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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We put the entry-level £999/$1,199 13-inch MacBook Pro to the test, and it fared very well. The new integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 chipset certainly proved its worth, which is very important, since the 13-inch notebook doesn't have a discrete GPU.

In our gaming tests, Doom 3 ran at 87.8fps, and the more recent Call of Duty 4 at 64.6fps. To put this in perspective, the more expensive of last year's 13-inch MacBook Pros, a 2.8GHz Core i7, only managed 70.9fps and 46fps, respectively. This year's entry-level MacBook Pro comprehensively beat a model that cost considerably more and is less than a year old.

The take-up of USB 3.0 in Windows PCs has been very fast, much faster than Thunderbolt has caught on with Mac peripheral producers. This means add-on devices such as external hard drives and flash drives are extremely common.

Apple macbook pro late 2011 (13-inch) review

Super-speed USB debuts on the Mac with the 2012 notebook refresh, and very welcome it is too. USB 3.0 can carry up to 4.8GB/s, which is 10 times faster than USB 2.0's 480MB/s. It's backwards-compatible with the older USB standard, so your USB 2.0 peripherals still work with the new MacBook Pros.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro's two USB ports are both USB 3.0, unlike many PC notebooks, which offer a mix of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports.

The 13-inch laptops are inevitably the most portable of the MacBook Pro range. Although not as light and slim as a MacBook Air, at under an inch thick and a little over two kilograms, you can carry it around all day without straining your back. If you want a very portable machine but with more configurability and storage than a MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is ideal.

Apple macbook pro late 2011 (13-inch) review

In operation, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is very quiet, and it rarely gets too warm, unless you're really maxing out the processor. But audio quality is merely average, especially compared to the 15-inch models.

Music played through the 13-inch notebook speakers sounds tired and lifeless, with little bass or depth. To be fair, laptops are never noted for audio reproduction, especially the smaller ones, but if you want to use your 13-inch MacBook Pro to listen to music on the move, it's best to buy a pair of USB speakers to go with it.

Like all Macs, the new 13-inch MacBook Pros come supplied with the latest version of OS X and the iLife suite. As we mentioned before, new Macs purchased before the release of OS X Mountain Lion get a free upgrade.