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How fast are the "Mid-2009" 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo models compared to one another? How fast are they compared to the models each replaced?
Please note that the "Mid-2009" MacBook Pro models have been discontinued.
Quickly review comparisons of the "Mid-2009" 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch MacBook Pro models to the models that each replaced and it becomes readily apparent that there are significant changes in connectivity and battery life, but the internal architectures are essentially identical from a performance standpoint with only modest increases in processor speed.
Consequently, one would expect the performance increase to be modest -- essentially corresponding to the percentage difference in clockspeed between models. For the precise difference, however, real-world testing is required.
Real-World Performance Test Results
In its trilogy of reviews of the "Mid-2009" 13-Inch, 15-Inch, and 17-Inch MacBook Pro line, the industry-standard MacWorld ran Speedmark version 5 tests -- the publication's standard test suite -- as well as Photoshop tests while using the GeForce 9600M GT graphics processor and reported:
Compared to each other, the new 13-inch 2.53 GHz MacBook Pro was just over 12 percent faster overall than the 13-inch 2.26 GHz MacBook Pro. The 2.53 GHz laptop was about 21 percent faster at Photoshop and Cinema 4D. . .When compared to the aluminum 2 GHz [non-Pro] MacBook [that it replaced], the new 13-inch 2.26 GHz MacBook Pro is about 12 percent faster overall in our Speedmark test, as well as speed improvements across the board in our other application tests.
Our benchmarks show that, overall, the three new [15-Inch MacBook Pro] systems are fairly close in terms of overall performance -- the high-end 2.8 GHz model outpaced the low-end 2.53 model by 9.7 percent -- a more compelling performance narrative based on the dual graphics chips is told with our Quake 4 frame rate test. In Quake, the high-end model [using the "dedicated" NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT] was more than twice as fast as the low-end model [with the "integrated" NVIDIA GeForce 9400M] and outpaced the mid-model 2.66 GHz by more than 10 percent.
For most tasks in Macworld's benchmarking suite, the differences between [the "Early 2009" 17-Inch MacBook Pro] 2.66 GHz and ["Mid-2009" 17-Inch MacBook Pro] 2.8 GHz are barely noticeable -- a few seconds here and there. The result is a Speedmark improvement of only 3 percent, from 249 to 256, compared to the February model.
Both sets of scores are on par with the changes in specs on the new machines. Since the CPUs have been bumped up, the scores have risen to match. It also makes sense that the 2.53 GHz 15-inch just about ties the 2.53 GHz 13-inch from this year.
As part of a longer review, LaptopMag hit the 15-Inch models with a deluge of tests covering everything from PCMark synthetic benchmarks to gaming, boot time to wireless speed in both Mac OS X and Windows Vista. PC Magazine tested both the 13-Inch and 15-Inch models running 3DMark06, Crysis, and World in Conflict booting Windows Vista. Finally, BareFeats tested the 17-Inch model -- the only system the site considers to be the remaining "true Pro" model in the line up -- with Cinebench and Geekbench as well as a variety of application tests.
Ultimately, the "Mid-2009" MacBook Pro models are modestly faster than their predecessors in most tasks -- as one would expect from evaluating their respective specifications -- and continue to provide excellent performance and battery life with a sleek design.