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How fast are the "Mid-2010" 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 "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro models have been discontinued.
If one quickly reviews a comparison of the "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro line and a second comparison of the "Mid-2010" models to the "Mid-2009" models replaced, it should be quite apparent that the 13-Inch models -- which essentially use the same architecture and processors (with faster clock speeds) but have improved graphics -- are modestly faster than the models they replace.
The 15-Inch and 17-Inch models, on the other hand, have improved graphics as well as significantly faster "Core i5" and "Core i7" processors and the performance difference should be far more substantial, particularly for tasks that can take advantage of "Turbo Boost" and "Hyper Threading." Likewise, one could anticipate a notable performance gap between the entry-level 13-Inch MacBook Pro and the higher-end 15-Inch and 17-Inch MacBook Pro models.
For the precise difference, however, real-world testing is required.
Real-World Performance Test Results
To really bust on the processor more specifically we fired up some Flash video, pitting our new Core i7 Pro against an "old" MacBook Pro with a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 4 GB of RAM. Both machines are actually pretty strong when running a single bit of Flash at a time, but it's when a couple dozen tabs are open all slamming the processor at once that things get difficult. We fired up Hulu in 480p (the new Glee episode) and a 1080p Avatar trailer on YouTube with both machines managing to keep both videos playing smoothly. Once we added a second 1080p YouTube trailer on each machine, however, the Core 2 Duo machine began to choke, while the Core i7 juggled all three videos successfully.
On a more empirical front we ran some HTML and Flash tests using GUIMark. With Firefox 3.6.3 and Flash 10.0.45.2, we managed 21.31 FPS on HTML and 21.04 FPS on Flash on the new machine, while the old MBP only managed 15.99 FPS and 16.1 FPS, respectively.
We also tried out a 720p video export in iMovie. Of course the GPU gets called in for previewing live effects and whatnot, and we found the entire UI very responsive, but video exports are still a CPU affair, and the new machine thrashed the old one with a 5 minute export vs. 9 minutes.
With gains on many tasks of 15-30%, anyone buying the April 2010 MacBook Pro is bound to be pleased.
To put things into perspective, as this was written, there was a [US]$1200 upcharge to go from a 2.66 GHz Mac Pro to a 3.33 GHz Mac Pro -- that's a 25% difference. So realizing 15-30% more performance is a Big Deal when the new MacBook Pro costs about the same as the prior one.
In a series of professional real-world application tests, BareFeats reported similar results to those from MacPerformanceGuide with "the fastest 2010 MacBook Pro 10% to 27% faster than the fastest 2009 MacBook Pro." The site also has in-depth 3D gaming results as well.
In our Speedmark 6 suite, the new [13-Inch] models scored 118 for the 2.4 GHz model and 126 for the 2.66 GHz model (compared with 107 and 123 for the previous generation, respectively, and 112 for the MacBook) -- the difference due, mostly, to the improved frame rate scores thanks to the Nvidia 320M graphics.
[With a score of 146], the new low-end 2.4GHz Core i5 was 23 percent faster overall than the previous low-end model with its 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo. The biggest gain was in 3D game performance, where the new model’s Nvidia GeForce GT330 graphics wiped the floor with the integrated Nvidia GeForce 9400 graphics in the previous low-end system.
The new entry-level MacBook Pro also proved to be faster than the previous "better" and "best" configurations in the 15-inch lineup, with 2.66 GHz and 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo processors, respectively. Comparing the new 2.4 GHz Core i5 MacBook Pro with the previous top of the line 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, the new entry-level 15-inch was 5 percent faster in our Speedmark 6 testing. . .
The $1999 system, with a 2.53GHz Core i5, was only about 3 percent faster than the low-end 2.4 GHz Core i5 in our Speedmark 6 test suite. Some tests, like Cinebench and MathematicaMark 7 showed the benefit of the 2.53 GHz's faster processing speed, but other tests, like Aperture and Compressor were actually faster on the 2.4 GHz system.
The top-of-the-line 2.66 GHz Core i7 model was 7 percent faster than the middle model and 10 percent faster than the new low-end laptop. Compared to the model it replaced, the 2.66 GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro was 15 percent faster than that previous 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo model.
In PCMark Vantage, the [entry-level "Mid-2010" 13-Inch MacBook Pro] scored 4,164, an increase of 957 from the last generation [13-Inch].
At the time, the Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics card in the previous MacBook Pro was one of the best around, combining excellent performance and energy efficiency. However, the Nvidia GeForce 320M GPU (with 256MB of memory) in the new MacBook Pro beats it in every way. Its score of 4,754 in 3DMark06 is more than double that of the last MBP (2,174).
After installing Windows 7 [on the high-end MacBook Pro "Core i7" 2.66 15-Inch], we ran PCMark Vantage in Boot Camp, and saw a score of 6,699; that's nearly double the mainstream average of 3,885, not to mention the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro's score of 3,285 (which used a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB of RAM).
Finally, in perhaps the most in-depth testing of all, AnandTech pitted the MacBook Pro "Core i5" 2.53 15-Inch and "Core i7" 2.66 15-Inch against an assortment of older MacBook Pro models. For the Core i5 compared to the Core i7, Anand surmised:
For a 22% increase in total system cost you end up with 11-15% better performance in CPU bound applications. It actually even feels snappier in general use as well.
Ultimately, the 15-Inch and 17-Inch "Mid-2010" MacBook Pro models are notably faster than their predecessors in most tasks whereas the 13-Inch MacBook Pro models primarily show improvement in graphics-related tasks.