Apple's New 2.53Ghz MacBook Pro: Out of the Box

By Graham K. Rogers


out of the box The latest MacBook Pro with the 2.53GHz processor came from Apple for review in early November. By coincidence, EITS, the education distributor, lent an earlier one with the 2.4GHz chip so that I could demonstrate to students. I was able to make back-to-back comparisons with these and my older 2.16GHz MacBookPro.

From the top this computer with its slightly rounded corners looks like its earlier cousins: there any similarities end. It is not simply an upgraded processor: the whole machine has been redesigned, including how it is manufactured.

The new generation is now carved out of a block of aluminium. As aluminium is not the easiest metal to weld the new process saves some energy, while aluminium removed during the process is recyclable.

two MBPs two MBPs

Spaces for the keyboard keys and the ports are cut out during the process and the new shell is more rigid than the older Macs like mine. All ports are on the left side, with the optical drive and slot for a Kensington lock on the right. Although earlier reports claimed that the Kensington Lock was not compatible, Kensington confirmed this week that their locks are 100% compatible with this model.

The keyboard with its black, backlit keys is almost identical to the delightful keyboard found on the MacBook Air, with the same feel and travel. My 18-month old MacBook Pro is positively clunky in comparison.

two MBPs

While ports have been relocated, there are also some changes. We still have the MagSafe connector for the power supply, plus Ethernet port (10/100/1000), two USB 2.0 ports, and audio line in and line out ports. As on the earlier MacBook Pro there is an ExpressCard/34 slot.

Beside this is a useful change: the battery charge condition indicator (5 green lights) has been moved from underneath making it much easier to check. The battery is removed by opening a panel on the base, which also reveals the hard disk which can be swapped in under 30 seconds.

battery and disk

While my current computer has Firewire 400 and 800 ports, we now have a single Firewire 800 port. Also, while Macs have been using DVI for video output, this is changed now to the Mini DisplayPort (and, Yes, that is one word): a standard used by several notebook manufacturers. It needs an adapter (not included) to link to VGA or DVI monitors.

speakers Either side of the keyboard are the stereo speakers. Their outlets were also cut out rather than being moulded. The ON/OFF button is now above the right side speaker, flush with the panel.

In front of the keyboard is a redesigned trackpad, made of glass, which has brought in lessons from the iPhone touch screen. The surface itself pivots ever so slightly to act as the trackpad button. It is possible to change settings so that the right side behaves as a secondary mouse button. Mac users are already familiar with one- and two-finger "gestures" to control actions of the computer and applications, such as zooming the screen. To these were added three-finger gestures with the advent of the MacBook Air. We now have four-finger gestures to control other functions. Some of these take a bit of practice.

I do not usually turn on the ability to click and drag with the trackpad, which confuses my PC-using students, but this does add other features which, once learned, may add to efficiency. To help with this learning, like the MacBook Air there are mini videos in System Preferences of these operations. The trackpad now also has a separate preference pane: it was earlier included with Keyboard & Mouse preferences.


One of the main changes under the hood is the availability of two graphics processors: Nvidia GeForce 9400M and NVidia GeForce 9600M GT for better graphics and playing high end games. The 9400 processor reduces power consumption so extends battery life. Switching between the two is effected by using the Energy Saver preferences (which have a new icon) and logging out.

MAcBook Pro The 15.4" screen has the same look as the current iMac: glass, with the black surround with the iSight camera built into this. The screen is only available with a glossy finish and there has been much comment on the Internet and elsewhere about the lack of a matte screen.

The MacBook Pro feels smooth and thin, while the LED-backlit screen is almost instant-on from sleep when I open the lid. Sleep is also quicker. Start-up is about the same as my other Macs.

This MacBook Pro had the 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and comes as standard with 4GB of 1067 MHz DDR3 RAM and 320G hard disk. There is also a 2.4Ghz version with 2GB RAM. I have seen these in Bangkok for 91,900 and 73,900 baht. There is also a 2.8GHz option which is not listed in Bangkok outlets.

[Since I wrote that, we have seen the advent of the Apple online store in Thailand and the 2.8GHz processor may be purchased for an additional 11,021.00 baht]

Next: Using the MacBook Pro 2.53Ghz


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