13-inch Apple MacBook Pro review

The 2012 refresh gives Apple's most portable MacBook Pros an exciting upgrade

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch
Apple's 13" MacBook Pro has been refreshed for 2012

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Both models in the mid-2012 MacBook Pro refresh have dual core Ivy Bridge processors. The cheaper of the two uses a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5. The higher-end version has a 2.9GHz Core i7, the fastest dual core mobile processor currently available.

Like all current MacBook Pro processors, they have a Turbo Boost feature for extra speed. When processing needs are high, underused resources are reallocated so the CPU can temporarily exceed its stated clock speed, subject to temperature and power considerations. Under Turbo Boost, the processors can reach 3.1GHz and 3.6GHz respectively. Unfortunately, the Apple online store offers no processor upgrade options for the 13-inch MacBook Pros.

Another feature common to all current MacBook Pro processors is Hyper-Threading. This enables two threads to run on each of the processor's two cores, giving a total of four virtual cores. This means tasks can be spread more evenly, so applications can process data much faster.

Apple macbook pro late 2011 (13-inch) review

The new Ivy Bridge processor's integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset is around 60% more powerful than the old Intel HD Graphics 3000 used by the Sandy Bridge processors. Visuals are smoother and faster than before, and it's very power-efficient, so it won't run down your battery.

Faster onboard memory has been used across the 2012 MacBook Pro range. The new models, including the 13-inch MacBook Pros, use 1600MHz DDR3 memory instead of the 1333MHz RAM used in the previous generation. The more expensive 13-inch model has 8GB of RAM out of the box, with the cheaper version having 4GB, which you can upgrade to 8GB for an extra £80/$100 if you buy on the Apple Online Store.

Unlike the Retina display MacBook Pro, the regular MacBook Pros have user-serviceable RAM, so you can fit your own after purchase if you wish.

Apple macbook pro late 2011 (13-inch) review

The standard 13-inch MacBook Pros offer 500GB and 750GB hard drives, respectively. These are fairly slow, at 5400rpm. If you want something faster or more capricious, you can upgrade on the Apple Online Store. The cheaper model can be boosted to 750GB as a custom option, and the more expensive version to 1TB. Alternatively, you can install a solid state drive of 128GB, 256GB or 512GB on either 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Although connectivity options are largely the same as the previous generation of 13-inch MacBook Pros, the step up to USB 3.0 is extremely welcome - and perhaps overdue.

The built-in 63.5 Watt-hour lithium-polymer battery lasts for around seven hours of wireless internet use. That's enough to go a whole day between recharges.

The 13-inch MacBook Pros measure 2.41 x 32.5 x 22.7cm (0.95 x 12.75 x 8.94 inches), and weigh 2.06kg (4.5lbs), so they're significantly more portable than their 15-inch stablemates.