Monday, October 24, 2011

Testing MacBook Pro 13 "2.3 GHz Core i5" Thunderbolt "(early 2011)

Sandy Bridge processors with new micro-architecture, Intel Graphics GPU HD 3000, a new O Thunderbolt: Apple has pressed the accelerator pedal with his new MacBook Pro without the radical change. The entry-level Core i5 finally happening after years of Core 2 Duo without earning a penny.

The game of seven errors

Very clever man who could be distinguished from the first glance a MacBook 13 "Core i5 to a 2011 MacBook Pro 13" Core 2 Duo 2010 as the differences are minimal.
Same weight (2.04 kg), the same size (32.5 x22, 7x2, 41 cm), the same profile: the two generations are essentially identical. One might note that the finish of the aluminum is slightly different, the edges are slightly less sharp than the hinge is a little firmer and this would be much the only details, minute, having been modified. It's actually inside the bulk of the work was done.

Above the screen, Apple has revised its iSight, which is now called FaceTime camera. The engineers at Cupertino have not taken the good idea of ​​the MacBook Air of matching the webcam to the screen, thus avoiding to lay your fingers every time you open the hood. They have done so against the FaceTime camera records in HD 720p (1280x720, encoding and decoding performed by the graphics chip).

This webcam is a little more wide angle than the iSight: with FaceTime in full screen, you can have a discussion on several front of the screen, the camera captures the whole field. It takes a little more about the magenta than previous versions, but deliver more saturated colors more realistic, has a much better dive, and therefore provides a rather good overall quality - for a webcam that is. The quality of discussions FaceTime will therefore greatly improved, though of course your internet connection keeps pace (read: MacBook Pro: an overview of FaceTime HD).

The screen is the same: Apple has not seen fit to increase its standard definition as it did on the MacBook Air. You will not find elsewhere no option "HD screen" for models 13 ", which are also deprived of matte tiles. It is rather unfortunate: the MacBook Pro 13" is still a bit away from the rest of family, which offers these opportunities. Other external factors do not change more, or almost: we see now, to the left of the port mini-DisplayPort, a little lightning bolt logo.

Thunderbolt: a port for later

Is that this port is now called Thunderbolt, and is more than just a video output. Thunderbolt is the trade name of a technology developed by Intel as the Light Peak (read: Thunderbolt: why bother?). Apple has worked closely with its design, the MacBook Pro are the first computers to use it: this is reminiscent of the iMac, which was the first to integrate USB, another technology from Intel.

Thunderbolt Performance

Thunderbolt is twenty times faster than USB 2.0, 12 times faster than FireWire 800, and even two times faster than USB 3.0, while being more versatile.

Thunderbolt vehicle data to a PCI Express bus, and uses the Mini DisplayPort: it recalls the Apple Display Connector, which was also pass data, audio and digital video through a single cable. The cable Thunderbolt precisely consists of a pair of beams copper so it allows data transmission in both directions up to 10 Gb / s, and sends an electrical current of a power of 10 W. As FireWire before him, Thunderbolt allows to chain 6 devices, including two high-resolution displays. Compatible with USB, FireWire and Ethernet via adapters, and DVI, VGA and HDMI, Thunderbolt is a port promoted by Apple as an ideal for the transmission of video.

The standard configuration Thunderbolt according to Apple. There is no doubt that with its democratization, this connector will find other applications. In this configuration and with 2m cable, MacBook Pro and Promise Bay R6 communicate to 700 Mb / s, bay and screen communicate to 900 Mb / s.

The illustration used to highlight Thunderbolt is no mystery: Apple thinks this new connector is ideal for filmmakers who will be able to be a very powerful mobile studio. Back behind a desk, they can connect a large screen and storage solution on a single cable. The few products Thunderbolt announced at Promise or LaCie, are firmly aimed at professionals, including video, a major consumer of bandwidth. Apple engineers estimate that a MacBook Pro connected to a Promise Bay R4 or R6 to edit four simultaneous HD streams (the graphics card is the only limit). Only thus lack, at present, compatible devices.

Processor and graphics card: Finally the new

The previous generation MacBook Pro 13 "remained at Core 2 Duo without an agreement allowing Nvidia to develop chipsets for Intel Core iX. The graphics performance of Intel becoming passable, Apple eventually gave up his partner to move Sandy Bridge processors.

The first 13 "MacBook Pro uses an Intel Core i5" Sandy Bridge "2410M clocked at 2.3 GHz. This generation of processor uses a new microarchitecture that includes processor cores, graphics cores, cache and memory controller on the same chip for space savings and improved performance. The i5-2410M has two physical cores: with Hyper Threading, it has four logical cores. If it is running at 2.3 GHz, it can reach up to 2 , 9 GHz on a single heart with Turbo Boost. This technology has also been updated: it now goes up to the maximum frequency in smaller increments, which allows to adapt the best CPU frequency needs. Once this maximum frequency is reached, the Turbo Boost can be switched on longer than before.
Two physical cores, that makes four logical cores. Few applications still take part, but when it does (here with Handbrake), that fuel!

The Core i5-2410 incorporates an Intel graphics chip HD 3000 Graphics, a trademark designating the various generic integrated graphics solutions from Intel. That used by the processor of the MacBook Pro entry level is not the most efficient: it is capped at a maximum rate of 1.2 GHz (1.3 GHz against variation in its fastest), and takes 384 MB memory on the RAM of the computer. This chip is not the most efficient that we can find to play, but it draws its game in encoding / decoding HD streams, and is able to adjust its frequency to save power. The Intel Graphics HD 3000 is supposed to be OpenCL compatible, but can not run any test OpenCL it - fortunately, this is not the missing benches.

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