Mittwoch, 16. März 2011

Macbook Pro 15" 2011 for audio - Review

Here is a little review of my Macbook Pro 15" 2011. Configuration:

  • 15" baseline model (2.0Ghz quad core sandy bridge with 4GB RAM, Intel HD 3000 + 256MB AMD Graphics)
  • The 256 SSD option
  • Hires matte (antiglare) display (1680x1050)

Why did I choose this one:

  • I wanted something fast, quiet and with a nice screen, which works well for audio.
  • Why no RAM upgrade? I thought that with an SSD I don't need the RAM upgrade immediately, because I can shut and reopen programs quickly. I'll get it as soon as I run into some performance issue.
  • 13" seemed more easily to get heat and fan-noise problems since it has only one fan and less cooling alluminium surface. That is just a guess though, as I could not test any of the 13" yet. I did read some posts at macrumors forums where people are complaining, but you cannot be sure if they didn't just get a malfunctioning product.
  • Also 13" has 'only' the dual-core processor and a smaller screen
  • The topline 15" configuration with the stronger graphics made not much sense for me as I don't do gaming. Also the additional speed of the 2.2Ghz version seemed marginal not to be worth the additional cost for my usage. Finally,  I also suspected the faster processor and the faster graphics to be more energy consuming and thus heat and fan-noise-inducing, which I could not find any results before hand, so it is pure speculation again.
  • 17" is too heavy and expensive in my opinion

I am very happy to report that:

  • It runs very fast. Boot time and program launches are insanely quick. A complete reboot is around 35-45s, this includes shutting down and booting until the end. The plain boot time from where the apple appears on the grey screen was 18s today. However, I never reboot a lot, but it seems people are interested in boot times. This is especially the first computer where Adobe Lightroom (v3) runs really smoothly (and launches in 3s).
  • It runs very silent! I have it in clambshell-mode (closed lid) with an external 22" 1680x1050 display attached and a firewire audio interface (Focusrite Saffire Pro 40) connected (room temperature 20°C). I am running a project on Logic Express 9 (with 16 audio tracks and 12 busses with some compressors eqs reverbs delays) in a loop since an hour. The same project which made the fans of my black 2.4Ghz c2d Macbook 2008 (with coolbook installed) went to their crying limits 6000rpm quickly with cpu usage around 20-30%. On this computer cpu usage is reported as 3% at around 60°C and the fans have settled around 2500rpm, which has only a very distant soft airflow sound. Also, unlike my previous model, it doesnt really care at all about websites with flash or flash videos. Also I noticed, that when load is reduced it cools down pretty quickly and fans go back to there minimum around 2000rpm. 
  • The screen is nice. The resolution is great for 15". I tested it a little outside, and the antiglare seems to work well. I was a bit sad that the screens colors do not have the same saturation as the glossy version, but it is still pretty and much better than my last model. For inside use I am having it attached to a nice  external display anyways, and in summer I will be using it outside a lot. Also I like the aluminium bevel around the screen more than the black one in the glossy models.

Things I noticed:

  • The bluetooth module seems a bit stronger than that of my old macbook, but still it doesn't reach more than 3m reliably.
  • The wifi signal is displayed two bars less than that of my macbook, but works equally well.
  • When pluging in an audio cable to my hifi system into the headphones jack the switching of the sound to the new output destination takes a second or so.
  • Photo Booth does not make use of the new isight Cameras higher resolution.

And a few points considering the migration from time machine (which was still great and saved me huge amounts of time)

  • Connecting the external display after the first initial boot after installation from time maching did not work
  • The available screen color calibrations were restored but not automatically assigned to the external display
  • Custom keyboard layouts, which were stored in /Library not in myuser/Library were not recovered from time machine installation
  • Logic Express had to be reinstalled following the instructions at
  • The application-specific settings of Little Snitch got lost.


  1. Great to get some feedback on the new MBPs with Logic 9! Have you recorded analog audio in the same room? Problems with the fan there?

  2. No problems so far during recording phase :)
    Later in mixing the fans do get audible after a while when I use software instruments and some plugins, but for me it still feels on the silent side and not annoying.