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How fast are the "Early 2011" 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch MacBook Pro models compared to one another? How fast are they compared to the models each replaced?
Please note that the "Early 2011" MacBook Pro models have been discontinued.
If one quickly reviews a comparison of the "Early 2011" MacBook Pro models to one another and a second comparison of "Early 2011" MacBook Pro models to the "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro model replaced, it should be clear that the "Early 2011" models are significantly faster than their predecessors.
The "Early 2011" MacBook Pro models have faster processors (some even with four cores), faster architectures, faster graphics (or at least roughly equivalent graphics), faster memory and faster internal storage connectivity than the "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro line. The 15-Inch and 17-Inch "Early 2011" MacBook Pro models have quad core processors and significantly faster graphics than the dual core-equipped 13-Inch models in the same line.
Consequently, it likewise is safe to assume that the 15-Inch and 17-Inch "Early 2011" MacBook Pro models are significantly faster than their 13-Inch brethren, at least in tasks designed to take advantage of multiple cores and graphics-intensive tasks.
Real-World Test Results
For the precise differences in different tasks, however, real-world testing is required.
The new 13-inch 2.3 GHz dual-core Core i5 MacBook Pro, with a Speedmark 6.5 score of 140, was 35 percent faster than the 13-inch 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro it replaces. . . The next step up in the line, the 13-inch 2.7 GHz dual-core Core i7 MacBook Pro, showed improvement that was less dramatic, scoring only a 13 percent gain over the model it replaces, a 13-inch 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. . .
The 15-inch 2.0 GHz quad-core Core i7 MacBook Pro was 33 percent faster than the 15-inch 2.4 GHz dual-core Core i5 MacBook Pro introduced last April. . . The new 15-inch 2.2 GHz quad-core Core i7 MacBook Pro was 38 percent faster than last year's fastest 15-inch model, a 2.66 GHz dual-core Core i7 MacBook Pro. The new 17-inch 2.2 GHz quad-core Core i7 MacBook Pro was 53 percent faster than last year's largest Mac laptop, a 17-inch 2.53 GHz dual-core Core i5 MacBook Pro.
The new 13-inch [2.3 GHz Core i5] MacBook Pro turned in 5,534 on PCMark Vantage, a boost of almost 1,400 points [compared to its predecessor]. . . The MacBook Pro's GeekBench score of 6,446 is a 35 percent increase over the previous model (4,164), and more than double the 13-inch MacBook Air, whose 1.86-GHz Core 2 Duo processor mustered 2,976.
After installing Windows 7 [on the 2.2 GHz Core i7 15-inch model], we ran PCMark Vantage in Boot Camp and saw a score of 7,648. . . about 1,000 points higher than the previous MacBook Pro (6,699). . . The 15-inch MacBook Pro's Geekbench score of 10,874 was double the previous generation (5,422).
Benchmarking legend BareFeats hit all of the "Early 2011" MacBook Pro models in a series of "shootouts" covering overall performance, storage, 3D gaming and "Hi Rez" 3D gaming. All are very much worth reading in full, but perhaps most uniquely, regarding high-resolution 3D gaming, the site reported:
The 2011 MacBook Pro with Radeon 6750M graphics runs the 3D games we tested two to three times faster than the 2010 MacBook Pro with GeForce 330M graphics.
But --- the 2011 MacBook Pro is significantly slower than both [of the Mid-2010 iMac and Mac Pro] desktop Macs we tested. If you are a hard core gamer or 3D animator, the 2011 MacBook Pro -- as good as it is with new quad-core processor -- does not have a GPU equivalent to Mac desktops.
In one of the site's trademark in-depth reviews, AnandTech put the 13-Inch and 15-Inch models through their paces in Photoshop CS4, Aperture 2, QuickTime video encoding, Windows, gaming and more. Regarding Photoshop, specifically, the site declared:
Photoshop performance is just amazing on the new systems. The high end 15-inch MacBook Pro is actually faster than last year's 8-core Mac Pro. Of course this is because Photoshop doesn't scale perfectly with core count but it just shows you just how powerful these new quad-core CPUs are.
Owners of last year's 13-inch MBP will notice that the new high end 13-inch can run through our CS4 test in roughly half the time. The performance improvement is of course exaggerated because Apple kept the 13 on Core 2 for longer than it should have, but what's important is that the new 13 is really fast.
In perhaps the most detailed evaluation of all -- 24 pages in total -- of benchmarks and tests geared toward professional photographers and videoographers in particular, MacPerformanceGuide succinctly concluded:
The 2011 Apple MacBook Pro 2.3 GHz quad-core is an astounding leap forward for laptop users. Even compared to the fastest 2010 MacBook Pro Intel Core i7, the 2011 4-core MacBook Pro offers as large a jump in performance as we've seen with any Mac, for many years. It's almost never the case to see performance go up by 50-100%, yet that's what Apple has done with the quad-core MacBook Pro.
Ultimately, the "Early 2011" MacBook Pro models are much, much faster overall than their predecessors. The 15-Inch and 17-Inch models, which have dedicated graphics, also demolish their predecessors in graphics intensive tasks. Although the 13-Inch models, which continue to have integrated graphics, have similar graphics performance as their predecessors, they nevertheless have much faster overall performance as well.