Apple MacBook Pro 13 (Early 2011) review: Apple MacBook Pro 13 (Early 2011). Apple a1278 MacBook pro

Review Apple MacBook Pro 13 2.5 GHz Mid 2012 Notebook

Entry-level “Pro”. Apple’s MacBook Pro series has been enjoying great popularity for many years now. The notebooks from Cupertino offer high performance, look great, and seem to retain their value better than any competitor’s product. In the past, the 13-inch MacBook Pro appeared to be the unloved stepchild of the family. Have things changed in 2012?

Patrick Afschar Kaboli. ✓ S. Kueckemanns (translated by Bernie Pechlaner), Published 08/08/2012

If you asked any die-hard Apple user a few years back about the “ideal” MacBook Pro, he or she would have insisted on a 17-inch display, non-glare of course. Today, the 15-inch MacBooks are commonly accepted, and the Retina model is a worthy successor to the now discontinued 17-inch version. But fans don’t quite agree on the entry-level notebook into the realm of Apple Pro notebooks. When the “Unibody” MacBook was absorbed into the MacBook Pro line and debuted as MacBook Pro 13, it became the new entry-level “Pro” model. Not everybody was happy: screen too small, display glossy, and not even a matte option? Fast forward a few years: the little MacBook Pro is now well-established and was refreshed recently, when Apple updated the current portfolio. Ivy Bridge says hello.

�� MacBook Pro 2011 в 2020. Старый для 2020?

The outside of the new MacBook Pro entry-level notebook looks almost identical to the predecessor (we are talking about the version “Early 2011″, since we had no chance to test the “Late 2011“-model). The chassis is still a slim unibody structure made from solid aluminum. And why fix something that’s not broken. the customers obviously appreciated the design. So what did change? The most noticeable difference is the Ivy Bridge dual-core CPU Intel Core i5-3210M. This mobile CPU featured a 2.5 GHz core frequency and can overclock to a maximum of 3.1 GHz using Intel Turbo Boost. Courtesy of the new processor generation is the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000. Additionally, the USB ports have been updated to USB 3.0. Other changes we will discuss more thoroughly in the respective sections. One thing up front: the somewhat low display resolution regrettably hasn’t changed.


“Beyond reproach”. This was our verdict about the chassis of the Apple MacBook Pro 13 Early 2011. We are happy to report that we don’t need to revise this statement for 2012. The aluminum unibody chassis offers superb build quality, high torsional rigidity, and doesn’t “give” when pressure is applied. The compact dimensions, especially the low thickness of under 2.5 centimeter (under 1 inch), are not matched by that many competitors. The weight of about 2 kilogram (4.4 pounds), however, is nothing special in this class.

We would prefer a larger maximum display angle, since it’s restricted to about 45 degrees. The lid also swings back and forth a bit if it’s released abruptly during the adjustment process. The black bezel around the display could be a little less prominent.


The term “gentle evolution” hits the nail on the head. At first glance, nothing seems new as far as the port selection of the Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is concerned. Only an examination of the spec sheet reveals that the two USB 2.0 ports have been replaced with USB 3.0. The DVD-RW optical drive is now sourced from Hitachi-LG. Everything is virtually unchanged, including the location of the ports. For details, please check our test of the MacBook Pro 13 Early 2011. We find it interesting that Apple did not eliminate the FireWire 800 interface. This means that the user has three ways of connecting high-speed peripherals: FireWire 800, Thunderbolt, and USB 3.0. That is second to none.


Not much has changed from the predecessor. The LAN controller (Broadcom) supports Gigabit Ethernet, the WLAN controller (also from Broadcom) supports 802.11a/b/g/n (both 2.4 and 5 GHz). With Bluetooth 4.0, Apple incorporates the latest standard of the short-range wireless technology. The main advantage of the already three-year old technology is the decreased power consumption, which leads to better battery life.


Apple usually ships their notebooks with only the most basic accessories, so it wasn’t a big surprise that the box only included the power adapter and a few user manuals. Apple stores usually have a huge selection of accessories, both from the manufacturer itself as well as other vendors.


“Unibody” usually means difficult maintenance. The MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is quite user friendly in that aspect: after removal of ten small Phillips screws, a part of the bottom plate comes off and allows access to the internal components. Hard disk drive and RAM are easily accessible and a breeze to change. The fan unit can be cleaned should it become necessary. Only the battery is not user replaceable. The notebook has to be sent in or needs to be taken to an authorized reseller in that case.


Apple only offers a standard 12 month warranty. Users interested in extending the warranty to three years can take advantage of the Apple Care Protection Plan. The cost for the warranty extension is 249 Euro.

Apple MacBook Pro 13″ with SSD (Early 2011): Unboxing and Demo

Input Devices

Keyboard and Touchpad

Since early 2011, neither the keyboard nor the touchpad have seen any changes. The keyboard is one of the best of any notebook in the 13-inch category. The keys don’t have a lot of travel, but the feedback is excellent. Windows users might have to adapt to the different layout first, since some keys are missing or are labeled differently. In addition, the CTRL, ALT, and fn keys are in a different order. The Enter key could have been a bit larger. We appreciate the keyboard backlight, which also features an ambient light sensor and allows for automatic brightness control under Mac OS X.

The touchpad is one thing for sure: sufficiently large. especially since we are talking about a rather compact 13-inch notebook here. The functionality is top notch, although some of the gestures only function under Mac OS X.

The display remains unchanged. Starting with the MacBook Air 13 Mid 2012, Apple uses a 13.3-inch display with a reflective glass layer on top. The resolution is still at 1280 x 800 pixels. Since it’s been quite a few years, we would have liked to see an update and a switch to a higher pixel count here. Fortunately, the aspect ratio remains at 16:10. Compared to 16:9, noticeable more vertical screen real estate is available.

The panel is still using TN technology. Apple doesn’t specify what they are using exactly, but we can assume that this entry-level pro device is using a comparatively inexpensive display. We are not being critical here: the display used does its job really well. Under Mac OS X, the maximum brightness is 299 cd/m 2. while the brightness distribution is pretty even at 90 percent. Because of the low black value of 0.48 cd/m 2. the contrast ratio of 623:1 is more than acceptable.

The results under Windows are slightly better. We measured a ten percent increase in brightness. Since the black point is also a bit higher, the contrast hardly changes. Compared to the models from early 2011, there are only minor differences. We recommend looking at tests of the previous generation.

Maximum: 299 cd/m² (Nits) Average: 279.3 cd/m²Brightness Distribution: 90 % Center on Battery: 299 cd/m² Contrast: 623:1 (Black: 0.48 cd/m²)68% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 2.2.0 3D)92.9% sRGB (Argyll 2.2.0 3D)66.5% Display P3 (Argyll 2.2.0 3D)


Finally something new to report. With the introduction of the current processor generation, all models of the MacBook Pro series see a bit of a boost in performance. The CPU in this entry level model is the dual-core Intel Core i5-3210M. The mobile Ivy Bridge CPU has a nominal clock speed of 2.5 GHz. Under ideal thermal conditions, Turbo Mode can overclock all cores to 2.9 GHz. A single core can be overclocked to 3.1 GHz. The CPU has Hyper-Threading and hence can support up to four threads in parallel. It is designed for a TDP (maximum thermal output) of 35 watts. If the Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 had been designed to compete with Ultrabooks, a ULV CPU might have been chosen instead. Since the Pro series is known as a workhorse, the processor choice makes sense.

The notebook is equipped with 4 GB of DDR3 SDRAM PC3-12800. While this is adequate, we would have liked to see eight GB, especially considering that Mac OS X performs much better with ample RAM.

As part of the processor update, the integrated graphics card sees a noticeable boost in performance. The little MacBook Pro now features the Intel HD Graphics 4000 and scores quite a bit better in our test. on that later in our section on the graphics card.


At the core of the re-design of the MacBook Pro 13 2012 is the CPU based on Intel’s Ivy Bridge architecture. The Intel Core i5-3210M is one of the fastest dual-core CPUs and features clock speeds from 2.5 to 3.1 GHz. The processor, which has three MB of level 3 cache and a TDP of 35 watts, is usually installed in 14-inch and larger notebooks. Since Apple designed the Pro series for more demanding tasks than what the typical Ultrabook would encounter, this choice makes sense. Those looking for an Ultrabook-like device in Apple’s portfolio should consider the MacBook Air.

In order to determine the performance and especially to check if the processor is capable of its full potential, we use the CPU benchmark tests Cinebench R10 and R11.5. In both tests, the Intel Core i5-3210M in the Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 achieved exactly the performance we expected (based on previous measurements). We recorded 8936 points in the Cinebench R10 Multi-CPU-Rendering 32-bit test (64 bit: 10658 points). Utilizing only one core, the results are 4109 and 5298 points, respectively. Interesting is the pronounced scaling under 32-bit: using both cores, the result is roughly 2.2 times higher. The newer Cinebench R11.5 64-bit test confirms the results of the Cinebench R10. We measured 1.22 points in Single-Core-Mode and 2.87 points in Multi-Core-Mode. The results are identical whether the laptop is plugged in or running on battery power.

The Intel Turbo Boost technology works without a hitch. During our tests, the cores always maintained the maximum frequency of 2.9 and 3.1 GHz, respectively.

System Performance

While CPU performance is determined by just a few factors. for example the thermal design of the notebook. overall system performance is a result of the interaction of all components: CPU, RAM, hard disk drive, bus systems, OS, and driver choices. To evaluate the overall performance, we use the PCMark 7 and PCMark Vantage benchmark tests.

apple, macbook, early, 2011

We’ll just sum it up here: the performance of the Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 didn’t disappoint. Quite on the contrary: the little Pro can keep up with notebooks equipped with more powerful processors. Overall the Pro performs as expected. The system scored 6621 points in the PCMark Vantage test. This result has the MacBook Pro 13 slightly ahead of the Acer TravelMate P643-MG-53214G75Mikk (which features the same CPU) and only slightly behind the Fujitsu Lifebook E782, equipped with the most powerful Core i5 processor Intel Core i5-3360M.

Working with the Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is both speedy and smooth. The only time we had to wait a bit was when editing high-resolution photographs. This is more due to the lack of RAM than lack of computing power.

Our test system shipped with Mac OS X Lion 10.7.4, the then-current operating system from Apple. We doubt that that the transition to Mountain Lion will have any real impact on the results. To determine CPU performance under Mac OS X, we also the 64-bit version of Cinebench R11.5. Performance is very similar to what we saw under Windows. The minimal differences are probably due to measurement tolerance more so then actual differences between the operating systems. We recorded 1.21 points for rendering with one core, 2.89 points for two cores, and 16.66 during the shading test.

Two of the preferred benchmark tools for Mac OS are Geekbench and Xbench. Since the latter test usually shows significant variations from one run to the next, we take the average of eight runs. Overall, the performance of the MacBook Pro is right were the technical specs indicate it should be. We did not discover any significant bottle necks limiting performance.

The score for Geekbench was 6768 points. This is right where we expected it to be. The performance is in-between the iMac 27 Mid 2010 with Intel Core i5-760 and the MacBook Pro 13 Early 2011 with Intel Core i7-2620M.

Storage Devices

The hard drive in the MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is a standard disk drive with spinning platters. The model is sourced from Hitachi, offers a capacity of 500 GB, and spins at 5400 RPM. Just like the specs, the transfer rates are not exactly spectacular. Both HDTune and CrystalDiskMark report a sequential transfer rate of about 70 MB/s, which is not very fast. The access time of 17.7 milliseconds is OK for a standard hard drive. Small, dispersed data blocks usually slow down the transfer rate significantly, and the Hitachi Travelstar is not any different in that regard.

Apple outfits the lighter MacBook Air models exclusively with SSDs. The Pro models usually offer those modern and faster drives only as an option (save for the MacBook Pro Retina). To upgrade the conventional hard drive in our test unit to a 128 GB SSD, the price increases by about 200 Euros. For the 256 GB drive, Apple charges an additonal 500 Euro, and for the 512 GB SSD, 1000 Euro. We doubt that a potential buyer would chose the latter option, especially since replacing the hard drive with a SSD is not very difficult.

Graphics Card

With the move to Ivy Bridge processors, the integrated graphics card saw a significant jump in performance. Indeed the integrated graphics is good enough now to compete with some dedicated solutions in the lower middle-tier. There is not much more to say about the Intel HD Graphics 4000. especially considering that we have tested it in many different notebooks already.

Gaming Performance

We ran a few tests with current games to see how the Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 would perform. As expected, we were able to play many of the titles (two examples are F1 2011 and Anno 2070) fluently, as long as we set the details to low. demanding games like Risen 2 are not much fun even at the lowest settings. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim manages to run without major lag. Using the native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels and high details proves too much for pretty much all current games.

Under Mac OS X, we played or Diablo III benchmark sequence. After game start, we teleport the character to the market square of New Tristram. From there on, we let him run along the street towards the upper right, have him turn around at the bushes, and run back the same way. At the lowest settings, anti-aliasing off, and resolution set to 1024 x 768 pixels, we were able to play the game without an significant lag, which means that even the harder levels that follow should be enjoyable. Medium details and a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels still worked OK for New Tristram, but we expect the game to stutter at the higher levels.

To find out which games work well with a particular graphics card, please check here.

Since Apple does not offer a dedicated graphics card for the smallest MacBook Pro, the notebook is not particularly well-suited to play games. The Intel HD Graphics 4000 can handle older games, but newer ones are not a lot of fun.

Noise Level

During every-day use, the Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 remains pretty inaudible most of the time. This is true for Windows as well as Mac OS. During idle, the fan spins at a constant 2000 RPM. We measured the noise level at 30 to 32 dB; the latter number is caused by the DVD optical drive. The hard drive, although very quiet, emits a constant (but not annoying) whirring sound. Under load, the fans spins up quickly. more so under Mac OS X than under Windows 7. While the maximum noise level of 44 dB is identical for both platforms, we noticed that the fan spins higher under Mac OS X at medium load levels. The result: 40.1 dB compared to 33.1 dB. a significant difference.

The benchmark results are based on Mac OS X, simply because this is what the manufacturer expects to be used. In this case, the native OS was not really at an advantage.


The Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 stays cool even during the summer and periods of increased temperatures. During idle, the aluminum unibody chassis stays cool to the touch. We didn’t measure above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in most spots. Only the underside in the left upper corner got a bit warmer at 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 degrees Fahrenheit). To use the notebook on the lap is possible for hours on end without any ill effects (even on bare skin, as it might happen during the summer season). There is no significant difference in this regard between Mac OS and Windows, even though that is not true for the noise level.

Under maximum load during our stress test. which is not a scenario normally encountered. the notebook heats up as expected. Since the temperatures remain under 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) at all times, we have no reason to complain here. The power adapter also stays cool with a maximum of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) under load.

To check if the CPU throttles (runs at a frequency lower than the nominal frequency) when subjected to continuous load, we ran Furmark and Prime95 for several hours. After a few minutes, the CPU briefly lowered the clock speed down to a low of 1.2 GHz. The reason for this behavior is the high CPU core temperature of 104 degrees Celsius (219.2 degrees Fahrenheit). As soon as the CPU cools off, the frequency increases again. up to the Turbo Boost maximum of 2.9 GHz. When we ran a 3DMark06 directly after the stress test, the results (compared to when the notebook was still cool) were no different. The intermittent throttling therefore has no real impact on CPU performance itself. This is also true for Mac OS X. When we ran the Cinebench R11.5 Multi-CPU test in an endless loop (using a script), we ended up with the same exact results, even two hours later.

(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 37.5 °C / 100 F, compared to the average of 30.7 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Subnotebook. (±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 43.7 °C / 111 F, compared to the average of 35.9 °C / 97 F, ranging from 21.4 to 59 °C for the class Subnotebook. (-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 48.4 °C / 119 F, compared to the average of 39.5 °C / 103 F In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 28.9 °C / 84 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F. The palmrests and touchpad are reaching skin temperature as a maximum (34.8 °C / 94.6 F) and are therefore not hot. (-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.3 °C / 82.9 F (-6.5 °C /.11.7 F).


Another area where we have nothing new to report. The MacBook Pro 13-inch has stereo speakers which sit above the keyboard and emit their sound towards the display. The speakers are not visible, but sound quality is very decent. The maximum volume level is surprisingly high, although the mids are slightly over-emphasized. The result is that both bass and treble are lacking. Overall, the speakers are usable for playing games and watching movies. Those looking for higher quality might want to use headphones instead, since the quality of the output is quite good.

Power Consumption

Once Apple decides on a certain technology or design, they usually stick with it for quite some time. Case in point is the lithium polymer battery used in the smallest MacBook Pro. the capacity of which has been 63.5 Wh for quite a few years now. Unfortunately, the battery is still not user-replaceable. Compared to current Ultrabooks, like the Sony Vaio SVT1311M1ES, the capacity is actually quite large. Apple states that the battery should last at least 1000 recharge cycles.

apple, macbook, early, 2011

We measured the power consumption for the notebook under both operating systems. Under Windows and during idle, the notebook consumed between 10. 16 watts, under Mac OS between 7.2. 10.7 watts. This is a pretty significant difference and favors the Mac OS. The picture doesn’t change much under load: at around 50 % load, the MacBook Pro consumes about 45.3 watts under Windows, while the consumption under Mac OS levels out at 37.4 watts. Under maximum load, there is no significant difference between Windows and Mac OS. The consumption during standby and off-mode are also identical and very low.

All things considered, the MacBook Pro is pretty energy efficient. The Mac OS leaves a much better impression here.

Key: min:. med:. max: Voltcraft VC 940Currently we use the Metrahit Energy, a professional single phase power quality and energy measurement digital multimeter, for our measurements. Find out more about it here. All of our test methods can be found here.

Battery Life

Since we determine battery life using the tool Battery Eater Pro, we conducted all tests under Windows. To determine if Apple’s OS X has the better energy management, we ran our WLAN test (which simulates a real-life scenario) on both platforms.

To find out the maximum battery life, we deactivate wireless, turn the display to its lowest brightness, and use the “Power saver” profile. The Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 ran almost for eleven hours. For the other extreme, the Battery Eater Classis test, we use maximum display brightness, enable WLAN and Bluetooth, and subject the notebook to a very heavy load. The MacBook shut down after 99 minutes, which is still a very good result. The WLAN-Surftest uses a display brightness of 150 cd/m 2 and the Power saver profile. Webpages containing text and multimedia content (to accurately reflect a frequent use-scenario) are visited automatically. Running under Windows, the MacBook lasted for more than six hours, a respectable result. Under Mac OS, however, the notebook lasted an outstanding (almost) eight hours. Equally impressive is the DVD run time of 4:14 hours. This should be sufficient for even the longest movies.


The Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is, just like its predecessor, a powerful notebook with great battery life and outstanding build quality. But is has competition from two sides: the modern Ultrabooks on one, and Apple’s own MacBook Air 13 Mid 2012 on the other. As the smallest member of the Pro-series, this notebook is supposed to deliver the correct balance between performance, mobility, and last but not least, price.

We think that Apple doesn’t quite hit the mark here. The MacBook Pro does feature a pretty powerful processor and can back up its performance claims with benchmark results. On the other hand, the included RAM is not really sufficient, considering this is a Pro model. At least for Mac OS, an increase in RAM should be considered. The same is true for the (fairly sedate) hard drive that Apple uses. A SSD would be a much better fit here and increase overall performance significantly.

We find absolutely no issues with the workmanship. The build quality is just superb and very few competitors have notebooks that come close in that regard (and none have surpassed the MacBooks as far as build quality is concerned. at least not in our book). The keyboard is well suited for fast typing, even in the dark, since it features a backlight. The touchpad simply has no equal.

The display is also hit and miss. The TN panel is very bright, has a low black point, offers great contrast, and adequate viewing angles. But unfortunately, the resolution of 1280 x 800 is a downright antiquated. We would like to see a higher resolution here. In addition, the panel does suffer from reflections (since it’s a glare-type). There are rumors talking about a 13-inch Retina model, however.

As far as mobility is concerned, the MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is top-notch. The weight of two kilogram (4.4 pounds) is OK, considering the rather compact dimensions and the fact that an optical drive is included. The outstanding battery life allows the user to venture far away from any outlets.

Those wanting to play games should not mistake the meaning of the word “Pro” in the name. Due to the integrated (processor) graphics, the notebook is not really well-suited for newer games. A dedicated graphics card is not an option, even for a surcharge. Speaking of surcharge. RAM and SSD options seem way overpriced. At least both components are upgradable by the user.

So what is the final verdict? The MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is a solid and compact workhorse, featuring impeccable build quality and great battery life. But due to the missing dedicated graphics card and the comparatively low display resolution, it’s not quite up to par any longer. The base price of 1249 Euro seems a bit high. We can only recommend it to users who need a small notebook with an integrated optical drive and good performance. In a use-case like that, the notebook offers a very good compromise. Back to the question we asked in the beginning: stepchild yes, unloved, no.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (Early 2011) review: Apple MacBook Pro 13 (Early 2011)

Despite retaining the same price and look as last year’s model, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s significant CPU and fantastic battery life make it one of the top laptops we’ve reviewed, provided you can live with passable integrated graphics.

Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn’t consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.

  • than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is the most affordable of Apple’s high-end laptops. With the admittedly supercharged 15-inch version starting at a princely AU2099, the 13-inch model’s starting price of AU1399 is the one many consumers will likely consider first. Its size is also ideal, and in fact, we’ve long considered 13 inches to be the sweet spot in laptops for usability and portability. The question is: does the smaller Pro deliver the processing punch that last year’s lacked?

Apple MacBook Pro 13 (Early 2011)

The Good

CPU updates offer big leaps in performance. Phenomenal battery life. Excellent ergonomics, keyboard and large, smooth multi-touch clickpad are still among the best available. 720p HD webcam.

The Bad

Graphics performance is slightly worse than last year’s 13-inch Pro. 13-inch screen resolution still low compared with the MacBook Air. Thunderbolt port still an unknown until accessories become available. Limited upgrade options. No HDMI or Blu-ray.

The Bottom Line

Despite retaining the same price and look as last year’s model, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s significant CPU and fantastic battery life make it one of the top laptops we’ve reviewed, provided you can live with passable integrated graphics.

In short, unequivocally yes. This year’s 13-inch Pro gets a cutting-edge processor upgrade that many were waiting for — including us. That upgrade comes in the form of next-generation Intel Core i-series CPUs. The 2011 MacBook Pros are the first laptops we’ve reviewed at CNET with these processors; the entry-level 13-inch model features a second-generation 2.3GHz Core i5 processor, and the AU1698 configuration has a 2.7GHz dual-core Core i7.

However, despite the processor improvements, the use of Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics is a step backward from the integrated Nvidia graphics found in the 2010 13-inch Pro. It’s not a huge backslide, though, and for many it’s a survivable loss. Plus, it does come with the much talked about high-speed data/video port, Thunderbolt.

IO, IO, it’s off to work we go. (Credit: Apple)

Thunderbolt is envisioned as a sort of future unified successor to USB, FireWire and DisplayPort, allowing peripherals to carry data and video at 10Gbps. We don’t know when Thunderbolt-compatible peripherals will be available (although Apple says the first ones should show up in the spring of 2011), how much they’ll cost, or if Apple will be adding the technology to future displays or iOS devices. For now, it’s a wait-and-see gamble on a future technology, but at least the port is backward-compatible with Mini-DisplayPort and can support HDMI out with the purchase of a cable. The 13-inch MacBook Pro also keeps its FireWire 800 port, so Thunderbolt is more of an added feature than a risk Apple’s making you buy into.

In the end, the 2011 13-inch Pro is a big step up in processing performance for the same price as its predecessor. To put it in perspective, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is about as powerful CPU-wise as last year’s AU2798 15-inch Core i7 model. And while its integrated Intel graphics are a bit less capable than the previous model’s Nvidia 320M GPU, the pay-off comes with another big leap in battery life.

Lastly, if you’re on the fence between the AU1698 13-inch and the AU2099 15-inch Pros, that AU401 buys you a lot more computer. On the other hand, we’d argue that most people won’t see or don’t need the extra performance and it is a larger, heavier laptop.

There’s nothing different design-wise about the new MacBook Pro. Walk up to the 2011 version and you’d have no idea that you were looking at a “new” Mac. The iconic design and unibody construction have remained intact, even identical, to last year’s 2010 model, even down to the port layout. Ports line the left side, and the side-connecting MagSafe charging cable plugs toward the rear, staying out of the way. The slot-loading drive lines the right side. A wide expanse of aluminium and Apple’s simple but excellently constructed keyboard feel like tech minimalism in a world of overwrought and over-designed laptops, and the large multi-touch click pad is still — even nearly three years later — one of the largest we’ve seen. Construction quality is, as always, rock-solid: compared with other flexy laptops, the seamless metal body of the Pro feels like modern art.

That being said, we wouldn’t mind some design improvements in the future, especially when it comes to thickness and weight. The 13-inch Pro is compact and thin, but compared to wafer-thin Apple products like the iPad and MacBook Air. it ends up feeling heavier. Then again, if thickness matters that much, you can always buy an Air.

A backlit keyboard still comes standard, even on the entry-level AU1399 MacBook Pro. It’s useful for typing in low-light conditions, and the ambient light sensors control screen brightness and keyboard lighting in perfect balance. The ergonomics work excellently, and the MacBook Pro also has some of the largest, deepest palm-rest zones in a 13-incher.

apple, macbook, early, 2011

Edge-to-edge glass still frames the Pro’s 13.3-inch screen, and, yes, there still isn’t a matte screen option — although on the larger 15-inch line, anti-glare is offered. The display has excellent brightness, colour and contrast, and the screen’s viewing angles are generous, but the 1280×800 native pixel resolution is identical to the 2010 model’s. Oddly, the MacBook Pro might be the last laptop that hasn’t switched to a 16:9, 1366×768-pixel display. Even more oddly, the 13-inch MacBook Air actually has a higher resolution than the current 13-inch Pros, at 1400×900 pixels. We’re surprised that there wasn’t a resolution upgrade in the higher-end AU1698 configuration.

The screen is still the same old low resolution from the last generation. (Credit: Apple)

Speaker volume is adequate, and both music and movies sound good on the integrated stereo speakers. The MacBook Pro doesn’t have audio that reaches out and grabs you, unless you’re wearing headphones; then again, on a 13-incher this slim, it does better than equivalent competition.

A new HD webcam offers 720p widescreen web chats via the new FaceTime app, which comes pre-installed. FaceTime, which has been available as a beta release for a while, allows calls to both Mac users and iPhone 4 owners. iPhone 4 calls come in at a fuzzier resolution, but Mac-to-Mac calls looked relatively crisp over Wi-Fi. Swapping between portrait and landscape mode can be triggered with a single button-click.

While most ports on the 13-inch MacBook Pro remain carbon-copy identical to those on last year’s model, there are a few notable additions. The SD card slot now accepts SDXC cards. importantly, the Mini-DisplayPort has subtly been transformed into the aforementioned Thunderbolt port. The Intel-developed data and audio/video port has extremely fast throughput at a maximum of 10Gbps, and compatible hard drives will be able to send files with blazing speeds. The tiny Thunderbolt port is powered, and will be able to daisy chain up to six connected devices, be they hard drives or even monitors. It’s backward-compatible with old Mini-DisplayPort monitors or cables, and like with last year’s Pros, it can output audio and video over HDMI with a Mini-DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter.

Thunderbolt may be a rival to USB 3.0, but devices that can use the port won’t even be available until spring. Most people will simply use the USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 ports on the 2011 MacBook Pro and be completely satisfied. Still, it’s comforting to know that future port support is there. Is it necessary right now? No. In two years, however, it could be indispensable. Consider it future tech on your MacBook Pro — a perk, rather than a necessity.

Apple’s laptops have always had limited upgrade and configuration options; the new Pros are no different. The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes in AU1399 and AU1698 configurations, with 2.3GHz Core i5 and 2.7GHz Core i7 dual-core CPUs, respectively. Our high-end AU1698 Pro comes with a 500GB hard drive and 4GB of DDR3 RAM. RAM can be expanded up to 8GB for an extra AU240; the hard drive can be expanded up to a 5400rpm 750GB drive for AU130 or a solid-state drive at 128GB, 256GB or 512GB. Those aren’t cheap: the 128GB upgrade costs AU250, whereas the 512GB costs a whopping AU1600. Pair this with Apple not mentioning the brand of the SSD, and you’re better to go aftermarket.

That’s it as far as configurations go. The 1280×800-pixel glossy screen can’t be upgraded, unlike on the 15-inch Pro. There’s no option to add discrete graphics, either. It’s an odd disconnect: even the 13-inch MacBook Air has a higher-resolution screen, and the lack of higher-end graphics feels cheap for such an expensive laptop.

The new second-generation Sandy Bridge Intel Core i7 CPU is a huge improvement on last year’s 13-inch Pro. Benchmark tests show that this model is nearly twice as fast in multitasking and the iTunes test. Start-up boot time is also zippy, although nowhere near as fast as on the MacBook Air. This is the processor upgrade we were hoping for last year, and then some. Though you should obviously keep in mind that the 15-inch Pro is even faster, for the price and the size, it’s hard to beat what the 13-inch offers. Until other next-gen Intel Core i-series laptops arrive, aside from the new 15-inch quad-core MacBook Pro, this is the second-fastest Apple laptop we’ve ever reviewed. Though the 15-inch 2011 MacBook Pro has an edge in multitasking, the 13-inch Pro more than held its own at single-task benchmarks — in fact, it was nearly the equal of its more expensive sibling.

If there’s one compromise on this year’s 13-inch MacBook Pro, it’s in the graphics. Instead of the Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics in last year’s Pro, this year’s models use integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, part of the second-generation Core i-series’ improvements. They’re better than what we’re used to from integrated graphics, but they’re not ideal for hard-core gaming. We played Call of Duty 4 and got a reasonable 33.1fps at native resolution and anti-aliasing turned off, but only 18.2fps with 4x anti-aliasing turned on. Last year’s MacBook Pro, with the same settings, achieved 36.3fps and 32.2fps, respectively.

However, for a normal, everyday user, the Intel integrated graphics are a success. They’re effectively invisible; they “just work”, to use Apple’s words, ably running media and most casual 3D gaming. For those who want to seriously render or play upscale games, the 15-inch Pro’s ATI Radeon graphics offer a major step up. Honestly, the Mac landscape is devoid of many big games, and the 13-inch Pro can at least play most of what’s out there (Bejeweled 3, for instance, ran silkily smooth).

For the second year in a row, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has made another leap in battery life. Matching the promises made by Apple, the 13-inch Pro’s integrated battery lasted six hours and 58 minutes using our video playback battery drain test. That’s an amazing result — and is so good that you’ll probably be able to carry your MacBook Pro for the day and leave your charger behind, if you’re so bold. It’s also an hour better than last year’s 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Service and support from Apple has always been a bit of a mixed bag. Apple includes a one-year parts-and-labour warranty, but only 90 days of telephone support. Upgrading to a full three-year plan under AppleCare will cost an extra AU329, and is pretty much a must-buy, considering the proprietary nature of Apple products and their sealed bodies. Support is also accessible through a well-stocked online knowledge base, video tutorials and email with customer service, or through in-person visits to Apple’s retail store Genius Bars, which, in our personal experience, have always been fairly efficient, frustration-free encounters.

macOS compatibility: Find out the latest version your Mac can run

Find out if you can run Ventura on your Mac and which version of macOS is best for your Mac with our macOS compatibility checklist.

Wondering which versions of macOS or Mac OS X your Mac can run? We’ve put together a macOS compatibility checker that will show you what Macs the different versions of macOS and Mac OS X support so you can tell what version you should be running on your Mac.

What Mac operating systems can my Mac run?

Apple releases a new version of the Mac operating system almost every year—but the new version of the Mac operating system will not support every Mac. Each year more and more Macs fall off the compatibility list and are unable to be updated to take advantage of the latest features.

With macOS Ventura now available to download on compatible Macs, it’s likely that many Mac users will be wondering if their Mac can support the newest version of macOS. Read on to find out which Macs are supported by each version of the Mac operating system. For advice about installing Ventura read: How to install Ventura on your Mac.

Officially, the operating system that was available on your Mac at the time that you bought it is the oldest version of macOS that can run on that Mac. It’s likely that an older OS won’t include the necessary drivers for the hardware on your newer Mac. For this reason, it is unlikely that you will be able to install an older version of macOS on a new Mac—but you can take a look at how to install old versions of macOS or OS X for other Macs. Owners of M1 Macs also won’t be able to run older versions of macOS on M1 Macs.

But it may not just be a case of wanting to know if your Mac can run the newest operating system. Some people will want to know if it is possible to downgrade their Mac to an older version of macOS and need to know the oldest version of macOS. You’ll also find that below. You can also see a complete list of all the different versions of macOS and Mac OS X. Not sure which Mac you own? Check our article about how to identify your Mac.

Note: In each case the year referenced below is the year that Mac was introduced – you could for example have bought a 2016 MacBook in early 2017, but it’s still the 2016 MacBook. This is important to keep in mind if you are looking to run an older version of macOS on a Mac. Macs are generally incompatible with versions of macOS that are older than the one it shipped with.

macOS Ventura compatibility

Apple released macOS 13 Ventura to the public on October 24, 2022. The most current version 13.3.1 at the time of writing, read our guide to every version of macOS released to find out about the latest version. To run Ventura you will need one of these Macs:

  • MacBook models from 2017 or later
  • MacBook Air models from 2018 or later
  • MacBook Pro models from 2017 or later
  • Mac mini models from 2018 or later
  • iMac models from 2017 or later
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro models from 2019 or later
  • Mac Studio (all models)

For more information read: Can my Mac run Ventura?

macOS Monterey compatibility

macOS Monterey was made available to download on October 15, 2021, and the most recent version is macOS 12.6.5. The following Macs are compatible with macOS Monterey:

  • MacBook models from early 2016 or later
  • MacBook Air models from early 2015 or later
  • MacBook Pro models from early 2015 or later
  • Mac mini models from 2014 or later
  • iMac from 2015 or later
  • iMac Pro (2017 and later)
  • Mac Pro models from late 2013 and later
  • Mac Studio

macOS Big Sur compatibility

macOS 11 Big Sur was the version of macOS that arrived on November 12, 2020, and the latest version is macOS 11.7.6. Here’s a list of the Macs that can run macOS Big Sur:

  • MacBook models from early 2015 or later
  • MacBook Air models from 2013 or later
  • MacBook Pro models from 2013 or later
  • Mac mini models from 2014 or later
  • iMac from 2014 or later
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro models from 2013 and 2019

macOS Catalina compatibility

Catalina arrived in October 2019, and the latest version is macOS 10.15.7 with Security Update 2022-05 and can run on the following Macs:

  • MacBook (2015 to 2017)
  • MacBook Air (Mid-2012 to 2019)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid-2012 to 2019)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 to late-2018)
  • iMac (Late 2012 to 2019)
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro models from 2013

macOS Mojave compatibility

Mojave arrived in September 2018 (latest version 10.14.6) and can run on the following Macs:

  • MacBook (Early 2015 to 2017)
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2012 to 2017, because it’s the same as 2015 model)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 to 2018)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 to late-2018)
  • iMac (Late 2012 to mid-2017)
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013, plus mid-2010 and mid-2012 models with recommended Metal-capable GPU)

macOS High Sierra compatibility

High Sierra arrived in September 2017 (latest version 10.13.6) and can run on the following Macs:

apple, macbook, early, 2011
  • MacBook (Late 2009 to 2017)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 to 2017, which is same as 2015 model)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 to 2017)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 to 2014)
  • iMac (Late 2009 to mid-2017)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010 and 2013)

macOS Sierra compatibility

Sierra arrived in September 2016 (latest version 10.12.6) and can run on the following Macs:

  • MacBook (Late 2009 to 2017)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 to 2017, which is same as 2015 model)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 to 2015)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 to 2014)
  • iMac (Late 2009 to 2015)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010 and 2013)

macOS El Capitan compatibility

El Capitan arrived in September 2015 (latest version 10.11.6) and can run on the following Macs:

  • MacBook (Early 2015 to 2017)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 to 2010)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 to early 2015)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 to early 2015)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 to 2014)
  • iMac (Mid 2007 to mid-2015)
  • Mac Pro (2008, 2010, 2013)

macOS Yosemite compatibility

Yosemite arrived in October 2014 (latest version 10.10.5) and can run on the following Macs:

  • MacBook (Late 2008 to 2010)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 to mid 2013)
  • MacBook Pro (13″ Mid-2009 to mid 2014)
  • MacBook Pro (15″ Mid/Late 2007 to mid 2014)
  • MacBook Pro (17″ Late 2007 to 2011)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 to 2012)
  • iMac (Mid-2007 to mid-2014)
  • Mac Pro (2008 and 2010)

macOS Mavericks compatibility

Mavericks arrived in October 2013 (latest version 10.9.5) and can run on the following Macs:

  • MacBook (Late 2008 to 2010)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 to mid 2013)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2007 to early 2013)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 to 2012)
  • iMac (Mid 2007 to early 2013)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 and 2010)

Mac OS X Mountain Lion compatibility

Mountain Lion, the last of the “big cat” versions of the Mac operating system launched in July 2012 (latest version 10.8.5) and can run on the following Macs:

  • MacBook (Late 2008 to 2010)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 to mid 2012)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 to mid-2012)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 to 2011)
  • iMac (Mid-2007 to 2011)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 and 2010)

Wondering how long Apple will support your Mac for? Read: How long do Macs last?

Razer Blade Stealth vs. Apple MacBook Pro

Long gone are the days when Apple was the only company producing great-looking, powerful, midrange laptops. Today, it has many competitors, including the likes of Razer. But what if we pit the Razer Blade Stealth versus Apple’s MacBook Pro? Which is the better laptop for the money? Read on to find out.


One of the biggest differences between midrange and entry-level laptops is that they tend to look a lot nicer and have much better features when they cross over the 1,000 line. That’s certainly the case with both the Razer Blade Stealth and the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

First, Razer’s laptop sports a sleek, aluminum exterior in an attractive, compact package that’s almost identical in size and weight to Apple’s MacBook Pro 13, although the MacBook Pro is a tad bit lighter.

Both devices sport acceptably-thick bezels. Those on the Razer Blade Stealth are far slimmer on the sides than the MacBook Pro, but its bottom bezel is much taller.

In terms of connectivity, there’s quite a stark difference between the two. The Razer Blade Stealth has a single USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 and two USB-A ports. The MacBook Pro ditches legacy support and supplies either two or four USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3, depending on the model. That means you get a greater number of super-speed ports on the MacBook Pro, but you’ll need a dongle or two if you’re using legacy USB-A devices.

On the keyboard front, the MacBook Pro provides one of the best we’ve seen on a laptop. That hasn’t always been the case, as Apple just upgraded the 13-inch MacBook Pro with its new Magic Keyboard in May 2020, which ditches the troublesome butterfly switches with those for a scissor design. Meanwhile, the RGB backlit keyboard on Razer’s unit is great for its target audience, who prefer a little color in their typing experience.

Finally, both laptops provide excellent touchpads, but the MacBook Pro just edges the contest in this area. The MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar is also something that differentiates the two, although it’s not fully convinced us of its usefulness just yet.


In a previous review of the MacBook Pro, we found one of its biggest disappointments to be the reduction in battery size over its predecessor. Cutting it back by almost 35% resulted in a drop in overall life, though it still managed more than 10 hours in our video loop test.

That changed with the M1 version of the MacBook Pro. In our most recent look, we discovered that the 58-watt battery provided one of the longest single-charge durations we’ve ever seen.

Why? Because ARM’s CPU core design targets high-performance while sipping the battery’s charge. That’s why ARM-based chips from Samsung and Qualcomm (and even Apple) are primarily used in smartphones and tablets. In light web browsing, the MacBook saw over 16 hours. When it was put through our video loop test, it reached over 21 hours!

In our review of the 2019 model, the Razer Blade Stealth only managed seven and a half hours in our video loop test and under five hours in our web browsing test. While it does have higher-powered hardware that no doubt contributes to the shorter battery life, the noticeable drop does make the Blade Stealth less useful when away from a charge point.

The portability of both laptops is comparable. Both measure and weigh nearly the same: 0.61 inches thick on the MacBook Pro and 0.60 inches thin on the Blade Stealth. Likewise, the Mac weighs 3.0 pounds, and the Blade Stealth weighs 3.11 pounds. The measurements are so close that you won’t even notice a difference between the two.

What’s more important, power or software?

As we state throughout the article, this is comparing apples to oranges. The MacBook Pro 13 targets professionals. The Razer Blade Stealth targets mostly gamers. The Blade would probably make a good Windows alternative for pros, but the Mac wouldn’t be an alternative mobile gaming PC unless you play Stadia or some other Cloud gaming service.

However, when you examine and compare the base models, the MacBook Pro presently has a more reliable processor but lacks the discrete GeForce GPU. Neither laptop is the best choice if you’re using it for gaming, but the Blade has a greater potential of rendering a respectable frame rate. If you’re looking for something super stylish, we’d recommend buying an external GPU or looking somewhere else for a laptop.

In reality, none of that gaming nonsense truly matters if you just need a laptop for professional and personal purposes. The M1-based MacBook Pro is the obvious Champion when looking at CPU performance, while the Stealth surpasses GPU performance. That being said, Intel/Nvidia combo can put some serious pressure on the battery, leading to poor performance when you compare it to the M1-based MacBook Pro.

The biggest question, then, comes down to the software. You must consider what you want to run. Outside the giant Windows versus MacOS debate, the Stealth earns the top spot thanks to the GPU when you’re analyzing graphics-heavy applications. The M1 version of the MacBook Pro runs conventional Intel-based software through an emulator, which could degrade performance despite the zippy chip. The Intel-based MacBook Pros, on the other hand, don’t require an emulator.

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