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15-inch MacBook Pro

Est. $1,800 and up
Reviewed
February 2013
by ConsumerSearch
15-inch MacBook Pro

Pros
  • Strong performance
  • Built-in optical drive and Ethernet
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • Relatively low resolution
  • Comparatively heavy
  • Slow hard drive
Where to Buy
 

Bottom Line

The 15-inch MacBook Pro is a solid workhorse and an easy-to-customize multimedia performer. Users who depend on an optical drive and a mix of traditional and cutting edge connections will find a lot to love. But others may be disappointed by a lackluster display.

Performance

Strong multimedia performer. Thanks to a powerful quad core 2.3 GHz Core i7 Intel Ivy Bridge CPU and 4 GB of RAM, the 15-inch MacBook Pro breezes through everyday computing and delivers excellent multimedia performance. A discrete Nvidia graphic processor handles video editing smoothly and provides solid frame rates for gaming.

The base model and a step-up version (*Est. $2,200 and up) offer a variety of upgrades in memory, processing power and storage. Some experts recommend replacing the slow 500 GB hard drive with a solid-state drive for a even faster performance. If you're not ready for that step, you can boost memory or switch out drives later.

You can also upgrade the standard display to a higher resolution (glossy or matte), but only when you make your original purchase. Colors and viewing angle are quite good, experts say, even at the lower resolution. Just don't expect anything as stunning or crisp as the pricey 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (*Est. $2,200 and up). That's in a class all by itself.

Ergonomics

Slightly heavy but well balanced. The 15-inch MacBook Pro weighs a full pound more than the svelte 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Experts say it's hefty but well balanced. You may not mind the bulk if you need a trio of old-school features squeezed out of the lighter laptop: an optical drive, Ethernet and Firewire 800. You'll also get two 3.0 USB ports, a speedy Thunderbolt port, an SD card reader, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and impressive battery performance.

Design

Classic appeal. The aluminum unibody is still a stylish design. The backlit keyboard and glass trackpad remain a smooth partnership. But some experts say the 15-inch MacBook Pro now seems a bit chunky. Others find the front ridge feels sharp on their wrists, unlike the smooth wedge form of the 13-inch MacBook Air (*$1,200 and up). Overall, quibbles are outweighed by praise for the outstanding build and fully swappable components.

Support & Reliability

Still tops. Annual product reliability and customer satisfaction surveys from PCMag.com and others continue to rate Apple highest in customer satisfaction. A one-year warranty covers parts and labor. You also get 90 days of 24/7 support over the phone. That's actually far less than the industry norm. But every Apple Store has a Genius Bar that provides free personal one-on-one technical assistance.

The warranty and phone support are extended to three years under an optional AppleCare plan. The plan is pricey, some experts say, but might be worth considering given the cost of even one flat-rate repair at an Apple Store after the warranty expires.

Value

Not a stunner, but a decent multimedia value. If you can get by without a dazzling Retina display, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is a dependable, less-pricey performer. Traditional features, impeccable build and a full range of connection options offer value but you'll be paying a slight premium for Mac reliability.

Where To Buy
Apple MacBook Pro MD103LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)

 (997 reviews)
Buy new: $1,799.00 $1,659.99   61 Used & new from $1,000.00

In Stock.

 

Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

Review Credibility: Excellent The 15-inch MacBook Pro receives an excellent 4 stars, though it's not an Editors' Choice. It finishes ahead of comparable quad-core laptops in several performance tests and is "still one of the best," but "the overall design is getting old."

Review: Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch ( Mid 2012), Brian Westover, Aug. 7, 2012

2. CNET

Review Credibility: Excellent CNET also awards the 15-inch MacBook Pro 4 (out of 5) stars. The 15-inch MacBook Pro and the 15-inch MacBook with Retina Display now split the title of "the most universally useful laptop you can buy." However, buyers who pass up the Retina display may always feel "a twinge of remorse."

Review: Apple MacBook Pro review (15-inch, Summer 2012), Dan Ackerman, June 22, 2012

3. Pocket-lint.com

Review Credibility: Excellent The 15-inch MacBook Pro tested at this British site is a step-up configuration with 8 MB of RAM and a slightly higher-performing processor. It nabs a 4.5-star rating and a Hot Product award. Though it's hard for this laptop not to be "overshadowed" by the 15-inch MacBook with Retina Display, it is still "worth every penny," says Mike Lowe.

Review: Apple MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) review, Mike Lowe, Aug. 10, 2012

4. Macworld

Review Credibility: Excellent After thorough testing, Jackie Dove says the 15-inch MacBook Pro delivers strong performance and provides sound that's "better than most computer speakers." Though "a humongous beast" by today's standards, it's "sturdy and well-balanced."

Review: MacBook Pro 15-inch and 13-inch non-Retina models occupy the consumer space, Jackie Dove, June 20, 2012

5. T3.com

Review Credibility: Very Good Ian Osborne assigns 4 stars to the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Though the display isn't stellar, it's "better than those used in most laptops." A fast processor and discrete graphics offer "much more power" than Apple's smaller notebooks.

Review: MacBook Pro 15-inch review, Ian Osborne, July 30, 2012

6. About.com

Review Credibility: Very Good Solid performance leads Mark Kyrnin to also award 4 stars to the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Yet he finds it "heavier, thicker, slower and frankly dull" compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It's "just not as outstanding as it once was," and he thinks the price should have been lowered.

Review: Apple 2012 MacBook Pro 15 Laptop PC, Mark Kyrnin, Undated

7. Amazon.com

Review Credibility: Very Good The 15-inch MacBook Pro gets a full 5 stars from nearly 75% of more than 400 Amazon.com users. Ease of use, excellent build quality and Apple's reliable customer service are often mentioned as reasons for the high ratings.

Review: Apple MacBook Pro MD104LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2013

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