Macbook Pro 2.2Ghz Santa Rosa Revie

Having worked and played on my new MBP SR for a bit over a week this is what I’ve experienced so far.

Macbook Pro Santa Rosa

Why Santa Rosa and not Penryn

The release of the new Penryn was actually what set off this purchase and what I (and a lot of others) had been waiting for. Unfortunately it wasn’t the MBP upgrade I was hoping for though it was quite nice upgrade in general.

After lots of googling and research I just found that I probably would not be using the added features in the new revisions. The touchpad with iPhone gestures is neat and all, but I most likely wouldn’t be using them as 80% of the time the MBP will be my desktop replacement and sitting on a laptop stand (The new mStand).

Along the same lines, the Penryn is supposed to run cooler and give better battery life but then again it’ll be on my desk 80% of the time and plugged in. Heat won’t really been an issue (and hasn’t thus far, see below) and the battery life I do get out of it is more than enough.

Other than that the new Penryns have 256MB VRAM standard and bigger hard drives. 128MB would suite my needs just fine and 120GB has been fine for me as well.

To top it all off, the new base model is $1999 and the deal in the Apple Store refurb section for a 2.2Ghz is $1449. DAMN! With that money savings I decided to max out the Ram to 4GB and get some sweet accessories like a quality bag, sleeve, laptop stand, USB hub etc.

Specs and Performance

Mackbook Pro

I got a stellar deal I just couldn’t pass up in the apple store refurb section. It has:

  • 2.2Ghz Core 2 Duo (Santa Rosa)
  • 4GB RAM (I maxed it out. Have 2×1GB SODIMM’s for sale)
  • 120GB 5400RPM HD
  • 15’4” Glossy display. LCD Backlit
  • Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT w/ 128MB VRAM
  • 8x Dual-Layer Superdrive
  • Wifi, Bluetooth, Apple Remote, iSight etc
  • 1 x FW800, 1x FW400, 2x USB 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet

Of course since moving from a 1.33Ghz G4 to a 2.2Ghz C2D the performance has been amazing.

But in a better comparison, I do have a 24” 2.16Ghz C2D iMac at home and this laptop does feel as fast if not faster than the iMac. Both are running 10.5 Leopard but the iMac has a 7200RPM harddrive.

I run about 9 spaces desktops each filled up with windows and applications. Even doing everything I need to do and having every application I need open, There is usually 75-80% CPU idle and at max I usually have 1GB Ram free. The ample 4GB of RAM definitely makes a HUGE difference and is something I recommend anyone do with any mac, max out the RAM. I got 2×2GB sticks for $100 w/ shipping from Newegg.

At any given time I have the following open on one of my 9 spaces:

  • Camino (2 Windows, 10 tabs each. More than 10 it bleeds memory)
  • Safari (1 Window, 10-15 tabs)
  • Flock (1 Window, 10-15 tabs. Hey, I do a lot of web surfing)
  • 10-15 Terminal windows
  • Textmate
  • iTunes
  • CoverSutra
  • YoJimbo
  • NetBeans 6
  • Activity Monitor
  • Transmission
  • Transmit
  • OmniGraffle
  • SpeedDownloader
  • Things
  • Skype
  • Preview
  • VMWare Fusion. Win XP SP2 Install

Display and Graphics

Side by Side

I would have to say the screen, besides the overall build quality and design, is the most stunning thing about the MBP. The clarity, depth and richness of the screen and the colors I’ve never seen before.

I’m glad I went Glossy instead of Matte, but in general this is a heated topic and you’ll find a different answer from anyone you ask. I can say I see no glare issues and the benefit of having richer and deeper colors is much more worth it in my opinion. Coming from the G4 display it can be nothing except an improvement

The 128MB Nvidia graphics are working great and it has been able to run everything I’ve thrown at it with ease. Though I should say I’m no hardcore gamer and havn’t really tested any heavy games on it. Though since I’ll be replacing my iMac with the MBP and setting up an external display, I’ll see how well it can power a 20” Dell Widescreen over DVI.

Hard Drive

I’ve loaded pretty much everything I can think of on it as well as put my 25GB iTunes library and 10GB iPhoto library on the built in HD and still have 30GB left. It has been more than enough but I do plan on getting a external 500GB RAID enclosure (Choosing between the NewerTech Guardian Maximus and the Lacie 2big Triple) for backups, selected time capsule backups and superduper images.

The speed of the 5400RPM drive has been fine as well, no noticeable lag but then again I never do any swapping as many things are in the 4GB memory.

Heat, Power and Battery Life

I’ve heard a lot about this regarding the MBP’s and a lot of people have complained. But I’ve found it really isn’t that big of a deal unless your converting SD video and having it sit on your bare-skin lap.

Doing non-intensive tasks, the internal temp runs around 40-50C and the aluminum is warm to the touch on the top-back and bottom-back of the laptop. But seriously it was just as warm with my 12” powerbook.

Then one day I was converting a few GB video’s and met with the devils rage and fiery fury. It did get quite hot with internal temps reaching 80-90c and the same area’s of the laptop were quite hot to the touch. Again, same thing would happen with my G4 though. During the video conversion it was only using about 100% of 1 core as well with no noticeable lag to the other 9 spaces screens or any applications I had running.

I haven’t fully tested the battery yet, but it does last a lot longer than the PB G4. I’ve gotten it down to 20% and had been using it just for wifi web browsing for about 3 hours. So I suppose I could get 3 1/2 – 4hrs out of it under normal use and adjusted brightness settings (the LCD can get REALLY bright).

I should also mention that the MBP is very quite and even under load the fan doesn’t get annoyingly loud (which is what happened in my PB G4)

Design and Quality

What do I really need to say here, it is a product form Cupertino. All-in-all, the thing is just stunning. The design, the aluminum, the keyboard and display all combine synergistically together. It really is a work of art.

Other Niceties

4GB MBP RAM

The ambient keyboard backlight comes in very handy during low-light situation and serves its purpose nicely. The built in iSight is a must I would say in this day and age and is something I’ve just become used to.

The speakers on it provide pretty good sound but what I found exceptionally good was the digital sound input/outputs and whatever amplification they used. When listening to music on headphones or earbuds, the sounds is exceptionally crisp, clear and loud.

Verdict and Comments

So yeah, overall I couldn’t be happier in this investment. I give it a solid 9 out of 10 if I were to use that measurement system.

I do wish however that it had come with more USB ports, it comes with 2 (which is what my PB G4 had) but 3 would be nice on a 15” laptop (The 17” comes with 3.). Not a big deal, I’ve already ordered a USB 2.0 Hub.

If I had to order again I would have probably gotten the 2.4Ghz model w/ 256MB Nvidia Card and 160GB HD for $1649 but at the time of order it wasn’t available. It showed up again the next day and I did try to switch at the last minute but they told me it was already packaged. Ah well, not a big deal.

So if you’re in the market for a new laptop and don’t need any of the special features in the new Penryn models, definitely pick up a late 2007 Santa Rosa if you get the chance.