DDR3 (!!). But you won’t be crying without being able to play on that friends lan, huh?

With the 9600GT, the notebook ran normally for about three and a half hours, while the manual talks about four hours. The battery has few cycles, which means that it is not yet properly calibrated. This autonomy should improve a little more. With the less powerful card, the notebook tends to have a longer autonomy for five hours, according to the manual. I haven't used the battery just with this card.

In practice, using the 9400M, the COD4 ran in the same settings as before, but with 45fps and a few chokes every now and then, a big drop.

Obviously it would be very interesting to be able to use both cards at the same time, gaining a slack in performance. According to NVIDIA, this is possible with the proper drivers. Also, regardless of whether the notebook has 4GB of RAM, the cards do not use the memory, which is a shared shame, as the 9400M has only 256MB.

Other games that I was able to play very well using the 9600GT were: PES2009, Flight Simulator 2004 and X, SimCity 4 and The Sims. The most painful was (of course) the FSX.

Pause to test Windows

I use Windows XP via Boot Camp. In this MBP, Windows Vista was installed and did not last even 24 hours. In Vista's taste, it's no use.

I even installed a Windows 7 beta, which proved to be much faster than Vista itself, even without the proper drivers provided by Apple. it is possible that, when the drivers for Windows 7 are released, I stay with him at Boot Camp; at l, I even choose XP.

I keep Windows just to play, so I have XP and nothing else. And yes, everything works perfectly, including the highest battery consumption.

Watch out for family jewelry

Don't think about putting the MBP on your lap while playing or rendering a video. It will simply burn you.

The aluminum structure is very good at distributing heat throughout the notebook body, and yet the part close to the power connector is much hotter than the rest. It is even strange to be with your hand on the keyboard during the game: the heat in your fingers reminds you that you must buy an external keyboard to play.


I'm obviously in love with the new toy. And what a toy! Today I am running Final Cut Pro and Photoshop + Lightroom directly on the notebook without any bottleneck. Applying textures, filters and retouching photos takes place almost instantly on PS. Of course, working with video requires a little more patience. In practice, everything goes much faster than on the MacBook, but it is true that both do the same thing.

The glass screen and the black edges of the show part. The notebook alone draws a lot of attention.

15-inch MacBook Pro unibody review

Then comes the classic question: is it necessary to buy the Pro model? It is complicated to answer, since I have one, but I am very realistic and for this reason I answer: it depends. Today, what the Pro has is the different memory installed, the HD and the video card the most. Of these, only the video card is an added value, since RAM and hard disk you can get at the corner store at increasingly cheaper prices.

Between the unibody Pro and no-Pro and the white guy, all do the same things, open the same texts in Word, run the same filters in Photoshop, render the same movie in iMovie. Of course, with a bigger processor and more memory, the Pro will skyrocket, but that does not mean that the old MacBook or MBP is unworthy of our love.

There is nothing really obsolete. There is no notebook that does not do what another notebook does. This is for the absolute majority of users. But that doesn't apply to games, of course. So who needs a high-end computer? In my opinion, only those who like the pleasure of having the latest model. Who has that inner joy of having something that top, at least for two or three months. Just the type of person who gives up many other diversions to be able to treat themselves to a more expensive computer.

So, do not feel sad to have a 2GHz machine while the friend next door has a 2.2GHz machine. Don't be afraid to be happy with your notebook only because the other takes 10 seconds less to compress a 5GB file. So, in my opinion, the Pro for those who need the extra video card just to play, but there are other much better notebooks on the market, and much cheaper. Anyone who buys a MacBook Pro knows what to expect from a MacBook Pro.

I conclude, therefore, that you only need an MBP if you really want or need an Apple notebook with a 15 or 17 inch screen. that. Hope this helps.